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Emotional Control during Difficult Conversations

It’s hard not to get emotionally involved when you’re in a tense conversation. A disagreement can feel like a threat. You might be afraid of having to give up something — the idea that you’re right, your point of view, the way you’re used to doing something, or even power – and therefore your body hypes you up for a fight by triggering your sympathetic nervous system.  There is no need to feel guilty, this is the natural response, but the main problem is that our bodies and minds aren’t good at differentiating the threats presented by not getting your way on a job-related issue and being chased down by a wolf. Your heart and breathing start to spike, your muscles tighten, the blood flow from your organs decreases, and thus you’re likely to experience an uncomfortable all-around feeling.

All of these combined does not put in the right frame of mind of resolving a conflict. If your body goes into what Dan Goleman would call “amygdala hijack,” you may lose access to the prefrontal cortex, the all-important part of your brain responsible for rational thinking. Obviously, you need rational thinking when dealing with a difficult conversation. Due to the fact that you are losing the ability to think clearly, chances are your conversation counterpart notices these signs of stress — your face turning red or the pace of your speech speeding up — and as a result of mirror neurons that cause us to apprehend the emotions of another person, your colleague is likely to start feeling the same way. Consequently, the conversation inevitably derails and the conflict intensifies.

Every manager fears emotional outbursts. Whether we’re talking about tears or full-on rage, the full extent of emotions can leave both the manager and the employee feeling embarrassed and stressed. How can you manage to stay calm and at the same time get your point across? How do you prepare yourself? Can you somehow minimise the chances of an employee getting emotional? Learning to handle emotional conversations in a productive way is the mark of a true manager.

Luckily, there are ways in which you can interrupt this physical response and manage your emotions, for a more productive discussion. There are several things you can do to keep your cool during a conversation or to calm yourself down. It is essential you start off with a positive. Especially if you think the conversation is likely to be emotional, plan to start with a positive. This will set the tone for the entire conversation and can help the employee engage with what you’re saying later, even if it’s hard to digest.

Breathe

Through simple mindfulness techniques, you can manage tense situations and none is more straightforward than using your breath. If you start noticing you’re getting tense, try to focus on breathing pattern. Acknowledge the sensation of air coming in and out of your lungs. Feel how it passes through your nostrils or down the back of your throat. This will take your attention off the signs of panic. Some mindfulness experts suggest counting your breath.

Acknowledge and define your feelings

Another useful tactic comes from the renowned author of Emotional Agility, Susan David. When you start feeling emotional “the attention you give towards your thoughts and feelings may crowd your mind and judgement,” says Susan David. In order to distance yourself from that feeling, define it. “Call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion,” says the author.  When you manage to distance yourself from these emotions, thus making it easier to let them go — but don’t bury them or let them explode later. Sometimes expressing your emotions is all that’s needed to make an employee feel like they’ve been heard. If tears are involved, empathy is the recommended course of action. If your employee is angry, acknowledge and understand their frustration, but if that anger becomes insulting, calmly make it clear that you will not tolerate violent language or threatening behaviour.

Take a break

This is an underused approach. The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they will be. So when things start escalating, just excuse yourself for a moment — get some coffee or water, go to the bathroom, or take a brief stroll through the office. It is essential to give a neutral reason for why you want to pause the conversation — the last thing you want is for the other person to think that things are going so badly you just want to escape.

Keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one who’s upset or angry. Your counterpart may very well express anger or frustration. While you may want to give them the above advice, no one wants to be told they need to breathe more deeply or take a break. You both may require just a little bit of time alone to vent. Of course, that’s usually easier said than done. It’s difficult not to yell back when you’re being screamed at, but more screaming isn’t going to help. At the same time, don’t act aloof because it’s important to show the other person that you’re listening. If you manage not to feed your counterpart’s negative emotion with your own, it becomes more plausible for them to calm down.

Keep your impatience in check

Finally, the demon you will have to wrestle the most with is your own impatience for getting the result you want. You will need to be patient and let the situation unfold itself. When you think you know exactly what is wrong with the other person’s thinking, your best approach is to ask them questions that will enable them to see other possibilities, ones that are much closer to your point of view. Don’t slip and tell people what is wrong with their thinking, because their brains will shut down and you have to be patient with silence. Silence is a good indicator that what you said or asked made the person stop and think about their ideas and arguments. The best thing you can do is to be patient and allow the person’s brain to process the information.

Don’t take it personally. Watch out for your own defensive mechanism, especially if the employee has said something in the heat of the moment. Remember that frustration is usually the cause of such outbursts at the office. You’re not going to solve the underlying issues or maintain a positive relationship if you barrel through the conversation when you’re completely worked up.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/12/how-to-control-your-emotions-during-a-difficult-conversation

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141028170158-2763533-how-to-manage-your-emotions-in-difficult-conversations/

https://www.insperity.com/blog/10-tips-for-keeping-your-cool-during-emotional-conversations-with-employees/

 

Dealing with Procrastination and Overcoming It

We all procrastinate from time to time, sometimes even more than we would like to admit to ourselves. Procrastination is part of our lives. Usually, it’s those ordinary things – like sorting documents, looking over bank accounts, or tidying the things on your desk. But often it’s the bigger things that necessitate more time, more commitment and energy that put us at more risk of failing or looking foolish. Such actions include things like updating our resume, looking for a new job or even pursuing a long held aspiration.

Of course people tend to get very creative with the reasons why now, today, just isn’t the right time or they are not in the right state of mind. But people don’t stop here reasons may vary from too stressed, too risky, too busy, too broke towards too disruptive, too inexperienced, too young, too old, too uncertain. From time to time these reasons are valid and we have to be prepared for that. Typically, they are just excuses that keep us from doing what we really have to do and experiencing the emotional hardship inherent in making meaningful changes in our personal and professional lives.

At the heart of things we have fear.  It is a potent and instinctive emotion and represents the reason why we want to shield ourselves from pain (including the emotional side of things) and somehow ‘demands’ us to get away from anything that might be threatening. If left unresolved, fear can lead us to the hope that if we procrastinate longer, our situation will miraculously improve, or our problems will magically disappear into thin air and be replaced with a lot of courage. We often tell ourselves that ‘one day’ we will be ready to make that big change, or take that big chance and in that ‘one day’ the timing will be better, our confidence will be soaring and the circumstances will definitely favour us.

Unfortunately the reverse is generally true. As the days go by, our fear grows stronger, until it will eventually lead to our ever-growing burial ground of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential. Philosopher William James was not wrong when he talked about the impact of procrastination on our lives: “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal.”

There are a few methods through which you can get yourself going when you feel procrastination is creeping up on you.

  • Acknowledge the situation

Firstly, it is recommended you openly acknowledge that you’re starting to procrastinate. Procrastination can sneak up on you in many forms and when you least expect it, so it’s essential for you to be vigilant. Afterwards, ask yourself why you are doing it, what is your underlying reason and then start searching for the right approach to tackle this issue.  Stanford philosophy professor John Perry created the term ‘structured procrastination’. The idea behind it is that people procrastinate by doing the least important tasks on their to-do lists, so professor John Perry says that we can trick ourselves by pushing down our important tasks from our to-do list and our trivial ones to the top.

  • Be brave all day everyday

When you start working on reducing your procrastination, building momentum is crucial. Commit to yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone at least once per day. It can be something really small and it should be right at the start. In the end, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, as long as you are taking the necessary steps in the direction you feel is right. So take that first step, then another, and so on because after all life is worth enjoying.

  • Spreading procrastination times throughout the day

The fact that we live in the real world means that there are and will be days in which we’re tired, even though we try so hard not to be. Taking this factor into account, you could organise a schedule of well-timed ‘mini-procrastination’ sessions between each task. Instead of waiting for a big break when you want to do whatever you want offer yourself 10 minutes between each task. In those 10 minutes you can do what your heart desires: check Facebook, make a dinner reservation, weekend plans or any other pleasant activity. You will be surprised by the amount of work you will accomplish when you don’t feel bad about procrastinating. Also, you will soon realise that you’re not indulging your procrastination, but actually set up a few breaks. Breaks are guilt-free and they mentally recharge you for the rest of your day.

  • Break your important tasks into smaller ones

The bigger the goal the more difficult it is to actually start working on it. Shortly after, you begin to feel overwhelmed and procrastination is only a step away. So when you feel out of your element, try and break your task into more manageable steps, as small you feel you need. Soon enough, the steps you have to undertake will simply unfold in front of you.

  • Channel your fear

As mentioned earlier, fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves. Our brains are hardwired to survive, so in the moment you feel fear our instincts tell us to sit tight because nothing bad can happen this way. But if you manage to focus your fear, it can work for you and not against you. Pull out a pen and paper and write down the cold hard facts if you would continue to do nothing. Be honest to yourself, the purpose of this exercise is for you to understand that the fear you are experiencing at the moment is more manageable that the one you would feel when things are left undone.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-orer/my-very-own-3-steps-to-de_b_10360486.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/03/25/why-you-procrastinate-and-how-to-stop-it-now/#583832c51837

https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2016/04/15/10-scientifically-proven-tips-for-beating-procrastination/#7c78426c296a

https://www.themuse.com/advice/advice-procrastination-no-routine-change

The Effectiveness of High-Potential Employee Programs

High-potential (HIPO) employees find themselves in the top 5% within an organisation, based on their individual performances. They are considered the company’s most prized assets and are being tipped-off to go into leadership positions. But this is easier said than done. In most cases, organisations develop HIPO programs in order to train their best employees in becoming future leaders.

Although high-potential employee programs might seem like the perfect solution, over 40% of the people participating do not belong there, according to the data analysed by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). The information gathered by HBR consists of 1,964 high potential employees, from 3 distinct companies, who have measured their leadership abilities through 360° assessments. Feedback is immediate, with analysis reports being developed almost instantly. This type of assessment is done when organisations wish to measure capabilities such as low turnover, employee engagement and high productivity. Obviously, the better the score, the better the outcome.

When looking at the data gathered from the participants in the HIPO programs, the results were outlandish. 12% of them found themselves in the lowest quadrant in leadership effectiveness; resulting in an overall 42% below average. They’re not in the top 5% anymore, not by a mile.

What about the quality of the HIPO programs that are running in your company? There are a couple of mistakes that may come along the way in regards to these programs:

  1. Performance doesn’t equal potential: HIPO programs tend to focus too much on performance and that generally leads to problems in today’s ever changing business climate. First of all, most companies do not know how to measure performance given the fact that if subjective ratings are eliminated, there are very few metrics left to count on. Secondly, even if the right parameters are chosen to measure performance, most top performers cannot handle or are simply not prepared for the next level. The transition from being a simple employee to a manager, or from a manager to a leader, requires abilities most people haven’t been trained for before. Plus, there is always the possibility that HIPO employees focus on solving problems or an all-round team player. Unfortunately, this leads to people placed in jobs they are not able or do not want to perform. It is absolutely vital to understand that performance represents what you do and potential is simply what you COULD do. If you are really good at doing X this doesn’t mean you will be great at doing Y – X and Y here being two distinct activities.
  2. HIPO’s have their weaknesses: Here, the Pareto principle fits the bill quite perfectly. If you don’t know what the Pareto principle is, here is the explanation: 20% of employees make up for 80% of the company’s revenues and profits. Based on this idea, it is clear that 20% of employees cause 80% of the problems within an organisation. Coincidentally or not, they are most often than not, the same employees. HIPO personnel, who generally know their worth, are frequently more difficult to manage. Nevertheless, no matter how astute these people are, they tend to have a dark side as well. In this scenario, the HR department has to intervene. Unfortunately, when it does intervene, the focus is on improving their existing qualities which leaves out their other personality problems to roam free. Overworked strengths have a tendency to become weaknesses and that is not good news for any organisation.

It is a well-known fact that a top performer may start having difficulties at his job when he is placed in a leadership role. It is clear he may perform well in one company but he cannot have the same impact and results in another organisation. It all depends on his vision and leadership, and these qualities are not easy to find.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

We help you find the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. The GR8 360° tool is excellent at developing managerial competencies, skills and behaviours. When using this assessment, you will find over 50 dimensions that come along with suggestions for future improvement and development. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

 

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Sources:

www.hbr.org

www.dcebglobal.com

www.forbes.com

Top 7 HR Trends for 2017

A great many things will be changing in the HR world this year and they all revolve around one thing: the digital world. Although technology has been and will continuously change the world of work , the vast majority of changes will occur in the way we lead and oversee our companies’ operations. All of the HR trends that will be mentioned below involve ideas on how to “be digital” not just “act digital”.

Nowadays, the world of business is shifting from a “top-down hierarchical model” towards a “network of teams” where people are working in new and dynamic ways to solve problems. Businesses are now centred on the customers, everything around us moves at a very fast pace, thus creating the need for new ways of thinking and doing HR.

Prediction 1: Going further down into the Digital Era: As anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the past 20 years may have noticed, these are definitely the digital times. With the number of mobile phones forecasted to reach 4.77 bilion in 2017 and most of the jobs relying on computers to get work done, this year will lay even more emphasis on technology than before. Every employer will have to keep up with this trend, unless he wants to be left behind by  competitors that are willing to innovate with every given opportunity.

Prediction 2: Organisational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere

Given the fact that, in today’s world, markets are ever-changing and new digital products and services are being developed daily, the conventional approaches do not apply anymore. Since the rapid evolution of the internet and cloud services, the level of entry within a market has been reduced considerably. It is practically impossible to withhold “your market” just because you are a large corporation – a small start-up could reinvent the whole industry right in front of your eyes, and afterwards you are left trailing them for years to come.

Prediction 3: Multigenerational workforce management skills will be required: This year, leaders and managers will have to face a new challenge due to the fact that millennials become increasingly active in the world of work, while, at the other side of the spectrum, many Baby Boomers refuse to retire at the traditional age. This requires new skills from the people in managing roles, since these two generations are as different as chalk and cheese and they have contrasting needs, goals and wishes.

Prediction 4: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities

Although these topics might seem recurring, culture and engagement are some of the top priorities for HR managers everywhere. The cultural related issues will become increasingly more difficult to solve. This issue grows in importance. The latest research from Deloitte suggests that Millennials choose their employer based on their respective organisation’s “purpose”. In their latest High-Impact Leadership research, Deloitte discovered that organisations with a strong leadership culture are nine times better at finding and developing leaders than those companies who lack a consistent leadership culture.

Prediction 5: Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership

This may come as a shock to you but the overall engagement levels of today are no better than they were ten years ago. Taking into consideration the data obtained from Glassdoor, it has revealed that there is almost absolutely no improvement in employee ratings of their organisations during the past seven years. Approximately 40% of them think that “it is impossible to maintain a fast-growing career and a sound family life” given the “work-martyr” effect in organisations worldwide.

The idea for 2017 is simple – move HR from “personnel department” to a brand new role such as: “consultant in human performance”. There are numerous reasons why people are being held back from being productive at work and these range from: standing at a desk, defective office arrangements and management practices. There is a huge potential for HR in 2017 – to get rid of creating more and more programs that focus on “making work-life better”.

Prediction 6: Talent Recruitment

With all the technology available nowadays, including social networks, wearables and smartphones, talent is more easily accessible and has possibilities to choose form. 76% of full-time workers are either open to the idea of a new job or are actively looking for one, while 48% of employers are struggling to find the right people for their vacancies due to the skill gap. Given this situation, there will be a great emphasis on employee experience due to the fact that organisations are forced to focus more on their corporate culture and values if they wish to retain their best talent.

Prediction 7: There will be a huge focus on overcoming Algorithm Aversion

We have talked in a recent article about the advantages of relying on algorithms, rather than on the biased human instinct, but most HR seniors still face major difficulties when it comes to fully entrusting a computer. This struggle is understandable since the digital revolution happened basically overnight, but in order to take HR to the next level, managers ought to overcome their algorithm aversion and use the much more reliable, computer based, people analytics.

Great People Inside provides through the Next Generation People Intelligence Platform the best solutions and technology needed to find the right talent, the best fit for the job and for your organization. Easy to use and intuitive, the GR8PI Platform acknowledges all the latest trends and foreseeable employment issues in order for your company to thrive in the digital era.

 

 

Sources:

Bersin by Deloitte 2017 predictions

https://workplacetrends.com/candidate-experience-study/

https://workplacetrends.com/the-active-job-seeker-dilemma-study/

http://www.humanresourcestoday.com/2017/trends/?open-article-id=6004358&article-title=top-10-human-capital-trends-for-2017&blog-domain=predictiveindex.com&blog-title=the-predictive-index

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2016/11/01/workplace-trends-2017/#162b91063457

http://hrtrendinstitute.com/2016/11/23/hr_trends_2017/