The power of a circle

The power of a circle

When you find yourself wanting team dynamics to change, or wanting a specific relationship to improve, what do you do? Probably a lot of things. I’m guessing you work hard to brainstorm and apply many different approaches to drive growth.

But have you tried the circle trick? We tend to forget this strategy—or ignore it—for many reasons. Though somewhat painful to implement, it’s typically the most effective. And I promise, it will become more encouraging than painful after some practice.

Healthy relationships are the backbone and lifeblood of a strong organization. Let’s do everything in our power to foster them. 

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Using the 5 languages of appreciation

Using the 5 languages of appreciation

We tend to communicate with others using style norms that come most naturally to us—direct vs. indirect, people-focused vs. fact-focused, etc. While not inherently good or bad, our ability to effectively communicate and truly connect with colleagues improves when considering their preferred style, not just our own. This awareness of and adaptation to others’ preferences is known as the Platinum Rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.

This rule applies to all forms of communication, including how we demonstrate appreciation for others. On a subconscious level, your brain is continuously scanning for a sense of importance and belonging at work, asking questions such as: Am I valued here? Do others care about me? Is my work appreciated?

When we perceive negative responses to these questions, the brain experiences a social threat. What’s fascinating, and perhaps most alarming, is that the brain processes this social threat in the same way that it processes a physical threat. As the survival mechanism and emotional reaction take over, we lose access to the brain’s executive functions and critical thinking becomes somewhat inaccessible. Unfortunately, this is the part of our brain we need to keep online and functioning if we want to perform our best at work.

The same applies to our employees and colleagues. If they don’t feel valued and appreciated, their brains experience this same reaction and they, too, lose access to their best thinking and work. That’s a problem.

So let’s ensure they do feel valued. Let’s intentionally communicate in a way that is meaningful to them. Each person’s language of appreciation is different, and we risk miscommunication when taking a “one size fits all” approach.

Using the five languages of appreciation, created by Drs. Gary Chapman and Paul White, can help you identify each employees’ preferred language and learn how to adjust your communication to better connect with them.

I recommend the following next steps.

1. Take the assessment. You can access the comprehensive Motivating By Appreciation assessment online or by purchasing the book. Alternatively, I’ve created a condensed version, influenced by my own question design over the past few years that I use in team workshops—download it here. (You’ll notice that I do not include “physical touch” in the assessment, but do offer tips for appropriately communicating it in the workplace in step 4 below.)

 

2. Ask team members to complete the assessment.

3. Discuss as a team. In addition to discussing overall results and insights, have each team member share the following:

– 3 meaningful ways to communicate appreciation for me and my work are…

– 1 thing others should avoid doing that makes me feel unappreciated is…

– Today’s distanced environment has impacted my feelings of appreciation from and connection with the team in these ways…

4. Implement! Use awareness of the languages of appreciation to apply the Platinum Rule with your colleagues. Scroll through the slides below for tips on ways to better communicate with different styles.

 

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How to solicit actionable feedback

How to solicit actionable feedback

Inviting others to help us uncover blind spots is one of the best ways to increase self-awareness and expedite growth. But it’s hard. It can feel scary and humbling, and most often frustrating.

Not frustrating because of the feedback provided, but because of the lack thereof. When we ask, “Hey, I’d love to know how I can improve. Do you have any feedback for me?” Nine times out of ten we are met with, “Nope, not that I can think of. You’re doing great!” So much for uncovering blind spots.

What can you do instead? Anonymous 360 review? Absolutely, but that certainly can’t be your only mechanism for collecting feedback. You need to be able to gather it more frequently and transparently.

If you want others to give you honest, actionable insights, then you need to change the way you ask for it. In this video, you’ll learn a simple, easy-to-apply method for soliciting feedback that delivers results. Use it with anyone—direct reports, your boss, peers, friends, your spouse, etc.—to increase self awareness and build trust in relationships.

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What gets recognized gets repeated

What gets recognized gets repeated

Though free and immensely impactful, giving thoughtful praise is one of the most untapped management resources out there. Let’s change that. Giving meaningful positive feedback boosts employee engagement and performance—what gets recognized, gets repeated.

On high-performing teams, the ratio of positive to negative feedback is 5:1. What does your feedback ratio look like? In this video, I share examples of how to give specific (vs. generic) praise.

I admit that this video is a bit longer than most, but if you stick with me after the two-minute mark, you’ll get an entertaining glimpse into my marriage that further illustrates this important practice.

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Better group brainstorming

Better group brainstorming

How readily do your employees speak up in meetings? I mean ALL team members, not just the few who comfortably share great (and even not so great) ideas often. 

Unfortunately, simply asking the team to “share their thoughts” doesn’t always ensure we’ll hear all their ideas. Especially in a remote environment. In this video, I suggest a few small tweaks you can make to your group brainstorming process that will get you better results and ensure everyone is engaged.

 

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