Knowledge Source

Embrace Opposition for Better Results

Two Heads Are Better Than One Many of us grew up hearing the expression, two heads are better than one. On an intuitive level, this idiom makes sense: you get better results when you invite another person’s perspective to assess a situation, help solve a complex problem, or come up with a new approach. This is especially true when the stakes are high, so why go it alone? Research now supports this idea. Professor Chris Frith of University College London (UCL) found this to be the case when the people involved are relatively competent and able to embrace opposition. In other words, they must be able to respectfully disagree while continuing to move toward a desired outcome. In one experiment, this proved to be true even when one participant had far greater experience and more facts. In short, two heads are better when the people involved can successfully navigate opposing perspectives. If two heads are better than one under these conditions, then what about three, five or even ten people working together to accomplish something important? Is it safe to assume that many heads addressing a tough problem is an even better approach? That seems to be what Dr. Anita...

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Make Good Choices

  My kids have been hearing that for years; from me, from their mom, from their teachers. But how are they supposed to know what is a good choice? And what really motivates them to make good choices? I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times by David Brooks, titled “The Choice Explosion.” Brooks discusses the dramatic rise of choices available to us and how, despite having more options, we don’t choose as well as we should. The evidence is everywhere — corporate mergers that fail to create value, surging consumer debt, people who are miserable in their chosen careers. Brooks argues that we need lessons in self-awareness in order to make good choices. The article is a great pitch for the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). Those of us who work with the SDI on a regular basis see firsthand how people’s motives and strengths shape their choices, and how greater self-awareness leads to better choices. One of the ways that motives shape our choices is by filtering the information we receive. Your Motivational Value System (MVS) helps you tune out distractions and zero in on opportunities to express your concern for People, Performance or Process. Each...

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Workplace Behavior: Productive or Destructive?

  Do you have Snarly Screamers where you work? You know, those people who rant and rave and scream over everything and nothing. Or how about Chronic Critics? You can’t do anything right for them; whereas, the Two-Faced Scoundrel is very nice to you— before biting you in the back with rumors and lies. And we probably all know Gatekeepers, those people who withhold information or detour materials you need to do your job. These are some of the behaviors of workplace bullies. Workplace behavior ranges from artificially harmonious on one end of a behavior continuum to bullying on the opposite end. Neither is conducive to optimizing employee engagement and productivity, but bullying remains the more destructive to employees and employers. The goal of a workplace bully is to undermine and drive out a targeted employee by using an arsenal of negative behaviors, which can be described as psychological violence. Workplace bullies rarely resort to physical violence. They know the social and political rules of the organization and act within those boundaries. Interestingly, we tend to think of bullies as wall-banging, phone-throwing Snarly Screamers, but they represent all types of personalities and social styles. They may be highly reserved and...

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The “Annoy Me” Button: How to Avoid Pushing Conflict Triggers

  For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people say, “That guy really knows how to push my buttons!” When I used the expression around my young son (who was in that curious, question-filled phase of development), I was presented with a sincere inquiry that stopped me in my tracks: “What button is the man pushing?” His question caught me off guard. I don’t ordinarily give cliché statements like this much thought. So I stumbled and stammered my way through concepts like figure of speech and metaphor in a way a six-year old would understand. I finally came up with what I thought was a pretty good response. I told him I was referring to my “annoy me” button.  It’s a button that when pushed, causes me to get frustrated, angry, and causing me to pull away from the other person. As time passed and I started thinking more deeply about the nature of interpersonal conflict, I have come to recognize that each person has an annoy me button that represents potential conflict triggers. Pressing the button becomes an invitation to conflict—the beginning of a costly journey that can quickly spiral out of control. Conflict is triggered when...

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SDI and Cultural Awareness

  I met a lady this week and we did the SDI inventory and the main talking point about her score was the long arrow into the red in conflict. She readily agreed that this represented her well. She rose to the challenge in conflict and wanted fiercely to fight her corner when life got tough. The problem for her was that she was from a culture where women cannot readily speak up and have their say. This frustrated her mightily and she had to find a coping strategy whereby she could express herself to her own satisfaction while at the same time satisfying cultural norms. Every culture has rules about what behaviour is acceptable to them and our traits and motivations have to be shaped by that culture. In some cultures you can blow your top with impunity while in others you’d lose a great deal of face with that behaviour and it would largely be unacceptable. While teaching SDI around the world I’ve learned that we have to see the theory within the culture that we’re dealing with. It adds an extra layer to the discussion. People feel the same but they can express it very differently. Interesting...

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Want a Great Place to Work?
Focus on What Matters Most

  Fortune Magazine partners every year with an organization called Great Places to Work to identify the 100 best companies to work for in America, and this year was no exception. What was exceptional and worthy of every executive’s careful attention is that the key to creating a great workplace has remained the same for more than 30 years. It's not lavish perks like free, gourmet food, well-equipped fitness centers, or onsite childcare. Instead, according to Fortune, it’s something far more basic, the essence of every company’s culture. Have you guessed what it is? In a word: relationships. “It’s personal—not perkonal,” Geoff Colvin wrote in the March 5, 2015 issue of Fortune. “It’s relationship-based, not transaction-based.” This isn’t a random assertion; it is supported by data and driven by demographics. In the 1950s, the most valuable employees were knowledge workers. Now, knowledge is ubiquitous. It’s a global commodity; Google can hire a knowledgeable coder in Mumbai, just as easily as Mountain View. No doubt, certain left-brain skills are still important, but superior relational skills are what set the best apart from the rest. Some forward thinking companies even measure the state of relationships. Take SAS, the Cary, North Carolina-based analytics...

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Andragogy 101: Six Keys to Engaging Your Clients

  Some words are much better off when put into practice than when used in casual conversation. Take, for instance, andragogy. It’s not a word you want to drop on friends during a dinner party. Enemies, maybe, but not friends. Sounds a bit like a disease you’d want to avoid. Andragogy, however, plays a critical part of nearly every TotalSDI consultant’s practice and is a key driver of their success. Believe it or not, you already may be a natural at applying the principles—but let’s make sure you’re covering all the bases. Andragogy refers to the theory of how adults learn. Unlike most children, adults learn best when they’re actively engaged in a process that lets them incorporate their experiences and readily apply what they’re learning to their lives. Instead of being buried with information, adults want to discover new ideas for themselves. Malcolm Knowles, generally considered the father of andragogy, identified six assumptions in the andragogical model, and you can put to use in your coaching or consulting practice (not to mention during dinner parties): Uncover the need to know. Adults need to know why they need to learn something before they will invest in the learning process. In...

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Three Steps for Sharing the Word about TotalSDI

One of the most important factors in sustaining training beyond its euphoric beginning is to set clear expectations before you even begin. I touched on this in a previous post – see “Need to Keep Your Training Alive? Start with the Why.” – and now, as promised, it’s time to look a little more specifically at how to share the why with your clients. As a coach or consultant, you may be called on to lead pre-training conversations with workshop participants, or you might coach managers on how to do it. With that in mind, here are three steps to leading an effective pre-training conversation. Step 1: Address Why TotalSDI is Needed. Your organization needs to achieve…, so teams need to get better at… Your organization is investing in TotalSDI training because… so we need you to put what you learn in the class into action right away. Step 2: Address How TotalSDI will Help. Let’s discuss how TotalSDI can help you get better results… What do you want to focus on? You’ll want to identify some definitive actions you will take to address a real world situation based on your assessment results and what you learn in class. Let’s...

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Need to Keep Your Training Alive? Start with the Why

One of the first things our partners hear from clients after launching a new program with TotalSDI is, “That was awesome!” Then comes the big question … “So how do we keep the message alive?” Ah, yes, sustainability … or, as I like to call it, the 800-pound gorilla. Unfortunately, research suggests that most training doesn’t create a lasting impact. Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff, an internationally recognized expert in training effectiveness and author of eight books in the field, estimates that less than 50 percent of training and development initiatives result in sustained behavior change that aligns with organizational performance improvement goals. Fortunately, TotalSDI provides a suite of tools that are designed to create sustainable training that tips the scales of Brinkerhoff’s research in favor of success for your clients. Why? First, TotalSDI assessments are easy to take and the results are intuitively accurate for the people who take them. In other words, they buy in because the results align with what they know about themselves and the world around them. Second, the personalized assessment reports are easy to understand and provide a simple, common language that teams can use for weeks, months, and years. As a consultant or coach, however,...

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Selecting the Right Assessment: Ten Criteria to Consider

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