In a recent customer survey, a service was ranked ‘average’ for the routine work that it did, and ‘excellent’ whenever an urgent situation arose. Yes, it can be a challenge to routinely save the day – unless we are Superman or Wonder Woman, or a member of the emergency services.
So how do we personally have the motivation to create a service that is perceived as ‘excellent’ for day to day work? And how do we also facilitate that in our colleagues?
The truth is, many of us do shine at work, given the opportunity, and thankfully we reap the rewards of improved customer relationships and appreciation from clued up managers, but there’s a way to go. How is that?
Over the last 10 years there has been increased emphasis placed upon ‘process’ in the workplace, upon use of policies and quality systems. Amidst all of this ‘doing’ even the most balanced person can forget ‘being’. The relationships that they have with colleagues and clients that are so important to longer term profitability get buried in the pressure to perform ‘now’. So here’s a question…
What relationship do you have with your ‘work people’?
We each have our own map of the world, we each see the world through our own particular set of tinted glasses with beliefs and behaviour shaped by our own experiences. As the man said, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”.
People under pressure usually view their work from a position of ‘knowing’ rather than curiosity. I’m curious to know how different might your day to day life be if you approached work with curiosity, reducing the number of assumptions you make about how things got to be the way they are, and how they need to be? Email me and let me know!
Before I challenge the behaviour of others I’m learning it is valuable to have checked out my own behaviour and be curious about the thinking behind the judgements I make. I’m often surprised by what I discover as I’m honest with myself. It makes life a lot easier to step back and be more curious about others’ approaches and choose to take the time to understand their map of the world. Maintaining cooperative attitudes and healthy motivation becomes much easier when we honestly request from colleagues the insight we need to help us understand their intentions and approaches.
What is it that you can do to motivate others and turn the mundane into magnificent, to up your game and receive the feedback that your clients will be pleased to offer when a job is well done? How can you find out what really motivates them?
- Get curious; no, really curious about the person in question.
- Put your own opinions aside and focus your attention solely upon them.
- Ask yourself and them “I wonder what you really want from your life and your work?”
- Listen to what they are telling you, not just through the words they say, but through the way in which they are talking to you – calm, sad, cerebral, confident, relaxed, disappointed.
- Be trustworthy. It is fundamental to healthy rapport and enables people to relax and feel comfortable with you.
- Be flexible. People often have a particular style of communication that works for them. It doesn’t always have to be done your way! Let them be your teacher as they show you how THEY like it to work.
- Communicate with them their way. If they are speaking quietly and slowly, there’s a good chance that you will develop better rapport with them by speaking quietly and slowly back to them, so allow this to improve your relationship. Subtly match their body language and pace of conversation with your own, not to manipulate, but to make it easier for the connection between you to ‘work’.
- Catch them doing things right! Take every opportunity to compliment and praise colleagues for the good things that they do. A compliment is most valuable and valued when it is specific and backed up by a factual example of what they have done. Public praise can be massively beneficial, so tell the team as well!
A ‘coaching approach’ to changes in behaviour includes asking thoughtful, open questions. Questions that begin with ‘How’ and ‘What’ are particularly useful. After a question hold any ensuing silence. Wait for them to answer, and accept what they say as ‘their truth’. Honour them by being quiet while they answer. If the answer is “I don’t know” Ask, “… so what if you did know?”
For a coaching relationship to work well, the parties need mutual respect, trust and the recognition of a person’s intrinsic value as something that is separate from their performance standard or capability. Intrinsic value is consistently undermined in today’s society. As a coach I work a lot with clients who need this aspect of their thinking sorted out. It’s amazing how much difference it makes.
From my work, I know that people are not always entirely honest with themselves, so helping them take another look at what they think really helps. A question such as “How true is that?” or “Where does the truth of that lie?” may be what’s needed to bring a different outlook. As a team of coaches we’ve found the word “really?” (said with interest, or even a raised eyebrow!) has a lot of power too, and can often be used with humour to get people to look at their lives differently.
And finally it is worth remembering that although not everyone is a lifesaver or rescuer, you can learn how to get to the root of what ‘drives’ your life. With that knowledge you will be better placed to free up others to recognise what motivates them and to have them play to their strengths at work. A work culture like that allows the people you work with to up their game and generate a win:win:win for clients and staff – and the company too.
In these days of significant pressure, we need all the wins we can get!
With reference to Nigel Nicholson, How to motivate your problem people. Harvard Business Review January 2003.
Helen Liddar is a coach and trainer who specialises in collaborating with clients to allow them to find their true confidence and self belief.