Archive for March, 2017

Communication Effectiveness – Using Technology as Your Surrogate!

SERIES: Part Four of a Five-Part Article

Why must you communicate?

As a leader, determining the purpose of your communication objective will lead you toward one of two options. When you must actually connect live with the other party, you need to have a “dialogue.” When you must merely “exchange” data and information with the other party, the need for a live interaction may not be necessary. Either way, you have just identified both a second option and a time- saving opportunity at the same time.

While you need to remain in constant communication with your team, it is not necessary that you be actively in touch with everyone. In fact, today’s effective leader must tactically utilize the advances in technology as a surrogate to “exchanging” information at every opportunity!

By tactically and effectively drawing upon technology as your surrogate, you can guard against micro-managing people and over communicating, yet ensure effective communication takes place across lines. In addition, you provide yourself with the freedom of flexibility to be the leader that is required for your organization to succeed!

Here are some tactical performance communication tips for the technology at your fingertips:

  1. eAuto responder – Within the realm of electronic email, you have the ability to enable or disable the auto response messenger service of your email. When someone sends you an email, you have the option of an automatic response being bounced backed immediately. To maintain the forward momentum of you, your team and the outside world, consider an informational update by enabling this feature.

You could state, for example if you are on site on a given day, “Your message has been received at JMI, I will respond ASAP. If you need immediate assistance please call Toll free 1-877-90-MAGEE and ask for Amie or Koby. You also can get immediate assistance by e-mailing Koby@JeffreyMagee.com” Or, if you are off site, be specific, “Your message has been received at JMI, I am off site at an educational program enhancing my skill abilities to better serve my customers and will respond ASAP. If you need immediate assistance please call Toll free 1-877-90-MAGEE and ask for Amie or Koby or by e-mailing Koby@JeffreyMagee.com

  1. E-mail – Consider converting from long, drawn out sentence/paragraph form e-mails to a numbered or bulleted e-mail draft. This format tends to encourage brevity and makes it easier to track informational items in conversation with others.

For an even faster e-mail response, merely draft in your response in a different colored font adjacent to their questions. Then all you have to do is hit send!

  1. eAuto Signature Line – Ensure that all informational items you would want at the end of an e-mail draft are attributed to your eAuto Signature line (and set up). This will save time on all future email correspondence, as it will automatically appear. To further encourage effective communication, you should have in your include: Name, Title or position, E-mail address, Phone number, Fax number, website and any seasonal, informational or time sensitive item you want to ensure your recipients know (use this as advertising, marketing or update opportunity space, but be brief!).

  1. Personal Voicemail Extensions – By knowing the voicemail extension/box of those people with whom you have to communicate or get something from, you can now choose to telephone them and engage in a live dialogue or avoid the conversation chit-chat trap by going directly into their voicemail box and leaving a message. Of course, you can also follow up with an e-mail directing them to the voicemail message you have left or leave a message with their gatekeeper to have them check their voicemail.

  1. Recorded Outbound Telephone Voicemail Message – By evaluating the recorded messages you receive, you can determine if your own message is action- oriented. For example, if you have to repeatedly replay a message to distinguish a phone number or name, you need to rerecord your greeting. If you are returning calls to people because you are not sure what they want, rerecord your greeting. A leader has precious discretionary time today, and every minute must be a wise invested minute.

Try: “Thank you for calling. This is Mr. X.  Please leave your name – and if we do not know one another, please spell it for me – along with your phone number, repeated twice. Please leave a very specific message as to what you need and how I may be of service to you, and I will return your call by the end of the day.”

This may seem awkward, but it does not matter! The caller will tend to do exactly what they are prompted to do, and this information allows you to expedite your actions and maintain peak performance for both of you!

  1. Pagers – By knowing the pager numbers of those people with whom you have to communicate to, you can now choose to page them when necessary to maintain states of efficiency!

  1. Fax – There still seems to be an air of urgency to a fax transmittal. Knowing the fax numbers of organizations and, even more importantly, the systems on your intended recipients’ desks, you can avoid live dialogue and send communications via fax. And to draw even faster attention, legibly write your message and fax that!

  1. Faxback Responses – You can even expedite follow-up responses to other parties by taking a document that requests information from you, circling the question and drawing a line to the margin. In that margin, write your answer and immediately fax back their letter/document with your handwritten answer/response. Labor is minimal, and productivity soars!

  1. CD/DVD/Tape/Etc. – Alternative communication delivery vehicles also can be used if you know the recipient’s preference. A fast form of communication exchange can be accomplished with these mediums.

  1. Any Other Instrument – Reflect upon your skill level and industry for any other examples, instruments, products or services that you can deploy to effectively increase your communication ability, while reducing the degree of work and time consumed by the process. Once you’ve found it, deploy it aggressively!

As a leader, determining the purpose of your communication objective will lead you toward ways of becoming more effective within “dialogues” or in the mere act of “exchanging” information with others.

How you do what you do is the art and science of tactical communication. An effective leader recognizes that, whether you communicate or not, you have communicated loudly to your team.
-Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)
Twitter
http://JeffreyMagee.com
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Communication Effectiveness – Becoming a Constant Solution Provider!

SERIES: Part Three of a Five-Part Article

Turning arguments and debates into solutions and alternatives is a hallmark of both effective communicators and successful leaders. As communication goes hi-tech and low-touch, it becomes easy for disconnection to arise in communication. These disconnections only serve to impede productivity and profitability to businesses.

A leader must be constantly cognizant of the individual tactics deployed to stimulate open dialogue.  While in pursuit of solution-oriented dialogue and an environment conducive to free spirited communication exchanges, how one engages or responds to another directly influences whether that communication exchange will be solution oriented or corrosive.

How you arrange a conversation has a direct influence upon the mindset of the participants, which will determine how healthy the outcomes will be. In her classic work, The Argument Culture, author Deborah Tannen illustrates how one sentence sets up defense posture and another creates inclusion. Consider: “Battle of the sexes” (argumentative) versus “Relations between men and women” (dialogue). Or, “Debate” (argumentative) versus, “Discuss” (dialogue). In striving for solution-oriented communication exchanges, be careful not to derail otherwise positive intentions.

Here are ten powerful ways to tactically stimulate solution-oriented communication among individuals in your work place:

  1. Establish Ground Rules – Identify how the other party likes to communicate (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and share with them how you communicate best. By establishing these most basic ground rules, you open yourself to gain greater participation from others!

  1. Covenant-Based – This implies that, as the sender of a signal, you “also” recognize what else you can do to make the communication exchange non- threatening and solution-oriented. So, in looking at the “What else can I do?” (covenant implies other responsibilities) factor, make sure to listen and take notes to objectively consider the other parties’ positions, ideas and views.

  1. You First – Become known as the person who always seeks others’ ideas before offering yours. This may allow for a synergy of action plans and a more cost effective final result!

  1. Demand Alternatives – Whenever someone voices a rejection to an idea or action plan, instead of defending, digging in and challenging the other party, simply back up, gently look at the attempted challenger and say, “What do you feel would be a more viable option?” If they don’t respond with a tangible answer, repeat the question again. What you are implying is, “Put up or shut up!”

  1. One Percent Factor – Regardless of a solution (whether yours or someone else’s), always ask, “What can we do one percent more to make this even more productive or profitable?” This causes people to strive even harder and implies that pushing for something better is always acceptable and expected!

  1. Learn to Forecast – Recognize that when circumstances dictate that you realize an impending problem, and adjustments are not made, this is a great opportunity to invest internally with your colleagues. Ask, task, delegate or assign to everyone to collectively workshop your forecasted challenge for alternatives, solutions or coping strategies so the forecasted issue does not implode the productivity of individuals in the future.

  1. Shop Your Ideas Electronically – Before implementing any solution-action plan, always bounce your challenge and perceived solution off of at least three other people. Someone you know, who previously has been where you are, someone two positions removed from you, who can provide an emotionally biased view and the person most likely to be affected by your action!

  1. Identify Internal Subject Matter Experts – Intrapreneurs – Cultivate from your colleagues, employees and customers (that would be entrepreneurs) those individuals who possess a wealth of knowledge (based upon their education, experience or certifications) and could be the official or unofficial “go to” people to solicit feedback for your solutions and quick-start ideas for your challenges.

  1. Solution Board – When time allows for solution (idea) generation, post that on a community bulletin board with all of your team (including yourself) listed vertically below the entry. Then, post a deadline and publicly invite everyone to write their ideas and allow for ideas to feed off one another. If someone posts an unprofessional energy, let it stand. Later, when you pull the idea list down for discussion in a meeting, engage that person by using technique number four in this list.

  1. Horizontal Action Information Grams – Encourage cross communication among individuals, not from a bragging perspective, but from a “lessons learned” celebration perspective. When someone has faced a difficult situation, generated a viable solution and experienced victory, encourage them to share that three-step evolution with everyone.  If someone else finds him or herself in a similar position in the future, they will be prepared with solutions!

As a leader, if you really want to empower your team and create an environment of mega solutions, design a system that both recognizes and rewards implemented solutions. Imagine giving ten percent of any solution that yields a savings or increase in profitability to an organization. Wow! Pure solution energy. The downfall, unfortunately, is that most leaders take a minimalist attitude towards this view; they don’t want to share ten percent of something they don’t have at the expense of never cultivating the solutions from their most prized assets (their people) that would otherwise yield them a 90 percent gain!

An effective leader continually focuses on individual performance improvement in a highly effective organization. A leader always appreciates, respects and focuses upon the tactics which turn arguments and debates into solutions and alternatives for positive outcomes in every communication exchange.

-Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)
Twitter
http://JeffreyMagee.com

Communication Effectiveness – Dealing With Known Problem Players, CYA!

Sometimes as a leader, you will need to communicate with a person who you know to be difficult or who has a reputation of being difficult. In those instances, for an effective engagement and an intended positive outcome, there are some safeguards to consider.

Dealing With Known Problem Players
Means “Covering Your Actions” (CYA)

In Non-Confrontational Ways

There are clues that you have a possible problem ahead of you and that a person is branded as “bad luggage” (although management has not or is unwilling to free up their future for other career opportunities at the health benefit to an organization):

  1. If the employees of an individual turn over faster than they do
  2. If colleagues leave, quit or take a lateral transfer faster than the individual in question gets promoted
  3. If peers to an individual limit their exposure to them, don’t go out of their way to engage them and are reluctant to give you insight to how best to engage them when you ask for coaching guidance
  4. If you have ever witnessed individuals having communication implosions with a person
  5. If vendors have more critical than constructive comments about an individual
  6. If a long-standing, positively contributing event, program, initiative or service is attacked by an individual for the sake of drawing attention to him or herself
  7. If you have ever been mislead or used by an individual
  8. If you know a person is a political animal and they use people – at the expense of the organization – for their own goals
  9. If a person uses their position (tenure with the organization, age, gender, race, personal connections, etc.) as their insurance policy for not being “terminated”
Many times, problem and difficult players are a cancer
with which leadership refuses to deal.
In that wake, many times more contributing forces

to organizational success are lost!

Forecasting problematic players to communicate with is easy if one pays attention to the numerous clues. The question then evolves to how best to engage them for solution-oriented, organization-benefiting outcomes. If you have someone like this in your organization, consider these strategies:

  1. Pre E-mail or Correspondence – Look for an opportunity for an upcoming initiative on which the two of you will work together. After your initial dialogue, e-mail them an after-action review, recapping your understanding of the essential 5-Ws and 1-H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How). In essence, make sure you specifically speak to – in a non-confrontational manner – any item that the person has previously demonstrated to be a point of contention. Then send a copy to all appropriate supervisors, vendors, clients, etc. This will be a positive intention e-mail, and the copy provides for initial documentation that will motivate the other party to constructively participate when they see others have received copies. You can preface the reason of sending copies to others under the pretense, “If anyone has suggestions as to how any of us can attain a higher level of success with our individual responsibilities, please share immediately.”
  1. Backup Documentation – In heightened situations where you know someone to be difficult and you really need to cover your actions, keep appropriate documentation off site. When push comes to shove, documentation always wins if you have the facts. Then, and only then, will a habitual problem player be held accountable and possibly purged from an organization!
  1. Assume Follow Up – Between when you initially talk about doing anything and when it is actually done, determine consistent and regular interval update times to ensure they are on track.  By doing this, you will avoid deadline implosions. This may mean setting check points in your PDA, calendars, tickler-systems or day planners. At each of these check points (again in a non-confrontational manner), document and send a follow-up correspondence to them with copies to all appropriate parties in the universe – otherwise it is your word versus theirs!
  1. Involve Neutral Parties – As appropriate, identify neutral third parties, whom the other person appears to respect and that you can accept as well. Engage them early and often to enhance one another’s actions plans for greater efficiency. By doing so, you are not focusing energies or attention on one another as personalities, but rather on the mutual gains. Thus, interactions will also begin to condition the perceived difficult player to be less difficult in your presence.
  1. Stay Focused on Big Picture – Another way to avoid the personal involvement with problem players in communication is to ensure your goal is always the end game of the organization. Tie your communications to that of the organization’s Mission Statement, and it will become increasingly more difficult for the traditional problem player to challenge you or attempt to undermine your initiatives!
  1. Alliance Communications – Associate your communication subject matter to others that have bought into it or are supporting it. Problem players are more inclined to come after you when it appears to be a “You versus Them” format. Likewise, they tend to be less confrontational when you seem to be a part of a bigger grouping. It could sound like this, “In talking with Susan, Tom and Chris, they thought it would be in our best interest if we…” Now, whatever you present appears to be part of a larger energy force.

It is a fact of organizational reality that many times that which holds an organization back from peak performance is not an outside force, but rather an internal one. And yes, it is also true that far too often these people are just clever enough (not actually smart enough) to play the system to their advantage that management is intimidated to do their leadership job and intervene with them, coach them, council them or terminate them. They become an actual passive-aggressive cancer to an organization.

As a managerial-leader you don’t have to become a victim of them. You need merely become a better communicator in the presence of them.

-Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)
Twitter
http://JeffreyMagee.com

Communication Effectiveness – Using Technology as Your Surrogate!

SERIES: Part Four of a Five-Part Article

Why must you communicate?

As a leader, determining the purpose of your communication objective will lead you toward one of two options. When you must actually connect live with the other party, you need to have a “dialogue.” When you must merely “exchange” data and information with the other party, the need for a live interaction may not be necessary. Either way, you have just identified both a second option and a time- saving opportunity at the same time.

While you need to remain in constant communication with your team, it is not necessary that you be actively in touch with everyone. In fact, today’s effective leader must tactically utilize the advances in technology as a surrogate to “exchanging” information at every opportunity!

By tactically and effectively drawing upon technology as your surrogate, you can guard against micro-managing people and over communicating, yet ensure effective communication takes place across lines. In addition, you provide yourself with the freedom of flexibility to be the leader that is required for your organization to succeed!

Here are some tactical performance communication tips for the technology at your fingertips:

  1. eAuto responder – Within the realm of electronic email, you have the ability to enable or disable the auto response messenger service of your email. When someone sends you an email, you have the option of an automatic response being bounced backed immediately. To maintain the forward momentum of you, your team and the outside world, consider an informational update by enabling this feature.

You could state, for example if you are on site on a given day, “Your message has been received at JMI, I will respond ASAP. If you need immediate assistance please call Toll free 1-877-90-MAGEE and ask for Amie or Koby. You also can get immediate assistance by e-mailing Koby@JeffreyMagee.com” Or, if you are off site, be specific, “Your message has been received at JMI, I am off site at an educational program enhancing my skill abilities to better serve my customers and will respond ASAP. If you need immediate assistance please call Toll free 1-877-90-MAGEE and ask for Amie or Koby or by e-mailing Koby@JeffreyMagee.com

  1. E-mail – Consider converting from long, drawn out sentence/paragraph form e-mails to a numbered or bulleted e-mail draft. This format tends to encourage brevity and makes it easier to track informational items in conversation with others.

For an even faster e-mail response, merely draft in your response in a different colored font adjacent to their questions. Then all you have to do is hit send!

  1. eAuto Signature Line – Ensure that all informational items you would want at the end of an e-mail draft are attributed to your eAuto Signature line (and set up). This will save time on all future email correspondence, as it will automatically appear. To further encourage effective communication, you should have in your include: Name, Title or position, E-mail address, Phone number, Fax number, website and any seasonal, informational or time sensitive item you want to ensure your recipients know (use this as advertising, marketing or update opportunity space, but be brief!).

  1. Personal Voicemail Extensions – By knowing the voicemail extension/box of those people with whom you have to communicate or get something from, you can now choose to telephone them and engage in a live dialogue or avoid the conversation chit-chat trap by going directly into their voicemail box and leaving a message. Of course, you can also follow up with an e-mail directing them to the voicemail message you have left or leave a message with their gatekeeper to have them check their voicemail.

  1. Recorded Outbound Telephone Voicemail Message – By evaluating the recorded messages you receive, you can determine if your own message is action- oriented. For example, if you have to repeatedly replay a message to distinguish a phone number or name, you need to rerecord your greeting. If you are returning calls to people because you are not sure what they want, rerecord your greeting. A leader has precious discretionary time today, and every minute must be a wise invested minute.

Try: “Thank you for calling. This is Mr. X.  Please leave your name – and if we do not know one another, please spell it for me – along with your phone number, repeated twice. Please leave a very specific message as to what you need and how I may be of service to you, and I will return your call by the end of the day.”

This may seem awkward, but it does not matter! The caller will tend to do exactly what they are prompted to do, and this information allows you to expedite your actions and maintain peak performance for both of you!

  1. Pagers – By knowing the pager numbers of those people with whom you have to communicate to, you can now choose to page them when necessary to maintain states of efficiency!

  1. Fax – There still seems to be an air of urgency to a fax transmittal. Knowing the fax numbers of organizations and, even more importantly, the systems on your intended recipients’ desks, you can avoid live dialogue and send communications via fax. And to draw even faster attention, legibly write your message and fax that!

  1. Faxback Responses – You can even expedite follow-up responses to other parties by taking a document that requests information from you, circling the question and drawing a line to the margin. In that margin, write your answer and immediately fax back their letter/document with your handwritten answer/response. Labor is minimal, and productivity soars!

  1. CD/DVD/Tape/Etc. – Alternative communication delivery vehicles also can be used if you know the recipient’s preference. A fast form of communication exchange can be accomplished with these mediums.

  1. Any Other Instrument – Reflect upon your skill level and industry for any other examples, instruments, products or services that you can deploy to effectively increase your communication ability, while reducing the degree of work and time consumed by the process. Once you’ve found it, deploy it aggressively!

As a leader, determining the purpose of your communication objective will lead you toward ways of becoming more effective within “dialogues” or in the mere act of “exchanging” information with others.

How you do what you do is the art and science of tactical communication. An effective leader recognizes that, whether you communicate or not, you have communicated loudly to your team.
-Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)
Twitter
http://JeffreyMagee.com