How to Create an Emotionally Intelligent Leadership Team

Imagine a leadership team in which everyone is committed to improving their social and emotional intelligence. In such a team, people feel supported, have clear communication, manage conflict well, and create a safe environment in which to take risks. A leadership team with these attributes will be more likely to experience high productivity, enhanced innovation and create an environment where employees thrive.

I recently had the opportunity to work with a leadership team committed to developing its social and emotional intelligence. Each team member took the Social+Emotional Intelligence Profile (SEIP)® which measures 26 distinct social and emotional intelligence competencies. Team members received feedback about their individual strengths, with suggestions on ways to improve their own social and emotional intelligence. A team report was generated showing the various aspects of the team’s social and emotional intelligence. During the debrief of the team report, the team was given the opportunity to acknowledge their strengths and explore areas for improvement. Each team member left our debrief session motivated to develop specific strategies to increase the team’s effectiveness by improving specific aspects of their own social and emotional intelligence.

Team effectiveness will not improve without the willingness of team members to improve their own development. The Social+Emotional Intelligence Profile gives teams a measurable way to assess their own team functioning as well as the opportunity for each team member to create concrete ways they can contribute to team effectiveness.

For more information about improving team effectiveness with the Social+Emotional Intelligence Profile (SEIP)®, contact Alisa Blum at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

6 Keys to Better Communication That Really Work

What really works in communication will change from situation to situation, so that is why we start with….

1.  Know the purpose of the communication.  Is it to chat and be friendly?  Create warmth and rapport?  Or is it a task driven communication?  A bit of each?  If it is rapport driven, it will often take more time and seem unproductive in terms of task.  Of course, without trust and rapport, communication about tasks can quickly run into problems — and take longer.  That’s why it is tricky.   There is no magic answer; you have to pay attention.

2.  Learn to focus and give the other person full attention.  Notice not only what they say, but also how they say it.  This is the opposite of thinking about what you will be saying next, or wondering whom just texted you.  Be PRESENT!  A lot of issues with both rapport and productivity magically clear when you are fully present.  If this is an issue for you, look into skills and practices, which increase your mindfulness and presence.

3.  Let the other person talk, too.This may not be an issue for some, but if you tend to talk more than half the time (be honest), you lose your impact (and maybe your friends).  LISTEN! If the other person participates as much as you, then you both buy-in to conversation.  Problems get solved when both people have buy-in and are willing to cooperate. However, if you are a dump truck of words, only you are buying-in. 

4.  Notice the response you get.  If you really pay attention, you’ll know when you hit the right chord.  You won’t need to assume or guess — their face and posture will tell you.  

5.  Organize your thoughts when you are trying to be productive.  If you are just hanging out, enjoy the stream of consciousness. But if you want business to happen, get to the point.  What’s important?  Give the other person a context and wait until they agree to be on this topic.  (How many times do people launch into a topic without waiting for the other person’s acknowledgement of “go ahead”?)  

How can you relay the information succinctly?  This is one of the keys of credibility — don’t ramble, state.  An example can be enlightening — but make it an example, not a 5-minute story.  Stay on one topic and finish the conversation before sailing on to the second topic. Consider a summary if the explanation is long, and give the other person a change to restate and ask questions. 

6.  Be organized yourself.  Follow-up, remember personal details (start with names), thank people.  Occasionally follow-up with emails, and occasionally do it with paper — what an impact a written thank you makes!    

There is no perfect communication — it is a dance, and like a dance it will ebb and flow.  There is, however, ways to deceive ourselves into thinking we are communicating when we aren’t — we’re just talking or writing. Take one of these suggestions each day for a week and practice.  It’s the road to change and improvement.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is an associate at Alisa Blum & Associates and co-director of AIM for Organizational Health.  Contact us at aimportland@gmail.com to explore how we can help to improve communication in the workplace. Information about our services can be found at www.aimportland.com.

Tools for Reducing Internal Conflict

 

 

When we think of a conflict, we most likely think about a disagreement with another person.  In actuality, for many people, the conflicts we have inside ourselves cause us the most distress.

Here are 3 ways to effectively deal with internal conflicts:

  1. Notice your early warning signals.

How does your body react when you are upset? Does your heart beat fast, do your hands get sweaty, do you clench your jaw, does your stomach tighten, do you talk to yourself in a nasty tone?  By paying attention to your early warning signals you can redirect and calm yourself.  Try a short meditation such as Judy Sugg’s 3-minute mindful pause.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

 Are you your own worst enemy? Do you find that you are more critical of yourself than others are of you?  The first step in becoming less self-critical is to become aware you are giving yourself negative messages and then, consciously substitute the negative self-messages with positive self-messages.  Treat yourself with the same kindness you would give a good friend.

  1. Give your worries a reality check.

You may find that fretting over what could go wrong keeps you from directly dealing with a conflict.  Often worries over what could go wrong are exaggerated.  Talk with someone you trust and who is familiar with the situation. You may find the reality of the situation is less toxic than your fears.

You can find more tools for conflict resolution in the book, “Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness” by Judith Sugg & Alisa Blum.  Information about our training programs for organizational health can be found at aimportland.com .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Maximizing the Power of Your Holiday Events?

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

As the holidays approach, think about the last time you attended a holiday gathering at work that felt meaningful?  How can you strategically use your upcoming holiday event to help your employees understand the unique contributions they each bring to the workplace?

Research has shown that recognition increases productivity, enhances employee engagement, improves team culture and increases retention. Your upcoming holiday gathering can be an opportune time to show employees the value they bring to your organization.  Make sure you are specific about how each employee has contributed to your organization’s success this year.  And follow up with frequent recognition throughout 2019.

If you would like assistance developing specific recognition strategies, we would love to help.  We can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

www.developtopemployees.com

4 Steps to Getting Over Stage Fright

It’s one of those problems we don’t talk about a lot.  Yet many business people suffer from a fear of speaking in public that’s severe enough to damage their career.  You can change!  Do these simple steps and it improvement will be rapid.

First, before a specific talk:

  1. Be prepared. This is the MOST important thing you can do.
  2. Practice the first 5 sentences at least ten times.Know them very well.  You can go on automatic at that point and get over the initial jitters.
  3. Practice the whole talk 1-3 times.
  4. Look good! Dress well, comfortably, loose waistbands, nothing fussy or worrisome.

Second, just before the talk:

  1. SING!!! Sing at the top of your voice in the car on the way.Sing scales.  Hum in the bathroom. (Loosen vocal cords, deepen breathing)
  2. Try tensing a hand, abdominals, jaw.Do it deliberately, then release.  The idea is to consciously give yourself control over tension and relaxation.  One public speaker says that isometric tension of abdominals is her key to preventing stage fright.
  3. Take a few deep breaths with a LONGER EXHALE to signal relaxation to your overwrought nervous system.

Third, just before you open your mouth:

  1. On the way to the chair or podium, sing in your head!Hear some music that makes you feel upbeat and powerful.
  2. Check the self-talk – switch from “I’m so scared” to things like:“I am prepared.” “I can HANDLE THIS!”  “I talk well.”  “I may actually enjoy this.”  “I’m the one they choose to talk.”  “I’m good at my job.”   (Self-talk is a large part of what is scaring you to death!  Say your new phrases with happily, with enthusiasm!)
  3. Pause and look at your audience. Get their attention. Breathe.

Four, here are strategies to have more fun as a speaker: 

  1. Go to Toastmasters or something like it. This will build your “speaking muscles.”
  2. Find ways to practice – groups, church, school, etc.
  3. Keep a journal of your public speaking – hopes, fears, successes, feedback.No failure, only feedback.
  4. When you feel a twinge of fear, practice diaphragmatic breathing – exhale 2 times before you inhale.Feel the belly rise and fall as you breath (this means clothes are loose enough).  Loosen your shoulders and jaw as you exhale.
  5. What’s your belief about fear?Some fear may be helpful – you just want to do a good job.  Some beliefs generate the fear.  Write them down and “dispute” them:

            No one else is scared.  Dispute: I know that stage fright is common.

            People will know I’m scared.  Dispute: True, so what? May not be true—my team says I sound just fine.

I’ll forget my part.  Dispute: Maybe, but I have my notes.

Fifth, visualize for better speeches.  Maybe you’ve rehearsed fear and failure in your head for a long time.  Try this instead!

  1. Imagine someone giving your talk successfully. See and hear them, hear the applause.
  2. Make any improvements to this scene.
  3. Now, step in and imagine yourself doing the same thing.See, hear and feel yourself successfully going through the talk as if you were there.  Hear the applause!  Hear yourself say “Good job!” “I did really well” to yourself.
  4. Write down anything you learned from this exercise that will help you. You can practice as much as you like.

Speaking in public can be rewarding and powerful for your career.  Take the next step.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is an author, teacher and consultant who helps people and organizations clarify their vision, improve their interactions, understand conflict, and thrive in their surroundings.  She partners with Alisa Blum at AIM for Organizational Health to raise Awareness, achieve Integration and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Judy is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Fearless Presenting: 100 Lessons to Beat Anxiety and Give Stellar Presentations available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

What is Your Employee Retention Strategy?

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

Finding high quality candidates is a major concern for businesses these days.  Although we can’t change the fact that many Boomer employees are retiring or that people will leave their jobs for personal reasons, turnover can be significantly reduced by developing and implementing  employee retention strategies.

Gallup’s State of the American Workforce Report gives detailed information about the relationship between employee engagement and employee retention.  We have so much information about how to engage employees.  The hard part is taking action.

If your organization is being impacted by employee turnover and you are having a hard time filling your positions, it is essential to make engaging and retaining your employees a priority.  You can start by letting your employees know you value their contributions and gather their input as to what you can do to keep them long term.  You may also want to conduct a survey based on the engagement factors the Gallup Organization has identified as critical to employee retention.  Make sure your efforts to find out how to improve employee retention results in specific plans and actions.

When you make a plan to increase retention and take the steps necessary to implement this plan, you will see decreased turnover and, therefore, reduce the need to fill positions in this tight job market.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses & organizations select, develop and retain top employees.  You may contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss strategies  to retain your top talent at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com. Information about our services can be found at developtopemployees.com.

How Negative Stereotyping is Impacting Millennials

 

A recent report from Udemy, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Millennials across the U.S., found that 86 percent feel undermined by negative stereotypes in the workplace.

I’ve spent many years providing training to help employees work better across generations.  Here are some ways I’ve found helpful in understanding Millennials and reducing negative stereotyping:

  1. Younger generations historically are the victims of negative stereotyping. If you are a Boomer, think back to how employers felt about your generation of hippies entering the workforce.  If you are a Gen X’er, you probably remember your generation being called  “slackers” when you entered the workforce.  You proved that you were productive employees and you will find that many young employees, if they have appropriate support, are and will become productive employees.
  2. Millennials are labeled as being too demanding when they are vocal about expressing their needs in areas such as equity, positive feedback and flexibility. Productivity and retention improve when employees feel supported and perceive they are being treated in an equitable manner. Listen to your employees and try to meet their needs.  When you can’t meet their requests, discuss the business rationale for doing so.
  3. Entitlement” is often confused with ambition.Employees from this generation may want to get promoted faster than those in older generations.  Rather than labeling them as “entitled”, they need to be given guidance about the skills needed to move to higher levels in the organization.
  4. Appreciating the unique contributions each individual makes can lessen the tendency to stereotype and enhance engagement.  Get to know your employees and determine how to leverage each individual’s strengths.

What do you think are the business costs of negative stereotyping?  What is your organization doing to address this?

I am very interested in your input on this topic.  Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me at alisa@developtopemployees.com.

 

How to Engage & Retain Millennials

Business and organizational leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about how to retain talented millennial employees, because they know that their organizations will only be sustainable with a cadre of employees committed for the long term.  Here’s a clip of a recent interview I gave to the MEECO Institute that addresses steps managers can take to increase the engagement and retention of millennial employees: https://www.youtube.com/embed/lgS9QevUrBQ?start=508&end=678 

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

The Hazards of Mindlessness

I recently experienced the hazards of mindlessness. I was getting ready for a dinner party and couldn’t reach the plates I wanted, so I stood on a counter height chair to reach them. As I was getting the plates down, I was distracted by a news story on T.V. I lost my focus and tumbled to the ground. Fortunately, I was not hurt too badly, but the episode could have easily ended in disaster.

For the past 3 years, Judith Sugg and I have been providing training to organizations that want to integrate mindfulness techniques to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. Through this work and my own experiences integrating mindfulness practices into my own life, I have been able to see how mindfulness can decrease stress, improve communication and enhance productivity.

I am now acutely aware of the continuous attention and effort that is required to truly integrate mindfulness into our lives. My “mindlessness” incident made me think about all the times we create problems because we lack focus and intent. How many car accidents and falls occur because we are distracted?

And, how much miscommunication happens because we are not thinking about the impact of our words on others?

I ask you to consider how you and the people you work with are impacted by mindlessness. And think about how safety and workplace relationships can be improved when people become more mindful.

 

 Alisa Blum, MSW and Judith Sugg, PhD are principals at AIM for Organizational Health.   Information about their programs can be found at www.aimportland.com.  They can be reached at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 481-7586.

It’s Time to Focus on Respect

 

As the public has become increasingly aware of the sexual harassment and sexual assault women have been receiving in the workplace, there has been much discussion about what to do to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. The solution to the prevention of the behaviors that lead to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is quite complex as legal issues, corporate culture and individual behavior change all need to be addressed.

One way to prevent this abhorrent and destructive behavior is to create a culture of respect in the workplace.   So, how do we do this?

First, it is important to develop the capacity to reflect on your own behavior. Are you communicating with others in a way they find demeaning? Do you even know if you are communicating in this manner? Do you have the courage to find out? What would happen if men in executive positions asked female employees what types of behaviors they found disrespectful — And then, changed behaviors that the female employees found to be offensive? If these discussions were modeled and encouraged by executives, would others in the organization feel free to have these discussions?

Creating a safe environment is key to developing a respectful workplace.   One way to create a safe environment is to demonstrate empathy. Whether you agree with the other person’s perspective or not, put yourself in their shoes and show them that you understand their perspective and their feelings.

When developing new strategies to create a respectful workplace, collaborate with others. Our best solutions happen when we ask for input and capitalize on the strengths of those we work with day to day. And finally, when all of these aspects of respect are put in to place, you will create a thriving work environment.

Keep this acronym in mind to help you remember the qualities for creating a respectful workplace:

Reflective

Encouraging

Safe

Perspective taking

Empathetic

Collaborative

Thrive

Employers can’t afford to wait to take the steps now to create a respectful work environment.

© 2017, Alisa Blum, Alisa Blum & Associates, All Rights Reserved

Alisa Blum & Associates works with businesses and organizations to build relationships that enhance individual and team effectiveness.  Information about our services can be found at www.developtopemployees.com.