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What You Said is Not what I Heard

by Trilogy Partners on Feb 28, 2018 7:01:33 PM

Has this ever happened to you? You are speaking with someone and their response is not at all what you expected based on what you said.  At least, what you thought you said! At Trilogy Partners, we frequently hear this frustration from business owners which prompts the question, do you communicate effectively?

Communication is complicated all by itself.
Imagine how complicated communication gets when we mix different cultural understandings, gender-speak, frustration, unhappiness, underlying tensions, and the pressure of expectations and deadlines. It’s amazing we get anything right with all the challenges of effective communication and these are just some of the barriers we face!

Communication ‘gaps’ create unexpected challenges – an example:
Recently, I facilitated a training class attended by leaders of a multinational company. Suddenly, there was a big “AHA moment”.  While watching videos of themselves in conversation with each other, one leader after another said, “Why do I sound like that?  That’s not the message that I was trying to convey.”

At that moment, it became self-evident that each person experienced a ‘gap’ between their intended message and their actual behavior when communicating that message.  Why does this happen?

Components of effective communication.
How we say what we say makes a big difference in others understanding or even listening to our message.  The value of our words is only one of many components of communication.  When speaking – words are not nearly as important as your tone of voice and body language.  It has been estimated that words account for only 7% of communication while tone is about 38% and body language is 55%.  (Albert Mehrabian, 1967). How we say what we say has more meaning than the words themselves.

What these leaders saw in the video was the impact of their tone of voice and their body language.  It was their tone that communicated most loudly.  It communicated how they were feeling in a way so strongly, the words did not matter. And when they added in their body language, such as rolling eyes, dropping or shaking one’s head and even the use of a cell phone, the message was even stronger.  One leader said, “I can’t believe I came across so harshly, so rude, so disrespectful. I really do like you guys, honestly!”

Remember, we judge others by their behavior; however, we judge ourselves by our intentions.  These leaders had a gap between their intentions and their behavior.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Tone is the most powerful tool when speaking. Being aware of your tone is critical to make sure your intended message is received the way you want.
  2. Feelings and attitudes beneath the surface show in tone and body language. Be aware that you may sound criticizing, attacking or even nasty when you are simply frustrated.
  3. Rely on others and check in with each other to ensure the right messages are getting across in the intended way. Asking others for feedback about your communication style is the beginning of changing the way you communicate.

Leadership is not about doing what is easy, it is about facing challenges and committing to change.  This change needs to start with ourselves.  Ask yourself how can you become a better communicator? And consider ways to gain an outsider’s perspective on your communication style.

If you are interested in improving your communication effectiveness, email me at results@gettrilogypartners.com or call 609-688-0428.

A Business Case for Courage

by Trilogy Partners on Feb 01, 2018 9:11:13 AM

Business growth is directed through strategy.  This should not be news. Most business leaders have varying levels of implementation around strategy, but most agree that something has to be done with forethought and purpose.  But what really fuels this? At Trilogy Partners, we believe that COURAGE leads to passion that inspires growth.

In August 2015, Forbes published an article (A Measure of Courage) highlighting the American Courage Index.  The article outlined business-related questions geared towards courage, as well as those questions that spoke to the social, moral and emotional aspects of courage.  Not surprisingly perhaps, the results showed that business owners are more courageous than the rest of the US population.  And further, emotional courage increases with age.  Conceptually, these outcomes make sense and jive with many of our personal experiences in the business community.

However, not everyone who works for us is a business owner or of a certain age.  What do we do about measuring and developing courage in those folks?

Courage is a difficult trait to measure.  How do we measure fortitude or fearlessness?  What about bravery or gumption?  The metrics for those should be high in those leading organizations through advancement and change.  But how do we know who has it and who doesn’t?

The arc for this type of measurement is best found in situational and behavioral study.  Measuring based upon a range of responsiveness will serve to illuminate those innate skills and aptitudes.  Survey questions are fine as step one in the process, but it should not serve as the final marker.  Those questions should challenge people to face scenarios.  Those situations should force the responder to make a choice; refrain from the “middle of the road” options as much as possible.  By doing so, we can uncover the heart behind the answer.

To reveal the emotional understanding takes conversation.  These surveys ought to foster conversation.  “What did you pick and why?” is a great opening question.  And while this may seem overly simplistic, it is valuable to the natural responsiveness needed.  It won’t be manufactured if the question is open-ended and completely based upon personal action and opinion.  People like to share what they are thinking, by and large.  And having had a written survey already done gives the employee a heads-up as to what will be reviewed.

As a commodity, courage is something to cultivate.  It’s part of the fabric that organizations often are lacking. We’re such a fear-encouraging culture – retaliation, over-compliance, bad press – that we tend to stay in our lanes and avoid risk.  That fear cripples an organization’s growth.  We are even afraid to dream.

It is a business necessity to foster courage and at Trilogy, we tackle the behavioral dynamics that often hold businesses back. We believe competitive advantages are often born out of fearlessness, risk and passion.  It takes courage to walk such a path, and it takes a courageous company to light that path.

Ready to promote and cultivate courage in your organization? Contact us at results@gettrilogypartners.com or 609-688-0428.

Why You Must Over-Communicate

by Trilogy Partners on Jan 03, 2018 2:53:21 PM

When coaching Trilogy clients, I often make a comment that you may find valuable: “In the absence of information, most people fill in the blanks, make up their own story … and usually add negative assumptions.”

As a leader, your life is full and the last thing you’re worrying about is what other people know or don’t know. However, you understand what it feels like to be kept out of the loop. It’s uncomfortable and can lead to a lot of wasted (and wrong) assumptions.

For example, let’s say George has been coming to the office late and leaving early. He’s not himself. He doesn’t seem as engaged as he used to be. He seems a little secretive. What are you thinking?

Is George looking for a new job? Is he having trouble in his marriage? Is he suffering with an addiction or medical issue? Is he engaged in a major conflict at the office? What’s going on with George?

The answer is, “We don’t know because we’re not George.” Until George speaks up and says, “My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has been given less than a month to live,” we don’t know. He’s not looking for a new job. He’s not intentionally letting balls drop at work. He’s just dealing with the shock of losing his mother. Now, consider the time and energy given to wrong assumptions.

So, how do we get out of this conundrum? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Remember that not everyone has access to all the information you have

One of the main reasons why this problem exists is because we fail to remember that people don’t always have the same access to the information we do. They don’t sit in the same meetings. They don’t have the same conversations. They don’t think about the same things. And that’s a problem.

You must remember to frequently communicate relevant information to your team, to encourage dialogue, minimize distractions and keep engagement high.

2. Remember that people often forget

Another common communication issue that plagues many leaders is that they tend to think that once they’ve communicated something, everyone present heard it and will remember it—two very bad assumptions.

You know that just because someone said something in your presence doesn’t mean that you heard it. And how many things have we “heard” that we didn’t remember a few hours or days later, let alone weeks or months.

Don’t worry about over-communicating! The best communicators and leaders stay on point over long periods of time because they know that information is often not processed or forgotten.

3. Remember that Alignment and Focus are rare

While we’d like to think that the “world” is conspiring for us, the reality is that individuals often have their own agenda, including your employees. And unless someone stands up and says, “This is where we’re going” and enforces alignment and focus toward that preferred future destination, many on your team will head in the way that best suits their own self-interest. Every organization needs someone at the top continually over-communicating what’s important so that there is a clarity of purpose, focus and alignment.

So, if you want to maximize understanding, focus and results, encourage communication and set the example. When possible, share information with your team that they might not have access to. Refuse to trust their memory and never assume that saying something once will keep your team in alignment. Instead, over-communicate. Keep everyone in the loop. And don’t allow your people to fill in the blanks. Remember: “In the absence of information, most people make up their own story … and usually with negative assumptions.”

So, what do you need to communicate today? For more ideas on how we can help you elevate your communication skills, contact Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428.

 

Happy People are Better Leaders – Some Proven Tips to Improve Your Happiness Factor

by Trilogy Partners on Oct 31, 2017 2:12:46 PM

Have you ever worked with someone that seems genuinely happy? A person that others gravitate to because of their positivity? At Trilogy Partners, not only do we address business fundamentals, we also tackle behavioral and cultural issues and have witnessed first-hand the impact of positive psychology in the workplace.

What is positive psychology? It is the scientific study of “what makes life worth living”, empowering individuals to purposely develop an optimistic state of mind to live a rewarding and happy life.

Working on how to become happier, the research suggests, will not only make a person feel better but also boosts energy and creativity, fosters better relationships, fuels higher productivity, improves the immune system and even leads to a longer life. Data shows that happy people are better leaders, negotiators, earn more money and are more resilient in the face of hardship. Yet, there is no one secret to happiness. Each of us needs to determine which set of strategies will be most valuable. The following actions are happiness-increasing strategies supported by scientific research:

  • Positive Thinking: Gratitude & Optimism – Expressing gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry and irritation.  Building optimism isn’t only about celebrating the present, it’s also about anticipating a bright future and noticing the right rather than the wrong.
  • Social Connection: Kindness & Relationships – Helping others makes us aware and appreciative of our own good fortune. When we commit acts of kindness, we perceive ourselves as compassionate which promotes a sense of confidence, optimism and usefulness. Moreover, these social bonds provide support in times of stress, distress and trauma.
  • Managing the Negative: Stress reduction & Forgiveness – Taking care of our bodies through meditation, physical activity and proper diet makes us feel in control of our health, reduces anxiety and increases mood-lifting hormones. The process of forgiveness, while sometimes difficult, allows one to be open to build happiness.
  • Living in the Moment: Joy & Savoring – Savoring life’s joys requires stepping outside of an experience and using our senses to embrace it. Data shows that when we make a habit of hanging on to pleasant feelings and appreciating good things, we are less likely to experience depression, stress, guilt and shame.
  • Achievement: Goals & Meaning – Committed goal pursuit provides us with a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives – something to work for and look forward to. Having meaningful goals bolsters our self-esteem.

These strategies may sound trivial, yet Positive Psychology researchers have empirical data showing that when effort is put forth, they have been highly effective and are represented in the thinking and behavior patterns of the happiest participants.

Want to infuse more positivity in your personal or professional environment? Contact Blair Turner, Trilogy Alliance Partner, at bturner@gettrilogypartners.com or (609) 688-0428.

 

Seize the Moment: Recognizing how Initiative can Grow your Organization

by Trilogy Partners on Jun 30, 2017 2:05:29 PM

“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.” – Victor Hugo

Who in your organization has the requisite initiative associated with high performance?  Do any of your employees and colleagues seem to lack initiative?

If either of these questions resonate at some level, it may be time to identify and develop leaders that can create the organization you envision.  Often, tension is associated with ensuring that we have the right people, on the right projects, at the right time.  Failure to properly attend to one or more of these variables can render even the most well-intentioned effort a money loser, morale crusher, or worse, a death knell for the organization.

When you have high performing, motivated employees engaged in meaningful, transformational projects, those who are holding the company back are clearly recognizable. Simply stated, cultivating the strengths and talents of those who demonstrate high initiative is the best insurance for sustainable organizational success.

The descriptors of high and low initiative are provided below so that you may begin to assess those in your organization on this important construct.

High initiative

Seeks responsibility above and beyond the expected
Will go the extra mile to help others
Strives to add value in all that they do
Follows through on tasks with consistency and tenacity
Appreciates the need to take reasonable risks

Low initiative

Requires considerable specific direction
Frequently adopts a “not my job” attitude
Prone to reacting to situations rather than anticipating them
Fails to persevere when faced with challenges
Postpones decision making and misses opportunities

In his book, How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed, author Robert Kelley suggests that taking initiative involves more expansive thinking than going after ideas that make you more productive at your own job. It is a desire and willingness to move beyond a job description to reach a goal that benefits the team. Kelley asserts that an individual can be evaluated for performance on any given project by the following five standards:

  1. Doing the job well.
  2. Ensuring that others benefit from their efforts.
  3. Understanding how the project pleases customers and clients while proving profitable to the organization.
  4. Developing focus on increasingly high-level efforts.
  5. Appreciating the potential payoff in light of risks and costs.

Taking on more responsibility, active problem solving, taking risk and adding value are behaviors we want to promote and develop. If you want to learn more about how leveraging initiative can advance your most important projects and your organization, please contact Trilogy Alliance Partner Marc Celentana at (609) 688-0428 or mcelentana@gettrilogypartners.com

Shut Up and Lead!

by Trilogy Partners on May 31, 2017 9:38:36 AM

Have you ever thought, this would be a great place to work if we didn’t have any employees? Truthfully, it has crossed my mind on a few occasions over the years. How can any leader have such thoughts about our most valuable assets? The answer is simple, we shouldn’t. John Maxwell states “a leader is one who knows the way; goes the way; and shows the way.” Effective leaders will model the expected behaviors through actions, not words, leading to the concept of “shut up and lead.”

During the early 1990’s, Zenger-Miller published The Basic Principles for Success. Since then, I have adapted these principles as the foundation for professional relationships and the paradigm for expected organizational behavior. The principles are truly basic in concept but often difficult to achieve. They require faithful modeling from the highest level within the organization for success.

Principle 1: Focus on the work process, issue, or behavior, NOT the person. It’s human nature to make things personal in the workplace but this automatically brings emotion into the equation. Principle 1 will drive an objective approach allowing for better problem solving and decision making. My observation is that Principle 1 is more difficult in closely-held and family businesses however the results are often more powerful when practiced consistently.

Principle 2: Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others. Leave sarcasm at the door! It is the greatest form of aggression in the workplace and highly demotivating. Contributing fully and risk taking is easier in a climate of trust and acceptance.

Principle 3: Maintain strong partnerships with your internal and external customers. Everyone knows how they want to be treated as a customer. Think about the potential if every employee within the organization was a customer of each other. How about other strategic partnerships and connections? The possibilities are endless for constructive and effective relationships.

Principle 4: Take the initiative to improve work processes and partnerships. Don’t only take the initiative, encourage others to do the same. Acknowledge and respond to all initiatives so your employees know that you welcome ideas and feedback.

Principle 5: Hold yourself and others accountable for commitments. Make sure there are identified positive and constructive consequences and be consistent in all interactions.

Principle 6: Lead by example. Employees want you to “know,” “go,” and “show” the way through your actions, not words. Leaders have much to gain when they can model the needed actions and attitudes to deal with the demands of business and relationships.

Effective leaders strive to practice The Basic Principles in their daily interactions. I have found that adhering to these principles will allow you to “shut up and lead” more confidently and with greater optimism to achieve your desired results.

If you are interested in implementing these principles to create an atmosphere of trust, cooperation, and positive action, contact Trilogy’s Alliance Partner Bill Ehrhardt at (609) 688-0428 or at behrhardt@gettrilogypartners.com.

The Employee-Motivation Checklist

by Trilogy Partners on Dec 28, 2015 2:59:58 PM

Through many years of research, trial and error, and working with companies of all sizes in numerous industries, I have identified 16 critical ways to motivate your employees. Learn these techniques and adapt as many as possible in your business.

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