0 comments on “Lessons in training yourself to observe how other people feel”

Lessons in training yourself to observe how other people feel

As a coach my goal is to work not just for but with people. A genuine interest in the emotional state of others is an essential part of what I do. To sharpen my empathy radar and to improve my ability to observe how others feel in a particular situation, I’ve started my journey into mimic resonance training (in German Mimikresonanz).

Identifying an emotion in someone’s face should not be confused with mind reading, trickery or lie detection. The TV series “Lie to Me”, while highly entertaining to watch if you’ve started to train Facial Action Coding yourself, has undoubtedly contributed to some such confusion on the subject.

The deeper purpose of mimic resonance as a methodology for acting on empathy however, goes way beyond unveiling a lie.

Communication for the benefit of the relationship

In business – and undoubtedly in private lives – communication is too often a one way street, the sending of a message. But if the effectiveness of communication is your objective, simply “getting it out there” isn’t enough. How a message is perceived, what recipients have understood and how the words resonate with the audience are key to ensuring a communication goal is really achieved.

The ambition to formulate a message with little room for interpretation is certainly a good start.  Conveying a message face to face theoretically allows us to actually see how the content resonates with the other person.

In the age of digital communications, the face to face option is often missing, leaving our empathy radar more or less blind. Maybe in the future we’ll be able to develop a way to create feedback loops for the digital world – perhaps with emoticons.  But for the moment, this form of improving communication and ultimately relationships rests firmly on the premise that we do not replace personal interactions completely with digital ones but rather the two complement each other.

Sharpening the radar for visual feedback, before taking action

I’m thoroughly convinced that it’s essential to remove guessing games from interpersonal communication and to do whatever we can to sharpen our observations of non verbal feedback in any face to face situation.

Mimic is built into us as humans. It’s there from birth and it is scientifically proven that expressions in our mimic are universal across all cultures. It’s a truly reliable indicator for our emotional state as human beings.

But the real challenge is in learning to resonate on what you observe in someones mimic. As opposed to the “mind reading” (I know what you’re thinking) angle, observing a particular mimic, identifying it, and matching it to the respective emotion is essential.  But questioning that emotion, its origin and cause is paramount to real understanding. Any sort of unfounded interpretation can easily lead you down the wrong path.

Remove obstacles in times of change

The training I’ve started will improve my ability to observe what’s happening right before my eyes and how to react to it. My goal is to sharpen my sense of people’s emotions and my skills to find the right words for the situation at hand.

  • Equipped with that, I will be even better positioned to help companies answer key questions in change and digital transformation scenarios:
  • Have people understood the WHY to our journey ahead?
  • How do people feel about the changes affecting themselves and their teams?
  • Are our teams confident and committed to their role in the process?
  • Is our leadership model authentic and does it resonate with the organisation?
  • Will our work deliver value for the people, employees and customers alike?
0 comments on “Have we forgotten about middle management?”

Have we forgotten about middle management?

While working on a series of articles for a client (<— #braggingmoment), I’ve stumbled across an intriguing question: who’s actually in charge of keeping an eye on middle management and their needs and role in digital transformation?

Bam! You’re now a coach.

Flat hierarchies, agile teams and distributed accountability – the new world of organising information and knowledge work. Leadership doesn’t get tired of preaching a “new togetherness” and how the own network of expertise and experience will blow the competition out of the water. More and more employees ask for flexibility and freedom to do their job whenever, from wherever and with whatever – and that’s not exclusive to Digital Natives or Generation Z.

The middle (or operations) management, however, only finds itself in foot notes and at the bottom of a bullet point list. From there they learn that task based management is out of date and how too much control & conquer will suffocate creativity and corporate culture.

They find their new roles described as coaches and guides to their teams. Most of the time description ends on exactly that level, though. But what does it mean to be a coach? What will they be guiding people through and how will good guidance be determined?

Change management must not be exclusive to the employee level

To give change a positive and long lasting effect on corporate and collaboration culture, middle managers need help with their role transformation as well. It’s not fair to expect that they just adapt to a completely upside-down environment and adjust their style of working and managing based on gut feeling and best effort.

No matter how non-hierarchical or flat a company structure is, there will always be a certain group of people who are accountable for overseeing performance and results. Leadership cannot be at the stern and at the same time have an eye on every functional crew member of the ship. At least that’s my humble opinion, and I am aware that there are a lot of other voices out there.

Middle management has to be part of the active change management in an organisation –  in the role of recipient and as shapers.

  • Their WHY needs to be adjusted to the new system and provide them with motivation and means to transform their purpose
  • Their HOW might require a change of skills and perspective, when it comes to rather leading than managing people and objectives – even if they are very operational
  • Their WHAT will probably be determined in a more dialogue fashion – with both, leadership and employees

Additional thoughts on this, anyone?


*** Promotion ***

Interested in my checklist for change? Check out my recent blog post or go directly to the Digital Sherpa checklist here


0 comments on “How “corporate personality” might influence the effectiveness of motivation…”

How “corporate personality” might influence the effectiveness of motivation…

Today I might have found the answer to why motivation away from something (e.g.  a concrete constraint) seems to work better than the motivation towards something (e.g. a vision or new idea)…

I’ve recently decided to get certified as a trainer for mimic resonance (English introduction to the concept on the MDI training website) and attend a course at the Eilert Academy. As part of my studies, I came across some findings on motivation in the context of  personality types.

The section in Dirk’s book immediately reminded me of an idea, that I wrote about in my 2012 article on motivation.

Change and Motivation
(A pretty old sketch I created to illustrate the idea)

What I never had really figured out, was the root cause for why one seems to be more effective than the other. Now: in his book, Dirk uses a model to describe certain personality types in the context of the attempt to decipher mimics:

Personality Types
(based on Dirk W. Eilert “Mimikresonanz”, p. 122 + 129)

Comment: My reference to the conditioning of people as preservers or thinkers is based on my experience how people act at the work place. It’s not a generalisation in terms of personality types and of course influenced by the cultural environments I’ve worked in.

Later on, Dirk then elaborates on “motivational direction” (Orig. “Motivationsausrichtung”) of the four personality types:

  • Entertainers & Doers are primarily motivated TOWARDS something.
  • Preservers & Thinkers are primarily motivated AWAY from something.

(Translated from source: Dirk W. Eilert, “Mimikresonanz”, p. 154)

That’s when it clicked for me…

My experience with the effectiveness of motivation and leadership might be rooted in the personality structure of most organisations.

Today’s hierarchies and operational structures have prevented the development of Entertainers (yes, we need those!) and Doers (no, we don’t have enough of them). Too many people are pushed into Preserver and Thinker roles and act accordingly.

That’s why motivation for change and progress has to point in the right direction to take effect: AWAY from challenges, hurdles, constraints and disfunction. Vision statements, promises of a bright future and the outline of “new ways of working” simply don’t resonate with the target group. At least not yet…

Do you share this finding?

0 comments on “My 1st product: The Onboarding Design BootCamp”

My 1st product: The Onboarding Design BootCamp

Click here for the product page…

 

You never get a second change to make a first impression

Optimising the onboarding experience is probably the most people centric challenge in a company. For this I can combine my passion for guiding others with my experience as a corporate employee, digital communicator and business coach.

Having arrived in large corporations myself multiple times, both as an employee and as an extern adviser, I have learned the hard way what it means to be new. It can be a complex and exhausting experience with various break points.

I have worked hard to become pretty proficient at simplifying complexity in my career in sales, marketing, consulting & coaching. Now you can make my experience work for you, your company and your employees to make onboarding the most seamless and enjoyable experience possible for everyone involved.

Designing the Onboarding Experience

 

Click here for the product page…

0 comments on “Why “agile” doesn’t mean to wittingly cut corners… (Guest article for Simply Communicate, London)”

Why “agile” doesn’t mean to wittingly cut corners… (Guest article for Simply Communicate, London)

I’ve worked in and for big organisations and I’ve witnessed the attempt to introduce less hierarchical and more “agile” organisations and ways of working. While it had worked in some places and projects, in a lot of instances the approach left me with the impression that the concept of agile (proudly stolen from software development) had been interpreted slightly wrong.

As a guest author for Smile Communications (London) I’ve collected my thoughts in a short blog article:

With less hierarchy and governance, companies want to become more agile. The goal is to tear down internal borders, encourage collaboration and be one step ahead of market and competition. Modern digital work tools are supposed to support and nurture this borderless way of working and thinking.

Start-ups get all of this engrained in their DNA from the beginning. Existing businesses have to reverse engineer the process and re-invent themselves. In this, the idea of “agile” often gets misinterpreted and people are left without framework, ground rules and the True North for wherever they are heading.

In this article I want to share my experience from my work in the triangle of leadership, organisational development and technology. (…)

Read more at: https://simply-communicate.com/misinterpretation-agile-modern-leadership/


Come & Join me at Smile Expo in May 2018

I will be on stage at Smile Expo, London, on May 21st. There I will talk about…

Successful organisational change in a digital workplace experiment

What happens, if you really question the norm? What happens if you set a few ground rules for internal digitalisation that require leadership, a non-hierarchical organisation and cloud technology to meet somewhere in the middle? What happens if you dare to adopt evergreen technology at full scale in a highly compliance driven environment?

You definitely get a case study that’s exciting to talk about, no matter what…

0 comments on “Talking about Enterprise Search at the 2017 INTRAnet.Reloaded (Berlin) {Slides}”

Talking about Enterprise Search at the 2017 INTRAnet.Reloaded (Berlin) {Slides}

Just a quick share of the slides that I used to present at the annual gathering of the international Digital Workplace and Intranet community at INTRAnet.Reloaded in Berlin.

 

0 comments on “The Power of Purpose and the Balance of Goal, Value & Leadership”

The Power of Purpose and the Balance of Goal, Value & Leadership

Intro: Two colleagues of mine started working on a model for the “power of purpose”. Purpose is one of the key subjects at the moment when it comes to change, leadership & management. One of the most famous talkers about the power of purpose might be Simon Sinek. You can see his TED Talk here. My colleagues point out the need that goal, value and leadership need to be in harmony in order to create an effective sense of purpose. I’ve fallen in love with the idea straight away so I capture my take & interpretation on the early stage of their model on my blog, you can find their publication here on LinkedIn.

The power of purpose.

“Why” is what you need to answer if you want to determine the purpose for “how” you are intending to do “what. From a leadership angle the “reason-why” might be the most important answer to give anyway. In particular in times of change, when the awareness for a need for change is charged with the urgency created by markets, competition or overall eco system. You need to move and you need to move fairly fast.

Commitment, dedication and intrinsic motivation is what leaders and managers should seek in their organisation. They are strong pillars for a stable environment in which trust can grow and distribution of accountability and responsibility is possible.

Goal. Value. Leadership.

In their model, Christian Heraty and Kevin Hansen, imply that a harmony or balance of the three core elements

  • Goal (What are we trying to achieve?)
  • Value (What benefit will derive from achieving the goal for whom?)
  • Leadership (How is a common understanding for the journey ahead created and sustained?)

are essential for an effective purpose. This is essential if you perceive “purpose” as a key resource to success and you required the maximum effect and impact of it on organisation and culture.

Read their description on the model here. The following text is my personal perspective on their angle:

Where we fall short in so many instances…

1. Setting Goals

If communication is only successful when sender and recipient are aligned, I believe the majority of goals – or better the way they are delivered to the affected audience – are far from “clear”. Yes, our goal can be to “increase net sales by 20 million”, but as long as your not the highest person in charge of sales, it’s not really “concrete”. Set aside the fact that motivation is definitely not driven by such a statement.

There are various ways of setting goals. SMART is probably one of my favourites:
<S> specific
<M> measurable
<A> achievable
<R> realistic
<T> timely

In our day to day work at Infocentric we for example use a structure called “PO3” to frame meetings, initiatives or projects.
<P> purpose (why)
<O> objective (what)
<O> outcome (result)
<O> output (deliverables)

I believe there are even more way of driving a common understanding and alignment across teams, departments of even companies. They all have one things in common: it requires time, thinking and recipient orientated communications to get it right…all three not necessarily the strongest pieces in goal setting processes.

2. Make value understood

One of my key learnings in my time at Tieto was “Industrial Buying Center Management (IBCM)”. As part of a development program obviously focussed on empowering us to drive business. Over time and in particular in my work as a consultant one concept of IBCM has proven to be extremely valuable: the resonating value proposition (read the original Harvard Business Review article here).

Essentially the concept is simple: the more a value proposition resonates with the actual recipient, the more powerful it is.

In practice it means that the value for e.g. digital transformation is substantially different for HR, CFO department, Sales or Engineering. If you want to make sure that your initiative or change program get broad acceptance you need to cater to all relevant (or affected) parties.

In the context of purpose it is essential to convey “value” in a way that people can understand it and thereby buy into it as a core element. And just for the sake of mentioning it: people ain’t stupid. Whatever companies do, has one some level a commercial or otherwise business orientated sense – even for an NGO. I can only urge leaders and managers to not beat around the bush and show how “this is your value – and this is how it connects to the value for our company” transparently.

3. Leading purpose

For this one I have a very, very tangible example. The past 8 years I’ve spent in the field of Advanced Intranets and the Digital Workplace. I had to learn the hard way that the C-Suite “we need to function as one tree hugging and super productive family” efficiency story sounds different when the board room doors are closed. Suddenly efficiency isn’t much of a topic anymore. If work gets done in 8 or 11 hours is…well…a working level issue. And unfortunately past experience proves that they are right. People get stuff done…no matter what obstacles you throw in their way. That’s what makes us human.

In the board room “effectiveness” is like magic: grown in additional regions without growing staff at the same ratio. Sell more without more sales staff. Ensure that the resource applied to achieve a goal has it’s maximum effect.

Why I am telling this story? Because if there is a dissonance between message and reality, then conveying purpose will be almost impossible. It disables operations to create tangible and resonating value propositions to the board room. Because, in the example above, they think efficiency (= value) to reach growth (= the goal). For the recipients, however, effectiveness is the real budget magnet. This immediately puts value & goal out of synch and a potential purpose is dead in the water.

Together it all makes sense…

If you think about it carefully: it actually makes sense. You cannot make purpose up. You have to mean it. In order to be able to mean it Goal, Value and the means of implementing both through authentic and coherent Leadership have to be in place. Otherwise “purpose” is another way of “marketing” whatever message you want to bring across.

2 comments on “My 8 min. of fame at #TEDxTUHH – some thoughts on #motivation #leadership & why it’s essential to care about others”

My 8 min. of fame at #TEDxTUHH – some thoughts on #motivation #leadership & why it’s essential to care about others

I think I have rarely been that nervous on stage… So first of all I have to apologize to Prof. Carnabuci for slaughtering his name after I made him my source of inspiration for the start of my talk… Secondly I have to thank the TEDxTUHH team for forcing me through endless rounds of rehearsal – looks like one or two additional rounds wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Anyway…here we go 🙂

PS: the balloon story…I would have liked to support it with a little drawing…but the pen said “no” 😉 the stones I am talking about are with me IN the balloon…in case that doesn’t come across

 

0 comments on “My write-up of the “#Mobility in #Social #Business #Collaboration” WorldCafe at #wcsocbiz 2013 in Berlin”

My write-up of the “#Mobility in #Social #Business #Collaboration” WorldCafe at #wcsocbiz 2013 in Berlin

Summary: As part of the Social Business Collaboration 2013 conference in Berlin the attendants had the chance to discuss specific subjects in hosted groups in a so called “WorldCafé” format. The outcome of my “Mobility” round was incredible. Organizational and leadership subjects were discussed as essentials towards effective value contribution from a mobilized workforce putting a clear emphasis on expression like trust, care, managerial responsibility and expectations management. The severe impact on work and people culture in terms of quality awareness, individual responsibility and “caring for others” made clear how challenging it will be to simply squeeze existing business and operations models into a “mobile” mode. Really impressive was the fact that the “device” and “technology” angle was hardly touched in the discussion… Enjoy the read:

Perspectives on “mobility” as a foundation for the discussion

My role as moderator was to provide a couple of starting points for a discussion. I decided to draw a little illustrating setting out some key aspects of mobilized information work and workers.

MobilitySketch_s

In order to focus the conversation and retrieve tangible results from the conversation I decided to split the conversation into three major blocks, knowing that all of them of course converge and influence each other:

  • Management & Leadership – What it means to lead a mobilized workforce and how the roles of managers will be affected
  • Responsibility – The change of individual and collaborative responsiblity in a sense of making sure that others are enabled and that potential availability does not lead to a loss of work/life balance
  • Quality – How mobilized employees have to take into account what quality they will be able to deliver depending on device and situation as well as the quality expecations coming from the ones that request input from people on the road

The incredible outcome of 6 rounds of conversation, discussion and input

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY_boardAttendants from various industries (banking, business services, manufacturing, insurance, biotech…) were highly engaged and partly even emotional. TRUST turned out to be an essential element in the enabling a mobilized workforce to deliver success. Three dimensions of trust were discussed:

Trust that people will deliver even if they are not present.
Trust towards managers that the right work support is provided.
Trust that mobility does not mean “disconnection”.

In the same way the emotional expression of “caring for others” was put on the table. People have to develop a real interest that their peers are able to participate even if they are not present and that information is not kept in the “ivory tower” of the office.

So from a mobilized workforce derives a new level of responsibility: work result quality, contribution ad participation shall not be affected by absence. In the same way as managers have a new responsibility towards their subordinates in terms of not expecting a 24/7 availability and ignoring conditions such as different time zones. In that context 2 statements were particularly interesting:

“What can you expect from someone on the phone at 2 am in the morning?”

“Leaders have to understand that live broadcasting for corporate information to a globally distributed workforce will put a lot of people into a pretty miserable situation.”

Scalability was another interesting aspect: making sure that the impact of a specific expert(ise) is not limited by requiring physical presence. This might even go hand in hand with a note towards talent management: if relocation or unreasonable travel can be avoided for a particular role the options of high caliber candidates might increase substantially.

From an organisational perspective it was crystal clear that moving existing models of business operations unchanged into a “mobile mode” is destined to fail. Individual and collaborative value contribution in a mobile environment is substantially different from the one happening in a physically shared office space.

What came up from two angels was the war of generations at the mobile workplace. On the one hand in terms of “ability of adaption” and affinity on the other hand in terms of “training bottom-up” (not in the sense of using technology but in sense of “applying” it the right way!). For some representatives of the “established and experienced workforce” training from very young folks can be…challenging (how can they tell me how to “think mobile”).

With a decentralized and mobilized workforce one key paradigm definitely moves into the center right next to the aspect of “trust”:

Accountability vs. Control

It shouldn’t be the way to the result or the physical space in which the result was created. Management by objectives and results will be the key challenge to the established management pool that is in charge today.

The outcome in detail (MindMap in PDF Format)

In order provide – more or less – the actual results of the discussion I have consolidated the results in a MindMap. As part of the exercise I’ve tried to group them a little bit, which felt a little bit artificial because in many instances a statement can’t really be allocated to one subject alone. In order to keep it transparent and easy to read I’ve decided not to replicate statements for multiple groups connect statements across groups. I might have ended up with a subway map that actually scares of anyone who just remotely considers to think about the subject of “mobility”…

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY
Click here to open the MindMap in PDF Format

1 comment on “are #coworking spaces corporations without #hierarchy? thoughts inspired by a conversation #socbiz #socialbusiness #enterprise20”

are #coworking spaces corporations without #hierarchy? thoughts inspired by a conversation #socbiz #socialbusiness #enterprise20

I’ve spent the last to days at Orgatec, the worldwide leading office furniture and concept trade fair in Cologne. I am working on a summary of my thoughts at the moment but a particular conversation inspired me to capture my thoughts separately.

I had a chat with the co-founder of a co-working space in Cologne. She described to me that their offering is not just the physical space. Their concept includes the creation of connections between the people that use the space to do their work. Physically (welcome back classic black board) as well as digitally (social media style) challenges are matched with talent and the other way around. As per her that offering is used frequently and has delivered successful and fruitful connections.

Now…thinking about my passion of enterprise 2.0 I suddenly realized that co-working spaces might be a metaphor for corporations that…

  • don’t have a formal hierarchy or structure
  • consist of self driven individualists
  • are aware that sometimes the own talent needs support

…but still experience a certain kind of steering.

In a co-working space every protagonist is responsible for the success of the own endeavor. If you fail, you will loose a customer and you have to go through the struggle of securing new business to pay the bills. The individual person is in charge. If start-ups use the co-working space as their first home base they are in charge of their journey as well. Probably one of the major drivers of entrepreneurs: see your baby grow and be in charge of providing food and education.

To create a connection to others and to find skills that compliment the own set – or even completes it – is a huge opportunity in a well organized and managed co-working space. In this context I am deliberately using the expressions of organizing and managing a co-working space. Because it’s down to the owners that

  • provide the means of networking,
  • nurture conversation and catalyze connections,
  • select the right people and nurture the variety of skills and
  • fill gaps of skill, expertise or resource.

However, their concept and offering to the actual co-workers has to be so compelling that they WANT to join the ship. They WANT to join with the awareness for the opportunities and the openness for complimenting talent.

In a co-working space enterprise 2.0 is creating individual and collaborative value…measurable by the success of individual or joint projects. Each co-work will have some kind of measurable ROI.

So the owners/managers of the co-working space might be a new form of leaders. They are the coaches, the guides, the mentors that we consultants talk about all the time when we talk about the change in managerial culture. The change away from hierarchy and task management towards network driven value creation and productivity driven success measures.

To silence the critics straight away: a 20.000 people industrial manufacturing corporation will never be some co-working space for engineering, production, sales and marketing talent. I agree to that. But for the small and medium corporations the concept of co-working and co-creation could be a valid alternative to growing companies that loose agility and flexibility with each single new full time employee.

Well…just a thought… 🙂