Encouragement is an important tool in the hands of leaders who want to create a good working environment.
The dynamics of the modern workplace are challenging for leaders and managers alike. When contemplating the nature of a good working environment, another way of thinking about the nature of the topic is to correlate it with a sustainable working environment. If leaders want to create an organization that will stand the test of time, or even the challenge of tomorrow, must apply their effort to building a good culture. While many leaders feel lost when navigating the modern workplace environments, citing difficulties connecting with millennial employees, many of the most effective methodologies are also rather simple. We previously discussed the power of listening on creating a good working environment. In this article we will discuss the importance of encouragement when building a thriving team.
To create a good working environment leaders need to provide encouragement
Encouragement is defined as the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. Those in a position of leadership (PIAPOL) have to embody and exemplify these values if they want to see them practiced throughout the organization. Too often we are people of extremes, we often engage in some aspect of leadership to the exclusion of others. When addressing topics related to culture, environment and emotional intelligence the instruction provided often gloss over the realities of management. There is a balance between encouragement and expectations so that the team vision, values and purpose are carried through in the real world.
Compliments are low cost and high yield investments in your most valuable assets.
To create an environment of encouragement leaders need to provide support
Management is not about finding a place of luxury within an organization, the role of leadership is to ensure those in their supervision have the clarity, resources and support to achieve success in their roles. Long time insurance agent and business owner Josh Gourley states that success for a team starts with everyone knowing their jobs and corresponding job expectations. The reason Josh believes investing in a clarity is that, “A good working environment will culminate in a culture where everyone is clearly rowing in the same direction.” Josh recognizes that in order to lead he must set an example, “What’s in my power is leading by example and regular meetings that reinforce the activities and values that make success possible. Managers should be excellent at identifying and acknowledging those activities that move the team in the right direction.” When we support those around us we contribute to their success, our collective success and our own, it’s a win-win-win.
“Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” Les Brown
To create an environment of encouragement leaders need to boost confidence
Tom Los who works in city management in the public sector views listening as key to providing opportunities for building confidence with employees. “I listen to my staff and then give them projects and tasks which mixes their job up. They really enjoy it. If someone has an idea, I try to embrace it as much as possible and let them do it.” Creating a good working environment does not mean that leaders cater to their team without accountability. Boosting confidence can be accomplished even when a manager has to say no to an idea without de-motivating team members from contributing creative solutions. Tom sees disagreement as an opportunity to provide support, “If I don’t see the value in the direction that one of them is proposing, I explain that to them. Sometimes by explaining how much more work it would take and who exactly would be available to manage the change they can see the need to move in a different direction.”
Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” Mahatma Ghandi
To create an environment of encouragement leaders need to create hope
Creating hope encompasses communicating clearly on the vision, being consistent with values and developing a culture where accountability required from everyone on the team. Long time pastor Aaron Day notes, “Early on (hiring) let them know what you expect and let them know you will model this (fulfilling the expectations) for them. Acknowledge them when they do and correct them when they don’t. If they continue to do well reward (raises, praise, popsicles) if they do poorly correct, train, discipline, fire.” Even in a faith based or non-profit environment, there is still a purpose and the mission must be carried out for the team to be successful. Clarity, consistency and accountability are as essential for a good working environment for volunteers as well as paid staff. Aaron recommends a book that he says is both good and corny called Lead For God’s Sake by Todd G. Gongwer. Hope is not something magical, it comes from having a vision and a good environment with encouragement motivates everyone to remain on purpose.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller
Creating a good working environment requires encouragement
The core principles that lead to a good working environment are simple, that doesn’t mean that they are easy, but they cost very little to implement. The difference between being successful in building a good and sustainable working environment is often a few small changes in perspective, effort and follow through. Investing in encouragement, support, confidence and hope is a good place to start. Author Daniel Goleman analyzed the brain and behavior in relationship to encouragement, in his book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, he shares his research results. Belle Beth Cooper recaps on such finding in her article published with Fast Company Magazine, “In one experiment, the emotional tone of a leader delivering news to an employee made more impact that the news itself. When negative feedback was delivered with a warm tone, the employees usually rated the interaction positively. On the other hand, good news, such as achieving a goal, delivered with a negative tone would leave employees feeling bad.”
Resources for leaders who are trying to create a good working environment
Our first segment in this series on creating a good working environment started with the topic of listening. We continue to interview and consult with leaders in various industries to draw out the practices that have made them successful in their roles. Do not allow fear of the navigating the modern workplace environment or difficulties with generational employees deter you from realizing your vision as a leader.
Please note this is one segment in a series related to creating a good working environment based upon brief interviews that we conducted with multiple professionals across various industries, leadership roles and viewpoints on the topic. Stay tuned for more. Shoot us an email or comment if you have something to say on this as well.
Would you like a slice of controversy pie? A lesson in how leaders call out leaders.
According to ESPN, the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League (NFL) is upset that the organization has yet to get their employees under control. "The NFL has hurt us," company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this (Rovell, 2017).” The pizza company has been hurt and the culprit is a lack of leadership. So, like a true leader the pizza chain mogul pulls out the strong arm of blame. As izvents readers (by the tens) will recall, we recognize blame (more) as a sign of true and enduring leadership. Blame is always a recipe for success and often an indication of a parties investment in finding a solution.
Tell us John, how do leaders respond to a lack of leadership? Oh, the answer is sternly worded statements. "Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," Schnatter said. Papa John’s has been the esteemed official sponsor of the NFL for the last two years, a position they earned by beating out the steep competition through valor, ethical behavior and a commitment to core values shared between the like hearted organizations. (Newsflash noises) This just in, our previous statement was in error, after much research we lament to inform our readers that the origins of their status as official pizza of the NFL was due to their financial investment in the organization and that alone.
Papa’s has an official relationship to the NFL and they have benefited for years from that connection, so much so that they are fearful that their recent profit declines will be ongoing if their partner doesn’t get it together and “nip things in the bud”. That sounds like teamwork, the definition of which is always having someone else to blame. Like the saying goes, when the pizza profits hit the fan, blame the NFL. You’re not supposed to quote yourself, but it seems appropriate to dust off an old saying – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid (more).
Not the least of which to mention how socially tone deaf these statements come across. Rather than assist their partner in finding solution, Papa John’s takes a view above the fray and casts their stones into the mix. "We are disappointed the NFL did not resolve this." Yeah NFL, how come you haven't solved racial disparities in America? Oh wait...by "resolve this" we mean declining profits, not that we want America to fulfill "liberty & justice for all.
What is humorous is that in the battle of Papa John’s versus the National Football League, the person in a position of leadership for Papa’s notes a lack of leadership as the core of the issue. In doing so, like so many of us learning to live out leadership on the daily, John fails to recognize the void in his own leadership. In moments like these we need the words of the sage of inspirational leadership Michael Jackson, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.” When faced with an issue, blame isolates us from those whom we could collaborate with to find a solution and conquer the situation. We could use less statements and more action. If a statement is warranted, it’s advisable to take a deep breath and a step back before going public as there are layers to everything.
Observations, 3 in jest and 3 that are rather practical:
Rovell, D. (Nov 1, 2017) Papa John’s says anthem protests are hurting deal with NFL. ESPN Retrieved from - http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21250448/nfl-sponsor-papa-john-not-happy-anthem-protests
Originally published as Team Dynamics: When Smart People Act Stupid In Business, January 24, 2017 in Young, Fabulous and Self Employed (YFS).
By Jon Isaacson
Intelligence does not always translate into savvy — especially when it relates to interpersonal dynamics within a team.
As a leader or manager (or whatever crafty title you’ve come up with to make corralling employees sound less bureaucratic), understanding and succeeding with humans will always be an evolving process.
Too often, smart people act in very stupid ways when dealing with others.
As noted in his book, Organizational Physics: The Science of Growing a Business, Lex Sisney outlines that the principles of “survival of the fittest” (a phrase that originated from Darwinian theory) was not about being the strongest or the smartest, but about being the best able to adapt to a given environment.
Adaptation at its most primal level is about survival. We observe in nature and in business that it is not always the smartest or strongest or the fittest for the role that rise to the highest levels of leadership.
There is no executive level leader who has not risen in the ranks without earning it in some way. We may disagree with their qualifications, but someone at some level who had authority found them fit for the role.
If you live your life frustrated by who is in power you will always be in turmoil. To rail against the system in a manner that changes nothing and only makes you bitter is a recipe for an aneurysm.
If you don’t understand by now, power is not about being the strongest, smartest or even the most qualified. If you think this – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
Power dynamics in business
Continuing with the things observed in nature that apply to business, let’s move from the macro observations of power dynamics into the individual level of dealing with those people in your immediate sphere of influence.
If you know someone that you consistently butt heads with and find yourself frustrated with how they interpret and act upon conversations, you must understand that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Often the schism is related to communication which requires listening, interpretation and implementation.
One’s ability to understand is impacted by perspective and it is a statistical improbability that any two persons share 100% perspective alignment so there will always be a level of variance between how two people interpret a situation or conversation.
You will not wake up tomorrow and somehow make a 180 degree turn in how you see the world; so don’t expect others to either.
Most interpersonal friction is related to an expectation that the other party can see things in the same way and will arrive at the same conclusion. If you expect this – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
So, what do we do then?
Are you giving away your power?First, understand that you are a leopard and that everyone else is a leopard as well. A leopard will not change it’s spots. At a base level individuals are not going to drastically change from who they are, how they see the world and how they respond to their environment.
Understanding yourself as a leopard and those you interact with as leopards will not solve your conflicts, but it will at least provide some perspective on the expectations you place on those relationships.
Secondly, survival requires adaptation. If you are in a truly toxic environment the smartest thing to do is to find a new environment.
If you are in an environment that has it’s ups and downs, but overall is an area that you feel you can make a positive impact in, then you will need to learn to adapt. Learning the language, culture and dynamics of your chosen environment is essential to your ability to thrive in any situation.
No one takes your power, no one can squeeze the life out of you, you choose how you allow people and situations to impact you. Confidently be your leopard self, stop being so functionally stupid and start adapting to your environment.
Thirdly, there is value in utilizing some of the many frameworks available for understanding and gaining perspective on those around you. Whether you are experiencing conflict within your team or not, investing in personality profiles and related tools can help create pathways for common language in working together.
As mentioned above, in Organizational Physics, Lex Sisney proposes that people are producers, stabilizers, innovators and/or unifiers (PSIU). Understanding where your leopard lines up in the characteristics of PSIU will help you better recognize your motivations, needs and sources of conflict as well as those characteristics in others.
There is no simple fix to human interactions, leopards have been roaring, clawing and biting other leopards for ages. If you aren’t doing something intentional to better the situation – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
Struggling with recruitment of new talent to strengthen your team?
Why do we keep going to the same well expecting it to no longer be dry?
Hiring from a short list within an industry bubble does not create a lot of room for introduction of new ideas, perspectives and strengths.
Read more on this topic, article HERE.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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