5 Things High Performers Do (and Don’t) Say in the Workplace

Think about the most impressive people you’ve worked with. What was it that made them special? It probably was a combination of several qualities: personality, results, attitude, and, I suggest, the words they choose to use in critical discussions.

Our company’s mission is to always leave our clients better than we found them; so today, let’s look at language you can use to make a great impression on your co-workers, while giving yourself and your organization a competitive advantage.

Since 2003, we’ve had the benefit of working with some of the highest-performing organizations, teams, and individuals in the world. We’ve worked with governments, non-profits, and, of course, for-profit organizations. We’ve delivered our concepts in over 80 countries. Young, old, male, female, across different industries and, no matter their country of origin, the most successful people we’ve encountered always know what to say (and, of course, what not to say) in order to build the strongest relationships, while driving the best results.

We teach dozens of high-performing behaviors; but for now, let’s focus on five behaviors and the language you might use for each of them.

Situation One: Managing time for what is most important. High performers allocate their time according to what is most important, adjusting as necessary as they proceed. Instead of saying “We don’t have time to do this”; challenge your team by saying “Let’s manage our time so we are able to get this done”. Always be willing to drop less important things in order to deliver excellence on what is most important.

Situation Two: Willingness to take on a tough task. High performers are constantly seeking ways to successfully accomplish their tasks and projects, especially when the situation is challenging. Rather than “We can’t do this”, ask “How can we get this done?”. Always maintain a high orientation toward solutions.

Situation Three: Encouraging and engaging others in the cause. High performers work to inspire others to accomplish tasks as a team. Instead of speaking poorly about a co-worker by saying “He doesn’t care about this”; try asking “How can we encourage or inspire him to care about this?”.

Situation Four: High performers invite results over effort. Instead of saying “Have you had a chance to work on that report for the CFO?”; ask “What actions have you taken to generate the report we owe the CFO?”. High-performing language is precise, direct, and results-oriented.

Situation Five: Demonstrating humility and the desire to learn. High performers have a contagious belief in their ability to learn; so, instead of saying “I know how to do this” (when you don’t), try saying “I’m currently learning how to do this” or “Together we’re learning how to do this”.

This is a small sample of the high-performance behaviors we teach; and, if you practice any one for the next month, you’re very likely to be perceived as a person who delivers impact, value, and inspiration for your team.

4 Steps to Build Your Most Important Relationships

The people you RELY on most, may not be the people you LIKE the most. Let’s look at how to create a framework for separating, measuring, and responding to this paradigm with a plan of action.

This coaching exercise is inspired by Dr. Colm Foster (my co-author of STEP UP. Lead in Six Moments That Matter), and also by my colleague and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. They both state that you must be really clear about exactly who are the 5 to 10 people most important to your career, and nurture these relationships above all others. Today, we’ll show you some ways of doing this.

Step One: Make a list of the 5 to 10 people at work you really LIKE to interact with, showing how they relate to you. These are the people that make you smile when you see their name in your inbox, on Slack, or dialing in on your phone. Please write them down now. When you are finished, your list should look like this:

like

Step Two: Now, make a list of the 5 to 10 people you RELY on most to be successful in your career. Some of these people are defaults. (For example, you have no choice about listing your boss.) You should also list any direct reports. Now, think about the peers you rely on most, customers and/or vendors. You’re not listing departments or companies; you are listing individual people. Write them down. When you are done, your list should look like this:

need

Step Three: Assess the status of each relationship, using our traffic light system. GREEN means the relationship is great, so keep it going without any need for immediate attention or action. YELLOW means proceed with caution, or slow down. This might be due to some recent struggle or lack of attention. Perhaps this one needs some time for reflection. (You might ask this person “How do you feel about how things are going between us?) RED means the relationship is tense, unproductive, and/or clearly in need of some work. Stop what you are doing and make a plan to improve this relationship. For help on any of your relationships in RED, you might want to watch one of our blogs on Emotional Safety™

Step Four: Decide what you will do to build and strengthen the relationships you need the most. Will it be an offer of help? Providing a resource? Checking in with them? Starting a new behavior? How about stopping a behavior? When you are finished, your list should look like this:

Although this concept is easy to understand, with our busy schedules it’s not always easy to find the time required to invest in the relationships we rely on most for our success. Again, it is important not to confuse the people you like the most with the people you need the most. You must pay attention to the ones you need the most; and there is a clear return on investment when you follow through on this. For more on how to do this, watch our blog entitled Reversing the Polarity of Communications for Better Business Results; or our latest blog on Generating Empathy.

4 Steps To Making Lemonade Out Of Losses

As a former competitive martial artist, I learned at an early age that sometimes, despite all of your training and preparation, losing will happen.

In our business, we help teams formulate and execute strategies designed to give them a competitive advantage. While on that journey, our clients sometimes make mistakes, or, as in athletic competition, they experience losses.

How does this apply to your team?

Though you and your team may train properly, and create a winning game plan, sometimes, even when executed properly, you will still lose. Unforeseen obstacles, unanticipated variables, or even plain bad luck will prevent you from achieving your desired outcome.

As a martial artist, my coaches taught me a mantra that we often teach our clients. A loss is not a failure if you learn from it. In this context, a loss is a lesson. With this in mind, let’s discuss how a team failure can become part of achieving better business results.

Plan for failure. As part of your planning process, accept the reality that not everything you try will work out the way you intended. Use a mantra like ‘fail fast and fail cheap’.

Reward what we call ‘new and innovative mistakes’. Wow us, show us a flaw in our process that no one had anticipated. However, if a team or individual is making redundant mistakes we still want them to have a job, we just want them to have it with a competitor.

Celebrate your ‘failures’. Each time you record a ‘failure’ you have harvested and identified something that you should stop doing or do differently. Celebrate these milestones as part of your continuous improvement process. Create an environment of Emotional Safety™ for those times when your people do make mistakes.

Learn from the mistake. As a result of what you learned, what will you and your team begin to say, do, or think about differently? What is a process improvement that you will make? Bottom line: Make a process improvement.

Some teams we’ve worked with go so far as to award and incentivize strategic losses. You can give awards such as ‘Most Innovative Attempt to Succeed’ or ‘New Lesson Engineering Award’.

We teach our strategy clients that the two keys to being more competitive are 1) Be faster than your competitor to recognize the need for change; and 2) Make that change faster than your competitor. If we were to add a third, it would be to learn from mistakes faster than your competitor.

To summarize: any person or organization that wants to drive innovation, must make the acceptance of failure an acceptable part of the culture. To put this another way: Start thinking about new and innovative failures as lessons.

Losses and mistakes are not failures when they are generated; they are made into failures when you refuse to learn from them or make improvements as a result of them.

Emotional Safety™: The Key to Making Smart Decisions

Informed people make the best decisions, and, as a result, add the most value to their organizations.

Whatever job you have and whatever your level of authority, your people are relying on you to be informed about your function, no matter whether you’re CEO or packing and shipping on the warehouse floor. No matter where you sit or what you do, other people count on you to know your stuff.

In short: Your co-workers want you to be an expert; but what makes an ‘expert’? An expert may have earned that reputation through a combination of training, study, work experience, observation, or ongoing learning.

We suggest that part of being and remaining an expert is linked to being fully informed about your role; meaning that your knowledge goes beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of your job. It means you know where your work comes from, why your work exists, and that you understand the needs of your stakeholders. In addition, it means knowing how others see you as an employee, boss, vendor, or co-worker.

This is where our concept of ‘Emotional Safety™‘ becomes important. Most people find it easy to approach you to share good news about your performance or behavior. They also find it easy to tell you when you’ve done something well. But what about the times when things aren’t going so well? What if someone wants to give you constructive criticism? We suggest that the easier and more rewarding you make it to bring you ‘bad’ news, the more informed you will be.

Simply put: Emotional Safety™ means you make others feel comfortable in bringing you bad or challenging news. If you master Emotional Safety™, you will be going beyond making them comfortable in approaching you, and actually make them feel rewarded and appreciated for doing so.

So, when someone points out a problem with your plan, thank them. When someone suggests that you behaved badly during an interaction, thank them; and, when someone challenges your opinion, acknowledge their thoughts and thank them.

For stronger relationships, dealing with feelings before facts will get you deeper, more rewarding and more productive relationships. It will also promote better business results.

One of my colleagues, Dr. Tim Turner, ran the Emotional Intelligence Development program for the FBI. Early in his career as an agent, Tim noticed that the agents who solved the most cases were not the tough guys you see in the movies. Instead, they had a way of making others feel comfortable. Even when interrogating a suspect, the agents created an experience of Emotional Safety™ for that person.

So how can you bring this about in your work? By collecting as much data as you can (even the stuff you don’t like hearing about) so you can make fully-informed decisions.

Think about it this way, just because people aren’t telling you how you can improve, doesn’t mean you don’t need to improve, because we all do. It is more likely to mean that they’ve had an unrewarding experience with you, and, as a result, they’ve started to withhold information from you. If too many people do that, you’ll still have the same decision-making authority; but you’ll be deciding in an uninformed way, making you dangerous to your organization.

For more on Emotional Safety™, read our Amazon top-10 business book, “Step Up–Lead in Six Moments that Matter“, co-authored by Henry Evans and Colm Foster. The last chapter is focused on creating Emotional Safety™ for everyone, which will foster better business results.

Mastering Empathy in 3 Easy Steps: Building Better Relationships and Business Results through Managing Conflict

Let’s see if we can sharpen your empathy skills in 4 minutes or less.

Empathy, simply put, is expressing your understanding of how another person feels, leaving them feeling understood and heard. This is easy to do when you share their concern or care about their issue. It’s not so easy when you don’t care.

Has someone ever told you about a problem or brought you a complaint that mattered a lot to them and didn’t matter to you at all?

Perhaps you found yourself thinking “this isn’t a real problem” or “I can’t believe they are worried about something like this”.

Perhaps you don’t care about their opinion because their facts are completely wrong. Let’s roll with that example.

Suppose you and I work together and you don’t like working with me. This dislike has built up to a point where you are going to tell me about it. You say “Henry, I don’t like working with you because your hair is too long and I feel like you are always brushing it during our meetings.”

These facts are obviously wrong and if I had to go to court to argue against them, it wouldn’t take me long to persuade the jury and win the case. But what happens to our relationship if focusing on the facts is all I do? If your frustration energy was high when our interaction started, and all I do is argue the facts, it will most likely increase your negative charge, leave you even more frustrated, and permanently damage our relationship. So, how to fix this?

STEP ONE: Put their feelings before their facts. Try to remember a time when you didn’t want to work with someone and remember how that felt. Do that right now. You are probably naming feelings like “frustrating”, “unmotivating” or even “de-energizing”. If you can remember your feelings, you are halfway to creating a meaningful human connection with this person. Now all you have to do is express your understanding by saying something like:

“It sounds like working with me feels frustrating and you really don’t want to do it anymore. I too have felt the same way about a co-worker, and I don’t want you to have that experience with me.”

• Now, for STEP TWO: check in with the person to see if they now feel understood.

If they nod, or say “Yes, that’s what I meant”, they are feeling de-energized, more objective, and relieved that you understand them. Now you’re both ready to discuss the facts.

STEP THREE: When approaching the facts do what we call “using curiosity in lieu of judgement”. Instead of saying “You’re wrong because look, I’m bald” say “What led you to the opinion you just presented to me? I want to hear more about your perspective.” If your relationship is strong enough for some humor, you might ask “Really? Tell me, what color is my hair?”

For stronger relationships, dealing with feelings before facts will get you deeper, more rewarding and more productive relationships. It will also promote better business results.

Any One Of Us Can Make A Difference

Dear Friend,

As we transition into a new year, most people find little time for inspiration. At Dynamic Results, we were lucky enough to have a little holiday miracle fall into our laps. Please take a moment to read this true story, one written as a love letter from a mother to a daughter. We are especially proud as the mother is our Director of Operations, Ede Ericson, writing about the kindness and compassion of her daughter, Karly Granzen. Any of us can make a difference and this story already has over 100,000 likes on Facebook, and over 1,000,000 world wide.

From our family to your, may the next year be your best year.

Henry Evans, Founding Partner

karly pant suit nation

Original Facebook post:

This is the America I choose.

The image above is my daughter Karly. Recently, she had a tough day, she learned that she had just lost her job. It was a new role as a Project Lead and she was very excited about it. Due to funding cut backs, the grant money that had been promised had to be taken back by the state, so, too, Karly’s position. She was devastated.

But, life goes merrily on its way and so we must do what we do. And, off Karly went to get groceries.

A short note about my girl here. From day one, Karly has been the kind of human that has never met a stranger. She is Native American and Anglo. She has deep brown/black eyes and dark brown hair (well most of the time – she is 25, it gets colored quite often). But, there is something about her that is approachable, attractive and friendly.

People of all kinds talk to her, randomly, often and about all kinds of things, young and old.

As she approached the store there was a gentleman outside the entrance, who was cold and hungry and asked her for money to get some food. Karly told him she wouldn’t give him cash, but, she would be happy to buy him something to eat. She didn’t say anything to him about the fact that she had carefully planned out her shopping list so that she could get everything she needed with the exact amount she had withdrawn from the Credit Union. Instead, she simply asked him what he would like to eat.

He said it would be really nice to have a rotisserie chicken since it was already cooked and hot, and it was so cold outside. Karly said she would be right back and went in to buy his chicken.

When she came back out, she gave him the food. She also went over to her car and got out a coat and gave it to him as well.

She then went back into the store to do her shopping.

She carefully went through the store checking off each item on her list and adding everything up so she did not go over the total dollar amount she had left in cash. As she proceeded to the check-out lane and was getting ready to cash out the gentleman behind her in line told her he was going to pay for her groceries.

She was completely caught off guard.

He told her he had seen her act of generosity and kindness to the man in front of the store and he wanted to pay it forward by buying her groceries. He insisted and paid for everything.

This is the America I choose.

One where we craft lives of service toward each other with simple acts of grace and dignity. A meal and a warm coat. An acknowledgment of a kindness.

In the rumble of our differences, there are all manner of similarities, all manner of commonalities.

All we have to do is show up and pay attention.

We only lose if we give up.

This is the America I choose, not red or blue but a rainbow of possibility.

Read the original post on Facebook here: Facebook and Here

Four Intentions for Making This Year – Your Best Year

We want each year to be better than the last, but some of you may feel you don’t have enough control over your outcomes. You may also feel that each year gets busier than the last; making it even harder to be mindful about your choices. Part of our Accountability Method™ asks you to focus your time and energy on things you can control, a concept Dr. Covey introduced some time ago. We ask our coaching clients to focus on four general areas: Head, Heart, Money, and Space. Then, you take a few small steps to make next year better than this one.

Number One: Head

What will you learn in the coming year? Will it be a new behavior, or a work-related field of knowledge such as rising to the next level in your financial acumen? Maybe it will be reaching an expert level on a software platform you rely on. Whether it’s financial learning or dancing Flamenco, learning something new trains your mind to be open to new possibilities in other areas of your life. People may begin to experience you as being more flexible.

Number Two: Heart

Which relationships will you invest your time and energy in at work and home? Don’t pick 3. Choose two: one at work and one at home. To whom will you bring deeper attention? How will you demonstrate this attention? Will it be through acts of kindness or more intense listening? Will it be forgiving someone? What will you do so this other person will notice and appreciate your new investment in the relationship?

Number Three: Space

What clutter will you reduce? A clear space encourages a clear mind. Most people vow to ‘clean out my desk’ or ‘purge my storage room’ or some other BIG project. We encourage busy people to start small and realistically. Consider purging just one drawer in your desk, or one shelf in your closet. Consider making one small purge each week. For those of you who are already mindful about physical space, consider what negative thought patterns you could purge next year.

Number Four: Money

What will you do to secure your finances? Review your annual products and services subscriptions and cancel any that you no longer need (or use). Use budgeting software to track your personal expenses. You might be surprised by how much you spend eating out, or by indulging in retail therapy when feeling down. What are you income goals? What is your next step to getting a promotion and raise? What are your expense goals? We recommend having a personal cash flow plan, in the same way a business does.

Finally, although some things will remain totally out of your control or influence, if you focus your energy on incremental, achievable steps, you will find yourself more self-actualized, and that means each year you’ll get closer to living the life you want to live.

Our Dynamic Results team wishes that this coming year will be your best year.

Please continue reading for additional resources to help you in creating your best year.

Head: Watch TED talks to see what types of innovation are happening in the world.

http://www.ted.com/

Heart: Learn to create what we call ‘Emotional Safety’ in your relationships.

http://dynamicresults.com/step-moments-matter-director-emotional-safety/

Space: Reduce clutter in your life and ‘free your mind’.

http://idreamofclean.net/10-foolproof-ways-to-reduce-clutter/

Money: Take small steps to improve your financial strength.

http://www.businessinsider.com/24-ways-to-improve-your-finances-this-year-2016-1

Three Rules for Choosing the Right Employee (or Boss) and How to Be One of Them

Hi, I’m Henry Evans, Founding Partner of Dynamic Results.

Do you find in working with your teams that sometimes either your business results or relationships suffer?

Recently I was talking with a high-performing leader of a global pharmaceutical company. Like many of our best leaders, he delivers above his annual targets and, as importantly, he has very high employee engagement and retention. Everyone wants what he has achieved: exceeding expected business results while at the same time, building and maintaining a happy work team. To state this another way: they are doing great work, in an environment that feels great to work in.

When asked how he’s doing it, he said it boils down to knowing how to select the right people. After “many years of doing it wrong” he learned three things needed to measure when hiring, (or choosing the people you want to work for):

  • They are good at what they do. Competence should be a baseline requirement for your hires.
  • They love what they do. They aren’t dragging themselves to work. They are happy to be doing what they do, and they know the higher purpose behind their work. In this case, it’s the creation of drugs intended to improve the lives of cancer patients. If your job is manufacturing car parts, your higher purpose might be “keeping people safe while they drive”.
  • They are easy to work with. These are the people you want to be in meetings with; people you feel motivated to communicate with.
  • His experience shows that if you are missing any of these three criteria, results and/or relationships will suffer. His theory matches our own experience in coaching leaders.
    Most work conflicts or unrest that we observe are due to perceptions that people are: Incompetent (not good at what they do); Dispassionate (a buzzkill, party pooper, or energy vampire); or just plain Difficult (labeled as rude, jerks, etc.).

    In hiring, here are sample questions you may want to ask:

  • To establish Competence, ask scenario-based questions like “Please tell me about a time you had to solve a complex problem” (One relating to their job description).
  • For Passion, ask a question as simple as “Why do you do this kind of work?” or “Why did you choose this career?”
  • For Likability, ask: “Please tell me about the last three disagreements you had at work?” or “What is a personal trait people consistently tell you needs improvement?” or “What’s more important to you, relationships or results?”Whatever you ask and whatever you are measuring, please remember to tune-in to your intuition when making hiring decisions, or when choosing who to work for. Einstein said that “the best decisions are a combination of intellect and intuition”. He was a relatively smart guy so let’s listen to him.

    Collect whatever background data you need (work history, GPA, etc.), and check-in with yourself to see how you will feel working with this person. The best decisions are made when we use a combination of head and heart.

    I thank you for your attention.

VALUES: Would you go to jail for yours?

Hi, I’m Henry Evans, Founding Partner of Dynamic Results. We help organizations decide on strategies, and most importantly, facilitate the execution of these strategies. Our two-year process begins with helping the people in an organization to ‘get real’ about their values.

In this video, we’ll give you some high-level insight on how we do this in what are sometimes very difficult and challenging team discussions. You might be thinking “Our organization has discussed values, and the discussion was easy. Now we’re all aligned”. If you are thinking this way, we encourage you to consider the possibility that you may not have had a deep, fully-transparent dialogue.

We worked with one executive team where the average tenure was more than 20 years. This team of 12 was convinced they knew each other well and felt they were deeply aligned . . . until they participated in our process. After a strenuous seven-hour discussion, three of the twelve decided to take early retirement and the other 9 felt relief, knowing that those spots would be filled by people with deeper value alignment.

Now, how do you define your “values”? We ask our clients to think of their values as so important that if any of their values became illegal, they would act on them regardless.

For example: if the government decreed that loving your family is now a crime, would it stop you from loving them? Probably not.

What about telling the truth? If it became illegal to tell the truth, would you still do it? Would you be willing to go to jail over it? Would you fight for your right to be truthful? If your answer is “yes”, truth is something you really value.

For me, two of my core values are justice and transparency. If I see injustice or if I feel I’m being lied to, I’m willing to escalate and take bold action. Action could mean social protest, or even a willingness to fight. It might involve working for an organization that values justice, equality, and telling the truth, and avoiding working for one that didn’t.

Now, ask yourself: What really drives me both at work and in life. What are the conditions and behaviors I require to be willing to work in an organization? What would make me leave?

Some people might say “work ethic” or “comfortable corporate culture”. Others value “focus on results and profit”. We’re not suggesting we know what you should hold as your most important values. However, we are suggesting that you can predict how your relationships and business results will shake out if you understand how well (or poorly) your personal values are aligned with the organization you bring your talents to.

Once a team becomes clear about shared values, they have a competitive advantage over teams that do not.

In high performing organizations, teams know that values are more than slogans. Values drive more tangible results and they drive the way the business runs. A few examples:

Which clients you choose to work for?
• Whom do you hire?
• How do you engage in conflict?
• What is measured in a performance review?

. . . and many others

In short, get real about what you value, and do your best to work for an organization that shares these same values. Having that alignment, you will feel better about both yourself and the organization. The organization will benefit greatly as you continue to bring your “A” game to the table, ultimately producing better relationships and results.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Control Yourself, Influence Others

Hi, I’m Tom Blaisse, Certified Accountability Facilitator for Dynamic Results.

In our Accountability Method workshops we help participants focus on the things they can control (or at least have some influence over) and adapt to the things they can’t control. When we feel we are not in control of a project or process, we may get upset, feel angry, irritated or frustrated. We may even give up; go home, and crack open a cold beer.

Some people operate this way all the time. We all know who the pessimists are in our organizations. Pessimists often claim they can’t control anything. They might say, “I told you we couldn’t do it” or, “I knew that it wouldn’t work.” We call them CAVE people – Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Pessimists like to focus on the problem, not on the solution. The challenge for all of us is knowing where to focus our precious energy.

In the late 80’s, Dr. Stephen R Covey, in his landmark book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said that the most effective people adopt a pro-active mindset, means they focus their time and energy on the things they can control, or at least influence, and don’t waste time on things over which they have no control.

CIC1

This concept suggests that when we focus on the circle where we have both responsibility and authority to take action, our credibility grows; and we expand our circle of influence, thereby achieving greater results.

CIC2

In our research and development of the Accountability Method, we have found this concept to be true. The problem is, in observing our clients, we find that many of them spend too much meeting time, and email time focusing on areas that they may be concerned about, but have no direct control or influence over.

Dr. Covey calls this the Circle of Concern. This circle contains all the things that we may worry about, but have no ability to control or influence – typically things that have to do with other people.

CIC3

We can’t really control other people. We may have some influence over them; or be able to motivate them with our vision of positive and/or negative consequences; but, we really don’t have direct control over what other people may think or do.

It takes a pro-active mindset to focus your energy on the things you can control and influence, and to minimize or even eliminate the time you spend discussing things within your circle of concern. Structure your dialogues on those areas you can control. When you do, you will expand your circle of influence and ultimately be more effective. Make a commitment to take action today on something within your circle of control. Make a request of someone you might have influence over. And, decide to let go of anything you can’t control.

CIC4

Remember, the two effects of our human conditioning:

1. We sometimes think we can control situations that we have no control over
2. We sometimes think we cannot control situations that maybe we can control (or at least influence)

Next week, look at all the meetings you will attend, and the conversations you may have. If you were to use this model as a filter for what you might say and do, what impact would it have on your personal effectiveness, and your effectiveness working with other people?

At your meetings, request that you all just talk about those things within your respective circles of control or influence. If you hear one of those CAVE people bring up something up that is outside those spheres, decide to talk about it later – maybe over a cold beer.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.