Self Efficacy and Self Talk

So there’s this thing called self efficacy.

“Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.” (Source)

There is another concept called self talk.

Self-talk is our internal dialogue. It’s influenced by our subconscious mind, and it reveals our thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas.” (Source)

Most people talk negatively to themselves most of the time. If it’s not negative, then it is neutral, with little to no power to progress.

In order to make progress

We need to improve our self efficacy, the ability to cause something to happen. Otherwise we will remain waiting for something to happen. Waiting on others, or waiting for a windfall.

To improve our self efficacy we can look to improve our self talk. Note from the source above, it can be influenced by some deeply held beliefs we may need to challenge or at least question.

What do you hold to that may not be true?

We could be talking ourselves out of the very things we want to happen in our lives, career, relationships etc.

As Henry Ford said,

If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!

What do you want to have happen?

How are you talking to yourself about it?

The Wrong Question

There is an oft quoted challenge: “If money and time weren’t an issue, what would you do with your life?”

I don’t think that is a good question. I think there might be a better question.

It presumes that time and money are the only variables.

Time and money are tools. We can accumulate and use both.
But we should not be defined by those two variables.

I get the point of the question but it limits our options.

It presupposes something like the following: “Well, I don’t have the time … or the money. So what can I do?”

And it potentially absolves us of responsibility.

Perhaps a better question might be:

“If I was who I really wanted to be, what would I do?”

Find out what that is and find a way to do that!

Feedback and the SCARF Model

In my last post I described a feedback model that has been proven to be easy and effective.

It also fits in well to the SCARF Model as developed by David Rock.

SCARF Stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.

If you are unfamiliar with the Model, it proposes that humans have two basic modes: Threat & Reward.

Anything that happens which threatens you, you will move to defend or get away from. We know it as the “flight, fight or freeze” model.

Anything that is seen as a reward we will move towards.

Using the feedback model I proposed (R-ASBINT) we can see that it fits in well with SCARF.

Firstly, if you have a good relationship with the person you are giving feedback to, they are more likely to accept the feedback or at least listen to it and reflect on it positively. They may decide it’s not true or effective so they will make their choice to act on the feedback or not.

However, this is better than the alternative where there is little to no positive relationship and the feedback is seen as a threat. The person may become defensive or simply not act on it in any way. It may also worsen the relationship, making further feedback even less effective.

Relationship = Relatedness/Status

The Relationship side of feedback, corresponds to the Relatedness factor in the SCARF model. A good relationship also builds the Status within the SCARF model. A person confident in their Status will act more openly and creatively, knowing they are well regarded and regard themselves well.

Behaviour = Certainty

Offering feedback also helps create greater Certainty. Again, this relies on a good relationship to get the best out of it. Providing clear feedback builds certainty in an individual’s world. Letting them know a missed deadline is not acceptable. Or arriving at a meeting late and/or unprepared. And, just as importantly, letting people know when a good job has been done, reinforcing the behaviour and attitudes that need to become the norm.

In our current crazy world, some things may be difficult to be clear on. So it is even more important to provide feedback where some certainly or clarity can be provided.

Next Time = Autonomy

Where the feedback model looks for the behavioural change in the “Next Time …” stage, the model suggests not to dictate what to do. We allow the individual to choose how they will close the gap or continue the good behaviour. We do this by simply stating, “Could you do that differently?”, “Could you fix that?”, or “That’s awesome what you did!”. This relates to Autonomy in the SCARF Model, which give the individual the choice on how they want to develop. Sure, if they need help, provide it. But people are more capable than we might think and if you are clear on your feedback and situation, they’ll have an idea of what to do.

Simple = Fairness

Fairness in the SCARF Model is where the feedback model is so simple and easy to do. It’s also quick, you don’t need a meeting in a closed office, you can do it on the fly. So it allows for greater equity in our dealings with our teams.

Look for opportunities to provide feedback to your team members, peers and managers as the opportunities arise. Don’t just focus on those you want to “Fix”!

Finally

Management and leadership practices don’t operate in a vacuum. Many of our behaviours, beliefs and attitudes flow into all parts of our practices. Being more conscious of them, at least initially, until they become habitual will go a long way to building the self image of your team to becoming high performers.

Try the feedback model for a month. See how you go.

I’d be keen to hear from you.

I’d start with focusing on positive feedback. Often, at least in my experience, when team members are feeling food about themselves, the last thing they want to do is let their manager down. And many times they know when they are cutting corners. You may find as you provide the positive, constructive feedback, the gaps you currently see may disappear automagically!

Is this the worst acronym in management?

R-ASBINT

Feedback is often delivered awkwardly so it deserves an awkward acronym!
Pronounced Rasbint, it lists the steps in delivering effective, ongoing feedback.

Let’s have a look

Feedback is one the most effective ways to help develop high performance. Unfortunately, people tend to shy away from giving feedback. At least, feedback that infers a gap in performance. We might call it constructive feedback but the receiver may take it as negative feedback. And so, it can be delivered poorly. It is either too infrequently. It can be too vague or it can be over emphasised … like a storm in a teacup. Sometimes the intent is to coerce or belittle and to make the deliverer of the feedback feel better.

Worse still, delays in providing feedback, can have long term effects on the individual, team and business performance. Delayed too long and it gets swept under the carpet altogether.

So why do we give feedback in the first place?

The aim of feedback is to always improve future performance.

That’s it. Nothing else. Learn from the mistake, take corrective action next time and move on. Anything else simply over complicates it. (Feel free to Agree/Disagree in the comments).

Therefore, if you’ll accept my aim of feedback, let’s look at the R-ASBINT Model.

R – Relationship: This is fundamental in all leadership/management roles. How solid is your relationship with your team or the individual? The stronger it is, the more effective the feedback will be. That is why it is separated from the acronym by the hyphen. You can do ASBINT on its own but you’ll get better results with a strong R. Be sure to build the relationship with your team and the feedback will be a lot easier.

A – Ask: This is where Manager Tools with Mark Horstman and Michael Auzanne, differ from many other models. Ask first. It may be rhetorical (see Note below) and you will give the feedback anyway, but asking first is professional and polite. This helps with the R part above. People in good relationships don’t bulldoze others. And, hey, isn’t it nice to be asked?

Keep it simple: “Hey, can I give you some feedback …?”

S – Situation: Outline the situation you’re referring to, so that the context is clear and specific. This could be really simple like: “When we have have our weekly sales meetings…”, or “When we need to submit our monthly reports…” or even,”When we’re in a meeting …”.

Behaviour: Describe the behaviour you saw. Not what you thought you saw. Be objective, factual, clear. (e.g. your report missed the deadline.) Also, remove any inflammatory emotion if the behaviour has triggered you. If you use phrases like: “When you do the thing, it p!sses me off!” you’re making it about you and not about the performance.

“When we have our weekly sales meetings and you’re late …”

“When you don’t submit your data on time …”

“When you yawn in the sales meeting …”

Impact: Describe why it’s an issue. Be clear, concise, no stories and no lecturing. (e.g. when the report is late, it delays the Board Report and other people’s schedules).

Again, I like how Mark Horstman says it at Manager Tools:

When you, did the thing, here’s what happens …”

Next Time: This (to me) is the best part. There’s no need for a long drawn out discussion. Simply say something like: “Could you fix that?” (Inferring next time), or, “Can you address that next month?” In addition, by leaving the solution with them, you remove the possibility of a “Yeah, but …”. If you tell them how to fix it, they may have a legitimate reason why your solution won’t work. (I know, how could your solution not ever work! 😉)

Thanks: Okay, maybe this is the best part. Say thanks and move on to your next task. Polite, professional, genuine.

Why it works

– It’s quick. It takes around 10 – 20 seconds in most cases.
– It’s conversational. There’s that R factor again.
– You don’t need a room to speak with them. I cringe at the times I took someone into a room (for privacy) when a quick message like this would’ve been better. Can you imagine what they must have been thinking? As well as those working with them? Were they next? (Of course, if you need a room for privacy because of the nature of the feedback, please use common sense.)
– It’s polite and professional.
– It allows autonomy on the part of the recipient. You’re not telling them how to do their job.
– What you’re asking is likely aligned to a KPI or agreed outcome.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

How do you successfully deliver feedback?

Note: Is Asking really rhetorical? Actually, no! If you ask the question, the recipient has the right to decline. And we need to respect that. This reinforces why a good relationship is so important. Keep in mind when people are offered feedback, generally, their automatic response is, ”this can’t be good!” So the chance are they’ll be defensive at first. If this is the case, start by offering good feedback for a while. We need to be doing that anyway. Look for things people do well as often as possible. Make sure you comment on that.

Be That Guy! (or Girl!)

Be That Guy!

Yes, be that guy! (or girl) in the sense of being the person you want to be.

I don’t mean in a new age, woo-woo manner (though there’s nothing wrong with that either!) What I mean is taking the time to define who and what you want to be in your best role or current role.

How do you see yourself at the moment?

A simple analogy: look in a mirror. Do you like what you see? This doesn’t mean you need to hate what you see or what you are. Just look and see what you’d like to change.

If you don’t think the shirt goes with the dress, change one of them. If you need a new hairstyle, go to a hairdresser.

Now work on the real you: do you get angry easily? How can you address that?

When you give presentations, are you cool and calm and enjoy the process or are you all nerves and flustered? How can you address that?

How do you talk to yourself? Are you encouraging yourself or berating yourself? How can you address that?

There is a saying to “find the job you love”. If you have done that, greatI If not, great: “love the job you find!”

More importantly, “love the ‘you’ you find!”

The ball is in your court.

And here’s a simple way to start moving further along the achievement line.

Grab a piece of paper.

Step One: List down up to 5 things you really want to address.

Step Two: Now pick one of those items you’d like to work on first (or select the one that will provide you the biggest improvement)

Step Three: Using the item you have selected list down up to 3-5 things about it that you do well, or want to do well. For example, if you selected “talk well to yourself”, what 5 things could you do (or are doing) that supports the notion of you being productive?

Step Four: Looking at those 5 items, select one that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Write that one down, or highlight it.

Here’s the fun part:

Step Five: Action: What will you do, each day, to develop that item?

Working example:

List 5 things you want to improve on: presentation skills, meditation, pause before reacting, highlight strengths of others, reflect gratitude

Choose Meditation/Mindfulness

List 3-5 things you do, or want to do, that will help you be more mindful: start mediating in the morning, read books on the benefits of mindfulness, write “be more mindful” in a conspicuous place, remove distractions (social media?)

Biggest bang: start meditating in the morning – will set me up for the day as well as reducing social media in the morning (double win!)

Action: segment my morning routine to allow 10 minutes for meditating, download an app, add to calendar.

While the process above may appear simple, the critical factor is moving towards being the person you want to be.

Following something relatively simple like this will help you see progress and, if you miss an opportunity, you will be able to quickly get back on track.

Change Win-Lose to Win-Learn

No-one likes losing. I don’t! I generally feel like I’ve take a step backwards. Those I work with may have lost a little faith.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I think it’s apocryphal but if it took 10,000 failures for Edison to invent the light bulb, noting each time that, “well, that didn’t work”, and then “that didn’t work” – 10,000 times, it was all learning, not losing.

More recently, a product called WD-40, has that name because the first 39 versions did not achieve what the creators were developing! (HT to Michelle Ockers of Learning Uncut)

I attended a leadership course a couple of years ago and here are my bullet points I rediscovered while re-organising my reference material (bracketed notes are my thoughts now):

– There is always more than one perspective, you may need to change lenses (this can be tough, especially in a topic you thought you had sorted already but …)
– There’s generally more than one “right” answer (and rather than thinking we were wrong or fell short, maybe we just added a cool new tool to our toolkit.)
– And, building on that, don’t stop at the first “right” answer you find (always ask, at least initially, “And what else …?”)
– Learn to sell your “photos”, or, in management terms, your vision (the “photo” reference may have come from a story in the course which I cannot recall)
– Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (this is a well worn truism, still true though)
– Break the pattern (people maybe more comfortable with unhappiness than uncertainty (Tim Ferris, 4 Hour Work Week, p xx). Breaking the patterns may need broad shoulders for a while. People are comfortable with their own patterns.)
– Reframe the problem to be an opportunity (e.g. what can I learn from this gap?)

Every time we look at what we have done and critically analyse it, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn something new:
– about ourselves and
– about those we work with.

Maybe it’s Not the To Do List

When it comes to productivity and to do lists, there is a plethora of apps and processes that promise to alleviate us of our stress and make our lives so much better.

Many of these tools help us accomplish those things. But there are also situations where we look at our list, whether it’s in a notebook, on an app or in our head and we still get overwhelmed. There is just too much to do and not enough time. Apparently, the ancient Romans had the same issue!

I’ve been pondering if there is a root cause. Something besides the number of tasks and the time we have. Even the most disciplined people can “fall off the wagon” and need to get back in control. What causes this?

The founder of Ness Labs, Anne-Laure Le Cunff (@anthilemoon) has just begun a YouTube channel and she discusses three types of motivation when it comes to procrastination. One of which I want to discuss here: perceived abilities.

If we look at our to do lists we see a lot of tasks that come within the brief of our job, whether that job is your employment or a more casual (non-KPI’d) role, like being a dad or a friend or a maintenance guy around the house (I have the fix the headlight on my car! Update: it’s fixed! 🙌).

We can look at the list of tasks and some are relatively easy to do. For me, presenting in public comes relatively easy, simply because I’ve done it so many times and feedback has been good (or, perhaps, polite! 😉). Therefore, if someone asks me to do a presentation, I’m not going to get too anxious, in fact, I’ll probably look forward to it! Weird huh?).

In another area of my role, as a Change Analyst, I’m relatively new to the function and I’m working on an IT project, which is also new to me. I’ve been asked to develop a change plan. Not something I’ve done before. I have been given guidance and a template and plenty of support. I still procrastinate and look at the task, not with dread, but certainly with a little less confidence than giving a presentation. There are so many elements that go into a change plan I don’t really know where to start, or what is enough information and what might be too much.

As I develop my change analyst skills, this will become easier. We grow, even if subconsciously, in the things we repeatedly do.

Therefore, when I suggest the list isn’t the problem, I’m suggesting it might be the skill set required to complete the tasks on the list. Brian Tracy authored the book, “Eat That Frog” to help people get over the toughest task of the day early. My question is, “Why is it tough?” Referring back to Anne-Laure‘s* video, she also discusses two other motivational areas: head and heart. She explains it better than I can, so head on over to the video (and subscribe while you’re there).

For many of us, me included, a long list can cause anxiety in and of itself. But then, as you decide which task to tackle first (or second, or third …), you need to be aware of what skills you have to complete the task. And what skills you need. And once you have decided that, what are you going to do about it to become more competent, less anxious and enjoy the task more.

Here’s my Plan

My process will be to look at tasks and batch them. As Tim Ferriss* (among others) has written and spoken of time and time again you don’t need to know everything about a topic, you just need to know the top 20-30% of things (Tim refers to speaking Japanese and how many words you really need to learn!) To me this means: what skills do many of these tasks require and what skills do I need to develop.

Touch Typing

I have been procrastinating on touch typing. Why? Even though I am making small progress, I just want to be able to do it now! I start and stop with the practice. I know becoming competent will benefit me, especially as my mind races with thoughts that I cannot get out quick enough.

Learning how to develop a Zettelkasten

Another is developing a Zettelkasten approach to note taking to help me learn more, with more interest and, in the long run, learn quicker.

Both of the above would help me develop change plans better, as one example, and through more effective research and developing ideas.

The list itself, at least for me, isn’t the basic issue. It’s having or developing the skills I need to complete the tasks on the list; whether I am looking at the larger outcome (Change Plan) or breaking it down to smaller tasks.

Coming Up: How Developing the Skills adds to the Time to Complete Tasks

*shameless name dropping! 🙂

Winning

Did you win yesterday? Are you going to win today?

What I mean by “winning” is – was it (will it be) a good day?

Our life is made up of moments. Just like games of football (above) over 90 minutes. Each moment contributes to the final score. The run, the pass, the kick …

The score, though, summarises the minutes and moments of the game.

What happened during the game that resulted in the final score?

How do you develop your “game plan”?

Coaches of sporting teams often talks in terms of “week at a time” or, “not looking past next week”.

Stephen Covey used the weekly planner as his basis for time planning. And weeks are made up of days and days, as we know, are made up of moments.

What moments do you know you’ll have today?

How will you plan for them? Enjoy them? Learn from them?

Learning from them implies reflection. Do you stop long enough to reflect?

How do you reflect? Do you quickly breeze through it, or do you stop, write down your thoughts and ensuing conclusions? And plan again?

I hope you do.

Yellow Button

It all started before 2010. We bought our first PVR (Personal Video Recorder). It was a Topfield.

It also cost $892! 

My wife was a little stunned, a little angry and wondered what on earth I had done. I had tried explain to her what a PVR was and the benefits of owning one would bring.

And so, we had our PVR …

Once we had it set up, my wife discovered the yellow button. On our remote control the yellow button was the 30-second skip ahead function. Guess how long most adverts are?

By recording a show on free-to-air TV we could skip through the ads! We used it so often that, literally, 12 months later, we’d accidentally watch an ad and say, “so that’s what that’s about!” It also rescued watching time considerably! Do you realise how many ads there are sometimes duding commercial television? We’d count them sometimes, nine was our record. Nine times 30 seconds (4.5 minutes), 3 or 4 times during a show!

The yellow button saved us time and some frustration.

Since then we’ve referred to anything we do that brings a benefit as our “yellow button”.

We can make our lives a little easier even though there might be an upfront cost – changing routines, eating differently, getting more exercise, meditating, reading positive books, getting off Facebook!

As you make one change, other changes can become easier, the cost to change reduces.

What has been your “yellow button”?

What change did you invest in that made a significant, positive impact?

Facile

Definition: Easily accomplished (Latin, French origins)

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” – Einstein

When I started training to be a facilitator, I learnt where the word facilitator came from – facile. To help make things easy to accomplish.

That was it, my job was to maker things easier for others to their jobs well.

People like James Clear in his book Atomic Habits also promotes making things easier when you are trying to take on new routines.

Cal Newport in his book Deep Work is advocating for setting up guidelines to make deep work easier.

Why would we try to make it hard for ourselves?

We should be doing what we can to make our lives and those we work with easier or simpler to help them and us achieve our goals.

This starts at home and continues into the work itself.

At home it begins with things like ensuring we get the best possible sleep, eating heathy meals (which can vary between individuals), getting enough sunlight and exercise. Simple things in themselves but each can affect our happiness and performance, particularly when added together.

If we are not happy, our energy and focus suffers, which will in turn affect our work. And as we get to work, how do we structure our days so we can be the best we can be?

It can be having specific routines and clear expectations. This will allow you and your direct reports to know exactly what is required, when and how.

There is a peace of mind and clarity in knowing what to do and how to do it.

For example, every day, before I get to the office I have listed my 3 Most Important Things (MITs) . They are my focus for the day – outside of my routine tasks. My day will already be busy so by having these priorities I can say no to casual, generally less important requests and focus on daily responsibilities and my 3 MITs.

I think of it like this: at the end of each day I am going to mentally reflect on how I went, even just casually. Was it a good day or a bad day? And then, what caused it to be good or bad? What was in my control and what was not?

If I allow the tasks of the day to jumble up and cause chaos that is my responsibility alone. Yes, there will be days where the “proverbial really hits the fan” and I need to throw my plans out, but over 221* working days in a year, most of those days I will be in relative control.

I will be in control because I have plans, routines and execution strategies to help me focus and keep things simple. I don’t need any further friction.

I do these things to make my life easier. Work, sometimes, is not easy but I don’t have it make it harder than it needs to be either.

 


*221 working days is determined as follows (in Australia):

  • 365 days in a year
  • – 104 days are 2 day weekends
  • – 20 days are annual leave (if taken)
  • – 10 days are public holidays
  • – 10 days are sick leave (if taken)