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Entries from September 2014

Navigating Conflict in the Workplace

25th September 2014
Navigating ConflictMost of us shy away from conflict and back off or avoid the
situation if it feels like it might be confrontational. Yet, conflict is inevitable in
organisations if you view conflict as a different point of view!
As humans our greatest gift is our ability to think and
speak. This means we will form our own opinions and have something to say – yet
we get surprised or annoyed or irritated or irked or intimidated or … when
someone disagrees with our point of view.
This can often act as a trigger and cause us to re-act
rather than stop and consider where the other person is coming from.
Conflict is a Gift
Conflict, or differing points of view, can be the starting
point of creating a better solution, better product or better way of working.
So, how can we train ourselves to treat it as such?
A starting point might be around our own mindset and instead
of instantly re-acting to what has been said maybe we need to re-purpose around
the relationship
you want to have.
When I’m working with leaders around influence and impact
there are 2 questions I often ask:
  1. Does your intention match your impact?
  2. What outcome do you want from the relationship?

I ask the first question because we often judge ourselves by
our intention and we judge others by the impact they have on us. It’s rare that
someone will consider their own impact given the individual or audience they
have in front of them.

I ask the second question so that you can consider where the
relationship is and consider where you may want to take it. Start with at least
maintaining the relationship at its current position and at best building the
relationship.
Considering both of these questions will inform you on the
approach most likely to achieve the outcome and impact you desire.
The Art of Listening
Listening truly is an art as there are many things we can
pay attention to in both your audience and more importantly YOU.
Listening, You are the only person you are in control of. So pay attention to
what is happening to you as well as your audience, tuning into the following areas:
  • Words – Listen to the words, tone, timbre and pitch
  • Emotion – What do you see and hear that gives some
    indication of the mood or emotion that is present?
  • Physiology – What do you notice about the way they sit,
    stand, move, and breathe?
  • Energy – What are you picking up energetically?

As you are doing this be curious, ask questions, suspend
your own judgement, solicit input and check your understanding by summarising
what you are hearing.
I know all of this sounds simple, and it is – as long as you
practice.
So to summarise;
A – ask questions, listen, and get curious
S – summarise what you hear, solicit information, suspend
judgement
K – Keep practicing 
If you have a difficult situation at works that you need some support with please get in touch to set up a call. Email me at Dawn@aurora4success.co.uk.
“Amid this constant surge of information,
attention has become our most precious asset.”

Jocelyn Glei

Riding the Waves of Change – 3 Coping Strategies

18th September 2014
waves of changeWe all know that change is ever present in our work and
daily lives and it may

feel like there is very little restpite between one
change piece and another. The more senior you are in an organisation the more
frequent the waves occur it’s just the scale that may be different.

The art and skill for us all is how to best manage this
‘ride’ with relative ease.
Sadly, there is no silver bullet. If only……. There is,
however, some things we can all do to manage ourselves as we address each day.
If you can manage yourself you will be in an even better position to manage
what is happening around you.
Here are my top 3 tips:
Breathe
Breathing is something we all take for granted. It happens
automatically. However, when we are ‘stressed’ or under pressure it’s one of
the first things that will change. It becomes shallower and higher up in our
chest.
So, take a deep breath. In fact you may need to take several
deep breaths and breath from your diaphragm. This helps you slow down and think
a bit more clearly and be more present in the moment.
Observe
Lift your head up. This
may sound a little strange, but I see so many people walking around looking at
the floor ahead of them, or these days walking a reading their texts! You can’t
observe what’s happening around you when you are looking down.
LeadershipAs a leader your role is to set direction and lead people in
that direction.
Lifting your head up (literally and metaphorically) allows
you to make sure you are heading in the right direction and can also see what
is coming your way. Is the sea calm ahead or do you need to prepare for a
storm? There may be times when you need to adjust your route and with your head
raised you can see which route may be more appropriate.
Observing the landscape will also give you a better handle
on how your people are performing:
  • Who around you is coping and open to the change? How can you
    best utilise them?

  • Who is the most vulnerable and how are they coping?

  • Who is the most emotional and what exactly are they
    emotional about?Do you have people in the optimum position?
Being a great observer allows you to see what is actually
happening and adapt your approach accordingly.
Be Open
When I talk about being open I mean be open on three levels:
  1. Have an open mind – be open to others ideas and
    ways of doing things. Don’t try and predict what will happen next. 
  2. Be open about what you think and feel – this may
    mean you saying that you don’t have an answer, that you’ve made a mistake as
    well as how motivated, excited or disappointed you might feel. 
  3. By open physically – this links to lifting your
    head, as lifting your head will help you appear more open and approachable. In
    addition, consider how you are sitting or standing. Are you slouched? If you are,
    to others you won’t look open to ideas or approachable.  Be grounded and centred and face the
    direction of travel with confidence. People are more likely to follow you this
    way. 
Try them out. See how you get on and let me know how they work for
you.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the
mind on the present moment.”
Buddha

Where is Your Leadership Reinforcing Unhelpful Organisational Habits and Preventing Change?

11th September 2014
We all know, or at least I hope we do. That it’s not the
organisation that changes but the people who are in them who change. That’s
either because the people change their behaviour or they leave and are replaced
with new team members who have a better ‘fit’.
Creatures of Habit
We are all creatures of habit, which is why implementing anything
new can be a challenge. As human beings we will always revert to our established
way of doing things. Unless we make a conscious effort to change and practice
something new, new habits are not built.
Our habits are our conditioned autopilot and whilst we may
know what these are for ourselves are we consciously aware of what these are
with in the organisation.
What habits are there in your organisation that as a leader
you perpetuate?
Meetings are often the easiest place to start observing
organisational habits:
Do you always have meetings with start with small talk
before you get into the agenda?  
Is it OK for people to turn up late?
Is there a formal agenda and do you stick to it?
Do you set a time limit for the meeting?
Other habits may be:
When something goes wrong you look for someone to blame.
All new ideas are listened to and presented to a committee.
Elements of the dress code are not enforced.
The question when introducing something new is to decide
which current habits are helpful and which are disruptive.
Signposting Change
Signposting Change
What I see most organisations doing if they want a change in
behaviour is make a statement that is generic such as, more customer focussed,
or celebrate success, or value our people more, or more efficient…
This is great for pointing out the direction of travel,
however what people need is more specific tangible instructions on what to do
differently.
You may have the best strategy in the world, but if you
haven’t considered the behaviour(s) that are required to support it you may not
succeed.
Worse still if those behaviours are not present in your
organisation, you can be sure the strategy will fail.
Building new Habits
If you are in a position where you are about to lead a
change project or are about to implement something new here are 3 steps to
take:
    Building New Habits for Change

  1. Identify the 5 most important routines (habits) that will
    enable the strategy to succeed? Get really specific about what these need to
    look like.
  2. Consider what current organisational habits will support you
    and identify those that will limit you.
  3. Then identify what specifically needs to change so you can
    clearly direct people on what is required.

I want to stress here this is about keeping things simple.
If it’s over complicated you’re going to have trouble communicating with
clarity. If there are too many changes for people to focus on behaviourally
they’ll either give up or choose one that is less important for you and the
change initiative.  
If you are struggling to get your head around this feel free
to give me a call.
I can also recommend a great book on change management: Switch,
by Chip and Dan Heath. They also have a very good website: www.switchthebook.com/resources
 
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
Peter Drucker

The One Thing Every Leader Needs to Consider when Leading Change

5th September 2014
Leading ChangeIt’s some years since I actually led a change programme,
however I have worked with many leaders in a coach/mentor capacity since then. Often the challenges facing them are around coordinating stakeholders, communicating
appropriately, engaging others and grappling with what seems complex.
All of these
are critical to success and I still find it staggering to read that a large
percentage of change projects still fail, in that they either over run, over
spend or fail to deliver the benefits promised.
What is always interesting is that any conversation I have
had with leaders starts from the perspective of them looking out at the change
initiative – the task and the people involved.
I don’t think I have ever heard any one start with the question
of themselves…
  • How to I need to be to lead and manage this?
  • How do I need to adapt?
  • What is my stretch going to be in this? 

Granted, those leading change initiatives are usually chosen
because they have the skills and expertise, and I still think this is an important question.
As the leader part of your role is to model exactly what you
expect from others and as change programmes can often be highly charged this
role model challenge is heightened.
The person with the
greatest flexibility will have the greatest influence.
So… my one thing for leaders to consider is how will you adapt.
Adaptability is crucial to survival. You just have to look
at Charles Darwin’s research to see it is those animals that adapt to the
changes around them that survive.
Learning how to lead is a life long journey not a one off
course or leadership programme.
In this spirit of continuous learning, next time you are
leading or even supporting a change programme ask yourself how you need to
adapt?
What fine-tuning is required in your own behaviour?
“In the long history of humankind (and animal king too) those who
learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Charles Darwin

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