Who shares in your vision? How reflective of your organization’s current culture is your vision? Are your frontline team members, that have the most amount of contact with your citizens, clients, or customers, engaged and enthusiastic about your vision? With 67% of people reporting to Gallup they are disengaged at work, and competition for time and people’s attention at an all time high, starting with why they want to work for your organization could be a good place to begin.
As we further explore Peter Senge’s, The Fifth Discipline of a Learning Organization, which outlines the 5 disciplines are personal mastery, mental models, building shared visions, team learning and systems thinking you may want to take a short-cut to learning the principles by trying this 15-minute summary version of the book.
Next up, shared vision and team learning – what they mean and how you can apply them to your team and organization.
- Shared Vision is building a sense of commitment in a group, by developing shared images of the future we seek to create, and the principles and guiding practices by which we hope to get there.
What stood out to me, and maybe it did to you as well, was the use of “we” and “shared” and “in a group”. Who is your “we”? Most organizations create a vision when their executive leaders go on a retreat or one person, the founder, perhaps, develops it and shares it with everyone who works there. Many times, a vision is created and for years it is placed on the website and framed in their lobby. Peter Senge has a different way of approaching an organization’s vision.
Senge encourages organizations to share the vision, discuss it, modify it as you obtain new information and your organization changes and grows. Let your vision grow with it. Suppress ego, he says, and give credence and lend an ear to everyone’s idea, however, each idea should contribute towards establishing an all encompassing shared vision. It’s about working together, towards a common goal that everyone in your organization believes in. Conflict and failure occur when there are disparate visions or a lack of one at all.
“More people actively sharing in the vision not only bolsters their self esteem and sense of worth, it also makes full use of everyone’s personal strengths, thus enhancing the strength of the collective as a whole. If people feel left out, resentment may fester.” He also teaches that it must be kept in check with the measurement being whether it is at odds with what is realistically achievable.
Asking these questions, regularly, can help. What are we endeavoring to create? What is our ideology? Does our vision align with our ideals? Do team members feel like they are a part of our vision?
- Transforming conversational and collective thinking skills, so that groups of people can reliably develop intelligence and ability greater than the sum of individual members’ talents.
There it is again, things like “collective”, “groups of people”, “greater than the sum of individual members”. There’s a pattern to the most successful, innovative companies out there right now. They learn things together. Yes, they constantly improve their own skills and use a team effort to synthesize collectively to create a combined power. They collaborate to point the organization into one, clear, direction.
In order to seek team learning you’ll want to focus on:
- Shared skills
- Coordinated action
- Developing and nurturing interaction
- Defining one single, clear goal
- Promoting and refining communication
Start by asking yourself these questions:
Do you have platforms available to team members for open debate? Debating a point can lead to learning different perspectives and makes the decision-making process more informed.
Do you promote conflict? Yes, people are going to have to learn to have authentic communication in order to create greatness. People holding things back and not saying what they really think only further embeds silos which lead to lower productivity and performance. Here’s a past article about spotting the elephant in the room that might help.
Do you have learning platforms? When is the last time that your team go away from the office to experience something new and different in order to bond and build trust?
As I begin my learning adventure with a new, collaborative partner we are working with at Cortex, Axialent, I’ll be writing articles that focus on the main principles and practices that have helped their clients, like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, and so many others, reach high profitability and innovation levels and low disengagement scores.
Yes. Everyone is busy. Some say we are living in a “culture of busy” In fact, there are studies that prove just how busy we think we are. Busy has become a badge of honor. Who are you, anyway, if you have tons of time, unless, of course, you have lots of money to go with it?
It’s funny though, people have time for things they value. In fact, studies are showing that the number of hours we are working, as a society, are going slightly down. The number of Americans working from home has risen by 41 percent. We are no longer competing for each other’s attention, for something at work with other work projects, it seems from the research, but instead, the toughest thing we are competing against is having people choose what we want over something they could do with their family, friends, or even alone on their favorite apps.
If you aren’t getting what you want at work, there’s probably one reason for it. That reason is captain obvious after you learn it, and invaluable once you learn to appreciate and work with it, instead of against it. People don’t get what they want from you because of this same reason the exact same way you aren’t getting what you want from them.
The one reason you might not be getting what you want at work is that you could be seen as someone else’s spam. Yep. Spam. Like those annoying messages that pop up in your email box that get in the way of the important things you need to focus on. Being spam to someone else at work simply means you have not moved into their zone of relevancy right now. It’s not good and could be the one reason why you are not getting what you need or want at work right now. It may not even be personal. It may just mean that you and what you need or want is not part of someone else’s top priority list. When your message falls into someone’s “spam folder” and you need to be seen or heard, the best thing that can happen is for you to know it and quickly do something about it.
You can apply this if you are a technician, a manager, a sales person, an entrepreneur, or a government employee. We all need or want someone’s attention in order to get what we need or where we want to go and falling in that person’s “spam” category can delay your forward momentum.
There are 3 ways to determine whether you are spam to the people at work that matter the most. By that I mean, the person you report to and those that you need in order to get your work done and perhaps, get promoted, or land that big sale. Those people could be people on your team, vendors that you collaborate with on projects, and even, perhaps, the best customers of your organization. Being considered “spam” could mean you don’t get that promotion, that assignment you wanted, that raise you thought you were up for, the account you needed, or even the next job you apply for.
Want to know 3 things that could signal you are spam to someone at work?
- They don’t get back to you. Ever. Yes, it now can take multiple touch points to get someone’s attention even if you have a great relationship and are seen as valuable. You are spam at work, though, if you never get an answer back. They don’t return your calls, your text messages, your emails, the notes you left on their desk, your FB message, you name it. The person you need or want to communicate with simply ignores your requests for a response from them for longer and longer periods of time.
- They promise you things and never follow through. They say you are important, yet when you really need something to do your job or complete a project, they don’t actually get it to you. They are nice and polite, yet you are not the one they choose when the stakes are high. In fact, they avoid you when everything is on the line. Polite does not equal important in business.
- Your opinion is unimportant. You are never asked for it. A whole meeting, or series of meetings, can go by and your input is not requested. Decisions are made for your team and that greatly affect your position and you are not included in the conversations you thought you would be.
How do you go from spam to the top of the list at work?
Let’s start with the why first.
People pay attention to things they derive as having value to them. You want to be considered a value to your team, to your boss, to your organization and most importantly to the clients, customers or citizens your organization serves. Why is your value important? Value is equal to higher levels of compensation…that’s money directly in your pocket. Another reason you want to be seen as valuable is that workers who are valuable have more freedom and choices in the workplace. The more valuable you are the more you gain the position and right to say what happens to you. I know, hold down the house! You have to earn the right. Yes, other people have and you will as well.
If you argue with that notion think of it this way. Even if you leave your organization and open your own business you will have to earn freedom and choice by satisfying lots of clients or customers. Satisfying those customers is the only way to grow that company. Until you grow it you will be working your rear end off! If you want to leave where you are at you are going to need to find another job, maybe. Well, another organization is then going to deem whether you are valuable or not. Guess what, that’s where that spam to people like citizens or customers outside of your organization come in. Every time you interact with someone outside of your organization they could be the person that is, works for, or is related to or a friend of your next potential boss.
Yes! That person you were rude to. That person you argued with about something on FB and you told them they were an idiot. They could be someone you need in the future. That person YOU considered as spam, could suddenly be on the other side of the table one day, visible or invisible, making the decision on whether you get that dream job.
Now, let’s figure out what you can do to move up on someone else’s priority list.
- Be curious. Ask more questions. People do not consider something spam when it is relevant to what they want. In fact, our brain filters everything based on relevancy. Get a little creative. Watch who they do consider valuable and observe why they might think that about those people. Don’t do the same things over and over again if they are not working. Develop new methods based on research and curiosity.
- Be competent. Before you communicate with someone significant, be sure you are prepared and know your stuff. You don’t have to be Einstein…no one likes a know it all. What I’m saying is that you need to zoom in on the most important deliverables and nail them to get noticed.
- Be respectful. Remember the “everyone is busy” thing we talked about earlier? Respect people’s time. Don’t come ill prepared to a meeting or interaction and then think the other person is cool with you not knowing the answers you needed to have for them. Act with respect to those that have earned their positions in the company, whether you think they have or not. Let them finish their sentences. Don’t think you know what they are going to say before they say it. Refer to rule number 1.
Moving into the category of truly valuable to others at work, and out of their spam file, takes lots of time, focus, and energy. You want to be seen inside and outside of your organization as trustworthy and reliable.
You want to know why I am convinced you can do it? Because you wouldn’t even be watching or reading this if you weren’t! Go forth and conquer your day! You are valuable and with this information you can move straight to the top.
As seen in Forbes, Inc.
As a manager, one of your most important jobs is to identify and groom the next generation of leadership at your organization. You might know what a particular employee’s next step should be, but figuring out exactly when to promote can be tricky. Move someone up too soon, and he or she will feel overwhelmed by the new responsibilities. Wait too long, and the employee will feel frustrated or resentful — and may even start looking for other opportunities.
So how can you tell if the timing is right? We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council to each name one key sign that indicates an employee is ready for a promotion.
1. They’re Always Seeking The Next Challenge<
When employees seek challenging projects and assignments and see them through successfully, it’s a clear sign they are promotion ready. Leverage their past performance data and past work data. Identify where they have excelled. If a project manager has shown strategic insight as a strength, give them a promotion that leverages that strength. – Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching
2. They Have Strong “People Skills”
You can easily teach technical skills and systems, but people skills and communication skills are harder to teach. Anyone who is fantastic at handling conflict, giving feedback, engaging teams or communicating with difficult people would make a great leader and will require less training to get there. – Kimberly Giles, Claritypoint Coaching Academy
3. They’ve Already Crafted Their Potential Next Step
High performers with high potential should drive their own career development. When these individuals approach their managers with a proposal for a new role, complete with how their skill sets will continue adding value to the business, this is a key sign they’re ready for a promotion. Taking this initiative will prompt the conversation around what the next career step will look like. – Lizabeth Czepiel, Lizabeth Czepiel, LLC
4. They’re Aligned With The “Why” And The “Who”
The employee ready for promotion is the one who, with each decision, considers the company mission and people. A high performer (a lone wolf salesperson who exceeds personal quota, for example) may not be your best candidate for promotion. Instead, seek out that one person who has genuine affection for the purpose of the organization (the “why”) and the people accomplishing the mission (the “who”). – Mark S. Babbitt, YouTern
5. They Handle Failures Maturely
When an employee takes responsibility for a failure and uses it to become a better leader, it’s the first sign that he or she is ready for a promotion. How someone handles and deals with setbacks and obstacles is a legitimate sign that they are willing to learn and will grow into the promotion you would like them to achieve. – Lynda Foster, Cortex Leadership Consulting
6. They’re Already Doing Work At The Next Level
An employee looking for more ways to make your life easier is one primed to take on a larger role. It is more common to be doing aspects of a role before actually getting the position. They are showing they can do it and, more importantly, they want to do it. Check in and make sure the new challenge is the one that will keep that star on your team. Show them you care about what they care about. – Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials
7. They Routinely Identify And Solve Organizational Problems
When employees identify a problem that needs fixing, develop and implement a solution and bring it forward, or go ahead and implement the solution (if within the scope of expectations), they are ready for increased responsibility. To determine what kind of promotion, ask yourself if they excel at operations, management or strategy, and consider an assessment to identify key strengths and skills. – Sharon Hull, Metta Solutions, LLC
8. They Consistently Demonstrate Their Impact On The Business
If an employee has generated consistent and significant business impacts, they are proving their worth and should be rewarded with growth opportunities. Fostering a high achiever can have an excellent return. Start a conversation to explore short- and long-term career plans. Identify areas of interest that align with business offerings and goals to determine if there is a discernable next step. – Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions
It is awesome when you can take a full day away from the office and do full-scale team building. What is as, or even more important, is being sure that team building is “baked in” to your culture by having quick ways to build trust and create meaningful and fun connections with team members on a regular basis.
- THUMB BALLS – These handy and inexpensive tools can help to break the ice for new team members or deepen relationships quickly with existing ones – even if they’ve known each other for years. Thumb balls are named that because you throw them to one another and the person catching it gets to choose from either question their thumb lands on. There are different types of thumb balls for different situations and they run about $24.75 each. With questions like: “Your proudest moment” or “I’ll be successful if…” or “My most creative contribution” team members can find connection quickly. Click here to find one on Amazon.
- CONVERSATION CARDS – TableTopics were designed for families and parties but are great for quick team building in the same way that the Thumb Balls are. With 135 different questions on cards team members can choose from a small stack to answer one in a round, or you can have each of the people in the group answer the same question. Click here to find a box of these on Amazon.
- ME MINGLE FOR MEETINGS – Want your meeting to be more productive? Do 1-minute rounds where people pair up with each other and finish the statement: In today’s meeting, I am going to contribute by: (fill in this blank). Do 3 rounds so each person has a chance to tell at least 3 people their answer.
- SHARE ARTIFACTS – Organizations are changing quickly. To help bring perspective and a touch of history into your next meeting, ask team members to bring an “artifact” from the past and describe how it became a fossil or how its use may have been repurposed. Perhaps someone brings in an old calculator or type of pen or a picture of an old logo or a picture of people at work 10-20 years ago.
- MEAL OF THE MONTH – There is something special about having a meal together. To introduce different cultures and tastes perhaps each team member can choose the meal of the month. They get to pick what type of food your team will eat together for one meal a month.
Here’s a quick video to demonstrate how one CEO used techniques for onboarding an existing team.