Know Yourself

Know Yourself

How well do you know yourself? We all like to think we know ourselves really well. We might also know a lot of our own strengths, foibles and development areas.

That might not actually be true. And that’s hard for some of us to face … others might actually know us better than we know ourselves.

Sometimes it might be our family – the ones we love (and who have to put up with the most from us!). Maybe it’s our friends – the ones we turn to for support and a good laugh. On other occasions, it might be our colleagues and co-workers. They probably actually see us for longer each day than our friends and family! That’s something to think about.

When you’re spending so much time with people, you’re bound to get on one another’s nerves from time to time. In fact, you may find that one of your co-workers “always” does something you’d rather they didn’t. What you may not know is that they may well think that you “always” do something irritating too. There are some uncomfortable truths that lurk beneath the surface in most workplaces. Those truths may just be perceptions. Perceptions can lay the foundation for misunderstandings. And if there’s misunderstandings, there may be miscommunication. Poor workplace communication is often at the root of low morale, poor motivation and ultimately poor productivity.

 

There is another way

To know yourself, and to know others around you, you could ask the people around you what they think of how you behave. They may well want the best for you and therefore be helpful with their feedback. They may also feel awkward about giving you feedback about things you do that you ought to either do better, do less, or indeed stop altogether!

Asking people what they think of you is a high-wire act, for you and them. It can put a toll on friendships in and out of work. It can also prey on your mind, if they give you things to think about but you don’t quite understand what they meant, or how it might affect them. And if it affects them in that way, does that mean EVERYONE around you thinks this? That could be really wonderful – or really awful, depending on the feedback.

 

There is a better way to know yourself.

How would it be if you could ask for objective feedback in a way that is anonymous, easy to do, and which explains the implications of the feedback to you. Sounds good, right? Well, that means you might like to consider taking a behavioural profile assessment.

There are a wide range out there on the market, but most of them focus on psychology-based descriptions of tendencies, preferences or “styles” as they are often known. Most are structured as some form of online questionnaire.

After the online questionnaire is completed, you should receive a report, generated by highly complex algorithms to match your answers against the preferences, tendencies or “styles” of the particular profiling tool you’re using. This report will give you feedback on how you are likely to behave in given situations. The report is likely to give you feedback on how others might see you, particularly if they have a different “style” from yours. What’s more, the report can give you priceless new insights into how you do what you do, and why others react to you as they do.

Following on from this, you might well think that, if everyone in your team had this profile, the level of mutual understanding and clarity of communication would skyrocket. And you might well be right. How might this be?

Well, for one thing, everyone having the same profiling assessment applied to them would give you all a common language with which to describe one another’s actions and behaviours. In addition, you would all have reports which offer an independent, objective lens through which to view yourselves. Finally, you would all have a way to understand the impact of your actions on one another.

 

The assessments I use

I use a range of profiling assessments. In other blogs I have explained why I use a needs analysis tool to improve team communication. However, sometimes, it is people’s personal style which is the stumbling block. That’s where I use:

These products are all different, highlighting different aspects of a person’s behaviours in work. Some focus on leadership specifically, some focus on key interactions. All of them are strengths-based, highlighting where people are strongest or more intense in their preferences, tendencies or “styles”.

Specifically, what questions would these products help you to answer? Well, they would help you understand or confirm your key strengths. That is always helpful, so you know how and when to deploy your resources to the best effect. No one has time to volunteer to do everything, including things they’re not great at doing, so maybe take this opportunity to focus your skillset on what you do best?

Next, these profiles could help you understand why you find some people easier to get along with in the workplace. Normally, there will be some who feel really on your “wavelength”. There will be some who make you wonder if you are speaking a foreign language when speaking to them, because they either don’t understand you or take offence at things that you simply don’t get.

There are lots of biases at play in the workplace (and in all human relationships); affinity bias is the source of the “he’s one of us” mentality that results in firms recruiting people in the image of the recruiter. This lack of diversity stifles innovation and, ultimately, productivity. So to avoid the inevitable biases at play in your workplace, using an objective assessment of people’s preferences and behaviours is a great way to introduce different points of view, whilst keeping a shared language in play all the while. It’s easy, cost-effective (particularly when compared with the cost of replacing disaffected leavers) and it really works. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t use profiling in my practice.

If you want to find out more …

Please get in touch. We can have a chat so you can explain precisely what your challenge is with your team (or maybe yourself). I can then offer you the profiling assessment which would best meet your needs in my professional opinion. You can access sample reports to get a feel for what you would be finding out. And you can be sure that nothing will be sold “at” you – everything my company provides to clients is necessary and appropriate.

I look forward to explaining all about these great leadership tools to you soon.

 

Image courtesy of Canva.

 

 

Needs, leadership … and the bottom line

Needs, leadership … and the bottom line

What are your people’s needs in work?  Do you know?  How do you know?

In this blog I explore the importance of having a motivated and engaged workforce.  I also discuss how a superb diagnostic, which I use in my consultancy, can really help you understand the people in your organisation, to improve your leadership AND your bottom line.

People come to work to have their needs met.  For some it is purely financial – they work to earn to live.  For others, it can also be a social need – they value being part of a successful team, or joining in office banter, or somewhere to get them out of the house and into a different world.  Actually, there are probably as many needs to be met in the everyday workplace as there are individuals. Added to that, some people’s needs (ie for a quiet office) may contradict the needs of others (for example, those that love lively office banter).  That’s a lot for any leader to keep on top of, all day, every day.

Leadership theory, citing Herzberg, often calls these needs “hygiene factors”, or “motivational factors”.  Some needs are crucial for survival (water, food, shelter …) and some are pretty crucial for sustained satisfaction (appreciation, emotional warmth, trust).  It is important to understand what makes your people tick.  After all, if you don’t, you cannot possibly expect them to give of their best for you and your organisation.  Why should they?  Their needs are not being met, despite coming into work every day.  As a leader, you have a responsibility to address this.

What do leaders need to do about meeting needs in the workplace?

The first key point is that you need to understand that everyone’s needs are likely to be different, and that you can’t be expected to know them all.  Additionally, you also have a responsibility to balance people’s needs with the needs of your organisation, and that’s a skill and a half.  However, until you KNOW the needs you are dealing with, you are in fact hampering your own ability to succeed in leadership.

Sounds harsh?  Let’s see …

Can you spot people in your organisation who display the following characteristics?

  • Demotivated
  • Blaming others
  • Complaining about the same things, repeatedly
  • Leaving (or, more generally, high staff turnover)
  • Tribalism (Us and Them culture)
  • Being off-focus in their work
  • Underperformance
  • Random sick leave

If any of these sounds familiar, it is odds-on that you have people whose needs are not being met.

Let’s be clear, unmet needs don’t mean you are a bad leader

What it IS suggesting, however, is that you may have gaps or blind spots when it comes to your leadership skillset.  Nobody’s perfect, after all.  It is the mark of a strong and competent leader to admit they have gaps … AND a plan to fix them.  And this is the key.

This is the key because it is up to you to inspire and co-ordinate your people so that they get the best from themselves.  That is a tall order, admittedly.  It is, however, very doable once you know their needs in the workplace, and you meet them.  Treat them the way they want and NEED to be treated, not how you think you would want to be treated.  After all, you aren’t them and they aren’t you.

Nor is meeting individuals’ needs more important than the organisation’s needs

The employing organisation’s needs always have to have priority over an individual’s needs.  This is important to keep the organisation solvent and on track with its core purpose.  Nevertheless, successful organisations meet the collective need of the business case without neglecting the needs of individuals. In fact, they recognise that the drive and commitment that delivers against an organisation’s goals and targets come as a result of people’s needs being met.  Staff are more motivated, happier and very often more productive..

So how can you get better at meeting people’s needs?

The most important first step is to find out what their workplace needs are.  Then it’s important to find out, the extent to which your organisation is meeting those needs.

Here are some handy tips on how to go about this:

  • It’s important that you ask everyone.
  • A simple online survey is a great way to reach everyone.
  • Make sure your survey is anonymous.
  • Structure your survey so you can target specific areas (feedback, team spirit, handling performance etc etc)
  • Have a baseline for your survey, to capture your “as is” and then after a period of time to measure progress
  • Capture the feedback and share it with your teams
  • Invite your teams to comment on how the organisation could meet their needs better
  • Invite your teams to devise solutions
  • Take action based on the feedback …

 

That’s quite a long list.

Luckily, help is at hand

An Even Better Place to Work (BP2W) is an online needs analysis and leadership support tool, which has as its entry point the amazing Satisfaction@Work diagnostic.

This is a high value, low cost solution which really works. By low cost, I mean about 11p per person per day for the Level 1 diagnostic for a whole year!

Recently I was hosting a webinar when one of my BP2W clients, who happened to be on the webinar, gave an unprompted testimonial for the product.  He shared how the diagnostic had uncovered unmet needs right across his firm.  He also shared how, thanks to BP2W, the firm had been able to take action to address this, resulting in greater team cohesion and sense of purpose.  I was really pleased, because he was bearing witness to the power, value and impact of this simple tool.

BP2W meets the needs of busy workplaces.

BP2W has been used by small firms like my clients’, but one of the first to use it were Siemens and PepsiCo.  It is widely used in the NHS in the UK too.  The impressive support platform has the diagnostic, but also great team engagement tools, posters, videos … and backup support from your reseller (me!).  The survey is thorough but really fast to complete online, the results are anonymised with care, and the results are presented in a way which doesn’t attack the leadership.  It really is the win-win solution.

If this sounds like something your organisation could use, please get in touch.  We can have a chat, I can give you a brief guided tour around the demonstration model online and you can see for yourself how easy, cost-effective and powerful it could be for you.  Just think of the time, recruitment fees and general hassle it would save!

 

How needs-aware are you?

How needs-aware are you?

In my blogs, I refer frequently to the importance of leaders meeting their teams’ needs.  To do this well, they need to be needs-aware.

I am proud to be a certified licensed reseller for An Even Better Place to Work (BP2W) and yes this could be seen as a sales pitch. However please don’t leave the page just yet.  Please give me a chance to explain why I rate its entry-level diagnostic Satisfaction@Work as a product (and leadership solution) so highly.

First, there is the business case for being more needs-aware

It is a low cost, high impact online diagnostic and leadership support tool that really works.

The providers of BP2W give this as the official business case argument:

“Every organisation strives for more efficiency, increased performance and higher profitability. It’s a default state required for growth and evolution. The key to achieving these goals lies in your people. If your staff are happy, motivated and engaged at work they are more likely to give their best. Unfortunately, the reverse of these conditions are also true. The cost of disengaged people in the workplace is huge. Relationship breakdown and dysfunctional conflict contribute to one of the largest hidden business costs”.

They even provide a calculator so you can put numbers to the unmet needs in your organisation!

As I write this, it is live in a couple of client sites and both are finding it incredibly useful.  In both, feedback was the biggest gap in their leadership toolkit – everyone was just too busy to carry out effective, regular and engaging performance development conversations.

No structured performance development framework meant that leaders and staff were unaware of what the other wanted.  That led to underperformance, demotivated workers and, in one site, staff departing regularly because they felt completely valueless.

In just one quarter (three months), both organisations took the feedback on board, introduced performance reviews – and opened up a much-needed dialogue between managers and staff.  Put simply, the leaders are now more needs-aware.

The next quarterly survey in one site has already shown significant improvement in staff satisfaction in this area.  Can the leaders there rest on their laurels?  No, and they don’t want to.  They have seen the difference this engagement has made in their business.  Now, they are looking at other measures, such as better time and resource management, getting to know and understand one another’s behaviours and personalities etc.  People are more productive and there are fewer departures.  In just three months.

Next, there is the benefit for the organisation as a whole

 Here’s the official BP2W rationale:

 Attract and retain quality people. Become an employer of choice. With BP2W® you can expect fewer people problems, less attrition and reduced staff turnover. This frees up time for leaders to lead and focus more on strategy and the business of the day.”

In both my clients’ sites, there is actual dialogue between managers and teams.  Actually, in some sites this is happening for the first time, and it has caused a bit of surprise or even cynicism.  Staff turnover in this site remains a key issue, because of the costs it results in.  Things have been said in the past, and nothing has changed.  Why should this be any different?

That’s easy.  It’s because BP2W is different.  It is styled as a simple anonymous online survey.  In fact, it’s a highly-complex psychological profiling tool, applied to individuals, and collated by team. The answers to the survey make leaders more needs-aware.  They do this by enabling staff to grade how well leaders meet their needs as individuals.  This helps people highlight things to their leaders in ways that perhaps they didn’t think of before.  That’s the skill that has gone into the development of this product, born of solving issues of unmet need in some high-risk, volatile circumstances.

The questions are also phrased in such a way that the leaders don’t feel completely criticised.  This is crucial to the buy-in and adoption of the findings.  BP2W brings people together to solve a shared problem.

And then, the benefits of being more needs-aware for teams and individuals

“Feeling valued and listened to are key ingredients for high esteem, morale and motivation. BP2W® cultivates a needs met’ culture resulting in individuals becoming more accountable, collaborative and receptive to feedback. For teams this creates a stronger sense of unity and identity. With the politics out of the way, teams become more solution focused leading directly to higher productivity.”

In my clients’ sites, I deal largely with the management, so I don’t see the individuals very often.  However, a couple of employees from one client have got in touch, to explore the diagnostic some more, and to find out how they can deepen their personal learning.  These are really positive signs of engagement, which may not have happened before.  It is early days with both clients, but to be stimulating intelligent and informed debate this early has to be a win.  Discussions aid a collaborative approach in the workplace, which builds the unity, team spirit and effectiveness that ever leader would want.

As you read this, I am pretty confident you can remember a time when you had a “bad boss”.  And you probably define “bad” as not listening, not taking time for you, not understanding what you needed in work.  Despite this experience, can you hand-on-heart say that you don’t slip into those behaviours now, as a leader?  DO you really know what is going on for your team?  Are their needs ACTUALLY being met?  How receptive to feedback and fresh ideas are you?

In the event that your team are telling you their needs are being met, congratulations.  (I would still like you to check on how accurate that confirmation is, from time to time, please). You might also like to check that this translates as you being needs-aware AND that you are doing something to meet their evolving needs.

On the other hand…

If you are starting to think “OK, you may have a point …” then how about giving BP2W a go?  It is an excellent product, as I may have stated above!  In addition, its inventor is so confident you will love its benefits that you can sign up to the diagnostic for a FREE trial!  You can’t say fairer than that.

So please have a look at the BP2W website and watch some videos (there’s a wide range of informative talks to choose from which explain pretty much everything about the tool).  Then please get in touch, to find out how to access a trial, or to find out the great value entry level costs involved for your organisation.  You’ll be fully needs-aware before you know it.

 

How to know whether your team is “Thriving” ?

How to know whether your team is “Thriving” ?

How to know, whether your team is “thriving” in this new normal?  What do you do? And why is that so important?  I argue the case for profiling here.

Let’s start by defining “Thriving”.  Here is one definition:

“To grow vigorously; flourish.

To be successful or make steady progress; prosper”

(thefreedictionary.com)

If you apply this to your team, you are wanting them to develop, improve, be successful for themselves as well as your organisation, and be happy while they are doing all this.

What are your reference points, for you to gauge whether your team is thriving?  Do you have any?  Maybe they smile when you speak with them?  Perhaps they are continually working to a high standard?  You may be offering them lots of Continuous Professional Development opportunities that they would be mad to turn down.

If you were offered these assessment criteria by a supplier about something you are buying from them, would you settle for them?  Or would you drill down into the quality, frequency and reasoning of the checks?  That way, you could really understand how, what and why your supplier is measuring at all.  After all, that’s running a tight ship, isn’t it?

You may want to stop and think about that.

You could actually be taking a deal more care about a supplier and the widgets you buy from them, than your own team.  When you look at it like that, it’s not a great place to be as an employer, is it?

And if you have spotted that difference in attitude, you can bet your team has too.

 

So, what can you do to prevent this happening?

One thing you can do is check in with your people.  Ask them how they are doing and give them enough time and full attention to allow them to answer and know that you were listening.  Remember their important dates (birthdays, anniversary of joining the organisation, Christmas, Eid, Passover … whatever would work for them). Know if they have a new grandchild, or someone’s getting married, and definitely if they have lost someone close (that will have happened to so many during the pandemic).

Another top tip is to act on pet peeves, that you can collect when you are checking in with your team.  Is there something small and irritating that, if you could make sure there was more or less of it, would make people’s lives much better?  What’s stopping you wanting to make your team’s lives better?  You can be seen to be responsive AND tackle some hurdles to improved productivity into the bargain.

Keeping the lines of communication open, clear and honest is so important to effective leadership.  It is also crucial to helping your organisation bounce back better after the pandemic.  This is so important, because it is the best way to keep everyone on-message, engaged in the organisation’s future, and doing the right things at the right time, to get you all to where you need to be. Talking – and listening, are crucial leadership tools to check whether your team is thriving.

Listening to your team is particularly brilliant.  However, it does need your team to know how to answer your questions, and for you to know the right questions to ask.  How would you assess your team’s readiness to change?  How about their personal skills and strengths to deliver the bounce-back levels of delivery you will need? It is certain you will have an idea … but without checking in on that idea, it is probably just informed guesswork.  Just like prioritising widgets over people, that may not be your best leadership plan for a thriving team and organisation.

 

There is an easier way.

Profiling tools are a cost-effective and high-value way to know much more about your team, and to help them to know much more about themselves.  There are many profiling tools out there, but not that many which focus exclusively on people’s needs in work.  Add to that the fact that you want to check people’s individual views on how their needs are met in work, and link this to an ILM Certificate in Leadership for you and your top team, and there is only one.  An Even Better Place to Work, or affectionately known as BP2W.

BP2W offers your team the chance to answer a simple online questionnaire, which then gives them and you a detailed view of how needs are met across your whole organisation.  Why is this important?  When you create more happy and engaged people at work, levels of morale, commitment and productivity will flourish.  In other words, your team will thrive.

Not only that, but by identifying, measuring and then meeting people’s needs, you will create a culture which empowers your team, individually and collectively, to take ownership of their challenges, opportunities and overall performance. As the inventor of BP2W, Shay McConnon, says,

“People ask ‘what am I going to do?” not “what is management going to do for me?’ “.

Just imagine how fantastic it would be, to listen to your team, to get to know them this well AND to give them your honest efforts that really address their needs.  You will be making your organisation truly an Even Better Place to Work.

To find out more, and book a complimentary demonstration of the system, please get in touch.  You – and your team – will be so glad you did.