Employee Enagagement

2

How Do I Get People to Listen to Me?

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker

How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.

60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.

Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.

Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer. Harvard Business Review

Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:

  • Learning Style
  • Communication Preferences
  • Information needs for Decision-making

Iceberg picture

With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)

8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:

If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:

1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.

2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.

If you are interacting with a Lifestyle primary communication type:

3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.

4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.

If you are interacting with a Stability primary communication type:

5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.

6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.

If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:

7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.

8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.

What’s your communication style? For more information on the research, how it works, or how to apply this knowledge, contact inquiries@dnabehavior.com.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken Batch 2

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken

Managing Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

The President of a company called together his senior executives and announced that the CEO had a heart attack. The CEO was hospitalized, but after surgery he was expected to make a full recovery. The President insisted on complete confidentiality until he had more information to share.

The President was a wise man. He was formal, systematic in all his dealings, good at analyzing information, a man of integrity, thoughtful and well respected.

His Head of Marketing left the meeting feeling confused, a sense of instability, emotional, and concerned. He immediately used social media to encourage all his friends to think about the CEO and believe for a fast recovery. The Head of Marketing was empathetic and warm. He was a person who needed stability and a calm, predictable working environment. He was very well liked, very good at his job and had a wide network of friends and business contacts.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Directly after the meeting, the President received a call from the media asking for a comment; the company share price dropped 10%. The next call was from the Chairman insisting the source of the leak be found and fired.

The news of the CEO’s heart attack was now only 3 hours old; the potential fall out to the business (and the family) was significant.

The President recalled his executive team kept them standing and insisted the culprit own up immediately. The Head of Marketing owned up and the remainder of the team left the room.

The President immediately put the Head of Marketing on notice saying, “I instructed you to keep what I told you in confidence. That means you agree to keep the information completely, totally secret and not to repeat the information without permission.” He continued, becoming even more analytical in his communication, “asking someone to keep a confidence is a solemn contract. You broke it.”

The Head of Marketing tried, without success, to respond. The President left the room leaving the executive confused, bruised (metaphorically speaking) and devastated that he had acted so inappropriately. His first reaction to the news was driven by feelings and a loss of certainty about his future. He’d given no thought to the family or the consequences of such news reaching the marketplace.

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

The reality of the situation is that the President and Head of Marketing were operating from their natural zone and they did not have the awareness to adapt.

Had both parties understood their inherent communication and behavioral styles this would have been a different scenario. The President would have emphasized the potential market risk. He would have understood the inherent behaviors of some of his team. He could have stressed the importance of not bringing emotions into the situation. The Head of Marketing would have understood his own reaction to the challenging news. He would have realized he’d be concerned about the potential loss of stability and safety in his environment and known how to manage his reaction to the news.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken  Insert Photo 3

  1. Set a structured agenda and have prepared questions.
  2. Meet in a more formal environment in the office.
  3. Expect yes/no answers.
  4. Offer details and analysis.
  5. Avoid abstract ideas in communication, and keep to specifics.
  6. Present the research performed to come to the specific conclusion.
  7. Provide case studies as examples rather than having a high-level, conceptual discussion.
  8. Show the risks are minimized (not eliminated) in the recommendations.
  9. Say what you are going to do and then do it. Be very transparent.
  10. Provide them with newsletters and books, economic information.

How we handle responsibility for our decisions, as well as our mistakes, is a direct reflection on our character. However, without insight into our inherent communication and behavioral style we do not know our default reaction to a situation such as the Head of Marketing faced.

 

Millennial Stereotype Backlash2

Millennial Stereotype Backlash

Millennials number 83.1 million and represent more than one-quarter of the nation’s population. Source: 2015 U.S. Census Bureau.

Millennials have been variously described as enthusiastic, adaptable, entrepreneurial and skilled multitaskers – and as lazy, entitled and unmanageable job hoppers. What seems to have escaped the modern media machine in its zeal to define this influential generation is that they don’t appreciate being shoehorned and typecast. Particularly when it comes to the thing employers have come to count on them for facilitating technology’s integration into the workplace. They’re beginning to abhor working in a virtual vacuum. SOURCE: Chris Plummer in Ozy.

There are all sorts of ramifications to thinking that the Millennial generation is markedly different from every generation that has gone before them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The way they do life, their preferred social and living settings, their skills, attitudes and environment may be different, but the key is that people’s inherent behavior and talents are hard-wired. They remain the same regardless of generation.

In their report, “The Millennial Consumer Debunking Stereotypes,” the Boston Consulting Group highlights the following:

Not your typical Millennial: Disparate Personalities US Millennials are by no means homogeneous .understanding and recognizing these distinct segments and their nuances is essential for companies that hope to develop effective product offerings, marketing campaigns, channel strategies, and messaging. A one size fits all effort will fail to connect with every millennial segment.SOURCE

To support this thought, BCG offers the following graph and shows the segments into which they have placed millennials according to their responses to their survey.

Business blog

These responses go some way to revealing behaviors that demonstrate millennials are not and cannot be standardized.

Don’t just hire and manage Millennials – lead them. If ever a generation could benefit from the wisdom held by older generations it’s this one. This relationship, if handled well, could significantly change the way we do business. We have so much to learn from each other. Take position out of the equation and build great relationships and teams. Mix the generations. The only difference between your Millennial employees and the older ones is their digital proficiency. They don’t know anything different.

To Millennials, it’s normal to use mobile and social technologies. Where else would you go to access data, find out the latest ideas and trends, build networks, and share experiences.

Fundamentally, generations never change. They are born with inherent behaviors. A person’s natural instinctive behaviors are hard-wired into the brain based on genetics and their very early life experiences in the first 3 years of life. Research shows the neural pathways in the brain become substantially set by the time a person is 3 years old, and this is when their natural instinctive style is set. Of course, a person’s behavior in particular circumstances may change or be adapted based on experiences, education, values, and circumstances. However, such temporary behavioral shifts will be based on situational modification and are not hard-wired.

The generations are not so different:

Business blog2

The Millennials are no different to any other grouping. If you want to attract them, focus on getting to know them and understanding what drives their decision-making. The vehicle they use to do business is inevitably going to change, but the essence of who they are and how they want to be treated will be no different from any other group.

Says TIME writer, Joel Stein, “millennials are just adapting quickly to a world undergoing rapid technological change they’re optimistic, they’re confident, and they’re pragmatic at a time when it can be difficult just to get by.” Source

Don’t shy away from hiring Millennials. Don’t be persuaded by negative press.

  • Some are positive and confident and know they can take on the world.
  • Others seek structure and look to leadership to provide a clear vision.
  • Still more want to be taken seriously and have a chance to share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Many want to be part of a team, but many others prefer to work alone.

How, I wonder, is that so very different from past and present work environments in which we see ourselves? Well, the truth is, it isn’t. The key is to reveal and understand inherent hard-wired behaviors. This insight will deliver a fundamental shift in thinking and enable organizations to focus on the relationship management across generations. In addition, this approach will deliver understanding into how businesses can “know, engage and grow” their clients and customers to provide customized life-long experiences that increase sustainable performance.

Millennials represent the first wave of digital natives to enter the workforce, and this does distinguish them. Organizations that have embarked on their own transformation urgently need this digital capital. They should eagerly look for ways to embrace Millennials and create the work environments where top talent can flourish across all generations. This will require nuanced strategies that reflect the reality of a multigenerational workforce: employees of all ages are complex individuals working in an environment that’s becoming more virtual, more diverse and more volatile by the day. SOURCE: Myths, exaggerations, and uncomfortable truths. The real story behind Millennials in the workplace IBM Institute for Business Value. Source

As a baby boomer, I say let’s embrace Millennials. They keep us up-to-date on anything happening in the world. They have opinions about our nation and the world. Let’s get to know them in a way that uncovers the treasure trove of talents they have. Let’s begin by accepting that every person, regardless of age, has hard-wired inherent behaviors all of which have a place in building a successful business.

To better understand each person’s unique Natural Behavior talents and how to maximize their value to your business, contact inquiries@dnabehavior.com for a free trial.

Culture Clashes Kill Mergers Batch 2

Culture Clashes Kill Mergers

Culture is the set of norms, behaviors, values, beliefs, and interaction parameters shared among a group of people.

When evaluating a merger or other significant re-organization, most leaders tend to focus primarily on more tangible items like headcount, savings, systems, processes and tasks. Very little time is spent on identifying and proactively planning to overcome key barriers like people’s natural behavior, motivations and ability or willingness to change.

In a Bain survey of executives who have managed through mergers, [culture] was the No. 1 reason for a deal’s failure to achieve the promised value.

Because culture and behavior are considered “soft” skills, results- and task-oriented leaders discount or don’t know how to deal with this area of a merger. But there are very real bottom line impacts to ignoring these realities. One of the most famous examples is the failed merger of Mercedes Benz and Chrysler. In 2007, after 9 years, the companies admitted it wasn’t working and took an estimated $29 billion loss.

There are those who say the merger, which faced significant cultural differences, was doomed from the start.Chicago Tribune

You had two companies from different countries with different languages and different styles come together yet there were no synergies. said Dave Healy, analyst with Burnham Securities, referring to the then-Daimler-Benz chairman and why the merger failed.

How do you measure and use “culture” to make a merger successful?

Most people tend to look to the culture’s published values on a company’s website, or do some form of formal or informal employee survey. However, those are very subjective. They really reflect what they want to be. Or employees say what think they “should” say or maybe they have an axe to grind. They may be unsure how it is going to be used. These methods also do nothing to help you to know what to do with this information.

Culture is the glue that binds an organization together and it’s the hardest thing for competitors to copy. As a result, it can be a lasting source of competitive advantage.

Culture is more than just a unique identity, however. The best performing companies typically display a set of performance attributes that align with the company’s strategy and reinforce the right employee behaviors. Harvard Business Review

Using Behavioral Science to “Quantify” Behaviors and Your Company Culture:

What if you had a solution that, with 91% accuracy, could quantify the predominant natural behaviors of the team or company as a whole? If you are about to make significant changes to a team/organization and you find out that the main strengths of the team are Planned and Anchored, how you would go about planning and communicating change to this team would need to be completely different than if the team were Spontaneous and Creative.

Norms of behavior: ways of acting that persist because they are rewarded and the group teaches these behaviors to new people, sanctioning those who do not conform.

Pronouncements that we must change our culture either will be denied or cause levels of anxiety that trigger intense resistance to change. Therefore, you will fail if you take culture head on.

Professor Edgar Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT

Behavioral intelligence can also tell you how to motivate or reassure individuals and the team. Not everyone is motivated just by their paycheck. Understanding individual and team natural behaviors will dramatically increase your ability to successfully implement change.

It is easier to build up the strengths of a culture than to change dysfunctional elements

      • Option 1: Actively work towards the desired attributes
      • Option 2: Passively allow it to develop unmanaged, and live with all the attendant risks

Culture is the end result.

Professor John Kotter, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Don’t go blindly into your next merger or reorganization. Unlock the power of behavioral intelligence to help you significantly increase your success and bottom line.

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Alex leads a team of strategists and planners working to mitigate any issues that might arise as a result of policies to be introduced into a highly successful international manufacturing company.

The team is made up of great minds, thinkers, strategists, statisticians, all highly regarded in their field. The team tests every scenario to ensure that new products or services introduced meet client needs, do not compromise existing services or products and conform to any regulatory requirements worldwide.

 

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Alex is preparing to have a difficult conversation with Jay one of the top strategists whose behavior has become difficult to manage. Alex is structured, formal; not big on conflict and realizes he has allowed Jays authoritativeness, self-reliance and frankness to cause issues throughout the team and distract them during a particularly pressurized time.

Alex realizes that he has avoided talking to Jay whose behavior is now creating problems; he doesn’t want to have this difficult conversation but is aware that the team are talking about Jay and not talking to him concerning the impact his behavior is having on them. Jay is one of Alex most gifted strategists; his ability to make quick yet informed decisions makes him very valuable to the team.

A side issue that concerns Alex is realizing the team is dismissing input from Jay for no reason other than frustration about his ongoing behavior.

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The issue came to a head when one of Alex key team members offers their resignation citing Jay as the cause, adding that Jay was taking charge of every aspect of their work; was dismissive of input and responding harshly to attempts to challenge not only his input but also his communication style.

Alex prepares for the meeting with Jay; making sure that the meeting format is well set out in his head. He knows the outcome he wants; he doesn’t want to lose Jay nor any other staff member. But he also does not like conflict and tends to close down and retreat when people are blunt.

From the outset Jay appears defensive; Alex begins by acknowledging that there will be differences in how each person communicates and sees things. Differing perspectives is what makes the team great. He goes on to acknowledge successes, not just Jays but the team as a whole. Alex explains to Jay the impact of his current behavior, making sure to frame it in the behavior he, Alex, has observed and not in the he said, she said’.

Immediately Alex can see the confusion on Jays face. He asks Jay for his response to which Jay replies he had no idea his communication style was affecting and impacting his colleagues or Alex in this way.?He states that causing issues such as this was never his intention. He further states that he had indeed become frustrated and harsh in some of his responses simply because he viewed the current project they were working on so important and didn’t feel the others realized the implications to the business of getting their findings wrong, but his responses were never intended to be personal only ever about work.

Jay began to realize the implications of what Alex was saying; he could now see why the work atmosphere had become so negative towards him; why his suggestions and even concerns were being rejected.

Seeing Jay response, Alex immediately moves the conversation onto finding a structured solution.

The reality of the situation is that Jay, Alex and the team were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Alex realized that the solution lay in getting the whole team to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process. Alex had completed this himself as part of a DNA Behavior International conference he attended. Alex realized that if Jay and the team completed this process and share the outcomes, they would have an insight into their communication and behavioral inherent styles. Alex puts this suggestion to Jay who quickly agrees.

The team complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process and along with Alex share the outcomes with each other.

  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers

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With this knowledge, Alex and the team would have discovered that Jay communication style was not intended to be personal. Any harshness stemmed from his frustration to keep the work on track. The team members realized as they shared that Jay would not have taken offense had they pointed out his harshness and asked him to identify the source of it. Jay would have realized from reactions that his behavior was causing his colleagues to pull away from him, reject his input and he should have asked why.

Avoiding difficult conversations at work can grow to become a major barrier and obstacle to excellent performance. In this case, if everyone understood communication and behavioral styles it would not have escalated so far. However, insight into inherent communication and behavioral styles quickly put this team back on track.

 

GUIDE-TO-WORKPLACE-STRUCTUR

Guide to Workplace Structure and Collaboration

What does true collaboration look like?

From a 2008 Guide to Assessing Teamwork and Collaboration published by the Galileo Educational Network,

Collaboration is a structured, recursive process where two or more people work together toward a common goal-typically an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature?by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

Much of what we need to do in order to make an organization function requires us to work with other people. Traditionally, it takes time to learn how to interact with each person’s style, how to agree on the steps to take, roles and responsibilities, and individuals’ deadlines for a common goal. Managers incorporate various degrees of structure by defining roles and responsibilities, processes, project management, and methods of communication to complete the tasks to accomplish the goal.

There are various and differing opinions about how much structure strikes the right balance between helping to accomplish the goal efficiently and becoming a road block to productivity and creativity.

If not enough structure is in place, the team may be perceived as ineffective. Deliverables may not meet the expectations of the “customer” and/or leader(s) in terms of scope, quality, timeline, and/or budget. Often, in this low structure scenario, miscommunications occur.

Conversely, if there is too much structure, the team may be perceived as ineffective as well. In this scenario, it might be a time sink to go through all the process steps and the instructions may be so voluminous, people get lost and have trouble following the structure in place. In fact, too many meetings may take place that are focused more on the structure than on the goal, leaving a lull in initiatives moving forward. People may feel very restricted and disengaged and ultimately, Creativity is squashed.

For true collaboration within an organization or team, the structure and culture has to support two-way communication (creative conflict) built upon trust.

How much structure should you have in your organization?

Identifying the level of structure need in your organization depends on exploring a couple of key questions:

1) How big is your organization?

If you are a small company with just few people working together, less structure may be preferable. A company with fewer people requires each person to understand more of the bigger picture. They typically have to do many of the tasks themselves and there may be fewer interactions needed with other people.

If you are a growing or larger sized company, the more people you have, the more structure you may need in order to be effective. People may be added in order to handle higher volume. More people typically means that each person handles a smaller part of the bigger picture. People become specialized in their roles with specific tasks. The more interactions and hand-offs it takes to complete, the more guidelines and processes you may need to help everyone understand how to work together effectively.

2) What culture do you want to foster?

If you want to foster innovation and creativity, then you may want to have less detailed structure and more general high-level guidelines. Focus more on the goal you are trying to achieve, the communication channels needed to keep everyone in the loop, and fostering communication. Allow the team to figure out how to get to the end goal.

If your organization needs to foster nimbleness and an ability to react to changing customer demands, you also want to have less detailed structure and more high-level guidelines. Fewer restrictions allow employees to develop problem-solving skills in addressing customer issues quickly and foster engagement.

If your product has to be delivered precisely and there is no room for variability, then you will need more detailed structure and processes with step-by-step instructions.

If your organization is struggling with delivering and meeting expectations, then you will also need more detailed structure to help people stay on track. The detailed structure will hold people accountable for next steps /tasks and due dates, along with providing a more detailed analysis of the location of the breakdowns in the process and communications.

3) What are the natural behaviors of the people on the team?

If you have a team full of naturally take charge, spontaneous, and creative people, you will need at least a little structure to help keep them focused and productive. However, you don’t want to squash their natural strengths in problem solving, finding new or better solutions, and reacting instinctively to a dynamic business environment with too much structure.

If you have a team that is naturally very cooperative, planned, and anchored, they will need more structure to take advantage of their natural strengths of being able to follow instructions, ensure tasks are completed and results are delivered. These types of people are great at getting things done when the working environment is well-defined and there is less ambiguity.

Ideally the team would consist of a mix of traits that can provide for the proper balance of strengths to provide the best results.

How you add structure, and the culture you encourage, is important to fostering collaboration and creativity while still having enough structure to reduce miscommunication and issues and to ensure the outcome meets expectations.

Do you have the right level of structure in your organization? Use this Guide to aid in evaluating your team.