Understanding Guiding Values

Understanding Guiding Values

Being able to influence others is a critical skill in any business environment. Managers leading a team, colleagues looking for buy-in on a project, and employees angling for a promotion – each of these situations involve one person trying to persuade others to support a recommendation. We may talk big about the “right way” to influence others, but when the time actually arrives even the best of us can make a classic beginner’s mistake. We may stick to expressing our own point of view and major concerns, and give little thought to what the other person is thinking or feeling. The result is unfortunately predictable – instead of moving towards acceptance, we encounter resistance. A key piece of the puzzle is empathy.  Empathy allows us to put ourselves in others’ shoes. Empathy makes it possible to understand decision-making processes and motivations that are very different from our own. It uncovers key information that increases our chances of success. No matter how experienced we are, it always helps to re-evaluate how to apply empathy in a conversation. A simple way to approach it is to think about the Three Guiding Values: the past experiences of the other person, what is imposed on them today, and their relationship with you.   Past Experiences A person’s past experiences will influence their perception of the future. For example, imagine you need to influence colleagues to accept the company’s new change management process. If the last such initiative they worked on was unsuccessful, it is fair to assume they will view your proposal with scepticism. This does not mean you are doomed to failure,...
Group Process Tools for Team Meetings

Group Process Tools for Team Meetings

Occasionally, your team may need to gather and generate ideas and plans for process improvements as a group. These meetings are successful when the participants have identified business problems, come up with better ways of doing things, and agreed on a plan for action. Unfortunately, some meetings conclude with key issues unresolved. A well-structured meeting is a critical starting point.  But when your team really needs to dig deep for a solution, then it helps to have a few extra tools in your facilitation tool-belt. Otherwise, no matter how good your intentions, the meeting may devolve into discussion loops, silence, or simply return to old ideas. Here are three helpful group process tools for getting at problems and coming up with solutions.   Tool #1: Sequential questioning This technique is useful when you need to uncover important information as a group. In this process, the facilitator decides on the main topic and prepares a set of questions in advance.  These questions should progress from broad ideas down to the specific, operational level. Each question should challenge assumptions and prompt detailed discussion. For example, if the topic is how to improve customer services, the first question could simply be: “Why aren’t our target customers buying more of our product?”  Follow-up questions may focus on specific challenges that you anticipate will come up in response to the first question – each new question digging deeper than the one before. A good method is to write one question at the top of a flip chart and then ask team members to contribute their thoughts. Write down their responses and compile lists under...
The Three Stages of a Team Meeting

The Three Stages of a Team Meeting

Meetings start with the best of intentions.  We may prepare team meetings with the belief that the combined ideas of many is better than the thoughts of one.  And yet, these sorts of meetings often lose direction and turn into a briefing session directed by the leader. The list of reasons may be long, but it often involves a lack of understanding of what is required of a leader when facilitating a team meeting.  As a facilitator, the leader has to get the team members actively engaged in the process of discovery rather than being passive recipients of information. Not every team meeting is a facilitated session, but when facilitation is required, it helps to approach the session in stages – the beginning, the middle and the end.  Each stage has components which are important, and will challenge you in different ways.  By planning each stage separately, you increase the chances that your meeting will be organised, effective and in control.   The Beginning A strong beginning helps to set the tone for a successful meeting. Your team should be guided throughout the process and have a clear understanding of the what, why, how and outcome of the agenda items.  When beginning the meeting, it helps to follow three steps: First, start with a welcoming statement.  This doesn’t need to be a long drawn-out oration of the day’s events.  However, clarity, conciseness, and confidence, are critical. You will need to establish your command immediately. This establishes your right to control proceedings and positions you as credible leader. Second, move to a meeting set-up in which you give the team...