Managing And Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
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Managing And Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript

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Executive success is directly related to one’s ability to build and cultivate effective relationships with superiors, peers, and subordinates. ...

Executive success is directly related to one’s ability to build and cultivate effective relationships with superiors, peers, and subordinates.

These skills become tested in times of business change or when part of a globally distributed workforce.

This show discusses how professional coaching can help executives and mid-level managers improve relationship building and more effectively use relationships to achieve business and personal success.

Guests

* John Boisvert, President and CEO, Greenwood Consulting

* Lori Severson, President, Consult Lori, Inc.

* Barbara McMahon, President, Center for Transitional Management

* David Ackert, President, The Ackert Advisory

Summary

Research shows in 2006, mergers and acquisitions totaled $310.7 billion dollars in the United States alone, examples including Google and YouTube, AT&T and BellSouth, and Alcatel and Lucent. But what role does professional coaching play as two organizations come together?

According to the Harvard Business Review there can be a variety of challenges during a merger, ranging from determining how to bring two radically different groups together to risks associated with not involving key influences, stakeholders, and top talent in the process.

Professional coaching experts discuss how coaching can help address these issues and more.

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Managing And Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript Managing And Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript Document Transcript

  • Insight on Coaching Managing & Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: IEC: Insight Unique Reporting Educational Consulting
  • Time Speaker Transcript 0:27 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors, and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting and your host for today’s show. Well today’s show focuses on how professional coaching can help executives, directors, and managers improve their relationship building skills and more effectively use relationships to achieve business and personal success. Well, the topic of relationships is certainly a broad subject because there are not only many skills that contribute to the art of fostering and building relationship but in the workplace there's also different groups of people that, as a leader, the average person has relationships with. So involving more than just networking and casually keeping in touch, relationships with people and groups like the boss, the stakeholders, partners, peers, employees, and customers, are critical to the success of a leader’s career. And for many people, especially where, as a skill, relationship management doesn't come naturally, this can be overwhelming and challenging to say the least. 1:33 Tom Floyd Well, can the art of relationship management be mastered or is it only for those people who are people people so to speak, adept at building relationships naturally? Let’s take a quick look at a few data points to see what the research said. The first article I’ll pull up is from the Harvard Business Review. Everyone knows that's one of my favorites, and this is from 2004, and the article is titled understanding People People, from June 2004. And the authors of the article cited four dimensions that compromise what they term relational work, and these dimensions were influence, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity, and team leadership. Here's how they defined each. 2 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 2 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 2:15 Tom Floyd Influence is defined as being all about changing the point of view or the behavior or others. I love that they use this expression. They used the expression; it’s for people who can talk a dog off a meat truck. I’ve also heard that as talk the ears off a donkey. People adept at influence taking pleasure in persuasion, negotiation, and the power of holding valuable information and ideas. The next one was interpersonal facilitation and individuals who are skilled in interpersonal facilitation were seen as keenly attuned to the interpersonal aspects of a work situation. So they intuitively focus on others’ experiences and usually work quietly behind the scenes to keep their colleagues committed and engaged so the projects don’t get derailed. The third dimension was relational creativity and at its core it was listed as being about forging connections with groups of people through visual and verbal imagery. Some of the analogies that they used were, when an advertising account team conceives of a campaign, for example, when a marketing brand manager develops a strategy to reach a particular consumer segment, when a speech writer crafts a president’s next address, or when a senior manager develops a motivational theme that will focus and inspire her employees. 3:25 Tom Floyd The last one was team leadership, with individuals who scored high against that dimension from the study they did seemed to need to see an inner act with other people very frequently to feel satisfied. And conversely, the more time that they spent in front of a computer screen, the worse that they felt, and the worse that they performed. Professionals with a high level of interest in team leadership, according to the authors, love managing high energy teams in busy service environments and enjoy working both with teams and with their customers. So lots of different aspects there in that article that they hinted at in terms of some of the things that contributed to relationships. 3 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 3 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 4:05 Tom Floyd Now I'm going to pull from another Harvard Business Review article as well. This one actually is very, very recent, from this past January 2007, and it was titled Becoming the Boss. And I had to smile; one of the managers that the quoted in the article, and he was saying this in terms of commenting on being enmeshed in a web of relationships with subordinates, bosses, peers, and others, all of whom make relentless and often conflicting demands. And what he said was, you know, you're really not in control of anything. And as a leader, I had to smile, I definitely could relate to that myself. 4:45 Tom Floyd The same article also highlighted that managers must focus on forging good individual relationships that managing interdependencies and exercising informal authority derived from personal credibility requires new managers to build trust, influence, and mutual expectations, with a wide array of people. And in many cases, this can be established by, or achieved I should say, by establishing productive personal relationships. But ultimately, in the long run, it also emphasized that just focusing on one and one relationships wouldn't be enough that new managers and leaders and existing manager and leaders have to focus on how to harness the power of a team, so we’re looking more at the bigger picture. 5:28 Tom Floyd Now the last point that I want to mention about that article is it also mentions, in terms of managing subordinates, that character was very important. So character, or as they defined it, the intention to do the right thing. And the authors felt that this was of particular importance when we talk about subordinates because, according to them, subordinates tend to analyze every statement and non-verbal gesture for signs of their boss’s motives and that for leaders, such scrutiny can be unnerving at times and one of the managers that they interviewed, I liked one of the quotes that he said, he said you know, I knew I was a good guy and I kind of expected people to accept me immediately for what I was, but folks were wary and I really had to earn it. 4 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 4 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 6:13 Tom Floyd Well, I’m definitely interested to continue the discussion here and get our guest’s thoughts on some of that data and also just on the topic in general. To give everyone a quick overview of the four guests we have on our show, I’ll run down that real fast. We’ve got four guests today, David Ackert, Lori Severson, John Boisvert, and Barbara McMahon. I’ll start out with David. David Ackert has served in the corporate, education, and non-profit sectors as a trainer, marketer, and strategic planner, since the mid 90’s. He’s developed and implemented business development programs for national legal, accounting, and financial service firms, and has written for and contributed to over a dozen articles and publications including the LA Times, the National Review, and the Daily Journal, and has been quoted in several trade publications and books. Welcome to the show, David. 6:59 David Ackert Thank You. 7:00 Tom Floyd Our next guest, Lori Severson. Lori Severson is the president of Consult Lori, Inc. It’s a firm; it’s a coaching leadership development consulting firm I should say. Lori’s coaching practice, coaching 3-D, helps business leaders to discover their full potential by examining and articulating blind spots, creating new openings for action and results. She designs coaching programs around leaders’ individual needs and priorities that will drive greater levels of success, accelerate development, and increase personal satisfaction. Lori brings a direct yet supportive style that will challenge and support leaders’ growth. In alignment with leaders’ development direction, Lori works with individuals to transform their ability to lead and succeed. Welcome back to the show, Lori. 7:40 Lori Severson Thanks, Tom. 5 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 5 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 7:43 Tom Floyd Our next guest, John Boisvert. John advises and coaches executives in the areas of improving personal and organizational performance, high impact communication, and team and organizational alignment. As a coach, John works with clients on a wide range of issues critical to executive effectiveness. One of his passions, the most called upon specialties, is working to improve the quality of an executive’s communications, relationship building skills, and presence. He then works with his clients to apply these skills to significantly improve their ability to increase their team effectiveness, build better organizational, alignment, and productivity, handle corporate politics in positive and constructive ways, and demonstrate their capacity for bigger challenges and opportunities. Welcome back to the show, John. 8:24 John Boisvert It’s great to be here. Thanks Tom. 8:25 Tom Floyd And our last guest, Barbara McMahon—for the last seven years, Barbara McMahon has been working as an organizational consultant, executive coach and trainer. She specializes in leadership development, team building, changed management, and building strategic partnerships. Barbara is a frequent speaker and keynoter and has been heavily noted in the field of women in leadership. She’s spoke for linkage for many years as well as PBWC, Working Women Magazine, Social Venture Network, The New York Conference Board, and many others. She's worked to help design and develop large scale initiatives for women in leadership with clients including Intel, Pella Corporation, Nectar Therapeutics, and others, and based on her specialization and leadership development, she’s a contributing author to Enlightened Power, How Women are Changing the Practice of Leadership, which was released in April 2006. Welcome back to the show, Barb. 9:13 Barbara Thanks so much, Tom. McMahon 6 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 6 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 9:15 Tom Floyd Now with all the shows we've done this season, today’s show is going to be a group discussion. I’m going to pose questions to everyone as a panel to get the group’s thoughts and the first question that I’d like to start out with, just a general question. When you think of building and managing relationships at work, what comes to mind for you? David, let’s start with you. 9:35 David Ackert Well, the first thing that comes to mind for me is really the kind of three tent poles of management which for me are goal setting, feedback, and the most important one is consistency. And I think people tend to be good at one, certainly goal setting and sometimes the feedback, but keeping that consistent is really the Achilles heel and that's where, if it’s not consistent, then the goal setting, the feedback starts to lose it’s meaning because it starts to feel like something that the person who’s being managed only experiences when the winds are blowing in the right direction and they can start to feel a little lost and start to lose their sense of what's expected of them and how to fulfill on those expectations. 10:18 Tom Floyd And what are some of the reasons that contribute to that consistency not occurring, you know, as often as it should in some situations? 10:25 David Ackert Well I think a lot of it comes down to the manager, the leader, really taking responsibility for putting a structure in place so that they can manage consistently. Being a leader and a manager, there's a lot of balls to juggle and a lot of different people to kind of sort of anticipate their move, and to be sensitive to them, and empathize with them, but at the same also provide the vision of where you expect everybody to go and I think it’s easy to start to stomp out the fire that's burning the hottest at any given point in time and that means that other places that require attention may not get it if one spends their time being reactive in that way. 11:09 Tom Floyd And certainly those fires can make you feel the heat sometimes, you know, I can relate to that as well. Well Barb, what are some of your thoughts? 7 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 7 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 11:17 Barbara You know, Tom, when I think about relationship building I think about a model that McMahon I've been working with for the last about seven years, the four P’s. And the four P’s are prospectus, practices, partnerships, and performance. And I believe that if, when working on relationships, if you change something in any one of these four quadrants, you impact on all the rest. And prospectus is about how you see yourself, how you see others, how others see themselves, and how others see you and how all of you see the business of the situation. And a practice is what you do, your patterns of behavior, the competencies you focus on. And partnerships are about the way that you interrelate with others and that you teach others to relate with you. And performance is about vision at the top end. What's your ideal about what you want these, this all to look like, and outcome, at the bottom end, and that's what do you actually produce based on these other three things? 12:34 And so working with folks on looking at those four areas helps us to look at what enables you to enhance or what obstructs you from developing the kind of relationships you want. 12:48 Tom Floyd Got it. So perspective, practices, partnership, and performance. 12:53 Lori Severson Yeah. 12:53 Tom Floyd Got it. Well let’s go ahead and go on pause. We’re right up against our commercial break here so we’ll go ahead and pause for a few seconds. Stay tuned everyone. 8 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 8 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 15:42 Tom Floyd Welcome back everyone to Insight on Coaching. Those of you who are just joining us today, today’s show focuses on managing and strengthening work relationships. Where we left off, we were just getting started and we were asking our guests, you know, in general, when they think of building and managing relationships at work, what comes to mind for them? I’d like to go ahead and continue with that same question, and John, I’d like to move to you. What are some of your thoughts when you think about building and managing relationships at work? 16:10 John Boisvert Well, relationships are obviously critical and I think about work, and it’s about getting work done, and work gets done by people. And then people also determine whether the work actually got done. That is, it’s other people that decide whether it was done and whether it was done well. The way they're going to look at individuals in the workplace is based on trust over time, and I think there are three areas that people look at. One would be sincerity, two would be accountability, and three would be confidence. Do you really believe what the person is saying and how they're interacting or the group? Is the individual or group being accountable? And finally, are they competent? Do they know what they're doing? Do they have the skills, and is it proven over time? I think those are three elements that we would look at as well, as well as they other great components that both David and Barbara added before. 17:04 Tom Floyd I had to smile when you said accountability. On the past several shows I’ve tried to just share some of the things that come up in my coaching sessions with the folks that I work with and accountability comes up a lot and you're right. When I hear it framed in terms of a relationship I've learned that that's a ticker for me, that when I gauge when I’m working with folks. I really gravitate towards those that are accountable, that are consistent in that, that show results that you can depend on, and who own up to things. And when I don’t see that sometimes, it’s almost kind of like wow, you know, when I think about it that does impact the quality of the relationship that I would have with them. 9 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 9 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 17:41 John Boisvert Absolutely. Even if they're sincere and they know what they're doing, you think they know what they're doing, if they don’t get back to you when I you expect them to get back to you- 17:48 Tom Floyd Right. 17:49 John Boisvert --then people start to question. 17:50 Tom Floyd Yeah, yeah, exactly. Well Lori, what are some of your thoughts? When you think of building and managing relationships at work, what comes to mind for you? 17:58 Lori Severson Well I think everything that's been said is great and I really appreciate what John just said about trust. And what I would add is that the context of the workplace is key, and I do agree that the things that build relationships is that foundation of trust which is earned by doing the work and being perceived as competent, and sincere, and reliable. That's how I define trust. And I think the other piece that maybe we haven't talked about is for—depending on the level of manager, one of the things that managers at a lower level tend to forget is that they're no longer doing the work, they're working with people. And so we've talked about how important that is in setting a vision and expectations, but I think a piece that's critical, and when I work with managers at all levels, is them being real and connected to what's important, not only to them but to the vision for the work that they're doing—the corporation, the particular project, the program, whatever it is. And I think being able to really be clear about that so that people can get behind you, they perceive that you're sincere, and they want to work with you, people will quickly ferret out if you're just doing something because you think it’s something that someone else wants versus the right work. So I think that's an important piece about the relationship when you're leading. 19:15 Tom Floyd Sure, if they can feel kind of the energy and passion and belief in you, that you're not just kind of being the robot. 10 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 10 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 19:21 Lori Severson Yeah. 19:21 Tom Floyd So to speak. That you're actually standing behind it and you understand how it impacts them and how it fits into the big picture, and all of that. 19:28 Lori Severson Absolutely. And that takes the peace of self-reflection to know that how you are coming across. And I can't remember who mentioned the non-verbal component. How are people seeing you? Because they are going to scrutinize that and they're going to look for discrepancies, and if they don’t trust you then they're not going to have the kind of relationship with you in order to get that all-important work done. 19:47 Tom Floyd Well, and that was something as well. I’ll bring up my own coaching session again with the folks at the Strosie Institute. I’ve been on the show several times, and that's one of the things that they taught me as well when I went up to Petaluma for the observation and working with them, it was the non-verbal things I learned about myself as a leader that I thought wow, it’s almost like, you know, if someone recorded you-- somebody said this on reality TV once too, try to imagine yourself being recorded at work, and then watching that. You’d be horrified with some of the things that you do that you don’t realize. But the non-verbal things that I learned at Strosie were like, I had no idea that I did those things, or did things like that. What people can walk away from in those instances is definitely important. And it certainly can affect u. 20:35 Lori Severson You bet. 20:36 Tom Floyd Well in terms of, you know, when we talk about building and managing relationships at work, do all of you think that something that comes naturally for people or is that something that's learned? Barb, what are your thoughts? 11 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 11 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 20:51 Barbara Well, you know, I think that it is definitely something that's learned but that some folks McMahon have a more natural ability to be able to absorb those learning experiences and then helping them to develop those skills in a faster, more efficient way. But I think that another point here is key to bring up, Tom, and that is that just because it’s natural and easy doesn't mean that it’s something that we consistently do even when it’s something that we have, like women leaders do, a real natural ability to be good at. 21:45 Tom Floyd And are there times when people are almost so good at some aspects of it that it can be a hindrance? I mean, when I think of the quote, as I love the expression that I mentioned at the beginning in terms of somebody who can dog the dog off of the meat truck. There are times when I can think of, and I’ve been around somebody like that, and you're like okay, it’s too much. You're talking, trying to influence me too much. So can it sometime, when it is natural, can it almost be a hindrance at times as well? 22:15 Barbara I think that's a really excellent point, and I think that the answer to your question is McMahon yes, and I think the time that it can be a hindrance is when what you have a focus on is your using that skill but not as clear a focus on who you're using it with, and how it’s impacting on them, and as we talked about, as Lori talked about a moment ago, being aware of the non-verbal cues as well as the verbal cues about how that experience is being received by the people that you're connected to in the moment. 22:51 Tom Floyd Got it. Now, as coaches, do all of you find that executives or managers frequently come to you and say I need help building or improving relationships with people I work with? Is that a common thing that you hear? David, let’s start with you? 12 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 12 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 23:07 David Ackert You know, it always sounds a little bit different and I think I wish that it would sound that way more often. More of the time it’s somebody else’s fault and they need help coping with that person. And so a lot of the coaching work ends up being about having the manager understand that they have a hand in all of it, that they're responsible for it, and ideally that they take full responsibility for it because only then can they fully expect to be able to change it. So that first step of taking out all the blaming and transposing the problem back onto yourself is something that you know, you have an opportunity now to overcome is always—or not always but certainly most of the time the first step of the coaching work. 23:56 Tom Floyd And how hard is that for people to stop blaming others and to start looking on the inside basically more. 24:04 David Ackert You know, I think as coaches we have a unique opportunity and that we’re typically working with people who realize that there's some changing that they need to do otherwise they wouldn't even entertain a conversation with a coach. So I think it’s easier than it would be if we were just talking to a guy at the bus stop. But I think that's challenging work for all of us. It’s certainly challenging work for me when I've gotten righteous on a position to step back and say okay, wait a minute, I’m fully responsible here, I’ve created this world around me, so what am I going to be able to do here to shift my perception and more importantly effect some change so that things are moving forward rather than getting stuck. 24:40 Tom Floyd Now Lori, what are some of your thought in terms of, you know, do you have people who’ve come to you in the past who say, you know, specifically, I need help building or improving relationships with people that I work with? That's what their initial focus is. 13 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 13 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 24:53 Lori Severson Typically not. What they might come forward with is something like I need help influencing, typically up or across, when they're at the higher levels. And what they might be is frustrated like David mentioned. They might have some frustration around a particular relationship or set of relationships that isn't meeting their needs or isn't working for them in order to get the job done. And so that is one of the first steps, I agree with him wholeheartedly, is getting the person to determine what is their role in it and assess their own assumptions that they're making about the situation or the person and judgments perhaps that might need to be shifted, and that's where looking at, again, that self-reflection and revealing the blind spots that I might be holding about what my behavior is contributing or my view of the situation that may need to be shifted in order for me to be more effective. 25:42 A lot of people come forward because they want to be more effective and they're already very successful. So they don’t necessarily perceive themselves as the one that may need to do some changing or shifting perhaps. That's what I typically find. 25:56 Tom Floyd So you just mentioned a great point in terms of, you know, executives and managers coming to the table wanting help with things like influencing up and the impact that that has on relationships and things like that. What are some of the other challenges that all of you have found that executives or managers typically experience in building or managing relationships. John, what are your thoughts? 26:18 John Boisvert What I find is that a lot of people, even at the top of the house, end up being technical experts. They know their job, they know their business, and they know their area inside out. And they're so good at what they do and what they know in some ways they forget the other people. 14 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 14 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 26:36 I had a senior manager at a large insurance company who, when I first heard about him or was told about him, that I would be working with him, they said it’s like he’s got a photographic memory. The man knows everything about our business. He not only knows his area but he knows every other functional area within the business. And he has so much capability but it’s not being leveraged. When I spoke to him, the same thing occurred, and actually he was quite a great leader, and all the people below him really respected him and looked up to him. When he was attending the senior management meetings, no one really called on him and he didn't really speak up a whole lot. What was happening was that he was technically competent; he didn't really appreciate all the other windbags in the room. If somebody had something to say and they, and what they said was correct or was adding value, he was fine with that and he was quiet. So what happened is you've got a bunch of competent people in the room and so this gentleman is actually being quiet. So it was sort of a combination of not appreciating the styles of the other people, and him being really focused on doing what's right and being technically competent, and not going for the relationship with the people. And within three months, I think less than three months, I got a phone call about two and a half months into the coaching, he was then being invited to the president’s circle meetings. I forget what they called them but it was something like the president’s circle meetings and the strategic operations meetings, and he was also being called up by the operating group heads of all the other divisions asking for his input. 28:17 Tom Floyd So he was actually successful in a way because of his technical knowledge, that that really was useful in that case. 28:24 John Boisvert Yes. And it was the relationship. Then when he realized, okay I need to connect with these people in a different way in order to leverage all the technical knowledge and the business knowledge that he had. 15 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 15 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 28:34 Tom Floyd Got it. I’m going to go ahead and go on pause. I’m hearing the music for our next break. Stay tuned everyone. More on managing and strengthening work relationships when we return. 31:05 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. Today’s show focuses on managing and strengthening work relationships. Next question that I’d like to ask everyone has to do with character. One of the articles—and we've already gotten into this a little bit with some of the things that came up around sincerity and what you want to lead people with in terms of a presence perspective and things like that. So it’s come up a little bit. But one of the articles that I mentioned at the beginning of the show talked about the importance of character and from your perspectives, how important is an individual’s assessment of your character in terms of their desire to have or foster a professional relationship with you? Lori? 31:47 Lori Severson I think it’s really important. And, I mean, you just look at our political arena and the different assessments that happen with character, of presidential actions, people in power, things that have happened in the past, corporations, Enron and things like that. Character I think can make or break you and I think we may all have some distinct definitions about it but I link it to values and people aren’t necessarily going to have a values match with you 100 percent of the time but they do want to know that you're being authentic, truthful, and perhaps accountable for what you say you're going to do, and for me those are some of the core things that I would relate character to. Does that answer that, Tom? 32:30 Tom Floyd It does, yeah. David, anything that you would add? 16 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 16 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 32:34 David Ackert Well you know, when you were saying that, the first thing that comes to mind is this model that John shared with us a couple minutes ago about sincerity, accountability, and confidence. I just loved it. I jotted it down here and it just popped out of me when you said that because if you don’t buy that the person is sincere and you don’t anticipate that they are going to be accountable you certainly aren’t going to buy their confidences as genuine. So that all has to do with an assessment of one’s character, and I think a lot of times what happens in the workplace is—and we experience this a lot—you know, clients will come to us and they have done something that has cost them the sort of character points if you will in the workplace, and they're not necessarily willing to acknowledge that they’ve done it and they certainly aren’t willing to apologize for it because it wasn't their fault or, you know, they were justified in one way or another. And until they can sort of step over that moment in time in the past, that fissure that occurred in the relationship and the damage they did in the culture, they really are just going to be painting over cracked cement and, you know, it’s never really fully going to be where they want it to be. So I guess it does come back to taking responsibility for your actions and really looking at where you can even maybe go a little above and beyond the call of duty in that regard so that you can gain back people's perception of your sincerity and therefore accountability and confidence. 33:57 Tom Floyd Actually, that leads perfectly into the next question that's like, dying to jump out of my mouth here, and that's, you know, we've all done things sometimes or for me, for example, I'm a person who cares what people think, and I admit that, and when there's times when you leave a situation, I think everyone finds themselves in that boat where you wonder to yourself, did I blow it? Did I just not leave them with the best impression? Or I’m wondering how they're feeling about me or they might have misunderstood or things like that. And what are steps that leaders and managers can take to go back with someone if they feel they haven't left them with the best assessment of their character? What are some things that they can do to help remedy that? John? 34:42 John Boisvert Well, the first thing that come to mind is they can simply ask, go back and sort of check in. And I just thought of another story, which is a—of a senior manager with a thousand people working for him— 17 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 17 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 34:54 Tom Floyd Good grief. 34:55 John Boisvert He had his staff together so there were probably about 14 of us in the room, and he was talking about what his plans are, and what the strategies are, and basically the guy has a huge, huge heart, truly cares about the organization, cares about the people, and they all get that. And in the conversation he said I want you to know that my number one priority is to make sure that my boss is happy. My number two priority is this department. You should have seen the looks on the people's faces. 35:26 Tom Floyd Ouch. 35:27 John Boisvert Okay? 35:28 Tom Floyd I can imagine. 35:29 John Boisvert So there's a couple things here. One is the fact that this gentleman is so sincere, his character is impeccable, his intelligence is impeccable, he’s got 87 patents on the wall in his office, and when he deals with people he deals with them with the utmost respect. So what he was saying was he said this is the way it is. I don’t know any other way to deal with it right now. It’s important for you to know that, and if there's things that we need to do to deal with the situation the way it is then we should do that. And the fact that he was so up front and sincere about it, they—even though they didn't like it, with all the other attributes that he had, being up front about it, they could work with him. 36:14 Tom Floyd So kind of calling a spade a spade, and just being sincere, and keeping it real. 36:18 John Boisvert Exactly. 18 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 18 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 36:19 Tom Floyd So to speak- 36:20 David Ackert Tom, there's one other thing I want to add to that— 36:22 John Boisvert People respect that. 36:23 David Ackert Which is that I think, you know, touching base with people is a really good idea. I think most of the time if people don’t have a tool or sort of a specific way of doing it, they get a little lost. Like, how do I really do that? How do I really check in with them and see where I might have screwed up. We have this thing where we actually ask people to do a focus interview with the key people that they're managing, and the focus interview has three steps. It’s very simple. The first one you just contextualize it; you say look, I’m doing an interview because I really want to make sure I’m being the best manager I can be so I have three questions for you. The first question is what have you noticed that really works about the way that I manage? The second one is what have you noticed that really doesn't work about the way that I manage? And I really want your honest feedback here. And then a third question is, is there anything you've ever wanted to tell me but you haven't had the opportunity? And that's that third question where people really get the goals a lot of the time, where somebody says, you know, a couple years ago you did this one thing and I don’t know, it kind of rubbed me wrong. But it creates a sense of intimacy in the conversation where people can come out and give that feedback that a lot of times people don’t even know have been poisoning the air, and then they can start to rebuild that character that's been damaged. 37:38 Tom Floyd Is it a lot of times that just complete shock on the manager’s face sometimes? Like wow, I had no idea. 19 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 19 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 37:44 David Ackert You know, I don’t know. I think we know on some level that something happened. We may not know exactly what it was and sometimes it was a misunderstanding or a misconception or something. But I don’t know what you guys think but it seems to me that very rarely is the manager completely caught off guard with it. I think people know on some level that they haven't been playing at 100 percent, they haven't been doing everything they could be doing, and they're certainly in that inquiry or they wouldn't be able to do a focus interview. So I think a lot of times some of the details may be surprising but the fact that there's been something in the relationship that's been off is not news. 38:20 Tom Floyd Okay. 38:21 John Boisvert I think it also takes some conversation and it doesn't always work the first time. I don’t know if you've found, David, that a number of people don’t necessarily, even given those three questions, which are great questions, don’t necessarily feel comfortable enough to answer them honestly. 38:36 David Ackert Yeah, you're right. It does take a few times sometimes before you can scrape to some of the bottom of the relationships, where people are particularly in fear of the manager. 38:46 John Boisvert Yeah, yeah. 38:46 Lori Severson Yeah, at those higher levels. And I think the other piece there that I would just add is I don’t—the higher you get the harder it is to be vulnerable because it might be perceived as weakness. 38:57 Tom Floyd Ahh. 38:57 Lori Severson And so I think the three questions you outlined are perfect, and they create a sense of authenticity and vulnerability that is somewhat uncomfortable for people to really engender in the workplace and I think it’s critical. 20 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 20 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 39:12 John Boisvert I think that's the juice right—that's the golden nugget right there, which is that if you can be vulnerable, be authentic, show up with the true character that we were talking about, then it almost doesn't matter what you say. People get it. Oh, this person means it, they're real. 39:28 Lori Severson Exactly. 39:28 Tom Floyd Now in terms of being vulnerable the higher up that you get, that really caught my attention there. It’s something that I’ve seen and certainly something that I've heard as well. Where, Lori, do you see that coming out? So if you're a vice-president in a company, as a vice-president would you feel vulnerable or where are they not feeling vulnerable. Is it in conversations with their boss, they're trying to keep up that strong front, is it to the people they're managing, is it everybody? 39:58 Lori Severson Well it depends on the person but certainly if they suggest that maybe they didn't do something perfectly, or that they might have to apologize, or that they didn't manage a situation in a way that had the exact outcome that was wanted by their boss, the board, whomever, that's vulnerability, and it’s not something that's easy to do in corporate America. People tend to feed on that. It can be perceived as a feeding frenzy. I've had executives describe it as, yeah, the sharks are moving in for the kill. One drop of blood and its history. So there's a lot of fear around it and it’s maybe not something that we teach very well. And the higher you get the harder it is to be perceived as, I didn't, I don’t know exactly what I'm doing all the time every minute. So it’s not an easy question to answer. 21 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 21 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 40:50 Barbara And it’s such an important role modeling for how the organization is going to be McMahon successful. And I think that's one of the things as coaches that we need to make so crystal clear to the highest leaders in the organization, that if they can't model being able to communicate— It’s easy to talk about the successes. It’s so much more difficult to stand up and say let me tell you about the elephant pit that I fell into last week and what have happened as a result of it. Let me tell you about what didn't work. That that's really the harder conversation, that's the harder situation to acknowledge and then to deal with, and so very important to model managing a bad situation in a good way. And the first step in that is to acknowledge your responsibility in it and your willingness to take action moving forward. 41:57 Lori Severson Yeah, and what I found too, Barb, building on that—that's an excellent point—is that when executives describe places in their career where they’ve failed, or they learned from their mistakes, or they did something and it didn't work out the way that they had hoped. People at the next levels down in the organization are absolutely almost thrilled to learn that someone that's so successful has made mistakes along the way and it gives them a freedom, and ability, and degrees of freedom to move that they may not have had before once they learn about that. So I think it’s really important that people do the role modeling as Barb suggested and they're able to talk about things that didn't go so well, because that's how people learn. 42:39 Tom Floyd I can see how that would really be helpful too. I mean, if you're kind of hearing that from your boss it would make you feel like you'd want to reach out to them more. Like, okay, I can confide even more now because they're not perfect. 42:51 Barbara And I think the other place is with mentoring. McMahon 42:54 Tom Floyd Got it. That makes sense. I can hear the music for our next break. Let’s go ahead and go on pause. 22 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 22 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 45:19 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. Those of you just joining us today, today’s show focuses on managing and strengthening work relationships. Now Barb, before our last break you brought up a great point. You brought up the importance of mentoring. Can I talk a little bit more about that? 45:34 Barbara Well you know, I think that it’s one of the key places where we educate the people, McMahon our partners, and the leaders that we’re reaching back to and bringing up on the path. And again, it’s the element of modeling, of using ourselves as an example. And I think to be able to share the stories. Stories are so important, you know, to learning. And we need to hear about the stories that show us the path up the mountain and the win, the perspective that that brings us. And we get that perspective by learning about what works and what doesn't work. So I think it’s a really important place and it’s one of the ways that in relationships it’s important to make yourself vulnerable, is to be willing to share both sides. 46:41 Tom Floyd Well, and that's two weeks in a row now that the importance of storytelling has come up. John actually—you were on our show last week as well, and Bob Dickman had brought up the importance of storytelling as a skill for leaders. So in that storytelling, you know, sharing the good, the bad, and the things you did right, the things you did wrong, that's making sense why that would be so powerful. 23 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 23 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 47:05 John Boisvert Stories make a lot of sense, and they connect with people, and they’ll also allow you to set context. And we were talking off-air earlier and David had mentioned the importance of setting context and when it comes to teaching people and mentoring, using stories, setting context, are all-important. And I think people are looking for, in terms of mentoring, they're looking for a how-to. So how do I create the long-lasting great relationships that I want, how do I do them in the moment, and how do I do them long term. I think there are four things that people can do. Number one is when, in any interaction, you do set context. What is it we’re about to do, why is this important, why should the person care? Number two is rapport. Do we actually have the kind of rapport where I'm going to want to engage, and vice- versa? Three is the clarity of the objectives. What are we really focusing on, what really matters most, what are the goals? And the finally, number four, action agreement. Agree on the actual actions we’re going to take. Who is going to do what, when, where, how, and how are we going to get back to each other? 48:05 Tom Floyd Got it. David, anything you would add? 48:07 David Ackert Well I use this in my own company for all of the people that I'm managing. I read an article somewhere that the pattern of a relationship begins within the first couple of weeks of the people knowing each other, and then the pattern just kind of plays out and gets more complicated. But the foundation of it is established early on so within the first couple of weeks when we bring someone into the company I will ask them to define the context of our work relationship together. And they sometimes look at me a little quizzically and say well what does that mean? I say look, I'm really looking for us to find some values together that would define the ideal experience. And Laura, you talked a little bit about the importance of tying vision and values into the action that you take so that it’s not so much about the details it’s really about the thinking that drives it if you will or the principles that drive it. So we’ll usually come up with something like okay, well, our context is going to be collaboration, honesty, and timeliness or accountability. You know, we’ll just come up with a few values that we both feel really strongly about and if we could maintain those values, regardless of what's going on in the work relationship we would have a really powerful dynamic here that we would be working inside of a context that could last a whole career. 24 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 24 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 49:29 And so now that we've designed it jointly we can measure against it so this other thing that's a little weird that we do in my company is before we start a meeting I’ll say okay, let’s go over our context very quickly. And then we actually say the words out loud so that it really presences in the air what it is that we’re making sure are the boundaries, if you will, or sort of the vessel in which we’re going to have the conversation or the meeting. 49:49 John Boisvert I love that. 49:49 David Ackert And then we manage against it. 49:51 Tom Floyd It almost seems like it would help defuse any conflict that comes up or anything because you're kind of stating this is the common language and these are the rules. 49:58 John Boisvert Absolutely. So the red flags pop right up if we say, for instance, honesty is one of the parts of the context, and then immediately one of us will say okay I’m feeling a little weird about this right now because, and then there's usually a confession, but then we manage against it too, which is great because when people have their performance reviews we’re always looking at, all right, so have we fallen off the wagon in any way, given these values? 50:19 Tom Floyd Got it. I love that. Well, kind of last question that I’d like to ask today has to do with gender as it relates to building and maintaining relationships, and Barbara, I want to turn to you. You do a great deal of work coaching and consulting with women in the workplace and can you tell us a little bit about why women, who are frequently referred to as the strongest of communicators and relationship builders often kind of come back and say that they feel isolated and lonely at work? 25 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 25 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 50:46 Barbara Yeah, you know, Tom, I think it has—again, I'm going to stick with the P’s. McMahon It is absolutely true that women are very people oriented and they're so good at relationship management, and connecting, and nurturing all the things that are so— being compassionate, all the things that are so critically important to building relationships. But what's also true is that, I think because of the many, many roles that they have to manage, and that's increasing as we move forward and the culture is changing, they're also perfectionists. And because they're perfectionists and they're new, relatively speaking, in the corporate world, their sense about having to be an absolute top performer—that if they're going to do it, because they're new at it, because they're just being embraced in this new level of leadership in this new arena of the work world, that they not only have to perform but they have to be perfect in that performance. 51:57 And so what I see frequently happens with women as they move up through the ranks is that they get very nose to the grindstone. I've got to do it, I've got to concentrate on the task, get it done, and not let anything get in my way. I think that— 52:13 Tom Floyd So it’s kind of like come hell of high water I am getting this done. 52:16 Barbara Absolutely. McMahon And the other thing is that because women are so naturally caretakers that they not only feel responsible for what's their function but when they're managing a team they feel responsible for picking up whatever gets left or undone by the other people on their team. So they're not just handling what they signed up for but they're making sure that the rest of it gets done as well. And that combination of things sometimes keeps them away from doing the thing that they know if they paid attention to they could get done in fairly rapid order because they’ve got to do the stuff that takes a little bit longer, and that requires more of their attention, and they just get so focused downward that they forget about relationship. And the really unfortunate part is that that can not only be a problem that they experience at work but also can influence the work balance piece as it gives them diminished time to attend to what's happening in their personal lives. 26 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 26 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript
  • Time Speaker Transcript 53:20 Tom Floyd Got it. Any final words of wisdom? We've got about a minute left. Any final words of wisdom for our listeners today in terms of folks who might be looking to improve their ability to manage and strengthen relationships in the workplace? Lori? 53:35 Lori Severson I would say that it’s really important to look at yourself first, and the context second, and the environment in, to be as real as you can or true to yourself within that context, and also to set down any fear that you might have about, if they really knew me, or if I really said what I thought, the repercussions. And I think if people can follow some of those simple guidelines, without being idiots of course, context around that. That would be really helpful in the workplace in my experience. 54:09 Tom Floyd That sounds like great advice to me. Well a huge thank you to the four of you today for being on the show. And there's always a big thank you to our listeners as well. For more information about our show you can look us up on the Voice America business channel, and you can visit our web site at www.ieconsulting.biz. You can also feel free to drop me an email at tfloyd@ieconsulting.biz and also don’t forget you can download our show through Apple iTunes as well. Just open up iTunes, go to the music store, click podcasts on the left side of the screen, and enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks again everyone, we’ll see you next week. 27 | Confidential October 22, 2008 Page 27 Managing and Strengthening Work Relationships Transcript