Not Listening – What Does It Truly Cost Your Organization in Dollars and Cents?

From the time we are born, listening is a skill acquired and used primarily before any of the other senses.  Throughout youth and the teen years, we rely heavily on listening to learn from school and parents.  It is also during this time that we develop the skills of communicating.

An old rhyme goes like this; “A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke.  The less he spoke, the more he heard; why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”

Why is it then, with such an aptitude of listening that is developed from the time we are born – perhaps even one the most used of our senses – do we fail to continue listening the older we get?

It seems as though listening is a skill that worsens throughout the growing years, as other skills develop and take precedence. By the time people face adulthood they have also faced many bad experiences.  One human instinct is to “tune it out” after awhile.  For example, a kid who hears his parents fighting a lot growing up may try to drone out the unwanted sound by blaring music loudly in his bedroom.  Or, a child who has faced ridicule from peers may tune out those feelings of rejection by simply not listening to people any longer.

Another reason people don’t listen well as adults is because they have mastered the art of talking.  Naturally egocentric as humans, we like to talk about ourselves or about things we like.  Over time, this can lead to interrupting.  Ifsomeone is not listening to what you have to say they may interrupt frequently.  That is because they are on a train of thought and are too unaware that the natural order of conversing back and forth means

‘You talk, then I listen; then I talk, and You listen.”

Yet a wise old sage once said; “We have been given two ears but one single mouth, in order that we may listen more and talk less.” Good point.

Let’s go back to the owl.  As an observer, the wise owl mastered listening and was able to capture his surroundings.  Think how much more people would be able to take in mentally if they truly heard everything that was going on around them.  In the spy movies, the secret agent is always quiet; hence he always knows what’s going on and is a stealthy step ahead of the bad guys.

In an abstract sense, perception impairs the ability to talk and listen adequately causing gaps between the subconscious intent of the leader and what subsequent results may follow.  Some leaders intend to ‘bring down’ others in order to fluff up their own ego. This can be a sign of self-doubt.  Those are leaders who got promoted because of making their presence known, loudly!  The quiet leaders are the motivators.  They quietly know what the capabilities are of their subordinates, so they don’t need to yell in order to motivate them.  This enforces the aspect of trust on behalf of the leader and the follower.  It could be said that leaders are quiet motivators with abundant wisdom, most of which they acquired by listening more and speaking less.

The people who listen are known as wise, well respected and sought-after for advice. People trust them.  That is because they are leaders, who absorb information by listening more and talking less.  They have mastered the art of listening, hearing and implementing. They have gained respect and trust.

To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well,
and is as essential to all true conversation.
–          Chinese Proverb

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Just like a thermostat maintai…

Just like a thermostat maintains the ideal temperature in your home, vital leaders monitor and manage their… http://t.co/PaeMtnFq

Article 3 of 6 – Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This week’s article is…align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results!

Vital leaders practice 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals.

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drives great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organizational goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.

Trivial leaders are focused on the achieving business results but never consider employee work preferences when assigning jobs. This lack of awareness and caring by the leader is a major reason employees become frustrated, stressed and unmotivated. The impact on business results is seen in high employee turnover, increased sick leave use and lower quality in products and services.

 From a leader’s perspective, the most serious betrayal has to do with thwarting human potential, with quenching the spirit, with failing to deal equitably with each other as human beings. ~Max DePree

The vital leader aligns employee strengths to business and organizational goals. No matter what job a person is assigned, every role in that job will not be a good fit for the employee’s preference for accomplishing work. Vital leaders understand every job is comprised of both task and relationship roles. They also know whether employees are more task or relationship oriented by understanding their strengths:

Task Oriented Strengths Relationship Oriented Strengths
  • Questioning
  • Logic focused
  • Objective
  • Skeptical
  • Challenging
  • Accepting
  • People focused
  • Empathizing
  • Receptive
  • Agreeable

Furthermore, vital leaders understand task and relationship oriented behaviors may be presented in a direct or indirect manner. Keeping this in mind, we can now describe four employee work styles and their preferences for accomplishing work.

What Employees are Direct and Task Oriented

You rely on what employees when the job must be done now! They are hard charging with a never fail attitude. You’ll recognize them right away. They are straightforward and ask “What do you want?” and “What’s the bottom line?” Give what employees work that is challenging, stay out of their way and watch them thrive!

Who Employees are Direct and Relationship Oriented

You rely on who employees to persuade and energize others to achieve group goals. Who employees have a gift for connecting people with resources to achieve business goals. You will recognize them when they ask such questions as “Who’s involved?” and “Who can provide recognition and resources?” Provide who employees with opportunities for group activities and you will not be disappointed with the outcome.

How Employees are Indirect and Relationship Oriented

When you need support for team goals give the job to a how employee. How employees are patient and use a calm approach to support others in accomplishment of goals. You recognize them because they ask, ”How can I best support the team?” and “How do we develop a plan for us to follow?” Allow how employees to help others in a stable environment, and they will stay on task until the job is satisfactorily completed.

Why Employees are Indirect and Task Oriented

If work must be done right the first time give the job to a why employee. They are very deliberate in their approach to work and use precision along with analysis to achieve the highest quality outcomes. Why employees give themselves away when you hear them ask “Why must it be done this way?” and “Why did you change the rules?” Give why employees the opportunity to use their expertise for ensuring quality and they will deliver error free products and services.

 Leaders must know the strengths of each employee, then create opportunities for employees to use them. ~Gallup Organization

Armed with knowing the job requirements and the employees natural strengths will allow you to assign employees work that is a natural fit and require less energy for them to perform. Of course this is not always possible. When it isn’t possible, you can inform the employee of the work, which fits their orientation and let them know what about the job may be frustrating. This approach sets the employee up for success while improving employee engagement, and organizational success.

Vital Leader Thoughts on Employee Strengths

1. Identify whether your employees are more task or relationship oriented. Also consider if they are more direct or indirect when communicating with others.

2. Now align their strengths with the jobs required of the organization.

3. Finally, set the employees up for success by sharing how the job aligns with their strengths and is a good fit for how they prefer to work. Also describe which parts of the job are not a good fit and may cause some frustration or stress for the employee. Knowing you care will allow employees to give their best in achieving business goals while feeling appreciated for what they do.

In the next article, I will share my thoughts and experience for developing employees through coaching and delegation.

Article 2 of 6 – Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This week’s article is…expectations of employees when understood drives great performance!

Vital leaders practice 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals.

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drives great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.

Trivial leaders see people as a thing and use the carrot and stick style of motivation. When you do well, you get the carrot. When you don’t do well, you get the stick. Also known as the “Jackass Theory” of motivation. Since trivial leaders treat people as things they can only control, manage, direct and watch the employees every move.

When people are treated as things, they lose trust and withhold their full commitment. ~Stephen Covey

When commitment is withheld employees only do what they are told because you are paying them.  As trust continues to erode employee commitment continues to decline further to malicious obedience. Some people even rebel or quit even though they stay on your payroll. Furthermore, unless commitments are made, there are only promises and hopes… but no results.  

Vital leaders see people as an asset and treat them as a whole person turning their potential into performance and performance into profits. They understand there is a direct relationship between the extent which employee expectations (psychological contract) has been discussed and how much the employee volunteers their highest efforts and energies. Moreover, the employees fully engage themselves in your most important priorities. You can’t buy this level of engagement…you have to earn it.

Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks. ~Johann Gottfried Von Herder

Vital Leader Thoughts on Employee Expectations 

  1. Help people develop a language through which they can efficiently and accurately communicate concerns about their work preferences, attitudes, and satisfaction.
  2. Help employees gain a deeper understanding of what brings them satisfaction and frustration on their job.
  3. Learn hot to better read the pulse of your departments or organizations to discover potential areas of group dissatisfaction.

Next week I will share my thoughts and experience with aligning employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.

Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This is the first article in a series of 6 helping you answer the question…Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader…a catalyst for employee greatness! 

Vital leaders master 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals. 

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drive great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.

 

Big egos have little ears. ~Robert Schuller

Trivial leaders are intoxicated by their own voice. They don’t hear the ideas and concerns of others. Trivial leaders do not value the viewpoints of others or understand the importance of listening. Therefore, the only perspective they have is their own and when things go right they take all the credit and when mistakes are made they blame others.

Trivial leaders who refuse to listen costs their organizations in several ways. Communication breaks down and must be re-accomplished and projects come in over budget and not completed on time. The result organizations lose money each and every month due to mistakes and waste enormous amounts of time. Besides losing money employees face emotional wear and tear causing relationships to become strained which impact performance and productivity.

 

Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust. ~John Bentley

Vital leaders listen

Vital leaders begin with the attitude that all people have good intentions and sound reasons for why they are communicating what they are saying.They put people at ease, while letting them know they care and will take appropriate action on employee ideas and concerns.   When people are understood and trusted they will give their best effort and fully invest themselves in their work. 

A vital leader truly listens and pauses after the person finishes speaking to process what was said. The pause allows you to reflect on what was heard or ask a clarifying question letting the person know you were listening. Lastly when people are heard they feel valued and provide creative ways to improve business results and customer WOW!

 

Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable—and one of the least understood. Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That’s how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities. ~Peter Nulty

Vital Leader Thoughts on Listening

  1. Are you hosting listening session with your employees? If not, the employees may not understand what the organization is doing and the challenges you are facing. Listening sessions allow you to share this information so employees can ask questions and provide ideas and feedback to improve the situation.
  2. When listening, takes notes and show a genuine interest in others and what they think. If you are busy and cannot be interrupted let the individual know you cannot give your undivided attention and energy right now. Next establish a time for the person to come back so you can listen fully and truly value your time together.  
  3. When meeting in your office take the time to unplug the phone and turn off your computer monitor to prevent distractions. This sends a message to the employee that you are important to me!

Please share with us your listen tips to help us become a Vital Leader. Next week I will share my thoughts and experience with understanding employee expectations (the psychological contract) to drive great performance.

Hamburger Cook as a Leader of People

I had the joy and honor of meeting Kathy Barnes while visiting my daughter @ Vanderbilt Medical Center today. Kathy was cooking hamburgers in the cafeteria and asked me about the book I was carrying. I shared with her Jon Gordon’s “Training Camp” How to bring out the best in yourself and others.

For a moment, I thought here’s another opportunity to share my leadership and personal development philosophy. However, I was pleasantly surprised as Kathy, the food and beverage manager, began sharing with me the books she reads to connect with those she is fortunate enough to lead. Kathy told me how she uses the appropriate communication style to connect with each employee based on their preferred method of receiving information. Read more

Happy Holidays!

During this holiday season more than ever, our thoughts of gratitude turn to all who have made our progress possible and successful.

In this spirit we sincerely say
THANK YOU And BEST WISHES For A Safe And Wonderful Holiday Season.

We look forward to working with you in the New Year!

From all of us at Power 2 Transform!
Sincerely,
John Bentley

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The Cost of an Unhealthy Workforce

With the health of the U.S. economy so much in the news these days, it seems natural to also analyze the health of the average U.S. worker, considering how much influence the latter has on the former. That analysis, considering the current state of the national healthcare system, does not paint a pretty picture.

There are two sides to this issue. The first is the more obvious of the two: the actual cost of healthcare. During the past decade, that cost has skyrocketed in relation to other business costs. In fact, it’s skyrocketed in relation to just about any other product or service, with the possible exception of oil and college tuition. Every year, businesses and corporations have passed more of the cost of their health insurance programs on to their employees. Despite all of this, politicians have been unable to hammer out a workable solution. Read more

Healthy Employees = Productive Employees

Companies are constantly searching for new and better ways in which to increase the productivity of their workforce, and thereby, enhance their bottom line. They try new tactics and strategies, all of which are designed to help employees reach their full potential and maximize their contribution to the company.

However, sometimes the best solutions are the ones that are so readily apparent they go unnoticed. One such solution involves the health and lifestyle choices of the employees in question.

Factors for success . . . or failure

There are many factors that can impact employees’ productivity levels. They include diet, sleep (or lack thereof), stress, morale, and exercise (or lack thereof). A recent survey conducted by ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, sheds some interesting light on these factors and how they can negatively—or positively—affect employees.

ComPsych surveyed more than 1,000 employees across the United States during the timeframe of January 1 through February 15, 2008. The survey involved companies of all sizes and those operating in a variety of different industries. Overall, the survey was quite extensive and unearthed a wealth of data. However, in the interest of brevity, we’ll address a few of the more important findings, as they relate to the factors listed above.

• Diet—Of employees with balanced diets, 73% reported having high levels of productivity and 50% reported having high levels of energy.
• Stress—Approximately 70% of employees with poor diets had high levels of stress. In addition, 76% of employees participating in no physical activity reported a high level of stress.
• Exercise—Over 65% of physically active employees reported high productivity levels, and 67% reported high energy levels, as well.
• Morale—Of course, as you might imagine, the three factors listed above can have a profound impact on morale. About 55% of very active employees reported having high morale, and 51% of workers with ideal weight reported the same.

The power of promotion

So . . . what does all of this mean? You might be thinking to yourself, “I already knew this. It doesn’t help me any!” Or perhaps you’re thinking that you can’t force employees to be healthy, so this information constitutes a moot point at best.

But that would be underestimating the power of promotion. There is plenty that a company can do to build and cultivate a corporate culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle. While it’s true that you can’t force an employee to make healthy choices, you can make it easier for them to make those choices. That’s why it’s imperative for company officials to analyze their culture and ask some tough questions:

• Does our culture promote health and well being?
• Do we make it easy for employees to make healthy choices during the workday . . . or difficult?
• How much more productive could we be through promotion and other health-related programs and initiatives?

The evidence is indisputable. Healthy employees are productive employees, but it even goes beyond that. They’re happy employees, as well, and that combination is almost impossible to beat—especially by your competition.

We encourage your participation and comments.

Also, please feel free to forward this blog to your friends and colleagues and to come back often.
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Sincerely,
John Bentley

‘Common Sense Retention’

There are many facets in regards to the all-important issue of employee retention, but perhaps none makes as much sense as the one that we’ll explore in this article.

The reason?

Because it benefits you in ways that go beyond simply retaining your best employees. (And that, all by itself, would be enough.)
There is a crucial mistake that many companies make when they’re delegating tasks to their employees, and even when they’re considering which ones to promote and how to promote them. That mistake is tied to a golden rule of corporate productivity, which is this:
Make sure that everybody in the organization does what they do best.
Simple, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how easily “simple” becomes “complicated.”

An example from The Office

Let’s use an example from the hit television show The Office to illustrate this point. The show is a “mockumentary” about a paper company by the name of Dunder-Mifflin, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The manager at this particular branch is Michael Scott. Prior to becoming manager, Michael was a salesman at the Scranton branch. In fact, he was the top salesman at the branch, which is the main reason he was promoted to manager.

That, in a nutshell, was a mistake. Anybody who has seen the show can attest to that. What the Dunder-Mifflin brass did is something that’s actually quite common in the corporate world: they put Michael in a position that does not play to his strengths. What he does best is sell, not manage. Their attempt to “reward” Michael with a promotion clearly backfired. However, Michael occasionally turns his attention away from managing to sales, and when he does, he enjoys success.

Michael Scott should have been promoted to a sales manager position, if he was promoted at all. That would have been best for him and also best for the company, especially his co-workers. Many times within a company, a key employee is moved from what they do best to something else they don’t do nearly as well, and this is often the result of a promotion. It even happens when a candidate is first hired.

Because the candidate has an expanded skill set (and there are more than one openings available), the company might be tempted to bring them in for a position that’s outside their range of expertise, a position that’s perhaps more managerial in nature. Unless this is truly an exemplary individual, the strategy is almost certain to backfire. Below are the two main reasons why it will:

• As a general rule, what people do best they enjoy the most. If the employee is not able to pursue their passion, they will eventually become disenchanted.

• The company is hurt on two different levels. First, the employee isn’t doing what they do best, so the company loses productivity. Second, the employee is becoming disenchanted, which means they’ll lose their drive and motivation, further causing productivity to suffer.

The silver lining

Despite all the doom and gloom portrayed to this point, there is a silver lining. By ensuring that everybody within the organization is doing what they do best and playing to their strengths, you can raise your retention rate drastically. When a person is doing what they do best—what they truly love to do and have a passion for—there’s practically no way to tear them away from it. Even money won’t do the trick, unless they can be convinced that the new situation will be identical in every way to their current one.

And this is a classic “two-for-one” bargain, because it also means that these employees will be infinitely more productive, as well. So not only will your retention rate increase, the company will make more profit and continue to grow for the foreseeable future, since your best candidates are locked in, happily doing what they love to do. That truly is the best of both worlds.

This type of “common sense retention” falls under the category of “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome, and some of you might be saying to yourself, “Of course that’s the best way to retain employees!” However, the hustle and bustle of the corporate world has a way of clouding even the best of intentions, to the point of distraction. So review every member of your team, and make sure that you can identify the one thing that they do better than anything else. Once you’ve done that, then make certain that their role within the company fully embraces that one thing.

Because as funny as Michael Scott might be—intentionally or not—his situation is better left to television and not the real world.
We encourage your participation and comments.

Also, please feel free to forward this blog to your friends and colleagues and to come back often.
Join our mailing list and receive our monthly newsletter plus 2 special reports for free! Click here

Follow us on twitter
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Connect with us on linkedin
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Sincerely,
John Bentley