Posts Tagged ‘communication’

The Accountability Power-Up

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

A study by the American Society for Training and Development shows how important accountability is for success. If you hear a good idea, there’s a 10 percent probability that you’ll actually do it. Deciding to do it moves the likelihood to 25 percent. Commit to someone else, and the likelihood rises to 65 percent.

But make a specific accountability appointment with that person, complete with deadline and deliverables, and the likelihood of actually doing it shoots up to 95 percent.

That’s what accountability does for success.

Of course we can always find a lame excuse to avoid accountability. “I was too busy.” “There isn’t enough time in the day.” “I tried my best.” “The supplier is a jerk.” “I sent an email!”

If having an excuse is the goal, we will never fail. All you need is a little imagination. But your career will be short and stressful if you don’t understand that “results rule”—and excuses shouldn’t ever be uttered IF you want any respect from your boss or team. To rock your job, build accountability systems for yourself and for those around you. That’s where REAL success happens.

Authentic communication

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

If you’re like me, you’ve known some people who you’d trust with your very life. And if you’re like me, you know others who you wouldn’t trust to put the non-dairy creamer in your coffee. There are probably a million reasons a person goes one direction or another. But the reasons matter less than the outcomes.

All you can do is watch for clues about who’s who, and do everything in your power to be the trusted one for other people by using nothing but authentic communication.

In his bestselling book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey calls trust “the new currency in the new global economy.” Nothing builds trust more than authentic communication, and nothing breaks trust quicker than inauthentic communication—especially with your boss.

Sweet-talking to someone’s face and badmouthing behind their backs—that’s inauthentic. Lying, spinning, posturing, manipulating. Hidden agendas. Saying one thing and meaning another. These are behaviors that erode trust.

Every time you talk around your boss or don’t do what you said you’d do, that trust is eroded further until there’s nothing left to build a relationship on.

Instead, own your intention to communicate authentically. Be transparent. Say what you mean. Follow through on your commitments. And when you do, you’ll find that others are more likely to communicate authentically with you. Everybody wins.

The apologizing liar

Monday, May 12th, 2014

David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge, makes a powerful case against the apology. Well, that’s not exactly right. He makes a case against apologies that are really just lies, which is most of them.

When someone drops the ball and says, “Sorry about that!”, it’s usually just something to say. Most of the time it doesn’t literally mean, “I regret that I did that, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” It’s just the thing people say to get past an awkward moment. For many people, it’s a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t have to actually BE sorry—just say it.

If we accept that response in ourselves or in others, we normalize the lying apology. We get stuck in weak results, lose trust, and reduce our chance of a real breakthrough. Just as bad, we lose a chance to correct behavior that is inappropriate or unproductive.

So the next time someone apologizes to you, go one step further to ask if their apology includes a massive commitment to fix the problem and avoid a recurrence. And if you’re the one apologizing, snap out of the automatic response. Make sure your apology has substance and meaning, and a massive corrective action plan to back it up.

Be direct

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Every employee who disagrees with a policy or a decision has a choice: ignore it, whine about it, or be direct.

Ignoring something you don’t agree with is fine, so long as you feel the difference of opinion is not a serious error. If you feel that a policy or decision is harmful in a way that really matters, you have an obligation as a member of the team to voice your concern.

But here’s the thing: Don’t whisper your concern in a “meeting outside of the meeting.” That’s destructive to the team. Don’t cross your arms, roll your eyes, and whine to your colleagues who have no way to influence the outcome.

If it doesn’t matter, forget it! But if it does, you have an obligation to put on your grownup pants and head straight for the decision makers who can do something about it.

If those decision makers are worth their salt, and you present the idea calmly and clearly, your stock will only go up in their eyes.

Live your word

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

It’s a busy day in the office. You told Gary that you’d have the report to him by the end of the day, but with all the other fires that have flared up this morning, you haven’t even started. Now you realize that it isn’t humanly possible for you to finish the report today, much less do it well.

Don’t wait until the end of the day arrives, then tell Gary it isn’t done. The time to renegotiate that deadline is the MOMENT you know the deadline isn’t going to happen.

This isn’t just about the project. It’s about living your word and maintaining a clear and direct line of communication. Approach the person who assigned the task and propose an alternative deadline. Having done all that you can do, chances are that they will be fine with the change.

But if you miss the deadline without renegotiating, all bets are off. Even if the deadline itself turns out not to be a big deal this time, the other person is left with one message: If this HAD been an essential deadline, this person would have blown it. It’s incredibly hard to fully regain someone’s trust after that.

And heaven forbid you establish a pattern of missed deadlines. If that’s the case, you might never carry the ball again.

Understand that missing the deadline is almost never the problem. It’s the surprise of the missed deadline that creates chaos and uncertainty. So maintain an open line of communication, and live your word.