empathy Archives - The Performance Biz

How Do I Get My Team To Step Up?

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“In my experience, it doesn’t help to go delving too deeply into the problem…”

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It is not unusual for a leader to express their frustration at their team or a member of their team for not stepping up and taking responsibility.

There may be several reasons for their reluctance to step forward and really take ownership and it may be that you will never really know why.

In my experience, it doesn’t help to go delving too deeply into the problem. You can analyse and rationalise as much as you like, but the problem will remain and your frustrations will grow along with their resistance to step up.

Imagine a new Manager, Rory. One of his team members is Alan. Alan appears to be working very hard. He is often the last to leave. But he doesn’t communicate, so Rory never really knows what Alan is doing and what his workload is really like. In the past, Rory has found Alan to be quite defensive when he has asked about how he is spending his time. Not one for confrontation, Rory has backed off and has let him get on with it.

Have you recognise this sort of dynamic?

Next time you notice that a team member is resisting you, maybe try this exercise before you meet:

Take a pen and paper, and write down their name in the centre, then write down whatever words come to you that sum up how you would like the ideal relationship to be with that person. See below:


Once you have completed the exercise, you will find you have much better clarity of what you want and why you want it.

In Rory’s case, because he has something of a vision for how they might best work together, he can now focus on ‘the future relationship’ rather than ‘Alan’s failings’.

This simple exercise moves attention away from the frustrations and the problems Rory is experiencing with Alan, allowing space for him to create a new relationship, together with clear boundaries about the expectations he has.

In addition, Rory has opened up the communication channel between himself and Alan.

It’s time to have that chat!

To find out more about EPiC Leadership, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants.

Avoiding The Blame Game

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“It can be very stressful to pick the bones out of what went wrong…”

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Why do we come to work? To deliver on the mission of the organisation. That’s how crucial every single employee is. You matter greatly and so does every member of your team. What you do and how you do it impacts everyone.

Your work should feel good and congruent with who you are, you should feel able to weather the pressures and the highs and lows that will inevitably come in any work environment and to do that, you need the best tools and strategies to support you.

We give leaders who work with us powerful and practical tools and strategies they can use to maintain clarity even in potentially difficult or confusing circumstances, leading their teams back on track, focused and feeling understood.

Many of our clients are leaders who have to deal from time to time with issues that involve one party blaming another for something that should or shouldn’t have happened. And we know that it is all too easy to get caught up in the detail of the problem and to get sucked into the blame game. It can be very stressful to pick the bones out of what went wrong.

The quarrelling parties will each want you to believe their side of the story. They will be focused on getting you to see that they are right and the failing was due to the other party, the system, the client, or something/someone else. Most people get unsettled when things go wrong and they feel a compelling need to be vindicated.

Whilst it is important to recognise the feelings the other party is expressing (eg: frustration, anger, disappointment), it is really important to stay objective so that you can find a resolution.

Here’s one simple strategy that might help you to elevate your team out of the blame game and keep standards high:

  1. Breathe!
  2. Accept the situation for what it is (it’s happened and you are all where you are)
  3. Focus on the best outcome possible in the circumstances
  4. Make your intentions clear
  5. Agree with the parties involved, the steps that need to be taken to get there from where you are now
  6. Assign ownership and timescales to the plan
  7. Review the process, revising where necessary to avoid a future recurrence
  8. Gain commitment from all parties concerned
  9. Thank all for their cooperation towards a successful outcome
  10. Address knowledge/performance gaps with the individuals involved, privately one to one. Support them as they learn and agree a plan

Remember, things will go wrong from time to time. They provide an opportunity to improve. Address the situation early on, make the changes necessary and set expectations for the future.

To find out more about how we can help your business, and to arrange a conversation with a consultant, click here, or call us on +44 1932 888885.

Naked Intent – Building Trust

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Strong deep business roots as a tree trunk with the root in the shape of a hand shake as a symbol of unity trust and integrity in finance and relationships.

It’s nigh on impossible to hide what we are thinking.  We expose ourselves all day, every day.  That is, what we are thinking leaks out in our facial expressions, our physiology, the language we use and our tone of voice.

It’s not that people can necessarily know exactly what we are thinking, we leak just enough for others to spot something.  An inconsistency, conflict or judgement. We can’t help but put our feelings out there, whether we are face to face, on the phone or in writing and what’s more – like trying to examine one’s own eyeball, it is really hard to see for ourselves the underlying message we are giving out.

Why does this matter?

It matters more now than ever because of the conscious move towards building trust in business. Even if we think we have been really careful about how we phrase something, our true intent is revealed.  So if our true intent is not in line with our stated intent, we risk losing the trust of those we are working with.  Or put it another way, we piss people off.

Have you ever had a situation where you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just don’t believe someone, or they irritate you and you don’t really know why? Or maybe you feel manipulated in some way?  It might well be that you have subconsciously picked up on an incongruence between your understanding of the situation and what is actually taking place.  The discomfort that rises up in your body draws your attention to it, allowing you to probe a little and when satisfied, feel comfortable again.

Much has been said about emotional intelligence at work and its importance in building trust.  It can be really confusing.  Some people who believe they have high empathy, come out as having low empathy, and there are many who feel inside that they are emotionally intelligent yet, they are told they are not.  Remember the song – ‘I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.’

There are many schools of thought around Emotional Intelligence.  My belief is that it is primarily a matter of intent.  Get that clear, and everything else follows.  Everyone has the capacity to be emotionally intelligent.  Everyone too has the capacity to be emotionally ‘un’intelligent.  The variable is not the person, but the intention of the person.

Imagine you are in a meeting about a new project, sponsored by the CEO:

Your intention is to build trust between members of the team.  What might you do?  Offer teas, coffees etc…  Outline an agenda… Summarise your understanding of what is being said… Listen intently to what is required of you… Smile and offer your assurance that you have taken the ideas on board… Use open gestures…  Offer your appreciation towards others for their contribution or viewpoint… Freely share your perspective… These are all things you would do naturally, without giving it a second thought.

Imagine now that in your opinion, your colleague is getting too much attention for his mediocre ideas and you want to reassert yourself as the expert in your field.  What would be different in your behaviour?  You are unlikely to offer the drinks, that would be someone else’s role… You will want to talk about solutions, why one will work and not the other.  You will want to be sure everyone present understands the rationale behind your point of view…  And you will look for reasons to promote your ideas and to dismiss your colleagues ideas in favour of your own.

Finally, imagine your intent is to get others to like you.  You might laugh and smile if challenged… You might find it hard to support your own view point.  More likely to be swayed by the arguments of others… You are likely to tell people what they want to hear, even if it is not what you believe…  Perhaps you are keen to take on jobs that others aren’t interested in doing…

The same person with different intentions will behave very differently.  As you will see only one of the three examples is focussed on the needs of others.

Lining up our intent with the aspirations of the task helps to build trust and empathy.

To find out how The Performance Business can help your company, call Lucy on 01932 888885















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