Having a performane review? Want it to help you grow? Read on....

  • Remember this conversation is an opportunity to look for things that will help you grow. You will get more growth out of this conversation if you look for those opportunities to learn rather than defend or deflect.
  • In order to grow in the direction you want or need, do you understand what you should do/learn/experience? If not, ask.
  • What support will you need (internal and external) to make your growth more likely? Can you bring that into the conversation?
  • If things are happening in this meeting which are a surprise, it is a reflection on the conversations you have had up till this point. Think about what you can do to make sure that you encourage ongoing conversations in the future.

7 top tips if you are a people manager running a performance review

  1. The performance review is an opportunity to enable growth for your direct reports. Most people don’t report the performance review as a growth point and most businesses don't view it as a commercial growth point either. Spend time preparing for each meeting. Focus your preparation on what you can do to foster growth, rather than spending all your time gathering information. This is a conversation where your behaviour will influence growth, engagement and performance so remember which way you want it to go.
  2. Look for and discuss what inspires your colleague to grow. Without understanding their motivation to move forward you will struggle to find a way to sustain drive.
  3. Have you given them enough information to understand their current performance and how this relates to their goals? Feedback is part of this, but not all. What else do they need to understand?
  4. Do you understand what support you will give personally (or elsewhere) to enable the growth desired? Have options to take in to the meeting but co-designed solutions will be most helpful.
  5. Are you prepared to receive feedback from your direct report in the meeting (or at anytime). Can you do this without your ego blocking it with unhelpful emotions? Can you use it as a way of increasing your comprehension of the situation and how you might be able to help? Remember your focus should be on your own growth as an effective leader.
  6. Consider the performance review as a reflection on the effectiveness of your conversations throughout the year. If the conversation is difficult in anyway, this will be an indication that you need to work on effective ongoing conversations around growth, engagement and performance.
  7. Are you both clear on how you will track the behavioural (observable) changes discussed so you can check in tomorrow/next week/next month on growth?

Amy is running a Webcast "How to make your performance reviews effective" on Friday 16th June 11.00am-12.00pm AEST. Click here to register.

Amy enables deeper insight and more effective conversations.  Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

Top Tip If You Want to Help People Grow

For growth to happen, a certain amount of hard work is required.
 
When helping others to grow, we assume the level of perspiration it takes.  Our assumption can be wrong; we can assume it is harder than it will be which will introduce our own emotional layers. For example we may try and protect the person from our perceived risk, but this can limit their learning. Or perhaps we protect them from the imagined pain of receiving feedback which could limit their comprehension. 

At the other end of the spectrum, we may assume it will be easier for them to change than it actually is. Here we will bring a whole heap of false expectations and irritation when the apparent easy change doesn't occur. Or we may miss the opportunity to praise and reward if we see the change but underestimate the perspiration it required.

Both over and under assuming the perspiration required for their growth will limit how much you can help them grow.
 
If you want to help people grow, one of your roles is to support their perspiration. But keep in mind you are supporting their perspiration, not what yours would be or what you imagine it will b. Change is hard, but only they can define how hard. Check your assumption to create growth for both of yo.

Growth = inspiration + comprehension + perspiration

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. She works with teams and leaders to get underneath the surface and change the real blocks to growth. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

 

 

Are You Prepared To Talk?

The digital revolution will require more ability to have effective conversations than ever before.

Do your colleagues know how to have conversations across the generational cultures? Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025Deloitte (2016) predicts they “won’t want to work at a place that is not cutting edge or doesn’t give them the chance to learn, grow and innovate.” Are you helping them do that through the conversations you are having?

What about the conversations with people who use or are in the growing ‘cloud based talent’ pool or with virtual workers? Conversations are key to ensuring success with this reliance on each other with ever growing distance.

Are you prepared to talk?
 


Deloitte (2014), “The Millennial Survey,” http:// www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/ articles/planning-for-the-future.html, accessed October 21, 2016

Deloitte (2016), "Crunch time Finance in a digital world ",
https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/finance-transformation/articles/finance-digital-transformation-for-cfos.html accessed April 11, 2017

Why Don't They Listen?!

“I’ve told you a million times. Keep. Your. Shoes. By. The. Front. Door. Then you won’t lose them!” is a very familiar cry in our household!

“Arghhh…Why don’t they listen” I say in my head (or mutter out loud) while I throw cushions off the couch, or fall to the floor to look under the sofa when looking for elusive shoes.*

Actually, while the frustration is not particularly helpful, “why don’t they listen” is a really good question. But searching for the answer within them is not always helpful. If we want to have more potential to change their behaviour we must search for the answer within us. We can ask ourselves "Why didn't they respond to the way I gave the request last time? What could I say/do differently next time? How can I explore other ways around this? What if I tried x instead of y".

Many people managers think that they have told their colleagues exactly what they need to change for better performance, but feel frustrated when that change doesn’t happen. “How many times do I need to tell them to change?” they ask me. Well the answer is a few. But after no change is shown, perhaps there is no use in saying it again in the same way.

Instead perhaps ask yourself “Why didn't they listen to the way I said it last time?” not in frustration, but with real curiosity. “What could I say/do differently next time? How can I explore other ways around this? Is there something I could do to make this request easier to complete?”.

*Any help on the shoes front would be gratefully received

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. She works with teams and leaders to get underneath the surface and change the real blocks to growth. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

Do You Trust The Future?

Jean Valjean, the angry ex-convict in Les Miserables meets Bishop Bienvenu who trusts him to stay the night. Jean Valjean breaks that trust by stealing some silver goblets and is caught the next day. The Bishop makes a second and even larger move of trust by telling the police he gave the silver to Jean. A third demonstration of trust sees the Bishop giving him further treasure, a pair of silver candlesticks. He trusts Jean Valjean to use the silver to become an honest man.

Trust is future based. It is a move based on the hope of a better future. Someone needs to demonstrate trust first; whether it is a new relationship or after a break in trust. Imagine you demonstrate trust first, in the hope of a better future. What if they don’t reciprocate, does that mean you stop trusting them, stop believing in a better future with this person? Or do you demonstrate trust a second time? How many demonstrations of trust are you willing to make without reciprocation?

Many variables will determine your answer including your history, your need, the perceived risk, your pride. You will have a bias towards trust or not to trust, a bias in your hope for a better future. Which way does your bias lead you?

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. She works with teams and leaders to get underneath the surface and change the real blocks to growth. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

Go Nudge Yourself

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In behavioural economics, one strategy to help encourage people to grow their savings is to get them to commit to a future decision. For example it might be that you commit to giving 50% of the next raise you get to your saving fund. If you stick to that, then when you get your $5,000 raise next month you have already committed to yourself that you will give $2,500 to your saving fund. Linking the ‘loss’ associated with saving to a moment when you will feel ‘gain’ makes the pill easier to swallow. Making a commitment to a future choice point means we don’t need to go through the pain now and we have a trigger to start this new behaviour (the raise). Even more importantly, by determining this in advance, we support the more rational part of our brain in that moment when the pull towards the short term is so strong. Watch this for more in the moment temptation in the face of a longer term goal! 

How about you play this game with yourself and your behaviour. Give yourself a nudge to do something brave or something you know you should do for your own good but is hard to do. You could commit to giving more of what you actually think not what you think is expected next time you are asked for your opinion, regardless of the scenario; Or commit to yourself that the next time someone makes an inappropriate joke, you will indicate your uncomfortableness rather than go with the flow, regardless of who is there and in what environment it occurs. Commit to saying ‘yes’ when you are next asked to do something that scares you regardless of what it is that you are asked; Or commit to saying ‘no’ next time when someone asks you to take something else on; Or commit to the process of asking one more question even when you think you understand someone’s point of view. This doesn’t mean you have to follow through with the commitment you have made yourself, that would be like committing to cross the road regardless of whether there are any cars coming. Rather, you are nudging the longer term focused part of your brain, the stretch bit, to have some opportunity to weigh in and deal with the short term thinking part of your brain in the moment.

If you know what you need to be doing, but it’s hard to do, make a future commitment using your full range brain so your habitual brain has more competition in the moment. Don't forget to write it down, and if you really want to nudge yourself, sign it. If you are super serious, get someone to be a witness - go nudge yourself.

I Know You Better Than You Do

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I always find it intriguing that someone else knows more about me than I do. Even on very simple things like my appearance. I would say nearly everyone I know has looked at my face more than I have. They know more about how my face moves and what my face does and perhaps, what my face reveals about my thoughts, than I do! Scary!

When it comes to my performance, it is just as true. I don’t think many people know my intention as well as I do, but they probably know the impact that I have had more than me. If someone was to help me grow, I would expect and need them to give me information that I can’t see. I would expect and hope they would give me clarity over things I don’t know.

When I help leaders and their teams, I certainly see that as my role. To help them see what is underneath the surface, what will give them clarity and therefore, direction. As a rule though we shy away from giving each other information about things we think the other person can’t see. We want to avoid hurting each other, annoying them, losing influence or losing connection. We worry that we ourselves may get targeted as a consequence or that we may end up saying the wrong thing. We worry about stepping over the line and as a rule we over identify with the emotional consequences of the information. “Better not tell her she has spinach in her teeth as she might not recover from the embarrassment and I can just ignore it for the next 20 minutes of our meeting, can’t I?” And that’s just spinach, what about the abrasive manner that Mary has when talking to her team, how do we feel about talking to her about it? Hmmm, maybe not, better just talk to Peter at lunch about it and Adrian in the corridor and bring it up in that meeting about succession plans etc etc.

How many things do you know about others that they don’t know? 

Get More Human

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Fifty percent of jobs done by humans today are vulnerable to replacement by robots, according to a McKinsey report. Are they going to make us irrelevant? Bill Gates was recently interviewed about his belief that robots should be taxed in some way. In this interview, he highlights that we should be celebrating the fact that this shift will be happening in our world. He states that ‘human empathy and understanding are very very unique’. That the freedom given to us (as robots take our jobs) will give us time to focus on those in society who need us e.g. higher teacher to children ratios and helping people with disabilities.  

But in work cultures I often see ‘computerised behaviour’. Treating people like widgets, denying people’s feelings or minimising empathy. Surface level communication hides the ‘real’ conversations, reducing our impact and influence as we stick to safety. People become disengaged because the conversation is less ‘real’ and we see the result in loss of productivity and increased costs.

It yet again made me think, in these times of increased automation, we need to foster and build our very very unique skill set – if we want to stay relevant.  Let’s get more human. We must get underneath the habit of surface conversations. The unspoken undermines your progress.

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. She works with teams and leaders to get underneath the surface and change the real blocks to growth. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

 

The 1% Rule of Leading People: Grow and Change in Moderation

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The 1% rule is incredibly powerful and can be applied to pretty much anything you want to change. The theory goes that you only need to shift your behaviour 1% in several areas, and big things can happen. So change will occur if this week you eat 1% less fat, you eat 1% more vegetables, you drink 1% more water, climb the stairs 1% more, do 1% more push ups, say no to desert 1% more. Because each of these tasks is more achievable, more appealing and less effortful, it makes it more likely that next week you will decide to do it again. In other words, 1% change does not only cumulate but perseverate; having enormous benefits. The alternative, often used, health swing of cutting out sugar for 2 weeks is less pervasive, more painful and ultimately might lead to all the wrong things in our metabolism. More importantly, it doesn’t shift the probable problem behaviour of being able to tolerate moderation (or maybe that is just me?). The 1% rule leads to a paced improvement that is very quickly assimilated into a habit, a routine, and therefore a sustainable change.

In people leadership, perhaps, we need to adopt the same 1% rule. We read about brilliant leaders, brilliant people theories and methodologies. We read others’ experience and advice on what we need to do to evoke true leadership/”followship”. We consume knowledge from brilliant leaders from books, podcast, TEDTalks, magazines, talks, Linkedin etc. How is it possible to implement all of these ideas?! It can seem overwhelming. Sometimes, it seems too hard so we don’t try, or sometimes we move on too quickly saying something like ‘it didn’t work’ for us/me. Can we try to adopt a grow in moderation attitude?

If you are committed to making a sustainable change that leads to lifelong growth and change for those you lead, let’s focus on the 1% rule. So, for example, rather than adopting a full mindfulness program for all staff, why not focus on bringing in a 3-minute breathing space before starting each meeting. Or instead of moving people through a design thinking program, adopt the habit of saying “yes and” instead of “yes but”. Or perhaps, if you want to become a better listener, don’t try to do everything new at once (people will think you’ve had a stroke!), leave a 1 second pause before you speak and see if that makes a difference to your ability to truly hear the other person. Or perhaps, instead of having bake-offs every Tuesday you turn them into smoothie-making competitions. Every 1% counts towards your goals.

Oh what about the purists I hear you cry? I like them too…in moderation. 

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free

 

No One Said It Would be Easy: How to Grow

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A high achieving athlete knows the hard work that is required for change. The early mornings, the hurt, the heartache, the discipline – it is all an essential part of creating change. We aren’t all high achieving athletes, but the same is true for any change or growth. For example, if we want to get better at delegating, we have to learn to tolerate risk, hand over control, let go, supervise more, understand less detail, hold people accountable, all sorts of new behaviours that are hard work. All of that is hard work, and requires discipline in the ‘doing’ bit.

And what about when we fail? We are human, not widgets. Life isn’t always predictable, and our brains are not always rational. We are fallible and we make mistakes. What happens when we have that cake we didn’t mean to eat, that time we shouted when we shouldn’t have done, what about our morning we lost to emails when we should have made a plan around priorities for the day? Do we pick up again and get back on the hard work of change? Or do we fall off the wagon. An increasing amount of what we know about resilience is around our attitude to failure. What is important to our resilience seems to be how much we enable failure to put us off the hard work of change. Do we use failure as a reason to stop trying to bring in a new behaviour?

How many people do you know that stay in a situation because it feels familiar even though it is not what is best for them? Building new habits and doing new things is always harder than staying the same. This is amazingly true even when we are unhappy! It is hard for our brains to figure out new things and hence we stay away from the unfamiliar away from growth.

Change is hard. When trying to help others change through conversation (those you manage, or lead, or even a friend), it is key that we reflect on how hard change is. Some tips to remember:

1) What is defined as hard to change can only be defined by the individual (not you).

2) Patience is needed to encourage someone to change, to grow

3) Encourage tenacity over surrender.

No one said it would be easy, change is hard.

 

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

You and Your Direct Reports - Conversations Create Growth

Every conversation we have takes us nearer or further away from our goals. When it comes to the conversations we have with our direct reports, every conversation is an opportunity to grow (or hinder) someone’s performance or their engagement. How effective we are at creating growth through conversations varies across time and with different relationships. But conversations are a tool, and you can get quality ones that do a great job, and those that don’t. Here are the types of conversations that occur around performance and engagement.
 
Cut
At its worst, the manager doesn’t lead with the principles of true leadership. Conversations around growth and performance are completely cut. The direct report may grow despite the breakdown in this area, particularly if they are driven to self-manage. But this is a large risk for the manager and business to take; to cross your fingers and hope that the individual grows in performance and engagement despite no active involvement from the manager. The opportunities to check engagement and adjust as necessary are absent. The result is most likely to be a poor performing and disengaged team member, who starts to lose site of the relevance of their role to their own goals.
 
Clash
Clashes between a manager and a direct report are unfortunately relatively common. Often, this is around a mismatch between performance and expectation of performance (either way). There may be a lack of clarity over goals, or even just a clash of styles or experience. ‘Offline’ conversations that involve other people will start to occur. The harder but ‘real’ conversations become avoided and the hidden conversations that are less actionable, become more frequent.
 
Conversations between a manager and their team member can have elements of aggression or passive aggression as the subtext increases. It quickly impacts the quality of work/service to clients as emotions (anger, resentment, sadness or anxiety) take centre stage. Colleagues will withdraw, say less, say yes, start to fear more than think, or hide more than they say. Both individuals will start to label the issue within each other and the opportunity for growth shrinks.

The profits and time of others get sucked up by inefficient behaviour, wasted emotion and energy. A ripple effect finds its way out to other team members, other teams, the clients, and very quickly the brand. Sadly, sometimes these clashing conversations are so persevering that they become accepted by senior leaders, and the compromised team efficiency is tolerated.  
 
Clunk
A manager and their direct report function relatively well but may miss ongoing opportunities to increase performance and engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • A manager may be aware of the issues that surround their team member’s development and growth. They may be aware of the goals, the steps to take, the blocks that might get in the way, the gaps or their strengths. However, they are not having conversations that enable growth. This might be because of a lack of confidence in their ability to do it well, or because the manager doesn’t see it as their place to do so.
  • Sometimes the manager feels there won’t be any shift in behaviour even if they have a conversation around performance or engagement.
  • A manager might not think that there is anything to say, no areas of need, and so they choose not to have growth conversations in a sort of ‘no news is good news’ way.

The manager is not trying to deepen their direct report’s knowledge, or support them in the hard work of growth, or build drive and aspiration for the individual. The manger stops being ‘together’ on the direct report’s journey and she/he will have no idea whether they are drifting or tethered to each others goals until it is too late. Add in any inhibitions that the direct report has to converse around growth, authentic feelings or goals, and opportunities slip by unnoticed.

The recent, but widely adopted habit of performance reviews are a way of scheduling growth conversations to ensure that they happen. While the scheduling does mean they occur, the opportunities for growth are reduced as people start to rely on the system and become deskilled at having conversations. This reduces our opportunity to grow and leaves our performance and engagement vulnerable.
 
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When managers and their team are skilled in growth conversations, they unsurprisingly welcome conversations about growth. Both individuals use conversations as an opportunity to check in with each other about needs, desire and what each of them need to progress. There is a level of authentic communication that brings trust, real tracking of performance and mentoring around strategies and ways to reach goals. The direct report is empowered, and has a strong sense of purpose through achievement. The manager is truly leading, stretching their own leadership skills and creating a succession plan for their own future goals. Sound nice? 
 
Expecting that growth in performance will happen because of tenure, or that the use of carrots, sticks and performance reviews is enough to keep people focused on improvement, is a risk most companies cannot afford to take. How can you boost performance and engagement smartly just through better conversations? 

 

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

How to Instantly Help Your Colleagues Feel Engaged

A story hit the news this week in the UK about a woman who noticed a sign on a bicycle rack in her village. The sign was written by Alex, who recently had his bike stolen from the rack. He wrote about how he had saved up to buy that bike for over a year and dreamt of the day he would have one. He had the bike for one week before it was stolen. The letter was intended for the thief with the request that it be returned. Alex closed his letter by saying he would visit the bike rack every day from 6pm with the hope that it would be returned. Rachel Thomas (@halohoney), a local woman who spotted the note felt moved reading it and so disappointed for Alex. She felt her village was “better than this” and wanted to help him. She set up an online portal requesting for donations for Alex. Unbeknown to Alex, she raised the equivalent of AU$1200, and on a cold, dark, wintery evening this week, she went in her woolen scarf and puffer coat, to the bike rack at 6pm to wait for him. After she met him, she explained that she wanted him to know people cared and she gave him the money. Alex was, as you would imagine, overjoyed. He was new to the village from overseas and is reported to have said, “It restored my faith in humanity”. He will buy a replacement bike and has committed to give the extra funds raised to a local bike charity. He is hungry to find ways to pay back his new community with the kindness that he experienced.

Good news story from a bad news story - a story that will hold many more ears than Alex and Rachel’s, the generosity and good will of the people who contributed, the people who read about it in the news – now it has your ears. This simple, courageous, and extraordinary act has engaged Alex in his community in such a profound way, potentially for life. The ripple effects continue.

In the model of engagement that my clients and I work on, there is a lot to do. We must inspire, support, and track our own and others’ growth. That is where real sustainable engagement comes from. But, if you want an immediate shift in engagement, you can do that easily by following the tremendous leadership qualities demonstrated so beautifully by Rachel.

1)      Tune in - Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to hearing about ways to help. Sometimes the way people are asking is more subtle than in Alex’s note. Your colleagues will have indirect and direct ways of communicating their needs. Stay curious and creative by really immersing yourself in their world, with their tasks, blocks and goals.

2)      Put time in - Can you invest your time in aiding the solution? We often think of ways to buy something for someone to make them feel appreciated. However, it is often the time that people invest in the action which is appreciated, not the cost. Half a day of yours invested on finding a solution for someone else’s problem might be wisely spent if you will receive a statement like “you have restored my faith in humanity”. Don’t rush this, savour the act of giving time.

3)      Be in - This is not a formula. It is a way of viewing the responsibility of impact that we have on each other. You matter. Your behaviour matters. Make it count by making it multiply just like Rachel and Alex’s story that has gone viral.

So in summary, how to instantly help your colleagues - tune in, put time in, and be in.

For the longer version of what is required to have sustainably engaged colleagues, please get in touch.

 

Residents club together for 'Dear bike thief' letter writer (2017, January 27). Retrieved from  http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-berkshire-38748126

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work.Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

 

4 Ways to Make Your Development Conversations More Powerful

If you are a people manager or in another leadership role, development conversations should be a large part of what you do. My experience is that people think they are having development conversations all the time with their team, but 60% of employees say they have not received any useful feedback in the past six months*. This difference of perception between the giver and the receiver of the feedback gives us clues on how to fix our development conversations. Here are 4 of my top tips if you want to make development conversations more powerful:

1. Have them more, not just according to your performance review schedule. Development conversations are, wait for it, a conversation…not an event. That means talking, and it means ongoing not discrete entities. It is an attitude not a meeting. A performance review is a measure of the effectiveness of your conversations over the year, not a space to provide opportunities for growth (or worse, feedback that has not been heard before which leads to little/no/negative growth).

2. Take more responsibility for their change. There might be a misconception between what we think we give and what the other person hears. It is well documented that we think we are better at having development conversations than we are. A common attempted solution to this problem is to see if they can repeat your feedback back to you. If they can, it is presumed the message has been received. BUT, listening is not the same as hearing. Big difference. The ONLY way you will determine if your development conversations have been powerful is by checking the behaviour you were trying to influence. Has their behaviour changed? No? Your responsibility to pick the conversation up again and try a different manner, a different message, a different mode.

3. Work on your trust levels. If someone doesn’t trust you, the chances are you won’t be able to have an authentic conversation about their development. The conversation that is louder than the one you are having face to face, will be the one you are each having in your own heads. If you want to move the conversation to a more real and honest place, use the trust you have. If you are lacking in trust, work on that first. Don’t know how? See here.

4. Make sure you focus on trackable behaviours (ideally determined by them) and then hold them accountable (again ideally in a way determined by them). Your role is to help them shift, not just to deliver a message. Make it easy for them to feel that they are tracking well.

5. A bonus one…Speak to me about my Powerful Development Conversations workshops – they are pretty good! ;) – see here for some recent testimonials.

*Cornerstone on Demand, Employee Report, November 2012.

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

Trust is the Currency of Growth and Engagement

Trust is everything. Concentrate on it and good things will happen to your growth (development and $) and your engagement of clients and colleagues. Increasingly, I find my work comes down to helping people increase their trust with their clients and suppliers, and of course with their colleagues. 

Without trust, you cost yourself time. How much headspace, watercooler moments and 30 minute chats do you have about people who raise doubts for you? I mean really, how much? I would say in one Partner group I worked with in the UK in a financial services firm, about 70% of the time they had together was hampered by trust issues. They put in huge amounts of effort to step around areas which weren’t “safe” or tiptoeing around each others’ trigger points, and often would lose whole hours talking about certain managers or teams. 

How much do you spend inside your own head doubting and trusting yourself or your ability? I would say a lot more than you think! Sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, we let this trust in ourselves dictate our choices.

Without trust you start costing yourself money too. How many things on a weekly basis take re-work because someone hasn’t done what you expected? How much of your time is spent doing things that you can't delegate because you don't trust? How many opportunities with clients or prospective clients have we missed because the trust isn’t there yet? Countless research and case studies back this up (read about them in my new book coming out 2017). Lack of trust creates missed opportunities for growth.

I think trust is a key to understanding so many missed opportunities for growth and engagement. It needs to be measured, constantly. Imagine you had a spirit level to check the balance of a shelf, a little bit off is ok, no lost books off the book shelf. But if it is off, boy do those books come crashing down quick. I see the importance of assessing trust in that same way - when it is out of balance, there is a need to address it. This precedes any development conversation, any growth conversation, any business development.

Do you understand how to keep an eye on this trust? And more than that, do you know how to rebalance it when it is off? Here are a few starters:

1.     Assess the true damage of any mistrust to increase your awareness. Try to move beyond your thoughts towards that person/group/business and towards an assessment of the actual cost e.g. wasted time, wasted money, wasted energy.

2.     Think through the ways that you could address the spirit level and get that bubble between the lines. What could you do (ego aside), what could you say that would reset the balance and enable growth and engagement? 

3.     Take responsibility for balancing trust. No point leaving it, ignoring it and hoping it fixes itself, or even blaming the "other". This wastes your own time and your own growth. Have the conversation.

Remember, difficult conversations are difficult. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t happen. If you want to find out more about how to have conversations that create change, with your clients or your colleagues, contact me or read more here.

Amy is an expert in communication for influence. Join Silverlinings to get tips and tools for growth and engagement at work. Click www.dramysilver.com for details of programs and download free offers.

Conversations for Growth

This year, I have been working with a large professional services firm enabling more powerful conversations for growth. They knew that distractions, wasted emotion and wasted opportunities for improvement were discussed ‘at the water cooler’. After a preliminary research phase we found authentic conversations were sometimes avoided, and ‘difficult conversations’ were not handled well. When this happened internally, it impacted engagement and opportunities for professional growth. When it happened with clients, it meant lost opportunities, lack of connectedness with relationships or that projects that crept out of scope. 

We mightn’t feel it is our place to comment out loud (just under our breath), or we might feel that nothing will ever change (so we don’t talk about it till the exit interview), or we think that the emotion will be too hard to deal with (so we take it home instead, or say yes to something we should have said no to), or we don’t know how to do it successfully (so we don’t do it or do it badly and still expect change to happen). Frustration mounts, and our capacity to grow or help others grow is hampered. Feedback or authentic conversations have the power for enormous change potential. But as Georgia Murch (http://www.georgiamurch.com/) discusses in her book, Fixing Feedback, feedback is broken. We often hear of people holding feedback until the annual performance review, where it is delivered out of context and with far larger potential for emotional reaction than for us to use it as a learning opportunity. We cripple our potential to learn, to grow, to offer fulfilling opportunities to our colleagues, and we all suffer.

My client used a transition point of a new leader to kickstart a new message - We welcome honest conversations, for growth.  We have found significant growth in engagement and profit as a result of the work we have done. 


If you want to multiply the engagement and sense of achievement for your colleagues, we need to increase their potential for growth and connection. Honest conversations are the tool with which we can do this. It is how organisations will stay relevant. We can and should learn how to use conversations that enable development and change – it is a dynamic process, not a discrete event.

So, here is what I suggest - if we want to create an environment where the pebbles we cast into the pond create opportunities for growth and not for disengagement, we need to welcome feedback; we need to invite feedback. If we don’t, we cripple our potential to learn, to grow, to offer fulfilling opportunities and engaging relationships. Cultures can become toxic, and this can lead to high turn-over, high insecurity (and emotions), and low engagement.

My first step in working with people on how to have powerful conversations for change, is to work on receiving feedback. Here are some early steps in the process:

  1. Gain consensus that feedback is helpful.
  2. Learn how to receive feedback, screen the value in the feedback, collect feedback, understand the different purposes and lenses of receiving feedback.
  3. Learn how and why emotions are aroused through feedback and how to de-emotionalise the content, so you can evaluate the learning opportunity within.
  4. Notice the manner in which you receive feedback, how and why it is useful.
  5. Get comfortable with asking for feedback consistently.

Once you have learnt these skills -- like The Karate Kid did, you are now ready to move onto the lessons on how to give feedback to enable change. I know people want the ‘how to give feedback’ course now but that would be like going to the Karate meet before learning waxed on and waxed off.

1 Murch, Georgia (2015) Fixing Feedback.  Melbourne,Australia: Wiley

2 toLuMike. “Karate Kid Lesson 1 (Wax on Wax off)” . Online video clip. Youtube. Google, Oct 15 2007. November 29,2016.

Amy runs authentic conversation programs that pushes the effectiveness of your team, their engagement and their sense of achievement. She is a sought after trainer and speaker in the area of behavioural change for professional excellence. Subscribe to her popular blog - Silverlinings! Download her free white paper here!

Amy is giving a keynote on "You Have More Power Than You Think" at Lawson Delaney next week, the 8th of December 2016. Click here for details and tickets!