In this first in a series of Unas Spotlight Vlogs, Una shares the secrets that Walt Disney used for creating ideas and bringing them to life and screen!
“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.” Arnold H. Glasow
There’s no doubt that managers and business owners around the globe have all experienced fire fighting at one time or another. Some companies even have it built into the culture. Yet everybody seems to agree that fire fighting on a long-term basis is not a good thing…
So why does it happen?
Looking at the Talent Dynamics square it’s more likely that people with high Dynamo and Blaze energies will engage in fire fighting. For them it may initially seem to be exciting and fun. Dynamo’s for instance get to use their problem solving strengths and be a hero.
Blaze people will love the high-paced interactions with others and flying around here, there and everywhere getting everyone on board. For both Dynamo and Blaze it could even have been their lack of attention to detail that caused the fire in the first place!
However, that’s not to say that people with high Tempo and Steel energies may not fire fight too in the right, or should I say wrong, circumstances. It is likely to be incredibly stressful for them though to do so.
Tempo people may end up fire fighting because they can find it very hard to say no and consequently can easily take on too much. While this may appear to serve them – and their colleagues – in the short term, over time it is likely to cause burn-out and possibly even ill-health while they get bogged down in the detail.
Those with strong Steel energies will get very frustrated with constantly having to solve problems that they know could probably be systemised so that they don’t even occur in the first place. Under pressure, without time to think things through or adequate data to base decisions on, they could feel extremely uncomfortable and you may well get to experience just how cold Winter can be!
The key thing for everybody is to firstly realise that fire fighting is happening. The second is to get into the habit of identifying what kind of problem it is… Then they can get the person and/or team with the right perspective and strengths to solve it.
Dynamo’s will intuitively want to innovate their way out of problems, while Blaze will naturally think about who is the best person to connect with to get the desired result. Tempo will look at how to improve relationships and/or operations and Steel will consider the systems in place and what needs to be created or improved.
This means that people will need to let go of the idea that they, and only they, can rescue the day… The fact is that in business – as in life – things happen. There will always be problems to solve. At the same time the time and resources that can be saved by putting out the fire of fire fighting is immense.
Imagine if you and your team were able to spend time in your areas of strengths, instead of being pulled in all directions every time something happened? Though initially it would require investing some time, afterwards there would be the time and space to do what you do best. This allows you to add more value and leverage it effectively within your team and organisation for results on the bottom line and beyond.
Whether or not you are a romantic, this is a great opportunity to remind yourself to ‘spread the love’ in your business. Valentine’s Day is all about making new and/or deeper connections. How could you do this in your workplace? Look to build trust and demonstrate value and appreciation.
You might want to start with romancing yourself. When was the last time that you sat down and wrote down your accomplishments in the last year or few years? Large or small, get them all down and congratulate yourself for what you have achieved. Treat yourself with a special meal, a trip away or even a nice soak in the bath with a good book. It will be hard to make others feel special, if you don’t feel special yourself.
Make sure you are really clear about the value you offer to your team and customers. What Talent Dynamics profile are you? What profile is your typical customer? How do you help them get into flow? Think about ways you could increase the amount of time you get to spend working in your strengths to increase your value to the business – and have more fun.
If you are working in a team then make sure to thank each and every team member for their contribution. Write them a note of what you value most in them and their work. Not only will it give them a warm fuzzy feeling, they’ll likely do more of whatever you wrote and improve their performance. Just use a plain card or one with a picture on it, rather than an actual Valentine’s card – you don’t want your staff to think you have romantic attachments!
If you are in a smaller organisation, do the same with your suppliers as they are your team too. What do they do that enables you to focus on your strengths and have a stronger and more sustainable business?
When it comes to customers, what could you do to make them feel special? Make sure it’s not just a discounted offer but something free that’s genuinely of value. It doesn’t have to be a product or something that costs you. It could simply be a list of useful resources or an e-guide on a hot topic.
Highlight your top customers and send them a Valentine’s card explaining what you appreciate about them as a customer – perhaps how they are great to deal with, or even what they do for their customers that you think is wonderful. This applies just the same to internal customers.
With everybody, make sure to consider their Talent Dynamics profile or energy (Dynamo, Blaze, Tempo or Steel) and how they may prefer to receive this appreciation. Some would love for you to talk with them face-to-face or on the phone, others would prefer to see what you say in writing and could be embarrassed if in person.
In order to thank others, you’ll first need to truly consider their strengths and weaknesses and how these show up in performance. Are they in flow? What difference is each individual really making to business performance? How do they make your life, your team’s or your customers’ lives that bit easier?
This clarity on who delivers what kind of value and communication around it can deepen your connection with those that you work with because it builds trust.
This trust is vital In order to stand out in your marketplace. A sustainable career and business depends upon effective collaboration over the long term, whether a solopreneur or part of a multinational corporate.
The special bonus is that you get to feel good by making others feel good. Go on – make their day!
I answered at the time with these three main reasons why people may procrastinate:
1. An inner knowing that it isn’t the right time to do that.
2. Self-sabotage due to emotional baggage of some sort around things like ‘not deserving’ and/or ’fear of success/failure’ (all way more common than you think by the way!). Be aware that this can fool people into thinking that it’s not the right time.
3. The activity is something that’s not your natural strength and so you don’t enjoy it and it takes you out of your flow.
While I believe these three points apply to many, afterwards I started thinking about the third point and how procrastination might differ around the Talent Dynamics Square.
With the highly creative Dynamo energy profiles (Creator, Mechanic and Star), their problem is usually not starting things but finishing them! In fact, because they tend to underestimate how long things take to do, they have a tendency to over-commit and just not have enough time to get something done.
Of course those with high Dynamo energy also can get easily distracted by doing the ‘new and fun’ stuff, so that they move from activity to activity without really getting much done. Even though they hate having their freedom constrained, working to a plan – even if a loose one – and learning to delegate will help them spend more time in their flow in the end. When Dynamos get focused on their priorities they can achieve great things.
Those with high Blaze energy (Supporter, Star and Deal Maker) love variety and hate paperwork – they’d much rather be having an interesting conversation with one of their many friends!
A great idea for them to overcome procrastination is to set aside time early in the week and/or early in the day to get this done while their energy is strong. Leaving it until the end of the week is not a good idea as they’re much more likely to want to go to a party or networking event instead.
The more grounded Tempo energy folks (Trader, Deal Maker and Accumulator) are actually very good with planning their activities and anticipating how long things will take, in fact they are likely to overestimate how long things will take. Where they may procrastinate is at the beginning of a new project.
For a start it is new and it’s not always so easy for them to get something off the ground as those with primary Creator and Star profiles. What really helps here is firstly to ensure that they understand the context within which the project or activity is taking place. That helps those with high Tempo energy to feel more comfortable and this comfort is important for them to work well.
Secondly, breaking up a big idea or project down into the specific tasks and deadlines before they start helps them to see in enough detail what needs to be done and they can satisfy themselves that it is achievable. Just be careful they don’t get too bogged down in the detail to even begin.
Finally what about those with high Steel (Lord, Accumulator and Mechanic profiles) energy? Well they really shine when they have something already existing to work with so starting something new can be even more challenging than for Tempo profiles!
Here though, what will probably help the most in overcoming procrastination is to focus on what they can get finished first and get those activities out of the way and out of sight – they love a clear workspace! Because getting things finished feels so good to those with strong Steel energy this motivates them to keep going. Breaking down larger projects into very small chunks that can be ticked off a list helps to avoid overwhelm too.Of course, everyone can step into the Spirit energy to remind them of the purpose of what they are doing. What is the big ‘Why?’ that makes doing something worthwhile in the first place?
This really helps for those times that you might just need to suck it up and get something done.
Remember though, where possible, let others do the things that take you out of flow. After all, it’s only by helping someone else get into their flow can you really get in yours…
Some people think that acceptance is a weakness. To get where you want to go, to be successful means that you must fight for what is yours, pull out all the stops and be all gung ho! Doesn’t it? Maybe. Some of the time. However:
“When you fight with what is, you only loose 100% of the time…”
I know when I first came across this saying it took me a few times to really get it.
For instance, because of changes in technology such as digital photography, bigger bandwidth and the increasing use of mobile devices, the patterns of media consumption have and continue to change dramatically. Anyone in the creative industries that is ignoring this does so at their peril.
Think about H.M. Warner who said in 1927, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” Seems a pretty dumb thing to say now, eh?
Yet changes like this could be happening in your industry or profession and the pace of change is much faster now than in 1927…
So being in denial is not going to get you anywhere. Hoping things will be different may feel good as you dream about how things could be “if, but, maybe” things changed. However,
“Hope is not a course of action.”
Acceptance is not self-defeat
I’m not talking about giving up on what you want either. The next time you hear yourself or somebody else moaning, listen intently to what they are really saying. Is it “I don’t like XYZ fact”, or “there’s nothing I can do about XYZ fact”?
There’s nothing wrong with not liking something, as long as it doesn’t stop you from exploring what the true implications are and what to do as a result.
Get a team together who have different skills, experiences and perspectives from you, to help you overcome a challenge and watch magic happen.
One of the things that I love about Talent Dynamics is that it really helps to increase acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves as well as others.
That is incredible because so much heartache and pain happens in the workplace and in life all around the world because of a lack of acceptance. Remember,
“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”
George Bernard Shaw
Who do you know that is trying to be something that they’re not and will always find it a challenge to be?
For instance, someone with a Creator profile is going to struggle to be a great project manager if the main focus of that work is detailed planning and scheduling. This is what Accumulators and Traders find simple. However if the role’s key accountability is coming up with great strategies for the project then that’s a different story.
Delivering value builds trust and it’s pretty hard to deliver excellent value when you’re not working in your area of natural strengths. If you want people to give you interesting work then they need to trust you can deliver. If you want to have great clients then they need to trust that you can deliver.
You want a team around you that you trust to deliver. Begin by accepting who people truly are and helping them to work on tasks that are within their natural strengths.
As you may well be aware, the more somebody accepts themselves for who they are the more likely they are to be open to their weak spots. This means they don’t always have to be perfect allowing them to be vulnerable at times so they can open up and listen to others ideas and – imagine this – even ask others for help!
If you want true collaboration and team effectiveness you won’t get it with a bunch of know-it-alls that’s for sure.
Do remember though, that any strength overdone becomes a weakness… As we often say within the Talent Dynamics community “your profile is not an excuse for inexcusable behaviour”.
Make sure that you don’t mirror the “Oh, that’s just me!” blind refusal to grow, you may sometimes come across… Let’s face it, personal growth and emotional intelligence are not related to any particular Talent Dynamics profiles – we all have the opportunity to grow… or not as we choose.
Accepting the facts of a situation helps you deal with them in the most effective way possible. Accepting yourself allows you to develop and grow those parts of you that you do have the power to change. Accepting others, well in addition to building trust it will increase the levels of peace in the world. A timely thought for the holiday season…
How do you define the best customer service? Is it being friendly? Is it coming from the perspective that the customer is always right? Is it giving the customer what they want, or is it something else?
I’ve just returned from Bali where I attended the Talent Dynamics Annual Conference and Step 2 Accreditation Training. This was my first visit to Indonesia and I was so impressed by the service I received – it really was phenomenal!
It made me question the service and approach of so many UK companies that really just pay lip service to customer service. How many stories have you seen on Facebook or LinkedIn for instance that spell out the abominable way that somebody you’re connected to has been treated?
In some countries it seems to be just expected that service will be poor. People shrug their shoulders and say it can’t be done any other way, you can’t get the staff or that the management don’t really care.
In today’s connected world this attitude would be a big mistake. Customers are voting with their feet and it’s often easy – sometimes even easier – for them to buy from another company and even country.
The UK is a Dynamo country with many creative people who are great at being inventors, entrepreneurs and strategists. Often they can find it hard to think like a customer because they have their head in the clouds and are too busy thinking a million miles an hour of new ideas and strategies.
Indonesia in contrast has many Trader profiles with high Tempo energy. These people have their feet on the ground and tend to be very connected to the market and to customers. They don’t just spend time thinking about customers, they naturally feel what they want. They also take the time to ask them, to check in with them. They know how to walk in their shoes.
This gives a whole new meaning to customer service. Instead of innovation that could potentially drive customers away where there is a lack of depth in the connection with the customer, those with Tempo energy will implement the little things that together add up to a completely different experience for the customer, driving loyalty and repeat purchases.
I’ll definitely be returning to Bali, not just because it is a beautiful country but because I felt relaxed, understood, cared for and like I really mattered. How does that contrast to your daily experience of customer service?
In this global and increasingly competitive economy, make sure you have some Tempo energy on your team and listen to what they say. How you listen to them is how you listen to your customers. It matters…
One in 20 bosses. That’s only 5%. According to this research cited in Management Today, for every company that has 20 bosses (your average 200-300 employee firm), only one of them is likely to be a good boss. For a public sector body with say 5000 employees, it may have 25 good bosses. Puts things into perspective wouldn’t you say?
How on earth does this happen in today’s world when it would be easy to think that businesses understand the value of developing their people? It’s not like there aren’t any books on the subject or even free information out there on the good ol’ web…
I’ve pulled together these critical danger points for you to look at for yourself and/or to work through with the leaders and managers in your organisation. They come from my personal experience and learning so I’m not saying this is all there is to it, please add your own insights too in the comments:
Critical Danger Points
Not understanding that different people need different approaches so they treat all people the same.
This can come from a genuine wish to do well by others, so many of us learned “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Treating people with kindness and compassion makes you a good person. Giving all your direct reports public praise and recognition may not make you a good manager though – some will love it and others may be mortified. The same applies to how much time you spend handholding and ‘helping’ your team. Some may really appreciate help, others will just feel micro-managed and that you don’t trust them.
Not ensuring people work to their strengths and talents.
The evidence is overwhelming on this point. When managers and their teams really get how to leverage their talents across the team (and between them and other teams in the organisation) not only does productivity and effectiveness go up, motivation and engagement usually increases too.
Underestimating the importance of good people management the higher up the ladder they go.
I’ve heard several HR people talk as though senior leaders don’t need to focus so much on their people management skills because their direct reports are also more senior and should know what they’re doing. Maybe so, however, there are some other factors to consider. Their direct reports are people too and they have the same emotional needs as any person does. Remember “All the world’s a stage” and people are watching how senior managers manage to get clues about what is really valued by the big bosses, no matter what leaders say. So maybe it’s more important the higher up they go as they get to influence a greater sphere of people. After all, people do as you do, not as you say..
They lack self-awareness
As cited in the Management Today article self-awareness is very important. Imagine a leader talking at a staff conference about people coming forward with ideas and interacting when they had shouted at people only a few minutes earlier? Leaders and mangers may believe that their past successes were all down to them and discount the contribution of others. Nothing rankles so much with people as when blame and credit are unfairly attributed. There may be times when us development and HR peeps have to bite the bullet and help leaders to understand the impact of their behaviour – get your CV ready and tread carefully though, not all leaders will want to hear it because…
They simply don’t care and purposely choose a domineering or bullying stance
because they believe that’s what gets results. It will definitely get results; the ones where people do a lot of politicking to stay on their right side. The kind of results where people won’t pass on valuable data for decision-making because it conflicts with what they know or think the leader wants to hear. This not caring often results in the best people leaving the business at the first opportunity because they’re not allowed to do their best work. The research cited in the article found that 47% of respondents felt threatened at work, instead of praised… The end result of all this is usually a downward spiral for the organisation.
They don’t manage change very well.
Any research on change will indicate that participation and communication are the two most important elements of successful change. Yet time and time again bosses don’t do either very well. All too often in my experience decisions are made without genuine interaction with others in the organisation. Often those making the decisions on changes don’t know what really goes on in the level of detail that team members do. Give people a chance to input BEFORE decisions are made. Not all change will be good for each individual in the business but for those that it is make sure to communicate that as well as why the change is so vital in the first place. Then communicate that again and again and again and again until people complain that they’ve heard this message several times now!
The business hasn’t got the right leader in the right place at the right time.
In the way that team members will get to perform at their best when they get to work to their strengths, the same applies to leaders and managers too. Yet more than this, each leader will have a time and place in the organisation that is most suited to their talents. When a leader is great at innovating and problem solving, don’t put them in charge of customer service because they are likely to innovate their way out of service issues. This is especially true when the business (or product) is at the point where it is building a solid customer base. In the same way, a leader who is great at managing risk is not going to excel if the organisation really needs to boost the performance of its staff. In addition, the economy goes through cycles (or seasons) too and this also influences who is best to lead at a particular point in time. You don’t want the person who was so good at tightening your belts to restrict growth when the economy turns from Winter to Spring.
Not according to South Africa’s communications company Telkom, which was fined £35M for using it’s dominant market position to “bully” competitors (see the recent BBC news story).
As a fixed line operator the company was battling against mobile operators and retaliated by charging too much for internet access.
A fair response some might say but is it really? When people – and their organisations – feel desperate, feel a big sense of lack then that is probably the space that they are going to respond from.
But where does that leave the customer? What impact does that have on innovation in the marketplace when one organisation looks to block competition?
The fact is that when it comes to David and Goliath situations in business, these days David has a good a chance as any. The internet has lowered barriers to entry in many markets and social media facilitates huge followings where there is strong passion and a great idea.
Anybody who has the drive and the will can deconstruct an industry and change the marketplace. Your industry could be next if it isn’t happening already…
Telecoms is one typical example of such massive change and there are many more. For instance what happens when lots of people are getting much of their energy from their buildings (via solar panels, etc) and selling it back to the utilities companies? Will the utilities change their focus to renewable energy and/or helping home owners and businesses to be more green? Or perhaps they’ll enter new industries that they can add value to in the way they did in their current market.
Thinking this is a bit extreme? The typical response to a new idea is for people to laugh and pour scorn, then a few people respond positively while others shake their heads in wonder and finally everybody accepts it as a way of life.
The fact is that any new idea with merit will eventually happen – ignoring it is not the solution, not in the long term anyway.
So what if your focus was less on blocking your competition and more on the ways that you could add more value to your customers? That is how to have a bigger share in the marketplace.
The one thing that will put you and your organisation ahead of the game is to be playing on a different field entirely. Do it right and suddenly you’ll find that you have more loyal spectators coming to see you play.
Perhaps in doing this you may even discover what you thought of as your biggest competitor, could actually be your greatest ally…
In case you haven’t heard Barclays Bank is accused of fixing rates and BBC News Business Editor Robert Preston asks if it’s ever acceptable to lie? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18704715)
You may think so if asked by a loved one, “Does my bum look big in this?” but what about in business? Lies have a tendency of snowballing if not nipped in the bud, you need only watch pretty much any soap or drama on TV to see that!
Some time ago I worked with a client who had a major major issue with a project that was I believe completely avoidable. This mess threatened his career and was costing the organisation lots of time and money.
It began with one person who was not performing to standard, who interacted with everybody else on the team, let’s call her Jane for sake of anonymity. Jane didn’t provide information on time, didn’t complete tasks on time, and and when my client was brought in to get the project back on track, Jane started playing political games to make them look bad. Jane was adding no value and because of her interaction with everybody else was actually negatively leveraging!
Team members began to realise what was actually happening, Jane started to do everything she could to make others look bad, even lying and giving others false information – no doubt in an attempt to take the focus off herself.
Let’s look at the impact of Jane’s behaviour:
Clearly this organisation did not at the time have a culture of effective performance management in place or this situation could have been picked up as part of it.
How much of what Jane did was conscious or unconscious I’ll never know, however the impact on others and the organisation was just the same.
Often when people’s key accountabilities take them out of flow, it causes them to feel insecure because they find it really hard to achieve what they are meant to. Even if they performed well in the past they can loose faith in their abilities.
Add into the mix an environment of restructuring and redundancy and many will find it hard to speak up and say “I’m no good at XYZ” because they are concerned with losing their job.
Can you see the potential negative impact of not having a team in flow? There are situations like the one I described above going on all around the world, in all kinds of organisations. The cost must amounts to millions, let alone the hours of misery endured by people out of flow and those around them…
The three key mistakes made in this situation were:
You see what is really required in a situation like this one is honesty. Honestly addressing the issues at hand, ideally in a way that takes the personal sting out of underperformance. It’s amazing how when somebody comes face-to-face with their strengths and weaknesses in a supportive environment how nine times out of ten they really want to address things and fast!
For instance those with Creator profiles who suddenly understand the impact of their lack of delegation and communication on the team. Or those Lord profiles who realise how micromanaging has driven away perfectly good employees in the past. Or the Trader manager who discovered they were buried in the detail and dragging their team down with them.
Leaders knowing what activities and roles build – or destroy – trust and flow for the different profiles, allows them to structure teams and accountabilities accordingly so that everybody has the chance of great performance.
Perhaps if Barclays had done this too, building trust and flow from individual, team, to division, enterprise and stakeholder levels, it would have been a very different story!
* Flow: Put simply is the path of least resistance. In Talent Dynamics terms a team is in flow when you have the right people doing what they are naturally talented at and love to do. Team members working to their strengths to add value in a way that can be effectively leveraged by the team and organisation.
We often hear in the news of calls to reduce government red tape and probably deservedly so! (See James Caan on the case: https://realbusiness.co.uk/news/james-caan-declares-war-on-red-tape) But have you considered the potential red tape in your own organisation?
It is so easy to carry on doing things the way that they’ve always been done without ever stopping to consider if that’s really necessary or even desirable.
When is the last time – if ever – you did an audit of your systems, processes and procedures? What about asking your teams to delete X many forms or procedures? Perhaps they could consolidate or shorten them even if they can’t get rid of them altogether.
The best place to start is with your customers. What do they complain about? Why might they leave your company for your competitors? If you don’t deal directly with your organisation’s customers, who are your internal customers?
Ask them what’s the one thing that they’d like to change about dealing with your team?
This is a really simple way to begin to eliminate the bureaucracy that creeps in as organisations grow and age.
It can help you to focus on what’s the real value that you offer and to clear away the clutter that stops people getting to that true value.
Imagine the results you could gain? Hours saved, happier customers and even happier staff.
Has each member of your team figured out what you could do with that extra time that really adds more value? If each team member did what they did best then performance can really flow, creating a virtual cycle of achievement and satisfaction.
All from looking to reduce red tape. You never know where it will lead…
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