Filtering by Category: Behaviours
When managers see things going wrong in a department they may respond by moving staff with key talents to help those who are struggling to cope. Hopefully these specialists will contain the situation and restore normal service, but their talents mean they could be redeployed just as quickly to be of use elsewhere. That can leave the department in the lurch; vulnerable once more, dependent as ever on external capability.
Likewise, it can seem cost effective to bring in external consultants to deal with a specific issue, but if the underlying causes remain then there's the makings of an expensive dependency - unless the required skills can be adopted by the permanent team.
Must it be a choice between getting an expert to deal with an immediate problem quickly, or equipping that department with the right tools and skills it will need to remain robust and reliable? If support doesn't include learning, then how much of a help is it in the long run?
Despite the efforts that leaders go to in communicating their future vision to their employees, many change initiatives still fail.
Leadership and employees need the opportunity to develop a shared, personal commitment to the change needed, and an understanding of how to deliver it.
For me my shadow side is the parts of me I can’t see or I’m completely unconscious of that drive my behaviours and has a significant impact on the quality of my relationships. Have you been in a meeting recently and felt disempowered by someone who has dominated the conversation so much that there was no space for anyone else’s views? Or it felt too risky to share your thoughts, let alone give them feedback on their impact on you?
I’ve only learnt recently that sometimes my silence in a meeting can shut others down more often than my voice does! Since getting that gift of feedback I’ve become more sensitive to what happens in the interactions that I'm taking a part in. And I've become more curious about how I show up, and now want to learn more about the parts of my shadow that closes down others' voices and contributions.
Given that I can’t normally see my own behaviours, I really need others to give me honest feedback on what they see and the impact they have. The trouble is there can often be different realities existing simultaneously in a meeting; what I think I’m doing and how I like to think I’m showing up, and how others see me behaving. It can be obvious to other people how I’m behaving, yet hard or impossible for them to give me feedback if they don’t trust me or it doesn’t feel safe enough.
This is a real bind for me, as how can I learn to develop my self-awareness if it’s not safe enough for others to speak up and give me feedback on my behaviour? If I don’t know what impact I’m having I can’t learn to change my behaviours - to the ones that could create the relationships of trust needed for it to be safe enough for people to give me feedback in the first place! AARRGHH!
Moving on from my frustrations, I’ve been getting a sense that I need to work on learning to listen more deeply and actively, from a calmer place, responding differently from this position and noticing what happens. If the quality of trust shifts, I hope to get more feedback that can shine some light onto to the parts of my shadow that seem to close down others and get in the way of more open and honest conversations.
The Henley Forum; Building Connections workshop 27th June 2017
We were at the Henley Forum recently for a workshop on building connections, and got to share some thinking on relational leadership and the importance of relationship building in Organisational Development (O.D.). Two of the other presentations on the day we liked explained how certain human factors constrain knowledge flow and the concept of networking mapping. Factors such as silo mentality, stress, fatigue, politeness, fear, positional power, social norms and emotional risks can often constrain people sharing ideas and knowledge, and this really resonated with our experience doing O.D. with clients. It's interesting to explore the connections between the Knowledge Management(K.M.) and O.D. fields, and what links these two different ways of looking at organisations.
K.M. could look different framed from an O.D. perspective, by thinking about knowledge as a process of knowledge creation through having conversations, rather than as objects of information to be transferred or stored. Given that enabling positive human factors is critical to effective knowledge sharing, and organisational functioning in general, looking at it from a more human-focused perspective could be fruitful. Shifting metaphors can be a good place to start. Extracting, capturing, retrieving and storing knowledge are good terms for understanding how computers work with information, but are they useful for working productively with the richness of human experience and relationships?
Knowledge sharing can’t always be controlled or contained: it has a life of its own. In the same way, as soon as someone tries to control a conversation, it deadens the interaction and we can lose energy, motivation and sometimes even the will to live! What we know is always changing and evolving. It can be a messy yet deeply human process.
Knowledge that is created in, emerges from, flows between and existed in the space between people is something that is easily extracted, particularly if someone is afraid to share something. Knowledge is something that lives in and between us, in the ways we come to know things and how we share what we know is a wonderfully human, natural, spontaneous and unpredictable process. When you are doing a new K.M. project we suggest you broaden it by starting with the daily human realities we work in, and how we experience knowledge sharing, and what factors get in their way.
Giving more attention to the positive human factors and behaviours that build relationships would enable a more natural and effective flow of knowledge throughout an organisation. We think that by investing more in people and supporting them to learn relational skills you could significantly enhance your investment in the K.M. tools you already have in place.
Reactive behaviour ingrained within organisations and the problems it can lead to is a recurring theme in our work. We’ve seen a number of instances where troubled projects are held together by a few heroic workers who use their experience and know-how to fashion workaround solutions, much to the relief and gratitude of their flummoxed colleagues. They save the day. Then do it again the day after that, and soon it becomes the norm.
This approach can be very wasteful but there may be vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Averting regular crises gives the rescuer a sense of recognition and security, as they showcase their talents and demonstrate how essential they are to the team’s success. This is their exclusive comfort zone; the rest of the team prefer to stay in their own ones away from the drama, relieved that someone else is dealing with the mess again.
Neither party has the time or inclination to tackle the root causes, even though the results might benefit everyone.
Can talents be put to better use preventing crises from happening in the first place? What would it take to let go of habitual roles and embrace the possibilities of new ones, to break the comfort zone conspiracy and work more proactively as a team?
Employee engagement initiatives can often be motivated by a desire to increase performance. The hope is that staff will reciprocate the care shown to them and want to commit to going the extra mile.
However, a desire for increased discretionary effort to improve performance can seem self-serving to staff and undermine any genuine care for their wellbeing. This can result in cynicism and distrust, the expectation of more discretionary effort becoming a contradiction in terms. If a gesture of care and commitment from the leadership is perceived by staff as fake, the impact on trust and goodwill may be quite counterproductive, increasing the likelihood of disengagement that could lead to a lowering of performance.
So, before starting an engagement or change activity, ask yourself: who are you really doing it for?
“Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organisations working together to realise shared goals.”
But what does it take to truly collaborate?
We believe that it takes trust, empathy and balance for a whole team to be effective. Collaboration needs self-awareness and an understanding of everyone's strengths and weaknesses, so that the achievement is that of the team, not just the individual.
Behaviours and processes can change when there's pressure to find a solution quickly - the effects of which may only become apparent later.
And what if that limited resource happens to be you?
Silos are present in just about every organisation, sometimes they are physical as well as psychological. If they already exist, we tend to exacerbate silos with phrases like “if only they would do what they are meant to…”
How do you go about removing some of what gets in the way?