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 Dale Carnegie of Orange County Blog

Batman VS Superman: Are Workplace Misperceptions Destroying Your Teamwork?

In the 2016 film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” two of DC Comics greatest superheroes went to war over Batman’s misperception of Superman. This led to wasted time, energy, and destruction of resources. Once Batman figured out that Superman was on the same side, they were able to set aside their differences and work together against a common foe, “Doomsday.”

In the workplace, misperceptions and misunderstandings destroy teamwork, waste valuable time/resources and cause unnecessary stress. These misunderstandings come from varied cultural, technical and generational backgrounds and experiences.

 While we can never totally eliminate misunderstandings and conflict, we can take steps to FIGHT the things that can cause unhealthy conflict and difficulty accomplishing organizational goals.

 FOCUS – Focus the team on the overall goal for the project or organization. Make sure everyone on the team has a clear understanding of their role and deliverables.

 INITIATE – Initiate regularly scheduled team meetings to review the status of deliverables, bring questions into the open and clarify matters.

 GIVE – Give the team the necessary authority and resources to succeed. People work better when they are not fighting over resources.

 HELP – Help the team to express different points of view. A diverse team with different points of view can create a more effective and dynamic team.

 TAKE – Take time to get to know each person on the team. People like to talk about their families, hobbies, and ambitions. This allows rapport to build and people work more effectively with people they like and trust.

 Teams that FIGHT together become an unstoppable force who can overcome any workplace misperceptions and in turn defeat their competitors.

Download a Conflict Resolution in the Workplace Guide

Download Team Conflict Resolution Strategies

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Communicate Assertively with Diplomacy & TACT...

Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory” is known for his brilliant mind as well as his quirky behavior and idiosyncrasies. However, Sheldon demonstrates very few interpersonal skills by “acting” difficult, rude, and condescending to others. “The Big Bang Theory” pokes fun at his rude behavior by making it the focal point of comical situations.

Unfortunately, in the real business world, difficult, rude, and condescending people cause stress, reduce productivity, increase employee turnover and decrease customer retention. The reality is that difficult, rude, and condescending people exist across all industries and organizations regardless of size, causing challenges for management on every level. I have been told by CEO’s, “He is brilliant technically but I am going to have to fire him if you can’t fix him!”

When dealing with difficult people, communicating assertively with diplomacy and tact is essential. Diplomacy is handling situations without arousing ill-will. Tact is knowing what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others. Communicating assertively with diplomacy and tact can help defuse difficult people, grow rapport, and create an environment to achieve the desired goal.

Here are a few steps to help you communicate assertively with diplomacy and “TACT”:

Think before you speak. Choose your words carefully. Make sure that you are not reacting with emotion. This may require you to take a few minutes to recompose yourself before addressing the difficult person or situation. Afterwards, set an appropriate time for a follow up meeting.

Acknowledge the common ground. Look for either a common goal or the common good that is mutually beneficial. Acknowledging these common goals will allow you to start with diplomacy and build rapport. It might sound like, “We can both agree that implementing a successful solution will allow us to retain this customer.” or, “We would both like to help the organization remain stable and profitable.” Be aware of your body language and maintain an open posture.

Communicate assertively and logically while avoiding rude or condescending behavior. Focus on the problem and not the person. The goal is to remedy the problem and not blame the person. Motivate and empower the person to achieve the goal by setting next steps or firm commitments. Show confidence and professionalism without being intimidating.

Track and monitor progress towards the goal. Consistent tracking and monitoring of agreed upon action steps and/or commitments can help to ensure the goal is achieved. Taking the time to acknowledge the effort of the other person will help increase the likelihood of sustained behavior change.  

Acting like Sheldon in the workplace is not a laughing matter. When dealing with difficult people, speak Assertively with Diplomacy & TACT to successfully achieve goals and desired outcomes.   

Take an assessment to see if you communicate with Diplomacy & Tact

Download a free Team Conflict Resolution Strategies Guide

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Managing Diversity

When I was 20 years old, I opened my first business. It was eye opening when one of my employees told me “I am twice as old as you, so don’t try and tell me how to do my job!” What did my age have to do with anything? While this wasn’t the first time I experienced personal bias, it was the first time I experienced bias at work. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen much worse examples of people being treated poorly at work because of their differences.

Today’s global marketplace and technology have created an environment where leaders encounter diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, values, education, etc.  Richness of diversity, when managed well, creates a stronger, innovative, and more productive work team.

Here are a few steps to create a stronger TEAM from your diverse workforce:

  • Think of people as individuals who can add value to your team. Seek to understand their strengths. Find out what makes them unique in order to tap into the possibilities to fully engaging each individual.
  • Encourage individuals to contribute ideas. I was always taught that you surround yourself with people who think differently and are stronger at certain tasks. This allows you to get perspectives you may not have thought about and adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Apply a process to celebrate uniqueness. One organization I worked with had “Flexible Holidays.” This allowed for people of different beliefs to take off the holidays most important to them without using their vacation days. People are more productive when we create a system that ensures they have the opportunity to be themselves.
  • Merge diverse individuals into shared projects and cross-functional teams. The more opportunities you give employees to see the strengths in others, the more they can grow to respect differences. Make sure you have processes in place to allow the team to build on strengths, communicate with diverse individuals, and avoid conflict.

The diversity of individuals at my office has helped to create a more innovative and productive work environment. This diversity has allowed us to grow both individually and as a team which results in increased overall profitability. By taking a more proactive approach to managing diversity, you strengthen your team and tap into the full potential of your workforce, giving your TEAM a competitive advantage.

Join our free workshop: The Manager-Employee Relationship

Download a free Conflict Resolution Guide

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Engage & Retain Millennials the Jedi Way

In the Star Wars films the Jedi are members of a mystical order trained to guard peace and justice. The Jedi consisted mostly of diplomats and warriors, who served others through acts of service, charity, and good deeds. Jedi dedicated their lives to the betterment of society and themselves. As business leaders, we can increase retention and employee engagement by creating our own Jedi.

When we create Millennial “Jedi,” they fight the complacency and attrition of the “dark side.” Millennials are driven and motivated in similar ways as the Jedi. They want to collaborate, make a difference and be part of an organization that promotes acts of charity and volunteerism. They want to master their workforce for the betterment of society, the organization and themselves.

The keys to developing and engaging Millennial Jedi are: 

  1. Eliminate Fear (Jedi do not fear the dark side).

Create a culture of collaboration and inclusion. Encourage employees to ask questions and offer suggestions. Make sure their ideas are heard, considered and held against a fair decision making process. When they see their ideas are being heard and considered, they feel they are an important part of the team.

  1. Constantly Train and Develop (Jedi strive to master the force).

Millennials want to grow and be developed to become masters within their organizations. Understand each individual’s goals and what motivates them in order to create a growth path that is person centered. Make sure the training process is communicated, expectations are clear, and mentors/coaches are people the mentee respects.

  1. Promote Acts of Charity and Volunteerism (Jedi serve others).

Millennials want to know what they're doing makes a difference. Give them a voice in how the team/organization can give back and be good corporate citizens. Create opportunities for them to get involved in philanthropic activities.

  1. Provide Resources (Jedi have their light sabers and use the force).

Make sure expectations of your employees are realistic. Employees should have the resources to do the job they are expected to do. This can include equipment, time, training and personnel.

  1. Recognize Their Contributions (Jedi want to be seen as good).

Employees need to feel valued in order to be engaged. Let Millennials know what the team/organization’s mission, value and goals are and how they fit into the organization plan. They want to know they are on the right track and their contributions are helping the team/organization succeed.

These new Millennial Jedi will increase retention and productivity through employee engagement. May the force be with you!

For additional information here is a white paper on Millennial Engagement

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