Your Attitude is everything

The greatest asset you can bring to any situation or project is your positive attitude. One that is constructive and helpful. It affects not only you but also those you work with. Your attitude is the first thing you communicate, often without realizing that you are doing it. Being aware about this and being more intention about your attitude will help you communicate more constructively.

How you approach people, projects and problems greatly affects how you manage them. If you expect the worst, approaching it with a negative attitude, chances are the outcomes will be less than constructive and you won’t be satisfied with the result.

However, if you approach things from a positive perspective, your chances of success are much greater. Seek the best possible outcome, one that focuses on everyone’s best qualities and capacities, as well as the best potential outcome for the project. I once worked with a manager whose motto was: “Expect the best and be prepared for the worst.” He and his team operated with a positive outlook which affected both the working environment and the outcomes of their projects.

A perspective is the filter we choose to use when looking at situations or people. Our attitudes are shaped by our perspectives. We choose our attitudes. This is why two employees when faced with exactly the same work situation will choose to respond differently because they have chosen a different attitude towards it.

I once dealt with a manager who saw training for his staff as a cost to his project’s bottom line. After speaking with him about his department’s needs, I asked him to change his perspective and to look at this situation as an investment in his team’s future success and results. His attitude changed and this had a trickledown effect on his staff.

Do you see opposition or an opportunity?
Do you see a problem or a possibility?
Do you see a crisis or a chance to problem solve?

If your managerial default is to see challenges as problems, change your perspective and look at possibilities instead. It’s likely that you’ll discover a creative solution that hadn’t been obvious to you or your team.

The next time you’re faced with a management challenge. Look at it from more than one perspective. Change the filter you chose to see it through. Make it more positive. It will affect how you approach things and this will alter the outcome. Besides, being negative never works!

Mentoring

A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. It is usually someone more senior in position than you and someone who will listen to you and give you some quality advice.

The first thing I encourage first time managers or new salespeople to do is to get a mentor. Find a person you trust and respect and who will help you improve your odds of success.

I have had one or a series of them for more than 25 years in my professional life and they have proven to be invaluable to me. I have also served as a mentor to a junior colleague and to one who was new to the organization in which I worked.

Mentoring can help you feel connected in a special way to your mentee on your team. It will also help you develop your own skills, explaining how to move forward and how things work. It also builds your abilities at the same time.

A Mentor is …
• Supportive and constructive
• Available and prepared
• A good listener and sounding board
• Challenging (Mentee)

Mentoring has its benefits, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, not only for the one being mentored, but also for the manager who does the mentoring. Managers who provide career-related mentoring to their direct reports are actually rated as better performers in their job by their boss. It can be a win/win.

Management can be a lonely occupation. Why not pick the brains, run some new ideas by them, share successes and failures, seek advice from potential advisors and sounding boards, either in your own company or through professional associations.

Reverse Mentoring: Often, mentoring relationships go in one direction: from senior to junior. For the first time in many years, younger employees can switch it up, adding value (through Social Media or IT knowledge) back to their older colleagues. This is also a great way to boost morale and team spirit, especially with new and younger employees.

If mentoring is not your thing, consider joining a mastermind group.

Mastermind Groups
Groups of different people who contribute to each other’s development through brainstorming ideas, challenging, supporting, providing feedback and accountability by keeping you focused and on track.

Mastermind Groups
• Work on solutions/ideas with energy
• Gain experience, skills and confidence
• Overcome feeling isolated

Tip:

Do you currently mentor?
Are you a member of a mastermind group or do you have a mentor?
If not, why not?

Enthusiastic Employees

The buzz currently in organizational circles is about engaged employees or employee engagement.
The truth is that engaged employees are enthusiastic ones. Nothing is more contagious (but so is the flu!) than enthusiasm, especially in the workplace.

The Enthusiastic Employee

Enthusiastic employees are not necessarily rah, rah types. They are interested and engaged in their work and with the people with whom they work. They have a strong passion. Passion is something that can’t be taught. It can be caught, but not taught. One way to spread the enthusiasm virus is to assign an enthusiastic employee to someone who needs to be. This attitude will positively affect both of them.
Are you disengaged?

Disengaged employees are incredibly costly to organizations. This happens when employees are at work but are not fully engaged in it and not as productive as they could be. It happens when people are ‘checked out’ at work. How much does this disengagement cost your organization?

To reduce the high cost of attrition, staff turnover and down time, use your people skills such as motivation, coaching and mentoring to engage your workforce to become more productive. Model your enthusiasm and engagement for your work to other employees. It will over time rub off.

Enjoy your Job

Work can be enjoyed and not just endured. The difference is whether you are fully engaged in it or not.
Here are some questions to consider:
• Does your superior pay attention to you?
• Do you pay attention to your staff and co-workers?
• Do you feel your work makes a valued contribution?
• Do you enjoy the people with whom you work?
• Are you able to use your strengths?

If you are a manager, supervisor or leader, do you demonstrate these habits and skills to your direct reports? If you do, not only can you enjoy your work, but you can thrive doing it and show your team how it can be done.

Tip:
Hire for Passion
Passion can’t be taught, but the good news is that skills can. To ensure that your employees are fully engaged and are enthusiastic about their work and who they work with, hire for passion. Look for a positive attitude and for the capacity to learn. It is much cheaper and more effective to hire right first.

Communication Styles

Welcome to my newly formatted Tri Weekly People Skills Tips. These tips will be posted once or twice a month.

You’ve got style, at least when it comes to how you communicate.
The question is do you know what it is?
And what are the communication styles of those with whom you are communicating?

People communicate and learn in different ways. There is more than one way to communicate and learn. It is a mistake to think your co-workers and clients learn and communicate in the same style and in the same way that you do.

There are three basic styles in which people communicate:
• VISUAL- see it and can review it again by looking at it.
• AUDITORY- hear it and can repeat and hear it again for clarity.
• KINESTHETIC -feel it, experience it and understand how it works.

What’s your dominant communication style?
What is the dominant style of those with whom you work?

I once worked with a project manager who was implementing a procedure book for online support calls. The issue was that the operators weren’t “getting it”. As it turned out, they had different communication styles. To solve this problem, a print manual was made available for visual communicators/learners, a teleseminar was developed for auditory communicators/learners, and an interactive webinar was created to show a demonstration for kinesthetic communicators/learners. Following this approach, all three basic types of communicators and learners were covered.

Some people like me learn best when they hear words spoken (can you tell that I am a professional speaker?). We are called auditory learners. When auditory learners want to explain or communicate something, they speak. They say things such as: “I hear what you saying” or “it sounds good to me.”

Another group, the majority of people, are visual learners. They learn and communicate by seeing words printed or by looking at images. These people learn by reading or by looking at diagrams. They say things such as: “I see what you mean” or “it looks good to me.”

Then there are the kinesthetic or experience learners. These people need to experience, to touch, feel and taste things in order to fully understand. For them, they need a role play or a demonstration about how things work. They like to touch and to move to communicate and understand. They say things such as: “I feel what you are going through” or “I sense what you mean.”

Tip: Try using all three styles in your communication to be more effective.
Do you see what I mean, can you hear me and can you sense what I’m getting at here?

Conflict Confidence

You can gain personal and professional confidence in conflict situations when you successfully manage or resolve them. This enables you to move on without taking the residue to your next relationship or conflict situation. It happens when you can learn lessons as a result of them and not take everything personally. It is also seen in the positive organizational growth that happens as a result. No pain no gain also applies to organizations, and confidence can result from this experience.

Happy Holidays

The holiday season can be very stressful. Between gift buying, parties, and travel we can lose the perspective or the reason for the season – faith, family and friends. Stress management is a people skill. One of the best ways to manage your stress is to gain proper perspective in the midst of it. It all starts with attitude. When you begin to feel stressed this holiday season, just remember the reason for the season and enjoy the moment. Happy holidays everyone. Dr. Jim

Appreciation

I recently ate at a restaurant where I thanked the server three times for their fine service. Each time they replied with “Un Uh” instead of you are welcome. I didn’t feel that I was welcomed or appreciated for my appreciation. In order for appreciation to be received and truly appreciated it must be genuine (I really mean this!). If someone goes to the trouble of thanking you or giving you a compliment go to the trouble of taking the time and acknowledging them and have the social skills to say “you are welcome” or “thank you”. Thank you for reading this people skills tip!

Back to School

Now that the season of going back to school is over, we are reminded that life is a continuing education experience if you choose it to be. Think of it as your post graduate education. The best part is that your company pays you to learn and grow on the job. Ask yourself: what am I learning about myself, my environment or about others. Remember an education is what you can get when you don’t get what you want. No matter how bad the situation, you can always learn something from it. When you take this perspective you can feel more positive about it.

Disengaged employees

Disengaged employees can bring co-workers down and poison morale. Negativity is contagious. The good news is that so is positivity. The ‘fun’ of being positive is watching this attitude spread throughout your organization. This is known as the trickledown effect. To maintain high levels of morale avoid the negative trickledown effect that a negative person can have harming your organization’s morale and team spirit. Respond and challenge negativity with positivity.

 

Constructive Conflict

Is conflict: natural, sometimes preventable or always unnecessary?
Can conflict at work be positive or constructive?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions it can. It’s all about how you look at it. It is a matter of perspective. Conflict is constructive when it is seen as something that happens naturally between people in organizations and is not something that should be always avoided or is not a necessary step toward personal or organizations growth. The question is how you can manage it for positive outcomes such as creativity and innovation.