Why Trust?

By Joanie Connell

handshakeThere are many reasons to distrust people, but what are some reasons to trust them? The biggest reason to trust people is because we are more productive when we cooperate.  This is true at the individual level, the team level, the organization level, and at the societal level. Humans are a social species; we are designed to live in groups, share responsibilities, and exchange goods and services with each other. We can’t do it all on our own. We do better when we build trusting relationships with others.

In terms of organizational language, the gains from trust can far outweigh the savings from distrust. Organizations need leaders who are transparent to increase innovation and share information responsibly. In today’s on-line world, employees can leak private information to anyone with simply a keystroke. Leaders need to be open, honest, and responsible with information and they need to be able to trust their employees to do the same.

Research on trust shows that trust predicts many desirable outcomes for organizations. At the employee level, increased trust corresponds with increased levels of job performance, prosocial behavior, organizational commitment, and commitment to a leader’s decisions. At the company level, higher levels of trust correspond to greater organizational performance, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

Even at the most basic level, trust is desirable because it can lead to better health. Think about it. When you trust and cooperate with people, you are less stressed than when you are worried about every little detail that others are handling and whether they are trying to stab you in the back. If something goes wrong, you trust that you can handle it. Isn’t that a better way to live?

Women: Increase Your Presence in Meetings

Lessowoman running meetingns from “Managing Yourself: Women, Find Your Voice” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, and Mary Davis Holt, in the June 14 issue of Harvard Business Review.

By Joanie Connell

Last week I attended a webinar and was surprised at how useful it was. In it, Kathryn Heath summarized the findings of research she conducted with her co-authors about how women can increase their presence in meetings. A few key messages stood out to me as new and important and I’d like to share them with you.

Be actively present. This means to be engaged in the discussion, not reading emails, and to actively participate and capture others’ attention. Two things can greatly improve your presence in a meeting. First, be concise. To be concise, it helps to prepare statements in advance and practice them. Yes, that means actually rehearse what you are going to say. Women, more than men, tend to begin statements with preambles and qualifiers. Ditch the preambles and go straight for the message. You can qualify it later. Strong (sometimes blanket) statements grab people’s attention.

Make powerful statements that have a strong point of view. These statements also come out of the preparation piece. To know where you stand on an issue requires you to know what the important issues are, do your research on which position you ought to take and to know where others stand before you enter the meeting.

Being actively present also requires you to insert yourself into the discussion. I say “insert yourself” very deliberately because it is critical for you to take responsibility for being heard. Don’t wait around for others to ask you your opinion or wait around for you to get to your opinion when you are not concise. Don’t shut down when others interrupt you. The best advice I heard from Heath was: “Don’t let yourself be interrupted.” This message came from the men she interviewed. Have you ever watched men have a heated discussion? They interrupt each other, talk over each other, and talk louder and louder until they are heard. Don’t be afraid to “enter the ring” and engage in the competition for the floor.

Strategy helps. It’s not only about being the loudest or most aggressive. Timing is key. Be actively engaged by watching the conversation intensively. To use a sports metaphor, think of playing basketball or soccer and watching the ball intensively to jump in and steal the ball at just the right time. You are watching the person’s moves, anticipating where they are going and who they are going to pass the ball to.

The same strategy works in meetings. Make transformational statements and ask transformational questions at opportune moments to “steal” control of the conversation and take it in a new direction.

Heath and her co-authors offer more valuable advice, like ask for feedback and don’t ruminate over failed attempts in meetings. Prepare, practice, and persevere. It takes time to improve at anything. Keep at it until you feel that you are getting the results that you want.

One question that Heath did not address: What does it mean to be successful in meetings? Depending on the context, it could be to win, to have influence over a decision, or to help the team come up with the best solution possible. I would add to Heath’s advice that it is important to keep your goal in mind and not dominate the meeting purely for the sake of having a presence. This can alienate people, not get them on your side. Heath’s techniques can help you advance the team’s best interests if used for that purpose. After all, a good leader does, in fact, work for the team.

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Special thanks to Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence for putting together this webinar and inviting me to attend.

Two Effective Ways to Give Feedback

By Joanie Connell

feedbackGiving feedback is a critical component of leadership. To develop your followers, you need to let them know how they can improve. Feedback should be specific and timely and, most importantly, constructive. Here are two models for delivering feedback that I use. They have both proven to be very effective.

Behavior-Impact-Behavior (BIB) Model:

I find the Behavior-Impact-Behavior (BIB) model to be the most effective. However, it is pretty direct and some situations may call for a softer approach. That’s when the Sandwich model is a good choice. You can also sandwich the BIB model inside positive feedback to use a combined BIB-Sandwich approach.

Behavior-Impact-Behavior Model (BIB)
 Example:
Behavior When you don’t respond to an email message quickly,
Impact of Behavior I assume you don’t care and I lose trust in you.
New Behavior If you reply, even to say you’ll get back to me later,
Impact of New Behavior I trust that you will respond when you are able.

The BIB model is effective because it lets the person understand how their behavior is being received by others. Often, people don’t realize how their behavior is received. They may assume that people receive their actions exactly the way they intend them to or be clueless in how their nonverbal cues contradict their verbal ones. For example, when someone says “I’m listening” as they are reading emails on their phone, the other person may feel brushed off. If the person says, “I feel like I’m not important when you read emails while I am talking to you,” it alerts the person to the impact of their behavior. If you give the person an alternative behavior with a positive impact, it helps redirect them to a pleasing result. For example, you could say, “when you put down your phone and make eye contact with me, it makes me feel like you really care about what I am saying.”

Sandwich Model:

I use the Sandwich model a lot, especially when giving feedback tofeedback 2 Millennials. Younger people, in general, may be more sensitive to feedback because they don’t have years of experience to fall back on. Millennials, as a generation, are more sensitive to negative feedback because they have been brought up in an era where there is an emphasis on raising self-esteem. Thus, they are more accustomed to positive feedback than direct, honest feedback. Sandwiching is reassuring to them yet gives them the opportunity to receive constructive criticism.

Sandwich Model: Positive-Negative-Positive
Example:
Positive I appreciate how much effort you have put into this project. Your energy and commitment are impressive.
Negative I am concerned that you aren’t as focused as you need to be. I’d like to work with you to help you focus your efforts in a single direction so that your efforts will have greater impact.
Positive For example, you came up with an excellent solution to the marketing problem.   Let’s work on getting the Marketing Department on board with it.

The Sandwich model not only makes the feedback easier to take, it makes it easier to give too. If you are uncomfortable giving people negative feedback, the Sandwich model is for you. You can both start and end on a positive note. I recommend that you write out your feedback (at least in bullet points) before you give it as you start out. That way, you have a plan and you know where you need to go with it. Having a positive point to end on helps you get through the middle part.

Another way to help feedback go more smoothly is to frame it ahead of time so the recipient knows that something is coming their way. You can say “I need to talk to you about something” or “I need to give feedback 3you some feedback on the project you’re working on” or “let’s have a one-on-one to discuss your progress on the project” or something like that. These phrases tend to alert the person that something is up. You can also add “you’re doing a good job, but I need to give you some feedback (or direction) to help you move forward.” This is adding the positive to the framing to let the person know they’re not getting fired or anything. It’s just a little feedback.