Rainbow Thinking and Acting!

Contribution Respect Teamwork

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Key Point: Learn to think of yourself as a complete system and then behave with that in mind. When you and I begin to operate from this framework, we can and will learn how to more effectively lead others and subsequently ourselves. The following is an excerpt from an exceptional article in McKinsey&Company:  

“To help managers and employees understand each other, many corporate-education tools use simplified typing systems to describe each party’s makeup. These tests often classify people relatively quickly, and in easily remembered ways: Team members might be red or blue, green or yellow, for example. There are benefits in this approach, but in our experience it does not go far enough and those using it should understand its limitations. We all possess the full range of qualities these assessments identify. We are not one thing or the other: We are all at once, to varying degrees.” 

As the superb brain researcher Dr. Dan Siegel explains, “We must accept our multiplicity, the fact that we can show up quite differently in our athletic, intellectual, sexual, spiritual—or many other—states. A heterogeneous collection of states is completely normal in us humans.”

Thinking that we are “one color” and ignoring the reality of our personal multiplicity is in my view, intellectually lazy.  As Erica Ariel Fox points out her exceptional book Winning from Within, “We can achieve self-understanding, without drowning in unwieldy complexity, by concentrating on the Big Four of our ‘inner team.’”

See the “Big Four” here. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Learn to lead change, which is a required capability in this world. In order to do this, we need to understand how to change ourselves first. That means having the ability to concentrate and apply our multiplicity; as an example, by applying the Big Four of our INNER TEAM. Do you do that? 
  2. Determine a circumstance you’re currently in where you can or have applied your full inner team! Write it out on a page using the above Big Four framework. What did you learn about yourself? 
  3. To complete yourself as a leader consult others who can help you complete your own inner team thinking. People who are at various levels on the inspirational, analytical, emotional, and/or practical continuum, surround us. Connect with them. 

Deploy your INNER TEAM in The Triangle, 

Lorne  

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

One Millennial View: These days, a common view regarding almost any situation, whether at work or in life, seems to be our generation’s necessity to explore all options. Respectfully acknowledge all viewpoints, and throw stubbornness aside. Even when we disagree, it’s simply “not chill” to be too closed minded, and it’s no surprise that a successful leadership system encourages exploring all corners of the “inner team” to generate the best results. 

– Garrett Rubis

Someone’s Talking About You and Me!

Accountability Contribution Organizational leadership

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Key Point: Know what people are saying about you! I’ve been through many years of succession or talent planning, a process where responsible leaders actively review who is promotable and ready to rise vertically in the company. The overall objective is to develop a clear understanding and alignment as to where everyone in the organization is relative to matching skills, attributes, and the needs of a changing organization. Some processes are better than others. But excellent leaders embrace their obligation to keep the leadership pipeline rich in talent along with an intentional commitment to developing “human capital” at every level.

Whatever system of talent or performance review is applied, there is a group that emerges in the “outstanding and ready for more” category and there is most often a unanimous view that these are “shooting stars.” If more people understood how few people populated this “upper right corner” and how much control they actually have in populating this category, I believe more of us would aspire to be there. At the same time, my experience is that there are a lot of folks, and maybe even too many, “in the middle.” These folks are important producers, they’re considered “solid,” usually with the capacity for more contribution, although perhaps not vertical position growth. The “middle” includes great team members that drive the daily engine of the company and it is important they continue to grow and develop even if they do not rise to a higher level. Let’s face it… Unless we become the CEO, we all run out of vertical room at some time in the journey.

And then there are the under performers or “blockers” that have slipped into the category, of “needing to grow, improve or leave.” Most of us DO NOT want to be in that group. You want people to have a great conversation about YOU but NOT that one. And if they are, you need to know so you can act on the situation. Once placed in that field or quadrant it’s hard to move forward without a very effective game plan.

It may feel odd or even annoying that people confidentially get in a room to “talk about us,” but they do, even in the most informal, poorly managed organizations. Ideally, this process will continue to become more transparent and each of us will work for leaders who ensure to tell us where we stand, with the respect and dignity we deserve. Hopefully we have enough self-awareness to know. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Ultimately we are the ones that need to consciously drive our own careers.

Character Moves:

  1. Be sure you are constantly improving and adding both skill AND experience, while working on your personal EQ development too. Staying the “same” will guarantee you will eventually slip into the under performer and/or blocker category.
  2. If you want to be considered in the upper right shooting star quadrant, you do not have to be perfect. However, you have to minimally demonstrate four things: A. You constantly achieve measurable results. B. You build relationships and people value your contributions at every level. C. People line up to work with or for you, and D. You always put what’s best for the team and company first. (All of us are expected to be smart, a hard worker, etc., at every level. Don’t expect to be in the upper quadrant on hard work alone). Additionally, these upper quadrant folks have a unique “brand” and “view.” They respectfully speak their minds and take risks. They are not perceived as political “suck ups” to upper levels. Yet, senior executives get to know these people. They are not afraid to “fail” and as a result, win way more often than they lose.
  3. I think I’ve spent most of my career in the upper top right corner, but I’ve also slipped into less desirable categories. It can happen quickly and if you’re a fast riser, the fall can be fast and furious. The career killer is most often an unbridled ego. Applying the Character Triangle values will keep you firmly planted while moving forward. In the end, it’s not about “what box you’re in.” A great career is defined by our personal growth, value we create, what we give of ourselves to others and the meaningful relationships we develop.

Talking about us in The Triangle,

Lorne

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

One Millennial View: It’s a good reminder to understand that regardless of what position is emblazoned on your business card, and despite your own perspective of where you stand in the company as a whole, someone is still discussing you and your contribution. Some people might think they fly under the radar. Millennials don’t really need to be told, “if you’re not doing your job, you’re going to lose it.” Most individuals with any wherewithal probably don’t. But if we want to get ahead in an organization we love, it’s easy to forget that hanging out “in the middle” won’t get us there. C’s may have earned some of us degrees in school, but a C effort in the organization isn’t going to score that corner office.

– Garrett Rubis

The 5 Workplace Deal Breakers

Accountability Organizational culture Organizational leadership

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Key Point: BambooHR has a very interesting info graphic (see below) outlining the results of a recent survey they conducted with more than 1,000 U.S. based employees of all ages and positions. I think this data is reinforced by numerous other studies and I want to focus on what the research defined as the “Top Five Deal Breakers.” These are the things that just drive employees crazy and end up impacting their decision to quit (sometimes while still on the job). And the five are:

 1. The boss doesn’t trust you.

2. Work expectations when off the clock.

3. Difficult co-workers.

4. Boss blames you for mistakes.

5. Work isn’t flexible.

Workplace Deal Breakers_v3

 

Of course, the common theme underlying these deal breakers is effective leadership. However, each of us has an individual, self-accountable role to play in helping the formal leadership develop and create an environment that minimizes the impact of “deal breakers.” I’m NOT taking leadership off the hook, but I think individuals may have more influence over the five deal breakers than they sometimes think.

1. Help the boss trust you.

We know from Dan Pink‘s research (along with other studies), that autonomy is vital for promoting personal motivation. And most bosses want “go to people.” Typically, when these reliable people make a commitment, you can count on them meeting it. The more we demonstrate our ability to meet (and ideally even or occasionally exceed) our obligations, the more trust we will engender. So be accountable, step up and communicate progress along they way. Don’t expect your manager to mind read. Some managers can’t let go regardless and become micro-managing control freaks. What YOU and I can control is our personal brand as a trust generator.

2 and 5. Work expectations when off the clock/Work isn’t flexible.

The more you can get clarity on the results you’re responsible for, the more you can manage your time and how time is used to manage you. Try and move the discussion with your direct leadership AWAY from time, and instead aim focus at result deliverables. Supervisors that measure you almost exclusively based on how much time you put in versus results are likely more into using that medium for personal control and/or assurance. It’s a bogus replacement for defining clear expectations and results. On the other hand, don’t use time as an excuse for your inability to deliver. (“Sorry… I was on vacation and left before I met a commitment you needed finished”).

3. Difficult co-workers.

You are going to be at every place you wind up working at. There is no place to escape, and I guarantee, difficult co-workers will be there to join you. The key is to develop your emotional quotient (EQ) and a set of personal tools to learn how to deal with difficult co-workers. If you can learn how to constructively confront the challenging and even destructive behavior of others, it will be a valuable life long skill. Lead from how you choose to deal with these problematic folks. This includes the skills of reframing, crucial conversations, STP and more. Develop a complete and ever evolving tool kit you carry and use daily.

4. Boss blames you for mistakes.

A blaming boss versus a coaching boss is a very challenging situation. If you have a boss that tends to lean towards blame, my experience is that it is unlikely you can do much to change this. Often this kind of boss is coming from a position of personal weakness, so my best advice is to find a way to get a new boss. The best tactic to minimize damage caused by blaming discussions is to redirect the blaming and finger pointing to focusing on the process, situation, and issue. Take personality judgment off the table as much as you can.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember as an individual employee you personally have more control over the five deal breakers than you think. If you’re a leader, know where you are on minimizing these deal breakers in your work group.
  2. Note that the summary line in the info graphic above is great advice and guidance for all organizations.

No deal breakers in The Triangle,

Lorne

Published and edited by Garrett Rubis

One Millennial View: Work flexibility/off the clock work expectations are the deal breakers that really shine in this list for me. I’m fortunate to have a trusting boss and when it comes to frustrating co-workers, I think we’re closely removed enough from college group projects where we remember how to suck it up and “fake smile” through working with weak, or discouraging links… “Get the job done, shovel petty personal differences away.” Most of my friends working for progressive, profitable, and desirable companies have extremely flexible (sometimes enviable) work schedules… I recently had a business coffee, before her workday started, with someone who works for a very prominent sports network. Was it cool that she took an extra 30 minutes with me instead of reporting to the studio? Yes. Because she knew her objectives, and her bosses are confident she can get them done. If she happened to have a more specific call time that day, it would be understandable that she’d have to boogie back for that. Deadlines and responsibility often vary day to day, and realistic companies know that. I’m always aiming to work for an organization that appreciates my contribution/value over pinpointed minutes I spend staring at a computer screen. I’m also always willing to put in the extra time as needed.

– Garrett Rubis

Use This Leadership Tool: “Switch and Commit”

Abundance Management Teamwork

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Key Point: As a leader you need to know how to encourage “differing without dividing.” It is an important skill for creating the best possible solution and can be supercharged by combining it with another tool I’ve introduced to you previously called STP. I’m literally using “switch and commit” with my current executive crew. It works! 

My top team is a high functioning and effective group and the goal is to have us all commit to a commonly accepted target (or end of process) without causing a huge and unnecessary rift. So we begin our one-on-one conversations by agreeing on what the end point (target) is. Each member of my team has their own preferred view and after hearing that perspective, I ask them to switch and argue another, differing, and opposing viewpoint. These are challenging conversations that involve an organization restructure. This technique in the leadership tool kit is not intended for determining “where to eat lunch.” It is an effective process that often plies open opportunities or solutions not originally considered and is best used when challenging issues that require compromise and an abundant outcome (that initially may feel like a loss). It can be utilized one-on-one or in team meetings. The source for this tool is reinforced and attributed to a Stanford blog that refers to a recent Barnett Talks article. The following outlines the author’s approach:  

“I prefer ‘switch and commit.’  The goal is still to end up committing at the end of the process, but during the decision I want the participants to switch roles.  The person disagreeing with you needs to take your position and argue it well.  Similarly, you must argue the other’s view well. You can think of the approach as devil’s advocacy taken seriously by both sides.

I first tried ‘switch and commit’ when teaching a controversial topic at Stanford. For the first assignment, the students had to state their position on the topic.  For the second, big assignment, they had to write an essay taking the opposite view. (They did not hear about the second assignment until after they handed in the first.)  The end results were some fantastic essays, because the authors were legitimately skeptical.”

The author goes on to note how he currently uses this technique for hard-hitting business topics. It doesn’t always work because some people struggle to open themselves to an authentically opposing viewpoint. He goes on to say though… “An exceptional leader (and I might add… colleague…) appreciates the value of differing without dividing.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Encourage “differing without dividing” by practicing and using the “switch and commit” tool. Your best leaders and teammates will commit to the end goal or “target” and then be prepared to vigorously explore a differing and ultimately not divisive dialogue. 
  2. Intentionally encourage people to argue another person’s perspective real time in group meetings. It creates greater understanding and empathy. It also promotes ideas that spring from constructive and creative abundance (for example, how do I make this a win versus a loss).
  3. Ask switchers to not only pursue the other viewpoint from a content perspective but also track the feelings or emotions that ride along with the “switch.”

Differing without dividing in the Triangle, 

Lorne 

Edited and Published by Garrett Rubis

Millennial View: Most millennials are probably at work for one thing: To get amazing, noticeable results that keep you progressing, relevant and wanted. Arguing “hypothetical” alternative view points to “better understand” how to reach a common target sounds nice in theory, but the fact of the matter is, I’m going to get the job done no matter how I feel… I don’t have the “pull” to sway a company objective. I can live with that now. It seems like millennials automatically “differ without dividing.” We just want to get our work complete, so is talking about a hypothetical alternative getting in the way of that? 

Ok… Let’s Work Out an Exit ASAP

Accountability Management Organizational leadership

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Key Point: Leaders need to be great (albeit not perfect) AND so do employees… Not just some but ALL of them. We do regular, ANONYMOUS, employee engagement surveys and fortunately have top-level scores. Comparing the results of these surveys to thousands of other companies, one can reasonably argue that our organization represents one of the best companies in North America to work for. Yet, when I look at the results I am amazed to see a small group of individuals with exceptionally low scores. Their personal engagement is far from the norm, and as a result, it is safe to assume that they are feeling miserable. (Note: We have some executives in this category too. Low scoring people exist at all levels. We purposefully do not know their identities, and will always ensure their personal privacy, but the data is clear). They obviously don’t like their jobs and they don’t like the company. To be specific, according to their survey responses, they do not really want to stay.

It is not for me to judge the personal reason people feel this way. I want to treat these people with the utmost respect AND I want to invite them to leave the company ASAP. So my request to the survey companies we are using, is to find a way to totally protect the anonymous nature of all individuals, the integrity of the survey instruments, and still communicate an offer to these employees… It could go something like this:

“Hi, this is an automatic and anonymous email based on a software algorithm that is responding to your personal survey results. No real person will see this email unless you want them to. Your own survey results indicate that you are both deeply dissatisfied and disengaged in your role, and with the company overall. We are sincerely sorry to hear that. If it is a matter related to your direct leadership, we are committed to changing and improving that. The data will show if there is a leadership issue in your general work area, and we will performance coach accordingly. However, if it is a matter of us (you and your collective teammates) no longer matching for whatever reasons, and you feel pessimistic about this situation changing for the better, please recognize that and consider making a change ASAP. Let’s get together and work out a fair and reasonable exit package for you. We know that you need a fair amount of time and money to find something more suited to you. Please think about this offer. It is not good for you or us to have you here dissatisfied and disengaged. Hope to hear from you soon.”

The survey companies have NOT told me whether we can do this, or if they would be willing to if they could, and frankly, I need more advice as to whether we really should. However, I think team members have the right to expect the best from their teammates. I’m not talking about every single day. For example, Friday of last week just sucked for me. I didn’t feel very good at the end of the day. But that was just one data point. Overall, I’m fired up and giving it my all. I expect the same thing from everyone I work with.

Character Moves:

  1. Consider renewing your employee engagement  “vows” with your company. It could go like this: A) I’m committed to being self-accountable for my thinking, attitude and action at work. This includes taking responsibility for knowing what’s expected of me, how my results and value are measured, and executing to achieve the desired outcomes. B) I’m committed to understanding how I fit into the organization’s purpose and results and why what I do is important to the overall success of my team and company. C) I’m committed to being a continuous learner and improver. D) I’m committed to being a great teammate, to helping others thrive in their roles based on the work I do and service I give to them.
  2. Consider if the company is living up to its end of the relationship? Its “vow” to you could be something like this: A) The leadership team is committed to being clear on the company purpose and expected results. B) The leadership team is committed to you knowing how you fit in and why your individual contribution is vital. C) The leadership team is committed to providing an environment for you to thrive in, including but not limited to fair and reasonable pay/benefits, recognition, and access to the information and knowledge you need to successfully contribute. D) The leadership team is fully committed to encouraging, supporting AND investing in your personal growth in every way.
  3. If the commitment exchange is equitable. Keep going… You and the company will very likely continue to thrive. If not… Get out ASAP. You and your organization deserve a better outcome.

Renewing vows in the Triangle,

Lorne

Published and Edited by Garrett Rubis 

[Ed Note: I’ve been asked to give my opinion on blogs from now on from my perspective as a millennial. So here’s the first of what will hopefully be many perspectives on all Character Triangle blogs.] 

Millennial View: So, today’s iffy job market has seemingly created something called “fun-employment” among some millennials… (It’s a quip on unemployment, where instead of freaking out if laid off, you go travel, you go “figure yourself out,” probably rack up some debt, make some mistakes, but come out of it by finding a new job and career path that you really, truly excel at and love). It seems enticing… Almost smart, in an “everything will work out ok one day” type of adventurous way. But I think anyone with a steady job is willing to slug it out at a nightmare position with a steady paycheck (for at least a while), instead of the alternative of being even poorer and more “homeless” than we already are. But, guess what? In the end, I think we all know we’re not doing ourselves any favors by sitting in a horrible, unprogressive career situation if it’s making us miserable… Straight up quitting a bad job might be scary, but it’ll also be that huge, extremely hot fire under your butt that’ll force you to make that next (hopefully better) step happen (ideally, before you have to move back in with your parents). And maybe that extra sleep and that trip to wherever you don’t have time to go now, is the first leap to a better you.