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Jans Corner:Modern day Communication Babylon!

We cannot not communicate. Everything we say and not say, do and don’t do communicates something. However, in practice the biggest pitfall is thinking that communication actually happens. What comes to mind is the story of an American tourist in Italy who in his quest to find the restroom keeps repeating the phrase ‘Whera isa tha toiletta’, slower and louder, actually thinking he is speaking Italian and wondering why no Italian seems to understand what he is talking about! 

Funny and absurd at the same time, isn’t it? In business that collective monologue is quite common. However, the problem appears not as obvious such as that you speak English and someone else Italian, Chinese, or Arabic, but more obscured and related to our different thinking and action dynamics, vantage points from which we see the same world very differently, regardless of the mother tongue and foreign language proficiency. As a result, a lot of communication is ignored or misunderstood while we attempt to speak louder and slower, just like that American in the story, to vigorously get our message across. In this modern day Babylon, I’m actually surprised that anything gets done. 

Each profile will have certain ways to process and understand information and to best communicate with others. Some are big picture thinkers, others grounded realists, some introverts preferring to decide and act for themselves whilst others extroverts preferring to decide and act through and with others. Understanding how others naturally operate opens the bridge for a significantly better communication and so much more productive and fun experience in the office. 

Creators live in vivid imaginary worlds. They have short attention spans, so all communications needs to be presented with brevity and impact – and ideally visually. They often imagine they have communicated things that they haven’t so make sure all expectations are spelled out and agreements and deadlines explicit and clear. 

Stars are natural communicators when they take the stage. That means they will be better when communicating to a group than one-to-one, for which they have less patience. They buzz when having fun and getting attention. Stars work harder at preparing for the next performance or presentation than they will in the details of the long-term strategic plan or the financial forecasts. Star are not strong at the details so if you leave a 50-page proposal for a Star, don’t expect it to be read soon, if at all. 

Supporters love to chat and an interactive verbal aspect to communication is important to them. They are not as comfortable as Stars with taking the stage, as they don’t work well with one-way presentations. However, they communicate well through casual conversation and concepts brought to life through stories and participation. It’s easy for Supporters to get distracted, so the key is for a Supporter to start with a clear message and outcome to ensure their communication is effective. 

Deal Makers need to hear all sides so communication is always in stereo or even surround for them. They care about the interest of all parties involved and prefer one-to-one communication or smaller groups. To a Deal Maker it is about what is said and how it is said as well as about what’s not said. They read non-verbal and contextual signals well and will often address it indirectly. Sometimes they best communicate by saying nothing at all. 

Traders, like Deal Makers, thrive in smaller groups and often find it difficult to perform in front of an audience. They don’t enjoy the attention being on them and are the first to shine it onto someone or something else. This means they will often find a spokesperson for the team and then prepare the information needed for them to shine. They need time to communicate and are happier when what they say is backed up with research and examples. They are always most comfortable of information that come with substance, and don’t have much time for conceptual ideas and pie-in-the-sky thinking.

Accumulators need quiet time to consider and think before saying anything. So they tend to get annoyed when there is too much conversation or stories around that don’t help them to concentrate. They don’t like to get things wrong, so are not as willing to volunteer a wrong – or unproven – answer, and would rather write things down and get clear feedback on how they can improve. Accumulators communicate best when can write down and present clear concepts, data and numbers. 

Lords are logical so communication needs to be structured and make logical sense for them. They will be the first to put things in writing, and want to see all the detail and instructions clearly written down. Giving a Lord a big picture concept or ask them to think on their feet is the fastest way to lose their interest or get them on the defensive. Lords need time to think about their communication, and will often work through many drafts before being comfortable to present their final results or ideas. 

Mechanics love brainstorming and investigating through visuals and charts. They communicate best when they have information that they can show in new and interesting ways, and when they have the time to prepare properly for their presentation. They are not good at improvising, so putting a Mechanic on the spot is never the way to get the best out of them. Mechanics also communicate best through questions and answers where they can uncover the areas to investigate further. 

Well, in these short descriptions you may recognise yourself as much as you may recognise others. 

The key for better communication is to acknowledge and respect the existence and value of speaking a different language and operating from a different perspective, no matter what it is. The first step then is beginning to listen to others first to recognise where they are coming for and what communication works best for them. Remember, the (adapted) platinum rule: “Communicate unto others as they would like to be communicated to themselves.”


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Una’s Spotlight: The Surprising Truth About Employee Engagement

How many people do you know that are miserable in their work? Even when people set up their own business it doesn’t always feel like the vision they created in their head before they made the leap… Its great that these days more and more companies are beginning to consider employee engagement.  However it is often as a nice to have add-on, rather than how they run their business.

Some of the answer to this misery may be what is highlighted by one of my favourite business authors, Patrick Lencioni. He explains that overcoming the ‘Three Signs of a Miserable Job’ may be the answer:

  • Anonymity – I’ve said for years that ‘Business is Personal’. If you manage and work with people then get to know them, take a genuine interest in them as a person, not just as a worker. You don’t have to go out drinking every Friday but at least understand their personal circumstances and acknowledge them as a person as regularly as possible. Those with Blaze energy (Star, Supporter and Deal-Maker) will most likely happily talk about their personal life, yet Steel (Accumulator, Lord, Mechanic) may be a bit more reticent to reveal themselves until they really know and trust you.
  • Irrelevance – think about the rock stars, actors, athletes that often end up on the rocks. Many people think they would love their lives. They are usually doing work they love, getting more money than they can count and often have adoring fans. Could it be because they don’t really feel needed? When people understand the contribution they are making to another person, or group of people that brings immense satisfaction and fulfilment. Often when our clients first do a Talent Dynamics programme some staff who are usually in the background and not very proactive suddenly come alive – they now know where and when they add value.
  • Immeasurement – it is incredibly helpful for people to be able to measure for themselves how good a job they are doing. In many organisations they only find out once a year usually in an (often painful) exercise called an appraisal. Instead you could have team members clear on and owning accountabilities (particularly ones that get and keep them in flow!). Work out with them simply daily/weekly measures that allow them to assess their own progress. (An ongoing measure of the level of trust and flow within and between teams will really help to improve measurement and performance across the board.)

When it comes to measurement, the profiles that are more detail-oriented and systematic (Tempo and Steel energies) are more likely to create measures. However if their work situation doesn’t allow for that they’ll feel the lack of it more. The Dynamo and Blaze energies are less likely to naturally measure anything, however will really benefit from the focus that measurement brings. All profiles will benefit from the daily self-feedback they get from simple meaningful measures.


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Treat everyone the way you want to be treated… Or not?!

 

This sure was the way Goldie liked to be treated…

How many times have you heard this phrase? My parents and grand-parents said it to me often as a child, my teachers repeated it. When I joined the workplace it was a mantra for customers and staff alike and yet today it couldn’t be farther from my reality! You see, I realised that people were very different and not everyone wanted to be treated the way I wanted to be treated!

In some cases, treating them how I wanted to be treated, backfired on me!

Take the Dynamo Energy Profiles – Creators/Stars/Mechanics, who enjoy significance, so they can be unique and stand out with their creations and innovations. They love a task and so oftentimes, want to just get stuff started and done. They like speed and activity!

The Blaze Energy Profiles – Stars/Supporters/Deal Makers who enjoy as much variety as possible. Even down to changing the route to work in the morning to see who else they might meet. They are seeking conversation and are good at creating and working with distractions. The more people at the party, the more fun they can be having!

The Tempo Energy Profiles – Deal Makers/Traders/Accumulators like to focus on what needs to be done. They excel at when to actually get the project really moving and taking proper shape. Order is important to them as is routine. Connection and collaboration are required in the project and its important for everyone to have time and be heard!

The Steel Energy Profiles – Accumulators/Lords/Mechanics are looking for certainty when making decisions. Detail and precision is important to them and they like all the information in front of them, before they commit to the plan. They enjoy the analysis and can make very well informed moves when data is at hand. Cutting to the chase and understanding the detail means they don’t need to spend lots of  time chatting and dicsussing!

Now, here’s my major piece of ground breaking, research type, advice!

If you really want to know the best way to treat someone, ask them…

When you sit down with one of the 8 profiles and ask them these few basic questions, you may be suprised by the answers you recieve. It can be real fun to test this out on someone who is the opposite profile to you!

  1. How do you enjoy to recieve/give praise?
  2. What are the indicatiors you use to know you have done a job well?
  3. How do you like to celebrate a success?
  4. What is the best environment for you to work in?
  5. What are your favorite parts of your job role and why?
  6. What are your least favorite?
  7. Who do you admire leadership wise and why?
  8. What qualities would you seek in your line manager/leader and why?
  9. When are you at your most productive?
  10. What else should I really ask you that I havent asked you yet….

“Maxim for life: You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you” – Wayne Dyer


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Una's Spotlight: Filmmaking in Flow

Last week I had a holiday with a difference. For a start, I didn’t have a very long journey, just in and out of Manchester every day to a filmmaking Boot Camp event so I could have fun, acting. It was a huge amount of fun and I probably learnt as much as I would have done on a year-long film production course!

I met a diverse range of people whose profiles ranged from the highly creative yet detailed (and perfectionist!) Mechanic directors to the Accumulators who were more concerned that everything was done on time. The introverted Lord sound engineers to the Creator musicians composing film scores and soundtracks. Those who created improvised films (extroverted Creators and Stars) to those (introverted Creators) who spent hours poring over scripts to perfect every nuance before filming. Many of the stars were indeed Star profiles, often providing entertainment for the whole group. It was so clear to see in this environment how the different Talent Dynamics profiles can work together to produce such amazing work – around 50 short films in only one week – whilst having a ball! Now that’s what I call flow…

Yet in business that isn’t show business, sometimes people find it hard to grasp the concept of one person being accountable for one thing instead of trying to do everything themselves. I realised one of the reasons for this when I decided to make a film myself too.

I have no clue how to operate a camera and I don’t know how to edit a film. At the start, I didn’t know what went into sorting out locations and planning for a film, let alone the post-production that is often also necessary. Of course I can take photos and do quick videos on my mobile phone but this is kind a completely different game!

So I had no choice but to seek the help and expertise of others and put a team together. I wrote the script and got two great scriptwriters to input to help me make it better. I sought direction on my direction from a great director. I recruited a cameraman, a production co-ordinator, an editor, a musician (for music when the titles and credits are rolling) and a graphic artist (who did an animated title). I’m told the result was the best first film the group has ever seen (it’s been running for around five years) however I don’t think that’s necessarily because I’m so brilliant…

As a Star Profile yes, I am very visual and creative and also have the people skills to be able to connect with my actors. however I truly believe the real reason is because I assembled a diverse team of different skills and talents. Every single person on the team inputted in some really valuable way to the end result. I could not have achieved this on my own as I did not know how to translate the vision in my head onto the screen and indeed just don’t have the talent to do certain roles.

However in business people have often been educated or trained to do everything and aren’t forced to make that choice. So what is the situation in your team or business? Are you being a whole team yourself, or have you spread the accountabilities related to different types of talent to the right people for the job? After all this is much more than simply delegating. It is leveraging each person’s talent, skills and knowledge to transform your results.


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Which Profile makes the best Leader?

An interesting question that gets posed on a regular basis…

Someone had to take the lead...

Last week, I was sent an article, describing the difference between Leadership and Management. A typical school of thought, that when analysed, suggests that Dynamo/Blaze profiles are the kinds of people we should be seeking as ‘leaders’.  It also described  a typical view of a ‘manager’, (having made them sound a lot less valuable) The way they described the Manager, exemplified the Steel and Tempo profiles.

Now, I understand why these schools of thought exist…  People can find the strategists , the Visionaries, the out of the box thinkers, the enigmatic, warm and people focused profiles more attractive… That’s one of their natural talents, these profiles tend to shine more, just by being the way they are. However, when you consider that the wealthiest man on the planet right now, Warren Buffett, is an Accumulator Profile. An introvert by nature. Systemized, planned, thorough and precise and he leads the business,  it kind of questions that ‘School of Leadership’ thought…

I was debriefing a Star Profile the other day, who up until 6 months ago, was hailed as the visionary leader in his business.  Quite literally, he was seen as a Star leader amongst others. His strong passion, vision, ability to excite and inspire others with new and bold projects, was exactly what was needed – until the financial crisis occurred, when his greatest talents became his biggest challenge. The business focused on cost cutting, restructure, detail and precision. He said he couldnt have felt more out of flow if he had tried and was aware that his ‘Talents’ were now being viewed as poor performance by the business.

A Lord profile I discussed this with, told me of how, until discovering her profile and value she rarely took the lead, always feeling in the shadow of the more extroverted profiles. However, when finally able to work in a team, that understood the profiles and knew her value, they recognised that it was crucial she took the lead on a project that required Clarity, Detail, Systems and information.  The project was an enormous success, the level of productivity was excellent and for the first time the team felt they had really grounded and succesfully completed a project. For the first time, she realised she was a Leader. Now, she knows there is a time and place where she is required to step up and that she too can ‘shine’

You see, there is no best profile to be a Leader. All 8 Profiles have tremendous Leadership qualities and abilities. True, they go about the delivery of that Leadership in a very different way and thats what makes them so valuable to your business.

Knowing that there is a time or situation, that is most appropriate for a particular profile to take the lead is really important

Here are the Leadership attributes and strengths from the different energies. It may help you as you determine who should be taking the lead on what and why its important to place value on all of them.

  • Dynamo Profiles – Task focused. Great at Initiation and getting things started. New projects. Action takers.
  • Blaze Profiles – People focused. Great at motiviating the team to action. Encourages strong collaboration and working to strengths.
  • Tempo Profiles – Activity focused. Great at consultation and connection. They ensure projects are delivered within timescales and to dependencies.
  • Steel Profiles – Data focused. Great at calculation of information and attention to detail. Ensures that clarity exists and completion occurs.

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