Tough Conversations Presentation

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Becoming a Strategic
Establishing a New Identity for HR:
Initiating the Tough Conversations
Mike Cook
Senior Partner – AMJ Group
Anacortes, WA
Introduction to AMJ Group
AMJ Group is sole proprietorship, based in Anacortes,
WA., focused on Reducing Suffering in the Workplace.
Strategic Partner/Employee
Advocate/Change Mentor
• Where are the barriers
to the transition of the
HR function in your
organization from
tactical to strategic
Human Resources: A Possible Future
Old Role:
New Role:
As seen by the
As envisioned by
HR professionals
•Systematizing and
policing arm of
•Strategic Partner
•The Gate Keeper
•Guardian of
•Talent Advocate
•Change Mentor
HR Becomes a Strategic Resource: By
Asking… “Where is the Vacuum?”
 Is your work environment a “safe place” for
employees to behave in an engaged
This is a Dynamic Spectrum
What Exactly is Engagement?
Employees who say, stay and thrive
Employees who get their hearts and minds in the
Employees who go the extra mile in loyalty and
Employees who think and act as business people
The capture of discretionary effort
Intellectual understanding and
emotional commitment
All of the above and then some!
Employee Engagement Defined
 A measurable degree of an employee’s positive or
negative emotional attachment to…
Site Wikipedia
Therefore…Engagement Measures an Employee’s
Ability to Persevere in Challenging Circumstances
Why Does Engagement Matter?
Organization with high levels of employee engagement report the
following results*:
 19.2% Higher operating income
 17% Higher operating margins
 27.8% Higher earnings per share
*source is the Conference Board Research, Towers Perrin
and the International Survey Research.
Where Are We Now?♦
 44%* of workers say they put in only the effort
required to keep from being fired
 Only 23%* of workers report working at their full
 75%* report they could be significantly more
♦Towers-Perrin/Gallup research results
What Influences Engagement?
Employer Engagement
Perception of Job Importance
Clarity of Expectations
Advancement/Development Opportunities
Quality of working relationships with peers,
supervisors, and subordinates
Regular Feedback and Dialogue with Superiors
Perception of Ethics and Values of the Organization
Internal Communication
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Theory of Outcomes
Where Do You Start?
 How able are the employee’s in your organization to
generate, maintain and sustain their own
 How able are your employee’s to advocate for any of
the nine factors when they are missing?
“Conversations” are Your Tools
 Each of us conducts our work inside a web of
“Conversations” are Your Tools
 When there are “signs” that certain conversations are
not welcome or safe, discretionary effort and initiative
“Conversations” are Your Tools
 When employees observe their leaders at odds or not
communicating openly with each other, the “shut
down” is on. Compliance replaces creativity, passion
and initiative.
“Conversations” are Your Tools
 When “un-discussables mount up your
culture becomes toxic.
It Should Not Be This Hard!
 The weakest part of our educational experience (K thru 12 and
Beyond) is the development of interpersonal skills
 We are know how to fight or flee but few are good at “stay and play.”
Is There a Difference?
 Debate- A Good Fight!
 Discussion-Opinions without Action, Pain or
 Dialogue- Win/Win-Mutuality
Definition of Dialogue
♦ Free Flow of Meaning
♦ Between Two or More Parties
♦ Conducted in an Environment
of Mutual Respect
Goals of Dialogue
 Advance an issue towards resolution
 Learn about the other party’s
 Enhance the working relationship by
building trust
Eight Steps to Re-Engagement
 Tell the Truth
 Start with Vision
 Think Ahead
 Make the Situation
Master My Drama
Express My
Explore Others’
Move to Action
1. Tell the Truth
Anytime you find yourself stuck, there are conversations that need to
“Stuck” is the same as “not getting the results you want”
Backtrack from poor results to determine the specific tough
conversation that applies
2. Start with Vision
 Work on me first
 Focus on what you really want
 Don’t Paint Yourself into a Corner
3. Look Ahead
Anticipate Sources of Discomfort
 When Might a conversation turn crucial?
Physical, emotional and behavioral signs
 When safety is at risk…
Masking, Avoiding, Withdrawing
Controlling, Labeling, Attacking
 What about Yourself?
4. Make the Situation Welcoming
Can you make it safe to talk about almost anything?
 When safety is missing, abandon your Agenda…
 Acknowledge the discomfort…
 Find out What is Going to Work:
Apologize – when appropriate “I am sorry if this is
upsetting to you.”
Re-establish Objective
Declare Commitment to Mutual Benefit – move to a higher
and longer term goal that satisfy both parties “We are in
this together.”
5. Master My Drama
Can you stay in dialogue when your emotions engage?
 Separate facts from stories
What did you See or Hear ?
 Watch for three trap doors
“It is not my fault!”
“It’s all your fault!”
“There is nothing else that I can do!”
 Tell the whole story
“Here is my role in the problem?”
“I have tried to imagine why I would act this way?”
“What can we do to get this working”
6. Express My Perspective
How to speak persuasively not abrasively
♦ Share your facts
♦ Tell your story about the facts
♦ Ask what others have to say
♦ Allow for other facts to emerge
♦ See what others think
7. Explore How Others See the Situation
Can you listen when others’ blow up or clam up?
♦ Express responsibility – ask a question
♦ Check to see if your interpretation is accurate, especially emotions
♦ Let others know what you are hearing
♦ Be bold if you are getting nowhere
8. Action Planning
How to turn Difficult Conversations into action and results
♦ Who will do WHAT…
♦ By WHEN…
♦ What FOLLOW UP action will be taken…
Food for Thought-Homework!!!
 Who do you need to be in a higher level partnership
with in order to have this transformation take place in
your organization?
 What Conversations will you advocate for in order to
assist you in this transition?
Something to Consider
 What might be possible in your organization if
you were able to develop ongoing
collaborative coaching communities involving
your mid-level managers?
Visit the Heart of Engagement
For additional questions contact Mike Cook
[email protected]