Originally published 1997 by David Bateman Ltd, 30 Tarndale Grove, AlbanyBusiness Park, Auckland New Zealand

Reprinted 2000

Copyright © Ian Oldham, 1997

ISBN 1 86953 337 2

This book is copyright. Except for the purpose of fair review, no part may be stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording or storage in any information retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. No reproduction may be made, whether by photocopying or by any other means unless a licence has been obtained from the publisher, the author or their agent. Where you have received the eBook version of this book, you are specifically authorised to store one copy and print hard copies for personal use only.

Hard copy If you wish to obtain a hard copy of Shifting Gears, please direct them to our web site www.shiftinggears.co.nz or contact us at info@shiftinggears.co.nz

To find out about our Shifting Gears programmes go to www.shifitnggears.co.nz

Contents
Acknowledgements Preface Introduction PART I WORK ON THE FOUNDATIONS 1 Listen to others 2 Clarify problems 3 See the journey 4 Use power tools PART II DEAL WELL WITH YOURSELF 5 Treat feelings as facts 6 Take responsibility 7 Re-set the internal scene PART III DEAL WELL WITH OTHERS 8 See the person 9 Give feedback 10 Confront unhelpful behaviour 11 Mange performance appraisals 12 Resolve conflict PART IV DEVELOP SYNERGY 13 Lead change 14 Make helpful decisions 15 Enable people to be responsible 16 Build teams 17 Grow with change PART V CREATE VALUABLE MEETINGS 18 See the process 19 Get a mandate on behaviour 20 Trust the process 21 Encourage participation 5 6 7

14 27 37 44

55 60 66

80 84 95 103 109

116 124 131 135 141

152 159 164 174

PART VI MOVE ON 22 Accelerate your growth 23 Enhance your learning 24 A before and after and later check

178 185 187

Read more

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Acknowledgments
Much of the material and many of the examples and insights used in this book were ‘discovered’ during the course of leading workshops or in direct response to the need to assist in specific situations. I was fortunate in being presented with the opportunity to learn them – often for the umpteenth time. To those people I have worked with and learnt from, and who unwittingly contributed to this book, a special thank you - for various reasons I cannot acknowledge you by name. Otherwise, where I have been able to determine a specific origin for a particular concept, quote, or visual representation, it has been individually acknowledged at the appropriate point in the text. To the many people who willingly offered advice when I asked for it - and I needed lots of it - my thanks also. For their support and for providing in themselves such wonderful examples of creating personal change, my special thanks are due to: Tom Watkins, who many years ago showed me that there were more effective ways of working with others, and probably without either of us realising it at the time, setting me off on new directions. Also for his friendship, fun, creativity and for the sharing of his outstanding skills in the facilitation of learning; Helen Emmerson, who five years ago worked carefully and patiently with me on planning the route that has led to this book; it took a while Helen, but I made it (it took a while Helen, but I made it); Barbara Gordon for giving the initial encouragement (when I really needed it) that the book was readable and worth progressing with, also for reading numerous drafts and modifications; Ron Pontifex for creating new opportunities and getting the right sort of advice and support for our new direction; Susannah Engel for the injection of some great viewpoints and insights on the content, her amazing enthusiasm and zest for life, plus her commitment and practical support when I needed it; Cathie Dunsford of for her professional and down-to-earth advice on developing the draft. Her ‘off the cuff’ words of encouragement pencilled on letters to me had a powerful effect. My extra-special thanks to my children, Michelle, Warwick and Nicolle for allowing me to practise on them the skills covered in this book and for the learning I gained from them. And most of all, to my wife and project manager, Valma Retter for her unflagging support in keeping the whole thing on the rails and who, with lots of love, very practical advice and heaps of work created the space for me to write the book - this even extended to occasionally letting me off my rostered time for vacuuming the house!

PS To our cat, Tigger, who allows me to use his habits and behaviour to illustrate various points – it is done with fun and good taste Tigger ☺.

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Preface
About corks, life and shifting gears … People often say things in ways which indicate that they have a deterministic view of life, summed up as “I am just a cork bobbing about on the sea of life - what is going to happen will happen”. My view is that I may be a pretty small dot in the scheme of things but that does not prevent me from moving in a particular direction. I create my own experiences and therefore am responsible for my part in what happens to me. Shifting gears is about developing the skills needed to set personal direction and move ahead. It is also about finding better ways of doing things, not ‘better’ simply in terms of efficiency, but better in terms of fun, satisfaction and balance in the everyday mingling of our personal and ‘work’ lives. It places special emphasis on finding better ways of working with others because this is fundamental to improving everything we do. In many parts of the world, there has been a massive transformation in the organisation of the public and private sectors. This has forced organisations to review their work processes and develop innovative ways of thinking - and brought many people face-to-face with the need to re-evaluate their personal and work lives. The issue of personal change has moved from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’. Over the years, my work with many organisations, the conducting of numerous workshops, and overseas study, has put me in touch with a wide range of people and provided a rich background which I have tapped into. More than simply a sampling of ideas, theories, or quotes from other sources, this book is the outcome of my collaboration with those on the path to new, more helpful, ways of working. It is a collection of what actually works, focusing on underlying concepts and principles rather than superficial point-solutions or quick-fixes. The grounding in real life experiences has also provided some truly exciting examples of how effective the concepts and tools are over a wide range of situations, ranging from close family relationships to critical organisational issues. As you read on, I am sure that you will come across many situations about which you will say ‘oh yes, been there, done that!’ My aim is to give you new insights into what is happening and to help you to take charge of your part in the scheme of things. Everything in the book is based on everyday applications and demonstrable results. The skills deliver immediate results and as you hone them, they will give you strong sense of control and direction to your life. The skills deliver immediate results and as you hone them, they will give you a strong sense of control and direction to your life. I apply them in my routine work with client organisations, individuals, and when leading workshops - they can be trusted to work.

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Introduction
The nature and organisation of work is changing rapidly and altering the lives of virtually everyone, often whether they want it or not. Not simply more of the old type of change speeded up, these changes are dramatic and often unexpected. For many people there is now very little to separate their work life from their personal life. An easy example is the growing number of people who no longer have to leave home to go to the office. People are faced with the urgent need to develop skills which will not just enable them to cope with the changes, but help them to achieve satisfaction and success in their personal and work lives. Organisational structures are flattening out, becoming more dense, and focusing on a core of dedicated, highly skilled, and highly paid workers. Within these organisations, people now often do the work that was once done by two or more people and they have to constantly demonstrate abilities beyond the purely functional skills on which they were originally employed - just to remain with their current employer! It is very common for highly skilled, long-term employees to suddenly find themselves on the job market - they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. • A woman told me that within six months of joining an organisation, her job was eliminated. She was told to apply for other jobs (with the same organisation) and ended up working in a totally different area of expertise. • Another person, involved in five restructures within the last five years two within the last year - is undergoing another! • A large organisation, itself the product of a merger of small organisations, had barely settled into the new way when it was in turn taken over by another even larger organisation. These situations are familiar to many people and many have experienced them first hand. Over and above the dramatic advances in information handling and electronic communication, the changes are being driven by radically new views on the relationship between, and within, the personal, social, and work aspects of our lives: at both a workplace level and within society in general. You can now expect to make many major career shifts in your working life. In fact, even the idea of ‘a working life’ is starting to take on quite new meanings, assuming that the term is still relevant. Staying with the same employer and simply trundling along expecting the world to evolve in a predictable manner does not work anymore - if it ever did. Many organisations expect or require their employees to either adapt to on-going and major shifts in their focus and culture or, if they do not ‘fit’, to leave. Whether you remain within a traditional organisation, or join the new band of employees-turned-contractors on the outside, you need the skills necessary to develop not only new ways of working, but a new lifestyle. You need to become attuned to the many opportunities presented by the unpredictable upheavals in your life. You also need to be able to interact well with a range of widely differing organisations as you change careers or prospect for work.

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Unfortunately, one area of the work environment which has remained largely unchanged, both inside and outside the traditional organisation, is the incredible amount of energy wasted on ineffective ways of working with each other. The dramatic shifts needed for organisations and individuals to thrive and prosper cannot take place in the presence of these drains on performance once accepted as a ‘normal’ part of our working life. We need to review our approach to how we work and interact with others. By continuously honing the skills which enable us to move forward, we can fully enjoy our lives and create the future we want.

Directions
Inside organisations
The focus within the workplace is on the development and maintenance of skills which help people to communicate openly and accurately, relate well to each other, negotiate, influence, and generally work much more effectively together - all within an environment of much less supervision. These required skills fall into one of the three categories: Functional/technical, Use of resources, and High Performance. Together, these present a much wider view of the work situation than is traditionally recognised. The Functional/technical skills are fundamental to doing the job; possession of these skills simply gets you over the threshold for consideration among others. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to move you on to greater things or personal wellbeing. The Use of resources skills are needed to look after the many assets (in all forms) entrusted to your care. They are heavily focused on the control aspects of a job (accountants and budgets figure fairly prominently here). Interestingly, this is where conflict arises as organisations, moving to a responsive learning culture, find that most of their information is used for control rather than helping people to do their job better. The High Performance skills comprise Personal Empowerment (a major issue, even at senior management levels), Process Awareness, Problem Solving, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Negotiation, Facilitation and Teambuilding. Shifting gears deals with these skills. They enable you to achieve clarity and harmony of direction, interact well with others, establish amicable working relationships and dramatically improve your working effectiveness. People have special needs in the competent application of the High Performance skills. There are: • leaders wanting change but finding that others are not following; • people required to create change but not knowing how to go about it; • people required to make specific personal changes to conform to a new culture but not knowing how; • people finding themselves in a sea of change and feeling unable to handle it. In any of these situations, simply hoping that things will get better is not enough. You need to gain control over what is happening to you in order to build on the vast and exciting opportunities being created in today’s work environment. This does not come about by chance; it requires a clear focus on where you want to be and the development of the skills needed to support your change.

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The new work-scene
The area outside the traditional arena of employment is fast growing and presents wonderful opportunities to develop a healthy balance in your life. However, to thrive in this demanding new environment - in which the line between home, social and work life is, to say the least, ill-defined - requires a complete re-assessment of your Guiding Principles, direction and operating style. You must communicate quickly and effectively with colleagues and clients. If you work from a remote location, perhaps a home office, you will no doubt be well aware of the special demands that friends, neighbours, colleagues and customers place on your time. Shifting gears provides the concepts and supporting skills which enable you to make significant changes to the way you organise yourself. The book encourages you to continue developing your skills as you move into new areas of work or ways of working. Your functional or technical skills will get you to the threshold but it will be your High Performance skills which take you to new heights.

Process your power
Strongly encouraging respect for the needs of yourself and others, the book’s underlying theme is a focus on developing and applying helpful processes; the ‘how you do things’ rather than ‘what you do’ in your personal or work interactions with others. A well thought-out process gives you the power to work out for yourself the actions you need to take over a wide range of situations, rather than being focused on a set of superficial, ‘point-solutions’. It is pivotal to self-discovery and permanent change.

Seize the opportunity
The development of your High Performance Skills will accelerate your transition from: • average • stressful • feeling overwhelmed performance to relationships to to dealing with the High Performance supportive ‘too hard’ basket relationships • feeling trapped to creating the reality you want conflict to harmony • backwater job to the job you really want specialist to leader • working in a group to belonging to a high performing team manager to leader

Enhance your ‘transferable skills’
To deal well with the fast changing environment, we need to focus on those things which provide constancy and stability in our lives: clarity about the personal basis from which we operate and the development of skills which support our continuing growth. These ‘transferable skills’ provide the security of knowing that you can

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adapt to new circumstances and move in new directions whenever you choose. You can then use your High Performance skills to: Improve self-awareness • • • • • • • Boost your power by working on the ‘process’ rather than the task Balance & harmonise your home and work life Translate your fear (inaction) into action Get to the core of a problem so that you can deal well with it Avoid being hindered by your own unhelpful behaviour Deal well with feeling ‘driven’ by the pressure of conflicting priorities Use powerful tools to support your continuing improvement

Deal well with others • • • • • • • Focus on & understand, what someone is saying Be consistent & helpful in your dealings with others Help others to take control over their situation Handle conflict & difficult situations Clearly express your needs & give feedback which encourages positive change Respond well when confronted by someone who is distressed Change the unhelpful behaviour of others, including demands on your time and resources

Create group synergy • • • • • • • Develop leadership & decision-making styles which work for you Transform a group into a real team Keep meetings focused on the task & on schedule Deal effortlessly with distractions & disruptive behaviour Transform traditional ‘Job Performance Reviews’ into helpful learning opportunities Dramatically reduce your wasted time Lead satisfying & productive, meetings at which people feel encouraged to participate

Get the best out of Shifting gears
The order of the chapters reflects my view about the order in which we need to deal with things to create lasting change. The later sections assume some understanding of the material covered earlier, so I suggest that you focus on the earlier chapters first. Having said that, and if your reading habits are anything like mine, you will no doubt read whatever catches your eye. Well, I thought that it was worth a try!

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Learning versus reading Learning involves a change in behaviour, a coupling of the brain to the hand, therefore, practise, plus high quality feedback on the how you are doing, is the fastest way of developing your new skills. You will not learn them simply by reading a book. Learning (adopting) involves: 1. Understanding what is being presented, discussed or rehearsed; 2. Reconciling the new information with your own views/values; 3. Becoming sensitive to and observing existing practice; 4. Putting the new approach into place; 5. Obtaining feedback on ‘how you are doing’; 6. Modifying your behaviour to more closely meet the desired outcome. Transform your information into learning by using the quick self-test at the end of each chapter. Each test covers your recall of the content, your observation of the situation around you and the outcome of putting what you have read and rehearsed into practice. At first you will no doubt feel awkward using your new skills, the ‘mechanical’ stage. However, you will soon reach the point at which they are used with ease and are constantly being reinforced by success. Make full use of the techniques covered in Find out how you are doing later in book.

Measuring your overall progress
At the end of the book there is a self-test section called A before and after and later check. Use it to measure your progress and to tune-in to some of the many situations with which the book deals. Although the focus is strongly on changing unhelpful behaviour (because in the end that is where most of the difficulties seem to arise), remember that to deal well with others you first need to deal well with yourself. You can be sure that there is always a better way of doing things. This book, simply a part of the process of refining your skills, will enable you to enjoy the tremendous satisfaction arising from greater personal power, improved relationships, enjoyable group work and all the other benefits which contribute towards the achievement of your goals. I trust that Shifting Gears will stimulate and refresh you on your journey to success.

PS Be sure to have fun on the way

© Ian Oldham 1997

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PART 1 WORK ON THE FOUNDATIONS

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Listen to others

1 Listen to others
There are lots of people hearing but how many are listening? A number of years ago, a large aircraft was thundering down the runway on its take-off roll. The captain, suspecting that he was not getting ‘full noise’ from the engines, called “take-off power” at which point the co-pilot called “check” and obligingly pulled back the throttles to idle, thereby taking off the power. Unfortunately, this was not what the captain had intended and the aircraft, having passed the point at which it could be stopped within the available runway length, careered off the end creating a large amount of damage and a number of shaken people. Clearly, within the above simple communication there was a misunderstanding and it led to a wrong decision being made, which in turn had a major impact on the ensuing experience. I used this example to illustrate how easily we can misinterpret something, even when we thought that the communication was a well established and understood routine. You will be pleased to know that the aviation industry has since dropped the use of the phrase ‘take-off power’; it was bad for business. Listening is the cornerstone of the communication process between people. Fundamental to working well with others and achieving success, it involves an improvement process which is steady, never-ending and very rewarding. For these reasons I have made the skill of listening number one on our list of things to work on. Throughout the book, you will be faced with the need to make decisions and one of the first is the decision to be a good listener. Get the message A simple conversation is actually quite a complex communication process involving the active assessment, comparison, ordering and storing of received concepts, feelings and ideas. It is fraught with the danger of misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and inappropriate actions and is much more than a simple ‘sucking in’ of a string of words as they are fed to you. It operates something like this:

Words as expressed

Words as understood

Listening to check and correct understanding

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Listen to others

Why listen?
Critical to the communication process and our interactions with others, listening is a much misunderstood and under-utilised skill, yet it is the foundation for creating effective change. Communication uses listening to detect and correct misunderstandings and to ensure that the transmitted message is accurately received. In other words, listening ‘closes the loop’. More than just understanding what a person is saying, listening helps the speaker to become clear about what is going on for her or him and facilitates clear expression of the thoughts and feelings surrounding the situation. It also helps the speaker to clarify a topic or develop a concept. For example, I am sure that while trying to explain something to someone, you have found that it has actually helped you to become clear about it. This is the very essence of listening - a total focus on helping the speaker to clearly express what is going on for him or her.

The challenge
As a listener, your real challenge is to let go of your personal agenda and focus on the listening process. It is particularly difficult to let go of our own agenda because we are constantly required to overcome our prejudices, our special interpretations of reality, our seeing of others through the filter of our beliefs. To avoid much confusion, argument and misunderstanding, we need to break out of our own view of the world, other people, and ourselves. A major benefit of listening is that when a person who is feeling stressed is listened to, the stress level goes down once s/he has been able to articulate the frustration and have it acknowledged by others.

The rewards
. . . for the listener Although it can be very tiring, listening is one of the most helpful things that you can do for another person and very rewarding personally. It enables you to remain closely attuned to the speaker’s needs so that you can concentrate on what is being said and respond well to key points, phrases or words of special significance to the speaker. Listening helps you to avoid saying things which might block or inhibit the speaker’s self expression and enables you to demonstrate your understanding of how the speaker sees what has been going on and how s/he feels about it. This dramatically improves your ability to acknowledge and respond well to emotions (especially anger, criticism or other distress) expressed verbally or in the form of body language. Later on, having listened really well, you will find it easy to recall and reflect on what has been said; particularly useful if you need to follow-up on a conversation to deal with specific aspects of what has been said. Your clarity about what has happened will also put you in an excellent position to offer appropriate advice - if the speaker should happen to ask for it - much more on this later.

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. . . for the speaker As the speaker, you enjoy the satisfaction of having someone set aside the time to truly listen - to you. You are helped to focus on your own thinking about what has happened, to discover how you feel about it, to feel respected and valued as a person, and that your views are worthy to be of consideration. You are given the space to freely express your feelings surrounding what has happened and have them clearly recognised by another person as being important. You are not worried that what you are saying will be challenged, criticised, judged or even manipulated. This freedom to easily and openly work through things for yourself encourages you to let go of some of the ‘historical baggage’ attached to the situation and with support from the listener, remain focused on, or be drawn back to, the central issue. The listener helps you to discover or unravel the problem underlying your frustration, anger or, grief, understand your role in what has happened and take responsibility for dealing with your part in it. The outcome is that you can then identify and deal directly, honestly and appropriately with what is going on for you. Special pleasures are the sharing of excitement, enthusiasm or joy about something without your thoughts being distracted or your story being hijacked by someone half-way through, plus a sense of relief at not being offered, or pressured to come up with, a solution to your expressed problem.

Be pro-active
As a listener, your role is far from that of a passive observer. Here, you give your close and keen attention to what is happening and creatively use the many skills which enhance the communication process.

View the action
Grouping the listening skills into eight levels, ranging from the least to the most ‘active’, enables us to examine in detail the effort required to listen well. There is not an indicator of the sequence in which to use the skills -“I’m now moving to level six” - ahhhh! (as the speaker attempts to throttle you).The list is only to identify the various skills involved and the relative effort required for each. For instance, Clarifying the Problem requires a very high level of concentration to pick out the essence of what is concerning the speaker. It cannot be done by listening in a halfhearted, desultory manner. 1. Be ‘un-busy’, calm, quiet, relaxed (this is the least active level of listening). 2. Show that you are ready to listen by facing the speaker, establishing eye contact and so on. 3. Use a nod, smile, grunt or other minimal ways of encouraging the speaker to continue speaking. 4. Use starters and developers, such as asking a question or making a comment which moves the speaker forward in his or her thinking (especially useful if you have inadvertently interrupted or blocked the listening process).

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5. Reflect and check the speaker’s words (“you said they kept on going flatout?”). 6. Paraphrase/summarise content to check and show understanding (“It sounds like you’re saying that . . .”). 7. Summarise expressed feeling or reflect shown feeling (“John, you are sounding quite calm, but I see that you are shaking - this appears to have had a major impact on you”). 8. Clarify the Problem. This is the most active level of listening and is covered in detail in the next chapter.

See the person
High quality listening uses more than just spoken words to develop a total picture of how things seem to the speaker, it helps us to see the real person beneath the layers of labels, judgements and interpretations so easily thrown over the speaker by ourselves and others. Our ability to listen is helped enormously if we can let go of our own viewpoint and the need to agree with what is being said and simply focus on the other person’s ideas and views. Understanding does not require agreement with what is being said. All the listening skills in the world are for nothing if there is not a willingness to listen.

Put in the effort
A deep understanding of what is going on for another person requires the undivided attention of the listener and the showing of equal and high respect for that person. You cannot do this at the same time as something else such as ‘listening’ and writing a report. Do one or the other, but don’t try to do both as neither will be done well. When you need to listen, set aside enough time to do it well. If you strike conflicting demands on your time, try negotiating a more appropriate time. Even when someone is distressed, it is better, and shows respect for his/her needs, to negotiate a time at which you can give them your full attention. Most needed when most difficult to do When feelings of frustration, anger or unhappiness are being vented and you are the subject of the criticism, it is a moment when you will feel least inclined to listen and yet it is also the moment when that person most needs to be listened to. The emotional involvement makes it most difficult to listen and to focus on the other person’s needs at that moment. The ability to listen well when being verbally attacked or criticised is difficult to master and yet it is also the most critical and productive skill in terms of improving relationships. Personally, when I perceive that my values or beliefs are ‘under attack’, it can be a real struggle to suppress my self-talk (the inner voice which is always busily overseeing what I am doing), let go of my need to be correct or to defend my actions, and focus on understanding the other person’s viewpoint.

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Listen to others

Focus on the speaker
Many discussions seem to be speaking competitions for the deaf.

Watch the ball
The aim of listening is to keep the focus of attention on the speaker. This can be done by imagining that the person is holding a ball. If you become aware that the ball has been grabbed by you (or some other person), politely ‘hand it back’ by asking a question or making a comment which transfers the focus to him or her; for example, “It sounds very much like your experience, Jan”.

See the whole message
A high level of concentration and care is needed to respond sensitively and appropriately to the feelings and words being expressed by the speaker. This is especially the non-verbal signals such as a quivering voice, averted eyes or the stressing of certain words, which in turn may indicate a level of annoyance, stress or excitement. These non-verbal signals are a vital part of the total message and need to be recognised and acknowledged.

Be ‘present’
At one of my workshops a woman said, “It is one thing to have the skills but another to have the will to use them. I guess that at the end of the day it all comes down to my willingness to be ‘present’ ”. She went on to explain that what she meant was, the willingness to give 100% of her mental attention and effort. I believe that she is absolutely right: simply knowing the skills is not enough to help me to remain totally focused on the speaker and concentrate on how things seem to him or her. For me, my willingness to be present is the essence of listening.

Ask the right questions
Rather than being an indicator that you are not paying attention, the asking of questions demonstrates your interest in what the speaker is saying and keenness to check your understanding. When you sense that the speaker has arrived at a logical break in the narrative (or you feel that you are losing the plot), quickly summarise your understanding. Clearly, you need to avoid appearing to interrogate the speaker; nevertheless be sure to ask him or her to pause and clarify any points that you may have missed. Far from ruining the flow, as is sometimes feared, this process actually gives the speaker an opportunity to collect his/her thoughts and to re-focus. It is much better than simply letting things go for half an hour hoping that it will all become clear at the end - it rarely does! Open-ended questions Requiring more than a Yes or No answer, an open-ended question encourages the speaker to explore his or her own thoughts and supports the person as s/he expands upon what has already been said. Starting your question with What, How, Where, When, Who usually helps to ensure that it will be open and keeps the speaker in the present. The use of ‘Why’

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tends to invite an unexpected response and can send people off in all sorts of directions - usually deep into the past: “It all started when I was eighteen months old . . .” Closed questions Closed questions only require a Yes or No answer, or at most, a few words. On their own, the words do not encourage or provide an opening for the recipient to give an expanded reply. However used with care and forethought, a closed question encourages a speaker to reach a conclusion or consider alternatives.

Stop trying to fix the problem
If there is one thing which frustrates people trying to express a problem, it is the great tide of solutions which frequently washes over them. Each of us seems to have an overwhelming urge to fix other people’s problems - for the very best reasons, of course! Suppressing this urge and treating the other person as a fully functioning adult takes quite an effort. The speaker is perfectly capable of coming up with his or her own unique solution - what they are looking for is someone who can help them to become clear about the problem. Developing clarity about the problem is about 90% of the journey. The solution is the easy bit, the glide to the finish line and besides, the reality is that even if you do come up with a ‘brilliant solution’, it will probably be discarded in favour of the person’s own idea - and rightly so. All of this should be a great source of relief to you. It means that while listening, you do not have to be thinking of clever or inspired things to say or ways to ‘fix things’. There is a time for advice Once the speaker has moved on to the point at which s/he is ready to consider ways of dealing with what is happening for her or him, you may be asked for advice on ways of moving forward. This situation is quite different from that of offering advice, unasked and at an earlier moment when the focus is simply on understanding what is going on. Even at this time, it is helpful to bear in mind that your advice is still only for consideration. More than likely it will not be exactly what the person is looking for, but simply another part of the overall picture. The path to frustration is paved with well-meant advice.

Deal well with emotion
Confronted with high levels of emotion, for example, shouting, abuse, or crying, many people either try to ignore it or end up joining in with it. Neither approach is very successful and at best tends to prolong things. These actions are chosen because there is a widespread fear that if we openly acknowledge the emotional part of what a speaker is saying, we may be drawn into an area in which we may not feel especially confident. Seize the opportunity to deal with the emotional part of the message. Simply recognising and acknowledging this, the largest part of the message, you will be of

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immediate assistance in helping the speaker to take control of what is happening to her or him. It is essential to deal with the emotion before attempting to deal with the socalled rational or logical aspects of a situation. Pointing out logical or factual flaws in what a person is saying “it wasn’t 1,495, it was 1,489!” when his or her ‘emotional reservoir’ is overflowing is really unhelpful. Such challenges about the accuracy of what is being said tend to inflame things. They are sometimes used deliberately when the person on the receiving end of the expressed anger is being driven into low self-esteem or looking for a ‘win/lose’ outcome. ‘Seize the moment’ in your Self-fulfilling Cycle to settle on feelings and actions which will best meet the needs of both parties. Then listen to really understand what is happening - this will help you to keep out of your own way. You are now in a position to recognise and verbally acknowledge the expressed emotion which, when done well, will result in an immediate lowering of the person’s emotional reservoir. When the emotional level is low enough, you can start to deal with the rational aspect of what has happened. If it seems to be appropriate, help the speaker to clarify and understand the problem. However, avoid offering advice unless the person specifically asks for it. Short version: deal with the emotion before the content. Empathy not sympathy Joining in with a speaker’s distress as a way of demonstrating that you are ‘in there with them’ takes the spotlight away from the speaker and moves it onto yourself at which point you are no longer listening. Colluding with the speaker’s distress is a serious barrier to listening and limits your effectiveness. People often confuse sympathy with empathy. Sympathy is akin to going on a walk with a friend who, along the way, trips and falls into a deep hole, spraining his ankle as he lands at the bottom. You immediately look down and say “Oh dear, how awful. I hurt my ankle once and that was so painful. It must be terrible down there”. In the process of looking into the hole, you lose your own balance, trip and fall - joining your friend at the bottom. Now there is no one at the top of the hole to help either of you climb out. Empathy on the other hand, is your friend falling into the hole, you looking over the edge, checking how he is, assessing and acknowledging the situation, dropping a rope down so that you can help him to climb out, and then going for assistance to deal with the immediate situation.

Help the speaker
The best way of encouraging a speaker’s self expression, is to demonstrate a real willingness to listen and understand what is being said and to avoid anything which interferes with this process. Without interrupting the speaker’s flow, a simple nod of the head, a smile, a grunt, perhaps a slight wave of the hand, encourages the speaker to keep going and demonstrates your attention. Have a look around next time someone is speaking to a group and you will see all of these actions occurring quite naturally. Without this acknowledgement or response, the speaker will slowly start to dry up, probably because his/her self-talk

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is saying “They are looking really bored; what I am saying must be really boring; I am really boring; what can I do?”, and so on. The speaker needs feedback to validate what is happening. Incidentally, you will find it very helpful to use encouragers at the right moment. Failure to do so is a classic give-away of the fact that you are not listening and their use will have quite the reverse effect to that which was intended.

Open doors
Encourage the speaker to talk or move forward in her or his thinking by asking open-ended questions or making observations that help the speaker to focus on what s/he is saying. Highlighting words and phrases which appear to have special significance or are emotionally charged is often helpful. Your questions or comments could be along the lines of: "What was Mary’s role in this?"; "You said that this was typical (highlight key words used by person)?"; "You’re sounding extremely angry about the incident". Ask open-ended questions, clarify meanings or specifics: “What happened next?”; “You said there were three people”; “Take me back to where you said . . . ”. These skills are particularly useful if you find yourself holding the ‘communication ball’ and need to hand it back to the speaker.

Act as a mirror
The speaker’s message is always in two parts: the content and the emotion (feelings). Acting as a mirror helps you to deal with both. By reflecting your impression of what is being projected and providing an opportunity for the speaker to consider her or his part in what is going on you are providing a very valuable service - without any obligation for you to ‘sort things out’. Reflect the content The reflection of content involves checking your understanding of specific aspects of what the speaker has said. This is done by simply repeating back perhaps a word, phrase or some particular emphasis. However, be careful to do this without any hint of interpretation, manipulation or subtle imposition of your views. Avoid asking questions which lead the speaker in the direction you want to go. If you realise that you are unclear about a particular word or expression, stop the speaker and check it out. This is much better than battling on in the hope that ‘all will become clear later’. Reflect the feelings The reflection of the speaker’s feelings requires your total involvement in listening and observing. The feelings/distress may be low level or high level and expressed clearly or only noticed through specific words or body language (pauses, sighs, shaking hands, emphasis on a word, leaning forward). You are combining what the speaker is saying with how s/he is behaving or looking, and from this information, forming an overall view as to how s/he really feels about the events and actions being described. Very often the two are not congruent.

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One thing to avoid, is imposing your perceptions on the speaker by saying something like, “You must have been very angry”. This is the outcome of your beliefs and the person may come back to you with, “well actually it wasn’t a great concern to me”, in which case you are out on a limb. It is far safer and more helpful to say something like, “You are sounding quite upset about what happened”. You still need to pick the appropriate emotive level, but it is simply a reflection of your perception of the expressed and visible feelings - not an expression of how you are feeling about what is being said. Paraphrase to understand Paraphrasing is a way of checking your understanding of what is being said by condensing the speaker’s words down to their essence. Without interpreting or changing the meaning of the words, you restate a condensed version of events back to the speaker and look for his/her agreement that it accurately reflects the situation. You then work on any misunderstandings or differences until the speaker considers that you have got it right. Notice that the person who finally determines that the listener understands what has been said is the speaker. This process is a good deal better than telling someone “I understand exactly where you are coming from”, when I have done absolutely nothing to demonstrate my understanding. I think that the phrase, “I understand . . . ” is mainly used as a ploy to cut the speaker off so that the other person can start to speak.

Keep out of the way
Listeners use many actions or words which knock the speaker off her or his ‘thought rails’ and frustrate the listening process. When this happens, you can see the speaker stop, look confused, consider what has happened and then perhaps forget what he or she was about to say. As the listener, you have probably ended up holding the ‘conversational ball’ and it needs to be handed back to the speaker. These mental jolts arise when the listener makes an unrelated comment, starts to defend his/her actions, changes the subject, gives points of view or offers unasked for advice. Don’t worry if you inadvertently put up a barrier: just be aware of it having happened and get the flow going again by using a ‘door-opener’ question or similar technique. Essentially, the onus is on the listener to help the speaker to express him/herself. The speaker is often too emotionally unsettled or simply unclear to lead the process. There are many things we do which, intentionally or unintentionally, serve to frustrate a person’s attempt to get his/her message across We script our response This involves listening to the conversation going on in the back of our head (the ‘self-talk’) with a view to competing to ‘get a word in edgeways’. Instead of concentrating on the direction of the speaker’s story, the listener mentally prepares a script and then waits for an opportunity to steal the topic. It goes like this speaker pauses to get breath, listener quickly hops in with, “I had exactly the same problem, you wouldn’t believe . . . , and so on.”. Result; the original speaker is left wondering “what happened to my story”, loses the focus, and is unlikely to see it

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again - the rest of the group has moved on to the new speaker. The process has two outcomes - it interferes with the other person’s expression and it results in the listener missing information. Sometimes the person who grabbed the ball quickly moves onto a new topic. This ensures that ‘the ball’ will not go back to the person from whom it was grabbed - s/he is still working on how to get back in with his/her original story. We give advice The giving of (well-meaning) advice is a huge barrier to a person’s ability to talk about an issue that they are trying to work through. You know the expressions: “when I had that I . . .”, “have you tried . . .”, “wouldn’t it be a good idea to . . .”. The speaker is still grappling with understanding the problem and you are busily trying to fix it. The reality is that whatever you come up with will not be adopted by the speaker because you have solved it from your perspective, not that of the speaker. For more on this, refer to my comments on ‘solutions’ in the chapter Clarify Problems. We continue to be busy This usually takes the form of working on the keyboard, doing the ironing, reading or writing a letter and similar distracting activities. Not long ago I had arranged a meeting with the manager of an organisation about a personal matter that was very important to me. I was invited into her office and waived to a chair. Distracted by a small copier which was refusing to copy some important papers (not to do with our meeting) she was not having much success. Looking intently at the copier, she asked me to keep going as she was able to listen to me whilst working on the copier and assured me that I had her full attention. I pointed out that I felt uncomfortable with that arrangement and that I needed her full attention, at which point she stopped working on the copier and sat in a chair facing me - now I had her attention. This common scenario is played out in many ways, and is a major barrier to listening. We miss the emotional part Failure to acknowledge or respond to the emotional content causes you to miss a major opportunity to deal well, and relatively quickly, with someone who is distressed. This can cause them to storm off. We join in with the speaker’s distress Viewed as demonstrating empathy or compassion, it is usually sympathy. You join the person in the hole rather than offering a hand to help him or her out of it. The drawback of colluding with the speaker in this way is that it pulls the focus back to the listener and interferes with the ability to listen well. We give ‘over the top’ listening Listening skills are intended to facilitate the communication process not become the focus of attention. “What is the most unhelpful thing going on for you at this moment?” “You constantly nodding your head, waving your hands, reflecting words and summarising every 10 seconds.”

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In your enthusiasm to be ‘a good listener’, it is easy to lose sight of the objective, namely, to help the speaker to express himself or herself. The skills are fine but they do not relieve you of the need to be aware of what is happening. And we . . . • Give our views on the subject working on the assumption that we know what the speaker meant, or is going to say next, we point out flaws in the argument “it was only two, not three!” when strong feelings are being expressed. • Fill in the silences. Completing the speaker’s sentence if s/he pauses or hesitates. Sidetracking with unrelated comments. ‘Turning off’ the other person with a generalisation, criticism, judgmental comment or a label eg. “that was a bit rough”, or do it with a fixed smile, a long silence, a hand over the mouth. • Create distractions. Leaving the television running in the background. Facing bright lights. Staring at the ceiling or sitting side-on rather than facing the person. Appearing to be uncomfortable with the other person’s emotions. Drawing attention to ourselves with a sudden or excessive movement, an exclamation, ‘off the topic’ comment or inappropriate language. • Focus internally. Choosing to see what is being said as a personal attack. Hanging our beliefs on the speaker “I imagine that you are feeling very angry, jealous, etc.”. Pigeon-holing the other person and interpreting or filtering everything within that narrow view. Try to manoeuvre the speaker around to our point of view (“don’t you think . . .”), or make a joke of a serious topic and diminish its importance.

Contributing or grabbing?
If we never caught the focus of attention it would be rather difficult to engage in a conversation; everyone would be listening! Before speaking we need to consider what our purpose is. If your intent is to simply contribute to a conversation, one way of doing it without permanently holding the focus is to end your input with a question or comment which throws the focus back to the other person. You could try assisting the original speaker to rejoin the conversation by using an open-ended question focusing on some aspect of his/her earlier contribution.

Prepare for personal change
When listening well, you are attempting to imaginatively enter into another person’s feelings, understand what they are saying and then demonstrate your understanding of what is being said. For this to happen, you may need to address a number of issues in the area of personal change, each of which deserves more than a mere passing consideration and may even involve fundamental shifts in your underlying beliefs. Nevertheless, to not address them, will seriously limit your chances of listening really well; especially at the times when you will most need to listen really well. Being open to the possibility of having to change your own behaviour (refer to the Self-fulfilling Cycle later on) opens the way to being able to recognise that your

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view of reality or ‘the truth’ is only one of many views and to discovering, exploring or simply considering alternative views. This does not imply that you should not establish or have your own viewpoints or beliefs It is simply a matter of suspending judgement and accepting that what the person says is true for them at that time you do not need to agree with what is being said to listen effectively.

Self assessment
Recall 1. What is listening and paraphrasing? 2. What are the benefits of effective listening? 3. Name four ways of encouraging someone to speak. Observe 4. Describe a situation in which you encountered ineffective listening. List the specific points which you found acted as a block to your self-expression. Practise 5. When contributing to a conversation, do you: really listen or just take over and follow your own agenda? Who holds the conversational ball for the majority of the time? 6. Monitor the occasions over the next few days when you are called upon to listen (especially) to someone who is in distress, annoyed or upset. Monitor your use of listening barriers.

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2 Clarify problems
The real problem is often buried underneath a pile of judgements, interpretations, assumptions, generalisations, blaming, labelling - and a great heap of solutions. Romeo, upon hearing a report that Juliet was apparently dead, instantly decided to go to her side where he would poison himself so that they could be together at last. Unknown to Romeo, Juliet was merely drugged to feign death as part of a cunning plan to sneak off with Romeo later on (when the circumstances surrounding her arranged marriage to another had cooled down a bit). In the event, she awoke to find Romeo lying dead beside her and killed herself. Clearly, Romeo’s decision arose from a slight misunderstanding of the problem, followed by the application of what was arguably an inappropriate solution. Dramatists may view things differently and claim that it was good for business! Problem clarification is central to the resolving of personal conflict, negotiating agreements, selling, listening to people in distress, managing change, meetings; planning - in fact, nearly everything to do with human interaction. It is central because if we haven’t defined what the problem is, how will we later be able to check that the proposed solution really does ‘fit’ the original problem? Beware the impressive solution Many impressive ‘solutions’ have later been found to be a waste of time and money because they failed to fix the problem. I was once shown a multi-level building complex designed to house some sophisticated technical equipment. Costing about six million dollars, it was brilliantly engineered and well constructed. Sadly, it lay empty for several years (and may still be empty) because, by the time it was completed it was found to be out of step with the organisation’s real needs. Great solution, pity it did not fit the problem. For many reasons, when a problem arises little attention is paid to understanding it, let alone agreeing on what ‘it’ is. To make matters worse, there is usually little clarity as to what process should be followed to be reasonably sure of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution. In this chapter and the chapter on See Problem Solving as a journey, I aim to change that thinking and develop ways of encouraging maximum participation in the search for, and the understanding, and resolution of problems. To begin with, we will focus on becoming really clear as to what ‘a problem’ is. Not some irrelevant, academic search, this understanding is absolutely critical to ensuring that we come up with appropriate solutions. So, relax, let go of the solutions and enjoy the business of defining and understanding what a problem is.

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What is the problem?
The most difficult thing about dealing with a problem is defining what it is. The dictionary sheds some light on the matter by defining a problem as ‘anything that is difficult to solve, deal with, or overcome’. However, people have great difficulty stating in a simple sentence what ‘the problem’ is. We are so used to interpreting, broadening, labelling, judging and fixing what we see, that we have great difficulty describing it, and how we feel about it, in simple words. Spending time understanding the problem isn’t generally seen as being constructive. The rally cry is ‘we need to be positive here and focus on the solution’. Focusing on the problem is ‘negative thinking’ and to be discouraged, although time is often spent on ‘archaeological digs’ to find who caused it. The result is an enormous waste of energy and great distress, particularly through the application of inappropriate solutions. Arriving at a clear and agreed statement on the problem avoids this waste and provides a great sense of relief at being able to ‘see the beast’; even though a solution has not even been hinted at. Being able to define the ‘problem’ could be one of the most useful skills you will ever learn. Let’s take a look at two scenarios to help us to focus on problems. (1) A bus travelling along a back-country road runs over a steep bank and crashes. Two people are killed and several are injured. A local workman comments that he has warned the authorities about the narrow road for years. A Ministry of Transport inspector comments about poor maintenance of buses and inadequate driver training. Local economic conditions are tight and this is the second bus crash on this part of the road. The bus company has been involved in several other incidents. What is the problem? (2) An aircraft collides with another in airspace controlled by air traffic controllers. One aircraft crashes to the ground killing everyone on board, the other is severely damaged but manages to land safely. Ten people, including the pilot and several sightseers, die in the first aircraft and two, including the severely injured pilot, are injured in the second aircraft. Several knowledgeable witnesses are heard to make comments about young (inexperienced?) pilots and failure to keep a proper lookout. Inadequate air traffic control procedures and crowded airspace are raised as on-going sore points. The visibility at the time was very poor. There had been previous difficulties with one of the aircraft. What is the problem? The essential point in these examples is that much of the comment surrounding the situation was focused on solutions, not on the problem. For instance, in (1) if driver training would have prevented the crash then clearly it is a solution. In (2), if not having such young pilots would have prevented the collision, then clearly limiting the minimum pilot age is a solution.

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What happened (the situation) was quite simple: ‘a bus crashed off the road killing two people’; ‘two aircraft collided, one crashed, and ten people were killed several of them were tourists.’ When people are asked "what is the problem", they almost invariably focus on a solution. What we have done here is to separate what happened, the situation, from the solution. However, we still aren’t quite there, because ‘the situation’ is not necessarily a problem. Consider these examples. • In 1990, an earthquake in western Iran, caused in excess of 50,000 deaths. I ask the people at my workshops if that was a problem for any of them. The answer is nearly always, “no”. A catastrophe for Iran, but a problem for the person - no. Yet, more than 50,000 people died. Surely, that was a problem? As you read, you are blissfully unaware that a ship with 300 people on board is sinking. Is it a problem for you? If you are unaware of the event how can it be a problem for you? Someone is having a heated argument about you right now (again, you are unaware of it); is the argument a problem for you? Again, you are unaware of it, so . . .?

What is it that turns a situation into a problem? Problems are more to do with feelings than intellect. What if just before the earthquake in Iran, a close relative of yours had telephoned to say she would be staying in the region of the earthquake: on the same day? What are your feelings now? Is this now a problem for you? What has changed? What we have been talking about so far have been ‘happenings’ or ‘situations’. Each becomes a problem when someone has some feelings about them - when they become aware of what is happening, has happened, or might happen and are concerned as to how it affects them. The feelings are so strong that the person is moved to consider what to do and then act upon that decision. Of course, making a conscious decision to ‘do nothing’ is also a valid option. A curious and quite common occurrence is a perceived problem being resolved simply through a better understanding of its causes and thereby realising that it is not a problem after all.

The essential ingredients of a problem
• Something has happened, for example: a car theft; a unique, high-rise building has been erected in your area and you are responsible for fire prevention. You have become aware of the situation. You have negative feelings about what is happening. You have a desire to change (improve) your part in the situation.

• • •

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Clearly, ‘problems’ are very personal in nature; quite contrary to the ‘dispassionate objectivity’ approach traditionally taken with problem solving. Essentially, if you have no feelings about the issue then it is not a problem for you. It is perhaps of academic interest, but not a problem. Doing a difficult crossword is usually not a problem, simply an academic challenge. Being told to finish it in twenty minutes or you will be fired is likely to turn it into a problem - probably centred around a fear of being unemployed, not the intricacies of the crossword puzzle. From this you can see that the word ‘problem’ has two uses. The common use applying to difficulties and challenges we observe in the world around us and the specific use applying to actions and events with which we are connected and about which we have negative feelings. This leads to a simple working definition of a problem: A Problem is:

A situation that affects me negatively

This definition avoids the problem being tracked further and further back (person blames someone else who in turn blames the organisation etc.). The problem belongs to the person who has become aware of it.
Situations - Problems - Solutions Reflecting on the first two examples (bus, aircraft), you can now see that ‘the problem’ for each of the involved parties is quite different. Sea Of Possible Solutions Sea Of Possible Solutions Problem However, the situation binds the different views together. Problem view For example, with the aircraft: Situation • Relatives of the dead are grieving over Problem their loss; view • Police officers have to overview rescue Problem view Sea Of Possible Solutions Sea Of Possible Solutions operations etc.; • Aircraft/bus representatives will be wondering if it will be found that they contributed to the crash in some way . . .and so on.
Events/Actions

One situation - many problems, but even more solutions! (Note: Failure to clearly define the problem prevents you from checking to see if your chosen solution is a good ‘fit’ - that it eliminates or reduces the problem and does not simply generate new problems.) At workshops, people are concerned about “how will I know when I have got a problem?”. That is the easy bit - problems tend to sneak up on you without so much as a ‘beg your pardon’! You feel when you have a problem. The tricky bit is

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defining what it is that you are feeling unhappy about, and later, understanding the contributing causes. Do not worry, problems will find you. No need to hunt for them - quite a helpful feature, don’t you think?

Develop an effective Problem Statement
When you have arrived at a statement describing what it is that you are unhappy about or want to improve, check to see that the statement is truly a description of a problem. That it: • States something which directly affects you and about which you have feelings: (this is the fundamental test - if you don’t have any feelings about it, it isn’t a problem for you.) • Describes observed actions (behaviour) or physical events: (the scene, without any interpretation, assumption or judgement. For instance, a recent news report stated that an aircraft had ‘plummeted out of the sky and slammed into a hillside’. All that was known at the time was that it had crashed! The rest simply obscured our understanding of the situation.) • Is neutral: (describes the behaviour without judgement, not; "well you certainly are lazy/incompetent/stupid/ arrogant.”) • Is specific: (doesn’t generalise, not, "well, let’s face it, most ‘. . .’ are like that” or "that’s what usually happens with these things.”) • Sees the person: (avoids labels, not "I expect that sort of thing from a salesperson/greenie/manager/whimp/ typist/government employee”) • Does not suggest a solution or a ‘lack of’ a preferred solution (not, "The problem is the lack of chairs”. To re-focus this statement back onto the problem, ask the question, “if we had the chairs, what would change?” - the answer is close to the problem.) Muddying the water with unhelpful beliefs If someone says “the problem wasn’t the fact that he asked me for a lift in my car, it was that he keeps on assuming that I will give him a lift”, it is helpful to realise that a belief has been triggered in the person stating the problem. Whenever a judgement, an interpretation, an assumption, a generalisation or label is created, it is a sure sign that an underlying belief has been triggered. In this case the situation was simply along the lines of ‘I am annoyed about being asked for a lift three times this week’. It is critical when describing the problem that you stick to simply describing what happened and your feelings (not thoughts) surrounding it. As you will discover later in the book, developing clarity about your beliefs will lead to changed feelings about a situation which in turn will change, or may even eliminate, the problem; this frequently happens at our workshops. The feelings associated with the situation are simply a part of the causes that contributed to the problem. Sanity check your problem statement Try asking the question, “How well does this problem statement cover my issues and concerns, or those of the group?”

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A further check is imagining making a video recording of the situation (the actions/sounds) which is a problem for you. For instance, it is not possible to record a nebulous ‘something going wrong’ or the judgment of someone ‘being lazy’. Laziness is simply someone’s perception of observed behaviour (a judgement). For instance, a person judged to be lazy (feet up, drinking a coffee) may simply be resting after working six hours, non-stop, on an emergency. Take another view The real difficulty with ‘seeing’ a problem is that when we are ‘in there’ with it, or when we form an integral part of it, our feelings take over and obscure the view. The Problem Clarification process moves us to a point-of-view outside the problem, from which we can see what is going on - as if we were from Mars and hovering over the scene. Clearly, from this vantage point the scene would look quite different - and a lot more straightforward. An essential step in making a move to this new viewpoint is being able to describe, and be consciously aware of, how you feel, rather than simply being immersed in your feelings. The moment you find yourself ‘looking in’ at the problem, you are on your way to defining it.

Help others to clarify the problem
You can use your listening skills to help others to identify a problem. In essence, looking for a succinct statement to which all concerned can say something along the lines of “yes, that’s it, I feel really annoyed about that”. To get to this point, find out more about the surrounding circumstances by asking open-ended questions or seeking specific examples. Here are a few ideas for what to say. Be cautious about the use of ‘Why’, It tends to sound therapeutic pushing people out of the present and into the distant past: “Why did you do that” - “Well it all goes back to when I was two . . . ”. Instead, try “What was going on at the time?”. One question keeps me in recent time, the other drives me back into history. Listen to some interviewers on the radio or television, when they ask the interviewee ‘why did you . .’; there is usually a momentary pause as the person mentally goes off in all sorts of directions. Here are some examples of questions which help people to explore a problem. • • • • How did you feel about that? Which services were affected? What did you mean when you said …? Who else was at the meeting? • • • • When does it happen? Where does it happen? Give me a ‘for instance’ Tell me more about …

Notice that each of the above examples simply invites the speaker to expand on his/her original statement. The aim is to help the speaker to be specific, to ‘see the person’, focus on his/her feelings and responses to things, and ‘describe the scene’ without interpretation. At this point your role is to help the person or group reach clarity as to what it is that they are unhappy about; not trying to understand what is causing the problem.

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Check your understanding Check your understanding to establish that you have the real problem and not just the initially presented problem. Use paraphrases and summaries of what the person is saying. Be careful not to colour what you say with your views. You can test your understanding with phrases such as "it sounds as if the problem is …” Carefully check with the person that you have accurately captured the issues. Listen well to capture the Problem Statement Hopefully, when you sum up the problem and accurately reflect it back to the speaker, you will get an enthusiastic response such as “yes, that’s exactly it, etc.” A good point to watch for is when the speaker, while explaining what happened, leans forward, or suddenly says (with a fair bit of passion) “you know what really *#!*!?# me off, is …”. When this happens, listen carefully, it is likely that what is said is a close summary of the problem. All you need to do is listen for it and check it out by reflecting it back. Cautionary Notes • Take great care to avoid getting into solutions or offering advice. When a solution is proposed ask "What’s that going to solve?”, or “What problem is that the solution to?” • Lack of a person’s favoured solution is not a problem. For example, "the problem is that we don’t have enough typists”. Clearly the suggested solution is having ‘enough typists’. Other solutions could be to stop doing whatever it is that requires typing, contract the work out, and so on (depending upon what the real problem is).

Gain ‘buy in’
Groups have special needs. They usually know that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with; the trouble is that they are often not agreed as to what it is. This is usually evidenced by a robust discussion centred on (here we go again!) solutions. The trick is to help everyone to let go of his or her favourite solution and re-focus on what actually happened. Here is a process, based on work done by Tom Watkins, which guides a group to a common view of a situation, develops ‘buy-in’ to the need to remedy what is happening and gets everyone working on a corrective action plan. In short the group will focus on real happenings, not just people’s opinions. Get down to specific issues First of all, agree on the broad focus, for example: "We are here to discuss complaints about our delivery service.” Now narrow the focus to specific issues by asking each person to recall “a specific situation or difficulty, within your recent experience, that has affected you and is a good illustration of (the topic under discussion)”. Each person now writes down some brief notes or bullet points, which answer the following questions about the situation they have just thought of. • What happened (specific events, actions, names, places)?

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• • • •

How did you feel at the time? (If you have no feeling about it, then it is not a problem for you!). How did you react (what did you do?) What was the final outcome? What would you do next time? (What did you learn this time around?)

Clarify the thinking Working in pairs, spend 5-6 minutes (each way) telling the other person the answers to the above questions. Just listen and help the other person to clarify his/her thinking about what has been going on. This is an exercise in listening, not talking. Get the issues out in the open In small groups of 3-4 people, review and write down on a big piece of paper each person’s problem(s), plus any other problems that may spring to mind as a result of further discussion. Seeing a problem written up in large letters brings it to life and changes feelings about it. It also enables everyone to discuss it. Select problems with most ‘leverage’ Use careful facilitation to ensure that everyone understands each statement fed back from the sub-groups and is involved in eliminating duplications or amending the statements. Avoid delving into an analysis or critique of each problem at this point Vote on which items to work on - selecting the top 3-5 works well. It pays to remind the group that the problems not selected will still be there to work on at a later date. Multiply your efficiency Working in sub-groups, you can dramatically crank up the group’s efficiency and involve everyone in understanding the problem. Use the full group to assign people, taking care to ensure that each person gets to work on a problem s/he has a vested interest in, or to which s/he is able to contribute a specific skill or knowledge. Check that each sub-group has the appropriate range of skill’s and working knowledge (or access to them). Agree on the problem Each sub-group turns their assigned item into a clear problem statement - agreed word for word. This is written on a separate sheet of newsprint taped to the wall; a far better focus for members of the group than sitting around a table. Having developed ownership of their part of the overall problem (on behalf of the full group), the sub-group is now responsible for taking it through to a successful resolution. This can be done by following the processes detailed in the chapter See the journey.

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‘Sanity check’ your problem
Before embarking on the resolution of what could very well be a long and/or costly problem, stop to consider whether you should continue. “Who cares if we don’t solve this problem?” How serious or urgent is it? What will happen if we ignore it? “If we do solve this problem, what will change?” What are the benefits: do they move the group closer to its goals? “Have we got the ‘horsepower’ to deal with this problem?” How much control does the group have over the problem and its resolution. “Have we got the resources to solve this problem?” The right people, knowledge, money, material, equipment, technology. “How long will it take to solve this problem?” Can we do it within a time acceptable to those affected by it?

Self assessment
Recall 1. What turns a situation into a problem? 2. Define a problem. 3. How do you know if you have a problem (get this and you are really onto it!). 4. If someone says "You know the problem is a lack of . . .”, what are you about to be presented with? 5. What is a judgement? What is a label? Why do you need to avoid them? Observe 6. Listen (and read) how many times people say something like, "You know, the problem is a lack of . .”? Practise 7. When someone starts to talk to you about something that they feel unhappy about, ‘a problem’, use your listening skills to help them to reach an understanding as to what the problem is.

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3 See the journey
“It strikes me that many of today’s problems are the outcome of yesterday’s solutions”. Amory Lovins When I came across that quote, Amory Lovins was talking about major UN aid projects and gave examples of how, in the rush to fix one problem, they had generated a new problem or even a new set of problems. For me, the real horror of his comment, was the realisation that the problems I am currently wrestling with may be the result of my own previous ‘solutions’. The rush to fix things If at this moment you are unclear about how to define a problem, now is the time to look at the chapter Clarify problems. It is rare to find groups or individuals who have set aside time to really understand the causes which contributed to the problem they are working on always assuming that they have first defined it. Very good at quickly coming up with a ‘fix’, we are not so good at understanding what it is we are fixing. Sometimes we lose our focus because we are busy finding out ‘who is responsible’, or the pressure to come up with a solution. A ‘don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions’ approach encourages us to skip over real understanding of the problem - to the extent that at problem solving workshops it takes a major effort to keep the focus away from pet solutions and on understanding the problem. I’m surrounded by solutions - and they are a damn nuisance! (Someone trying to see and understand the problem) The glide home Once a problem is understood, it takes surprisingly little time and effort to develop a solution which ‘fits’ or deals with all the issues associated with it. Solutions are the easy down-hill glide to the finish line. Even on critical problems I leave groups on their own when the point is reached at which they are ready to select and implement solutions; they are in good shape. A process not a switch Problem solving is the core process in negotiation, conflict resolution, change management, team-building (yes, team-building - there is nothing like focusing on a shared problem to bring a group together) and improvement activities. It works with families, organisations or individuals and is a steady progression from problem to solution.

Problem solving blocks
Before embarking on problem solving, we need to anticipate the many difficulties we can run into on the journey - each of which can be avoided with a little bit of 33

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planning. These difficulties often lead to low levels of participation by many of those affected by the problem or its solutions. If the interests of these people are not taken into account, you will probably encounter difficulties further down the track when the changes take place. Competing solutions A common block is getting stuck in drawn-out and heated discussion over competing solutions (positions) - cheerfully ignoring the problem. What we have done is move on without first ensuring that the problem is clear and the wording agreed upon. We may not have gathered all the information needed to understand and evaluate the problem, and later, the proposed solutions; especially if the people needed to resolve the problem, the Experts, the Doers, the Empowerers are not involved. Of course, not knowing where we are (the problem) is matched later on by not knowing where we want to be - our view of the Preferred Situation. The silver bullet The whole problem solving process is severely undermined when one person manipulates people towards his or her preferred ‘silver bullet’ solution. This behaviour is very destructive and top of the list in terms of damage to group problem solving. I have been caught a few times and it leads to the majority becoming transfixed by a single solution. It becomes almost impossible to see or consider other possibilities and ideas from the minority. The most elegant solutions, the ‘little gems’, are often lost. The action part When we get to the action plan it can stall due to unclear assignment and timing of specific points. In one case, a project stopped for three weeks because when the group tried to telephone a key person he had gone overseas: no one had thought to check that he would be available. Sometimes, when the solution is finally in place, it fails to meet the current need - the pace of general change has overtaken the planned change. This is exacerbated if the project’s success is measured against the implementation of the solution rather than its impact on the original problem. The reality is missed in the solution hype (‘the solution is so good, so innately clever, there is no need to check its impact on the original problem - it is bound to work!’). Remember the other people Problems always involve other people, those with the skills needed to solve them, or people affected by the impact of any ensuing solutions. The use of well-planned problem solving techniques at meetings is the key to achieving solutions which not only fit the problem but also are owned by the people involved/affected by them. The result is an enjoyable and satisfying outcome for all. Even though people’s initial expectations might not have been met, they were part of the process which arrived at the new solution - they own it.

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Move through the Diamond
In Problem Solving, there are definite stages in the thinking process with each stage needing to be carefully addressed to ensure that the following one can be successfully dealt with. For groups, this is especially important, because having members at different mental stages can unwittingly lead to conflict in the style of thinking required at that moment.

The Problem Solving Diamond
Diverging thinking Converging thinking 'Tunnelling'

Problem

Solution

Preferred situation

Gather, explore, analyse

Consider, evaluate, select (eliminate!)

Plan, pilot, review, implement, improve

Expand your thinking Thinking expansions, the diverging lines in The Problem Solving Diamond, are ideas generating stages; points at which the group explores what each member has to offer. Here we explore where we are, look to where we want to be, and consider the many ways in which we can get there. It is critical that this ‘divergent’ phase be given plenty of time so as to avoid the possibility of missing out on what may well be vital information or ideas for later use. Beware! There is a very strong tendency for this stage to be missed out or curtailed. Contract your thinking Thinking contractions, the converging lines in The Problem Solving Diamond, are steps for sorting and selecting ideas; points at which the group evaluates the ideas and agrees on the best ones. This stage also has its dangers as ideas are not so much selected as excluded and you might exclude a real gem of an idea. It is also an opportunity to have some fun as you look at ‘what could be’. Tunnel with care The last part is called tunnelling because it is the point at which the task (the action plan) has been defined. People’s thinking has narrowed to a sharp focus and they are no longer interested in peripheral things; it is very difficult to change course at this point. The lateral thinking is just about over. Trying to introduce new ideas or approaches at this stage is like trying to board the Orient Express between stations - tricky and not especially welcomed by the other passengers.

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Use the whole problem solving process
Start at the beginning Most groups start at the right-hand side and fail to take everyone through the whole process. This inevitably leads to resistance to the new solution as not everyone has had the opportunity to take part in defining the problem, analysing the causes, stating their interests, selecting a solution, and planning the actions. Instead they are simply presented with ‘the solution’ which invites challenges or competing solutions. The chapter Grow with change has more ideas on this. Loop back and revisit Groups seldom proceed through the steps without looping back to revisit and revise earlier steps. This is a helpful thing to do because many problems are inherited from others and have already been defined and analysed. A review is one way of bringing new people on board - provided that they also have the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and influence the outcomes.

Know which step you are on
The Problem Solving journey has a number of steps, each of which contributes to the reaching of a successful conclusion.Problem health warning: problems are usually buried under a heap of premature ‘solutions’ making them hard to see. Identify and understand the problem The first step is to separate the solutions from the problem and agree on a simple, succinct sentence as described in Clarify Problems. To understand the problem ‘cover your H E A D’ because you are ‘Feeling cold’. The acronym is HEADF: History, Events, Actions, Data (if available at this time), and most important of all, Feelings (of the people who are angry, hurt, upset, confused, etc.). These points are best gathered and displayed using a Cause & Effect or similar diagram. Find ways to measure the trend The development of simple performance measures helps to raise many issues about the nature of the problem and promotes a better understanding of it. If you are being bitten by mosquitoes, then measure the number of bites (the problem), NOT the amount of repellent you put on (the solution). Avoid ‘completed’/‘not completed’ type measures. Instead, use methods which guide your progress along the journey and show the trend.

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The Problem Solving Steps
(if you prefer a picture, look at the next chart Putting it all together) 10. Look to the future. 9. Implement corrective actions. 8. Review progress and learning. 7. Implement the plan. 6. Formulate an action plan. 5. Select a solution or combination of solutions 4. Brainstorm solutions focused on the Preferred Situation. 3. Agree on the Preferred Situation. 2. Find ways to measure the problem (trend). 1. Identify and understand the problem. Agree on the Preferred Situation Remember Amory Lovins’ observation “It seems that many of today’s problems are the outcomes of yesterday’s ‘solutions’”. Well, besides being clear about the problem you also need to be clear about where you are heading. The preferred situation is a clear, agreed, summary or view describing the expectations of any solution. Brainstorm solutions focused on the Preferred Situation Be sure to involve all those affected by the problem. Make the conditions ‘safe’ to encourage and stimulate free thinking. You should be able to generate at least 3050 solutions. No, I am not kidding: one for me, one for you and one for lateral thinking is not enough. If you can only think of one or two solutions, you do not understand the problem. Select a solution or combination of solutions Choose the option, or combination of options, which most closely meets your Preferred Situation but be sure that you have started measuring the problem so that you can measure the improvement. Success is critical to your credibility. Your chances of success are often increased if you ‘nibble the elephant’ with a less ambitious solution rather than choking on the whole thing! You can always return for more bites. Formulate an action plan Here you can use a Tree Diagram (refer next chapter) to ‘tease out’ the action points. Check that it covers: what, why, when, where, how, who? Include an action point on how you will measure success. Implement the plan Just follow the plan and do it - the team’s credibility hangs on this.

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Review your progress and learning Here you compare what has happened with your expected outcome and decide on how you will present the results. You need to consider the reasons for the difference (yes, there will be differences) and monitor the progress of the action plan. Hold the gains Reach agreement on the changes and how you will make them permanent. You can keep an eye on things by reviewing the new process at regular intervals and implementing corrective actions. Look to the future At this point you are ready to do the whole thing again to make further improvements. Having climbed the mountain, you have a better view of the track and how can you help others to climb it. What are the remaining problems? What else can be done to improve the situation? What have you learned? Where to from here?

Self assessment
Recall 1. Describe what you see as the major blocks to effective problem solving. 2. Why is the Problem Solving Journey described as a diamond? 3. What is ‘tunnelling’ and why is it a danger to the Problem Solving process? 4. What is ‘the Preferred Situation’? 5. What is the horror of Amory Lovin’s statement? Observe 6. How often are you presented with solutions when you are still trying to understand the problem? 7. The arguments over solutions. Practise 8. Help people (and yourself) to follow the simple process of: what is the problem; where do we want to be; how are we going to get there?

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4 Use power tools
The thinking that got us into this is not necessarily the thinking that will get us out of it. To move ahead you need to use tools and techniques which will increase your Problem Solving horsepower. Each of the problem solving tools covered here makes the journey ‘visible’. They help groups to develop a shared focus, and enable each person to contribute fully to the pool of knowledge. Use the techniques in different and creative ways rather than sticking to the applications shown. Combine, reverse or whatever you need to do to make the tools work for you. They are very simple, but do not underestimate their power - it is considerable.

Think in new ways
When working with groups tackling real problems, I ask them to think wide and deep and come up with a range of solutions for each problem that they have identified. Left to their own devices, they usually produce a range of two or three possible solutions - along the lines of one for us, one for you and one to demonstrate that we are free thinkers. At this point, I mention that I was hoping for at least 30-40 possible solutions, that the workshop record stands at 109, and that I routinely ignore the first 20 as boring - you know the sort of things: more people; more money, new computer, yawn! Once they realise that I am serious (this can take a few minutes) and I have helped them to free up their thinking, they get into the swing of things, very quickly generate a long list, and have lots of fun along the way. Interestingly, after excluding some very sophisticated ideas, groups often go with solutions which need minimum effort or money, can be implemented very quickly and are elegantly simple. The above situation arises because our ways of thinking have grown out of many years of conditioning and repeated exposure to the same or similar experiences. The result is that we tend to come up with the same old solutions and find it difficult to consider that there are other lines of thought out there. Presented with a problem, each person rushes off along his or her own private tunnel of thought to a number of possible solutions along the way. The problem with a tunnel is that it is difficult to go sideways, you do not see much in the way of other tunnels, and you can only hope that things will get better as you go further along. This type of thinking shows up strongly with groups which have established traditions, or strong codes of operation. It needs special care to stop everyone diving off into the same tunnel. The phenomenon rears its head when someone suggests an idea that is outside the bounds of the common or agreed wisdom. The person may be ridiculed, laughed at or told not to be silly, which of course has the

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effect of shutting down any further behaviour seen as being at odds with the ‘group thought’. The processes of Brainstorming and Mind-dumping will help you to let go of your conditioning, jump to new lines of thought and jump across to other people’s lines of thought to experience new possibilities and have lots of fun. However, there is a warning: free-range thinking and fun both require you to jealously guard and nurture the culture that creates the possibility for it to flourish.

Brainstorm and Mind-dump
Brainstorming and Mind-dumping are central to the development of all Problem Solving. To a large extent they are the same inasmuch as that they both flourish in an open non-threatening environment. In the case of a group, they both capture the wisdom of everyone present, stimulate thinking across the usual personal or group boundaries and, very importantly, ensure that each person has access to the same information. Brainstorming is often seen as dealing with creativity and new ideas, whereas Mind-dumping is seen as being more to do with capturing the group knowledge on the topic in focus and stimulating the memory. It is not really worth debating the differences: they are both generic terms which describe group processes for generating lists of ideas, thoughts, problems, or solutions, in which the quantity of ideas or the completeness of the list is the key factor. In both, each person is encouraged to rapidly express ‘headlines’ about their thoughts; all of these are heard and recorded for all to see. For ease of reference we will group both terms together under the general heading of Brainstorming. The sparkle of Brainstorming Brainstorming actively supports and reinforces the generation of new ideas by warmly welcoming and encouraging contributions for later consideration and discussion. Within this environment people feel safe, encouraged to speculate, and make ‘way out’ statements as they come to mind. These are the ‘crikey, what if we . .’ insights made before the self-talk switches in with self-censoring comments such as ‘no, that would never work’ or (more commonly), ‘if I say that they will think that I am a bit of an idiot’. A group of people having fun and enthusiastically competing to raise ideas creates an atmosphere which ‘bootstraps’ the whole process to new levels of creativity. The creative juices get going and people let go of their old or rigid ways of thinking. Our ability to recall ‘forgotten information’ is stimulated and ideas flow freely to creatively link with the ideas of others. Unhindered by challenging, censoring, discussion, or criticism, ideas from one person will spark another into looking at things in new ways and quite suddenly ideas which at first seemed to have no relevance generate new ideas which can be used.

A Brainstorm or a brainshower?
Brainstorms can turn into lack-lustre brainshowers for many reasons, most of them centred around people’s reluctance to ‘let go’. It can be quite difficult for people to step outside accepted norms, especially within well established groups in which

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people are scared of being laughed at for even thinking of such a ‘crazy idea’. This pressure from accepted conventions or ‘wisdom’ seriously depresses the generation of new ideas - it is just too unsafe. Very common especially in the ‘professional’ fields, confront it immediately if you spot it. Steering problems The steering of a session, often by the facilitator or a manager, towards some predetermined solution is very common and a big killer of ideas and very difficult to spot until well into the process. The best way to deal with ‘steering’ is to discuss the likelihood before it arises. This way everyone can deal with it lightly and ‘up-front’. At one problem solving workshop, a manager showing all the signs of steering the group, declared, “surely, no-one would even dream of doing such a thing”. Once the possibility has been aired, it becomes much easier to deal with should the need arise. Mechanical hitches Forgetting to declare that you are in a Brainstorming Session allows it to slip into a pseudo-brainstorming mode. Participants need to know which mode they are in: brainstorming; critical; evaluating; selecting; consensus-forming and so on. The default situation is discussion and challenging of ideas during the brainstorming phase; especially in technical groups. People just love to go down interesting ‘rat-holes’, which, although lots of fun, close down the free-range thinking. Critical analysis and spontaneity are mutually exclusive activities. This sort of discussion needs to take place after the brainstorm has finished. Another simple point is failure to agree on the session focus. This is not a contradiction of the brainstorming process, but more a matter of knowing what it is that you are trying to achieve. The censoring of ideas can happen very easily if the group facilitator/scribe/leader says something like: "I’ll just summarise that”; or "That sounds the same as Fred’s idea”, leaves out a word or simply does not write the idea down - watch out for it. Lulls It is quite normal to have a run of ideas followed by a lull. However, once it becomes clear that the flow has dried up, check with the group, and if they agree, call a halt. Avoid keeping going to the bitter end. If ideas suddenly pop up later, during the discussion phase, add them to the list. Starting tips To help people relax and feel comfortable about contributing to the session, start off by talking about the purpose of Brainstorming, gaining agreement on its focus, the desired outcomes and the rules that will apply. With new groups, try a little encouragement or gentle challenging to get things going: "Okay, what else have we got?"; "We have only got thirty ideas in ten minutes, let’s get going and get another ten!", “Let’s go over what we have got so far”.

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One way of getting things going is to run a warm-up session before the real one. The first session helps people to check out the validity of the process (ground rules etc) and that his/her ideas will be treated as a valid and useful input.

Five ways to facilitate the flow 1. Have a clear start and finish to the session. 2. Write-up the session focus at the top of a sheet of newsprint and list all the ideas on it exactly as offered; no exceptions or censoring of any sort. 3. Go for quantity by encouraging and delighting in ‘free-wheeling’ and mentally dancing around - the more ideas, the greater the likelihood of ‘little gems’ arising. 4. Listen to grasp the ideas of others so that you can, combine or link with them to create new ideas. 5. Immediately interrupt any criticism, challenging or evaluating of ideas.

Stimulating arrangements
A process which generates high participation and provides new insights is writing the Preferred Situation or Problem Statement on a whiteboard or large sheet of plain paper. Each person then writes ideas onto pieces of sticky paper (one paper per idea) and places them underneath the header statement. This stimulates the other participants to generate new ideas which are then immediately written down and placed on the board. After everyone has pretty well run-out of ideas, and in silence, each person takes a turn at moving the papers around to form logical groupings. The group stops at intervals to discuss what the final grouping of the papers should be. Use your own ideas Use the above idea as a starting point for making up your own ideas to suit the circumstances or break the monotony of using the same ideas all the time. Just be sure to keep the brainstorming purpose and principles in mind. If the idea doesn’t work, try another - it’s all good fun! Be creative about being creative.

Reveal the understanding
But first, a note on causes
The word ‘cause’ tends to create its own problems as it usually sends people off in the direction of - wait for it - solutions. For example, the failure of the printer was caused by lack of maintenance (spot the solution masquerading as a problem!). A dictionary definition of cause is ‘an event, thing, state, or action that produces an effect’, in other words, something that can be observed, eg., a cause of the printer failure was rust eating into the cover and exposing the internal electronics to moisture. As always, when describing or discussing a problem, simply describe what you observe.

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The Cause & Effect Diagram
Your understanding of the range and interaction of causes is helped immensely by the use of brainstorming and mind-mapping processes. A problem seldom concerns just one person. To ensure a successful outcome, those affected by or involved with it need an opportunity to take part in its understanding and in searching for a solution. The Cause & Effect diagram is a mind-mapping technique which, although simple and quick to apply, addresses these points very well. Its mind-map nature makes it very easy to memorise and relate the various factors and it strongly promotes brainstorming. Systematic & focused Acting as a focal point, the Cause & Effect diagram keeps the discussion on track, provides a clear visual indication as to how far it has advanced, and indicates the overall level of group knowledge concerning the problem. With a group, the diagram draws out and shares the combined wisdom and develops a strong sense of teamwork. Each participant is able to raise his/her level of knowledge about the specific problem to the same level as that of everyone else in the group. This in turn encourages full and equal participation. A useful outcome, is that when completed, the arms of the diagram can be used to determine where to put the emphasis on data collecting or other activities. Brainstorming reminders Cause & Effect diagrams rely heavily on effective brainstorming to ‘pull out’ all that is known about the problem; so brainstorming rules apply. What we are looking for at this point is quantity not judgements on quality. Let the flow of ideas die down to a trickle before closing off the session and be sure to clarify points by asking questions such as, “What do you mean by . . .” or “Whereabouts on the diagram do you want that to go?”.

Use the Cause & Effect diagram
1. Appoint a facilitator to monitor and guide the process and to plot the diagram. Ensure that a representative from each group affected by, or involved with the problem attends the meeting. 2. Check your problem statement against the criteria listed in Clarify Problems and write it in a box at the right hand end of a whiteboard or large sheet of paper (this is the ‘fish’s head’). 3. Draw a horizontal line from the head across the paper, add 3 or 4 ‘major bones’ on a slant towards the head, and draw rectangular boxes at the head of these major bones in which to place headings (makes them easier to add and identify later on). 4. For your group headings (causes or sub-causes) try: People, Equipment; Materials; Methods for technical problems, and Facilities; Resources; Management; Behaviour; Staff; Training; Systems; Values for personal or personnel problems. These headings simply group the precise descriptions of actions and events together. Never leave an arm with just a bunch of generalisations or judgements on it - get down to facts.

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5. Run a Mind-dumping session to capture possible causes. Try to keep the group size in the range of 3 - 6 people (larger if necessary, but only as you become more experienced). 6. On each side of the major bones, write the specific factors that the group considers to be sub-causes. These can be broken down even further into several levels. Use HEADF (History, Events, Actions, Data, Feelings) to jog your memory. 7. Once the brainstorming has finished, go back and debate the listed causes and tidy up the diagram. More often than not it becomes messy. If you need to clear matters in your mind you can tidy things up by re-grouping the causes onto a second chart. You could try breaking up one big chart into several smaller diagrams (each arm then becomes a problem statement - refer Handy hints below). 8. Circle the most significant factors (or combination of factors) and where needed collect more information (data) to eliminate/strengthen possible causes. The collection work can be carved up by allocating sections of the chart to each of the team members. 9. Review the diagram in the light of the new information.

Cause & Effect Diagram Other work
late doing mail by senior staff told-off missed overnight courier no-one else cleans-up job description told “it’s your job”, just do it! not allowed to buy cleaning cloths very old machine dishwasher need to check every 15 mins stops for no apparent reason faulty reception duties unanswered phone calls

Kitchen
tea clean 3-4 x per day floor wet water leaking onto floor

stains & crumbs on bench

milo
dips pong!!! coming from under bench have to see supervisor Friday nights messy wine-glasses, cheeseboard, chips

I find it difficult & frustrating to keep the office kitchen clean and also do my main job

kitchen task has expanded

part of my job

asked for help Job Equipment

You are now ready to move to the next stage of problem solving - data analysis and presentation, or to move directly to generating possible solutions. The

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whole process may need to be spread over several days or even weeks, particularly if additional information is called for. Handy hints Be sure to invite the ‘specialist’ to the meeting - the person who does the job. For example, if the telephone system is being discussed, invite the telephone operator to participate. Check that all participants, at all times, agree on the exact wording of the problem written in the header box and never use labels such as ‘Management’, ‘Typing Pool’, or ‘People’ to describe causes. They become catch-all bins and add nothing to the understanding of the problem. It is alright to use general labels or group names for the main and sub arms, but don’t list them as individual causes. Be careful that they are not judgemental. Be creative and use the diagram as your minutes of the meeting - all you have to do is date, sign, copy and distribute. It looks a lot more interesting than the usual stuff that is put out as minutes. Many seemingly simple problems become ‘elephants’; don’t be surprised if you can only start on the left front toe-nail.

Clarify the Preferred Situation
I understand the problem but where do I want to be? The Preferred Situation clearly and unambiguously describes the view of where you or a group needs to be. It involves listing the expectations of any solution: the ‘must haves’, ‘nice to haves’, considerations, and feelings of yourself and others involved in the change process. The word ‘preferred’ is deliberately used to indicate a willingness to consider other peoples’ ideas and views. If you are unclear about the destination, the solutions will probably point in different directions and create more conflict! Wanting to be at the South Pole requires different solutions to wanting to be at the North Pole, no matter where you start out. I realise that this is likely to be stunningly obvious to you, but I keep on meeting people who have clearly not considered the point. Clarity about the Preferred Situation enables selection of a solution which will gain the approval of all involved in the process. Often involving no more than a ‘turning inside out’ of the problem statement, it may need to address other critical factors. For example, the solution may need to have the unanimous approval of the staff and be installed immediately. As with the Problem Statement, it pays to ensure that this statement is absolutely clear and that each word is agreed upon. Here is an example of a Preferred Situation describing a group’s combined lists. Our Preferred Situation The solution has to pay for itself within two years, create excitement and be fun to implement. It will take into account our concerns regarding timing, acceptance by Senior Management, and the organisation’s ability to absorb the changes.

1

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2 3

All changes must be agreed to by everyone in the organisation and the implementation must be within the group’s control. During the changes and once they are in place, people will feel valued as a member of the team and comfortable with the new conditions.

Map your solution
A simple, powerful tool which enables the relationship between a solution and the activities which contribute to its completion to be clearly seen is the Tree Diagram. As with the Cause & Effect diagram, it is highly visual in its presentation style and acts as a very strong unifier of team thought. It leads to specific, time-bound, actions contracted to by all involved. In essence, the Tree Diagram breaks down a solution, or group of solutions, into a sequence of smaller, more manageable, ‘bite-sized’ tasks. These tasks are then assigned to specific team members for completion. The beauty of the diagram is the way it focuses attention on the development of related courses of action, showing the various dependencies between tasks and minimising the usual problems of overlaps and items ‘falling between the cracks’. If needed, the tasks can be easily transferred to a Gantt or similar project management chart for an even more structured management of the solution.

Use the Tree Diagram
1. Appoint a facilitator to monitor and guide the process and to plot the diagram. 2. Write the Preferred Situation in a box on the left hand side of a large sheet of paper or on a whiteboard. Branch from the left hand box into the key actions (solutions) which need to be tackled to achieve the overall goal. 3. Together or singly, identify and flesh out the sub-actions which have to be tackled to address the larger actions. Moving from left to right, break down each key action into its basic tasks and allocate each task to a specific person (spreading the load/providing opportunity for input). 4. On the right hand side, create a simple matrix to note who is doing what and by when. THIS STEP IS MOST IMPORTANT: it will form the basis of subsequent follow-up meetings to monitor progress. It often pays to leave the diagram on display for a while. This allows team members (and perhaps others) to fine tune it with after-thoughts. General comments Don’t restrict your thinking to any particular way of using this (or any) problem solving tool. Use it to suit your needs. Try different approaches - if they work, great, if not, try another way.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. What is the purpose of Brainstorming and what are the rules? 2. What is the danger when selecting solutions - clue: that you might . . .? 3. What is a ‘cause’? Observe 4. How many solutions are generated when problem solving? 5. At a meeting you attend, consider, ‘if, as they left, I asked everyone what their understanding was of what had been discussed and agreed’, how closely do you think their answers would be aligned? This is a test of the power of visual discussion techniques. Practise 6. Draw a Cause & Effect diagram for a defined problem. 7. Draw a Tree Diagram of your next action plan. Tree Diagram
Define purpose & objectives ID & select members Decision-making model Agree on principles & Ground Rules We are fully prepared for the introduction of our new technology (NT) Problem solving model Conflict resolution model Meeting schedules Draw-up plan for immediate training of NT team Meeting skills
TBA

Draw up resource support plan Appoint team members Appoint team leader

Who/Date
29/11 6/11

20/10 20/10 20/10 20/10 13/12 13/12 12/10

Establish an independent NT team

Functional skills
20/12

Interpersonal skills
20/12 20/12

Develop a comprehensive training plan for everyone Define training needs

Service delivery Develop training plan Customers Field Support

Sales Analysts

Check with sales 17/10 Set next meeting Set next meeting 13/2 30/1

Tech. specialists Admin.

Develop a plan to keep everyone up-to-date with what is going on

Senior Mgmt & Board

13/2

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PART 2 DEAL WELL WITH YOURSELF

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Treat feelings as facts

5 Treat feelings as facts
How we feel about this moment will directly influence the next moment. Now is the time to reflect on and understand the place of feelings because they tend to be brushed aside so that we can focus on ‘the facts’. Yet feelings are facts. They result in things happening or prevent things from happening and consequently need to be dealt with in their own right - wars start from feelings and wars are facts! Feelings are not just an inconvenience or a side issue blocking the ‘real’ issues - they are the real issue. They play a dominant role in every area of interpersonal communications, particularly listening and problem clarification. Before we move on, it is important that we distinguish between feelings and thoughts. Expressed feelings are not thoughts about a topic; they are descriptions of sensations or emotional states of mind. A sentence that starts along the lines of, “I feel that Fred is . . .”, is not expressing feelings. Try “I am unhappy/ angry/etc. about . . .”, or “I feel (upset/frustrated etc.) about the way that Fred . . .”. The skill of being able to consciously recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling in a particular situation is a major step towards eventually being able to manage your feelings and deal with stress.

Feelings drive actions
Feelings and actions are linked in a swift-acting, self-fulfilling cycle. The cycle shows that feelings and behaviour are a matter of choice and that we are not predetermined to behave in a certain way. If it were otherwise then I suggest that there would be little point in attempting to make any changes to our behaviour and we would be incapable of growing emotionally. We have a ginger tom called Tigger. Most mornings, Tigger steps outside, sniffs the air, walks down the path, looks around the corner of the fence and ‘whoa!’ - he meets Peppy - next door’s Burmese tom, and it’s all on: After three years, Tigger and Peppy have still not resolved their territorial issues. This scene has played itself out many, many times, yet I do not recall having seen Tigger and Peppy sit down and discuss a better way of doing things. They are locked into their way of behaving: apart from my occasional intervention to prise them apart. The ability to ‘step outside’ the Self-fulfilling Cycle and reflect on what is happening is what sets us apart from animals. As humans we can choose many different, and hopefully more constructive, responses to what we encounter as we travel through life. When and how we react is a choice not our destiny. The impact of whether or not we accept the implications of the cycle are wideranging and need some time to fully absorb. For instance, have your experiences created your beliefs or your beliefs created your experiences? Are you a victim of experience or in control of what happens?

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Self-fulfilling Cycle
(An opportunity for change)

Situation
(as it is)

Next moment (situation) is created
Change the tape

Beliefs filter situation to create experience (Self-talk)

Actions are selected
Seize the moment

Feelings are triggered

Choices are narrowed

Thinking & rationalising reinforces prejudices/ views (more self-talk)

Feelings become fully developed

Open the door to change
The Self-fulfilling Cycle offers an opportunity for you to influence positive change in your life in two ways - by changing your belief filters about the world around you (play a new tape), or by changing your feelings about a situation the moment before you act (seizing the moment). In other words, how you feel, be it happy, sad, fearful, loving, peaceful or angry, and the accompanying actions are your choice. Choosing a different feeling will lead to a different action. For instance, choosing to feel peaceful about some event eliminates the option of behaving angrily.

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Opportunity No 1 - ‘Playing a new tape’
When we see something happen, it is through a haze of ingrained beliefs and views that we have of the world and ourselves. These can be likened to a pre-recorded tape which plays each time the situation arises. The ‘tape recording’ (our Self-talk) says “here we go again, just what I would expect from a .. .” and to a very large degree dictates how we will react to any given situation - unless we choose to replace it with a recording which is more helpful to us. The outcome of this tape being played is that it filters out much of what we ‘see’. If we believe that the world is an evil and dangerous place, we will see all the evil and dangerous things which go on, largely missing the good things that are happening all around us. Changing the tape takes time but can be done. John Kehoe in his book ‘Mind Power’ has plenty of helpful techniques for changing the tape. More on this later in the chapter.

Opportunity No 2 - ‘Seizing the moment’
This opportunity offers the prospect of immediate change and is the start of that critical step, mentioned earlier, in which we recognise and manage our feelings. Within the cycle, there is the moment just before we select our response in which we consider or justify our feelings. This is the, “I’ve every right to feel angry considering what he did …” moment. Sometimes the trip around the cycle is so fast that we miss it. However, with practise we can get better at slowing things down a bit. We may not win them all at first but the percentage will increase. Extend and change the moment There are a number of techniques for doing this, a well-known one being to count very slowly to ten before saying anything. This works by extending the thinking/rationalising moment ,which in turn allows you to stop and recognise how you are feeling before acting. • Mentally step outside the scene and ‘observe it from a distance’; as if you were a casual observer. From this vantage point the scene does not look quite so complex and is separated from the historical baggage (beliefs) that accompanies most situations. • Distract the mind onto something else, the ‘I need to walk this off’ approach. • Re-frame your view of the scene in a more positive light. For instance, if you are delayed by road-works, imagine how much better the road is going to be when the work is finished. OR If you are being held up by a slow-moving car, consider the possibility that the passenger is painfully ill and being taken out for a gentle drive. At times, these mental gymnastics are not easy, but it can be done and it gets easier. You can liken the technique to physically training for a new sport, except that in this case it’s your mind not your body that is being taught to behave itself. The issue is not whether it is ‘okay ’ to be angry, frightened or whatever. Neither is it about suppressing your feelings. It is to do with recognising the physical symptoms, to ‘catch’ which feeling you are experiencing, and then making a choice as to how you want to feel - seizing the moment to re-frame your feeling. This is a crucial step forward in the search for more effective communication.

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Both opportunities require a conscious decision to start and on-going effort to maintain. They can be applied immediately and often result in a dramatic shift from the response that might have been expected.

Keep your power
If feelings are a choice and yet you say “s/he made me angry”, then you have given away control over your emotions, your actions and most important of all, your power. Anger is not some intangible concept over which we have no control, it is the outward expression of our choice of feelings, shouting, quivering, throwing things and so on. Anger probably results from a belief centred around ‘the world not giving us what we want’ and is an expression of fear about what is happening to us. This whole book is about taking control and developing the skills that create change, and a sense of personal power is fundamental to that process: time to check-out the self-fulfilling cycle again.

Start the change
Given that your feelings will directly influence the many ways in which you can deal with a particular situation, it is critical to the improvement of your communication skills that you be aware of them at a given moment. Find ways to adjust your beliefs about yourself and the world. Accept that you can influence change and look for opportunities to re-direct the Self-fulfilling Cycle and open up new ways of acting. A simple start to changing your behaviour can be made by monitoring and adjusting the words you use when thinking things through. Focus on unhelpful words, then select other words which will positively reinforce your desired underlying beliefs. For instance, try ‘I am angry’ rather than ‘she made me angry’. The difference is slight, but one is the word of a victim while the other is of someone taking responsibility for his/her own behaviour. Responses to words Your choice of words also stimulates the feelings of others and invites a range of responses (some quite unexpected), they can range from respect, cooperation, collaboration, support, consideration, and encouragement through to disrespect, defence, retaliation, ridicule, confusion, pity, and alienation. Effective communication is helped if the words you choose encourage a positive or helpful response. To facilitate this process, use words which are: specific (instead of global), ‘see the person’(instead of labelling), describe (instead of judging/blaming). Express your needs directly, honestly and appropriately. People seem to manage the direct and honest part but often miss the target when it comes to being appropriate. In the end it is all a matter of committing to a particular style and then steadily moving towards it.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. In what way are beliefs involved in feelings? 2. Draw the Self-fulfilling Cycle. 3. What are the two opportunities for a change in our behaviour? 4. How do you ‘lose power’?. Observe 5. How often do you say, “It makes me (mad/sad/etc.) when . . .” (or similar). 6. Consider deep down, ‘what must someone believe to behave like that?’ Practise 7. Next time you feel angry, pause and consider whether it is the most helpful feeling for that situation. 8. In the situation described in (5), try choosing another feeling and then select a different action plan (handy hint - it can be done!)

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6 Take responsibility
Live your life as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now. Viktor Frankl This is the ‘crunchy bit’ - taking responsibility for your part in the scheme of things. A change in your behaviour will not take place unless you want it to. It will not come about by chance, wishful thinking or walking around with a halo over your head - you need to act.

A shift of viewpoint
Change, even when really wanted, takes time and commitment. The starting point is personal recognition that there is always a better way. All the skills in the world will not get around the need for this shift of viewpoint - the really good news is that you can do it.

Effective or ineffective?
When the dialogue becomes heated, someone needs to choose to be an effective communicator. Consider these two ways of responding to an irate customer and then move on to review your own communication style and consider changes you may want to make. You can choose - to be ineffective Here is an example of no-one taking responsibility for effective communication. Notice the labelling, judging, attacking, generalising, and advice - a full house! Angry customer: “ . . . the washing machine you sold me is a heap of junk. What are you going to do about it.” Sales person: “Our products are the best on the market - we get very few complaints.” Customer: “Well you are getting one now.” Sales person: “There is no need to be quite so rude.” Customer: “You call me rude! A little more civility on your part wouldn’t go astray. I get a dud product, pathetic back up service and now this!. If you employed competent people you wouldn’t have these problems.” Sales person: “Our people are very competent thank you. We work very hard to help but there are some people we can’t please. We certainly can’t be at the beck and call of everyone.” Customer: “I have a good mind to report your attitude to your supervisor.” Sales person: “If you want to report me then go ahead. I am not paid to take abuse.” Customer: “Right, get me the manager. I’m not going to deal with you. I want this matter sorted out here and now.”
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Sales person: “The manager is at an important meeting and cannot be interrupted. You will have to wait.” Customer: “Wait! You are telling me that I have to wait? Right, I want my money back and I will never deal with your company again.” Sales person: “ Good. That suits me fine. We will pick up your machine tomorrow.” (Scowls at customer and walks away). You can choose - to be effective Choosing to take responsibility for effective listening requires the use of specific skills. Angry customer: “ . . . the washing machine you sold me is a heap of junk. What are you going to do about it.” Sales person: “You are sounding pretty fed up sir; what has happened? Customer: “I most certainly am. Last week, my machine broke down three times, and that’s not all. Sales person: “Oh! What else happened? Customer: “Well (background). . . On the last occasion I ended up waiting the whole morning for the repair person to arrive.” Sales person: “I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like it was a pretty frustrating time for you. We pride ourselves on ensuring that dealing with us is an enjoyable experience - clearly this wasn’t the case last week. Customer: “It certainly wasn’t”. Sales person: “It seems that what you found to be really annoying was our slow response to your last repair call. Customer: “Absolutely!” Sales person: “How can I best help you to set things right.” Customer: “What I would like to happen is . . . Sales person: “OK. How about we start by getting our service person around there right away. Would you like a cup of coffee while I make the arrangements?” Customer: “Yes. I would appreciate that.” Making the change from one style of communication to another, as illustrated in these two examples, requires preparation, practice and effort. It is not like the throwing of a switch. It involves a careful consideration of concepts which help you to consciously develop a particular style and the overcoming of unhelpful reactions: especially those resulting from beliefs which have triggered feelings of low selfesteem. The change is slow and perfection is not required: just make the start and improve as you go.

Select your communication style
Listed below are a few communication styles covering ways in which people communicate with each other. There are other examples and many shades in between, although the four listed below are very common and illustrate the point. Which styles can you spot in the above two scenarios; more to the point, which style do you usually offer or choose?

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Chosen style

Outcome sought

Aggressive I win / You lose “John, I need some answers, I need them now, and they had better be good!” Passive/submissive I lose / You win “Excuse me John, I see that you are working on some very important matters, but I was wondering if you could possibly spare the time to see me about . . .” (spot the assumption: “I see that. . . ”) Assertive/effective Mutual gain & shared respect “Good morning John. I need ten minutes of your time to talk about a matter that is of real concern to me. When would be a good time for you?” Indirect aggressive I win / You lose “John, do you think that you might be able to spare us a moment from your busy schedule to perhaps help with our insignificant matters”. “Of course, if you say that I have to do it, I have to do it!”

Work on your Guiding Principles
To develop consistency in our behaviour we need some form of a reference ‘touchstone’. This reference is critical - without it we would otherwise drift around responding according to our mood or simply reacting to the style of others. The adoption of Guiding Principles (values) stabilises and guides our behaviour in specific situations, and in the case of a group, unifies its behaviour. Guiding Principles also enable us to measure how we are doing. Whether we like it or not, people around us are constantly assessing our values or Guiding Principles in the light of our behaviour and then trying to guess how we might behave in a different situation. As an effective communicator, agreeing to a set of Guiding Principles with regard to a specific situation, for example, as a team member, does not require the sharing of all your life values, simply those needed for the group to work well together. Having said that, it is important that whatever is agreed upon is in line with your personal principles. A lack of alignment between personal principles and group or organisational principles can lead to a lot of stress and ultimately, a parting of the ways. The revealing of Guiding Principles can be seen as a risky thing to do because our behaviour can then be compared with them. However, it considerably lessens the risk of our behaviour being misinterpreted. A starting point Here is a list of possible guiding principles covering behaviour in the area of effective communication. Use it as a trigger for generating your own list in this or other areas. I have chosen to be an effective communicator, responsible for my thoughts, feelings, actions. I am not (and cannot be) responsible for the thoughts, feelings and actions of others otherwise they would have no power.

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I only feed back information which encourages growth in the other person. I communicate with others using my own considered communication style even when faced with other less helpful styles I choose peace rather than aggression. I accept that we each learn (change) at our own pace and I allow for this. I recognise that I and others do not communicate effectively all the time and that I need to make allowances for this when responding. I do not need to agree with others to understand their view of the world. I am direct, honest and appropriate when communicating- with others and aim for outcomes based on mutual respect and shared gains. I continuously improve my effectiveness as a communicator.

A process for developing Guiding Principles
Here is a process which will help you or a group develop Guiding Principles. There is no need to slavishly follow it: just use it as a guide for starting out on the journey. Decide where to pitch the words The level needs to cover a wide range of situations and yet be clear enough to guide specific behaviour. Pitched too high at a philosophical/abstract level, the words will have little relevance to a specific situation. Too low, at a detailed level, and you will need a ‘shopping list’ of Guiding Principles - one for each situation you are likely to encounter. List possible principles List principles which for one reason or another keep on cropping up, reflect behaviour which is currently a problem, or are pointers to new directions. You can then use this list to develop Guiding Principles which respond in a wider sense. It is a delicate act, balancing what to include against what to leave out. In the end other important values will still be there, but not necessarily on the list. Keep the list as short and clear as possible and bear in mind that the aim is not to limit people’s thinking but to develop an alignment of views. Check for relevancy Frequently listed Guiding Principles include topics such as honesty, openness, cooperation, integrity, fairness, teamwork, and so on. These are so obvious that I could walk into most organisations and they would say, ‘yes, these are very important to us’. Yet these same organisations would have quite a different view of what was meant by each principle and why they were important to them. When it comes down to their application to a specific situation or group, principles can be interpreted in many ways. For instance, honesty for an accountant could mean to keep out of ‘creative book-keeping’; for a social worker, telling people what they are entitled to receive; for a bank, the stealing of money. For this reason, expanding on the single words and maybe including an example can be very useful. A good test for clarity of a principle, is to imagine explaining it to someone new. If you have to keep on saying, “No, that isn’t what I meant”, or realise that
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actually it is intended to address a specific issue; re-word it or address the issue in another way. Consider the structure Think about whether you want the principles specific to yourself, a group or a project. What sort of image you want the principles to reflect: safe? informal? professional? Check out any limits as to what can be included or which aspects of current behaviour need to be addressed. Think about how many values you want and the grammatical structure, eg, single sentences. Examine the need to give examples as a way of providing more specific guidance. Agree on the list Using Brainstorming techniques, list possible principles: remember, no discussion, other than to seek clarification, at this stage. Now you are ready to review and discuss each principle. If you are working in a group, be very careful about how you agree on the decision-making process for settling on the final list. I suggest that in this situation, anything less than true consensus would be very difficult to apply. A good start to helping a group reach agreement is to take care to listen carefully to each viewpoint. Ask questions which test how comfortable people are with each value. If a person is not totally happy with a decision, test for his/her willingness to go along with the group view. If it seems to be helpful, prioritise the list. This is not essential but worth checking in case there are some strongly held views or one item which clearly belongs at the head of the list.

“What you are is so obvious that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self assessment
Recall 1. Name the four communication styles. 2. Give an example for each communication style you have named. 3. Why bother with developing Guiding Principles? Observe 4. What communication styles do you observe around you and in television plays? 5. How do you respond to different communication styles? Practise 6. Develop Guiding Principles suited to your work or group.

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7 Reset the internal scene
To perform effectively, we each need to have a sound base from which to operate, because when the going gets tough it is easy to lose the plot and revert to old ways. Our approach needs the breadth and depth of perspective about ourselves and where we are going which allows us to approach others in a consistent and considered manner. Of special importance is how we view our work, its place in our life and how we knit social, personal and work activities together into one harmonious whole. In this chapter, we will focus on expanding our view of the work we do and the tuning of our mental processes in readiness for the challenging and rewarding task of working effectively with others.

Attend to your High Performance skills
Our work can be broken down into the three core areas: Functional/technical skills; Use of resources skills (budgeting etc.); High Performance Skills (Personal Empowerment, Process Awareness, Problem Solving, Communication, Conflict, Resolution, Negotiation, Facilitation). Traditionally, the focus is on the first two areas and they are usually well covered. The last area is rarely tackled as a priority. It comprises the transportable concepts, processes and skills which power the move to success and this is where the opportunity to create major change lies. The high performance Skills determine your ability to develop, to move on and achieve in your chosen area. They help you to change your view of the world, to seize the opportunities that change provides. I collectively refer to the high performance concepts, skills and processes covered in this book as the ‘forever’ factors’. Irrespective of other aspects contributing to the achievement of your goals, they are the lifetime foundation upon which you continue to build success.

Move out of your ‘Comfort Zone’ and into the Learning Zone
Our ‘Comfort Zone’ is that area in our lives best described as ‘business as usual’. It covers those routine things, which, although they may have a few surprises in them, are generally not a challenge to our level of comfort. For a person who wants to learn, the drawback is being in her/his Comfort Zone. Because it is ‘business as usual’ and s/he is well able to deal with most situations likely to crop up and not a lot of learning takes place. Once we do something quite different, such as move to a new house, job, sport or become involved in an emergency, we will probably find that, until we get used to it, we will quite frequently be outside our Comfort Zone. We will experience challenges and fear and make lots of mistakes, but above all else we will do a lot of learning and have fun.
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Embrace failure Clearly, moving outside our Comfort Zone means that we are unlikely to have all the skills we need - otherwise we would probably be back inside it. This means that we will make mistakes. The more mistakes we make, the more we must be doing: mistakes are an indicator of action. Be prepared to make mistakes - big mistakes. If you are only making small mistakes it is likely that you are not going for the ‘big hits’, the goals that you will look back on and savour for the sweet taste of success they brought. Mistakes, learning and progress go hand-in-hand. Is it expanding or contracting? One of my driving forces is my belief that Comfort Zones are not constant; they are either expanding or contracting. I see it as being essential that I deliberately make choices that move me outside and expand my Comfort Zone. The expanding of our Comfort Zone is also closely connected to our feelings of self worth. This in turn underpins our ability to act effectively when dealing with others. A high school student related to me the story of a drama class he was in. During the course of the year students were offered many opportunities, large and small, to participate in various activities. Many of these opportunities required the students to step outside their personal comfort zone and most accepted each challenge with enthusiasm. Another smaller group would regularly opt out of participating. The student relating the story made a comment which really caught my attention. He said, “Each time the same student rejected an opportunity to participate, s/he seemed to shrink a little, to the point at which, by the end of the year, the difference between the two groups had increased markedly”. Do you usually accept or reject the many challenges that life offers? To progress and feel empowered we need to make a conscious decision to move outside our Comfort Zone. How far out we move is for each of us to decide: after all, comfort is a personal concept.

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Freedom!

Sea of new

Comfort Zone
(Business as usual)

experiences

Empowerment!

Nourish your self-esteem
A generally high sense of self-esteem is critical to creating the future we want. It directly influences the way we see the world, our expectations of it and therefore our level of success. We all suffer from low self-esteem at various times. When confronted with the possibility of creating personal change, many of the beliefs which underlie this will be triggered, leading to a need to deal with the matter of self-esteem; knowing that it is business as usual is probably half way to dealing with it. As someone working on improving my self-esteem, it can be a bit discouraging to have a ‘down moment’ if I think that I am expected to be eternally cheerful. It can lead to me ‘beating myself up’ for not being happy, which then leads to my feeling depressed and with low self-esteem for having failed in some way - more of the ‘Self-fulfilling Cycle’. Sure, I use techniques which help me to break out of the down moment, but I do like to think that I am doing it because I want to and when I am ready, not just to meet someone else’s expectations. Self-esteem is not something that you either ‘have’ or ‘do not have’. It tends to vary day by day; the mental equivalent of those days when the body is definitely not performing at its peak compared to when it’s all go. The aim is to not go down too far, or for too long. Work on steadily smoothing out the dips and raising the average, not on having permanently high self-esteem. The end result is the same but the journey is a little less stressful.

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Work on your future
Our beliefs are our deeply held views of the world and ourselves and are constructed from many layers of impressions acquired from others or through our experiences. They are simply ingrained ways of thinking and subject to change like everything else. What we need to consider is our ability to get rid of unhelpful beliefs, and where appropriate, replace them with beliefs that serve us better. A belief (sic) that you can do this is a critical first step.

Play new tapes
Within the Self-fulfilling Cycle, there is a point at which our beliefs act to filter what we see. It is like tuning into our favourite radio station; at that moment it is the only station we can hear, yet all the other stations are operating. Similarly, the way we arrange our beliefs tunes us in to a particular life experience by filtering out the experiences we cannot ‘hear’ or ‘see’. The idea of treating beliefs as something we can re-tune, or that we can eliminate specific beliefs altogether, presents a major opportunity for us to change our view and expectations of the world and our experience of life. What it is that guides our choice of beliefs is another matter, about which you can enjoy a deep and meaningful philosophical debate at some later time. In the meantime make sure that your beliefs are working for you. Spot unhelpful beliefs ‘Changing the beliefs tape’ involves identifying and carefully examining our unhelpful beliefs and eliminating them or replacing them with other, more helpful ones. For instance, unhelpful beliefs could be: The world is a scary and dangerous place; It is always difficult to (get a job, etc.); I always get a cold when there is one going around; I’m too old for this; People will take what they can from me; Life is a struggle; There is bound to be a down side; I usually mess it up! Playing out these beliefs would have a dramatic impact on your life. Events and actions which supported them would tend to stand out and those things which did not support them or contradicted them would tend to fade into the background. It is very much like watching the view of the world as portrayed on the television news. If we allow that view to control our lives, we are in serious trouble indeed!

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Spot helpful beliefs You could choose to replace that first set of beliefs with: The world is a fun and exciting place; There is plenty of everything; I rarely, if ever, get a cold; New things help me to expand my skills; I get back what I give out, plus some; Life is a time for exploring and trying out new things; Surprises and treats constantly come my way; I will always have what I need. With these new beliefs your interpretation of the world is very different because you have applied a different set of filters. This ‘changing of the tape’ is not to do with ignoring what is going on around us. It is to do with keeping events in perspective and revelling in the many good things that are happening. It is also to do with keeping well clear of the ‘victim mentality’, the ‘I am but a cork bobbing on the sea of life’ approach to living. Able to change your part in the cycle, how can you sit back and say that it is out of your control? You are empowered to create change. When clarifying your new beliefs, it is likely that your self-talk (the ‘rational’ voice) will be saying things like ‘it isn’t really like that’ or ‘no chance . . .!’ This is quite normal and you just accept your ‘rational’ thoughts as part of the scene - do not dwell on them. Instead, dwell on what you have written down; on where you want to be. Change a belief and you change your experiences For me, a real test of changing ingrained beliefs was centred around my experiences with visits to dental clinics. My abiding childhood memories, all bad, were ones of pain and truly unpleasant experiences with the consequent view that dental work, although necessary, was not exactly something I relished. I went, but only because the outcome of not going seemed to be a worse long-term option. I decided to do something about it. For many weeks I concentrated on a new view of dental work. That it was looking after the health of my mouth, an opportunity to relax and take a break (this was novel!), a comfortable and enjoyable experience, and so on. Notice that the statements are all in the affirmative and the present tense. As I worked on changing my subconscious beliefs, a little voice in my head said, “it won’t work, it’s too hard,”, but the slight gnawing fear that I used to experience at the thought of going to the dentist slowly faded. At this point, fate obligingly lent a hand to check the whole thing out. For the first time ever, I needed root canal work on a front tooth, closely followed by a cap on a molar tooth. Each procedure was easily the most pleasant experience that I had had; not quite as good as going to a concert, but I am still working on that.

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Review each day To firmly print the new beliefs in your mind, identify the old beliefs, turn them inside out to form new positive versions and then write them down so that you can focus on them. Each day, review and think about the implications of one or two of your new beliefs. Do this for several weeks or months until you catch yourself involuntarily thinking (and acting) in the new way. Then move onto another one or two of your beliefs. The change process can take time, which is not surprising considering how long you may have been saying the old beliefs to yourself. Stick with it - the effort is well worth while. It is the repetition and having them constantly in view that makes the difference.

Use affirmations
Another helpful technique is using statements or words to move your immediate state of mind to a more positive level. Generally more focused and immediate in application than a statement of belief, affirmations are used to address specific situations. Applied to both of the opportunities presented in the Self-fulfilling Cycle, affirmations help you to re-frame your view of things. This is more than simply distracting the mind away from whatever is bothering you: it actually reinforces the positive views you have decided to have of yourself and the world. Some examples are: I always make the right decision; I feel great, relaxed, happy (about whatever); It (meeting, whatever) will go well; I have lots of energy; I really enjoy the contrast of rain and sun New opportunities are always opening up for me. A caution - keep negative statements out of your affirmations. For instance, if you say “I will not get it wrong”, your mind misses the ‘I will not’ and focuses on the ‘get it wrong’ bit and guess what happens! This is much the same as saying, “I must not forget to . . .” and what happens - we forget. The mind seems to miss the qualifier and pick out the action. Use your affirmations each morning and whenever you are faced with a situation which triggers some of your old unhelpful beliefs. Focus on the situation and use an appropriate affirmation. Repeat them many times at intervals. If your self-talk is contradicting your affirmation, do not worry - that is normal. Just keep going and let the negative self-talk be replaced with your new view of what is going to happen. A manager recently related to me his experience with a particular scheduled meeting. “I did not look forward to them”, he said, “because of the arguments, the pin-pricking, the time-wasting and the sheer difficulty of reaching agreement”. “With yet another meeting looming up”, he continued, “I caught myself replaying a typical scene in my mind, thinking what an awful meeting it was going
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to be and that I would rather not be there. Suddenly, it struck me that here I was actually setting myself up for yet another rotten meeting - and it hadn’t even started. I decided to tell myself that this time, the meeting would go well. I also pictured everything going smoothly, helpful discussions, reaching agreement and so on. Guess what? It went really well”. The question is ‘what or who changed?’. It works! Changing your beliefs, visualising the future you want and contemplating the affirmations you have written up work, because each contributes to breaking the Self-fulfilling Cycle. You start to behave in different ways and in turn, this produces different (often dramatically different) outcomes. Changed thinking leads to changed behaviour which leads to changed habits which leads to changed outcomes which leads to a changed person. Lock the new tape into place Three ways to lock your new beliefs and affirmations into place 1. Write them down. If they are not written down they do not exist. If they do not exist they cannot happen. 2. Keep them readily accessible. A useful way of keeping them in the front of your mind is to write them down in the front of your diary. If you bury your notes deep in your diary or put them in a draw, it is unlikely that you will refer to them. If you do not refer to them, nothing will happen. 3. Apply them for at least 30 days. Anything less than this is unlikely to stick and - nothing will change.

Focus on the important
If you haven’t got the time to be healthy, set aside time to be sick. (Slight twist on a quote by Michael Colgan) The above quote neatly alerts us to consider the possibility that what we are doing at a given moment may not be in line with our real needs. For instance, regularly missing out on exercise and working overtime may appear to be the thing to do at the time, but over the long haul, and in the light of your key goals , it may turn out to be out of line with what you really needed to do - especially at the moment that you are being taken off to hospital with some ailment or other. The overtime was urgent, but was it important? Many if not most of us are seduced by events which, because they are ‘urgent’ seem to be ‘important’: what is important is that we learn to distinguish between these two broad groups of activities. This concept is not new - it just seems that we have to keep on learning it. Important activities are those in line with our considered long-term goals and which move us closer to where we want to be. Much stress is associated with knowing on a feeling level what really matters but continuing to not do it. The trick is to spend time getting in touch with what we really want to achieve and then

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directing our efforts on getting there. A bit obvious - but so are many of the things that are important.

Common sense is great but not very common. When discussing the difference between Important and Urgent, many people have pointed out to me that some activities are Important and Urgent and others seem to be neither Important or Urgent. This now gives us four combinations: Important but not Urgent Neither Urgent or Important Urgent and Important Urgent but not Important

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey nicely captured the relationship between the four combinations by placing them in the form of a matrix. Listing our activities in groups within a matrix quickly shows us which area we are operating in (putting our energy into) at a particular moment and where to shift the focus of our efforts to best contribute to the future we want. When considering the activities listed in the Activity Matrix, try not to get too hung up on the ‘correctness’ of a particular grouping, rather focus on the broad principle involved. If watching television is a major part of your day, then only you can decide whether or not it is contributing to your desired future.

Create your own future
If you sit down and list the things that you want to achieve or the things that ‘given the time’ you would otherwise do, I am certain that they would all end up in the ‘Important but not Urgent’ group. They are the ‘if I had my time over again’ items, items which collectively will enable you to create the future you want - to move from powerlessness to power over your situation.

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Activity Matrix
Creating my future
(Important but not Urgent) ∗ ‘Crystal ball’ gazing e.g. developing my future direction (personal and business) ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ Developing values to guide my journey Setting goals Planning ways of achieving my goals Learning new skills Preventing problems

Emergencies & panics
(Urgent & Important) ∗ Scheduled events/tasks which have become urgent e.g. completing a late monthly report ∗ Becoming ill ∗ Dealing with emergencies ∗ Customer complaints ∗ Unplanned but important tasks ∗ Car has a flat battery when I need to go out ∗ Dealing with problems that have become ‘elephants’ ∗ Working on good old problem number 38 again! ∗ Having an ‘accident’

∗ Developing my physical and mental state ∗ Identifying and improving processes ∗ Doing considered scheduled tasks

URGENCY

Aimlessness
(Not Urgent, not Important) ∗ Whiling away the time waiting for something better to come up e.g. watching television # ∗ ‘Avoiding the future’ by consciously focusing on distractions ∗ Unable to say why I am doing what I am doing

I
M P O R T A N C

Responding/reacting
(Urgent but not Important) ∗ Doing things that may have a short term benefit but are not a part of my considered plans ∗ Handling interruptions which are not contributing to creating the future I want - visitors, ‘phone calls ∗ Dealing with the urgencies and problems of others ∗ Working on things in the order in which they catch my attention e.g. email, faxes, flyers ∗ Attending a meeting or discussion and wondering why I need to be there

# If watching television is a considered way of relaxing, then it has an aim

E

Clarity about your future leads to decisions which create your future A major outcome of working in the group ‘Creating my future’ is the ability to easily make helpful decisions about where you need to spend your time and energy. Even situations requiring a quick, some might say impulsive, decision become easy to deal with because you can tell instantly whether or not the outcome will contribute to your real needs - to where you want to be. A friend rang up one afternoon and asked me if I would like to go on what sounded like a fairly challenging climb - tomorrow! I immediately explained that I was in the middle of preparing for a workshop and starting to feel the pressure. I was about to say “no thanks”, when one of my long-term goals (developed as an ‘Important but not Urgent’ activity) sprang to mind. The goal was, and still is, ‘to improve my overall health and fitness’.
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This focus helped me to realise that I was being presented with an opportunity to further a really important goal. I still had two days in which to prepare the workshop and going climbing would probably free up my mind to some creative ideas. I said “let’s go”. The outcome? We had a great time, I didn’t feel a bit guilty or anxious because what I was doing fitted nicely with my real needs and I was certainly fitter and healthier when we came back. The key point is that although I hadn’t planned the trip, I was able to instantly recognise that it met my real needs and the decision was easy. Without that clarity I would have succumbed to the pressure of the moment and missed a great opportunity. Spend more time in Creating my future To achieve success strongly shift the focus of your efforts into the one area that will create it for you. Notice that I said ‘strongly shift’, not ‘move exclusively to’. You will spend some time in each group because after all, unexpected things do happen. The sad reality is however, that many people spend very little time where it matters. Urgent does not mean inevitable Many things classed as urgent, and which are indeed urgent, could probably have been planned for, prevented, or minimised. Examples are: customer complaints perhaps the result of not anticipating or meeting the customer’s needs; illness may be the outcome of lifestyle; equipment failures - perhaps due to missed maintenance; and so on. By spending far more time on creating your future you will be able to plan things which will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in the other areas. This includes reacting to the needs of others which grab your attention and seem to be inevitable. This is a key philosophical point with a very practical outcome - be sure to work it through. Examine how you operate and then check out the beliefs driving your behaviour.

Why isn’t everyone changing?
Problem addiction One of the great obstacles to change is the widespread addiction to fixing problems; being where the ‘hard-hat’ action is, the arc lights burning, the centre of the action. Look around and you will see many people who choose to operate in a state of permanent crisis, constantly bemoaning all the problems that ‘they alone can sort out’, but secretly loving the sense of self worth that they derive from keeping things going. It is almost a form of cruelty to point out that many of the things that they ‘sort out’ could have been prevented altogether by spending a little more time working on the activities covered in the group Creating my future. The outcome of this neglect is similar to that of the arsonist running around creating fires and then joining in to put them out. This is another example of the Selffulfilling Cycle in action with beliefs creating the experience.

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It ain’t urgent Given that with a little time to reflect most people are quite clear about the important things in their life, why is it that so many do not operate strongly to create their own future? My view is that they do not get around to doing the things which are important in life because they are simply not urgent. Or to put it another way, there is no immediate consequence if it is not done. Your world will not immediately go awry if you are unclear as to where you want to be or how to get there and your failure to focus may not become apparent for many years. An unhealthy lifestyle will probably not show up for a very long time. Where is the pressure to change?

Life is not a dress rehearsal - you are in the main event. The pressure can only come from within. One starting point is reflecting on what really matters in your personal and/or business life and how you are currently spending your time. Whenever I momentarily question whether or not I really have the time to keep healthy, I simply recall the quote which opened this section: “If you haven’t got the time to be healthy, set aside time to be sick”. That sharpens up the difference between Important and Urgent!

Have a picture of the future
One of the first activities for creating your future, is becoming clear as to where you want to be in a few years time. Without a goal there is nothing to focus on and you may later find yourself working hard on something that is not contributing to your important goals. I know of many people who undertake ‘training’ without any clarity as to how it will help them. They simply see more training as the solution to everything. A friend explained to me the difference between efficiency and effectiveness by using the analogy of painting a house. Efficiency, he said, is preparing the surface, selecting the best type of paint, choosing a great colour scheme and so on. On the other hand, effectiveness is painting the right house! For you to ‘paint the right house’, you need to have a clear picture of the future. One way of doing this is to draw a picture of how you would like things to be on a large sheet of plain paper,. “But I cannot draw”, you say. I often get this cry at workshops when I ask people to draw their picture of the future. However, once they have started drawing their vision, it is difficult to get them to stop. They keep on adding things, amending their earlier thoughts and talking excitedly about it with others. You do not have to be a ‘good’ artist: stick figures work well, but be sure to use plenty of colour and space. Use your picture of the future to stimulate a mental video of the scene, full, bright, colour with stereo sound; the works! Actually ‘see’ your future. Add your videos to your daily habit of working on your beliefs and affirmations.

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Balance your approach
When considering how your picture will look, take into account the many areas that make up a balanced approach to enjoying life and ensure that it reflects what you really want. The building of your life around any one aspect, perhaps your job, risks leaving an awfully big hole if you suddenly lose it. Identifying and balancing the areas of importance to you reduces the chances of being devastated by a loss in any one area. It also enables you to give your full attention to a specific area in the knowledge that it is appropriate and to make decisions which meet your real needs. Some suggestions for you to consider are:

Health & recreation Material/financial Environmental

Close relationships Emotional/spiritual Social/community

Personal growth (mental & cultural) Professional/business Other

When tending a particular area, give it 100% of your attention at that time. This is really important; it is easy to treat recreation as deserving of less time and effort than working. Our personal development is an excellent example of this. It is easy to let the balance slip towards working long hours and neglecting the re-charging of our body and mind; the result is sickness or low performance. ‘Urgent’ says, “do more overtime”, whereas ‘Important’ says ‘keep the balance right’; you may get the job on the next rung up, but in the long run miss out on enjoying it due to ill health.

Set aside time for your ‘re-creation’
As with many words, the splitting of ‘recreation’ into its component parts moves it from underneath its commonly perceived label to reveal its true meaning. When we take part in some form of recreation, we are indeed re-creating ourselves, evolving into something different. For me this ‘new’ perspective adds a certain importance to the business of ‘having fun’ - it is important. I remind myself of the importance of recreation time whenever I am inclined to miss it out and get on with real (important) work - notice the self-talk I use. Seeing recreation as also being important puts it on an equal footing when we are allocating our time: rarely urgent, it is always important. In fact, more than just important, recreation time is central to your ability to change. It is a bit like up-grading the software in your computer as time goes on. If you do nothing, your ‘personal computer’ will continue to run the old software (tapes) and the hardware will start to degenerate at an alarming rate. Not difficult to accept as a concept, recreation requires a high level of commitment to become a habit. For a start, try setting aside a specific amount of time to ‘re-create’ yourself and your future and to focus on the areas you need to work on. A good starting goal is 15 - 20 minutes per day for your mental work and perhaps one hour, three times per week for your physical recreation.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. What are the High Performance Skills? 2. Why do we need to keep on moving outside our Comfort Zones? 3. List five important activities which work to create your future 4. What prevents the things which are important to you from being done? Observe 5. List examples of your behaviour which you consider to be unhelpful. 6. Observe how often you make choices which move you (even slightly) outside your Comfort Zone? 7. When making a decision to have fun or take time off from work, observe how easy or difficult it was when balanced against the need to do work? Practise 8. Write down five goals that you need to achieve. 9. From (5) identify the underlying negative beliefs hindering the achieving of your goals and then convert them to positive beliefs (written in the present tense) which will move you towards your goals.

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PART 3 DEAL WELL WITH OTHERS

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8 See the person
If we treat a person as an eagle, they will probably oblige us by behaving like an eagle.

Fixing the views
What is taught Recently, I felt surprised and very disappointed to hear someone who was leading a presentation on Negotiation Skills, advocate that when preparing for negotiations we should first find out what ‘sort of person’ we are dealing with. He went on to tell us that people fit into four basic personality types: the Eagle, the Dove, the Owl and the Peacock. According to this theory everyone falls into one of these groups (it does make allowance for the possibility that some people may straddle groups). Similarly, twenty years ago (and it is still taught today), I was told by a trainer to look out for the ‘typical’ people at meetings: the stirrer, the ‘negative’ person, the time-keeper, the gate-keeper, the joker, and other labels. The idea was that I would then know how to deal with or respond to these people. What happens In yet another experience I was a member of a Senior Management group which was suffering from serious internal conflict and unclear direction. We went away on a weekend retreat to thrash out (emphasis on ‘thrash’) our direction and get to know each other better. A psychologist analysed each person and fitted him/her into an appropriate category. We then shared the information with each other. The result was the most confrontational, miserable, unhelpful meeting I have ever been to. Our new-found knowledge simply enabled us to beat up on each other even more effectively. It didn’t do much for the teamwork either. It has taken me twenty years to simply accept the evidence of my own experience and go against the teaching that the labelling of a person is either appropriate or helpful. The outcome One outcome of labelling is that it locks the labelled person into specific viewpoints of her or himself, and even worse, they are the viewpoints of others. The person then behaves in ways which reinforce those views - views which tend to lag behind reality as the person changes. Yet another example of the Self-fulfilling Cycle.

Open up your view
This book is about taking responsibility for ourselves and changing our beliefs and the accompanying behaviour (the ways in which we react to situations). Consequently, I find it necessary to view my present state as temporary and am not especially interested in how I got to where I am; I simply accept that I am here.

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My focus is very strongly on where I want to be and the skills I need to get there: skills development, not therapy. This involves letting go of those beliefs labels, etc. - which do not serve me well. Look and go Before focusing on where you want to be, you do need to spend some time assessing your current situation. There are quite a number of methodologies around which do this. Unfortunately, the danger with many of them is that they try to either replace your old beliefs about yourself with other externally determined beliefs (labels), or they simply impose another set on top of your current set - as with the Senior Management Team incident described above. In that case, the person ‘in charge’, a psychologist, was really keen to ensure that everyone was ‘correctly’ tagged and packaged. Interestingly, what was happening was that the psychologist was playing out his beliefs about the behaviour of others and laying those beliefs on the group. I am not convinced that adopting externally derived labels is likely to serve you well. Let go of any dependency you may have on the views of others and take control of the identifying and changing of beliefs which are unhelpful to you. For instance, if you find yourself in a situation in which you need to be formally assessed by others, perhaps for a job interview, be careful not to become totally focused on the results. Use them as a mere reference point - an information springboard for moving quickly forward rather than a life sentence. Check your need to share Another concern I have is about the helpfulness of sharing with others the results of any personal assessment you may do. This is mainly for the sorts of reasons mentioned above. What is likely to happen is that their behaviour towards you will alter to fit the new perception and tend to affirm that particular view in your (and their) mind - you will be locked into that moment and the Self-fulfilling Cycle will kick in again. Only pass on information about yourself to others when you are confident and clear about the ways in which this will help you. It is not a matter of becoming paranoid about the issue: it is simply being cautious about the value of sharing the information. Look after your needs When it comes to tests, the best advice I ever got on the subject was from a practitioner and it has served me well: ‘Never take part in any test or assessment without first establishing the basis of the test, how it is to be assessed and obtaining agreement that you will be shown all of the outcomes and interpretations and will be able to discuss them directly with the person who did the assessing’.

Basically, it is better to focus on where we are going rather than on where we are.

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Give others a chance
Try a different approach I have worked with hundreds of groups helping them to work together more effectively and I can say emphatically that the idea of pigeonholing people is downright unhelpful. There is a huge difference between the roles (behaviour) that a person displays at a given moment and the intrinsic qualities of that person. To put it another way, I find that people respond differently when treated differently and the changes can be quite startling. Work to create the conditions which bring out the best in people and assume that you are going to get the best. Certainly if someone is psychologically disturbed, all the skills in the world may not help, but this is a rare situation and not the focus of this book. The rewards from working to bring out the best in people are well worth the effort. For instance, nowadays if someone at a meeting appears to be struggling or behaving in a way which I find unhelpful, rather than pigeonholing that person I prefer to assume that it is his or her response to the current situation. My challenge is to help that person to deal well with whatever is going on for him/her, not to classify the behaviour as that of a stirrer or another label. Without a doubt people will adopt the role that you assign them - unless they have learnt the skills to identify what is going on and to stop it happening. The risk of acting on an assumption At one meeting I became aware that a man was acting in many ways as a very assiduous time-keeper. At the tea break, I reflected his behaviour to him and commented that he appeared to be focused on watching the timing of what we were doing. It turned out that on this particular day he needed to be away on time and in his past experience, meetings rarely finished at the agreed time, often dragging on well past the scheduled finish. He was anxious because he thought this is what would happen at my meeting. We talked about his concerns and I assured him that we would finish on or ahead of time - I also asked someone to assist me in keeping to schedule. After that he relaxed and focused on the meeting issues. A woman looked quite out-of-sorts during the ‘check-in’ round at a workshop and didn’t participate when it came to her turn. I could easily have assumed that she was feeling ‘negative’ about me or the meeting. It turned out that a very dear relative of the woman had died a few hours earlier and, keen not to miss the workshop, she had come along but was waiting for a telephone call regarding urgent travel arrangements. How we view others profoundly affects how we act towards them. In the end it all comes down to choosing to expect the worst or choosing to expect the best.

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Make the change Instead of judging a person Instead of generalising Instead of blaming the person Instead of labelling the person

describe the behaviour focus on a specific instance understand the problem see the person

Self assessment
Recall 1. What do we do to another person when we label him or her? 2. What can we do instead of judging a person? 3. What is the connection between the Self-fulfilling Cycle and labelling/judging? Observe 4. How often and easily you judge behaviour. Practise 5. Next time you catch yourself judging a person, describe the specific actions (behaviour) that led you to the judgement? 6. At a meeting take off any labels you have surrounding a particular person and see what happens?

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9 Give feedback
Feedback is information which provides me with the opportunity to improve. One woman told me that in 37 years of business life as a machine operator, all she ever had was low-quality negative feedback. She rarely received a compliment and had never been asked for her opinion on a work-related problem by her supervisor(s). From my involvement with this person it was obvious that she had a lot to offer; much more than just a pair of hands. Yet over time, she switched off from communicating with her supervisors - what a waste of talent! People crave for feedback on how they are doing and the ideal situation is for a person to request it. The reality is that the vast majority is given unasked (often in formal situations) by people who feel the need to give it. The high risk associated with this unrequested feedback is that it may be given for the wrong reason(s) or it may be of no perceived benefit to the receiver, either immediately or long term. Unless a culture exists which demonstrably supports and encourages the growth of the individual, and is accepting of mistakes, it is rare indeed to find individuals seeking out high quality feedback. The situation I usually encounter, is one in which there is a dearth of feedback or it is overwhelmingly negative, which I guess, discourages people from asking for it - unless they are into self-inflicted pain. The situation in which feedback is asked for as a means of making positive change is covered in a later chapter. You will frequently find it necessary and helpful to give feedback to others about their behaviour. It may be in the form of a compliment about the positive impact that the person’s actions (behaviour) has had on you or others, or it may be about the negative impact of the person’s behaviour. This chapter: covers the background to giving appropriate and effective feedback; deals with helping you to consider your reasons for giving feedback; provides guidelines which maximise the chances of your feedback being heard and considered; highlights feedback which has a positive effect on behaviour.

Why give feedback?
Feedback is a ‘mirror’ which I can use to help me to see how I appear to others and the impact my behaviour is having on them. It enables me to identify facets of my behaviour which I may choose to change, and to judge how well I am regarded or accepted by those whom I choose to be with. All in all, feedback is a necessary tool for growing and finding our way in society. Tuning-in A more specific function of feedback is helping me to make changes to particular aspects of my behaviour which others are finding unhelpful and are requiring me to change if I wish to develop or maintain a harmonious relationship with them.

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Feedback is to do with attuning myself to other people or groups. It is not to do with ‘making me into a good person’ (usually an indirect reference to the giver’s standards). The receiving of feedback is the start and finish point to improving what I do. However, it is for me to decide how I will change, when I will change and by how much. All that I need from others is clear, concise, supportive information on how my behaviour is affecting them, and in some cases the values that are driving their behaviour. Just information When contemplating feedback step back and view all of the positives and negatives as simply information, laid in front of the receiver for his/her review, considered action, and ultimately - decision whether or not to change.

The manner of giving
Given well and for the right reasons, feedback can reduce the enormous amount of distress and time lost in dealing with the same behavioural issues rearing up again and again. It encourages people to do more of the helpful things and less of the unhelpful things. However, for people to ‘hear’ your feedback it needs to given in a way which shows equal respect for the other person, is appropriate to their needs and given from a base of high personal self-esteem. Whether dealing with disruptive behaviour or complimenting someone on their positive actions (behaviour), the giving of negative feedback and positive feedback requires equal care.

The impact
The impact of feedback is much greater than is openly admitted and the outcomes can be highly productive or terribly destructive. Even a simple remark can affect us for the rest of our life. This adds up to a lot of pain when we consider that the overwhelming majority of feedback is at best unhelpful and frequently highly destructive; even when the intent was to encourage positive improvements. I have encountered many examples of this inverted outcome being achieved, especially at the ubiquitous ‘performance review’. Aim to give high-quality feedback that has a high probability of being heard and considered, and a low risk of creating upset or distress. Focus on helping the receiver to keep his/her self-esteem intact. It can be very fragile in such situations. The person on the receiving end may already be suffering from low self-esteem which led to the unhelpful behaviour in the first place!

Feedback flinching
Generally people shy away from giving any feedback, especially negative feedback; why else do you think that many organisations only give formal appraisals once a year? They know how difficult it is to get even that (low) frequency of feedback. I am constantly meeting managers who ‘put off the evil moment’ until finally they just have to do it or else the receiver will not get a pay rise or whatever. They have many logical reasons as to why it hasn’t been done, but the main reason is that they just don’t like doing it. People frequently avoid dealing with what is uppermost in their minds because ‘they are afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings’. Or maybe it is because they have tapped into their own feelings of guilt, doubt or low self-esteem in that area.

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Another reason could be the person building up a worst case ‘catastrophe scenario’ in his/her mind as to the consequences of giving direct feedback. Poor feedback often leaves both parties feeling worse off for the encounter. To illustrate the point, here is a work-related scene in which Jim is about to be given an update on his performance. Let’s see if the way in which it is done rings any bells for you. “Good morning Jim. Thanks for joining me” [she assumed that this was a good time for Jim - actually it isn’t, but he wasn’t given much option]. “Well, generally speaking, things have gone quite well over the three months since you started with us,” [barely positive and very broad] “but” [aha, here we go] “I do have to” [isn’t it a choice?] “talk to you about your work. A few points have come to my attention” [slight distancing from the issues but now we’re getting down to it - what is coming next will probably be very specific!] “and one of them is that you seem to have adopted a rather lackadaisical attitude” [launched into a judgement, assumption] “to time-keeping” [specific area]. “It seems that being on time is not an issue for you” [another assumption as to Jim’s priorities]. “Another matter is the way you . . .” The slight positive at the beginning was given as a sort of ‘softener’ before the main event of negative feedback. Unfortunately, any beneficial effect the positive feedback could have had was lost as Jim looked ahead to what was coming - the negatives.

The benefits of positive feedback
At one workshop, a senior manager described the impact that a simple, well chosen compliment had on him. As he described it, “After an awful start to the morning, I pretty near floated around for the rest of the day (after receiving the compliment). It was so unexpected. The result was out of all proportion to the length of the exchange.” Even as he spoke, it was quite obvious that although it was some time later, he still felt very warm about the incident. The person who gave the compliment (and was at the same workshop) was amazed at the impact of what he had said. The incident changed how each person viewed the other from that point on. When I ask people to give feedback on how they did, they usually find it easy to spot the negatives but difficult to spot the positives. We seem to live in a culture which focuses on failure and blame to the extent that this strongly filters our view of what we see - easy to spot the fault, hard to spot the things we did well! On one occasion, I suggested to a woman that she try to give out several compliments each day, she expressed concern that if many compliments were given out in a day, they could not be sincere - as if there was a shortage of opportunities to spot the good. The reality is that there are thousands of ‘good’ things being done every day; it is just that we don’t ‘see’ them. Seize every opportunity to spot the good and feed back the impact it had on you. Create a habit Consciously develop the skills and practice of giving sincere, high-quality, positive feedback to friends, colleagues, staff, managers and come to think of it, everyone!.

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The effect is two-fold: it slowly changes how we perceive the person and it changes how we are perceived. One idea for starting the change to ‘giving out positives’ is to place 5-10 cards in your pocket or drawer. Each time you give out a compliment, transfer a card from one drawer or pocket to another. A bit mechanical, but this sort of approach is needed if we are to change long-standing habits. Hearing people freely and sincerely giving out positives is a sure sign that things are going well.

Give helpful feedback
See the person and the action
Feedback full of statements which label, blame or judge a person, makes is very difficult to ‘hear’. The person along with the ‘scene’ is buried under this load of personal beliefs and interpretations of what happened, "Just like a (salesperson/ engineer/ secretary!) A better attitude would have avoided this mess”. Avoid: “I need to talk to you about your slack attitude to starting times and the changes I expect in your performance!” Try: “You came in yesterday at 8.55, yet your agreed starting time is 8.30. What happened?.” What if it transpired that the person’s husband had become seriously ill and been admitted to hospital two days ago. It was the only bus she could catch and she had worked until 8.30 pm last night. Whoops! Avoid: Try:

“Your new software is useless.” “I find that when I use the new database input form, I can no longer do a ‘level one’ query.” What if the giver of the feedback had missed a key point in the input sequence and the software was fine! Avoid: Try: “You’re hopeless at dealing with senior managers.” * “When Fred asked for a summary, you dug around in your brief-case, handed him a crumpled sheet of paper with handwritten notes on it and then kept on apologising.” * How helpful would that feedback be to you if you were trying to improve?

For whose benefit is the feedback being given?
At first glance the answer to this question may seem to be rather obvious, but think about why you need to give this person feedback. You may be doing it to meet your own needs or for ‘the other person’s good’? The second reason is probably even less helpful to the other person than the first. If it is for either, you need to first check what you hope to achieve, otherwise there is a real risk of the outcome being quite destructive. Reflect on what you are trying to achieve Work to become really clear about the underlying reason for your wanting to give feedback. Are you the judge, the corrector of mistakes, or the supporter, counsellor, coach, helping the person to move forward? High quality feedback takes into account the needs of both parties. Checking where you are on the Self-fulfilling 80

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Cycle, how you are feeling, and reviewing your guiding principles changes your perspective on things. Sometimes the feedback is driven by fear (the other side of anger) and used as an opportunity to ‘let him know who’s boss’ or ‘even the score’, instead of using it as an opportunity to learn and move on. As an effective communicator you need to work on adopting a style focused on mutually helpful outcomes - shared respect, reconciliation and letting-go. Besides, in the end it is a lot better for your health to not become embittered about things and of course, the choice is yours.

Keep it appropriate
Use within the ‘best by’ date Feedback has a ‘best by’ time after which its use may have undesired results. Dragging up long past examples of current unhelpful behaviour can lead into arguments about how often it has happened, the accuracy of the information and so on. For maximum benefit to the user (receiver) of the feedback, it is best given as close to the action or event in question as possible. Focus on the most recent example, or perhaps several recent occurrences. You may need to put things in perspective but be warned! The best time and place? Ask the person if this is a good time to give him/her feedback. S/he may have just heard of the death of a relative and now is definitely not a good time. Consider the length of time you propose to spend - could three hours be too much, or four minutes too little? Why not ask the recipient? Consider the venue. Sometimes things get off to a bad start because of the historical baggage associated with a venue. It may pay to go somewhere deemed as being neutral by both parties? Present the whole picture Most feedback is not asked for and comprises mainly negative points. Unbalanced and incomplete, it is a distorted picture of what is going on for that person. No one is doing everything right or everything wrong! Include positive points as well as negative ones and give the negatives first. Check the load When I am given too much feedback at one time I am inclined to react by ‘switching off’ or defending myself; especially if it is all negative. I catch myself feeling quite depressed and it takes a conscious effort to regain my mental equilibrium and help the giver to balance it with positives. If you suspect that the receiver has ‘switched off’ or is reacting defensively, focus on how s/he is reacting (the current problem). Acknowledge the overload and work out another way of dealing with things. Try addressing the most important items first or agree to meet later to deal with the remainder. Avoid top heavy ‘three on one’ scenarios. The amount of feedback can be overwhelming - especially if there is a perceived difference in power or status. Check who needs to be present.
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Enable your feedback to be heard
Give your feedback in a way that can be ‘heard’. For instance, starting off the conversation with “I need to talk to you about your rather casual approach to work” will almost surely send the receiver off on a mental journey of “What does she mean ‘casual’? I spend hours working unpaid overtime, a darn sight more than others I could name. Besides, I resent being told . . .”.See what I mean! By the time the receiver re-focuses on what is being said, a whole lot of words have drifted past his or her head. What has happened is that you have triggered a whole lot of negative beliefs that the person has about his/her view of the world. Keep to specific actions or events To help prevent this ‘loss of focus’ from happening, stick to specific behaviour or events: times, decisions, costs, feelings expressed at the time, historical data and so on. Keep well away from generalisations judgements, labels. The receiver needs to know exactly what it is you are referring to. A favourite one for me is the use of the word ‘professional’. It does not have an agreed meaning. When told to look ‘professional’, does it mean ‘have clean shoes’, ‘present a facade rather than being yourself’, ‘speak well’ - what is the person getting at? What is the concern to which ‘being professional’ is the answer. Far better to identify the specific actions that you need addressing and to give that information to the person it affects for his/her consideration - leave out the judgements and labels. Avoid: Try: Avoid: Try: Avoid: Try: You looked a bit unbalanced; perhaps even nervous. You crossed your feet and put one hand on your hip five or six times during your talk and kept on flitting your gaze from person to person. Your writing was great. I liked the use of alternate blue and red lettering on the whiteboard; it helped me to separate the points. You always leave the safe unlocked OR You never lock the safe. After you left last night, I found the safe door unlocked and the alarm unarmed. What happened?

The last example of ‘always’/‘never’ is a sure-fire and very common way of sending a discussion off on a tangent. For example, “what do you mean ‘always’ . . .etc.” As I said, keep well away from generalisations otherwise you will instantly widen the debate and more than likely turn it into a values-based argument which will likely simmer for ages. Enough said! Whether it is negative or positive feedback, give it in the same way: Use the person’s name followed by a pause to get eye contact; Describe specific events and actions and the impact they had on you; Be to the point and direct and leave a space for the other person to respond; Keep the negatives and positives completely separate.

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Focus on do-able changes
Focus on changes that the person is able to make. Pointing out to a person that s/he is has a deep voice is not particularly helpful as it is fairly tricky to rectify. It is also likely that s/he already knows about it and finds it a tad frustrating to have it pointed out yet again. Focus on aspects which can be readily changed: “I was distracted by your jingling of the change in your pocket and moving to and fro in front of me as you spoke”.

Check out the advice meter
If what you are about to do involves giving lots of advice especially ‘for the other person’s good’, then I suggest that you have missed the bus in terms of high quality feedback. This seems to be the hardest part for people to accept. For me it is a major turn off if, while I am trying to tell you just how I feel about something, you are feeding back ways to fix it: the whole point of my tale is to express how I feel about it. If I had wanted a solution I would probably asked for one or talked to my computer. “But”, you say, “in real life I may be required to give advice to someone (for their own good?) - perhaps in a job review.” As the giver of feedback, it may be quite appropriate to clearly state your requirements, needs or expectations of another as these statements of position often need to be raised discussed and resolved. But don’t give advice unless asked. It is this business of ‘solutions getting in the way of the problem’ again. Tread carefully: the principles still hold true.

Take out the ‘news value’
It is usually very difficult for people to ‘hear’ and evaluate positive feedback if they suspect that ‘the big hit’ is coming next. The positives just float by and leave little trace in the receiver’s memory. A useful process or sequence for overcoming this is to give a summary of what is to come. How about this approach if you were Larry? Larry’s manager checked with Larry last week to agree on a suitable time for a Performance Review. “Hi Larry! You still okay for meeting today? [pause for answer] Right, let’s get underway. As we discussed, the purpose of the meeting is to give you some feedback on how you are performing in the new job” [bit of anxiety here for Larry as he thinks about his upcoming contract renewal]. “I have two negative points to resolve with you” [sharp intake of breath by Larry as he remembers a stuff-up he made last week: is this what the meeting is really about?]. “They are both minor, [phew!] but nonetheless, they are important to me. Neither will affect the renewal of your contract with us and I will follow the negative points with quite a few positives. How is that process with you?” [great news for Larry, he can now relax - no big bullet coming!]. “Okay? The first negative point concerns the filling in of the equipment check sheets . . .” [Note the statement of purpose right up front] this could even be focused on a higher level such as: “. . . we value the contribution of each member of the organisation and have a policy of helping new people to ‘come on board’ as quickly as possible. One way of doing this is through regular Job Progress Review meetings such as this. So, Larry, with that in mind, I will give you some feedback [as per the first example]”. 83

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Make the change
Avoid “Great room!” “You’re a real embarrassment!” “Great report.” “Your attitude is really slack!” “You will have to improve your handwriting” “Thanks for the help.” Try “I appreciated the use of your room. The peace and quiet helped me to finish my work early.” “I was quite embarrassed last night when you came out to dinner with a large tear in the knee of your trousers.” “I particularly appreciated the extra detail in the sales columns, especially the new pump range.” “I was really annoyed to be called out two nights in a row to find that you had left the warehouse door unlocked.” “I am having difficulty reading your writing on the blue notepaper, particularly the letters ‘r’, ‘m’ and ‘n’.” “Thanks for finishing that analysis before you went home, I was relieved to be able to incorporate it in my fax by 8.30.” “Your red waistcoat was decidedly out of keeping with the evening and I found it quite distracting.” “Thank you. I’m amazed by the heaps of time and money saved with your new changeover procedure.” “I’m angry about being scheduled onto nights.” “I am very frustrated. Last week we explained the procedure to you, yet you moved the locator again yesterday.”

“It wasn’t very professional!” “Oh, well done!”

“You managers are the pits!” “You ought to know better.”

Positive blocks
Although the giving of positive feedback should be a straightforward, pleasant activity, it is often done in a hurried, ‘throw-away’ manner as if it was a slight source of embarrassment to the giver. The message can end up creating confusion and being quite unhelpful. It may even leave the receiver wondering “what was that all about?”. Positive feedback deserves the care due to such a powerful means of spreading goodwill. Comparisons and ‘I could never do that!’ A very common form of positive feedback is the ‘I could never do that’ style. This form of comparison diminishes one or other party and is best avoided. Besides shifting the focus away from the receiver and onto yourself, there is no need to lower one person to make another look good. Avoid: “You leave my work for dead.”
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Try: “John. I am really impressed by the speed with which you sewed that pocket on and the detail around the flap.” Avoid: “You are much better than Joan on the accounts payable.” Try: “Maxine. I am very pleased with your work in the accounts payable section. Since you started errors have been halved and the mail-out has been completed on time every time.” ‘I don’t want to encourage the unhelpful things’ Another reason given for a compliment being withheld has been the concern that it may encourage some other less helpful actions which have been observed, making it difficult to treat the spotting of a helpful action in isolation from the other less helpful ones. Giving someone a compliment in one area does not exclude later feedback on unhelpful aspects of a person’s behaviour. It is all part of the same thing - information for the other to consider. ‘Lack of a negative’ trap Other tendencies are to treat a lack of finding a negative as a positive: “not as many mistakes as last time!”, or to qualify a positive, “it looks okay”, “it’s okay so far!”. Avoid: “I can’t find anything wrong” Try: “It has been working well for two weeks now and we’re really pleased with it.”

Give compliments
A special form of positive feedback is the compliment. Here the focus is on how much you admire or respect someone for what s/he has done. It is to do with your view of the other person rather than your feelings about any direct impact of his or her actions on you. To give an effective compliment, follow the basic rules for giving clear feedback to describe what it is that you admire or respect about the other person. Here are a few examples. “Sue, I am amazed at the ease with which you detect complex accounting errors.” “Joanne, I have enormous respect for your handling of search and rescue operations.” “John, I really admire your ability to give paintings such depth.”

Accept them gracefully
Sometimes, it seems that the only thing harder than giving compliment is receiving one - gracefully. The essence of receiving a compliment is the acceptance of the other’s views and feelings without judging or diminishing what is said in any way. When tempted to diminish or dismiss another person’s views, no matter how slightly, I find it

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useful to consider that, in effect, I am doing the same to the person - is this what I really want to convey? When accepting a compliment, simply thank the other person. If you are not clear about what is meant, take responsibility for seeking clarification.

Self assessment
Recall 1. List some guidelines for giving useful feedback. 2. Give an example of a poorly given compliment and a well given compliment. 3. How soon should feedback be given? Observe 4 How often do you get feedback from others at your work? Include staff, colleagues and your managers. 5 How often do you get helpful feedback from others at your work? Include staff, colleagues and your managers.

6. How closely does your feedback to others follow these guidelines? Include friends, family, colleagues, staff, supervisors. Practise 7. If dissatisfied (in 4.), what will you do to initiate changes? What are the smallest first steps in your action plan? When will you start? What might you say? 8. Try monitoring your behaviour, and the response of others for a week, after deciding not to miss any opportunity to remark on the behaviour of others that you feel positively about. If there is room for improvement on your part, where will you start? With whom? When? What might you say?

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Confront unhelpful behaviour

10 Confront unhelpful behaviour
I started off looking to change the other person’s behaviour and finished up changing my own. (Workshop participant) Many people come along to our workshops keen to find out how they can go about changing someone else’s behaviour; they leave realising that most of the change starts within themselves. There are many times when it is necessary and appropriate to deal well with behaviour which we are finding less than helpful. It requires the use of selfexpression (feedback) skills to minimise the risk of feelings being aroused (anger, fear, enthusiasm, confusion, etc.) and creating huge filters in the receiver’s mind which block out chunks of the message. As an effective communicator, I want the other person to hear and understand me, consider my needs and be moved to make changes. To do this I need to express myself directly, honestly, appropriately and with high respect for my own and the other person’s needs and dignity. Use a road-map In a situation in which you feel the need to change someone else’s behaviour, it is likely that you will be feeling annoyed about something that has happened, some need that has not been considered or met, and you will be stressed (otherwise it would not be a problem!). Added to this, the person confronted with his/her unhelpful behaviour may become upset and raise a whole lot of side issues (probably focused on your own behaviour). You will need to listen, acknowledge the points raised and deal with them - perhaps by agreeing to discuss some of them later. Faced with a choice as to how you will deal with things, you will find it handy to have ready a simple considered ‘road-map’ to guide you. Road-map overview The following DENIBAW ‘road-map’ addresses in sequence the essential elements which guide you through the task of helping someone to consider changing his or her behaviour. You will be able to relax and deal with any surrounding issues as they arise - all without the fear of ‘losing the plot’. DENIBAW enables you to confront the other person(s), speak for yourself and clearly express what it is that you don’t like and how you feel about it. You will be able to firmly state your considered need for change (improvement) and at the same time see the other person’s views and needs (current and future). Finally, it helps you to involve him or her in considering new ways of interacting and agree on a clear action plan. In short, you are helped to change the behaviour of others within the overall framework of being an effective communicator.

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Seeking change in the behaviour of others
When I feel the need to change another person’s unhelpful or unwelcome behaviour, the first step before meeting with him or her is to become absolutely clear as to what the problem is for me. Next, I need to think through the process I am going to use to guide me to a successful conclusion. The second part is particularly important in a continuing relationship because there is a real need to not only help the other person change her/his behaviour but to do so in a manner which leaves both parties feeling good about the outcome. It also needs to improve the relationship! The DENIBAW process described below, achieves both of these aims. DENIBAW very closely follows the problem solving process covered in See problem solving as a Journey (refer page #). DENIBAW This process is highly effective and maintains the dignity and respect of both parties. As with all feedback, you start by gaining the other person’s attention by saying her/his name and waiting until you have established firm eye contact. This is most important.

Describe
Describe the specific actions (behaviour) which are having a negative effect on you.

Effect
Describe the effect the actions are having on you and how you feel about them. Together the above two parts (‘Describe’ and ‘Effect’) form ‘The Problem’; Covered earlier under ‘Clarify Problems’, your clarity about these two points is critical to the whole process.

Need
Clearly state that the current situation does not meet your interests and that you need to improve things. Avoid stating your preferred solution: just focus on the need for improvement. Here you are simply declaring that it IS a problem for you and that things cannot continue to be like this. You may choose to state the consequences of a failure to change, but it is likely to inflame things at this stage.

Involve
Where possible, involve the other person in exploring what they were trying to achieve by their actions and use this as a basis to clarify and list your separate views of where you want to be – the Preferred Situation.

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This is a joint investigation of the problem and the reaching of a shared view of the future. Looking at the future is an excellent way of getting the ‘buy-in’ of the other person.

Brainstorm
Jointly brainstorm a range of alternative solutions that meet your separate lists of interests. Select a solution, or combination of solutions, which best meets the listed interests. A joint search for ‘a better way’ which will meet everyone’s needs, i.e., get you to the Preferred Situation.

Agree
Agree on the plan for implementing the selected solution(s). Frequently the plan is quite simple, but you still need to be clear about it.

Write
Write down (separately or together) exactly what you have agreed to do. The contract or commitment to act This last, important step avoids the possibility of later disagreement as to what was agreed at the time. This is not an expression of distrust but rather a desire to avoid anything which could spoil the relationship at a later date. The writing down can be done in many creative ways. For instance the designing and installing of a ‘No Smoking’ sign may be all that is needed.

Learn to shift gears
Steps ‘D, E and N’ involve pure self-expression whereas step ‘I’ requires some ‘shifting of gears’ as you alternate between listening and self-expression. It is well worth practising this skill (before you need it!), by consciously focusing on your part in a conversation until you become consciously aware whether you are listening or expressing yourself.

Use DENIBAW non ‘face to face’
DENIBAW works well with telephone calls or the composing of faxes or letters. You can help ‘one way’ communications such as letters by attempting to understand the likely interests of the other party and formulating a solution which best meets both sets of perceived interests. Trust the process; it really works and is well ahead of the usual mix of emotive, half considered statements that we so often regret later on. You know, the sort of letter written when the writer is still steaming “. . . and furthermore, I doubt if your incompetent staff are capable of doing the right thing etc, etc.” Signed: “Yours, Disgruntled Customer”. There may be a case for writing this letter first and then writing the ‘real’ letter once you have cooled down and got the feelings out of your system.

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Straight after learning the process at one of my workshops, a participant used DENIBAW to compose a letter which he sent to a government department. Up to that time he had had little success. He was amazed when the department immediately wrote back to him and agreed to do what he had proposed DENIBAW in action.

Deal well with your resources
When you catch yourself feeling ‘put upon’ or believing “I have to (whatever it is)”, it is likely that your limits on the use of your resources of time, energy, privacy or space have been exceeded or ignored. This sense of a loss of control is a major cause of stress, whether from a high level short-term intrusion, or a chronic low level intrusion; either way, you need to ask the person(s) to reduce or stop what they are doing. We often assume that others know what we want because they ‘ought to’ know, but how can they know precisely how we expect to be treated if we do not actually tell them. People are unlikely to alter their behaviour unless they know that it is a problem to us and clearly understand what we want. Another common assumption is the need to go in ‘full-on’ and ‘deal to things’. Besides being unnecessary, this approach runs the risk of diminishing the power of what you have to say and may even obscure the message altogether. How many times have you heard of a person giving someone ‘a blast’ and then hearing later that the same behaviour is still going on - so what happened? There are countless cases in which the behaviour in question has gone on for years and yet the person affected by it says ‘I keep on telling her (for this read shouting, abusing, ridiculing, etc.) not to do it, but she ignores me’.

Respond appropriately
When your feelings tell you that a person’s demands on your resources are not acceptable, it is time to set limits and this can be done using the DENIBAW process. You can exclude the ‘Involve’ and ‘Brainstorm’ steps (although, you may choose to include them) because you are simply limiting, or putting a stop to behaviour which is an imposition on you. Apply this sub-set of DENIBAW at the lowest possible level of response in terms of voice and firmness of the request for change. It is highly likely that the behaviour is continuing because the other does not realise the extent of its impact upon you, in particular, how you feel about it. His/her view of the action in question could be that it is minor; for you it could have major significance. To respond well, you need to be absolutely clear as to what ‘the problem’ is for you; ‘what it is that is affecting me negatively and I need to improve’. People are not used to being dealt with in a straightforward, non-attacking manner. Consequently, your action will stand aside from the usual angry responses they receive (and let waft over their heads). You will also have room to raise the power of your request for change if the first attempt does not achieve the desired result. Be sure that what you are saying is congruent with your body language. Smiling while telling someone that you are angry considerably diminishes your words and it is absolutely not necessary to shout or even raise your voice. For maximum, and immediate effect at the ‘Need for change’ step, tell him or her to

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stop - now! And perhaps hold your hand up as a stop signal to support your request.

Maintain your independence
Our limits (actions) are based on values which may or may not be articulated. In turn, these values are based on underlying beliefs. It is not possible or necessary to logically justify a belief, and (within the context of limit-setting and effective communication) the ensuing actions. Anyway, most times it will not be at all clear what is driving your need to set a particular limit. When setting your unique limits, you do not have to explore the other’s options, check-out your decision or justify your decision - discussion may be helpful, but the limit is yours to set, independent of anyone else’s expectations. When challenged, there is no need to respond to “Aw, why don’t you want to go?” other than to simply say, “I don’t want to go”. Whether you go, or choose to have an early night, is entirely your affair and does not require an explanation. Likewise, “No-one else does that!” is irrelevant.

Always re-focus on the new problem
If the unhelpful behaviour continues after your first request or his/her agreement to change, re-focus on the new problem which is, ‘I have asked you to change and you are still doing it’. This shift in focus is very important because the original behaviour is no longer the issue. Go through the sequence again, firmly, at a low volume, and in a manner which does not demean the other person. The reality is that it is very rare indeed to reach this point due to the clarity and power of the earlier steps. Re-focusing the problem prevents a person from getting stuck in a negative or non-productive interchange. For example: Not: “Jane, I do not want you to criticise my handwriting, please stop it?” But: “Since our last discussion you have not done what we agreed/I requested regarding (describe actions) and I am feeling extremely angry that there has been no change.” Notice that the focus is on the person continuing to behave in the unhelpful manner NOT on the original behaviour.

Look behind the action
Many people encroach upon our limits when trying to be helpful and, as they see it, for the very best of reasons. Rather than become angry, a moment’s reflection may help us to see things in a different light and open up a new range of options or reactions for us - remember the Self-fulfilling Cycle again. The action could be having the opposite effect on you to that which was intended but you could still try considering the underlying purpose to the person’s actions. Be generous in your approach and separate the impact of the actions from what was intended. For instance, someone may have woken me up for work; the intent being to help me not be late. Unfortunately, the effect was that I felt very annoyed - I had the day off and was enjoying a ‘sleep in’ that morning.

You are free to change
Change your limits in response to different situations without feeling required to justify your stance: “Last night I didn’t want to go, tonight I do”. It may be helpful to deal with the negotiable elements separately, but do not confuse them with the

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non-negotiable part; for example, “I’m fine with moving the chair, but everything else must remain where it is!”. The use of partial limits such as this allows room for negotiation around aspects of conflicting interests blocking the bigger issue, but do not lose sight of the plot which is to effect a change in behaviour intruding on your needs.

Keep your power
When attempting to change behaviour there are many ways in which you can inadvertently drain away the power of what you are saying. To remain secure, well centred and in control of your actions, keep an eye on what you are saying and your reason for saying it. Be absolutely clear what the problem is. This is 90% of the journey and minimises any tendency to apologise for your part in things. Before moving on, achieve recognition that what is happening is a problem for you. Do this by drawing the focus of the discussion back to the problem until it is acknowledged. Align your actions. Ask yourself, “At this moment am I supporting or undermining my position?” Be sure to include your body language, for instance, look serious when describing how upset you were. Keep a steady focus on the behaviour of the other person. Becoming angry or abusive shifts the focus onto you and is not conducive to clear thinking. It also leads off in uncharted/unhelpful directions. Stick to the plot. By all means explore various side issues but remember the aim is to get to the end of the process.

The fear of ‘acting’
Whatever is happening is likely to continue and become more difficult to deal with if you delay. The creation of change always involves stepping outside your Comfort Zone. It requires a conscious effort to move outside your Comfort Zone, and before acting you need to carefully consider the feelings and the implications surrounding the situation. Do not use this as an excuse not to act. One manifestation of fear is paralysis, or failure to act. Feeling afraid or concerned about the possible outcome(s) of an action is quite normal. But failure to act effectively is a blow to your self-esteem and in my view, not an option. If, after due consideration of the situation, you still need the other person to look at changing his or her behaviour, then act. Taking steps to confront the other person clearly and with respect for his/her dignity does not end up in the sort of outcome that we can easily (and I still occasionally catch myself doing this) ‘catastrophise’ about. You know the one; the World War III scenario built up around someone dipping a wet spoon into the instant coffee jar - for the umpteenth time! The reality is an outcome heavily weighted towards a much improved understanding of each other’s needs and an improved working relationship. We all regularly experience fear - how we drive through it is what really matters.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. In precise words, state the purpose of DENIBAW? (carefully consider what you have written) 2. What does DENIBAW stand for? 3. When expressing myself, what are the three Guiding Principles D…, H…, A…? 4. What is meant by ‘re-focus on the new problem’? Observe 5. How effectively do people around you refuse a request for their time or resources? 6. How often do you give an excuse as a way of avoiding a request (“I have to go out that night”)? Practise 7. When you next need to request a change of behaviour, use the DENIBAW process. Note your feelings before, during and at the end of the process. 8. Focus on an opportunity to set your limits: Note how clearly you set the limits; whether you justified them because you felt ‘obliged’ to; the appropriateness of the level you used to set them. 9. List the sorts of things you tell yourself (obstacles) that effectively stop you from setting limits or requesting a change in behaviour? Work on changing these unhelpful, non-supportive beliefs.

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Manage performance appraisals

11 Manage performance appraisals
Is this meeting to help me to improve or to adjust my pay? The matter of performance appraisals is sufficiently important and strange to deserve a place of its own in the creation of the future you want. ‘Important’, because performance appraisals are responsible for creating quite a bit of damage to people’s self-esteem and their ability to conform to the needs of a group. ‘Strange’, because they are designed to have the opposite effect. Here, my aim is to highlight the major difficulties which can arise with performance appraisals and through that, lead you to develop your own ways of getting the very best out of them, either as the person conducting the process or the person receiving the feedback. Done well, performance appraisals are a major opportunity for personal growth and improved communication. You can apply the techniques employed in the performance appraisal to any situation in which one party wishes to formally feedback information to another, for instance, a contractor-customer review meeting.

Current perceptions
Performance appraisals are simply a formalised way of giving feedback and the process is used within many, if not most, organisations. Relatively large amounts of effort are put into the development of some quite sophisticated processes and even more money into their subsequent application within the organisation. Considering all that has been written about performance appraisals and the widespread adoption of their use, it would seem reasonable to suppose that they work moderately well. The reality is quite different. When I am working with groups of managers and/or other staff and the subject of performance appraisals comes up, the reactions range from laughter and ridicule to resentment or despair, the mid point being “but what can you do about it?”. The recipients of the appraisal hate receiving it and the managers or supervisors who are required to give it, hate giving it - amply evidenced by the difficulty of getting the job done on time. Generally speaking, managers do not feel comfortable about stating their true feelings on the subject because it may be seen as being negative and not career enhancing. Few people who are involved in performance appraisals, as commonly conducted, regard their impact as fair or helpful. The effects which those higher up in an organisation expect from them are rarely achieved. As a manager in a large organisation, I can still remember putting off the moment of having to confront someone at the annual performance review about her or his behaviour. When I finally got around to doing it, after much prodding from the HR manager, I did it in ways which on reflection (both immediate and later) were less than helpful. It was the same for the other managers I spoke to. So, what goes wrong? There are many parts to the answer, some of which are quite philosophical and require considerable thought about the purpose of the feedback and the linkage to remuneration. 94

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Performance review ‘turn-offs’
With performance reviews there are many things which act to diminish the effectiveness of the event and thereby discredit the overall process. The underlying focus is on money not helping the individual to improve Typically, although there is much talk about training and ‘ways in which we can help’, everyone knows that the real purpose of the meeting is to decide whether or not you are going to get a raise or a bonus. This approach tends to narrow the focus somewhat and makes it quite difficult for the recipient to ‘hear’ what is being said. The discussion is not seen within the context of helping the person to consider making changes to her or his behaviour and thereby improve his/her contribution to the team effort. To make matters worse, the grading or similar is often done within some arbitrary system which says that only so many people can be in each remuneration or bonus band. This tends to shift the focus away from reality and onto the underlying theory. If you ever feel drawn into a plausible sounding statistical theory, refer to Edwards Deming’s views on the subject. Fails to reinforce desired behaviour Frequently, management says that it values, needs and encourages a team approach to work, the ‘we must work as a team’ syndrome. They then assess and pay people on their individual contribution! These mixed messages create many aberrations in desired behaviour and can actually increase the variance of behaviour within a group: check out Deming again. Done to cover organisational or legal concerns Here the emphasis is on protecting the needs of the organisation, for instance, in the event of a subsequent dismissal. This can get to the point at which it is the over-riding concern and severely distorts the purpose of the review. This is most likely to occur in organisations with large bureaucracies. Missing the feedback skills Public speaking and the giving of feedback to someone have one thing in common many people become very anxious at the thought of having to do it. Dealings with many groups have shown that the overwhelming majority of people do not have the skills needed to give feedback which will enable the recipient to hear and consider what is being said. It is not that it is difficult to do but it does require some preparation and practice. It seems to be assumed that the person giving the feedback has somehow miraculously acquired the requisite ability; perhaps by absorption or genetically. Ritualistic rather than creative Sometimes processes are followed which may have been appropriate when they were introduced (18 years ago!). Unfortunately they may continue to be followed and fail to respond to current needs. Surely a key aspect of a review is the need to acknowledge and encourage individual creativity. Lumped into the one (yearly ?) session This is a real killer. How well can you recall what happened a year ago and did you write down things that didn’t go well for you in readiness for the review? As the

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recipient of feedback are you adequately prepared to raise and deal with all the issues surrounding the cited instances? There are several unhelpful side-effects associated with the once or twice yearly review requirement, not the least being that the information has passed its ‘use by’ date. It is difficult to remember actions and events for that long, especially the feelings surrounding them. This is even more so if the recipient has put the incident in his/her past, moved on and does not want it dredged up. The ‘mists of time’ lead to the information being summed up and generalised because it has faded in the memory, the sheer volume, or both, making it equally difficult for the recipient to make corrections. Also, because positive actions and events are not usually recorded, they are not included in the review. And last but not least, who wants to absorb all that information at one sitting! Unhelpful timing The review is set for a time that meets the needs of the busy manager. It ignores the needs of the recipient for whom it may be exactly the wrong time to get a load of, mostly negative, feedback. Only half the story The feedback usually focuses on the things that did not go well, typified in serious cases by the “I am going to be absolutely honest with you” syndrome. In this case, what you are going to get is both barrels of negative feedback. This is anything but honest because you must have been doing many helpful things as well as some unhelpful things. Another aspect is the tendency to remember or record the negatives in great detail and the positives as a general impression. The relief of positive The relief of handing out the positives (if any have been spotted) is such that the feedback is often given in a hurried, off-hand and general way along the lines of “very good work”. This lack of clarity does not leave the recipient armed with the precise information needed to refine his/her performance. Sweetening the medicine Done primarily to meet the giver’s feelings of unease at having to give negative feedback, it is common practice to ‘sweeeten’ what is coming by first giving some token positive feedback. Again, you know what is coming - when was the last time that you were called in to be given positive feedback on its own? Anticipating the negative feedback, you let the positive feedback float straight past as you brace yourself for the ‘inevitable’. This problem can be dealt with by ‘taking out the news value’. One up - ten down The very act of directly linking performance feedback to pay produces damage to the self-esteem of those who missed out. It also encourages unhelpful behaviour in those striving to ‘beat the system’ or join the lucky ones who gained recognition and reward. Again, the statistical aspect of this issue is the territory of W Edwards Deming, the American guru on statistics, quality and continuous improvement. I propose to leave you to follow up the detail by reading some of the many books which cover his teachings.

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The short story is that he is of the view that in the majority of cases, there is no method of statistically proving that a person has applied greater effort or performed significantly better than any other: did the ‘high performer’ work harder or ‘smarter’ or rather stumble upon an opportunity to shine which could not have been missed even if s/he had tried? Was the outcome simply the result of the effort of others? Perhaps it was the outcome of statistical variation. Who knows? When personal performance is linked to group performance and then to pay, the outcome can be most unhelpful. It often results in one person being rewarded and ‘turned on’ while ten others who felt that they had worked just as hard are effectively ‘turned off’ and become disenchanted. This effect is exacerbated when a manager is required to have a certain percentage of staff in each performance band because ‘that is what you can statistically expect’. I suppose that after one cycle of this, the outcome will be what was expected; that is, the manager will ensure that the required number will be in each band (unless s/he has been careless enough to have not considered his/her future).

The combined effect
When the above points are combined, as they frequently are, it is hardly surprising that performance appraisals enjoy such a poor reputation. This was another of those topics about which, for years, I believed the prevailing expert literature which talked as if the various systems worked really well, in sharp contrast to the evidence of my own ears and eyes. With current practice, people are rarely helped to consider making specific changes. The review is basically a lottery, subject to the whims and fears of the person leading it. The big three If pressed, I narrow the main causes of unhelpful reviews of performance down to three factors. 1. The person giving the feedback is unclear, and or not following, the principles guiding the process (their own or those of the organisation). 2. The real purpose of giving the feedback is unclear. 3. The review is following an undisclosed agenda (this may be the most destructive). The above three items present a lot to think about, but I strongly encourage you to come up with an answer for each.

Go for a dramatic increase
In this chapter we have highlighted the pitfalls of performance reviews to help you to consider ways of dealing with them. Whatever else you do: do not stop giving feedback to your staff or other people about their performance. In fact, dramatically increase the level of feedback, but make it high quality feedback. People crave information about how they are doing and how they are fitting in with others. As a manager Read carefully the chapters on Give feedback, Confront unhelpful behaviour and the section Create valuable meetings. Separate the giving of feedback from a discussion on pay or grading: the feedback may be given many times per year, but

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the pay review may need to be given only once per year. Think about the performance review process that you use and develop absolute clarity as to the purpose it serves and how this relates to the principles guiding the organisation’s (and your) behaviour. Adjust your feedback processes so that they meet the criteria for giving high quality feedback and practise the skills required to do it well. With regard to performance pay, one view is that the team should decide whether a member remains in the team or is required to leave. Those within the team then share the benefits or losses along with the rest, depending upon the performance of the whole team. This is one idea to stir the pot. Finally, re-read the Performance turn-offs section in this chapter. As an individual Develop your listening skills so that you can respond well to what is being said and also pay careful attention to the processes being used. Consider meeting before the main meeting to simply talk about the purpose of the review, what is going to happen, the ground rules for the meeting and ways of improving the process - yes, it can be done! Work on developing ways of receiving feedback at frequent intervals and separate it from any discussions on pay. Work with the person giving the feedback to review what happened and how the review process could be improved for next time. After all, it is only another meeting.

The role of fear
Few people admit to it, but the reason why the unhelpful processes are allowed to roll on is that people are fearful of the consequences of introducing change (from both sides of the meeting, in this case). This fear may be based on the observable behaviour of an organisation when confronted with new ideas or it may be a perception built around your own unhelpful beliefs. Either way, if you are to move forward in the creation of the future you want, you need to deal with the things that are not working for you. Acknowledge your fear, then deliberately move through it. You are not on your own in having to do this. Everyone feels fear - what sets people apart is how they deal with it. You have the skills to create the changes you want. As author Susan Jeffers says ‘feel the fear’ and use your skills - then remember to have fun and to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. Name three Performance Appraisal turn-offs? 2. The process. 3. The last thing you must do? Observe 4. How do people around you feel about their Performance Appraisal sessions? 5. List people’s ‘negatives and positives’ around their Performance Appraisal sessions. Practise 6. The next time you are involved in leading or participating in a Performance Appraisal, define and agree on the purpose and process before the appraisal begins.

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12 Resolve conflict
Two major sources of conflict are competing solutions and not seeing the person behind the label.

Reflections on conflict & negotiation
Most conflict centres around different, and often opposing, solutions. Bearing in mind the earlier chapters, I am sure that this statement will hardly come as a surprise to you. To make matters worse, it is also highly likely that those directly affected by the consequences of implementing a proposed solution, for instance, the ‘other side’, will not have had the opportunity to be involved in its planning. The result is a solution being offered about which there is little understanding or agreement as to what it is trying to solve and which leaves the person on the receiving end asking him/herself, “How will this affect me?” (checking own interests) and concentrating on this rather than on “what problem is this solution the answer to?” The ‘solutions’ dominate everyone’s thinking to such an extent that they are presented without those involved first agreeing on the problem that they are supposed to solve and with little or no discussion about each party’s interests what it is that they want from any solution they may choose to implement. With this lack of clarity, it is hardly surprising that they have difficulty reaching a settlement. Just look at your daily paper and read about virtually any industrial dispute to see what I mean - ‘we want this’, ‘no, you are getting that,’ and so on. If all that is not enough, we then add in the common failure of not ‘seeing’ the other person. We label, judge and interpret according to our preconceived ideas. Ironically, this approach is promoted as a useful tool in some negotiation skills training. Combine all of these factors and the stage is set for intensified and prolonged conflict.

Positional bargaining
Another difficulty is that when confronted with a ‘solution’, virtually everyone will very quickly (often within seconds) come up with an alternative solution which more closely meets their interests. This sets the scene for ‘positional bargaining’ in which the parties ‘slog it out’ with competing solutions (positions). Solutions also come with the unbidden attachment of emotional and historical baggage which sets the scene for feelings to run high and the potential for heated arguments. Learn to step back It is particularly difficult to attend to the process of resolving a dispute when you are emotionally involved in it. It also takes a major effort to step back out of the process and focus on what is happening. Two cats fighting at close quarters are so involved in what they are doing that they are not aware of anything around them. Neither do they have the ability to view the scene from the outside and reflect on their part in it. This ability to mentally ‘step outside’ a dispute and focus on the
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process (breaking the Self-fulfilling Cycle) is one of the abilities for successfully resolving conflict.

Pigeon-holes are for pigeons
As I mentioned in the chapter on See the person. I recently went to a seminar on negotiation skills and was, to say the least, quite disappointed to find the practice of labelling of people being promoted as an effective negotiation tool. The idea is to look at the ‘opposing’ people and fit them into neat little categories. I had a choice of classifying them as an Owl, Peacock, Dove or Eagle (it was allowed that some people may unhelpfully straddle the assigned groups). Once the other person has been classified (I call it pigeon-holed) you then proceed to deal with them in a predetermined way. The same thing happened many years ago when I was at a management training course. I was told that at every meeting you had a time-keeper, stirrer, gatekeeper, joker, etc. and that there was a certain way to deal with these people. To move forward we need to stop. Stop putting up filters and barriers which prevent us from seeing the person behind them. Stop imposing our view or interpretation of behaviour onto the other person. Stop assuming what is going on for others. These practices probably say more about the person doing the labelling than the person being labelled. I have run many meetings with many different and differing groups of people and I find that people respond directly to the manner in which I deal with them. At one meeting a person may be quite anxious about time, at the next, time is not an issue for them: are they to be labelled as a ‘timekeeper - forever? At another meeting, a person is frowning and grumpy (a close relative has just died); is s/he to be classed as an Eagle? Why not simply find out what is going on for that person and help him or her to deal with it. Once I have classified a person in a particular way I will only see behaviour that fits that mould and strangely, the person will oblige me by responding accordingly.

Towards better negotiation
Look around
To see many of the above things happening, just look at ‘employer - union’ or other high level negotiations. They are usually a farce, positions are fixed, people are pigeon-holed, roles are set, the Win-Lose (legal style) communication outcome is selected and then they seriously call it ‘negotiation’. The people involved know what is happening, but they don’t seem to know how to get out of it - not unlike the previously mentioned cats! It is more like a Noh play than serious negotiation. After attending one of my workshops, a senior Industrial Relations Negotiator vowed never to negotiate in that way again.

Make a conscious decision to change
Negotiating in new ways, besides moving you out of your Comfort Zone, requires a conscious decision to move away from the confrontational approach to resolving issues and trying radically different approaches to working and negotiating with others. Centre your efforts on involving everyone in the Problem Solving Journey, applying the skills covered in this book, developing clear behavioural guidelines and generating a large amount of creativity.
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Move the goal posts
Whenever you find yourself starting to get heated over an issue, it is certain that you are focusing on competing solutions or ‘positions’ based on limiting beliefs. Stop! Let go of your favoured solution and focus instead on ways in which you can establish points of contact. This ‘moving of the goal-posts’ away from arguing over differing positions (solutions) and focusing instead on points of contact, quickly takes the heat out of the situation and opens up ways of bridging the gap between people and groups.

Throw over some ‘communication lifelines’
When the crew of one ship wants to get a rescue line over to another, they do not start by firing over a heavy hawser. If they did, it is likely that it would kill someone or slice a limb off; never mind the shear difficulty of getting such a heavy line across. Instead, they start with a lightweight line and then use that to haul over heavier lines until they are able to get the main line over. Much the same principle applies when two parties in deep conflict are trying to get together. Start by throwing over some Communication Lifelines to the other person, some points of contact. Used to establish a sense of shared interest, these points provide the opportunity to develop a lasting and satisfying resolution of conflict. Start by agreeing on what the problem is - for more detail on this, refer to the earlier chapter Clarify Problems. Next, develop a mutual understanding of the problem, its history, the events and actions that have taken place, any hard data you have, and of course, the feelings surrounding the situation. Having dealt with the problem end of the Problem Solving Journey, move to the right hand side and work on defining the Preferred Situation. Do this by acknowledging each other’s interests in a combined list covering everyone’s wants and needs, perhaps their concerns about how the change will be handled and their feelings about the future they want. Finally, brainstorm a range of solutions which could achieve the Preferred Situation. Do this without special attachment to a particular idea - just let your imagination wander. Look at that - so many solid points of shared work and understanding, and not an agreed solution in sight! Once established, these contact points make it much easier to move to the next stage at which a solution (or a combination of solutions) which most closely covers everyone’s interests is jointly selected. This is possible because by now the ‘lifelines’ have enabled everyone to develop a common view of the situation and broken the communication deadlock. Take care to apply the problem solving and communication skills of listening and self-expression to even the simplest of conflicts. Small issues can trigger, or gradually develop, into more serious disputes. Understand the problem and agree on where you prefer to be before debating the solutions.

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Conflict at meetings
At meetings conflict can arise in many ways. Most is relatively easy to deal with using basic listening and feedback skills. Other conflict may require a little more effort and the use of your DENIBAW skills.

Common sources of conflict
A common source of conflict is related to our old friend, the solution. People trying to express ‘problems’ are being met with ‘solutions’ and people trying to express solutions (at the appropriate time) are being met with competing solutions. These can both be dealt with by helping everyone to focus on what the problem is and where they want to get to. Then you can move on to generate a shared list of possible solutions. The same people habitually arriving late create a lot of heat because others are either held up and the meeting flow is disturbed. In one case I encountered, the worst offenders were the directors of the company - the same people who had earlier told me that a key company value was timeliness! Conflict can simmer through one or even successive meetings eventually leading to a ‘blow-up’. Very often, little real listening goes on and there is a lot of domineering or aggressive behaviour. People: grab air-time by cutting-off or talking over the top of others; start side-discussions, or undermine the value (and participation) of others with snide remarks or jokes. All of this behaviour would break most meeting ground rules - and the good news is that it can all be comfortably dealt with by applying the skills covered in this book.

Three approaches
Fundamentally, you can deal with conflict at meetings in three ways address the problem on the spot; deal with it later, outside the meeting; anticipate the event by carefully attending to how the meeting is to be run. Some behaviour may need to be dealt with several times, perhaps once during the meeting, and if it persists, again after the meeting using DENIBAW. You may also need to change the Ground Rules.

Plan ahead
Without a doubt, the least stressful and most effective approach is to prevent conflict by taking preventative measures such as careful attention to the planning of the meeting processes. Conflict can still arise but it will be much less often and usually at a lower level of distress. It sounds easy, and it is, once you have done your planning. For more detail on this have a look at the section Create valuable meetings. The most powerful measure for preventing conflict is to clarify and agree on the Ground Rules - this is your mandate for controlling behaviour out of line with what people have agreed. Once people have spent time focusing on how they intend to behave, the behaviour in question rarely arises because everyone is acutely aware of what is required and has bought into the rules. Notwithstanding that, if you do have to flag behaviour it usually suffices to deal with it at a very low level of power.

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In the same vein, openly discussing and agreeing on overall operating processes such as decision-making and reviewing how a meeting went has a major impact on its operation. The setting of Ground Rules is closely followed by attention to the business process items of the meeting, items such as building or reviewing the agenda at the start of the meeting, setting agenda priorities, and monitoring meeting progress. These are done in conjunction with the basic skills of paying attention to clarifying problems, jointly working on solutions, and developing action points. Also, do not forget the post meeting conflict flashpoints of putting plans into action, monitoring their progress and revising the agreed plans.

Deal directly with the conflict
The earlier chapters in the book present you with a toolbox containing all the skills you need to deal well with: Conflict; Listening; Problem Clarification; Problem Solving; Feedback, DENIBAW, Limit-setting. The processes do work. They are in use on an everyday basis in all sorts of situations - the essence is: don’t debate whether they work, debate how you are going to make them work - for you and everyone else! Apply your skills appropriately. For instance, rather than confront unhelpful behaviour at the meeting, it may be more appropriate to arrange to meet the person involved after the meeting to discuss what happened. Set aside a specific time to do this rather than doing it ‘on the run’. Take your time to review the actions and events - the problem - before acting. When conflict arises, make a special effort to focus on the resolution process and use your listening skills, especially if you are the one feeling attacked, challenged, unsure, or embarrassed. Another instance of listening being most needed when it is most difficult to do.

The key to ‘shared gains, mutual respect’ negotiation
Of all the difficulties facing people in negotiation, what are the keys to achieving an outcome acceptable to all parties? For me the answer has to be having a clear and agreed Problem Statement and Preferred Situation, a genuine willingness (based on shared up-front values) to work together towards a mutually satisfactory outcome, and a steady focus on an agreed negotiation process. Short story – pay careful attention to the process and less to the content.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. Many conflicts arise as a result of stands being taken on competing . . . 2. What measures can you take before a meeting to prevent/minimise conflict? 3. Name the three ‘communication lifelines’? 4. What are the keys to negotiating shared success? Observe 5. Listen to a disagreement that is going on around you, or that you are involved in, and decide which basic communication skill is used least but which should be used most. 6. How well is conflict handled at the meetings you attend? Comment on the types of behaviour that you consider to be unhelpful and how often they arise during the course of a meeting. Practise 7. Use active listening next time you are faced with a conflict of interest. Describe what happened, the outcome and how you felt.

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PART 4 DEVELOP SYNERGY

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13 Lead change
A leader shapes and shares a vision which gives point to the work of others. Charles Handy

Why bother?
True leadership unifies the efforts of individuals, creates synergy and focuses the group effort on achieving an agreed goal. Quite different to simply getting a group of people to work alongside each other, leadership requires vision and a close attention to the processes which foster synergy and focused effort. Considering the things that go on internally in many organisations, it strikes me as remarkable that they still manage to generate a profit. They appear to grow in spite of their efforts. To put it another way, if they really did develop synergy amongst their people the organisation would be unstoppable! A senior manager in a very large commercial organisation said to me, “It beats me how we managed to make a profit considering what goes on here”. (This was said as an afterthought after she had just finished describing some of the things going on internally). I am regularly confronted with tales of senior management saying that they value certain behaviour and then behaving in a totally different way. Even in high profile organisations, I encounter serious mis-matches between the stated stance and the actual behaviour of senior management. It shows in the unwillingness of these people to spend time working on the very things that give them so much trouble and claim to value. Blatantly obvious to everyone else in the organisation they keep on pointing it out to me - the executives seem to be unaware of this lack of congruence; a very unfortunate and destructive state of affairs. The result is a huge loss of credibility in the eyes of those who care and a mandate to follow suit for those who don’t. Add this to the usual relationship issues of hidden agendas, competition for jobs, personal feuds, organisational politics and so on that inevitably arise in any grouping of people, and the scene is set for a potentially less than optimum result. A sort of negative synergy! Much of the confusion, stress and dysfunction in organisations arises from the gap between what managers say they value and their own behaviour. Organisations are filled with many people wanting to be involved in useful, satisfying, creative activity. They are willing to create better ways of doing things, to put in extra effort, to really make things go. Unfortunately, this store of energy, initiative and talent is thwarted by the very systems supposedly set up to release it. Much of the effort is expended beating the systems frustrating their ability to do the job well. I have seem some amazingly creative ideas used to by-pass unhelpful (some would say bureaucratic) restrictions

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- if only they had been able to directly channel that energy into achieving the organisation’s goals. What a waste, and worse, look around at the low levels of participation and ‘turned off’ people.

Ideas
An extensive study tour of high performing organisations in Australia and the USA revealed some interesting points that as a leader (at whatever level) you should consider. Your people Open communications in all directions (especially up and down). Strongly focus on improving relationships among all groups. Integrate the needs of the business, people, home and society. Treat them as an asset - you invest in your assets. Your systems Organise everything around the customer & dismantle organisational barriers. Identify and optimise ‘value-added process chains’. Design them to reinvent themselves in response to external demands. Benchmark key processes (do this internally and with groups outside the business or industry). Construct business information systems which support people when making decisions and doing the job in ‘the new way’. Your practices Develop shared values to guide everyone’s behaviour. Move towards teambased work and high levels of employee involvement. Encourage a willingness to share technical information and skills. Help everyone to overcome major setbacks in the High Performance journey. Ensure everyone shares business information and reaches decisions in ‘the new way’.

Encourage people to use information to make decisions and do the job in ‘the new way’.

These things do not come about by chance. They require very careful attention to leadership style, people processes, and the skills which underpin the development of a culture which enables the organisation to constantly work on these issues. In the large majority of organisations the prevailing culture has simply been left to develop like an unkempt hedge and there is little awareness that it is even an issue. The culture can be described by anyone within the organisation, but it was not planned. It is unlikely that it will be optimal and it will definitely not match the official company view of things as handed out to new employees.

Again - why bother?
For those who are unaware of a need to change, there is no reason. For the others, they see the benefits of a learning, synergistic organisation in its ability to learn from the past, re-invent itself quickly, and respond in new and creative ways

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to external forces. True High Performance! A critical contributor to this ability is clear, consistent leadership.

Leadership versus management
“I’ve never needed to remind an employee to act in an empowered way when they are at home, so what happens when they come to work?” A Chief Executive Traditionally, the art of the manager has been described as the planning, organisation, controlling and supervising of activities. This approach seems to be based on the assumption that people are essentially paid to use their hands and not their brains. A leader on the other hand is constantly communicating, visualising, conceptualising, sharing knowledge, encouraging learning and attending to process. S/he is totally focused on helping people to take control to the best of their abilities and harmonising the needs of the organisation with the needs of its people - this is a fundamentally different philosophy to that which supports ‘managing’ people. Group styles There are many group styles operating in society, most having a concentration of power and responsibility with one person or small group at the top of a pyramid; a style represented by traditional churches, the armed forces, most large corporations, schools and universities. In certain circumstances, an autocratic style of operation may be appropriate, for example, in the military. However, this style is unlikely to unleash the full creative potential and power of each individual. I asked an academic contracted to a large US university if the management structure was autocratic. “No,” he said, “it’s more akin to a monarchy!” The group’s School of Business was operating very much like a ‘fifth column’; it was (and still is) okay to preach the ‘new way’ to the outside world but it has had no effect on the internal structure or power sharing processes: another example of senior management thinking. The old ways still rule! An interesting consequence of the above situation is the gap developing between the structure students operate under at university and the structure they are likely to encounter in the workplace. Already, one very advanced New Zealand workplace finds that students straight from university have greater difficulty adapting to a non-traditional structure than people who have worked in a traditional workplace for many years. This is not the effect that the universities claim to produce. The connection has not been made that people learn more from what you do (model) than what you say. For good reason there is a shift towards the cooperative, self-directed functioning of people as a way of breaking out of the old ‘pyramid style’ of ‘direct and control’. Leading organisations are developing into learning, responsive, satisfying, organisations which use their ‘human assets’ to the full. One, very large, US multi-national neatly summed up this approach by: “Our people are an asset and we invest in our assets”. I prefer to be treated as an asset rather than a resource!

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Choosing a style
It is commonly assumed that leadership styles range somewhere between being an autocrat (concentrated power) or losing control (diffused power). This is not necessarily so, there is another option out to one side of this line; that of shared power. The options and their characteristics are illustrated in the chart on Leadership Styles. Not intended to be complete, the list of characteristics is merely a pointer (and stirrer) to some of the issues involved. Where are you? When making a choice as to which style best suits your needs, do not feel compelled to reside at any of the extremes. Consider the points in between. The real key is to make a conscious decision about where you want to be and then communicate that decision to everyone in the organisation. Here are a few areas to consider when making your decision. Level of learning Clarity of purpose Meeting of individual needs Sharing of knowledge Individual accountability Adaptability of structure Speed of decision-making Sharing of power Implementation of decisions Use of group wisdom Level of customer focus Development of trust Resolution of conflict Level of participation Clarity of outcomes Flexibility of response Degree of synergy Sharing of information

Loss of power A common and often raised concern about shared power is that of loss of power by the leader or the person in charge. It probably comes about through a particular view of the world, a fixation with one organisational model. This story was told to a group I was with when visiting a heavy engineering plant in Australia. The plant had suffered a history of serious and on-going industrial strife, with frequent wildcat strikes and a lot of ill-feeling - to put it mildly. However over several years the plant had been steadily introducing radical changes to its structure and workplace operating practices. The changes involved working closely with everyone on site and had led to a formal ‘consultative committee’ being formed comprising union leaders, direct operators and members of the management team. From our discussion with the General Manager and members of the committee, it became very clear that the majority of the operational decisions were not being made by the GM but by the committee. We asked the GM how he felt about this apparent loss of power. He laughed and said “You must be joking! Any power I used to think I had was illusory. In ‘the old days’ (pre-reform) on a Friday morning, I would look out of my office window to the carpark. If I saw cars towing caravans or trailers, or perhaps some cars with fishing rods on the roof, I knew that a sudden strike was likely. Sure enough, some issue would erupt and be used as a pretext for a strike. If a customer then rang in wanting to know what had happened to his/her order, I was left ‘carrying the can’, trying to sort things out. No chance!

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“These days this doesn’t happen. Now I really do have power. The power to confidently give customers a delivery date, to quickly sort out problems, to guide improvements in what we do. The load is shared with those who have the means to make things happen.” As for one of the union officials (close to retirement age) who used to lead the strikes, he can hardly believe the changes that have come about - both in the plant and in his own behaviour. He now flies around the country promoting ‘the new way’ - he’d never been in an aeroplane up until then. When you talk of ‘power’, ask yourself, ‘the power to do what?’. Personal choices When considering your leadership style make a conscious decision rather than just stumbling into a style. Be absolutely clear about your personal Guiding Principles and what it is that is driving your choice of style. These decisions will lead to clarity and consistency in your actions which, besides being a real relief to those working with you, will enable them to respond in ways which contribute positively to the working relationship.

Facilitation & leadership
The purpose of facilitation is to enable people to work and interact in ways which produce the optimum result and to do this through the application of clear and agreed processes. There is a widely held assumption that the leader of a group is automatically the person who should facilitate the group’s meetings. It is not essential, and can even be unhelpful to the process, if the group leader facilitates his/her own meeting, surely it is far better to select some other person to do this and then sit back, enjoy the process, have the luxury of being able to focus on the subject matter, and then make a well considered contribution to the meeting. The facilitator can come from another section, organisation, or wherever; so long as he or she has the appropriate skills - not technical knowledge. Technical knowledge has little to do with being able to facilitate really good meeting outcomes. Among the many advantages of using someone from another area within the organisation to facilitate your meetings, you help to foster understanding between the groups concerned. The facilitator is helped to develop management skills and a broad view of the organisation’s operation. For more information on facilitation, refer to the chapter on ‘Create valuable meetings’.

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Self assessment

Recall
1. Describe three limits of leadership style? 2. Name four characteristics of each style. 3. When considering or selecting a style, what sort of things do you need to consider? 4. In management behaviour their is a gap between ‘ . . .’ and ‘. . .’ which often leads to a high degree of stress and organisational dysfunction. Observe 5. Describe in detail the leadership style of meetings you attend and of the Chief Executive. How well do the observed styles contribute to the goals set? Practise 6. Which leadership characteristics do you value and where do you see your style on the triangle? 7. Think of two actions which will reflect your values (identified above) at the next meeting you attend.

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Leadership Styles

Diffused power & responsibility

Concentrated power & responsibility

Characteristics

Characteristics

Confusion over purpose & direction No evidence of structure or accountability Difficult to get a clear decision ‘Finger-pointing’/mistakes buried General feeling of powerlessness Decisions slow & ineffective Disinterest & resentment about decisions High risk of wrong decision High participation-little effect Loudest voice wins Hidden agendas Less able lose heart Unclear working processes Intense frustration, conflict & criticism Negative synergy from groupwork Endless debates about group processes Little personal development High effort/low output

Shared power & responsibility
Characteristics Group sets purpose and direction Agreed accountabilities Open & agreed power sharing Decisions can be slower but work Open & agreed decision-making processes Loudest voice is tempered by process Mistakes are acknowledged and analysed Less able are encouraged High, cooperative, group involvement Rules used to support group effort Constructive challenging is encouraged High synergy through use of group wisdom Personal development is critical Conflict resolved through agreed processes

One person sets purpose/direction Rigid structure & processes Clear accountability ‘Finger-pointing’/mistakes buried Power is assumed or taken Many feel powerless & pressured Focus on clear, quick decisions High risk of wrong decision Low participation/high resentment Loudest voice wins Hidden decisions & agendas Less able fall by the wayside Little attention to group processes High frustration & conflict No debate about group processes Disagreement seen as ‘negative’ Personal development not an issue

(In terms of outcomes, there is little to pick between Diffused and Concentrated Power)

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Perhaps the true leader, aware of the implications, moves creatively within a pyramid built on the base of these three extremes

The Shared Power style is well suited to the development of a

Learning organisation
Characteristics Aim is continuous learning High focus on personal learning Seeks out knowledge Focuses on growth Ideas & feelings considered/accepted Mistakes treated as part of learning process Open disagreement seen as healthy Challenging of established ways is encouraged Knowledge is shared Able to respond quickly & in new ways Change seen as creating opportunities Re-invents itself in response to external environment

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14 Make helpful decisions
One of life’s pleasures is that sense of relief felt when a decision has finally been made Decision-making offers you the opportunity to dramatically alter your future and even the so-called ‘little decisions’ can introduce quite unexpected changes in your life. It is really important that you develop the art of making decisions for yourself and with groups. Collectively, the decisions you make reveal where you truly want to be rather than where you say you want to be. This may be a flash of the blindingly obvious, but many people operate as if they have little influence over their destiny. They see themselves as merely the victims of providence. Your decisions reflect your beliefs. If you believe that you don’t deserve to succeed, then you will act (make decisions) in ways which, subtly and not so subtly, enable you to fulfil your beliefs. Life is helpful like that! Almost by definition, decisions which move you forward also move you out of your Comfort Zone. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable and to enjoy the challenge it all comes with the territory.

First of all, get the basics right
Check out your beliefs Everything you consider is viewed through the fine mesh of your (and in some cases, a whole group’s) beliefs. You will not have far to look for evidence of this happening, either personally or in groups. Look at what happens with some of the more fanatical groups - their decisions are certainly coloured by their beliefs. Your beliefs are just as deeply ingrained and they work to narrow your perceived options. It is vital that you spring-clean your mind, check out your beliefs, and replace them with more helpful ones. Make sure that you understand the problem Wonderful solution (decision) - pity it did not fit the problem. If you are not absolutely clear which problem your solution is the answer to, check it out. The business of understanding the problem has been covered in depth in the first two chapters. … and where you want to be Become quite clear as to where you want to be. Once you are really sharp about what matters and what doesn’t, it is relatively easy to reach the decision most closely aligned to your real needs. One symptom of being unclear about where you are going is the, “Oh, I’m not sure, I had been thinking of doing (x), but maybe this is better - what do you think?”. If you are not sure what your real needs are, how can anyone else help you decide whether or not a decision is really in line with them?

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Sort out your priorities and the decisions will fall into line. There will still be a few difficult choices, but they will probably be between clearly identified and competing needs. Even these can usually be addressed in creative ways. Check your position on the journey? Before moving on to the point at which you need to make a decision, check out where you are on the Problem Solving Journey. In particular, have you really brainstormed and considered a range of options? Have you examined in depth the pros and cons of the favoured options? Finally, remind yourself that if you think that there is only one option - you do not understand the problem. Leave space for the new solution A few years ago, I was work-shopping some problems with a group of senior managers. We soon became aware that with regard to their weekly and monthly management meetings, not one person enjoyed them or found them to be particularly useful. The meetings were variously described as ‘a waste of time’, ‘frustrating’, and the like. One manager memorably summed up the weekly meeting as ‘the Chief Executive’s attempt to build a team’ and the monthly meeting (expanded to include more line managers), as ‘the Chief Executive’s attempt to build a bigger team’. To everyone’s relief this elicited a huge laugh, especially from the Chief Executive. The interesting thing was that no one could think beyond the current system of meetings and they were not game to tinker with the Chief Executives creation - they were locked into the old thinking. Fortunately, the Chief Executive saw what was happening and in a flash of inspiration, announced on the spot that the management meetings were to be no more. Instantly, people were saying ‘how will we handle (topics X,Y,Z) now that we aren’t meeting anymore?’. There was also a tangible feeling of relief and a freeing-up of thinking - a space had been created for a new approach. Moreover, something that for years had been a source of frustration, had gone. The short story is ‘if it isn’t working, stop doing it’ - now!

Watch out for the two parts
There are two parts to any decision: the rational data aspect; and how you feel about the decision. Always be sure that any decision you make ‘feels right’. You gain information in many ways, some of it intuitively, some by perception (body language and so on), some of it in the form of data. The total is then screened through your beliefs to result in how you feel about the decision. Obviously, the data has to look right, but do not let this rational aspect override how you feel about what you are about to do. Complete all the analytical ‘thinking’ part, then step back and check how your decision feels. If a nagging doubt is creeping in or it does not feel right, then do not do it - you have probably missed some aspect that has not yet filtered through to become clear at the conscious level. Mentally go back through the steps of the Problem Solving Journey, re-visit the input sources, kick around all of the information you have considered, and pay

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particular attention to whether the decision will best contribute to your real needs. If it still does not feel right, back off until it does. Any intuitive feeling of unease or uncertainty should not be confused with the feelings of excitement and fear associated with stepping into new territory. A good decision feels right - fraught with difficulties maybe - but right. Leave space for your feelings There have been many times when, to my later regret, I ignored the little voice of self-talk that was saying that all was not well. Looking back I would realise that I had known at the time that it was the wrong decision but had chosen to ignore the warning signs. Accepting the validity of your feelings and then creating a space to allow this information to bubble to the surface is a good start. A quick sanity check here: remember that the decision to do nothing is a decision, not a default state.

Let go of the fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision
From my reading and discussions with leaders of successful organisation, a decision-making success rate of more than six out of ten, seems to be considered good going indeed. This means that you can expect to make quite a few ‘wrong’ decisions - and bear in mind that to make wrong decisions you actually have to make decisions. That last bit was said a little bit ‘tongue in cheek’, nevertheless, we are taught at school and later that making mistakes is wrong. Yet, to make good decisions we need to allow ourselves to make ‘poor’ decisions. Mind you, the judgement as to whether they are poor is usually made after the event! Another aspect, nicely addressed by Susan Jeffers in her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, is that when you make one decision in favour of another you are simply selecting a different experience: your decision rarely pans out the way you expected and anyway, you can always change it. You may as well relax, do your homework, make sure that the choice feels right, and then go with the flow as new opportunities and ideas reveal themselves all as a direct result of your decision.

Regain a sense of control
Sometimes so much is going on, or surrounding events are so overwhelming, it seems futile to make any decision. Peter Hillary, the mountaineer, was descending K2 in an incredibly fierce storm. Somehow he located and clipped onto fixed ropes needed to negotiate a particularly difficult section. Then the storm hit with even greater force and he was blown around like a rag doll on a string repeatedly being flung against the mountain face. He felt totally at the mercy of the weather and caught himself thinking of all the ways he might die. Suddenly he realised that even though he was subject to the effects of huge forces, if he was to survive then he needed to focus on his immediate environment and those things that he could control. This realisation probably saved his life; without it he would have likely given up and succumbed to the power of the storm.

Choose a decision-making model
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of course, whether the whole thing is conducted in secret or openly. Use the model most suited to a given decision. It is not a matter of right or wrong, just what is most appropriate for the situation or group at that time. Here is a brief description of the more popular.

Majority vote Choose to define what you mean by ‘majority’ - a simple majority of more than half the votes, a two thirds majority and so on. Just make sure that it is clear. Unanimous A clear-cut situation. Everyone whole-heartedly agrees - no ifs and buts or reservations. Be careful not to confuse this with the consensus model. Consensus Consensus involves members of the group carefully working through and discussing the issues to the point at which each person can comfortably agree to a particular course of action. Failure to reach this point means that the proposal lapses. The agreed action may not be one that a particular person would have chosen on his or her own, however, in the interests of the wider group, the person has decided that s/he can live with it. This decision is not made in a resentful way and the person does not feel, in any way, to have been coerced into agreeing. Each member of the group willingly accepts the decision as the best for the group. Consensus decision-making requires very careful facilitation and the checking of any reservations a person may have about the decision: it helps the person with the reservations to work through them and there is usually more to be learnt from the reservations and concerns than from enthusiastically endorsing the popular view. Take real care to ensure that each person is heard. Custom-designed Here the world is your oyster. The main issue is to ensure that everyone understands and agrees with whatever is decided. Sometimes the fun of agreeing on the process, makes the business of agreeing on the actual issue, a whole lot easier - probably because you found something to agree on as a warm-up to the main event. Leader decides With this one. Be sure that everyone is absolutely clear that the leader will make the final decision. In a team situation, the risk is that each time this option is exercised it can diminish the perceived power of the team and undermine their sense of responsibility, involvement and trust, which, once lost, can take a long time to win back. ‘Oh! We never actually thought about it.’ Very popular with small committees, project groups and the like, this model is arrived at by default. Failure to make a decision on the decision-making model is a decision in itself. Whatever process the group drops into, the lack of clarity often leads to arguments and ill-feeling. The time taken to discuss and agree on a model (before the decision is made) is minor compared to the time required to sort out the arguments surrounding how the decision was made. 118

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Help groups to avoid decision-making traps
A major part of decision-making is working with or helping groups to reach useful decisions. Many frustrations associated with group decision-making arise out of the process (or lack of) followed to make the actual decision. These decision-making traps broadly fall into three groups: (1) there was no evidence of a process; (2) the process being followed was only known to a few members of the group; (3) the chosen process did not deliver the most helpful outcome. The ‘no-process’ trap Having groups amble around not making a decision, or arguing about how a particular decision was reached, is a painful process. A point is reached at which people are craving for a decision to be made - any decision! The loudest voice will probably be getting the most air-time and tempers will be getting a little frayed. It is likely that what is then decided will be done out of sheer frustration and not what is really needed. If you suspect that this is happening, interrupt the proceedings and ask what the decision-making process is. If it then becomes clear that there isn’t one in operation, gain agreement on a helpful decision-making process and see that it is followed. You will become everyone’s friend! The ‘pipped at the post’ trap I used to find this situation especially frustrating until I developed the skills to deal with it. Here, the group leader or a select group of people ‘in the know’, have agreed on the process or decision in advance. The meeting is called to ‘rubber stamp’ it, even though the meeting was ostensibly called to discuss/evaluate/whatever. Another approach, is the leader deciding to ‘take responsibility’ for the decision, thus making the rest of the group ‘irresponsible’ and therefore not having a vote. Many years ago, , I was invited to attend a meeting along with a hundred or so other parents at my daughter’s school called ‘to decide on (a major issue)’. It became evident that the board had “. . . assumed the mandate given to us and acted responsibly.” At this point I decided that it was time to interrupt the proceedings - the board was simply selling their decision to the parents. The chairman was not too happy when I raised the matter with him during his speech. The frustration is due to the process not becoming evident until the point at which the decision is being made or revealed (sometimes it is even ‘announced’ to the group at a later time). As a member of an executive management team, I used to feel quite angry when on several occasions, I discovered that I had been called in to a meeting under false pretences. I thought that I was involved in reaching an important decision, whereas in reality, I (and the rest of the team) was cut-out at the last moment. Declare the process at the outset: that way people’s expectations are not raised. In some cases, an autocratic decision may be justified (in a true team situation this statement is suspect), but at least, tell people that they are only being consulted or sold to and explain why you feel the need to do it.

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The sub-optimising trap If the chosen process delivered a helpful outcome and the group was happy with the decision, why worry? Because the group may not have arrived at the optimum solution missing out on the opportunity to reach a cheaper, faster or more effective solution. Following of the problem solving process described earlier could have prevented this. If the group considered and agreed upon a particular process in a manner that met everyone’s needs, then whether or not it is ‘correct’ or ‘the best’ may not be as important as having everyone in harmony. A bit of mature judgement is involved here.

What style?
Another ‘blinding flash of the obvious’ for me was the realisation that I did not have to make a choice to go with one decision-making style forever - I could choose the method which best suited each specific situation. This was a major relief. Now if I wanted to make the decision on my own I could do so, without the team thinking that that was the way I would be handling all decisions. I know that it sounds intensely obvious, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it was an option. A major team-building opportunity is to discuss the various decision-making options available and to decide which model to use for each situation. For instance, if a decision has to be made which could have severe implications for the viability of a private organisation, then the owner may wish to reserve the right to veto any decision. This is not a matter of right or wrong, simply a matter of understanding and agreement.

Self assessment
Recall 1. Describe three decision-making models. 2. What is ‘Consensus’ decision making? 3. What is the connection between decision-making and the Self-fulfilling Cycle? Observe 4. Describe in detail the decision-making process of the next meeting you attend. 5. How could the process have been improved? Practise 7. Develop a process which will help a group to reach, and confirm that it has reached, mutual acceptance of a decision

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15 Enable people to be responsible
Work on giving people responsibility (and pride). (A delegation memory jogger)

Background
It is fine to operate as a free, entrepreneurial spirit, but at some time, you will need to delegate tasks to people who can help you on your way to personal or work goals. Effective delegation involves a conscious move from looking inwards to looking to the needs of others and then to an even broader view: that of ‘helping others to grow’. A shift in focus Focusing on the other person gives quite a different slant to the way in which the delegation process is managed. Our ability to organise and manage our own activities has to be balanced with other skills when it comes to working on tasks that need the willing, committed and involved support of others. To contribute to your plans, people need a clear understanding of the task to be done, how it will contribute to your goals and how it will benefit them. In addition, an operating basis of mutual respect needs to be established.

Create mutual respect
‘Establishing a basis of mutual respect’ is one aspect of delegation which needs special attention due to its severe impact on the outcomes. When people with professional qualifications or with specialised knowledge, work alongside people who are not privy to membership of the group, there can be, and very often is, a situation in which the ‘others’ are not given due respect and recognition for their contribution to the overall effort. You are probably wondering, ‘who is he referring to?’. Well, it happens with many groups, but typical examples are lawyers, scientists, pilots, doctors, engineers. The problem is especially pronounced in large organisations. The professionals often see themselves as the reason why everyone else is there (which in one sense is often true). However, the professional would not be able to do what s/he does without the expert support of others. In other words, s/he is a part of a process, not the top of a delivery pyramid - two quite different views which have an enormous impact on the approach to the delegation of tasks. Mind the gap The gap between the above groups can show up in many ways and present a major barrier to a truly shared approach to reaching a goal. It is a range of behaviours, which collectively, show a lessening of respect for ‘non-members’. An interesting aspect is that the behaviour is invisible from ‘the inside or top’ (until it is pointed out), but highly visible to those on the ‘outside’.

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Such an environment complicates the successful delegation of tasks and leads to the receiver saying “Well if that is what they want that is what they will get” not exactly the best way of getting to the best result. It also breeds real resentment towards the actions of those wanting to delegate tasks. Incidentally, this matter has a lot in common with the problems people experience when they encounter a sexist approach to the allocation of tasks. In combination, the two can be quite devastating. There are, of course, many examples which contradict what I have said and I congratulate the people who have made the effort to break the barriers down. Having said that, do not assume that all is well in your ‘neck of the woods’; it takes some care to find out the real situation.

Deal with the barriers
There are many things which get in the way of effective delegation. The main ones are: ‘The gap’ mentioned above; People being unclear as to what needs to be done; Unwillingness of the recipient to ‘take a chance’(usually due to the prevailing culture); Confusion about the level of performance required. In short, if any of the above barriers apply to you (from either side), constructively confront them and treat them as an opportunity to use the skills covered in this book, for example Problem Solving and DENIBAW. Another major barrier is the imposing of a time limit without any discussion of the problem the limit may address. This can be very frustrating for a person who has already scheduled his/her work and has to make major changes without being clear about the true necessity of the time limit. The frustration is sometimes exacerbated by finding out later that the delivered work was not acted upon until some time past the given deadline. It seems strange that the urgency is often coupled with delayed use - maybe it is to do with the time-limit being seen as the quick ‘solution’ when in fact it was not the solution at all. Supervisors and team leaders For supervisors and team leaders, it is a special challenge to create an environment which anticipates and minimises barriers and deal effectively with any that they spot.

Enable responsibility
At the head of this chapter, I wrote Work on giving people responsibility, a sentence summarising the steps needed for effective delegation. In fact it is more than a handy memory aid, it is also a reminder that there are many people just waiting for the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and take on additional responsibilities. These people, keen to contribute to your success, need to know how they can best make that contribute. Here are four steps which will get you on the way - it is another case of being mind-numbingly simple to do, but often neglected.

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Work. Define what it is that you want to delegate. Describe the task in sufficient detail for the recipient to fully understand how to go about it. Identify and discuss any handy hints and define the limits. Outcomes. Clarify the outcome you want to achieve. What exactly will the output of your efforts comprise: a report, a widget, a person able to handle problems? Whenever possible, provide an example or sample showing the key points. Guiding Principles. Agree on how you will behave within the working relationship. The setting of Guiding Principles is easily the most important aspect of task delegation and yet it is rarely attended to. Care in this area yields huge dividends. It lessens the detail you need in the job description and increases the confidence with which the recipient will be able to handle the unexpected. It will also provide a reference point for any discussion of actual behaviour compared to agreed behaviour. Performance. Agree on how you will measure, review and recognise success. Note the three separate items: measure; review; recognise. The best measures are those which show trend, because the real issue is ‘are we getting better’ not are we meeting the standard. Of course you have to meet the standard. It is what you do after you have passed it that matters - do you just tread water and stop improving? With reviews, the main thing is to do it. Fairly obvious, I know, but again, it is not often done and even less often done at the appropriate time. Six months later at the fixed review is not appropriate, for the reasons covered in Manage Performance Reviews (refer page #). Also refer to the feedback techniques covered in Give feedback (refer page #). When it comes to recognition, I am not thinking only of money. There are many other ways of giving recognition which are valued and cherished far more than money. I still have, and highly value, letters written to me by the Managing Director of one organisation I worked for. At the end of each year (in addition to lots of other feedback), he wrote by hand a brief letter acknowledging what I had done and thanking me for my contribution. For me, these letters rank way above any formal references I have been given (and rarely use). The letters are easily the best references that I have. Be creative when giving recognition. Resources. Establish what resources are available to support the task. There is no need to tell the person what to use: just go over what is available, check out what the person considers he or she will need, sort-out the differences and establish any limits. Finally; keep it simple; and to the sentence Work on giving people responsibility, add - and then get out of their way.
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Self assessment
Recall 1. What is the sentence which summarises the delegation process? 2. Name a major barrier to delegation. Observe 3. Note the process used to introduce people to a new job at work or at home? Practise 4. Apply the delegation process to the handing over of a simple task - key point use your listening skills.

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16 Build teams
The need for you to be able to develop or contribute to a team environment, is likely to appear a bit obvious, and indeed it is. What is not so obvious, is that there are many different styles of group operation, all usually lumped into the one description - ‘team’. In this section, I highlight several styles, their differences, and one style to be avoided at all costs.

So, you want a team?
Many groups aspire to being a team. Many claim the title ‘team’. Most do not work or behave like a team. Successful teams, sporting or business, exhibits certain characteristics which set them apart from a mere grouping of people. When interviewed on television, the leaders of the 1995, ‘Team New Zealand’ America’s Cup challenge team, stated that it had a very special purpose. It was, “to win the Americas Cup in a manner of which the New Zealand public could be proud”. It could have been “ . . . and to win at all costs”. That last bit “. . . in a manner of which the New Zealand public could be proud” was really critical. It totally focused on the sort of team behaviour which would be considered acceptable. Dirty tricks, slanging matches and other questionable behaviour was out. How many teams consider and define the matter of team behaviour?

Some characteristics of an effective sports team
When considering what it is that makes any group effective, it is worth observing the characteristics of a successful sports team. Clarity and deliberateness To start with, you will notice that the leadership and the principles guiding the team’s behaviour are clear and agreed, especially the decision making and playing rules (“Ground Rules”). Everyone knows the Team Purpose, what is to be done and how it is to be achieved. ‘Mile-post’ objectives have been set; progress is being measured and reviewed - by the team (and its fans). Drawn up with the team members, the game plan is underpinned by the appropriate resources and systematic training. Of course, the coach, knowledgeable and well versed in training others, knows the specific requirements of the team and individual members. Participation is actively encouraged and supported. Health The team is seen as being important and its operation is reviewed regularly. Each person reciprocates the trust, support and confidence shown by the other team members. Successes are celebrated and failures are worked through for their learning potential (there is a hope that people will not keep on learning from the same failure!).

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Looking and learning Links are established with other teams to discuss ‘workplace’ improvements (There is not a lot of this in the business world where everything is treated as being top secret). Clearly there is a lot to be learnt from observing a successful sports team: the team does not come about by chance, or indeed, overnight. Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, in their book The Wisdom Of Teams, carried out some interesting research on groups of people, who, by their own comments and those of observers, considered that they had been, or were still, members of a team. Their findings clearly showed that a team has qualities that set it apart from other groups and that not all (few?) groups claiming to be a team are one.

Analysis of a real Team
The first thing that we will find here is that each member of the group feels empowered to act. This is the most difficult aspect to achieve. Empowerment cannot be granted: it can only be nurtured and this takes time and absolute attention to detail in the processes followed. Safe and challenging You will find that the team environment is very ‘safe’. Members feel free to express their views, experiment, take a considered chance, make mistakes - and they expect to be constructively challenged for maximum learning. Team members work supportively to resolve difficulties or conflicts within the team. Individual and group successes are regularly spotted and celebrated - as a team. Usually small in number, the team ranges in size between three and twelve. Generally speaking, less than three limits the scintillation, while more than twelve drains the output energy into maintaining the group dynamics. Clarity and focus Everyone is committed to a specific team purpose. A quick check of this is that the specific activity disappears when the team disbands (and they know what it is when asked). Most committees or management ‘teams’ are simply working groups meeting to resolve functional issues of planning, direction or operation. If pushed, these could be dealt with using communication processes other than physical meetings. The team purpose is usually to one side, cross-functional, or a sub-set of such matters. Within a real team, members work on a higher level of understanding to achieve the purpose. Moving beyond the usual superficial interactions, members develop a mutual dependency and commitment to one another. This is not a ‘soft’ approach. Not left to chance The ‘team’ approach is the outcome of considering many ways of working together. It has been deliberately selected and developed in terms of leadership, decisionmaking style, and ground rules for specific situations. Operating within a set of clear and agreed Guiding Principles, which address among other things, trust, mutual support and free sharing of information, members have clear responsibilities and accountabilities for achieving the goals. Recognition is based on contribution rather than status, function or service. 126

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The team is focused on achieving clear and agreed team milestone goals:these are distinct from some general organisational goal. There are visible ways of measuring the team’s progress towards its goals (the essence of any continuous improvement process). Care is taken to ensure that each member’s skills complement those of other members of the team (especially the High Performance Skills). No one is in the team out of consideration for their position or status: they are there for the skills or wisdom they can bring to bear. These skills fall into the three groups of technical/functional, use of resources (budgeting, asset and resource management, etc.) and the High Performance skills. This last group is especially important to the smooth operation of the team and covers, Personal Empowerment; Problem Solving; Conflict Resolution; Negotiation; Communication; Team-building; Process Awareness; Facilitation. There is a scintillation, a synergy of effort. Each member’s special skills and talents are used to creatively, tangibly and directly contribute to the team’s achievements. Members do much more than simply represent the work of others or act in a functional role.

And then you have the ‘Claytons’ Team
Named after a non-alcoholic drink promoted as “the drink you have when you don’t want to have a drink”, this is ‘the team you have when you haven’t got a team’. The drink promotion was impressive and is still widely referred to; unfortunately for the suppliers, it didn’t sell too well and went off the market. Nearly always a default position, the Claytons team is the pits! You can hear a Claytons ‘team’. There are frequent cries of “we need to work as a team” when noone (apart from the leader and one or two others) believes that they are behaving as a team. To those on the ‘outside’ it is quite obvious that it is not a team. I was a member of one executive team in which the chief executive kept on demanding teamwork, told us how we were to go about working as a team (totally missing the irony of his approach) and then behaved in many ways guaranteed to undermine any tendency towards teamwork. This is not unusual. Group members see meetings as being either a waste of valuable time or a form of punishment with the only gain being the status attached to being a part of the ‘inner circle’. In one organisation that I came across, being seen at meetings (the more the better) was a prime indicator of status within the organisation. With little sense of loyalty to the ‘team purpose’ (it has never been agreed upon!), group members are unable to focus on what needs to be done and have little, if any, idea how well the group is doing. Personal rivalry and arguments over territory accompany most discussions. One senior manager confided in me that her male colleagues were so territorial in their behaviour, that she was sure that they went around ‘marking’ the door posts! Within the team there is fear: of being blamed for things not going well; of job loss; of internal competition, etc. There is an unwillingness to share information and details, important to the overall success of the team are held back to avoid harming individual or sectional interests. In short, the ‘team’ is definitely not safe: it is perhaps toxic to the spirit.

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The meeting was getting nowhere and the departmental managers were battling for position quite oblivious to the need to focus on a pressing problem. Sitting two seats away, a colleague from another section leaned around and dug me in the ribs indicating that we should stop contributing and let the meeting die. We met immediately afterwards and, without the ‘assistance’ of our senior managers, quickly sorted the matter out. We talked about what had happened and complained bitterly. We did not even consider the possibility of a different sort of team style and were not aware that there was a better way. What we did do was resolve to keep as much work as possible away from the group’s meetings - it kept life simple. Far from enhancing communication, Clayton meetings actually exacerbated the difficulties. Sectional goals get in the way of communication and, when coupled to the finger pointing that goes on when things went wrong, it isn’t a nice group to be in. The final sad reality about the Claytons ‘group’ - lets face it, it is not a team - is that the output is much less than if the members had worked on their own.

Another option: the Committee or Working Group
This form of group works well, provided that this is what is needed. Many projects have been efficiently and competently completed by a working group or committee. The focus is strongly on individual responsibility, although individual members often display excellent teamwork behaviour and many people are hopeful that the group’s efforts will engender team-work. The Committee or Working Group style is usually adopted by default - it is rarely the result of deliberation or a conscious decision. A strong characteristic of this style is that each member is included to represent an organisational role or to ‘complete the team’ with everyone assigned a clear role within the team and not encouraged to step outside it. Commonly, there is a clear, strong, leader who leads efficient meetings to check each member’s progress, compare notes, make planning decisions, assign tasks, develop policies and strategies and so on. Often, there is nothing to distinguish the group’s focus or purpose from that of the organisation(s) represented by the members. For instance, the working group’s purpose may be, ‘to make good widgets’, whereas a team purpose could be to ‘halve the cost of making widgets’. One group could go on forever, but the other would disband once the cost of producing widgets had been halved. An example of a successful working group was described to me by a New Zealand plant manager who, as a member of a large multi-national, met each year with his counterparts from many other countries to compare notes on things such as marketplace changes, process improvements, new ideas, and generally tune-in to the latest corporate trends. He said that the meetings went well and were very productive, but, they were very definitely not a team meeting. He saw no reason why it should attempt to be one - it worked fine as it was.

The High Performance Team
The basics are much the same as for the team described above. However, in this team everyone is totally committed to supporting the other members of the team and helping them to succeed. Each member really cares about the welfare of the other members of the team. This is an exciting, but unfortunately rare state of affairs.
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A good illustration of a High Performance Team was given at a workshop by a woman who had taken part in a Red Cross disaster recovery programme in the South Island of New Zealand. As she described it “the township had been flooded out. I was a team member, everyone new what the aim was and what to do. The leaders didn’t go around telling people that they were the leader, they just got on with the job. I was very tired but gave the work everything that I could. When it was all over we celebrated our success.” “Considering the circumstances, the tragedy, the heartache, the long hours and sheer effort, it may seem a little strange, but I look back on it as being one of the really good times in my life - a great team effort.” How many team members say that about their team experiences?

What to do
Use the skills covered in this book, especially those relating to problem clarification, the problem solving journey, leadership and the leading of meetings. Take plenty of time to consider and agree on, the sort of group you want to have (or be involved with). To put it another way, avoid just drifting into being ‘a team’. If the selected style is that of a team, spend time working out, and agreeing on, the team purpose and how you will behave within the team (the Guiding Principles). Make sure that you have the right mix of skills and keep the numbers as small as possible. Get the resources you need to do the job and take care to measure the team’s progress towards its goals.

Self assessment
Recall 1. Name three characteristics of an effective Team and three of a Claytons Team. 3. What are the benefits of a Committee or Working Group. Observe 4. How would you characterise the many groups you work with? Practise 5. If you are a team leader, raise the topic of team style and purpose at your next meeting. 6. If you participate in a team, ask each member (alone) to define their understanding of the team’s purpose. Note and compare the replies.

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17 Grow with change
I like change - I’m not so keen on being changed. (Me)

This chapter examines how best to advocate, introduce and minimise, the resistance to new ideas - change! Ever present, change is the very stuff, the output, of discussions, meetings, problem solving sessions, conflict resolution and so on. We are swimming in a sea of it and need to deal with it in ways which minimise any stress it may be having on ourselves and others. Constantly thrust upon us by outside events, we ultimately cannot ignore or eliminate change. We may as well welcome it, learn to think in new ways and use it to our benefit - maybe, even thrive on it. Change is an opportunity to try out new ideas, to influence and improve the things around us - to grow? There are four groups of people who have a special need to be competent in dealing with change in a routine, low stress manner. They are: Leaders wanting change but finding that others are not following; People required to create change but not knowing how to go about it; People required to make specific personal changes to conform to a new culture but not knowing how; People who find themselves in a sea of change and feel unable to handle it. People within each of these groups can experience very high levels of stress arising from managing the pressures associated with change. Although they appear to be working in totally different environments and coming from quite different directions, they have very much in common when it comes down to the skills needed to cope well with change. As individuals, we need to understand what is going on so that we are better able to deal with things, no matter what our place is in the change process.

Change stirs up beliefs
In a stable environment, the beliefs which underpin our behaviour tend to settle down ‘out of sight’ as we move into our Comfort Zone and the new way. When change - especially sudden, large scale change - comes along, all our old and still current beliefs well up and overflow onto the new situation. An organisation went through a round of restructuring and redundancies. Years later, the Chief Executive, for quite straightforward reasons, announced that he was leaving. At that moment, people’s beliefs, which were developed from the previous actions of the organisation, re-emerged with a vengeance and led them to behave in interesting ways. Rumours were rife! We can only guess at the underlying beliefs, but they were probably along the lines of: ‘management cannot be trusted’; ‘the downside always catches up’, ‘jobs are hard to get’; ‘life is a struggle’, ‘I am not worthy of the job’. When filtered through these beliefs, reality is seen quite differently and the rumours start to fly

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around: ‘the company must be about to downsize’, ‘he has done something wrong’, ‘this must be the start of massive changes’; ‘jobs will be lost’; and so on. After large scale change, there is a real need to help corporate belief system move to one which supports the desired reality. Otherwise these underlying beliefs are waiting to be triggered by some event or other - with unpredictable results; yet another example of the Self-fulfilling Cycle.

‘How will this affect me’
"I will resist all change until I understand it and have rationalised its impact on me." (Everyone) Unfortunately, no matter how beneficial change is perceived to be, it will always be resisted until the recipient has answered the first question that arises: "How will this affect me”. Even if you think that a particular change is absolutely right for the recipient, it will still be resisted until its impact has been worked through. Once this question has been settled, and assuming that the outcome is favourable, then and only then will the change be accepted and integrated into a person’s plans. It also pays to be open to change in your plan for change - the worm can turn. Treat people as fully functioning adults Map out your change process and make it highly visible to everyone affected by it. If people are not privy to your big picture then they will create their own picture (based on their beliefs) and act in line with that. This can lead to behaviour considered to be inexplicable in terms of the correct, but hidden picture, but quite understandable in the light of the person’s restricted view of things. Carefully examine the beliefs that are operating around change - your own beliefs and those of others. Beliefs such as, ‘he will never change’, ‘they won’t understand’, ‘they will not be able to handle the news’. These beliefs show up in unguarded comments such as “I don’t think that they will accept the need for that ” or “they may come up with some impractical ideas which we will then have to reject”. These comments often belie a person’s stated views about others, especially people seen as being lower down the organisational ladder and not capable of dealing well with change (another belief). At the conclusion of a two day, highly participatory workshop with senior managers. I asked the question “How are you going to involve the rest of the organisation?”. Several immediately suggested a lecture style process to ‘tell them’ what had happened. When I suggested that the others be involved in a participative process (in the same style as the manager’s own workshop), reservations were expressed about whether it would lead to problems. It was decided to involve the rest of the staff in similar workshops. The managers were astounded by the high level of participation, the understanding of what was needed and the enthusiasm generated. Show trust Managers who have had the courage to trust the wisdom of the people reporting to them have been greatly surprised - staggered was the word used to me by one

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manager - by the maturity and creativity of the recommendations coming from groups allowed to work on very difficult or sensitive problems. Some of my most memorable and exciting work has been with people who, for the first time in their working lives, have been allowed to mentally stand back from their task and collectively develop new strategies for improvement. The short story is: build in lots of opportunities and ‘encouragements’ for people to participate.

Change basics
Faced with sudden, enforced change, people feel insecure. It often takes considerable time for them to accept the need for it to be introduced, unless they can see clear benefits for themselves. What they definitely do not like is being told what is best for them - they prefer to work this out for themselves. I have yet to meet anyone who does not appreciate being treated as a fully functioning adult, capable of facing reality and the ‘hard decisions’. This does not mean to say that everyone wants to manage the change: they just want to feel that they have a measure of control over their immediate surroundings. Given the opportunity to discover and define for themselves the need for change, people are likely to be enthusiastic, especially if they are able to participate in the planning, introduction and implementation stages.

Imposing change
It is not uncommon for people and organisations to begin involving others in the change process after they have decided on a particular course of action - a solution! The proposers are at the right-hand-(solutions) end of the Problem Solving Diamond, mental blinkers fitted , minds closed. Meanwhile, everyone else is not even aware that there is a problem. This gulf between the ‘doers’ and ‘doees’ is the generator of much of the stress associated with change. Interestingly, it seems that those that strongly advocate change in others are not so keen when it comes to having to create change in themselves. The first hurdle I need to overcome when invited in to facilitate change is helping middle and senior managers to recognise their own need to change. This resistance of the change proposers shows up in many ways. “Hi darling! Good news! Out of the blue, Jane called me into her office and offered me an exciting new position in Nelson. It involves a move but it seemed to be such a great opportunity that I naturally accepted it on the spot. What do you think? I’ll need your help to talk the kids into it.” Try saying that you do not want to go to Nelson. “The committee has worked really hard on this idea and all we get is lots of negative criticism from those who have put in very little effort.” Not too keen on the feedback being offered. “Good morning Charles. Thanks for meeting with me. While you were away we reviewed your job and have come up with some great changes; you’ll find them really helpful! I’d like to check out when we can introduce them.” Guess whose mind is made up! “As you all know, the marketplace has changed over the last few years and we need to rationalise and make some staff cuts or face closure. Some of you

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will probably be a bit disappointed with the re-organisation but I’m sure that once things settle down . . .” Try suggesting some alternative approaches at this point! As you can see, the change proposers have moved well into the phase of ‘tunnelling’ along their action plans. When I am tunnelling, I find it a tad difficult to accept the idea that there might be a better tunnel three metres to the right! Likewise, any criticism of the change proposer’s ‘tunnel’ will be seen as being negative, or at the very least, unwelcome e (it took quite some effort to dig!). Pity that the views of the change receivers were not canvassed a little earlier. You can readily tell whether or not people are at the same point as you on the change journey. If there is a gap you will get responses such as – Whose idea was this? That’s not fair! It just isn’t possible! What’s going to happen to my job? Well I’ve got news for you, too! Why are they doing this? Here we go again. Get lost (or equivalent)! We tried that last year!

These responses tell you that you have started from the right-hand end of the Problem Solving diamond and presented those concerned with a solution - before they understand the problem? Use the Problem Solving Diamond as a model for change. It is all about creating change and offers many opportunities for people to participate in the process at all stages from Problem Clarification right through to the action plan. Facilitation, collaboration and cooperation are the key words.

Watch out for inhibitors & flash-points
Many things about poorly introduced change lead to people being suspicious, uninterested, or even unwilling to consider it. Before moving on to the ‘content’ of the proposed change, consider its direct effects on the people: career prospects, health, safety, changes to existing group ‘cultures’ of daily routines, comfort, or perhaps separation from colleagues. Flash-points Certain actions have a high probability of sparking a dispute. They include, threats to status or self-esteem, clashes with personal or professional standards; or perhaps the financial implications of the change. Guaranteed flash-points (belief triggers) are change outcomes which can be construed to have an impact on safety, security or established income earning abilities. If you suspect that these may be an issue, get them out into the open as soon as possible. When change is poorly introduced, the above issues, particularly that of safety, can end-up being used as a weapon to resist change. This is readily observed in many industrial disputes where ‘reduced safety’ becomes a rallying cry because it

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appeals directly to people’s emotions. It also masks the real issue which lies much deeper and is probably dragging a fair bit of ‘historical baggage’ around with it. Listening to what is going on for those involved in the changes is absolutely vital.

Work on the change ‘hates’
People have strong views about ‘changes coming out of the blue’, being ‘side-lined’, ‘being given only a part of the story’ or being manipulated into making changes without any discussion. These situations are at the top of the list because they contribute to an overall sense of loss of control over what is happening - a major cause of stress. Each point disconnects people from the problem-solving and decision-making processes which affect their immediate environment. Hidden agendas lead to surprises, which feed prevailing fears of the unknown (beliefs), which lead to uncertainty, which encourages highly destructive, power struggles.

Acknowledge the fear
Confronted by high (and not so high) levels of change, many people have privately declared that they do not feel confident that they have the skills needed to implement change or are suspicious of the motives of the person leading it. For these and many other personal reasons, people can generally feel insecure or fearful. They consequently suffer from stress related to the sheer effort of working in a constantly and rapidly evolving environment. Wherever you can, deal sensitively with these fears - asking everyone with fears to take one step forward doesn’t usually work very well. You will need to create an environment in which people feel safe and able to declare how they are feeling. This is while in the making and a few micro-seconds in the undoing - a bit like trust.

Create successful change
Change affects personal behaviour and can be very difficult to introduce. Don’t rush the process and be sure to provide enough time for the people involved to think through the issues and reach an accommodation with their impact. Mess-up and it will be that much harder, or even impossible, next time. To smooth your journey, her are some simple guidelines.

Adopt a principled focus
Be absolutely clear about the principles that are guiding your behaviour throughout the change process and communicate them to everyone involved. These principles are the only constant - everything else is up for grabs! Warning: failure to set principles is only marginally more destructive than not abiding by them. Openly declare the change process and how it will work; Clearly state the principles guiding the change process; In your stated principles, cover the matters of integrity, openness, equality and respect for others with examples of how each applies to the change process; Align your behaviour and that of others with the stated principles;

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Encourage discussion about the stated principles and any perceived deviation from them. This is tough to do because it focuses attention directly on your own behaviour.

Use brilliant communication
One of the major factors in successful change management is brilliant communication of ideas and thoughts as early and frequently as possible in the process. Be sure to involve all those directly affected by the change and take care to treat their point of view as valid; just as yours is for you. After all, they too have to live with the outcomes! Make sure that you identify and deal with the formal and informal leaders and use group problem solving processes to take everyone along the Problem Solving Journey; it will open up many new and helpful lines of communication. If the news is bad, work on the basis that people can deal with it well. Tell them what is happening and give them any help they may require to work through it. If you run into resistance, use your listening skills instead of simply reacting. Stop and ask yourself "Why is this change being resisted? What is the problem?” and then communicate some more.

Build-in participation
Be deliberate Participation does not come about by chance. It is created by deliberate design, careful attention to detail and the use of processes which clearly and deliberately include all those affected by the change. Involving people in the Problem Solving Process is an excellent way of achieving this, especially where you jointly define the problem and the preferred situation (being very careful to leave ‘solutions’ to last). Deal well with people Share information. Treat people as fully functioning adults and cut out the “it’s best for them if they don’t know” routine. Make decisions at the level and time appropriate to the needs of others and involve them wherever possible. Avoid excuses such as “it wasn’t possible”. People will quickly figure-out what is guiding your behaviour. Run a pilot If in doubt as to how well the change is going, ask those involved - radical idea, but it works. Help people to accommodate a new idea or way of working by running a time-bound, limited version of the idea as a pilot project. This gives everyone time to adjust to the new way. Highlight clear benefits for the individual Focus on those things which directly affect the person and cover first things first. There is little point in focusing on the higher cause when people are wondering if they will be able to eat or pay the rent. Make sure that the benefits you are proposing are real to the individuals concerned and do not include something unless this is absolutely the case. Include in your options: control over immediate surroundings; personal gain in money/status/knowledge; improved health & social conditions.

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Control over the immediate work environment takes in the planning of work, the development of new work methods and processes, the level of involvement in workplace decision-making. Health and social conditions should be viewed in the very broadest sense and include the interaction between home and work, team growth and support, and recreation or health programmes. On a recent study trip of high performing organisations in the United States, I was amazed to see the wide range of approaches to the work environment. Some companies paid little attention to it and seemed to suffer from poor industrial relations whereas another company had a totally integrated programme covering ergonomic, fitness, nutrition, recreation and employment conditions. Under the integrated approach, people were enjoying many benefits ranging from improved personal health to excellent remuneration. It seemed that rather than one programme being at the expense of another, they actually produced a real synergy and harmoniously supported each other.

The fall-back position
Lasting and effective change comes about through the following of a carefully planned process which addresses the needs of those affected by the change. If you opt for the fall-back position of imposed change, the process still needs to be carefully considered (perhaps even more so). Failure to do this can provide the warm glow of a swiftly executed executive decision, closely followed by weeks, months, or years, of pain as people react (in very many ways) to the new situation. Personally, I love the executive decision, but it is a real pain putting up with the consequences. The imposed change can be greatly eased if people are able to understand your view of the underlying problem. Go over the available options, explain why the chosen one is indeed the most appropriate, and help people to see where the changes are heading and the anticipated limits on the level of change. Answer the question “how this will affect me?” (immediate and longer term). In reality this question is the very first one that springs into the minds of those directly affected by the change. At the end of it all, work towards helping people to accept that they can live with the changes, even if it was not something that they would have desired or wanted to happen in the first place.

Living with the new culture
People will be disenchanted For an organisation to function well, everyone associated with it needs to be aligned to the direction in which it wants to move. In addition, each person needs to become clear about the sort of culture (behaviour) that meets his or her needs. Achieving clarity about the sort of organisation you want to be a part of is a major step forward in the creation of the future you want. When a new culture is created within an organisation, it is highly unlikely that all the people from the old culture will feel comfortable with it; after all, they joined on the basis of liking the old culture! Some people will choose to leave, or may behave in ways that leave them little option but to leave - or even be removed (another example of the Self-fulfilling Cycle).
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Considering that the person concerned probably did not ask for the change, it is only fair that s/he be helped to either accommodate the new way or to leave with dignity. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the change leader. Having people leave is a positive outcome of the cultural changes taking place and has major benefits for both parties: even if a lot of money and effort has gone into working with the departing person in an effort to help him or her adapt to the new way. With the departure, the organisation has removed a source of discontent which could have been seriously disrupting many other people. Also, the departing person has the opportunity to move into an operating environment that is more closely aligned to his or her views, with a consequent reduction in personal stress. People will be attracted A second, major and on-going benefit is that clarity about the desired organisational culture attracts people who are already thinking in the new way. These people are then able to immediately contribute to the organisation’s growth and accelerate the change process. As the change leader, this is a turning point in the process. As a person joining an organisation undergoing change, this is a huge opportunity to rapidly move forward - providing that you do not get pulled down into the old way. Whether you are a leader or a participant, before selecting your action, check to ensure that you have played your part appropriately and in accordance with your Guiding Principles. Your beliefs about age may be challenged A final cautionary tale. Do not assume that it will be the older person who will have most difficulty accommodating the new way. Sometimes a person who has had to struggle away for years under the ‘old’ system, heaves a huge sigh of relief when the changes arrive and welcomes them with open arms. I have witnessed some amazing transformations in people who were considered incapable of changing. On the other hand, a younger person not having had the ‘benefit’ of working under the old system may not recognise the gains to be made and vigorously resist the new way. Age is not the most sensitive factor in the change equation; the factor which has the greatest affect by far is the change process you decide to use. Treat each situation on its merits and each person on his or her merits. Remember, pigeonholes are for pigeons!

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Self assessment
Recall 1. What is the significance of a change in organisation culture? 2. What is the first thought of people presented with change? 3. What are some of the conditions needed for people to want to embrace change? 4. Why is a ‘principled approach’ important when introducing change? Observe 5. Describe in detail how change is introduced in your area: large scale change (within a section or larger); small scale change (within a group of 2-6 people). Practise 6. Describe the steps you would follow to introduce a major change in your area.

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PART 5 CREATE VALUABLE MEETINGS

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18 See the process
A meeting can be one of those situations in which five people gathered together produce the work of four people working independently! An essential element in the creation of your future, well run meetings enable others to enhance or complement your strengths and you to extract maximum value from your work with them. Be careful not to limit your thinking about what comprises a meeting. It is irrelevant in terms of the principles underlying the planning you need to consider whether a meetings consists of just two or extends to a large number of participants or is held at home or at a head office. When it comes to spending time on a meeting, the real test is ‘how important is this meeting to me?’. Sadly, the quote at the top of the page sums up the situation for many people. At my workshops, when the subject of the helpfulness of meetings is raised, there is usually a collective groan: especially amongst members of medium to large organisations. Meetings are widely perceived as a form of punishment getting in the way of the ‘real’ work - the more meetings you have to attend the greater the punishment. Certainly, poorly run meetings are responsible for the waste of a lot of time, and even worse, the generation of high levels of frustration, resentment and anger. This state of affairs is in contrast to my understanding of the need for meetings. For me, meetings are held because they quickly achieve what might be difficult to achieve through any other form of communication. They are an essential part of living and something to be relished. They enable me to move my plans forward and to enjoy the company of others. Here’s to meetings! Unfortunately, good meetings do not come about by chance or through wishful thinking.

The ultimate purpose of meetings
I see meetings as an opportunity for everyone to learn and grow. By ‘learn’, I mean creating a change in behaviour, which is much more than the simple transferring and storing of knowledge. Learning is not the ‘flip open the lid and fill me up’ approach widely used to teach children and adults. It follows the sequence shown below.

Real learning
Do something
Apply learning in new ways Think about what has been done

Gather additional information
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Many if not most meetings are used to provide a one-way flow of information or to demonstrate power rather than to increase learning. If you need proof of this, check who dominates the air time at your next meeting (it may be you!). To convert to a learning experience, a meeting needs to employ radically different processes, ones which focus on action or experience. People learn best when they have a need, preferably immediate, for what they are learning (the ‘learning moment’) and are able to relate it to their own experience. By reflecting on and using their own experience, they accelerate and deepen their learning. Real behavioural change then comes about as a result of the internal processing of this new experience. If a driver wants to learn how to repair her car, the learning is much more focused if she works on her own car, and even more focused if the car has to be up and running to go on a skiing trip by the next morning - that is learning. Get that level of involvement at your next meeting and watch out for the results. There may be an exception or three For some meetings, talking or lecturing may be appropriate if the purpose is to simply pass on information, but bear in mind that there are probably much more efficient ways of doing this! Dogs are trained - people learn.

Process is ‘how’, Content is ‘what’
One thing immediately obvious about meetings is that they tend to focus a lot of energy on the agenda, business, task in hand, issues that need addressing, outcomes or whatever they are called. I refer to these aspects as the meeting content. Most meetings pay a lot of attention to content, because that is why the meeting was called in the first place - which all seems rather obvious. There is, however, another side to meetings; how they tackle the content. This is called the meeting process. It took me years to really figure out the intricacies of this bit! When it comes to planning a meeting, spend 3% of your time on the content and 97% of your time on the processes to be followed. A focus on content misses many of the other needs of the participants: the need for socialising; the enjoyment of working with others; the status of being in the group; the enhancing of perceived power; perhaps a route to attending to a political agenda. In particular, it just plain misses how people are feeling and the very real impact that events unrelated and external to the meeting can have on the behaviour of the participants. Paying attention to how the meeting will be run raises awareness of these personal needs and enables you to decide on ways of meeting them. If personal or comfort needs are not attended to, it is likely that all sorts of unexpected distractions will arise which can easily subvert the outcomes or cause disharmony within the group: people leave the group for no apparent reason or simply do not turn up at meetings. The formality trap Contrary to the popular view, making a meeting ‘formal’ is likely to ensure that the needs of the participants will not be met. Yet the idea still holds that formality ‘gets the work done’. People frequently (if not usually) go away feeling cheated, fed-up
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or angry; particularly if the person leading the meeting hasn’t identified and responded to what they want out of it or attended to his/her personal comfort. The outcome is an ‘efficient’ meeting, but a question mark hangs over whether or not the process used will ultimately achieve its aims - many things happen outside and after meetings!

The Process bits
‘Process’ deals with how a meeting functions rather than what it discusses. You are attending to process when you set aside time to agree on why you are meeting the focus of the discussion. I often get quite a startled response when I ask this question, as if no one had considered it up until then. Perhaps an indication of process not getting much attention. Process is to do with defining what you want to get out of the meeting and consciously deciding how it will be run by working on guiding principles, procedural points, behavioural rules, agenda setting and the like. When I mention agenda setting, I am thinking of an agenda focused on achieving the agreed outcome rather than simply someone’s whim, or worse one set in concrete three weeks before the event and out of touch with the latest happenings. Style, safety, participation Other examples of attention to process are thinking about leadership style and how to deal well with conflict when it arises - even seeing conflict as an opportunity to learn and develop the process. Meetings which pay attention to process plan to make it safe for people to participate. They support and encourage participation, pay attention to how decisions are being reached (rather than just letting them happen), review how the meeting went - and how it could be improved for next time. As you can see there is a lot to the process side of meetings and time spent here is well rewarded in terms of later productivity and enjoyment.

You need to plan
Why hold this particular meeting?
The whole reason for calling a meeting is to satisfy some group need - usually, a need to reach agreement on a course of action. Reaching useful and acceptable outcomes from a meeting requires a lot of thought and planning about how things are going to be done - top of the list is agreeing on why you are having it and what you want to get out of it. Clearly state the purpose Be very clear about the broad purpose or focus of the meeting. For example, “this meeting is being held because we are concerned that our facilities will not be appropriate for the next decade, particularly the . .” At the start of the meeting be sure that you have reached agreement on what you want to achieve by the end of the meeting - the ‘Outcomes’. How you reach the Outcomes is attended to by the agenda. For example, “by the end of this session we need to have identified the technology which will take us into the next decade. We also want a growth strategy that involves all staff and is in line with the stated company values”.

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Another approach could be to list the desired outcomes. If the meeting is the first in a series, the list of outcomes might look like this. At the end of this session we will have: 1. Become clear about the current situation and how we feel about XYZ; 2. Considered the views and expectations of each section; 3. Worked out the skeleton of an action plan; 4. Agreed on an immediate ‘where to from here’ plan. It isn’t always necessary to be so detailed. However, agreeing on the outcomes in this way does bring about a sense of purpose and direction to the session and ultimately saves time otherwise lost to ‘off-track’ discussions. Clarity of outcome also helps you to decide on details such as timing, people, duration, venue and processes appropriate to achieving the goals. Focus on safety and participation Be sure to make it safe for people to contribute and participate. My most basic and trusted Ground Rule is the ‘Pass rule’. As a facilitator, I am totally dependent on people participating, yet the more I insist on it, the less likely it is to happen. Interestingly, the very discussion of the Pass rule encourages people to relax and participate to a very high level. Keep on asking yourself, “how well is what we are doing meeting their needs?” If you don’t know the answer, ask the group - radical stuff, but it does work. If you do this and avoid some of the ‘traditional’ meeting styles you will be fine. If you behave in a way which doesn’t involve the group, they will oblige you by sitting back and letting you struggle on by yourself. A major piece of learning for me as a facilitator was to realise that I didn’t have to come up with all the answers: I could call on and use the huge range of wisdom within the group. The only thing preventing me from doing it was my own fear of failure.

What is the optimum number?
Always try for the lowest number needed to do the job. Small groups of five to eight people require less facilitation, work more quickly, have higher levels of involvement and more output. It is worth noting that full participation (the dream of all meeting facilitators) does not come about by having everyone together at the same time because the overall level of participation goes down as the numbers go up. In a group of 20 people, if one person spoke for one minute on a given topic, it would take 20 minutes to do one round - and everyone else would have been listening for 19 minutes! In a large group, take every opportunity to break into sub-groups. These can then re-convene as a full group to report progress. Another major advantage of this process is that a large group broken into five smaller groups can be working on five different tasks at the same time; a huge increase in productivity.

Who should attend?
Only those directly affected by the topic under discussion or who have a particular skill to contribute should attend meetings. Each person’s skills, knowledge or attributes should complement that of the others. Meetings are not a spectator sport (although I often gain the impression that they are!).

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To be successful a meeting needs: ‘Doers’ - because they know what is really going on and usually have to implement the outcomes. This is far and away the most important group - refer to the comments on experts, below; ‘Empowerers’ - because they have the power to say “yes we will do that”. These people may be the Managers, Team Leaders, controllers of the purse; ‘Specialists’ - because they have the detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the project. Experts The experts at any meeting are those who live with the problem, and will have to apply the meeting outcomes, on a day-to-day basis. For example, if the topic is “difficulties with the telephone console”, then the person likely to know the most about the subject is the receptionist; not the supervisor or the telephone engineer. Avoid energy drains Not everyone needs to attend all the time; if necessary try co-opting people on an ‘as needed’ basis. Avoid carrying people who need to attend for status reasons or who have been conscripted. Both groups drain energy rather than generate it. These issues can be dealt with during the ‘check-in’ round.

Physical arrangements
Where? Check ventilation (temperature and noise), lighting, privacy, parking facilities, access and ease of location, telephones, messaging arrangements, neutrality, noise, comfort, equipment, refreshments, space and seating. Is there a wall space or boards to tape-up newsprint notes? Is the space uncluttered (toss out all rubbish, stored items, spare chairs and furniture). Refreshments - even a glass of water can make a big difference Seating? If the group is to sit for a long time, try for comfortable chairs with back support. Check sight lines of whiteboards and overhead screens - an almost closed horseshoe arrangement with the facilitator in the open section works well, enables each person to see everyone else and move around easily. I have a strong preference to remove all large tables to minimise physical barriers. Writing up of meeting notes and diagrams? Use newsprint (at least 900 mm x 600 mm) stuck to the wall with masking tape for everyone to see (much better than other sticky methods). People can return to earlier work or thinking whenever it suits them, anybody can easily change things, and they can be taken away for small groups to work on. Check that the pens work (at least four colours) and do not print through the paper - avoids paying for wallpaper dots later! Over the years I have steadily moved away from using overheads to the point at which I confine their use to illustrating complex forms or examples of things. Overheads look great but I bet you have difficulty remembering what number two looked like when you are up to number thirty four!.

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Summary
Get there early. Personally, I prefer to arrive at a new venue at least one hour before the start time. This gives me the time I need to sort out the unexpected. The later that I arrive, the less chance I have to deal with the many surprises that crop up’. Look after people’s comfort. By this I mean paying attention to the small things - greeting people by name, offering refreshments, introducing to others, storing bags and coats, pointing out where the toilets are and creating time for people to use them! Leave nothing to chance! Got the gear? Does it work? Does it work NOW, just before the start of the meeting? Whenever possible, check the venue and equipment yourself, before the scheduled time. In the end it is you who needs to feel comfortable with your surroundings and equipment. Personally, I always do the chair arranging. It is my way of tuning in to the event and getting a sense of the participants’ perspective.

Self assessment
Recall 1. What is the purpose of holding a meeting? 2. What has to happen for real learning to take place. 3. List five ‘process’ elements of a meeting? 4. Who should attend a meeting, and who are the ‘experts’? Observe 5. How much attention is paid to ‘process’ at meetings which you attend? Practise 5. Before you call your the next meeting, check and adjust the balance amongst the Doers, the Empowerers, the Specialists, and the spectators (they should be nil!).

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19 Get a mandate on behaviour
Ground Rules - don’t leave home without them! For a meeting to be enjoyable and productive, the participants need to behave in ways which support its flow and progress towards the agreed goals. Notice that I said ‘enjoyable’ and ‘productive’. As I mentioned at the start of this section, meetings are vital to your progress. They are not something that ‘has to be endured’; one of life’s burdens. Sorting out the behaviour at a meeting is a critical step to fun and productivity. Here you have an opportunity to get it by the scruff off the neck and create really helpful change. The secret lies in the use of Ground Rules - useful little tools which everybody seems to know about but few use. Similar to Guiding Principles, Ground Rules operate at a lower, more detailed level and apply to specific aspects of meeting behaviour. The key point is that they are agreed. Personally, I will not run a meeting without understood and agreed Ground Rules. Your responsibility is to the group The facilitator has a responsibility to the group for running an efficient and satisfying meeting. This responsibility commences with the development and introduction of Ground Rules - and ensuring that they are applied. Any thoughts as to how what you say will reflect on your personal standing, or relationship with an individual (the classic case is having your senior manager in the group), need to be put to one side. For this to happen, you need a mandate which allows you to keep the rules in the forefront of everyone’s mind. A stitch in time . . . At first it may seem to be time-wasting and unnecessary to apply Ground Rules, but persevere. They save a lot of time later on, time which could have been wasted on arguments, side issues and other unhelpful interactions. Remarkably, once discussed and agreed upon, it is very rare indeed that I need to refer back to them. Mind you, they are written on newsprint and visible at all times.

Use rules and words which smooth the way
Here are a few Ground Rules that have been used in practice many times and under greatly varying circumstances. You can absolutely trust them to make meetings much more enjoyable and more productive. Select the rules that seem helpful to your group and work with them to develop other rules that might be needed. Introduce the need for a set of Ground Rules “To facilitate this meeting, I need us to agree on some Ground Rules. I have listed some rules which I believe will be helpful and . . .”. At this point, go through each item on your list using the following examples as a guide with regard to appropriate wording.

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Introduce the ground rules ‘Pass’ - Feel free to not participate at any moment and on any matter. This must surely represent facilitation death!. I mean, if no-one has to participate then it could be a very quiet meeting - not quite what the average facilitator wants. Yet, curiously, this Ground Rule is the one which does the most to encourage participation. It is also the one most commented upon as helping people to feel ‘safe’. I never leave it out of any set of Ground Rules that I put together, but I do get a lot of anxious comments from managers worried that they may ‘lose control’ an interesting reflection on their values and fears. I was told of one situation in which the facilitator at a workshop, possibly getting anxious about a perceived ‘lack of participation’, demanded that a person contribute on a particular topic and waited. The person, who by now was the focus of attention, became extremely uncomfortable, left the workshop and did not return. I believe that people are entitled to venture as far as they like outside their personal Comfort Zone, to choose when to participate - and when not to. Personally, I want people in groups to feel somewhat uncomfortable, because then they are really learning. However, whenever they are feeling the need to take a break from all that learning, they can simply exercise the ‘pass’ option and retreat back into their Comfort Zone for a bit of a rest. ‘Pass’, sure keeps me on my toes as a facilitator and constantly alert as to what the group’s needs are at any particular moment. The challenge is to make the conditions safe enough for people to choose to participate. Another case of the more directly you aim for something the less likely you are to get it. Truly, ‘Pass’, is one of the great rules for meetings. This is reflected by the amount of time I have spent on it. Try: I consider it to be really important that you feel comfortable about participating, or not, whenever it suits you. If anyone asks you to answer a question, or to do anything, and at that moment you do not wish to participate, simply say ‘Pass’. I will ensure that you are not interrogated, questioned, or pressed to participate, in any way. 2. Take responsibility for your own learning As a fully functioning adult, you are in charge of what you do: if you are bored, say so, if things are going too fast or too slow for you, say so. I am amazed at the number of adults who will sit through meetings totally bored, unclear as to why they are there, why they are doing what they are doing, when it will finish, and so on. With this rule, the group expects you to flag your concerns and to ‘make this meeting really work for you’. Be warned: for groups that are not used to functioning in this way, it can take quite some time for them to change. They will carefully ‘test the water’ and when they find that the behaviour is really acceptable, each individual will slowly take responsibility for her or his part in what is going on. For the facilitator it requires great care when it comes to responding to this feedback from the group. Try: The other aspect of participation is ensuring that what happens meets your needs. If, for instance, you are feeling bored, unclear as to why we are doing something, or unhappy about the direction, please tell me at one of the breaks, or raise it with the group. Whatever happens, do not sit here feeling fed-up and
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thinking that ‘this is the way it has to be’. You are in charge of your own learning; my job is to help you in any way I can. 3. Speak for yourself Many people do not own what they say, assume they know what others are feeling or thinking, and make statements such as "We all know what that means” or “One should consider . . .” Try: I will find it helpful if you do not attempt to speak for others in the group. This way you will avoid the possibility of finding yourself out on a limb. “For instance, if you are bored, say ‘I am bored’. This is better than saying ‘This is really boring’ - if the rest of the group choruses that they are absolutely riveted by what is going on, then you will find yourself out on a bit of a limb. If someone attempts to speak for the group, without their agreement, I may find it necessary to re-focus the statement onto the person making it. Ways in which you can re-focus statements are “This is really boring!” to “You are bored, John?”. “I think that we all know what needs to happen!” to “It sounds as if you have some ideas on what you think needs to happen?”. “We should look at . . ” to “You would like to look at . . .” Using information outside its original purpose People need to feel confident that they can exchange views, anecdotes, and other information which is helpful to the discussion at hand without worrying about the consequences - especially of it being used outside the group Within the context of the meeting it may be entirely appropriate - outside the meeting, entirely inappropriate Commercially sensitive issues are virtually never an issue - people already know the score here. Try: At this (meeting/workshop), each of us is likely to want to say what needs to be said, so that others can understand our point of view. In doing this we need to feel confident that the information will remain within the group. For instance, the recounting of a blazing argument with a colleague, may well be a good illustration of an issue. However, it would not be appropriate to share this outside its original context. Please do not feel free to share information that someone has shared with you, or perhaps a small group, with the larger group, unless you have checked with that person first. “Basically, tell anyone what you did and what you said, but not what anyone else said, unless you have his/her permission.” 5. It) WYSITFYATTYSI (What You Say Is True For You At The Time You Say 4.

In a learning situation (and hopefully, a meeting is a learning situation), it is critical that people can freely and openly express what they are thinking and that what they say is treated as being valid for them. This rule has a definite freeing effect and helps people to listen carefully to the views, ideas and feelings of others. Most groan when they see the acronym - few forget it.

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Try: The purpose of this (meeting/workshop) is to create change and, within that purpose, for each of us to change. The WYSITFYATTYSI Ground Rule helps us to say what we are thinking and to avoid the situation in which people are asked to justify what they may have said earlier (four minutes ago!), when, in the light of new information, they have decided to change their view.” 6. Spelling and handwriting (no ‘funny’ comments or snide remarks of any kind) One of the surprises encountered when leading workshops, is the fear, rarely declared but held by people at all levels in an organisation, of looking foolish when writing up notes in front of a group. It is the fear of making spelling mistakes, or illegible/untidy writing and partly explains why so many people do not want to facilitate meetings. This Ground Rule basically says ‘leave out any reference to handwriting or spelling other than to clarify what is being written’. Try: Seeing that the purpose of this workshop is not to improve our handwriting or spelling skills, I suggest that we refrain from commenting on or joking about either of these topics. Please avoid any comments other than to clarify what is meant.

Gain agreement to abide by the presented rules
Obtaining individual agreement to the rules is very important. Try: What I will do now, is go around clockwise (or counter-clockwise if you are in the Northern Hemisphere?) and check with each person how well these rules rest with him/her and any changes that may be suggested. As you move deliberately from person to person, obtain specific agreement to abide by the rules. “James, how comfortable are you with the proposed Ground Rules?” Finish by saying something like, “Thank you for your agreement. For me, these rules are very important and I will also abide by them. If at any time later on, you spot the need for changes, please let me know and I will check it out with the group.”

Self assessment
Recall 1. Why have Ground Rules? 2. Name a ground rule described as ‘truly great’ - list three others you would use(preferably your own). 3. What words would you use to gain agreement with the Ground Rules? Observe 4. At your next meeting, note the number of instances of uncertainty, disagreement or repeated unhelpful behaviour which arises (to do with process not content). Practise 5. At meetings, ‘take responsibility’ for yourself, and immediately raise matters which are not meeting your needs eg. bored, don’t understand. Note what happened and how you felt. 149

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20 Trust the process
Meetings involve the delicate art of combining, facilitation, leadership, and good-old common-sense. This chapter is about ways guaranteed to immediately improve any meeting whether it comprises two or a hundred people. Your use of the principles and processes covered here will power your meetings to productive and enjoyable outcomes.

Learn and adapt
For larger meetings of perhaps 20 or more people, be creative and adapt these processes to suit the need. For instance, when using the ‘Check in’ process with a large group, try breaking up into sub-groups and reporting back. A handy hint for splitting a larger group up into smaller discussion groups, is to say something like “I would like you to turn to the person next to you and tell him/her how you feel about . . , you have three minutes”, then turn away as if you expect it to happen; and it will happen. If you stand there waiting, it is likely that no one will move.

Give yourself a check-up
When you are deciding upon the most appropriate processes to use at a meeting, be clear about the concepts and values underlying your actions, for instance, are you: leading rather than dictating; dealing with people needs before working on the purpose; encouraging participation (including participation in how to run the meeting); drawing on the wisdom of the whole group;

Maintain your perspective
There is a real risk of becoming hooked on to one manifestation of a value. For instance, I know of a group which banned tables at their weekly meetings. They had experienced ‘no tables’ at one of my workshops where it had worked well. However, this group brought along reference material and needed something to put it on - along with their cups of coffee. A table, or perhaps coffee tables, would have been quite appropriate but they were hooked onto ‘no tables’ and as a result everyone seemed to be suffering. I usually get rid of tables at my workshops because I value minimising any barriers to participation, especially the physical barriers. I want people to be able to move freely amongst each other to exchange ideas and experiences. A more helpful approach for the group would have been to consider why I had eliminated tables at my workshop and then to have looked at creative ways of achieving the same effect while meeting the basic need to work with reference material. Keep the intent in mind.

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Consider your role as Facilitator
The Facilitator is responsible for ensuring that the processes which guide the behaviour agreed to by the group (the Ground Rules), are followed. You cannot delegate this responsibility. However, you can ask for help and support. Perfection is not required, and any attempt to be the font of all knowledge and wisdom is pushing your luck. When you become stuck or unsure what to do next, ask the group for their ideas. There is a lot of wisdom out there just waiting to be tapped relax and use it.

Check-in & check-out
The start and end of a meeting has a marked impact on how people feel about what is about to happen or what has happened. Two processes which work well at these times are the ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ because they focus attention on the needs of the people at the meeting. The processes are simple and powerful but do require care and honesty their use - if people are not being open and honest in what they say, or the process is being used manipulatively, the group needs to review their use or to even consider stopping using them altogether. One of the main benefits of a Check-in is that it attunes the facilitator to how people are feeling and their expectations of the meeting. This information is invaluable in setting the meeting on a successful course. Any surprises or misunderstandings can be dealt with before the meeting addresses its main purpose, which may have to be changed to reflect the group’s current needs. The ‘Check-in’ (starting a meeting) Having started the meeting and checked that everyone is comfortable, start the check-in with "I’d like to make sure that we all know each other’s names before we go any further” or, “I would find it helpful to know everyone’s name”, then follow up with “I will start with myself and then go around clockwise. I would appreciate you saying who you are, where you are from and any other details that may help people to tune into you. I would find it especially helpful if you would also share your expectations for this meeting”. You can close the round along the lines of “My understanding is that this session/meeting is about (topics/goals), and we’ve got until (time) for it. Can everyone stay until then?” “From your comments during the check-in, and the background to the meeting, it seems that it would be useful if we could achieve (objectives) at this meeting. I propose that we go about it this way (outline the way you intend to conduct the meeting).” “I’d like you to say how you are with that and if you have other expectations of this session/meeting.” (Go around, one by one.) The ‘Check-out’ (finishing a meeting) This may be the last opportunity for everyone to comment on what is going on for them. Slowly, go around the group and ask each person to reflect on how they feel

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about what has been achieved, encourage them to end on a positive note and suggest that a way of doing this would be to comment on (for instance): “Wat I got out of this was . . .” “Wat I learned from this was. . .” “For me, the key point from this session was . . .” Remind people that the Ground Rules still apply, that they are quite free to pass and do not need to be original. This last point removes the perceived onerous load of ‘what can I say that is different to what the last eight people have already said’. If nine people say the same thing then that is what nine people think! These reminders are very helpful in encouraging people to contribute. Allow plenty of time for each person to throw in other comments and be careful not to challenge the contributions or enter into a discussion with others. Keep your focus on the speaker by looking directly at him or her and also keep on moving steadily around the group (a delicate balance). If side conversations, or discussions with the speaker, start-up, stop them. Remind people that this is a check-out round, not a discussion session. Again you need to exercise discretion here, but do not ‘lose the plot’ which is to give everyone the opportunity to have a say.

Wherever possible, include the check-in and the check-out.

The successful meeting
Do the pre-meeting essentials
The Welcoming Letter For a meeting which may be the first in a series, or not ‘run of the mill’, I find it helpful to send out a personal letter to each participant. The letter can highlight the purpose of the meeting, the format and your expectations of each person’s part in it. This allays any unnecessary fears that may otherwise be generated and sets the scene for a successful meeting. Ensure that the style of the letter reflects the style of the meeting. For instance, a stiff, formal circular may well set the scene for a meeting of the same nature. Advise proposed broad purpose of the meeting and the specific outcomes Rather than issuing an agenda, which is what normally happens, be absolutely clear as to why you are holding this meeting (the focus) and the outcomes you want from it. For example, the broad purpose could be: “To deal with the problems being experienced with the new courier system”. The list of Specific Outcomes, which clearly states those things which will have been achieved by the end of the meeting, could be: To have clearly identified a complete list of specific problems; The formation of a separate task group to resolve each problem; Clarity as to the effect the problems are having on staff morale; An action plan for keeping all staff involved in improving the courier system.

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A good way of developing this list is by discussing the meeting with a few of the key participants to get a feel of what is needed. Later on at the actual meeting, you can easily agree on the final list and put together an Agenda for discussion and agreement. The Specific Outcomes are the important items - the Agenda is only the sequence for dealing with the business which gets you to the Outcomes. Check facilities Room attributes Equipment Refreshments Tidiness Seating Communication arrangements.

Welcome new arrivals
Help people to feel comfortable and at ease. If they have been travelling for some time, let them know: where the toilets are; where they can get some refreshments; the seating arrangements. These things sound so obvious, yet they are often overlooked. I was with a group visiting organisations in the USA and after travelling for some time, I was quite keen to visit a toilet. Unfortunately for me, when we arrived at one organisation, we were immediately herded into a formal welcome for the next hour or so - it was quite difficult to concentrate! At a second organisation, we were greeted, told that the presentation would start in 15-20 minutes, shown the location of the toilets, offered a choice from a range of snacks and drinks and introduced to the people who would be hosting us - a very pleasant start to the visit. People before purpose…

Get underway
These examples will give you ideas on the sequence of events and the language you could use when facilitating the main part of a meeting. The aim is to give leadership that draws on the wisdom of the group. Remember the newsprint From this point on, write EVERYTHING up on newsprint - a separate sheet for the Meeting Purpose, Outcomes, Start-up Agenda, and the Main Agenda. Write in large letters and use lots of colour-have fun!

Task
Get everyone’s attention
Then, clearly and firmly tell people that you need to start

Having already greeted people on arrival, simply start the meeting by saying in quite a loud voice "People-(pause), I need to (or ‘would like to’) start (or ‘get underway’) now”. This signals a clear beginning, quietens things down and focuses attention on you, the Facilitator. This is far better than patiently waiting for everyone to finally stop chatting and, one by one, sit down!

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Task
Welcome everyone
Either welcome the full group yourself or arrange for someone else to do it. People appreciate an acknowledgment of the difficulties involved in attending

“Good afternoon; a special note of thanks to those of you who have spent quite some time travelling to get here and to you Jane for cancelling your other appointment, etc.”

Task
Flag the ‘Start-up’ agenda
This deals with the items necessary to get the meeting to the point at which it can deal with the Content (the purpose for which the meeting was called). It welcomes people, settles them in, gains agreement as to how the meeting will be run and what it will deal with. The development of a separate Start-up Agenda was a major step forward

The agenda could look 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

like this: Welcome by (whoever) ‘Check-in’ Clear up house-notes Agree on Ground Rules Agree on the Broad Purpose of the meeting and the Specific Outcomes and Strategies 6. Agree on the Problem Solving and/or decision making processes to be used 7. Review and set the Main Agenda 8. Work on the Main Agenda items

“My understanding of the Broad Purpose of this meeting is ‘to . . .’. I propose that we review and discuss this in detail after the Check-in round, meantime, I have put up an agenda to get us underway. I will appreciate your comments on this as we do the Check-in round”.

Task
Check-in
Help everyone to ‘arrive’ and let go of any outside distractions. Clear away obvious questions, or matters or other distractions. A person may have a blinding headache: declaring this will not fix the problem but it does help if it is acknowledged

Use the Check-in process described earlier. Note comments for consideration when working on the Broad Purpose, Specific Outcomes, and Main Agenda.

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Task
Clear up house notes
This is to sort out the ‘mechanical’ aspects of the meeting, points such as:

Timing; Breaks; Arrangements for travel and meals; Where the toilets and other facilities are; Smoking needs; Mobile phones; Room temperature; Recording of action points Provision of refreshments
It is a good idea to assign as many routine tasks as possible to other participants. This helps you to avoid missing things such as agreed breaks or the finish time. When checking points such as the room temperature, it is helpful to use open-ended questions as this demonstrates a willingness to consider various possibilities rather than simply imposing a decision

"People, before moving on, there are a few House-notes I need to check out with you . . .” “We scheduled the closing time at . . . with a break at . . . How well do these times fit in with your needs? The toilets are located . . .” “Refreshments are continuously available and are in the next room. Please feel free to grab a drink whenever you need to.” “Is there anyone who needs to smoke?” If the answer is ‘yes’, then follow-up with “My strong preference is that we do not smoke/use mobile phones in this room and that we (suggested options). What are your views on this?”. Discuss and agree on the options. “I suggest that we stop and check our progress about 30 minutes from the end, at which point we can decide on whether to extend the meeting or transfer any unfinished items to the next meeting. If this is agreed, you can then say “Melanie, I would appreciate your keeping an eye on the time and letting me know when we have 30 minutes to go?” “Jon, I would find it helpful if you would write the main decisions on newsprint for me, how are you with that?”

Task
Agree on Ground Rules: Refer to the chapter ‘Get a mandate on behaviour’

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Task
Agree on Broad Purpose, Specific Outcomes & Strategies
Write-up your understanding of the Purpose and the proposed Outcomes on a large sheet of newsprint and tape them up where everyone can see them. You may need to modify them to reflect the comments made at the Check-in Note At this point you can also agree on the best way to deal with the matters in hand and the most appropriate decision making and problem solving processes

“I have written-up my understanding of the Broad Purpose of this meeting and the Specific Outcomes on some newsprint. What we need to do now is review them and agree on the wording”. For groups of six or more, this would be a good moment to split up into sub-groups (perhaps of two or three persons) to consider and report back on the preferred wording for the Purpose and Outcomes. This may seem to be a slow way to start a meeting, but, before racing off down the road, it pays to make sure that you are on the right road! “What are your views on the best way to (deal with/decide on/solve) this issue?”

Task
Write-up the Main Agenda
Gain everyone’s input to review and Prioritise the Main agenda. Write it up on large sheets of newsprint and ensure that it can be clearly seen by everyone at all times. Note: this agenda is the detailed sequence of topics or points which need to be dealt with to reach the Outcomes

“Okay people, bearing in mind the Outcomes we are looking for, what points do we need to put on the Main Agenda?” After you have listed the group’s suggestions decide on the order in which you are going to deal with each point

Task
Work on the Main Agenda
The Main Agenda sets out the detailed sequence of items which deal with the Content of the meeting to reach the Outcomes. Keep in close touch with the group by asking how they are doing and listening to the reply. Be prepared to quickly re-arrange the Agenda priorities. Although this approach contradicts the common wisdom of ‘don’t discuss anything you haven’t had time to prepare for’, to me it seems to be a pointless discussing something when the group’s real interest is focused on something urgent that has just cropped up

Be sure to keep the meeting focused on the topic under discussion. If people drift off the point, refer them to the Main Agenda and the Specific Outcomes. “Jo, I’m unclear as to how that relates to XYZ”, or “We appear to be well off the topic is this what we need to discuss now?”, or “How will this get us to (agenda point)?”

Task
Check progress
Throughout the meeting, keep on checking progress against the newsprint sheets on which you have written the Purpose, Outcomes and Agenda. Have the newsprint visible at all times

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Ask “how are we doing?”. Be prepared to respond to the comments and to make changes to the Agenda. Check the time. "People, we have got 45 minutes to go and are half-way through the Main Agenda - what do you want to do? At this point you have many options. Here are a few: Speed up the meeting Agree to finish things at another follow-up meeting Let some of the Outcomes go Extend the finish time (Let the group decide upon the most useful option)

Task
Review the Outcomes, action points and plans
Focus on tidying up the loose ends and ensuring that action points have been clearly assigned and time-bound

“We have fifteen minutes to go, I suggest that we review how we have done and confirm the action points”. You then check off each Outcome on the list and ensure that each action point has been clearly assigned to someone. “Before we check-out, what other points do we need to attend to?”

Task
Set the date for the next meeting
Having everyone at the meeting is a great opportunity to set the date for the next meeting

Even if you do not finalise the date you will at least have a sense of some of the constraints

Task
Check-out
Here we help everyone to reflect & ‘let go’. It also builds a common view of what has happened. Do not close without doing this

Follow the earlier notes on the Check-out process. Thank each person immediately after his/her contribution.

Task
Close-off
Have a clear end-point to the meeting. It avoids people leaving with a feeling of things not being properly finished. Thank people for their input and support then formally close the session.

“Thank you everybody for your enthusiasm, particularly the spirited and enlightening debate about ( ). I propose to close the meeting now. Are there any other points we need to cover at this session (pause)? See you next week at 2.30 pm.” Stand up and turn or move away to physically show that the meeting is finished.

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Review your meetings
If you do not review your meetings you cannot expect them to get better: they get worse. With all, or selected members of the group, reflect on how the meeting went, review the meeting processes and consider ways in which the meeting could be improved. This can be done immediately after the close of the meeting or later. The feedback process covered earlier works well here.

Self assessment
Recall 1. Why do people need to be given help/time to arrive at a meeting? 2. How (and on what note) should a meeting end? Observe 3. How are meetings which you attend started? 4. Do the agenda topics and priorities at meetings you attend meet your needs at the start of discussion of content? If not, why not? Practise 5. At the next meeting you facilitate (even if it is only two people), help people to arrive and then establish the framework. The way you do this will depend on the size of the meeting etc. 6. Use newsprint paper, taped to the wall, to note down the purpose, outcomes, agenda etc. for your next meeting. Make a special point of doing this if only two people are present. 7. At the close of your next meeting, check with the other participants as to how well it met their needs.

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21 Encourage participation
Helpful techniques from people who have felt encouraged to participate. As many a frustrated and anxious leader has discovered, full participation within groups is rarely achieved by asking for it, or even worse, demanding it. Participation comes about when people feel that the conditions are ‘safe’ enough for them to participate. It is an essential task of a meeting chairperson, leader, facilitator, or whatever, to create these conditions. Safe conditions do not come about by chance. They require careful thought and preparation to the extent that what is discussed is almost secondary to how it is discussed. Meetings usually succeed or fail on the basis of how well this aspect is attended to.

Create conditions which encourage participation
At workshops, I have asked the participants to consider their high level of participation and to reflect on what created the situation. I then ask them to list the specific things I did which encouraged them to participate. Many of the points they came up with are listed below and although each makes an impact, no single item is earth shattering - the secret lies in the collective impact which is huge. The result is not based on magic - it is based on what people say works for them. The main requirement seems to be the courage to use them: the fear of the new keeps on cropping up. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, but it does give the flavour of how simple some of the points are - another example of how uncommon ‘common sense’ is.

Actions which encourage participation
This is what people who have just experienced the differences have to say about them. Pre-meeting 1. The ‘Welcoming letter’ - it helped us to set our expectations 2. Being greeted as we arrived 3. Music quietly playing as we arrived (‘we found it very relaxing’) 4. Uncluttered, rubbish free, setting 5. Refreshments available (before the meeting and whenever we wanted them) Starting 6. The Welcome at the start of the session 7. No ‘top table’ 8. The easy movement - no tables blocking the way (side tables available for books, drinks etc.) 9. Seating - we could all see each other without having to twist or stretch

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10. The ‘Check-in’ process Focusing and collaborating 11. Agreeing on and clearly displaying the Ground Rules 12. The ‘Pass’ ground rule (easily the most popular point) 13. Ground rule about no criticism of writing or ‘speling’ 14. Working together to sort out timing and other ‘housekeeping’ matters 15. Working together to agree on the Purpose, Outcomes, Agenda etc. Keeping in touch with real needs 16. Agenda always in view 17. Openness to changing the order or direction of things 18. Breaking up into pairs or other sub-groups to discuss or work on issues 19. Freedom from outside distractions Acknowledging the person 20. Eye contact (from the facilitator) with each person 21. Remembering and using names 22. The combination of challenging followed with careful listening 23. Treating each person’s (sometimes opposing) input as valid and of equal importance 24. Facilitator thanking each person for his/her input (immediately after it was given) 25. Helping the group to explore, and learn from, a dissenting view Encouraging participation 26. Using words which gently encourage people to speak 27. Preventing people from being ‘interrogated’ by others for an answer 28. Allowing people to answer in their own way and own time 29. Leaving spaces to allow time for the slower members of the group to collect their thoughts and express them 30. Giving positive feedback to individuals 31. Going around regularly so that each person had an opportunity to speak Making the progress visible 32. Checking how the group is doing and incorporating suggestions 33. Using newsprint and coloured pens - easy to read and follow 34. Taping ‘work in progress’ notes up on wall as a source of constant reference Finishing 35. The ‘Check-out’ process 36. Drawing out the positives and insights Well, there it is. No rocket science. Any two or three items are unlikely to produce the full effect but by starting small and testing the water, you will find that your world doesn’t cave in because of the changes and you can build up from there.

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Self assessment
Recall 1. When we say that a meeting is ‘safe’, what do we mean? 2. How can you make a meeting ‘safe’? 3. Name twenty ways of encouraging participation in a group. Observe 4. At a meeting, count how many times each person speaks. Note time (in minutes) that the least vocal person speaks and meeting leader speaks. 5. Observe the number of occasions at a meeting on which a speaker is talked over, verbally attacked or otherwise discouraged from participating. Practise 6. List specific ways/actions you will take to encourage participation at a meeting?

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22 Accelerate your growth
One of the world’s great excesses is feedback: the great shortage is feedback which helps me to grow. In a practical form, we are now going to combine the elements covered in the chapter Give helpful feedback to create a powerful means of rapidly improving your performance in areas of interest to you. A good place to start getting this type of feedback is at meetings. You will be truly amazed at the learning - the ‘blinding flashes of the obvious’ (obvious once you have had them pointed out to you). The process works as well with two people as it does with larger groups.

Background
High quality feedback on ‘how I am doing’ is vital to your continuing personal and work development. Yet, much of the feedback given is unasked for, inappropriate (especially with regard to timing), non-specific, and buried in labels, blame and judgements. In other words, not much use to you. Feedback needs to be available whenever it is wanted and presented in a manner that is immediately useful to the recipient. This does not come about by accident. It requires careful attention to process, the willing and skilled involvement of the givers, and to be done in a manner which supports and affirms the receiver in her or his development. . It is definitely not for making the receiver a ‘better person’! Positive or negative, feedback is simply information and the choice is always yours as to when you will receive it and which bits you will use when making changes. Be sure to play your part when receiving feedback. -Help anyone attempting to give it in an unstructured or unhelpful manner to do it in a way which meets your real needs. You also need to be confident that those giving it have the necessary background information, knowledge and skills for it to be helpful. Caution I am about to describe a way of obtaining high quality feedback which will develop your skills on a continuing basis. It is simple and, when followed as described, can be trusted to produce a really worthwhile outcome - every time. However, do not be tempted to use only parts of the process, or miss out the ‘obvious bits’. It could lead to people feeling hurt or angry and will ultimately discredit the process. It will not do you a lot of good either, no matter what your role.

A model for change
When giving feedback we tend to offer people the benefit of our wisdom – whether they have asked for it or not. For maximum learning we need to give people every opportunity to work out for themselves what it is they need to do (change). For this

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reason, the core of the process is the provision of a source of high quality feedback on which to base possible changes. Three distinct parts: 1. The Receiver is given clear feedback (information) on how what s/he did was perceived by others. 2. In the light of the feedback, the Receiver is encouraged to process the information by reflecting 3. on changes he or she may consider making. 4. The Receiver is asked if s/he would like any advice to improve the performance in question. The first part is the most critical stage because it provides the reference against which any ideas for improvement will be assessed. Notice that the giving of advice is kept quite separate from the giving of feedback on performance. This separation helps the person feeding back the information to focus clearly on the actions rather than on thinking up a way to fix things. It also treats the Receiver as a fully-functioning adult quite capable of figuring out what to change and when (or whether) to ask for help. A personal view The information fed back should simply reflect how the actions affected, or were seen by, the observer. As with all feedback, be careful to describe the behaviour rather than judging it. Be very specific - no further questions required to know exactly what is meant Give with care . . . Those giving information need to take special care to ‘see the person’ rather than defining or labelling him/her , and to focus on behaviour the Receiver can do something about. Ignore feedback already given; if one person has already said it and it affected you in the same way, say it again. Two people saying the same thing greatly reinforces the point. The location in the room from which the observation is made gives valuable information about things such as eye contact, visibility of presentation material and voice projection. Include any point which could be of use to the Receiver. It may appear minor or irrelevant to the Giver, but could be important to the Receiver - allow her or him the opportunity to decide. The Receiver decides The Facilitator usually needs to remind the Receiver that s/he is the sole judge of the usefulness of the points fed back. Encourage him or her to listen without comment or challenge, quietly consider and filter the information, and feel free to select those points which seem to be helpful to him/her at that moment. The only exception to remaining quiet is where the Receiver needs clarification of a point, in which case it is done through the Facilitator. Deal with the word ‘negative’ Occasionally, concerns are raised about the word ‘negative’, mainly because it is considered that the word conjures up unhelpful thoughts of past events in which feedback has not been given well. These concerns need to be dealt with before the session starts. My approach is to talk about what is meant by the term and develop a common view of the way in

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which it is used in this context. That is, ‘it describes information intended to help, rather than to verbally club, the Receiver’. In the context of a supportive approach, the word negative is a non-event.

Gain high quality feedback
If the whole thing is starting to look a bit too difficult, scary, or perhaps not worth the effort; be assured; the process works, and it works very well. It is worth the effort and everyone I have worked with has found it to be a really safe, worthwhile, and enjoyable learning experience. Keep it simple Aim for brevity and clarity. There is no need to make a meal out of the whole thing. As you become familiar with the process, you will complete it very quickly and with a minimum of fuss - use, learn and enjoy.

1. Select the people
The Receiver of the feedback chooses a Facilitator to ensure that the process remains absolutely safe and is not discredited in any way. S/he may also want to choose the people who will give the feedback - the resultant Group may comprise all of the people present at the event (a meeting or whatever), or a selection of people who agree to stay back to give feedback. Those who do agree to give feedback need to have the appropriate experience and the confidence of the Receiver. Four to eight people is a good number,. Fewer can work very well, more than eight becomes cumbersome, time-consuming, and may generate a bit too much feedback for the Receiver to sieve through. More than eight also requires a lot more facilitation skill and effort.

2. Explain the process, its purpose and your role
The Facilitator now briefly outlines the process format, rules and purpose for giving the feedback. The Process: "We are going to give Carol negative and positive feedback on her performance. We will start with a round of negative feedback and follow with a round of positive feedback”. The purpose: “Our purpose in giving this information is to help Carol refine her performance - it is not for any other purpose” The Facilitators role and intent: “I will facilitate the process and ensure that Carol receives feedback which is supportively given, clear and specific. With this in mind, I will immediately interrupt any feedback which is not in line with the guidelines we have agreed upon”.

3. Check for understanding.
Clarification: "Before we begin the feedback process, I will move around the group to clear-up any misunderstandings or ambiguities you may have about (the feedback topic).”

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4. Focus the feedback
The Facilitator asks the Receiver to specify any special points on which s/he would like the group to focus (not to the exclusion of other feedback) when giving their individual feedback. Highlights: “Carol, are there any particular aspects of your presentation that you would like us to focus our feedback on?”. or Special Attention: “Carol, what aspects of your presentation would you like to be given special attention?”.

5. Apply the filter
It is likely that not all the feedback will be of immediate use to the Receiver at that moment. It is important to remind her or him to filter what is heard, without comment, for its relevance. Point out to the Receiver that, if necessary, s/he can improve the usefulness of the feedback by asking for further detail through you, the Facilitator. The reminder: “Carol, be careful to select from the feedback, those bits that are useful to you at this time. Ask me for any clarification you may need - okay?”.

6. Start with the Receiver
The Receiver now assesses herself or himself on the negative only. Those unhelpful actions and events with regard to what was done. At this stage it may be useful to have some reference criteria worked out depending on the complexity of the subject. Starting the round: “Carol, what are your negatives about . . .”

7. Take out the ‘news-value’.
Before allowing the rest of the group to give their negative feedback, ask them to help the receiver to ‘hear’ what is about to be said by letting him or her know how many points will be fed back. People may have one fairly long point or several very quick ones. It helps the Receiver if s/he knows what is in store and avoids an inclination to ‘shut down’ if it seems to be going on a bit long. With new groups it is a good idea for the Facilitator to lead the way in the feedback round. Taking out the News-value: “Carol, I have six negative points to feed back to you. Four of them are quite quick”.

8. Bring in the rest of the group
Moving the focus around the group, invite each person (include yourself), to give his or her point by point negative views to the Receiver; directly and in the first person. The information is given with special attention to the guidelines for giving helpful feedback covered in Give helpful feedback. Interrupt any comment or discussion and do not allow any mixing of positives with this round. Asking the first group member to give feedback: “Jim, please give Carol your negative feedback now. Be sure to use the sequence: name; pause; eye contact; before starting your feedback”.

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Where necessary, help people to turn a piece of general feedback into specifics: “What did Carol do that gave you that impression?” “What led you to that conclusion?” “At what point did Carol do that?” “What did you mean when you said . . .?” “How did Carol do that?”

9. Cover the positive points
You are now ready to give a round of positives - again begun by the Receiver and followed by the rest of the group in the same order as for the negative round. The positive impressions are given with reference to the same criteria as for the previous round and with the same or greater care. Never miss this round out, it is very powerful in affirming the person’s self-esteem. Start with the Receiver asking for his/her own positive assessment - as with the round of negatives. Immediately interrupt any discussion or comment and cut off any direct or indirect negative comments. Lack of a negative is not a positive Be careful to give only positives. The presentation of a lack of a negative behaviour as a positive eg. “you didn’t block our view of the potting wheel that time” is not a positive! Helpful feedback takes the form of “I liked your explanation just before you moved onto the new phase of the work, it gave me a chance to check my understanding”.

10. Bringing in the rest of the group - Positives
Invite the remainder of the group (including yourself), to give their positives directly to the Receiver (as for the round of negative points). Remind everyone to describe specific actions or events and to give positives only. Follow the guidelines above, cut-off any negatives, and channel any discussion through you, the Facilitator.

11 Enhance the learning (create space for reflection and collection of thoughts)
At the conclusion of the positive feedback round, ask the Receiver a question to focus his/her mind on the key pieces of learning that they have gleaned from the session. On occasion the Receiver may require more time to consider things in which case you need to exercise your judgement as to whether or not it will be helpful to the Receiver to do this part. However, this is rarely an issue and as a rule you should do this part. Providing a focus. “Carol, to help you to focus on the key learning for you from this session, what changes are you considering as a result of the feedback you have received?”

12 Expand the Receiver’s options
Now is the time to ask the Receiver if s/he would like any improvement ideas or thoughts. Yes; at last you can give advice! This is a high point at workshops. Giving advice. “Carol. Would you like some improvement ideas on particular points of your presentation (or whatever)?”

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13. Prevent unsafe feedback.
Go around the group and ask each person to agree not to give any further feedback to (name) after the close of the session. They can discuss the topic but not the person’s performance. This is very important - casual, uncontrolled feedback can be very damaging. Preventing unsafe feedback: "I need your agreement not to discuss Carol’s performance or give any further feedback to Carol, beyond this point. Please feel free to talk about the topic or content, but not the manner in which it was given. Jan, how are you with that? (and so on around the group)”.

14. Close off the session.
Thank everyone and clearly close off the session so that there is not doubt that it has finished. (Based on a model developed by John Heron & further work with Tom Watkins) Well, there it is. Use the process whenever you want to accelerate your learning. It works well and multiplies your learning rate many times over. Use it to motor ahead creating the future you need.

Self assessment
Recall 1. What is one of the world’s great excesses described in this chapter? 2. What is the purpose of ‘Self-improvement feedback? 3. Outline the sequence for carrying out the feedback process. 4. At the end of a Self-improvement feedback session, what is the last thing you must do? Observe 5. In your experience, how often is feedback on meeting or presentation performance sought or encouraged? Practise 6. At the next meeting you lead or facilitate (even if it is only 2-3 people), ask for feedback to help you to improve. Use the Self-improvement feedback process. Note down your thoughts as to how you felt about the process and the outcomes.

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23 Enhance your learning
Congratulations on working your way to this point. By taking charge of where you want to go and developing the skills which support the changes will you get there. I have done my best to pass on any skill or information which will help you to create the future you want. However, it is impossible to cover everything and I have not been able to go into many items in as much depth as I would like. Also the spontaneity and interaction of the live situation is lost. To maximise and accelerate your learning, I strongly recommend that you attend our workshops. They will help you to fit your new skills firmly into place, explore the viewpoints of other people and expand on those areas of particular interest to you. The Creative Learning Network workshops At the start of the book, I mentioned that the development of any skill requires practice to transform understanding into learning, that is, to change behaviour. The good news is that the process can be speeded up by working with, and learning from, other like-minded people. At our workshops, we focus strongly on creating a fun and very safe environment in which you can try out new skills and rehearse specific situations. We also provide you with an opportunity to work in-depth on areas of particular interest to you. In this strongly creative environment you are able to enjoy discussing some of the deeper aspects of concepts such as the Self-fulfilling Cycle, developing personal Guiding Principles, trying out the DENIBAW process. Along the way you also have plenty of fun and enjoy the opportunity of networking with other participants - some of these can end up being quite long term contacts or friendships.

Self assessment
Recall 1. What are the benefits of working with others in a safe environment? Observe 4. How many of your friends actually get around to practising new skills (rather than just talking about them)? Practise 5. Grab a telephone, fax, computer or piece of paper and contact The Creative Learning Network at: 6. Have fun.

Cheers

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24 A before and after and later check
Create your own self test
To help you to measure your overall progress, here is a list of situations which can be dealt well with using the skills covered in the book. I encourage you to do the test before you read the book, again after you have read it and whenever you are trying to relate your learning to real situations. At our workshops we work on real situations and the list below is typical of the sort of things that people have said that they needed to deal well with. I am sure that you will notice that you are not on your own. The aim is to find ways of improving how you would deal with each situation - there is no right or wrong answer. Also, it is likely that some of the listed situations will not present any difficulty to you and may even appear to be quite trivial - this is the way it is. A major hurdle for one person can be a non-event for another. Remember, the acid test as to whether a situation has become a problem for you is how you feel about it and whether you have acted to deal with it. How to answer the questions For each selected situation, imagine yourself being right there, feel how it would feel, what it would be like having to deal with it. Now, assuming that you want to deal with the situation in the best possible way, write down the steps you would take, and the exact words you would use to deal with it. I suggest that you only deal with the situations that interest you. Laugh and talk about them as much as possible: it accelerates the learning process and quickly moves you along the way to dealing with them.

Triggers for situations that I am avoiding or find it difficult to deal well with
1. When listening to someone I find that my mind wanders and I lose the thread of what s/he is saying. 2. I am working on an urgent task and someone I know comes to see me, clearly expecting me to listen to him/her about a serious problem right then and there! 3. A friend keeps on dropping into my office for a ‘chat’. It started out as an occasional thing but it is now becoming a source of irritation to me. 4. My colleague/manager drops a new load of ‘urgent’ work onto me without any consultation: this is the third time! 5. An angry colleague confronts me about something that I have done and is very rude to me. Up until now we have had a good working relationship and I would like to keep it that way. 6. I need to give a Performance Review to someone who has not been doing well. 7. A person, on whom I rely for the delivery of information, frequently delivers it late making it hard for me to meet my work priorities. 8. Each time that I go to speak to a person about a work problem s/he ‘blows-up’.

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9. I lent ten dollars to a friend to make an impulse buy. When I next met her, a few days later, she didn’t offer to pay me back. Several weeks later, I indicated that I expected to be paid and she gave me five dollars, saying that that was all she had on her. Weeks later, I still haven’t received the balance. 10. I am responsible for making many changes to help people in their work situations. I need to get their ‘buy-in’ but am finding it really hard to ‘sell’ the changes. 11. At a regular meeting that I lead, two people keep on having little side conversations, and the like, which are distracting to myself and others. I have mentioned it at the meeting on several occasions but they keep on doing it. I am annoyed and want things to change but do not want to make a major deal out of it. It is not a huge issue, but it has been going on for quite some time. 12. The ‘office support’ person keeps on coming over and making changes to my computer equipment without checking with me first. She is very nice and authorised to work on the gear but I still feel quite annoyed about it. 13. I did some ‘urgent’ work for a friend only to find, a week later, that it was still not acted upon; this has happened a number of times. 14. At many of the meetings that I attend, I am unsure as to when they are going to end (they frequently go for far longer than seems necessary). 15. I realise that I am avoiding doing something that I know I need to act on/do. 16. My manager frequently criticises me in front of others over trivial issues. 17. At the end of the day I often feel quite stressed and as if I haven’t achieved much, yet I have been very busy! 18. I feel really uncomfortable about giving negative feedback to people - especially friends and colleagues. 19. A friend keeps on ringing me up and asking me to go out. I’m not sure how to say no without hurting her feelings or getting into an argument. 20. At some meetings I am annoyed at being held up by people who regularly arrive late. 21. I find myself getting into arguments with people about changes that need to be made and I don’t know how to resolve them well. 22. As a manager, I find it quite difficult to criticise someone else’s behaviour at a Performance Review. I reflect on having done the same sort of thing and that it may in turn lead to me being criticised. 23. I drew a person’s attention to behaviour which I find unhelpful. The person agreed to stop but still does it. 24. I have made a personal appointment with a senior manager about a matter that is very important to me. When I arrive, she is working on a document, waves me to a chair and asks what it is that I want to discuss. She asks if it is okay to continue editing an important report that she has to get out and hopes that “I don’t mind if she continues working on it”. She assures me that she will be listening attentively. 25. When faced with the need to make a quick decision between two great sounding opportunities, I find it hard to decide what to do.

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26. The service engineer has ‘fixed’ my machine three times and on each occasion says “it will be alright now”. I am fed-up about what is happening, want to get someone else to fix it, but feel unhappy about having to confront the person. 27. A senior person keeps on swearing at me in front of others. I feel demeaned by the behaviour and need to deal with it but am anxious about how it will affect my job. 28. A manager at my workplace often comes and stands with his arms folded looking at the area in which I work but not saying anything. 29. Often, I am just starting to relate a really good story to a friend, when he comes in with his ‘bigger and better’ story over the top of mine and mine is lost. 30. Meetings that I attend drift all over the place, result in few useful outcomes and generally waste my time. 31. I am finding a person’s behaviour quite annoying and have made several pointed remarks hoping that he would ‘get the message’ but to little effect. 32. I don’t know what to say or advise when a friend starts to tell me about a very serious personal situation which he is finding really difficult to deal with. 33. I have gone ahead and done some work and then found that what I have done is not what was required. 34. As the office junior, I am expected to keep the kitchen tidy but most others leave it looking a mess, making it really hard for me to keep the place looking clean and tidy. 35. When faced with a particular situation, I find it very difficult to avoid becoming angry and giving someone ‘a piece of my mind’. 36. Other people and groups make decisions which directly affect my work, but without asking for my input. 37. I send e-mails and leave voice messages for a person which need a reply, but I rarely (if ever) get one. 38. When ‘negotiating’ I seem to get locked into the same old ritual and not get down to the real issues. 39. Two people who report to me are in deep conflict over what they see as needing to happen - the situation is affecting others in the department. 40. I find it difficult to maintain a focus on what really needs to be done rather than simply responding to urgencies. 41. A colleague often makes little snide remarks about me to others (in front of me). 42. Unless I do something wrong, I get little feedback on how I am doing. What I do get is ‘off-the-cuff’, flippant remarks which are of little help to me. 43. I was given some extra work to do and then later on it was taken away from me without any explanation. I am unhappy because it seems to reflect on my ability to do the job. 44. I have certain, set and time-bound, tasks to do each day. My manager often gives me an urgent job to do that will stop me from getting one of my tasks done by the required time. This has happened with this manager on a number of occasions (she also contributes to my year end performance review). 45. A colleague just walks in and expects me to drop everything and do an urgent task for her.
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46. As I go to make a cup of coffee, I pass another person coming out of the kitchen and find the bench covered with chocolate drink and a dirty cup sitting in a ring of milk. I have encountered this on several occasions just after this person has been in there. 47. I am frustrated by the difficulty of meeting expected work standards with my equipment. My manager has made it clear to us that she cannot spend any money in our area and that we are not to ask. 48. On several occasions, I have gone to my manager to discuss things that have gone wrong and been given a long lecture on what I ‘should’ have done. I no longer bother going to see him about things any more. 49. When given a compliment I often dismiss it with a silly comment, say “it was nothing” or diminish its impact in some other way. 50. I give instructions to people but they seem to go away and do the wrong thing. 51. A colleague, to whom I send draft documents to keep her in touch with what I am doing, often sends them back with ‘red pen’ edits all over them relating to the grammatical structure. I find this intensely frustrating because that wasn’t the reason that I sent them to her. 52. A fellow manager, who missed out on getting my job, is going out of her way to avoid me and I am finding it very difficult to get her input on things. We talk to each other, but only on a superficial level. 53. I have been told that a specific person is spreading untrue tales about my work. 54. When complimenting someone I am never quite sure what to say.

Self assessment
Recall 1. Which situations pressed your buttons? Observe 2. How many other situations can you add to the list? Practise 3. Rehearse your favourite situations with a view to achieving a positive outcome and then apply them ‘in real life’. 4. Enjoy the improvements and surprise at how well everything went.

© Ian Oldham 1997

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Here are a few books which for various reasons you may find to be helpful in moving forward. The listed titles cover a wide range of related topics - some going back quite a few years but still relevant today - to give a different perspective, ‘stir the pot’ or because they look interesting. I have not necessarily read the latest version, everything from cover to cover, or each author’s total offering. However, there is enough here to provide interesting and challenging reading and links to other topics. Accelerated Learning (Dell Publishing 1989) Blink (Penguin 2006) Built to Last (Random House 2000) Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway (Arrow Books 1991) Gods of Management (Arrow Books 1995) Guide To The Management Gurus (Century Business 1996) I Win You Win (Penguin 1992) If You Want To Be Rich & Happy . . . (Aslan Publishing 1995) Kaizen (Random House 1986) Kaizen-Key To Japan’s Competitive Success (McGraw 1989) Liberation Management (Fawcett Books 1994) Mind Power (Zoetic Inc. 1990) Management (Pan Books 1977) Man’s Search For Meaning (Touchstone-Simon & Schuster 1984)
© Ian Oldham 1997

Colin Rose ISBN 0-440-50044-3 Malcolm Gladwell ISBN 978 0 141 01459 3 James Collins & Jerry Porras ISBN 0-7126-6968 X Susan Jeffers ISBN 0 09 974100 8 Charles Handy ISBN 0 09 954841 0 Carol Kennedy ISBN 0 7126 7604 X Wertheim, Love, Lifflefield, Peck ISBN 0 14 015870-7 Robert T Kiyosaki ISBN 09 44 03159 5 Masaaki Imai ISBN 394-55186-9 Masaaki Imai ISBN 0-07 554 332 X Tom Peters ISBN 0 449 90888 7 John Kehoe ISBN 0-9694059-0-1 Peter Drucker ISBN 0 330 25638 6 Viktor Frankl ISBN 0 671-24422-1

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Six Thinking Hats (Penguin Books 2000) The Consolations of philosophy (Penguin Books 2000) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon & Schuster 1992) The Age of Unreason (Arrow Business Books 1995) The Deming Management Method (Perigee 1986) The Essential Marcus Aurelius (Tarcher-Penguin Group 2008) The Wisdom of Teams (Harvard Business School Press 1992) Thriving On Chaos (HarperCollins 1991) Use Your Memory (BBC 1995) Yes or No (Fontana 1996) Zapp. (The lightning of Empowerment) (British Books Ltd 1996)

Edward De Bono ISBN 978-0141-03755-4 Alain Du Botton ISBN 978-0141-03837-7 Stephen R Covey ISBN 0 671 71117 2 Charles Handy ISBN 0-09-954831-3 Mary Walton ISBN 0-399 55000-3 Jacob Needleman & John Piazza ISBN 978-1-58542-617-1 Jon R Katzenbach, Douglas K Smith ISBN 0 87584 367 0 Tom Peters ISBN 0 0609 7184 3 Tony Buzan ISBN 0-563-37102 1 Spencer Johnson ISBN 0-00-637927-3 William C Byham with Jeff Cox ISBN 0-09-174922-0

© Ian Oldham 1997

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© Ian Oldham 1997

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