The Currency of Trust
Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council Radio Program
“What’s working at work” with Lynda Foster
Aired on: COVIDVA radio which can be found at COVIDVIRGINIA.com
FULL AUDIO of show can be found here:
April 20, 2020 Noon-1pm
John:Good afternoon. I’m John Phillips, your host, along with your co-host, Mary Miller. Thank you for joining us for the Business Lunch Show. Each day for the noon hour, we seek to talk with the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs in the Roanoke and Blacksburg regions to learn how they are using innovative strategies and just sheer determination to navigate their way through this unique period as we together create the new economy for our future. As always, we enjoy hearing from you. Join in our conversation by calling in at 540-795-2510. Today we are kicking off the week with a thought-provoking Monday series ‘What’s working at work?” with Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO, Cortex Leadership Consulting.
Mary: It’s great to have Lynda on the show with us today. And I think a number of Mondays, there are any number of challenging questions I think that come to mind as we continue to try to help businesses move forward. And so, I know Lynda will bring some of the strategies and some questions and things to think about as we move forward in our work environment.
John:Well, the economy is a challenge every day, especially… particularly while we’re all at home. And those pressures affect us both personally and professionally. And so, Mary, go ahead and bring Lynda into the conversation.
Mary: Lynda, good afternoon. How are you?
Lynda:I’m doing very well today. Thank you. It’s Monday, a lot of rest over the weekend and hiking, so very happy this morning.
Mary:So, Lynda, I believe that many of our, our listeners may… may know who you are, but let me just do a shout out that you are the CEO of Cortex Leadership, and you have for many years brought leadership strategies and training. You work as an executive coach. I know that you work with a lot of teams. And so, I appreciate your contributions to the RBTC and for being our guest on these Monday segments as we tried to tackle. Without… without COVID-19, businesses have plenty of challenges to be as good as they can be. With COVID-19, I think there’s other stress points and things that may… we might want to consider. Can you talk a little bit about some of the changes that… and I know that, you know, having managed a lot of people over my career, change is hard for some people. So, what might some of our people who maybe change could be hard for, what might they be feeling right now?
Lynda:They’re probably a little disoriented. Like, it’s very disorienting to be doing the same structured sort of teamwork together or tasks, and then all of a sudden, everything changes overnight. And I think the real challenges is some people are familiar with working from their home or other distributed workplaces that they might be in right now. And some people aren’t at all, and they’re having to deal with multiple things happening at the same time at their home and at work. So, I would say the word is probably disorienting for a lot of people right now.
Mary:So, when we talked about this series, the term that I really like a lot you… you brought to us the currency of trust. And so, we certainly do trust that we’re all trying to do our best. But can you talk about this disorienting and some of the challenges, how… how trust plays into that across our teams?
Lynda:Yeah, I think it’s the micro moments of communication that build trust or jeopardize it. It’s simple things in the workplace that… like returning someone’s email in a timely manner, or consistently not returning emails or calls or things like that. You know, when you were in a workplace together and you didn’t hear back from somebody, a lot of times, you could just get up, walk over and say, “Hey, what about this?” You’re sort of at the… people can really rope themselves off right now. And it could be that they’re incredibly overwhelmed. So, what I’m seeing in the workplace right now is that there really weren’t systems of communication in place before all of this happened to have a distributed workforce. So, they’re using email for conversation when email is really a space for transactional conversations, not conversations that require feedback. You know, you say something, then I say something, and based on what I said is what your next… your next statement or question is.
So, transactional is more like, “Hey, can you get this task done? Hey, can you check this?” that sort of thing. And those transactional conversations build trust. The simple things that we agree to, in order to get a task done, and then it is being responded to in the way we agreed to – those things are what start building trust. Those simple things, you can imagine in a meeting, like it probably wasn’t that big of a deal because you had all these side conversations at work that were happening down the hall or whatever before a meeting or after a meeting. But now, it’s like the meetings themselves online need to be used to build trust so that people feel heard and understood, which is sort of the basis at work of people trusting you to, quote, ‘have their back’. It’s really those things that build or jeopardize trust.
John:Lynda, interesting you bring up the email. I think email ends up being almost habit forming for a lot of folks and they get into a routine with email. And now, we’re in a shock to the systems that have been placed at work and the kind of what the society norms are. And it takes a while to make that adjustment. How do folks make that adjustment away from it being their dependence on it, recognizing it as a more transactional medium?
Lynda:I think there’s 2 things. One is to understand that there are 3 levels of conversation that build to the highest level of trust. The first is transactional. That’s the one we’ve been talking about. Positional usually happens in a meeting. You have your point of view, I have my point of view, one of us may win or lose, whatever that is. And then the third is transformative where 1 plus 1 equals 3.
So, in transactional conversations, which is the baseline of building trust, you have to have some rules of engagement. And so, the first thing you have to do is go, “Is email the right way for us to be communicating this, or are Google Docs a much better way to do it?” or whatever team working format that you have. So, everybody can kind of contribute to the conversation or the task list, and every person, rather than having to filter through 50 emails from all their team members and respond, they can look at this one spreadsheet or software system and go, “Okay, that’s where we’re at now. Okay, I want to comment on that particular thing.” And they can, in a couple of minutes, sort of see what’s happening, and be able to trace what’s happening with clarity.
You have to start somewhere. We want to get rid of email, which you should. About 90% of use of emails from our tracking and research are not… you don’t need email to do it, and it’s very inefficient. You have to start with analyzing what the actual conversations are happening, and then finding a different way that’s much more efficient to have those conversations.
Mary:Lynda, let me just ask a couple of questions here. Because I think you’re right in that, even good teams are trying to grab for efficiency and trying to grab for the tools that seemed close at hand, which certainly are email, for some people, it’s texting. And I just have to… I’ll share with you. And honestly, in my… occasionally, I get texts and sometimes I send text, but I don’t keep a ding on my phone when an incoming text comes in. So, if somebody thinks that they’re going to text me and that’s going to be my top-of-mind, quickest way to get me, my text is not making a noise. So, I’ve kind of casually, at the end of the day or something, like see if I had any text.
So, it gets back to that rules of engagement. We have Zoom. We certainly have online meetings. We have ways to connect collaboratively in visual and through audio. So, are challenged to have better transactions is that what you’re saying? Maybe we don’t need as many emails, does that mean we need more Zoom meetings, Lynda?
Lynda:More huddles. I think you’ve asked an excellent question, Mary. Like, what you need is a lot more huddles and you need more communication about communication. Like, there needs to be more communication about how communication is going to occur with each person and on the team, and then how is it going every week, so you can do continuous improvement. So, we’re just not having enough communication about how we’re going to actually communicate, and then therefore, the communication is really poor right now.
So, yeah, you might have to jump on a Zoom call, but a huddle looks like a scrum meeting almost, right? And I’m sure you’re familiar with that, because you’re so familiar with sort of the agile workplace. You ran one, and so many of your members do. It’s to sort of, you know, huddle together for a set 10 minutes with your 5 team members, and you go around, which means you ask each person, “What did you do yesterday? What are you doing today? And what kind of obstacles can I remove so someone facilitate?” And people get very used to having that morning, quick meeting, and you have to set it for a time limit. Because team members will tire of it quickly if every time it’s supposed to be a 10-minute meeting, and an hour and a half later every day, you’re done. And if it’s an hour and a half, it’s just not facilitated properly.
So, the challenge right now is people haven’t been trained in facilitation. They aren’t communicating about their communication. Like, they weren’t ready for this. And they need to slow down the beat for a second this week and get ready for communicating and do a wrap up on, “What went well? What’s not going well?” that sort of thing.
John:I’m John Phillips and along with Mary Miller with you today, as you are listening to Business Lunch brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guest, Lynda Foster. An interesting discussion Lynda’s having about the means of communication. And, Lynda, I’ve had my share of bosses in my life and with… both with the army and then the boss for lots of folks with my own business. How do you… what’s the conversation like when you’re trying to reset that communication? And you really want to talk with your… your boss about how that communication is going, it’s often uncomfortable conversation, or is there… are there some techniques to make it more comfortable?
Lynda:For any bosses listening, you’re the one that should be initiating these conversations. For any team members that are listening whose bosses are not initiating these conversations, the thing is to just make a suggestion, “Hey, can we talk about what’s went right? What we want right to look like over the… you know, what’s went right over the last week? What kinds of behaviors have we seen in the past? What’s right going to look like next week this time if we’re where we want to be?” So, you can… you know, I would make us a respectful suggestion of, “Hey, can we just talk about talking and how that’s going at our next meeting? Or can I jump on the phone with you and talk about something I learned on a radio program?” The leadership coach the other day, you know, maybe find something that’s written about what I’m talking about. We have tons of stuff online at my website, 500 articles with all kinds of things you can pass along to your boss to start the conversation.
John:Lynda, where… where do you go after you’ve had that conversation? And we want to make the journey through good open communications, particularly when we’re working remote and then… and what are some good ways or techniques to approach that?
Lynda:So, let’s… let’s go to what’s working at work. I want to highlight a couple of companies and what they’re doing right. You know, a company like Omni Source (which is a division of Steel Dynamics) is using rounding. So, rounding in a meeting, you can do it… you should be doing it live. But if you haven’t yet, Zoom is perfect thing to start, is that you go, “Hey, we have about 5 minutes. Here’s the question, ‘What’s going right right now?’ Can each person… can we go around and each person take about 30 seconds to be able to tell us what that looks like?”
So, OmniSource uses rules of engagement, rounding, that structure to be able to make sure everyone’s heard. I think of a company like one that we work with called Haskell Engineering out of the Atlantic Division. The head of the division, Bela, is fantastically creative right now. So, she’s doing things to build trust, like she’s having lunch every day virtually with team members to be able to just have casual conversation, to build that sincerity element of trust, which is, “I care about you. I care about you beyond the job. You matter to me. So, I’m going to take the time to listen.” Some people are doing virtual bingo during meetings. I mean, they’re getting creative with how to have fun in these meetings, and create an engagement level that allows people to feel connected with one another.
Mary:Lynda, you’ve got some wonderful rules of engagement. And I know I’ve had meetings where you’ve shared some of those. Could we just reflect for a second? Because you keep referring back to these rules of engagement, can you give our listeners some examples of what rules, what are you talking about If they’re not thinking of rules of engagement?
Lynda:Thank you, I think these are great questions. Foundational things that you can do in meetings or between people to make sure that everybody’s on the same path, the same ground rules, let’s say. So, if you’re doing a team meeting with rules of engagement, we have things that we suggest like we start with the desired outcome in mind. Like, are all of us on the same page? Do we all want to get to the same place? Or do we already have some disagreement there and, and need to… to talk about that first?
Another rule of engagement is to you use I-statements, and that means, “Hey, from my perspective, this is what I think is going right. What do you think is going right?” Things like remove all distractions? So, if you’re in a meeting, be in a meeting. A lot of bad meetings occur because nobody… everybody’s distracted the entire time, so the problem never needs to be solved. So, a main rule is, if you’re in a meeting, be in the meeting. If you have to leave the meeting, then actually leave the meeting. But don’t act like you’re in a meeting and then you’re not actually in a meeting.
Always leave the meeting with clearly defined next steps is another rule. So, does everybody leave a meeting know what’s expected of them next? And how will they be held accountable for that? And our main rule of engagement is remain curious. So, especially when you don’t disagree… especially when you disagree with someone, you remained curious and say, “Hey, what… I don’t know everything. I’m listening for… for information, not confirmation.” So, those are some principled rules of engagement.
Some other rules of engagement that are basic or be on time, be on time. If the meeting starts at 12:00, then either 12:00, not 12:05, not 12:10, but 12:00. So, you can do some tactical things, but you can also do some rules of engagement for principals, right?
John:Are there companies out there that do this exceptionally well, Lynda, that you might use as a good example? Or when you’ve taught some of your classes, what are some good examples of how folks use this?
Lynda:Yes, I mean, we really teach them in every single group session and workshop that we do. And the ones that are doing it right, what works is that they create those rules of engagement. There can’t be too many and too long, but they go around at the beginning of any meeting that lasts more than 30 minutes. And they have each person agree to the rules and then commit to them.
And so, when it’s working right, any of the companies that we’re working with right now aren’t putting them on a wall, aren’t putting in in the middle of the table and hoping people read it every time, but really going around the room each time and making sure that everyone’s fully committed to those rules. Because they don’t mean anything if they’re allowed to be broken. And the leader is setting… whoever’s leading that meeting is holding the person accountable. If they take out their phone, and you know, a couple of times and are just completely distracted, then the person leading the meeting is going to say, “Hey, John, do you… it looks like you need to take care of something. No problem if you want to take care of it. You know, just go ahead and step out.” So, you respectfully hold people accountable to the rules, because if you don’t hold anybody accountable, right, trust.
Mary:Maybe if we want to tighten up or Zoom meetings, what might be a couple of guidance points you’d like to share?
Lynda:Yeah, I would say, you know, everything that you do now, in today’s distributed workforce has to be intentional. So, having an agenda for what’s going to happen on that Zoom meeting so that people can feel prepared. Second, making it… it’s a meeting like you would in person. You don’t show up and stand on the other side of the wall outside of the meeting and scream through the wall. So, everyone needs to have a camera on. That’s a… it’s a level of accountability, but it’s also a level of connectiveness.
A rule on Zoom is mute yourself, unless you’re called on or you have something to say. So, learn… learn the platform. I don’t care if it’s WebEx or Microsoft Teams or Zoom, don’t just try to jump on the platform and go, “Wait, let me figure this out,” be professional. Learn how to use it, watch a YouTube video, play with it and then get on a meeting. A lot of people are not getting jobs right now because they don’t even know how to use basic video conferencing.
So, this is your professional brand. So, I think a big rule for the leaders and the team members is to go, “You’re showing your executive brand right now. Do you know how to use digital technology in a digital world right now? Do you have the basic grasp of it? Do you know how to communicate through these things with, you know, listening for con… information instead of confirmation? So, are you asking good questions? Are you fully engaged in the meeting?”
Definitely take a break. You know, so an hour-long, 2-hour long meeting on Zoom is this tiresome is as a 2-hour meeting in person. So, set in brakes to your agenda. We do that all the time now in our virtual sessions and strategy sessions and trainings where clients will say, “Okay, at 11 o’clock, we’re going to take a break.” And they know ahead of time 11:00 to 11:05. And we just let them get up. You know, instead of them having to step out during the meeting, they know when they can step out. Have people turn off their camera and audio if they have to step out. You know, those type of rules help.
Mary:Yeah, those are really helped… yeah, they’re really helpful. Personally, one of the things that is difficult is when people… and I know we’re all working from home, some people are finding the place to sit with maybe a lot of light at their back, and they don’t realize that they come across the camera really dark because the light behind him is so bright, they’re backlit. And so, they’ve got a lot of light coming in. So, sitting in front of a set of open windows makes it difficult for other people to see your face as you’re trying to share your ideas. And I think seeing our faces or… I feel, like you do, it’s really critical as we’re listening to one another at this distance that seeing people face to face can be very helpful. I know that talking about breaks, I know John’s going to get jumped in and take… we take a bottom-of-the-hour break. John, can I pass this back to you?
John:Absolutely. I’m curious, before we go to break, Lynda, what are some of the other topics you want to make sure we accomplish today?
Lynda:I think it’s important to talk about what’s breaking down in communication. And I love Mary’s framework of do’s and don’ts and basic communication that hasn’t changed in a distributed workforce versus an in-person one So that’s…
Lynda:That’s a great framework to talk about, “How do you build trust? How don’t you? And how do you communicate? How don’t you?” those types of things?
John:Well, thank you. I’m John Phillips along with Mary Miller. And today, you’re listening to Business Lunch brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guests, Lynda Foster. And we’ll be back here right after the news. I’ll turn it over to Bill with the news desk.
Lynda, we appreciate you continuing our conversation. I’m John Phillips, along with Mary Miller with you today listening to Business Lunch, brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guest, Lynda Foster. If you would like to join us and direct us with some questions at 540-795-2510. Lynda, we’ve been talking about communication and certainly being deliberate in our communication. And you have a tremendous history of coaching and working with folks. So, there’s a lot of folks that think of coaches probably more on the football field than in the corporate office. But when you’re approaching working with a coach, or you as a coach are working with executives and teaching them how to be deliberate in communications, how do you go about doing that? As a coach, how do you work with an executive?
Lynda:So, I… yeah, that’s a great question. I think the first thing I do is sort of see what their self-awareness is about their behavioral styles, what motivates them? What are their values at home and at work? You know, how much in alignment with those things they know about themselves is their current work environment? Where do they want to go? So, where is the ship headed? What’s their desired outcome? Why are they doing what they’re doing? So, that’s the first thing I kind of work with anybody with is, especially CEOs to make sure that they have a real clear vision and foundation of why they’re doing what they’re doing and what they can see in the future. Because if they don’t do that, their communication is not going to be clear, right? So, any communication starts with that.
Then we kind of evaluate the team members. And when I say evaluate, I don’t know if that’s the best word to use, as much as we scan the landscape of the… their teams and who they’re working with. What are the strengths, the weaknesses, experiences that lead to what potential the team might have? So, I designed this sort of method years ago of measuring potential, and it’s your… it’s the sum of your skills, your behaviors, and your resources.
So, I also asked questions I was like, “What are your resources? So, you want to get there, what… what resources…?” I don’t just mean in capital. That’s a big mistake most people make is they look at their bank account, and that’s what their resources are. But assessing the people around you, and most importantly, the relationships that you’ve built, are probably the biggest resource that you have. I think it’s been said that Disney went bankrupt 7 times or something in different projects. But each time, he listened something and built in a new relationship through that. And so, those people were willing to go into the next center with them.
So, it’s really a self-evaluation then who is around you, and then measuring sort of what your impact is from a communication leadership brand is. So, how credible are you to other people? And are… are you able to measure that? And so, we try to figure out ways to measure that in… in conversation terms. Yes, maybe some surveys, but also like where the leader can ask the person questions about how they’re impacting them, not just, “Am I impacting new 0 to 10?” but, “Okay, if you give me a 5, tell me more about that. Give me an example of how I… how you felt when I did that. Can you tell me what you think right would look like if I did it properly with you?” So, it’s… those are sort of the baseline things that helped set the foundation for good, clear communication and development of a leader or team member.
John:It’s interesting when we think about that, all of us are very comfortable in a positive conversation, like some of the negative conversations come from that too. And both an employee and the employer or the boss, the worker has got to be comfortable with having or receiving negative information. How do you coach along those executives to make sure they understand how to receive negative information, but maybe turn it into a positive manner?
Lynda:You know, I think that’s a great question and perspective to come to this with, is leaders who are proactive versus reactive are going to take the information as a data point. Because here’s why I think it’s… negative or positive is actually an extremely subjective way of looking at something.
Lynda:If a leader can simply take the information in and it’s a data point, “Well, that’s interesting. So, Mary thinks this when I do that. What does John think? Mary is very put off by that. Golly ned, John thinks I’m the best leader in the world because I do that. Sam over here lands on him that way. So, and so.” And you start collecting data, not to sort of homogenize your communication down to the most politically, quote, ‘correct’ way of doing it so you’re not actually saying anything, but to receive information in a way that is… you don’t take it personal, whether it’s positive or negative. “Wow, Lynda, I thought your speech was great! Wow, Lynda, I thought it was terrible!” You know, more than being awesome, give me a reason why it landed on you that way today. And that’s the same question for… to each person. Because now, it’s… now, it’s about them, and it’s not about me. And so, I think that’s what’s most important in that feedback exchange is going, “These are very subjective. Active pieces of data and information that are situational and personal to the person giving you the feedback.”
Mary:So, Lynda, I’m going to follow up on that a little bit. But I also want to… as we talk today, (and I like listening to you talk), I am listening for a nugget that I’m going to take away and continue, because I think most of us want to be better, better, better, but how do we become the better? How do we… how do we improve even under these situations? And last Monday, you shared something with me that I have to tell you, I reflected on all during the week when you were on the radio. You said that most people are well-intended.
And so, that little piece of nugget that I just kind of hung on to, and as I read emails and tried to deal with the communications that were coming my way and perhaps some of the issues coming my way. And I think that it’s an easy time for us without… I liked having the filter that I kept saying to myself, “Most people are well intended. And so, if I’m kind of… if that’s hitting me wrong right now, that could be for a lot of reasons. What I really want to believe is that this communication is well intended, and how can I better respond to it?”
And so, I do… I do appreciate that from last week. And as I’m thinking about some of what you just covered, the reality is we’re talking about how to be better communicators. And it’s impossible for us to think about that without thinking about the added burden right now of… or our new opportunities we have working remotely. And so, I really do appreciate some of your thoughts right now on how to even think about the situation of whether or not that was negative or positive, it was just a data point.
And so, what we have to do is dig into that data point a little… learn a little bit More and see how we can, that may be what you’re talking about, breaking down our communication to look at a little bit, and why the big sense of breaking down communication can happen so easily, especially at a distance if we can’t follow up with the data that we need. Maybe you could address that.
John:Mary, I think we have a caller on line. Let’s see if we have David who is on the line with a question.
David:I haven’t heard your program before, so this is new to me. You may have covered this, but one of the challenges that I’m looking at is continuing to build a business in a remote setting, trying to get to know people and build this trust relationship with people you don’t know as potential prospect for the business.
John:Since we all work remotely, we certainly are challenged with how to build those relationships and how to network, but… which is fundamental to a business.
Lynda:Yeah, I think… I think that… thank you, David for the question, because I think a lot of people are trying to build a business right now, and they’ve been thrown into this sort of remote distributed workforce and distributed clients. You know, a lot of people used to have a lot of interactions with their customers and their clients, and they would pick up on their tone and their body language, or they would see them and that would give them affirmation. And right now, those affirmation touch points aren’t really there. So, you have to be intentional about creating them.
And so, it’s im… it’s important to intentionally schedule those touch points to build those relationships, even if they’re just for a few minutes. So, to just pick up the phone and serendipitously call someone and say, “Hey, I just… just want to check on you see… see how are you we’re doing through all this. You know, I just have really been thinking about you.” That element of sincerity trust can be important in motivating and engaging people that you have your back, they have… you have their back, that they… that they can trust you. And they’re much more motivated and engaged to do business with you when they think that you care about them, and not just about your business or getting your goal met. Taking time to ask your team members in your clients, what are their goals? What are their desired outcomes? Where… where do they want to be when this is over? Where do they want to be at the end of the year? And just empathetically listening to get information from them that will help you support them through this. And each person is going to give you different information. So…
David:We’re also trying to think about how… how do we touch base with people that we don’t know yet but that are potential prospects for the business.
Lynda:Yeah. I think that this… you know, for the last 5 years, I’ve been telling people to start their LinkedIn account, because it’s really hard to create a network of people at the last minute. And, you know, people will not be on LinkedIn, and then they suddenly lose their job. I think LinkedIn for business is the most powerful tool that I am seeing right now, people who have created their network of people. If you haven’t created your network of people, most influencers I know… in fact, I think all Fortune 500 CEOs are on LinkedIn.
And so, if it’s a business to business that if you want to use other social media sites, like Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, to sort of start creating. And start with one-on-one conversations on these social mediums. Like, just reach out to 1 person and in message, “How are you doing? Like, do you have any needs right now?” and start a conversation with them.
People right now are actually very open to having conversations in messaged on social media, because they’re sort of longing for those connections. As long as you’re not pushing sales with them and you’re starting conversations, they’re very open. I know most of my posts are getting 2500 views apiece right now. And they used to before this when everybody was sort of distracted and not on it as much, maybe 500 to 1000. So, they’re there. That’s the way to network right now.
John:Folks are definitely looking for connection, and they’re looking for the opportunities right now to bring in expertise and help much, much more important probably than sales that touching base with folks and then being able to build that relationship. Lynda, do you see that those techniques on… that we do normally, how do you… how you transfer them over into the digital world? We do pretty well with LinkedIn and, but also, you know, the Blacksburg Technology Council, we’ve been trying to have multiple events and… and really get folks… get folks a chance to interact.
I know, it’s been very popular… we haven’t tried it yet, we’re going to, but it’s been very popular to do some of the after-hours events and try to do them in a networking style. Have you attended one of those or have some advice in that direction?
Lynda:Yeah. I haven’t attended one of those. But knowing the video conferencing mediums the way that I do, what’s really cool, for instance, what Zoom is popular right now, is that you can have 50 people on a call and then you… a lot of people don’t do this, but it’s very easy to break up them into rooms. And then what would be super fun is to, you know, to break them up into like 5 groups and each person… each of them are facilitated to have people talk. But then you could take those 50 people and set up 25 rooms and arbitrarily Just put them into rooms together and maybe, you know, have them do something like, “You know, what’s your name? What company are you with? Why are you here? And what’s something you’d love to learn about out the other person?” you know, and have that exchange happen and then switch and then switch and then switch.
So, the tools are very sophisticated right now on a way to be able to do mass meetings and still have that one-on-one contact, I would say, the way I build my business is to do very small group meetings and reach out to 5 people and say, “Hey, do you have time at 8:00 AM Friday morning to get together? I would like to, you know, just to… I’d like to introduce you to a few of my friends. And… and I think you guys have some things in common about business, and I’d like to talk about this topic.”
So, it’s… it’s really your imagination right now (not the limit of your technology) to bring anything, and sometimes even better, to… you know, at networking events, people tend to click together. You know, here you can almost, you know, force that interaction.
John:Well, I’m John Phillips, along with Mary Miller with you today as you’re listening to Business Lunch, brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guests, Lynda Foster. And we appreciate those that will call in. And you can reach us at 540-795-2510. And I would… I know that Mary participated last week in an event where some of these different programs were introduced and talked about with regards to networking in a digital manner. Mary, did you pick up any good tips from that interaction.?
Mary:What Lynda said is true right now. I think there are people who actually have some time that they’re willing to contribute to this kind of new interaction, where they’re willing to meet new people, share new ideas. And it’s a special kind of time where the distance, I’m not thinking of driving somewhere, I don’t need to drive in my car across the region in order to connect. And so, our networks, we have an ability right now to connect in a different way.
And I know the gentleman, David, called in about trying to build his network and market, even last week I had a great interaction with someone who literally ultimately has a sales… a product he would like to sell to me. Under normal conditions, I don’t think I would have ever seen him. We had a Zoom call. I looked at his New York apartment. He told me how things were going there. We kind of connected in regard to how we were both doing, which in the… in the normal world, we act as if we don’t even have time for that.
So, I found it rather refreshing that I have had a chance, I’ve been in some of these chat rooms, Lynda, that you discussed, put into a room, asked to discuss topic. And then on the timer, the rooms switch or you come back and you kind of report out. So, I think there are some possibilities that we can remain curious, learn some new things, meet some new people, and build a different kind of network than some of us are normally accustomed to. Our region is diverse and our world is big. And so, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to connect in that regard.
John:So, you’re listening to Business Lunch, brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guests, Lynda Foster. And feel free to join us at 540-795-2510 as we explore communication in the workplace, particularly communication in a digital workplace while we’re all finding our way in through this together. And but we’re separate in our homes, but maybe together in the experience. Lynda, what… what ideas do you have to encourage people on working in this environment?
Lynda:You know, I think of be patient that everybody has different level of skills and the stuff right now. So, being generous. You know, people, you know, certainly be generous and do things like clean out your closet and deliver it to the rescue mission or goodwill. You know, generously give what you can right now for all of those who are less fortunate than us in our community, or you in the community? And so, I think it’s this generosity of heart though too, generosity of patience, generosity of assuming other people’s good intentions. I think those things are critical.
You know, I also want to say that we need to ask for what we need from other people instead of playing this guessing game of ‘should’s and ‘shoulding’ all over people, “They should know that that’s offensive. They should know that that’s disrespectful. They should know that they shouldn’t have done that to me.” Ask for what you need, get a commitment from them, and then if they don’t do it, then you can sort of circle back around and go, “Hey, you committed to doing this. Did something come up? Did something happen,” whatever that is.
And mostly, don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking. I’ve had some situations recently where I had this really young team assume that they knew what their boss was thinking. And I almost laughed a little. It was fun, because when they told me what it was, I said, “That’s not at all what that person was thinking. You’re not even close.” Like, you were thinking they were judging you for what you were saying, and they were actually internally going, “I should have done that better. Like, yeah, maybe what can I do to make this better?” Like, they were internalizing it as their leader to see what they could do better. They weren’t judging their comments at all. But because on Zoom, it just looked like the person was emotionless, they assumed that that was negative, when in fact, it was extremely, quote, ‘positive’ towards them and positive towards developing.
So, ask for what… do ask for what you need. And don’t assume what other people are thinking. Ask them what they’re thinking, “What are you thinking now? What are you thinking now? What are you thinking now?” so you can get an algorithm for how they digest things, you know?
Mary:Yeah. So, Lynda, I really liked that. And I know we don’t have a lot of time left today. Can I ask you, one of… one of the things that you shared with us last time, and I want to circle around to a topic, because I just like the way it’s worded, is how do we think at our highest level during a crisis? So, it’s kind of like, “I want to be the best I can be during this time.” So, thinking at your highest level during a crisis, what is some guidance, or what can you share to the individual who’s out there listening today that really wants to be contributing their very best?
Lynda:I think systems thinking. So, there was a book written by an MIT professor called ‘The Fifth Discipline’. And it was all about systems thinking, which is sort of this, when I push on this place, when I don’t return this email, or I don’t return… when I don’t do something I’ve committed to in a task orientation, how does that affect the system? Right? It wasn’t just that I didn’t do this, it could have been that I didn’t do a commitment, and therefore, I jeopardize trust.
To be able to think at that level almost globally and your interactions and your decisions, you have to really know when you’re under anxiety, and most people don’t. Like, be able to go, “Oh my gosh, I’m in fight, flight, freeze or appease right now, which means I’m not at my highest level, I’m in a very foundational level,” and then learn techniques to move you in to a higher level thinking to remove that anxiety, to make… we’re always under anxiety, it keeps… our brain’s job is to keep us safe. But to be able to use it to almost fuel us.
John:Lynda, we’re fortunate to have Kimberly calling in from Roanoke with a question. Kimberly, how are you today? And what can we answer for you?
Kimberly:Thank you, John and Mary. I love this talk about trust, and I heard about the team and the leader to the team and that leader to the client. What happens or what do you do when team members don’t trust each other? How do you facilitate that remotely?
Lynda:That’s an… that’s an excellent question. You know, it’s probably that you need to set up a system to always be building trust, and also flushing out conflicts. So, you really… so, conflicts reduce productivity. So, there’s a real dollar figure to conflicts between team members and team members not trusting. So, if you can set up some interactions that actually build trust with each other, you know, virtual lunches can do that. The more I know about you as a human being, the less I can objectify you, which means just say, “Oh, you know, she’s just like that,” or, “I just don’t like her.” It’s I know you have 2 kids and that your husband has this and that you guys vacation there, and who your mother was and how you grew up and things like that, it helps me see you as a human being.
And I think that’s the biggest challenge right now is to maintain those types of sincere interactions that build trust by going, “You know, wait, this is a human being I’m dealing with.” And also using a system of conflict resolution where you ask people to get together, and maybe the boss facilitated by saying, “Hey, what… what’s right going to look like in this situation? What do you think? What do you think?” and ask each person. And then, “What do you think we need to start, stop, and continue doing? Hey, team member A, what do you think you need to start stop and continue doing to get to that desired outcome and what right looks like? Hey, team member B, what do you need to start, stop, and continue doing?” And that’s a very simple conflict-resolution tool that you… it’s actually magic.
Like, I have watched it. So, we had… we had 2 team members one time on a team that we’re literally not talking to each other, and they’re on the leadership team so it’s quite a problem. And it’s been going on for 2 years. And we sat down, got them together, and used that… really, that basic tool. And… and they started realizing how much they were alike and how they both wanted to get to the same outcome. And they both took responsibility for things they could do to make it better. And I’m not even kidding, this isn’t like hypothetical, like these 2 people are now managing through a difficult crisis at a healthcare facility, as leaders, working collaboratively and co-creating results at that organization.
John:Lynda, you’ve done a great job of walking us through this today. How can people learn more about this subject? What… what are some references or areas you would suggest?
Lynda:I have about 500 articles about these types of topics at www.cortexleadership.com. I’m on LinkedIn posting almost every day about topics of this nature. I have about 300 television appearances that I’ve done on these types of things that you can find on our YouTube channel at Cortex Leadership. So, this isn’t a commercial, but as much as I’ve interviewed the author of ‘Conversational Intelligence’, which is all about the neuroscience of trust, Judith Glaser, when I was in New York with her. So, just a lot of resources out there, and those resources point you to other ones.
John:So, Judith Glaser, would she be one of your favorite authors on the topic or what would be some others that you have?
Lynda:By far, by far. Judith Glaser took a lot of the trust work, did scientific research on neuroscience and pulled it together to give leaders the simple map for how to build trust, how… what jeopardizes it, and how to mend it when it’s broken. John:You’ve been listening to Business Lunch, brought to you by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council with our guest, Lynda Foster. We appreciate your time today and advice. Thanks to