Sunday, February 25, 2007

Throwing People Away

Have you thrown anyone away recently? Someone who works for you, someone in your family, a friend…someone you’re dating or even married to? Did you need to read this to realise you might have?

Relationships can be defined as “a state of connectedness between people”. One can compartmentalize relationships into categories such as work relationships, personal relationship’ all levels and degrees of each. The bottom line is it’s a connection, an association whether by blood, virtue of working with others, new or old friendships or intimate personal relationships. How we respect those relationships determines whether or not they will be sustained, long-term relationships or turn into the superficial ‘have as little to do with these individuals’ interactions.

For some reason, many take relationships for granted to the point where they throw people away. Right now one of the prevalent themes and issues we’re talking about in the private and public sectors is attracting and retaining talent. If we throw people away by not treating people in a respectful manner, retention isn’t possible. In our personal relationships, whether families, couples, or friendships when we take people for granted, treat them with little respect and don’t show others they’re treasured and valued, we are, in essence ‘throwing them away’. When you turn around and realise these people have disappeared from our lives, more often than not, even if you mend ways in some instances, the original relationship can never be recaptured. Trusting that the other person will not revert back to the old ways is near impossible to recapture. And believe me when I tell you if you do revert back to the old ways you won’t have a chance to do that again. The relationship will more often than not be severed.

As I wrote a long time ago in The Trust Building, trust isn’t broken, it’s shattered. That applies to all relationships no matter how they’re defined.

So here’s a wake-up call to those who are reading this….if you take your colleagues, peers and staff for granted and expect a lot with giving them nothing in return, then you can be sure they won’t be supporting you for long. If it’s family and you’ve treated them as insignificant, they will treat you in kind and disappear from your life in all but a superficial way. If it’s a long time friend who you’re taking for granted and are rarely paying attention or not being very nice to, well, before you know it, those people will have disappeared from your life and you won’t have noticed, well until they’re not there any more. And if it’s someone you’re in a personal relationship with, partner…. spouse, and you stop paying attention, take them for granted and expect they will be there for you by virtue of the connection, they too will disappear and you will have thrown them away. Remember…actions lie louder than words. You can promise the moon and the stars and never come through with anything but your actions will speak volumes. Blame them for running the other way if you want, but the responsibility lies with you.

Donna Karlin

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Feedback: Acting On It Or Parking It?

def. knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.

Feedback....are you acting on it or parking it?

Leadership is changing from 'power based' to 'human based. I see organizations move towards interactive dialogue as opposed to bosses dictating what the staff will do, i.e. 'no ifs ands or buts'. When people in management roles aren’t managing as well as they could, they are often asked to do a 360º feedback exercise to determine their strengths and weaknesses. All too often the results are a surprise, if not shocking. What’s done with these results will determine how successful leadership is.

Feedback should be acted upon, not just shared and forgotten. Much too often I see a manager look to his/her leader to help them evolve into leadership within the organization only to hear "You’re not leader material" or "There’s no way your staff would want you to be promoted. They complain to me all the time about your leadership style or lack of." What has the leader done with that feedback? Validated it? Investigated it? Or had a conversation with the individual about it? Usually not.

Leadership doesn’t mean be in charge when everything is working perfectly and ignore the rest. Leadership means helping people evolve, wrap their heads around the vision of the organization and grow their talents at the same time. It doesn’t mean ignore what isn’t working until you have an issue on your hands that has to be fixed and fast!

Some Tips:

  • If you send a staffer for 360º feedback, do yourself and everyone else a favor and arrange to have a coach step in to work on the discovered weaknesses and strengths otherwise the individual who went through the exercise will just make excuses for poor results without doing much about it. Or, worse case scenario, go on stress leave because they couldn’t handle the results.

  • Figure out why you’re arranging for a 360º feedback in the first place. Is it to grow individuals into positions of higher leadership or to fix a problem? You need to first determine what you want out of this and what you’re going to do to get it. The 360º is just a tool, not a magic wand.

  • Lastly, once you’ve seen the results, what assumptions might you have been making that you’ve acted upon as fact? If you act on assumptions, they will become true. But I’ll leave that for another blog.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Are Leaders Born, Made or Appointed Because They're There?

OK, so I might push some buttons here but let's face it, too many people are catapulted into positions of leadership by virtue of being there...already being in an organization, meeting hiring quotas according to gender etc. But are they leaders? And can they lead a staff, an organization successfully?

I agree that leaders can be made and many, put into positions to lead in times of crisis for example, show their true colors (to themselves and others) and just fly. Others don't even have managerial skills never mind organizational leadership skills and kill staff one employee at a time. Retention becomes a myth and people run out the door as fast as they can.

So if you're thinking of promoting a relative just because they're a part of the family and you trust them, or someone from within because it meets your quota, or, as in some instances, promoting from within because you couldn't be bothered to do the work of searching for the right candidate, think good and hard at the cost of that move. Statistics are blatantly against success in those circumstances and the cost to your organization, both financial and morale-wise is huge!

For example, for people who make $150,000 a year, the financial expense for wasting time due to lack of leadership, absenses, people leaving and having to be replaced etc. runs in the range of $25,350. No, that's not per year, it's per month! If there are multiple cases like this, well, you get the picture.

Choose your leaders wisely. Make sure they're a good fit not only for the organization but its internal culture. I share this criteria with my clients when they're looking to fill leading positions and ask them "Which category is each person (who is competing for the job) in?

  1. Will the staff be dependent on that person to get the job done (inter-dependent)?
  2. Will the staff develop by working with that leader (inter-developmental)?
  3. Will the relationship between staff and this leader be inter-magical? i.e. the energy and passion within the organization will be tangible. People will want to work there and with this individual because they know they'll fly and will fight to work with this person.
  4. Who do you want in your organization? Someone who creates the inter-magical or someone who's convenient?

It's not only about leadership, it's about energy, enthusiasm, building a sustainable environment where staff will thrive and creating a culture whereby people will fight to get in, not out!

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome new subscriber from Cameroon! That's 98 countries and territories and counting!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Real and True

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are" - Anais Nin

That's where a Shadow Coach™ comes into play. We don't work with you based on your interpretation; we work with you based on what's real and true. If you can't find the truth right now, right where you are, then where in the world are you going to find it?

People see things through filters, through their past history, cultural background, 'programming' and experience. They rarely see things are they are and once they are interpreted, they fit these experiences into the context of their past history, not experience them for what they are as the moments unfold.

Many of my clients, extraordinary individuals who are in positions of leadership, learn at an amazingly fast rate, however how they integrate what they learned into their ways of being is usually my challenge. They can learn but do they use what they learned to move forward? It's the context and content of their lives that make the difference between what they learn and what they'll use, oftentimes a matter of comfort zone, many a time fear to try something radically new.

Have you taken a moment to think of what your filters might be? For example, judging individuals based on anecdotal history shared by a third party, cultural or linguistic differences, your level of energy or just how much effort you'd put into any initiative. What might you be assuming? That's the biggest filter of all. There are filters such as your belief system, expectations of others (another huge filter), fears, leadership style or how open-minded you are. I could go on forever as there are hundreds of filters at play. different filters on any given day, and we all filter information. You won't get rid of them. You can, however become aware of them, not only for yourself but to better understand those around you so you can communicate with them accordingly.

I'd love to hear what filters come to mind for you as sharing them with others will help them take notice.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome subscriber from Malta. 97 countries and territories and counting!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dealing With a Bully?

Or "Dealing with a Critic, Control Freak or Verbal Bully?"

When I received this article in my inbox I knew whatever Sam Horn (author of Tongue Fu!), wrote would be something invaluable. And when I read the article, “Dealing with a Critic, Control Freak or Verbal Bully?” I knew I had to immediately send it to some of my clients who were living just that. Hey…who isn’t? Show me a person who isn’t dealing with someone in one of these categories and I’ll show you a person who’s living in denial.

Sam’s book “Take the Bully by the Horns” shows us that "Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and professions". And they do! Here’s an excerpt from the article. For the full article, click on Dealing With a Critic and click on the links to order either of her books, Tongue Fu? Or “Take the Bully by the Horns”.

If you do in fact ‘live’ with someone like this, work or home and have a way to deal with them that’s worked for you, please let us know how you do it as I know your help will be very much appreciated.

Donna Karlin

* Excerpt from Dealing With a Critic”…

"Actions lie louder than words." Carol Wells.

The Characteristics of a Control Freak Checklist

1. Dissonance. Psychologists agree that one of the primary indicators of a troubled person is incongruent behavior. As Dave Barry pointed out, someone who is nice to you and nasty to "the help" is not who he or she seems. Someone who makes racist remarks and then tries to laugh them off is revealing his or her true character (or lack of). Someone who says s/he loves children but seems remote or rigid when around them is displaying dissonance -- defined as "inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions." What this means is that you cannot take this person at his or her word. Everything they say will be suspect because you won't know when they're telling the truth and when they're not.

2. Possessiveness. Someone who comes on strong and wants (or has!) to be with you constantly is showing a dangerous need to have you all to him or herself. Possessiveness is defined as "a desire to own or dominate." Bullies often don't have many (or any) friends of their own which means they grow to resent your other relationships. Does this person pout or try to make you feel guilty for abandoning him or her when you spend time with others? Does this person want to know all about your previous partners/bosses, and somehow resent the fact that you've been with or worked for someone other than him or her? Bullies are so insecure they see everyone you care for as competition and as a threat to their dominance. This reluctance to share you with others will only get worse and become more perverse.

3. Secrecy. People who don't want to discuss their background and don't want you to meet their family or colleagues may have something to hide. People who refuse to reveal anything about their past are often concealing emotional baggage. What you don't know can hurt you. Someone who doles out self-revelations in small quantities may seem mysterious and alluring in the beginning. In the long run, being with a private person who withholds most of himself or herself gets lonesome.

4. Bitterness. Does this person have a lot of animosity for his or her parents, former spouse, or previous managers? Please understand you will be reliving and working out the unresolved traumas of this individual's childhood and prior work relationships. You've heard the Zen saying, "Wherever you go, there you are?" This person hasn't yet figured out that his or her source of bitterness is internal, not external. If this individual is lugging around deep-seated resentments, it is only a matter of time before s/he starts accusing you of the same "crimes" former significant others supposedly perpetrated upon him or her.

5. Twists words. Does this person take what you say and turn it into something you didn't mean? Do you sometimes feel on the defensive and don't even know why? Does this person obfuscate - make confusing statements and then accuse you of misunderstanding? Bullies often make commitments and then claim they never made them in the first place. This is a crazy-making ploy designed to turn you inside-out so you don't know what's up.

6. Holds you responsible for their unhappiness. Does this person blame you for his or her bad moods? If they're sad, it's because you didn't ask about their day? If they're depressed, it's because you don't take them anywhere anymore? If they're angry, it's because you said something that provoked them? There will be no pleasing this kind of person. They essentially haven't grown up, and never will as long as they continue holding everyone else but themselves accountable for how they feel.

7. Perfectionist. Does this person nit-pick? Does he or she have such high standards no one ever measures up? Does this individual have to do things himself because anyone else would just "mess it up"? If you're still in the honeymoon or courting phase, you may be temporarily exempt from this person's unceasing criticism. In time though, their insistence on things being done a certain way (their way) will transfer to you and then you'll never be able to do anything right. Jimmy Hoffa once said, "I may have my faults, but being wrong isn't one of them." Tyrants won't admit to any faults, least of all being wrong.

8. Pinpoints your weakness and uses them against you. Tyrants have a talent for ferreting out your emotional Achilles Heel and hobbling you with it. If you don't want to be considered selfish, they'll call you selfish. If you don't want to be perceived as controlling, they'll accuse you of being controlling. If you're unsure of your parenting skills, they'll attack your parenting skills. This is a classical Machiavellian method of exploiting your weakness so you're impotent (lacking power or strength) and they're omnipotent (having unlimited influence or authority.) Their goal is to make you doubt yourself so you're vulnerable to their attempts to own you.

9. Plays martyr. Does he or she try to lay on the guilt trip by saying things like, "Go ahead and go skiing with your friends. I don't mind. I mean, who wants to spend time with an old fogie like me anyway? I'm sure I'll find something to do." Does this person play the long-suffering individual who's unappreciated? Is it a common theme that s/he is the only one holding the office together and everyone else is frivolous, hedonistic, incompetent, or selfish?

10. Hates to have authority questioned. Does this person take umbrage if you dare dispute his or her facts or opinions? Does s/he come across as a "know-it-all" who has to have all the answers? Bullies can't stand to be challenged because they're afraid their "power-house of cards" could come falling down. Their "my way or the highway" communication style is based on their need to be in control and beyond reproach.

If you disagree with this person, does he or she escalate their intensity in an effort to force you to concede? If so, it means that every conversation is going to turn into a verbal battleground. It means this person will start disparaging your intelligence, expertise, and experience so you no longer know what you know and won't have the intellectual confidence to challenge them.

11: Lies, Lies, Lies: Mark Twain once commented that "Truth is more of a stranger than fiction." Does that description fit the person you're dealing with? Does he or she self-aggrandize and exaggerate his or her achievements? In order to win respect, bullies often claim to have been to places they've never been, boast of knowing people they've never met, and excel at things they've never tried.

In the mid 1970's, I had the privilege of working with Grand-Slam tennis champion Rod Laver at his Hilton Head Island resort. A couple times a year we sponsored national tennis camps. Every once in awhile, someone would blow in and we would sense that we were able to deal with a type of individual the Aussies playfully refer to as "all flap and no throttle." These "blowhards" always talked a bigger game than they delivered.

Does the person you're dealing with display "blowhard" tendencies? Does he or she wax eloquently (or not so eloquently) about past accomplishments? Did this individual somehow manage in the first few minutes of meeting you to let you know how much money he made, what degrees she had, or what awards he's won? Was she so intent on impressing you with her curriculum vitae that she failed to ask about yours? Watch out. Red alert. Bully on the loose.

*Reprinted with permission