Monday, May 22, 2017

eTip #648 - Why Collaboration Needs Healthy Communication

Strong workplace collaboration can increase successful innovation by 15%! You’d be hard-pressed to find a hugely successful organization that doesn’t implement some form of collaboration on a regular basis to achieve their goals. But, when your team cannot communicate effectively, business success is shot before it even begins.
We’ve all been there. You respond to a client’s inquiry without knowing the new status of a project because no one filled you in. A colleague seemingly ignores an important e-mail and halts an entire project as a result. Or maybe your team avoids communicating a problem to a leader who is often times rude. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you know just how instrumental collaboration and communication are to business productivity.
Communications and collaboration go hand in hand in any healthy work environment. Failing to perfect this process can make or break your company’s overall success.  It is absolutely vital that each member of your team aligns on long-term business goals and the communications tactics needed to reach them together. Teams that master communication and collaboration tend to be more efficient and much happier.
2016 survey conducted by 15Five found that a whopping 81% of millennial employees would rather join a company that values open communication over a company that offers top of the line perks and benefits. The reason is clear! Broken communication hinders performance, causes frustration, and creates a lack of trust among colleagues.
When employees are unhappy with the communication dynamics at work, collaborative projects fail and customers are left unhappy. This drives homes Richard Branson’s famous theory that says putting your staff first comes full circle. Your happy employees create happy consumers, and your business’ achievements create happy shareholders. Successful business owners recognize that this cycle starts with healthy communication.
Which employee prefers texts over e-mails, and who dislikes who in your office may seem trivial at first. In the end however, these communication preferences matter because they affect your road to business success.
Reversing poor communications habits or creating better ones is not easy. Breaking down organizational silos can help. You can find tips to get started on our blog: Breaking Down Organizational Silos With Cross-Departmental Teams.
Many businesses opt to bring Dale Carnegie Training in house with customized programs or send team members to our Dale Carnegie Course to repair the lines of communication at work.
Successful communication looks different for every business. There is no one size fits all. That’s why Dale Carnegie creates programs tailor-made for middle-market organizations and beyond. We come in-house or off-site to turn around the communication climate of the companies we service. Our Dale Carnegie Course will teach professionals at all levels to maximize their performance and become stronger leaders who communicate effectively. The results are: completed projects and a happy team environment.
For more information, visit our website!

eTip #647 - Becoming an Influential Person Through Public Speaking

The adjective “influential” is described by Webster as having great influence on someone or something.  Synonyms include:  powerful, dominant, controlling, strong, authoritative, persuasive, significant, important, crucial, distinguished, affluential.
So why are we talking about an adjective?  Because this one word is a deal changer.
We’re attracted to influential people. You, me, your coworkers and friends. Influential people are admired, respected, and organically granted authority over others.
Most importantly, influential people have access and opportunity. They have access to resources, tools, and other people that non-influential people could never get near. They are presented with opportunities to advance, make money, build their businesses, and connect with other people for even more access and opportunity.
Becoming an influential person takes time, but it’s worth your trouble. There’s power in it. It will open doors and light the paths to success.
Conceptually, being influential is easy. You just have to add value to the lives of other people. You have to turn yourself into someone who oozes support, encouragement, and free information. When people are near you, you want them to perk up when you enter a room and listen intently to your words.
The first step to becoming an influential person is to start speaking publicly. That’s a terrifying thought for many people, but it’s not as bad as you think. Your first public appearance shouldn’t be a stadium full of people with rapt attention, waiting for you to suffer or sweat.
Start by making appearances at networking groups, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, industry-specific events, or any center of influence. You don’t have to sign up to be a keynote speaker right away, but you should find a way to make yourself seen by other people. Attend a side-event (like an after party or dinner) or participate in someone else’s contribution. A good way to get started is to introduce yourself to other influential people and ask questions.
Over time, you’ll become comfortable in settings where other people are looking at you. Your confidence in your own knowledge will grow, and you’ll find talking about your specialty easy.
Once that happens, double down on providing value. Give talks that teach people new concepts or discuss problems in your industry. Listen to the questions other people ask and turn them into talks, lectures, or group chats. Host a monthly discussion group, office hours, or workshop.
There is a growing trend of making oneself influential online. You can surely find countless sources of information in your space: Websites, newsletters, social media groups, etc. There’s a guru for everything. These methods have their place, but there’s nothing quite as valuable as one person’s face in front of another.
There’s power in person-to-person communication. You can be more powerful and valuable when the audience can study your face, watch your gestures, and hear your voice. If you really want to connect with people and become influential, you have to get close enough to shake their hand.
But that means you have to be engaging. You won’t have the luxury of editing your words, so you have to be able to communicate effectively on your feet. You need to capture people with your voice if you want them fully experience the value you’re providing.
Our High Impact Presentations course will give you the skills you need to communicate effectively, energize your audience (even if it’s one person), and transmit that value to other people – especially if you’re selling something.
Always remember: Relationships matter. Karma is real. If you provide value to other people, the value will come back to you. It might come back as education, as access to new tools, or opportunities for learning, growth, or new business. It could come back as referrals, partnerships, or easy sales.
The first step is to capturing that power is to make yourself known.
For more information, visit our website!

eTip # 646 - The Age of Falling in Love with Your Job

Times are changing. In fact, it seems like times are changing faster than ever, aren’t they?
Lately, we’ve talked a lot about millennials and their expectations. They don’t want the same things their parents and grandparents wanted. They aren’t happy with the same lifestyles, the 9-5 grinds, the commutes, the pushy bosses, and soulless jobs.
When they aren’t happy, millennials move. According to Gallup, millennials are the “job-hopping generation.” 21% have changed jobs in the last year, which is three times higher than non-millennials. 60% are open to a new position at any given time.
But why do they abandon ship so quickly? Are they poorly focused or hard to please? No, not at all.
Millennials have options. They are formally educated, which makes it easier to find new employment. They specialize in technical fields that are in demand. Their access to tools and ability to communicate means they can work anywhere – they aren’t limited to jobs in their area.
Most importantly, they’ve been told all their lives to “do what you love” and “follow your passion.” Well, they took that advice!
They want to work in places that align with their values. They want to feel like they are adding something to the world. Their work needs to have value to the lives of real people. They have to be part of a larger agenda that’s more than just “make as much money as possible.”
Young people have no tolerance for toxic work environments. They do not accept hostile, combative or inexperienced leadership. They won’t stick around to improve the situation. They won’t make formal complaints or drop notes in the suggestion box. They’ll just leave.
Times have changed. People want to fall in love with their jobs.
To compensate, there has been a shift in the way companies invest in their teams. Smart businesses are focusing on retention of good talent. They don’t want their employees to eye greener pastures right away.
Now, you aren’t going to keep your millennials forever. The days of working for the same organization for 30 or 40 years are over. As a leader, your job is to keep them as long as you can by giving them a work environment that maximizes their value and gives them reason to stay.
That reason is rarely money. That would be too easy. While people are motivated by compensation to some degree, their personal life satisfaction is more important.
Notice that word: life satisfaction. Work satisfaction isn’t enough. Young people want jobs that fit into their lives. They want their work and personal time to be balanced. They don’t mind working hard, but they insist that work and non-work complement one another.
There’s no doubt that as a leader, this makes your job harder. 30 years ago, all you would have had to worry about was whether the work was being done and at what efficiency. Now you have to make sure your team feels satisfied with their jobs, that their lives are complete and healthy, and that they feel challenged and purposeful.
You have to provide leadership that gives direction, but permits autonomy. You have to help them become engaged without forcing engagement.
We told them to love what they do, and they are certainly holding us to it. If you want to keep your people, you have to create an environment they love.
For more information, visit our website!

Monday, May 1, 2017

eTip #645 - Why Workplace Relationships and Perception Matter

Have you ever been in this situation before?
You hear through the grape vine that someone at work doesn’t think you like them. “That’s odd,” you think. “I don’t have a problem with that person. Why would they think that?”
Through some investigating (or maybe you were smart and went directly to the source), you learn that some people feel you’re a cold person because you walk briskly into the office each morning, failing to say, “good morning” or “hello” to anyone.
Maybe you have a lot on your mind. Maybe you’re eager to start your day. Maybe you assume you see those people enough that simple pleasantries aren’t necessary anymore. For whatever reason, you come off as aggressive and distant.
If you haven’t been in that situation, you probably know someone who has. Or you’ve been in a similar situation where your actions and words didn’t match your feelings and intentions, which caused a misunderstanding or miscommunication.
These situations can be maddeningly frustrating. No one wants to play politics. No one wants to parse every word or expression, but you have to work with your colleagues. If you aren’t approachable, the work will suffer.
This problem is compounded for leaders. If the team doesn’t respect its leader, that leader’s effectiveness will erode over time. No one works hard for someone they don’t like.
The takeaway here is that perception matters.
If your behavior makes you seem angry, cold, miserable, or depressed, then for all intents and purposes, you are. It doesn’t matter if you spend your day thinking about puppies and rainbows. Other people can only judge you by your behavior.
Does that mean you should force a smile all day, pretend to be happy, and drop cute witticisms? No, that’s actually unhealthy. But you should find ways to let what you feel inside show on the outside.
(And if what you feel inside does match those negative qualities, speak to someone who can help.)
Furthermore, if you find yourself in situations like we mentioned before, you should work to become more socially aware. It would be nice if everyone could leave their egos and feelings at the door, but that isn’t practical. If a coworker’s or employee’s behavior isn’t normal, ask yourself why and if you have anything to do with it.
Relationships are important, even in the workplace. Forty or fifty years ago, it wasn’t unusual to have teams led by bosses who were gruff, commanding, and unyielding. The whole concept of leadership has changed since then. People don’t want to be pushed toward a goal. They want to be engaged, incentivized, inspired, and empowered. They expect positive relationships.
How do we know? Look at any team with aggressive, narcissistic, forceful, or otherwise unpleasant leaders. The symptoms are always the same: Poor output, high turnover, and little employee investment. Like we said, no one works hard for (or with) someone they don’t like.
So, whether you’re part of a team or its leader, you have to accept that perception is important. We can’t tell you exactly which behaviors will make your coworkers comfortable. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.
The best strategy is to keep your eyes open and look for abnormalities. Are people distant? Do they avoid you at lunch? Do they talk behind your back? If so, consider how you can engage them to repair your relationship and improve the team’s performance.
For more information, visit our website!

Monday, April 24, 2017

eTip #644 - How You Respond to Conflict is the True Mark of a Leader

As a manager or leader, you’re going to deal with conflicts. There’s no avoiding it, especially when people work closely with one another. Some managers say they spend up to 25% of their time resolving conflicts between employees.  That’s a lot of time!
Here’s the thing about conflict: You have to take it seriously.
Employee conflict isn’t a distraction from your job. It’s part of your job. If you expect to work in leadership roles, you ought to get used to dealing with it. If you become a leader who excels at recognizing growing conflicts and diffusing problems, your team will always be more productive and less-stressed than other teams. Less stress also means happier teams, which I don’t know about you – but if my team is happy, I’m happy!
It’s easy to dismiss other people’s problems as “pettiness” or “drama.” We’re all guilty of that at some point, and we all have avoided someone because they “create so much drama.”
But that mentality doesn’t solve anything. It only isolates people. And isolation is not something we can tolerate in the workplace.
You might think “I can just fire people who create problems.” Technically, that’s a solution, but everyone has problems, so you’ll just create an environment with lots of stress and high turnover and retraining costs.
Imagine if you were struggling with a coworker and your boss said “Bob, stop being dramatic and go back to work.” How demoralized would you feel? You’d probably be browsing that evening!
So, in order to resolve conflicts between people (whether it’s between other people or one of those parties is yourself), you have to assume that every problem is legitimate.
That doesn’t mean every problem requires a solution, or that every problem should be handled the same way. But it means that you must approach all conflicts with an honest attitude and a willingness to solve them.
For instance, let’s say Maria is upset that Jim uses her desk supplies and never returns them. Sure, her problem isn’t as big as, say, embezzlement or sexual harassment, but it is a serious problem for Maria that’s affecting her life and work.
Maria’s frustrating problem is probably manifesting in other ways, too. She may fail to invest herself in projects that involve Jim. She might delay responding to Jim’s emails or resist his ideas. There could be a general tension in the office that other employees can feel.  Passive Aggression at its finest.
So, Maria’s problem isn’t “just drama” because it can have tangible effects on your business. Plus, Maria is a human who is entitled to healthy leadership from her manager and a comfortable work environment.
As a manager or leader, avoiding conflict is always a mistake. Left unchecked, conflict will erode your business.
Leadership advisor Matt Myatt says it perfectly: “Conflict rarely resolves itself – in fact, conflict normally escalates if not dealt with proactively and properly. It is not at all uncommon to see what might have been a non-event manifest itself into a monumental problem if not resolved early on.”
So how do you do it? Start with genuine concern. Show both parties that you take the problem seriously and want to uncover a solution that makes everyone comfortable at work.
Second, have everyone voice their concerns. In many cases, you’ll find that some parties aren’t even aware that another person is upset. Jim might not even know that Maria is frustrated with his behavior. Simply making Jim aware of the problem will probably solve it.
Third, use constructive language. Poor language: “OK, why are you guys so pissed off?” Good language: “I feel some tension and want to help make everyone more comfortable.” Address the problem, not the people with the problem. Take your emotions off the table. You must be objective.
Fourth, provide actionable solutions. “Be nice to one another” isn’t a solution. It’s what we tell children. You must give people goalposts to reach. You might say “Jim, please ask Maria before you borrow her supplies. Maria, if you feel Jim doesn’t respect your things, please let him know right away.”
Obviously, that’s an abridged version of the process. We discuss employee conflicts in more detail in our Leadership Training for Managers course. To see a full list of course offerings – Click Here!
Here’s the most important piece you should take away: No one thinks their own problems are drama. No one wants to be dismissed. Everyone wants their manager or leader to take their problems seriously.
Be that leader and your team will walk through hot coals for you.
For more information, visit our website 

eTip #643 - The Truth About Communicating with Other Generations

If you look around your work, your school, or your social groups, you’ll notice a phenomenon repeat itself everywhere: We surround ourselves with people like us.
That isn’t a surprise, of course. People like us grew up in similar environments, liking the same things, and having similar experiences. We have similar tastes in humor, entertainment, politics, etc.
Often (but not always) this means our cliques are filled with people of similar ages. We know how to communicate with those people.
Talking to people our own age is easy. There’s no barrier. There’s nothing to figure out. Jokes, references, satire, innuendo… They are put out and picked up easily in conversation. Even body language and posture are understood comfortably.
But life doesn’t allow us to isolate ourselves amongst similar people. Often, we have no choice but to work and live alongside people who are older or younger than ourselves.
That’s a good thing, really. We should venture outside of our comfort zones if we want to grow. When you surround yourself with people who are different, you gain a unique perspective. Diversity breeds innovation, they say.
Without similarities to rely on, however, communication with different people can be challenging. There is no familiar ground to fall back on. Communication errors can happen. People might be confused or offended. This happens a lot when we talk to people outside of our age group, especially when there’s a large gap between parties.
There’s a lot of advice we can give you about dealing with each generation. We could tell you that Millennials are strong with written communication, so they prefer emails and text messages. We could tell you that Baby Boomers respect formality and appreciate having options. We could tell you that Generation X likes receiving and giving feedback.
But those are just generalizations. They’re true for some people in each generation, but what happens if you come across someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype?
The truth is that if you want to communicate with someone, you must learn their languageYou can’t expect them to learn yours. Don’t assume you speak the same language just because you both speak English.
There’s a funny anecdote that was floating around when Facebook became really popular and everyone’s grandmother was signing up. It’s hard to tell if this story is true, but the message is valuable nevertheless.
An older woman was reprimanded by her family because she frequently posted “LOL” on sad content, such as posts about death, cancer, or missing kids. She thought “LOL” meant “lots of love” and was expressing her positive feelings. She was a new social media user. She didn’t speak the language that was dominated by younger people.
To communicate with older or younger generations, you have to learn their language. Not the generation’s language, but the language of the specific people you’re working or living alongside. The best way to do this is through constant engagement with other people. After all, the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.
Furthermore, you need to self-reflect regularly. If you didn’t understand something (like why that 20-year-old sends you text messages rather than walk across the floor to speak with you, or why that 60-year-old wears a tie every day), you should ask in a non-threatening manner.
If you keep an open mind and accept that everyone else’s language is just as valid as yours, you’ll develop skills to communicate with everyone.
Communication, after all, is the most important skill any of us could have. Everything else is built on top of it. Regardless whether we’re talking about our career, our studies, our relationships, or our community, we need strong communication skills if we want to grow ourselves and our organizations.
Speaking of communication, we would be remiss not to mention the Dale Carnegie Course, which is the premier workshop for people who need to improve their communication skills. It will help you or your team strengthen interpersonal skills, which leads to enhanced productivity and less stress for everyone. Check it out.
For more information, visit our website!

Monday, April 10, 2017

eTip #642 - Mindfulness and Focus: Fundamental Tools for Success

Most people in the world are reactive.
Most people wait until events happen to them before they respond.
They figure out how to pay the bill once it arrives, rather than budget. They fix the car when it breaks, rather than maintain it. They are caught off guard when they are offered a promotion, asked out on a date, or reach retirement age (who knew that was coming!).
Most people are responding to the world as it happens, not deliberately shaping it.
This is because most people aren’t mindful. They are not focused on what they want. In fact, many people don’t even know what they want.
You’ve probably heard jokes about people with “five year plans.” I admit those seem silly. Our lives aren’t goals on a spreadsheet, are they?
But those five year planners have the right idea. They are proactive, focused people. They have decided what they want in life. They’ve put it on paper so they can look at it every day. Most importantly, they get the satisfaction of crossing items off their list when they achieve those goals.
Whether you’re a student, professional, parent, friend, leader, or anything else, you have to figure out what you want so you know what to work toward. If you don’t set goals, all of your struggling to achieve is mindless water-treading.
Once you determine what you want in life, your next job is to list the steps you need to achieve those goals.
Let’s say you want a new car. Financing will cost $250/month, but there’s no room in your budget. Do you abandon your dream because it’s not possible? Do you mope around the house, lamenting about your poverty?
No, of course not. You have to be mindful. You have to focus on what you want. How do you secure that car payment? What do you have to do to make $250/month, or an extra $60/week?
A few extra hours at work could pay for that, or maybe a slight salary bump in exchange for some extra responsibilities. Maybe you could lower the payment with a longer term or negotiate the interest rate with another lender. There are lots of ways to make your dream happen instead of waiting for it.
The point is that focusing on the things you want is the best way to achieve them. If you sit by and just let things happen to you, you’ll never achieve your dreams.
It works the other way, too. Focusing on things you don’t want is distracting.
When we focus on criticisms, our doubts, worries, judgments, fears, anxiety, anger, or discomfort, we disempower ourselves. We end up accepting these feelings not as temporary states, but as part of ourselves. There’s a saying you’ve probably heard that’s applicable here: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Furthermore, focusing on what we don’t want doesn’t define what we want. This is a bad goal: “I don’t want debt.” That doesn’t put you on a path to having more money. It doesn’t even put you on a path to avoiding debt. Here’s a better goal: “I want to eliminate my debt.” Even better: “I want to save $10,000 this year.”
So how do you focus?
  1. Recognize when you’re not. Take a breath and reorient yourself. Say “What do I want?” Then, “How do I make that happen?”
  2. Before you take action (make a phone call, enter a meeting, attend a class, meet with friends, or anything meaningful), determine what you want out of the engagement.
  3. At work or school, generate goals that solve bigger business problems. Don’t be reactive here just to survive the month or year. Think big. This even works with relationships, but be prepared to be flexible because you’re dealing with another person.
  4. Put your goals on paper. They can be short-term or long-term. They can be as simple or complex as you like, but put them down so you can hold yourself accountable.
Focus and mindfulness, like other skills, can be exercised and grown. Over time you’ll get better at it. With practice, they become easier. Even more, you’ll be rewarded by their effectiveness and incentive to further clarify your goals and focus on them.
You’ll become a proactive person who shapes the world.
For more information, visit our website!

Monday, April 3, 2017

eTip #641 - If You Want to Change the World, You Have to Change Yourself

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy
You want to make an impact on the world, don’t you? You want to change people’s lives, create something powerful, or solve a serious problem?
Most of us are like that. The size of our aspirations varies, but we want to make a difference in some way. We want to change our workplace, our home life, our friends, our industry, our market, or our community. A few of us genuinely want to change the entire world.
Look at some of the world’s most successful people – the people who made the biggest or most important changes. They aren’t so different than you or I. Biologically, they’re the same. They grew up in normal households with the same challenges and many of the same experiences.
So, what makes them different? How do people like Warrant Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, or our namesake Dale Carnegie manage to create profound change in the world, over and over?
The best leaders, developers, creators, inventors, investors, thought-leaders, artists, performers, and hustlers have one thing in common: They know how to change themselves.
Here’s a little story you might have heard before:
There was once an old man walking the beach. He came across thousands of starfish that had washed onto the shore, all struggling to return to the water. The old man was sad at the display, but he knew he couldn’t help them all, so he continued walking.
Later, he came across a young man who was dutifully picking up the starfish, one at a time, and throwing them into the water. The old man asked: “What are you doing? You can’t possibly hope to make a difference to all of these starfish.”
The young man lifted a starfish and tossed it into the water. “I made a difference for that one,” he said.
This story tells us that a difference must start somewhere. We can’t wait for change to happen. We can’t expect to make giant, sweeping changes. We must start with one change. Then we make another. Then we make another.
The first change must be your mentality. It has to start with a change in yourself. Are you ready to commit to the change you’re asking of other people?
The pay-it-forward movement is an excellent example of people making small changes that snowball into big changes. If you haven’t experienced a pay-it-forward moment, you probably know someone who has. With a simple act of kindness, one person can incite a wave of charity and generosity.
Changing yourself isn’t easy. It takes work. You must be honest with yourself. You can’t dip your feet in. You can’t embrace change only during work hours, or only when you speak publicly. You have to dive straight in. You must commit. You must live and breathe the change, even when you’re alone.
Don’t misunderstand us: You should not begin your quest to change the world by criticizing yourself or others. Complaining and condemnation erode relationships and divides people. It doesn’t inspire other people to become better. It doesn’t build anything.
Make the change within yourself, and then use honesty, transparency, and communication to spread it to others. If you want to start a charity, be charitable. If you want to disrupt a market, be innovative. If you want to create a positive environment, be positive.
Turn yourself into a little snowball of change and push yourself down a hill.
In time, the change you make in yourself will spread to other people. In time, you’ll make a difference.
For more information, visit our website!

Monday, March 27, 2017

eTip #640 - What Top Leaders Do Consistently

When you come across a great leader, you know it. You can almost feel their presence as if they take up more space in the room than anyone else. Somehow their greatness spreads to others.
Great leadership is tough to articulate, but we all know it when we see it. The best leaders find ways to introduce an empowering and inspiring dynamic. Problems become challenges. Complaints and apathy seem to fall away.
How do you become a leader? You can start by emulating the habits of the world’s top leaders. Here’s how they behave…
Top leaders play to their team’s strengths. Forcing people to do something they aren’t suited for is a recipe for disaster. Great leaders identify the strengths of each person on their team and assign work based on those characteristics. They don’t force square pegs into round holes. This comes from an ability to see people as people, not as numbers or titles.
Top leaders don’t need to be liked. They’re happy to be friends with their team, but they don’t need it. They make tough decisions if they have to. They aren’t everyone’s drinking buddy, but they are respected on some level. Like an army’s general, leaders inspire their troops to go to battle. (This isn’t to say a leader can’t be liked. In fact, many are quite likable, but it’s not necessary.)
Top leaders take responsibility. They know where the buck stops. If the team doesn’t come through, great leaders don’t point fingers. If they must take a beating from upper management, they do it standing up without complaint. They accept responsibility swiftly and begin taking steps to clean up the mess and fix the problem. They don’t throw their staff under the bus.
Top leaders are concerned about results. They create clear goals, communicate them to the team, and measure the team based on their performance. They don’t care about how many hours their teams work or how they got the job done, only that the work is quality.
Top leaders focus on the long term. They don’t stress about “urgent” tasks. They identify the tasks that address the team’s long-term goals and direct everyone to put their effort into what really matters. They don’t get caught up in petty politics, gossip, or company silos. They focus on what matters.
Top leaders like seeing their teams achieve. They want their staff to grow and accomplish great things. They don’t worry that their job is at stake. Great leaders lift other people up and take pride in other people’s accomplishments.
Top leaders exhibit their own good advice. They live by the values they preach. If they expect their team to behave a certain way, they do it as well. If they require communication, they communicate. If they demand world class customer service, they serve. They become role models.
Top leaders are transparent. They aren’t ashamed of their leadership style, so they don’t mind explaining their thoughts. They don’t fear their staff as rivals, so they share all the information they have. They don’t undermine their team; they give tools freely.
To become a better leader, it’s important to learn from your own team. How do they work best? What leadership style do they prefer? What works for one team might not work for another. The top leaders of the world know how to use the tools in front of them.
Is your quest to become a better leader? What do you need to improve?
Bob Dickson
For more information, visit our website!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

eTip #639 - Busting Department/Team Silos in Your Organization

Every business needs some type of structure, but that’s especially true for larger companies. Once a business reaches 15+ employees, the team is usually broken into departments by role.
In many cases, these divisions turn into silos. Business advisor Michela Quilici defines silos perfectly: “Organizational silos are when individual people, departments, or companies, conduct business in a vacuum, without taking into consideration the impact their actions have on the entire organization. The term silo literally means a ‘storage tower’ – a tall, cylindrical building that separates and stores material on a farm.”
There are a few types of silos you should look out for:
  • Hierarchical silos – When people stick to their own level within the company and communicate poorly with superiors or subordinates.
  • Virtual silos – When remote workers don’t integrate with your office staff.
  • Geographical silos – When people limit communication to their own branch/office/region/time zone.
  • Departmental silos – When people limit themselves to their team or teams with the same purpose. This is the most common type.
Silos can handicap your business in several ways:
  • Time and resources are wasted.
  • Information isn’t shared so needless mistakes occur.
  • Learning isn’t shared. Multiple teams fight the same learning curve.
  • Investment dollars are wasted because knowledge/solutions/tools are trapped in one part of the company.
  • Staff morale fails because people don’t feel like their work has much impact.
  • Tasks/tools/solutions are duplicated in different teams.
In the worst cases, siloed organizations experience a failure to collaborate so tragic that teams actively work against one another. For instance, a marketing team who is measured by their generation of leads might pass leads to the sales team they know won’t convert. If there is no communication or cross-measuring between departments, marketing would have no ability or incentive to properly qualify their leads. The result is an ineffective sales team.
Breaking through silos can only happen at the top levels at the company. Their insulation prevents them from working together on their own, so only the top dogs can break the barriers.
  1. Encourage mistakes for the sake of learning. One of the reasons silos develop is because people want to protect their jobs. It’s easier to blame another department when things go wrong. Create an environment where failure is permissible if it creates learning for the organization. Instead of focusing on who was responsible for mistakes, spin them into opportunities to prevent them in the future.
  2. Direct competitive personalities externally. Healthy competition is good for an organization, but not if teams are competing against one another. No team is truly working in a vacuum, so leadership should help teams understand how their work is interconnected. This is best done by creating a set of shared values for every team to follow.
  3. Provide greater flexibility and autonomy. Do you encourage innovation and creativity? Can your employees find better ways to do their jobs? Processes and workflows are important, but the people who use them should have the autonomy to make them better. Growth and new ideas come from testing the status quo.
  4. Build trust throughout your entire organization. In medium and large businesses, employees aren’t fully aware of the contributions of people in other departments. You might hear talk like “Sales throws out our leads,” “HR takes forever to respond,” or “Product never uses our recommendations” even though you know those teams are doing their jobs. This is because teams can’t see into the operations of other teams in a siloed organization.
Build trust across teams by making everyone’s job transparent. If sales is disregarding leads, make it clear why. If HR is busy, explain their priorities. If product teams disregard ignore feedback, have them educate the organization as to why so feedback can improve.
Silos don’t form overnight and they can’t be busted in a day either. They require deft leadership (which is something we teach in our Leadership Training for Managers course). But with a little vigilance, they can always be broken.
Bob Dickson
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