Posts Tagged ‘choices’

The hidden block to effective teams

Monday, September 25th, 2017

A team of cyclists - but how can you build effective teams?As a team leader, there are lots of things you can do to increase the performance of the people you manage. For example, if you want to improve your results you might start with making sure that everyone is 100% clear on your shared goals and objectives, so their energy is being directed to the same place.

You could look at how your team interact with each other. Boost connection, maybe by adding in informal meetings or group activities, to see if you can develop stronger bonds.

A third approach would be to focus on the individual skill levels of your team, with an aim of increasing each person's competence so that collectively, they perform better.

Ideas like this tend to be the focus of a lot of advice around building effective teams, and for good reason: All of these are great strategies.

But even when you've looked at each of these behaviours, it's common to feel like your team’s missing its “edge”.

Effective teams aren't built by behaviour alone

If you’ve managed people for any length of time you’ll almost certainly have come across this issue, even though it’s something that’s rarely discussed in leadership literature. Teams that look like they're doing everything 'right', and yet still aren't able to get past a certain level of performance.

  • It’s the team member who's irritable and impatient – because his marriage is breaking up, and he doesn’t know where to turn.
  • The individual who’s distracted and barely able to concentrate, because their intractable issues with their noisy neighbours are keeping them up at night.
  • The high flier who hasn't got their "mojo" back since a family bereavement brought conflict between their siblings that doesn't seem like it'll ever get resolved.

These scenarios can be difficult to tackle, because they're not really about how our people behave at work. We might not have the full picture about what's going on, and it's certainly not our place to ask. And even when we do have some of the facts, as leaders, these “personal issues” can feel as though they fall outside our remit. We might decide they're matters for HR, or facts of life that can’t be changed.

But the truth is, all the strategy in the world won’t help shift your results when your team members are not showing up in a way that's helpful to work.

Conflict makes most of us miserable, and miserable employees are uniquely ineffective.

How to address issues that go beyond the working day

In a competitive and complex marketplace, keeping home and work separate isn’t as simple as taking off your jacket at the end of the day. Getting great results means bringing your whole self to the table; being able to be flexible, adaptable and empathetic to others. Holding firm boundaries, and knowing how to negotiate and say no without sacrificing important relationships.

So often, the “unrelated” personal issues of our teams point to deeper challenges in how they’re able to show up. (The Spiral of Disempowerment™ shows how our trickiest relationships can become our greatest teachers). However well-hidden they might seem, these issues will almost certainly impact their performance.

So what’s the solution when it comes to building an effective team?

Let’s be clear: You’re certainly not expected to solve all of your team’s problems. If you’re thinking that their marriages, family relationships and community conflicts are none of your business, you’d be right. And it's also important to remember that these issues are a completely normal part of all of our lives. Everyone experiences conflict from time to time, and there's nothing we can do to stop that from happening.

What it might be helpful to consider is how you can support your team to react differently to those issues, in a way that can help them with any relationship they're in, whether at work or in their personal lives.

This is where War to Peace® comes in. It’s an experience that isn't so much about changing what you do (the way that a new communication technique or a different goal setting strategy might have an impact) as looking at the underlying way we show up. The behaviour changes flow from the deeper shift in whether we're living in a way that's at War or at Peace.

When we’re at Peace, we’re naturally more interested and helpful towards others, which invites the same behaviour to come back in return. And it's not about learning how to say certain things, or 'acting' a certain way  - you can’t fake being at Peace! One of the key differences about the approach is that we’re not doing it for other people. Instead, it allows us to be (effortlessly) the best version of ourselves no matter how someone else is behaving. That means we’re able to stop giving our power away and waiting for others to change, and start taking control of how we're being.

Can you see how this could have a more lasting impact on your team's results than trying to change their 'surface' activities and behaviours? How once you have a competent team in place, what they're doing at work might become less important than how they're doing it.

Over to you

    • Have you experienced this hidden block come up with people you manage?
    • How might your current team see better results with a whole-person focus on their communication styles?

Leave a comment below letting us know your thoughts.

War to Peace® workshops 2017-8

Our upcoming open-access October 2017 workshop is now fully booked (though if you’re keen for a place, feel free to join the waiting list in case of any last-minute changes).

Our recent War to Peace® workshops have all sold out well in advance, and so we're delighted to let you know that we we will now be running 4 open access workshops in 2018. The first of these will fall on on 2 March 2018, and you can click here to find out more and book your place.

If you don’t want to wait that long, it's possible to organise an in-house workshop for you and your team; simply click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072 and let us know what you're looking for. To be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our once per month blogs posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

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Manage teams? You might not have considered this hidden block to improving results, from @halcyonglobal

 

 

 

Photo by James Thomas on Unsplash

5 steps to stop conflict in its tracks

Monday, June 26th, 2017

You don’t have to be psychic to know when there’s conflict brewing.

There are some rare occasions when an argument or altercation arises out of nowhere. Most of the time, however, we have a sense that we’re not seeing eye-to-eye with someone a long time before the situation erupts.

A crystal ball: You don't have to be psychic to stop conflict in its tracksLittle niggles and irritations can easily mount up, especially when it’s someone you spend a significant chunk of your time with. A member of your team you work with daily is likely to rile you more quickly than that irritating person you only encounter at a quarterly meeting. (If it’s someone you share living space with, things are likely to come to a head even faster.)

Most of us don’t enjoy conflict, so despite our best intentions we tend to ignore our intuition when it comes to preventing it. We might decide to ignore it, hide the way we're feeling, or hope the person will change. Or we take the opposite tack, and decide we’ll approach it “head on”, reasoning that things need to come to a head so that we can “clear the air” by telling them directly what we'd like them to change.

The truth is, neither of those paths is satisfactory when it comes to effectively preventing or resolving conflict. There are far more effective ways to address conflict before it escalates – here are five steps you might want to consider to make that process flow a little easier.

1. Listen to your gut

If you have a sense that someone’s frustrating you, pay attention to it. You’re probably not hiding your feelings as well as you think and once you’re beginning to experience irritation with someone, you’ll almost certainly be giving off subtle indications that can exacerbate things.

Notice your physical response: do you feel tongue-tied, sweaty-palmed, or does your pulse race when you speak to them? Sometimes it’s just a feeling that you want to avoid talking to someone, or a sense that there’s “something going on” under the surface of your interactions. Take note – and be ready to start taking action.

2. Identify the issue

What’s at the crux of the matter? A general feeling of annoyance can feel hard to take action on. So a powerful place to start might be by asking yourself how you’d like the other person to change their behaviour. Maybe you feel as though they’re patronising you, acting more helpless than they seem, or being outright confrontational.

Is there something in their attitude that’s frustrating, or a specific behaviour you’d like them to change? Do you feel angry, resentful or upset when you interact with them?

3. Be Honest

Deciding that the other person’s just unreasonable, putting it down to a ‘personality clash’ or burying your head in the sand isn’t the answer to preventing things from getting worse. We might think we're hiding our feelings well, but most of the time the other person will sense that something's getting in the way of clear communication. Perhaps it's inconsistency, when we're submissive one day and assertive the next. Or it might be subtle signals unconsciously demonstrating that we're not connecting with their message, or respecting how they communicate.

The Spiral of Disempowerment® shows us that a breakdown in communication can easily deteriorate further. So try to be honest with yourself about how you feel, including everything that you've experienced.

4. Do the work

Knowing what it is you’d like to change opens up opportunities for you to reflect on how that need is showing up for you. We know that our ‘stories’ – our version of events – frame situations and can actually trigger the behaviour we’re trying to avoid. (That might sound counter-intuitive, but when we're immersed in our feelings, tiny changes in our attitude have a surprisingly big impact on the people we are seeking to change.)

So ask yourself how you're being in this interaction, and consider how you can take a different approach. It's important to remember that this isn't just about what you do, but about how you're showing up, so know that if you're feeling resentful, angry, intimidated, irritated, hurt, manipulated, shut down etc. it will be sensed on some level by the other person, no matter how well you think you are hiding it. The good news is, you don't need the other person to change in order for you to feel differently.

5. Move towards being at Peace

Being at Peace means returning to your natural, effortless, best self – without the headspace that's taken up by your ideas of what you'd like to change about the other person. It’s this transformation that will bring you the clarity, peace and calmness to be your best self, and can completely turn relationships around before they become outright conflict. In our War to Peace® workshop you'll experience the simple process you can use again and again to move out of conflict before it starts, and enjoy greater influence, clarity and productivity as a result.

It’s very natural to want to avoid conflict, or alternatively to feel as though things need to “come to a head” before we make changes. But being aware of how you are being before direct conflict arises is a much saner and smarter way to manage your relationships. In business, you’ll avoid derailing interactions at an inopportune moment. And, personally, you might be surprised, once you've worked on your own internal dialogue, how little you need the other person to change in order for you to have an easier relationship.

Over to you

  • Is there someone you avoid talking to when you can, or who you find yourself running over conversations with in your head after you’ve talked to them? Maybe you’ve found yourself offloading to a mutual acquaintance, seeking support from someone else who finds them difficult? It's great you've noticed this. Know this is a sign that you have been / are being triggered by this person, and means that you are allowing them to influence you to move away from being your best self.
  • Where are the “trouble spots” in how you are being, whether at work or at home? If you're struggling to answer this, just notice and firstly write down all your labels / thoughts about them. Then be honest with yourself about your feelings and external behaviours e.g. I feel resentful, I feel hurt, I feel angry, I withdraw, I get aggressive, I pretend I'm okay when I'm not, my tone of voice changes when I speak to them, I feel 'on edge', I can't find the right words, I try to out-smart them, I feel intimidated etc.
  • Consider new, more helpful labels for the people you're struggling with. What other labels could you give them or their behaviour (in your head or on paper) that would bring out the best in you? e.g. if you view them as over-critical of you, you could choose to see them as someone who cares about you (even though you find the way they are currently communicating this triggering); if you see them as "irritating" you could choose to see them as someone who is helping you to develop the skill of patience. Start experimenting with these labels to see how you can bring out the best in you when you next interact with them.

Need a hand? Or know someone who does?

Our next War to Peace® workshop takes place in October. These public events only run twice a year at the moment so if you’re interested in gaining the skills to manage all kinds of relationships, don’t wait to book your place. Click here for full details and to grab your spotPlease note, we have just 5 spaces left.

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You don't have to be psychic to know when conflict's brewing. 5 steps to stop it in its tracks, via @HalcyonGlobal

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker/Flickr

The missing piece of the puzzle…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Who is annoying you at the moment? Is it other drivers, people who take too long to get to the point, people who are aggressive and short-tempered? What about people who don't do what they agreed to?

It can have quite an impact on us when we have expectations of people that are not being met, especially when our expectations are in line with a broadly accepted idea of what's okay and what is not. It can be particularly frustrating if they are behaving in a way that you wouldn't ever.

The urgent email

This blog was inspired by a War to Peace workshop participant, who shared a powerful story with us of how a senior executive in his organisation had sent an email to someone (let's call him John), asking him to take urgent action to resolve a customer issue. He copied in around 50 people to the email. Two days later, John hadn't replied and it was the talk of the organisation, with people judging John harshly for not having responded or actioned the email.

The originator sent a more vociferous email, stating in no uncertain terms what was expected from John and copied in a further 20 people.  Two days later, John wrote "Sorry I haven't replied to your email, my wife died two days ago. I'll reply to you as soon as I am able".

This story touched us deeply and the participant said it had led him to always asking himself the question, what part of the picture am I missing?

Jigsaw puzzle by Jean Vargas

Photo by Jean Vargas

When else might we be missing pieces of the relationship jigsaw?

Another War to Peace participant shared how his experiences has helped him to consider what pieces of the puzzle he may not have sight of:

The terrible driver ~ Gordon's story

Gordon let us know about one of his experiences after learning the War to Peace methodology. He was driving along the motorway on his way to work. He was about to pull out of the middle lane to overtake the car in front, when he noticed "a maniac in a black BMW" over taking and under taking the cars behind him. 'Bloody idiot!' he said out loud and was about to gesture to him through the window when he remembered a story he had shared at a War to Peace workshop.

Gordon told us how he had been on his way to a funeral and, not knowing where he was going, was following a friend in the car in front. A couple of times, he has nearly lost sight of the friend in front, so had made some last minute manoeuvres. "The gestures I received from other drivers suggested I had inconvenienced them!", Gordon recalled "I was trying to get to the funeral on time, trying to keep up with the person in front of me and wish I could have somehow let the other drivers know my predicament - that I wasn't driving like this on purpose."

It suddenly occurred to Gordon that perhaps 'the bloody idiot' BMW driver had a reason for driving erratically - maybe he was en route to get to see a dying relative in hospital or had just received some terrible news. "As soon as I had that thought, I stopped being irritated by the other driver and it allowed me to drive well myself."

The difficult work colleague ~ my own story

Everyone struggled to work with Jeff. He was bad-tempered, accusatory and a bit of a liar, often refuting that he'd agreed to action certain things when it came to giving an update. If you had a meeting with Jeff, everyone sympathised before you went in and was waiting with baited breath when you came out to hear his latest onslaught. Having tried anything I could think of to deal with him, including having a quiet word with him, challenging him directly in public and even talking to his boss, I would do all that I could to avoid him to be honest, because nothing worked!

One day, a group of us we were in a meeting with Jeff when he got increasingly fractious. He then began clutching his head and suddenly lost consciousness. Unbeknown to Jeff and to us, he was suffering from a brain tumour.

Fortunately, Jeff made a full recovery. His lasting impact on me was to realise that there's always a reason why people behave as they do, and often even they don't understand what that is. All I can do is be the best version of me and learning how to be at Peace with people has really helped me to achieve this.

Yes, but....

I know, what about those people who are just bad-tempered and lie and they aren't sick and they DO just drive badly? Are we supposed to let them off the hook and make excuses for them?

It's a common misunderstanding that being at Peace means being soft and letting people off the hook, and being at War means being tough and making the difficult decisions. This simply isn't the case, because how we are being is far deeper than behaviour and almost anything we do can be done from being at War or at Peace with someone.

In fact, War to Peace participants regularly report making tough decisions (such as firing someone, ending a relationship, making people redundant) have become much easier for them since they experienced the War to Peace methodology. And they have noticed that is far easier for the people who have been affected by the decisions to handle the outcome.

What helps many people is to understand that being at Peace is about having greater clarity of thought, more resourcefulness and therefore more choices. In this place of being at Peace, we are being ourselves - the best version of us becomes readily available, whether that is firm and fair, kind and compassionate or fun and easy-going.

Being at War on the other hand limits our ability to think clearly or see multiple options and solutions, and leaves us feeling disempowered. It's like banging our head against a brick wall because it feels as though we've tried everything - and nothing is working.

Over to you

Spend some time this week considering whether you would rather:

A) Know you are 'right' about someone  - the other driver IS an idiot, that person DOESN'T do a proper job, s/he HAS let me down. You feel stressed, hurt and /or angry (albeit righteously), and spend your energy thinking about how you have been wronged or on how to fix them; or

B) Know that you don't have all the pieces of the jigsaw about this person's life and circumstances. Therefore you get to feel calm, clear-headed and to be the person you want to be, with energy to focus on all the things that are important to you, your colleagues and your loved ones.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you know someone who would like to learn how to become more clear-headed, resourceful and achieve the relationships they want with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on 7 October (just 5 spaces remaining). To book a space, click here.

Loved this? Hate it? As ever, please do leave us a comment below.

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©Halcyon Global 2016