Emotional Safety® – Tell Me What I Don’t Want To Hear

There’s an old saying that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

When I deliver keynotes to leaders explaining why Emotional Safety® is the key to making smart decisions, I point out that if people don’t feel safe bringing you bad and/or challenging news, they won’t do it.

Now, on the surface, that might sound pretty nice. You only have to hear about the good stuff. But let me challenge you to think about it another way: You can only make decisions based on the information you have. If people aren’t bringing you the truth about what is happening in the organization, it means you are making decisions with extremely limited information.

Your perspective alone is almost always incomplete.

Getting people to feel “just okay” bringing you “bad” information puts you at a below-average level. You have to strive for more than that. You need people to have the Emotional Safety® to bring you any and all information that could affect your decision-making process.

In our book Step Up, Lead in Six Moments That Matter, we outline the steps to achieving Emotional Safety®. Let’s take a look at how you could put into practice one of the first steps, which is to give the people around you the gift of your invitation.

You might say something like this:

In the past, I may have acted in a way that made you feel I was resistant to bad news — and you know what? Maybe I was. That may have led you to think you should just tell me what I want to hear. Moving forward, please tell me what you think I don’t want to hear. It could be about a customer or vendor problem, an internal issue, or maybe you need to openly challenge a decision or offer feedback on my leadership style. I rely on you to be a second set of eyes and ears for me as I make decisions. So, going forward, please make it a habit of telling me what you think I don’t want to hear.

The more consistently and frequently you ask people to tell you what they think you don’t want to hear, the more they will be willing to try. Make them feel rewarded for doing it, and they will generate a constant flow of what you need to make smart decisions: the truth.

Try giving the people around you the gift of your invitation in one of your next conversations with your team members. Because the reality is, it’s what you don’t know that will usually come back around to hurt you.

If you want to learn more about the value of building Emotional Safety®, check out our post, “Get Angry, Not Stupid™.” You can also take the complimentary “Step-Up Assessment” at dynamicresults.com. For even more practical tools and a deeper dive, consider enrolling in our Emotional Safety® eSchool.

Become A Metrics Medalist

What makes the highest performing organizations better than the rest?

When I’m giving keynotes or working with some of the world’s leading companies, I’m often asked that question. The answer is way too big for a short video and I don’t proclaim to have all the answers.

With that said, our clients achieve extraordinary results by driving Accountability and Emotional Safety® into their interactions and the way they measure and communicate their results.

Competition is like the Olympics: you see levels of performance from some individuals and teams that simply outperform their competition. Culture is a complex and primary ingredient of success. Today, let’s focus on this one aspect of culture and performance, the creation and communication of good metrics.

I see a lot of “thought leaders” trying to sound impressive with complex explanations, let’s keep ours simple.

If you don’t have metrics and use language like “let’s do better” or “let’s try harder”, you simply don’t get a medal.

  • A Bronze Medal means that you have established a metric, where one did not exist before. This is often not enough to ensure success and…..it does show you are starting your success journey. It is usually binary like “as of today, we have a launch plan for our new product, complete with milestones”. It might be as simple as a basic timeline.
  • A Silver Medal means you have a way to measure your milestones along the success journey. For example, if having a prototype is one of your major milestones, having a prototype alone, may not earn you a medal. Having a metric on the milestone puts you at the Olympic level. Is having a prototype enough? Not for me. We hold our clients to a higher standard – how about “by December 12th, we have a prototype which has been tested to a reliability rate of 98% or higher”. Or “By December 12th, we have 1000 pre-orders for our new product”.
  • A Gold Medal means you have arrived at the destination of your success journey and like bronze and silver, in a way which is quantified. For example, “we have achieved a sales target of €300 million” OR “we have a 2-point lift in our NPS score” or “92% of our clients feel that our pizza is “very good” or “excellent”.
  • Please note that this last metric is subjective, and subjectivity is something I see many leadership teams resist. The fact is, in most industries, the consumer experience is your most important metric and….it is often completely subjective.

    Gold medalists embrace this subjectivity and they take a stand, applying specific measurements to subjectively measured achievements. Gold medalists have the courage to commit, even when an outcome is uncertain.

    Your success journey will need all three kinds of medalist experiences, Bronze to get started, with Silver and Gold as you go. Using this formula, our clients implement their strategies at 8x the rate of most organizations, something we hope you will do too.

    Passive Endorsements™ – A Deadly Silence

    Today I’ll discuss the tendency we sometimes have to avoid challenging conversations.

    An industrial psychologist in our firm has an interesting take on this issue: He says there are two kinds of people: Those who know they may be avoiding difficult conversations and those that don’t know they are also avoiding them.

    Let’s see how this view applies to our interactions.

    In not addressing an issue that you find critical, you’re endorsing the very behavior that’s frustrating you. We call this ‘Passive Endorsement™’. Think of your silence as an invitation for continuing the very behaviors or processes which you find counterproductive or irritating.

    Sometimes we avoid these discussions because we expect a negative reaction.

    In many cases avoidance is used with good intentions, such as: “She already has too much on her plate. I don’t want to add to her burdens”; or “He’s having some trouble at home. This just isn’t the right time”; or “My team is already stressed about this issue. Why add fuel to the fire?”

    Whether kindly-meant or fear-based, the results can be deadly. They can limit your organization’s flexibility, diminishing your competitive position in the marketplace, and ultimately put people’s jobs in jeopardy, maybe even yours.

    Our solution is to coach our clients to take action on this principle: The organization that engages in and resolves the most difficult discussions the quickest has and maintains a huge Competitive Advantage.

    Consider this: The higher you are on the organizational chart, the more dangerous your silence becomes.

    That difficult conversation you have been avoiding is actually a leadership opportunity. Here are three emotionally intelligent ways to engage in potentially challenging discussions:

    Use a permissive approach: Say something like “I have an observation which I think might be difficult for you to hear. Could you suggest a good time and place to share it with you?”

    Use a contrasting statement: “Overall I think our relationship is good, but that’s a topic for another time. Right now I’d like to discuss my impression that you’ve been interrupting me in meetings.”

    Be vulnerable: “I need to discuss something with you, but I don’t know how to approach it. Will you help me get started?” Remember that vulnerability is the conduit to trust, and trust is the foundation of all successful relationships.

    To sum up: Silence is your enemy when there is a need to resolve conflicts. Finding a way to address these issues is your best way to effect change. While you’re engaging others, remember to generate an atmosphere of Emotional Safety®.

    For more information on doing this, check out our blog “Attack the Idea, Not the Person”, or read our Amazon Top-10 Business Book: Step Up, Lead in Six Moments That Matter.

    As always, we appreciate you. For additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

    Thank you for your time.

    Seven Steps For Taking A Real Vacation

    Steps To Taking A Real VacationDo you have trouble disconnecting from work while on vacation?

    If so, you are not alone.

    Business Week reports that over 76 percent of executives said they work at least a few times a week, and 33 percent said they conduct business every single day.

    Is this healthy?

    The American Institute of Stress reports, “Increased levels of job stress have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders.”

    Is this productive?

    As executive coaches, we see the effects of prolonged stress on our clients every day: reduced focus, lack of energy, loss of enthusiasm and creativity; with increased negative interactions with team members. The Families and Work Institute found that overworked individuals are more likely to make mistakes.

    So, our big question is: Is it really necessary to always take the office with you?

    It is, if you haven’t done sufficient planning. Like everything else in business and life – insufficient planning leads to poor results.

    One client, the President of an International Manufacturing company, candidly shares what so many others suffer through. “I normally practice the Robin Williams concept from the movie RV; I do my work when the family is asleep.”

    Our Dynamic Results team is committed to living our Accountability Method™; which goes way beyond getting things done on time. Being accountable includes taking good care of yourself and living life in a way that is nurturing for you and inspiring to the people with whom you live and work.

    Here are a few tips to help boost your accountability for taking healthy and refreshing vacations:

    • A few weeks before leaving, review the status of your key projects. Decide what you will complete before leaving and what and to whom you will delegate remaining tasks.
    • Consult with all your team members and communicate to each one what you want them to handle while you’re away. Make sure to have them state their understanding of what you require to guard against mixed signals or other miscommunications.
    • Notify everyone concerned in your projects who will be responsible while you’re away; how to reach them, and when you’ll return.
    • Set your voice mail, email, and other communication accounts to inform everyone you are out of the office on vacation.
    • Leave the day before and the day after your trip unscheduled. This will allow you to leave with confidence knowing that you have not only a manageable situation to return to, but time to deal with any unforeseen problems when you get back.
    • Most importantly – commit to letting go and not checking your email, slack, other chat streams and voice mail while away.
    • Finally, make yourself accountable to your significant other and family by showing them this article.

    One client, a SVP at a Global Manufacturing company advises that to develop strong, independent thinkers and doers, letting go while you are away gives all concerned the opportunity to rise to the next level.

    Henry Evans, Change Excellence Officer (CEO) of Dynamic Results, shares, “I leave my laptop behind. I do carry a phone in case of emergency, but usually leave it turned off and packed away. My out of office assistant is always on and my objective is to focus on recharging and rejuvenating for a happier and more productive Henry when I return.”

    As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on facebook to share your experiences or email us at [email protected].

    Learn how to build a culture of accountability at your organization.

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