Happy New Year! 🥳 I hope everyone is well and started the New Year with a bang!
I am sipping flat champagne out here on the patio as I write this at 10:13am. A bit early but we thought the bottle was empty and, as there was one glass left, I wasn’t going to waste it! Cheers! 🥂
So, if you have been here before, you’ll know I am running an experiment called the “$1 experiment”. The premise being I am looking to provide value free of charge but would welcome any donations people may wish to contribute if I add value.
Over the Christmas period I did drop my level of posts but I’ll kick that up a notch now the New Year is here.
How much have I earned so far?
So far I’ve had two donations! This has equated (after fees from Stripe) to $2.04 into my account. Thanks to Ryan and Glenn! 🙏
I’m certainly not retiring any time soon. But it’ll be fun to see how this goes over the next 365 days.
Plans to increase the value for 2022
My aim is to provide new tools every week, so 52 new tools by year’s end. These will cover topics such as:
developing a better mindset
dealing with different personalities
If there is something you’re interested in that may fit into one of the above topics, let me know in the comments and I’ll do some research and maybe develop a tool people can use to improve their effectiveness.
The blog part of the website will always be free with donations accepted if you feel there is value in what I provide.
I will be developing some products for payment but they will be clearly defined and apart from the blog.
Saturday and Sundays will posts are hereby now known as S&S.
Though short (and sweet), hopefully insightful to give you a shot of energy and focus to do “the thing” you may have been putting off, or re-starting that “thing” you know has value but you’re stuck somehow.
Today is about the growth mindset! Simply put, the growth mindset is a perspective that you can achieve what you want through learning, failing and trying again.
Whenever you mess up, and say you can’t do something, add the word “Yet” to the end of what you just said:
I can’t run 5km … Yet!
I haven’t achieved my goals … Yet!
White Men Can’t Jump … Yet! 😉
It’s the opposite to the fixed mindset that suggests all your abilities are … fixed … and there’s little point in trying.
As Henry Ford is well known for:
If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!
Okay, this is now too long! I give you … Sesame Street!
The SCARF Model was developed by David Rock in 2008. It may seem a deceptively simple model at first, but it creates a broad range of conversations to help develop you develop as well as the people around you and the team/s you lead.
SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.
The model depicts the possible reactions to the 5 areas when threatened or rewarded. In other words, if we recognise or help establish someone’s Status within a team, they will be more engaged. Threaten the Status and they may be less engaged, less productive and a flight risk!
First some definitions:
Status: Concerns an individual’s social standing, where do they fall in the pecking order.
Certainty: our brain’s ability to make accurate predictions about the future. Even if that prediction is that you’re sure you don’t know what’s coming.
Autonomy: The power to exert control over your environment.
Relatedness: feeling connected to other people—in particular people we identify as being similar to us.
Fairness: Humans have a hardwired desire for fairness. We seek a fair exchange of information, services and ideas. We also seek a fair exchange of respect, acknowledgement and a sense that we have been heard.
There is certainly more than one way to apply SCARF but I see benefit in the following:
Delivering SCARF is about providing each element to others. This might be seen as the role of a leader but it applies to anyone.
We can all raise the status of others. Acknowledge them, give them positive feedback, show appreciation, asking them to speak up in a meeting if you know they have something to contribute. It’s not difficult.
How can we provide certainty to our colleagues? What can we say and do that will help them be more confident and sure about the future? What information do you have that would be helpful? Do you have information you don’t fully understand and therefore not share it? If your team are relying on you, you may be putting certainty at risk!
How do we help them build the skills so they can achieve greater autonomy? What guidelines can they can work towards? Do you plan a direct report’s development with providing greater autonomy in mind? Do they know that?
How are we developing our relationships so they know they have something like a “best friend” at work? In the book, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, Wagner and Harter propose that,
“Something about a deep sense of affiliation with the people in an employee’s team drives him (sic) to do positive things for the business he (sic) would not otherwise do.”
To support this, you will likely find, when completing and reviewing exit interviews, the most common expression people provide is, “… the people were great … “
How can we ensure they know they are being treated fairly? This can be hard. Perhaps we use an internal compass. Do you suffer from the “horns or halo effect” where you consciously or, worse, subconsciously play favourites? (Worse be because you may not be aware that you do!)
Another aspect is taking responsibility to develop our own SCARF characteristics. These are similar questions but the responsibility is on ourselves to develop each elements of the model.
How can we raise our own status in order to make a greater contribution?
Can we take steps that will increase our own certainty? What research can we do? Who can we speak within the organisation? Is there product material we could read? All with the aim of being more confident within ourselves and, when the time is right helping others with this information.
Are we learning more about our role and responsibilities to allow greater autonomy because the boss trusts us? What are we demonstrating? What initiative are we showing?
Are we building our relationships with others in the team and across other teams?
Are we treating others fairly? How do we know and what can we do to ensure we meet this expectation?
One of the consequences of failing to consider these elements is staff turnover. I’ve seen this occur and I have been responsible for … fixing it!
I worked in an organisation where we had 40%+ staff turnover. It was just above the top of the industry range. We were turning over our whole staff every two years. As this was the resources industry (Mining & Gas) the cost of this was astronomical. Lose a good person and you had to replace them. If salaries were averaging $150k that meant recruitment costs were between $15k ands $30k. Do the math!
Twelve months later we were at 19%, just below the industry norm!
What did we do?
We increased out connection with your people.
We communicated what opportunities were available internally.
We developed recognition systems that truly valued people’s contribution.
We allowed the team to promote their areas to “recruit” internally.
We redoubled our efforts to remain in contact with people on site. We received feedback that once we placed them, we forgot them. More regular visits and news from “head office” were welcomed, rather than what was happening before. This showed we valued them and their opinions. They were connected to the company and felt part of something bigger. All of a sudden the greener grass elsewhere began to fade. (Status, Certainty, Relatedness)
We made sure they knew what was going on in the company. Many of these people knew colleagues on different projects and sites. And they talked. If we left a gap, they filled it in with their version of the “truth”. We worked to open the communication channels to get ahead of the rumour mill and keep in touch with those at risk. (Relatedness, Certainty)
This was crucial. We developed mechanisms to recognise years of service, outstanding project work and anything else worth a mention. And when a client sent through a compliment, we shared it far and wide. Not just a “thanks” back to the client. (Status, Relatedness, Fairness)
Team PromotionExpo (see note below)
This started off as a beast of a project to organise but was an outstanding success. The premise being an internal expo. Teams were invited to set up stalls to promote what they were doing. “Be as creative as you like”. They promoted what they did at their site and used all sorts of methods to do so. Some showed skills in presentation we didn’t know they had! They let people know what skills they used on site, what skills were still needed or would be needed soon. This allowed others who were rolling off projects to look at options internally. This was a huge relief to many, as they didn’t want to go on to the open market. Having roles come up internally provided a great deal of peace of mind. And those needing the skills, gained people who knew the culture and the basics of the project already, this limiting a downturn in project productivity. (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness)
Admittedly, we can reverse engineer any successful strategy. However, looking at what we accomplished without SCARF in mind, demonstrates the benefits of the model. The principles hold true.
Reviewing these tactics, and how they significantly impacted turnover, provides a template for what to do across a number of critical organisational strategies.
SCARF is a great tool for anyone, leader or not, to help improve the environment at work. (You can use this in your personal life as well.)
The basic premise is we operate by threat or reward. If something seems threatening, we work to avoid it. If something looks rewarding, we’ll move toward it.
When it comes to work environments, businesses and teams often look at material rewards to gain people’s cooperation, be it bonuses, gift cards, chocolates and time off, to name a few.
And they all have their place. (I am an anti “either/or” person. Things are seldom that black and white.)
But, using everyday human considerations, as described by the SCARF model, would go a long way to improving a workplace without additional monetary costs. Plus, it’s just a good thing to do.
But there needs to be a word of caution for anyone looking to adopt the model without investigating a little further.
The key is the “R” (Relatedness) in SCARF.
Relatedness is a feeling of being safe in the presence of others (trust vs distrust). We can flesh this out quite easily to say that good relationships at work are essential.
In addition, Todd Wagner & James K. Carter, PhD, cited in their great book “12: The Elements of Great Managing” the need of having a “best friend” at work. That is, good relationships.
Get the Relatedness element wrong, and you may struggle to see the results you are looking for. And many times the leader doesn’t know why.
Let’s look at how a less than ideal relationship might affect the other aspects of SCARF. Remember, if it is not ideal, it can be seen as a threat. And people try to avoid threats.
Is the relationship being used to create a win-win or a win-lose scenario? If it’s perceived as win-lose, then the status level of one party (Individual/Team/Division) is going to be diminished (i.e. threatened). If status is threatened, goodwill reduces. Teamwork fades and performance dissipates. Will the relationship break completely once one of the parties has achieved their personal goal? How will that affect the organisation?
How would a good relationship build certainty? If one party sensed the relationship wasn’t strong, how would that affect certainty in a role, in a team, in an organisation? Often, when there is uncertainty, people begin to fill in the gaps in the story. And, again, because this is a threatening situation, people tend to retreat. It can then be a self fulfilling prophecy of an adequate performer becoming a poor performer, not because they don’t have the skills, they’re in protection mode!
I have seen and experienced this myself. Be on the right side of the person and life is good. Be on the wrong side and it can go horribly wrong. All of a sudden you feel like you’re being watched and yet you may not have any real idea of what you have done … because there is no significant relationship. So, with less autonomy, they begin to follow the rules. If they follow the rules they are safe. Less initiative is shown, less risk and this can be viewed as poor(er) performance.
I hope it’s obvious what the lack of a good relationship will do to affect the fairness element of the SCARF model. And, more importantly the performance of the business.
What does this all mean?
Must every leader need to have a strong personal relationship with every member of their team?
From a logistical point of view, and when talking about large numbers, it’s likely not possible. But a leader can lead by example with their immediate team where it has more chance of flowing across the business.
Even leaders who do good things and with good intentions need to be aware e of the perception of their actions.
A humorous example is that of the late Colin Powell, as an image in his autobiography, A Soldier’s Way, shows. He often used the “six-gun” method when calling on reporters at the Pentagon. He’d done it for years and no-one told him. Then Saturday Night Live got a hold of it!
(On a More Serious) Case in Point
Two managers I know, different companies, make a point of walking through their business each morning to say hello, be available to talk with and be visible. It’s a quick walk and not intended to take a lot of time but the effort is made to engage with the staff and if an issue needs to be raised, they stop and listen.
One manager gets a great response. People look forward to the morning “chat with the boss.”
It’s a bit different with the other manager. His staff make a point of “hiding” when the morning walk begins. Some staff message others to say, “The boss is coming!” … it’s a warning!
Same activity, two very different outcomes.
It all hinges on the relationship.
Over to you. What have you seen that works well? Do you agree or disagree? Happy to have a conversation.
Note: Links to resources in this article do contain affiliate links. This means I may get a small payment if you use the link. The resources do not cost anymore to you.
Imagine your team. Imagine their performance mapped along a bell curve. It’s likely you’ll have a fairly common distribution.
You’ll have some at the right hand side, killing it. Mostly having good days, weeks and months. A good proportion will be in the mid range. What Kim Scott in Radical Candor* calls Rockstars! (Ch. 3, p 43). And on the left hand side of the bell curve are those who are not quite making it.
It’s these team members I want to address here because I have done what I’m about to describe (to my shame). If you make these mistakes it will cost you time, money, productivity and customer service.
The good news is … it’s all avoidable!
Mistake OnE: Fixed vs growth mindset!
Not theirs, yours! As coaches we can have an opinion of a direct report that they:
will not come to terms with a change
have always been this way
will never change
With this mindset, how do you think the coaching will go? Even if you are determined to be a good, objective and supportive coach, can you overcome the mindset? I’d suggest it’s harder than we think. I know most, if not all, coaches don’t want to be in this situation.
How to change the mindset to coach effectively?
As always, the following is going to depend a lot on your relationship with the individual. If you have a good, respectful relationship, options open up.
Have a conversation with your direct report and be open about your concerns.
Be open about you own thoughts and ask them for help – it may be more of a molehill than the mountain you’ve imagined.
Even if they agree with you, don’t take the easy way out too quickly. That’s just a path of least resistance. Stay with them and work with them on the solution. This is, in part, how you become a good/great coach. It’s when others look at your results and wonder :“How the hell did you get through to them? I’ve been trying for years!”
Dig deeper into what could be the learning, attitudinal or habitual issue. Many times we have performance issues due to a habit or belief. We don’t realise it because it’s in the subconscious. You don’t need to be a psychologist or therapist. Learn to ask good questions.
Over to you: what would you suggest?
Mistake Two: Average is the Enemy
Let’s imagine for a moment we have a person working for us who is on the left had side of the middle of the bell curve: they are considered a low performer.
At a minimum, we’d like them to hit the middle line. We’d like them to meet the goals of the role. We help them do this though coaching, performance management, counselling, training. A myriad of technologies.
Some people take to this like a duck to water. A little bit of coaching and development and they close the gap. Others take longer, like crawling across cut glass.
But let’s assume a happy ending and the performance gap closes.
What happens now?
What normally happens when we coach someone from the left hand side to the middle? From low performance to acceptable performance?
We stop the coaching and start monitoring and supporting.
We have just coached a below average performer to be … average!
The result being they will hover between just below and just above the acceptable level. As a leader we will deem this “okay”. Or, worse, we will be watching them like a hawk to re-start the performance management process again. That’ll make them feel comfortable! 😉
Why stop there?
You’ve just helped someone improve their performance. They may be keen to go further, to become a high performer.
What are your next steps?
Here are some thoughts.
Continue to engage with them about broadening their skills around particular aspects of the role. Aspects they may be able to improve quickly.
If it’s sales and service, help them with questioning and listening skills. Role play tough situations. Help them get comfortable with higher performance, so it becomes the new norm for them. So even with some dip in performance, they’ll still be above average!
Continue to provide feedback when they do something (positive) they hadn’t done before.
Partner them with a high performance colleague who has a bent for coaching and developing others. (Caution: some high performers hit their targets because they are left alone to get on with their work. Unless developing others is part of their development, I’d avoid these, at least at first! Again, first hand experience!)
Get them to log their achievements. It’s not an extra task, journaling is a very effective way of improving performance. This helps them reinforce their progress. These insights can also be used as tools in coaching sessions when looking to help them replicate good practices and habits.
Over to you: What have you seen work effectively?
As a coach we need to own our actions and mindsets. These mistakes cost you, the direct report and the company, money and misery.
As I confessed earlier, I’ve made these errors. (And maybe it’s just me!)
A common phrase these days is #IYKYK (if you know, you know).
Be on the lookout for your own mindset and, when you’re coaching someone who’s below par, enjoy the process of coaching them to high performance, not just average.
What have been your experiences? Have you seen this/done this? Prepared to share? 😉
I’ve been working with a business group over the past few months. We start off each session with 3 things we are grateful for. It can be a challenge at times. Some people don’t know what to write. Some think it’s corny. Some draw a blank and feel like they may be failing. Others just don’t care for it. To be honest, I find it hard sometimes.
I’ve been thinking a little deeper into my my model of life: Bamboo SL. One thing that has been missed in the model is the influence of feelings and how they drive us toward or away from things. They are kind of there but need to be brought more to the surface so I’m working on that. Stay tuned.
On the subject of feelings, gratitude is part of that. I thought it would be useful, rather than to try to think of things from the top of my head, I’d start to document what I am grateful for. And to document from both the physical and non physical aspect.
Let me know what you think.
The image above is of one of our spare rooms. It is also the room our granddaughter sleeps in when she sleeps over.
The point is to illustrate how I am learning to have gratitude.
This is the spare room. I’m grateful we have the room because it means Alex can sleep over. Having Alex sleep over means we get to see her develop and have fun with her. She is a super articulate kid. She’s got a bit of cheek and quite often she’ll come out with words and phrases we don’t expect a kid of four to have learnt (Not cuss words, normal words like “Grandad, I am very frustrated at the moment!”) I’m grateful for that too.
The pictures on the wall have been created by my daughter and my sister. I love the paintings and am reminded how talented they are. Each time I see my daughter’s painting (on the left) I get a real sense of warmth and love for her. It’s a relatively simple painting but is also quite expressive and a joyful image.
The picture by my sister is also quite playful and bright. It’s a cheerful image for which I am also grateful. It’s also a but quirky, like my sister! 😉
The bedspread was made by my wife. She has created a few of these and they are projects in themselves. We actually bought a cabinet to store them all! It takes, patience and an eye for colour and coordination. It’s a work of art in itself. I am of no help at all but the kids get involved and it becomes a team effort.
Lastly, on the side table on the right hand side of the bed is a small drawing of boats. It’s by my grandmother, Portia Bennett, who was a well regarded artist in her day. I have a few of her paintings.
And so, from one room, I can highlight quite a few things I am grateful for. The physical items have meaning for me as do the people associated with them. There is a lot of talent in the family and also the fact that people will do things for others to help make life a little nicer. And they bring joy to me and those who receive them – if we’ll slow down and recognise that.
If you are struggling to find things to give gratitude for, can I suggest an exercise?
Go through each room and list the items in the room. Perhaps just list the items at first. Maybe in a notebook down the side a page. And then, over time or when the thought strikes you, write alongside the item what you are grateful for.
What does the item do for you? How does it, or what it does or maybe just infers, make you feel? Could you be grateful for that?
You know those times when you’re facing a challenge and you wonder if you’re up to it? All you see is the challenge and little of the opportunity?
I had that a few years ago.
In 2007, I’d joined an Engineering Group as Head of Human Resources and, on day one, I was tasked with creating an emerging leaders learning retreat … in 6 weeks time.
It was possibly partly a test. It is a tough industry and they were looking to see what I could do. Could I do this? So much to do and organise and it was just me. No staff. No support. The PAs of the Execs didn’t know me so no favours were coming from that area.
I had to think about selecting the participants with some logic. My experience in Learning & Development required me to have learning outcomes, behavioural change and get the right people in the room.
I had to develop the program. Organise the guest speakers. Locate a venue with catering. Establish costings along with submissions for approval. Back and forth discussions with the COO and the CFO on “Why this?” and “Why that?” and “Can’t you do this cheaper?” (Good times!)
Plus, the other parts of the HR job in general. I was the first HR Manager at the time so everyone wanted a piece of me.
Remembering significant achievements can help you when you’re feeling flat, demotivated and useless. Hey, we all do at times. Have you ever been asked what your greatest achievements are and, in the moment, come up blank? Or maybe you just dismiss them? Yep, me too! 😉
Here’s what I’ve started doing …
Open up your note app of choice, in my case it’s Apple Notes, but feel free to use a physical notebook.
Write down all the achievements you have been responsible for. Could be something you led or played a significant role in (work or personal).
Think about the achievement and how you “felt”. Make sure to write down how you felt at the time. If you can, bask in that glory for a minute, and re-live the emotion. Emotions are great motivators!
Write that down next to the achievement. “I changed “x” to “y” and it was bloody hard work but in that moment I felt on top of the world!”
Keep it visible. If you use something like Apple Notes, you can pin that to the top of your notes so it’s always there to see and re-read!
If you use a physical notebook, place a tab on the page (pages 🙌) so you can refer to it when you need to.
When you’re having a tough day or simply faced with a challenge, take 5 minutes to review these achievements, feel the emotion and gratitude you had at the time. Feel “on top of the world again!”
You did it then, you can do it now!
Outcome: The Emerging Leaders Workshop
Over 3 days, we had 20+ emerging leaders on the program. They had come from all over Australia, Vietnam and Dubai.
We walked them through a business case study and allowed them to interact with each other, challenge each other and develop plans to become better.
We developed some business “truths” and created stronger relationships between the offices and the various engineering disciplines.
I think the CFO and COO were mildly stunned I had pulled it off and were very happy with the outcomes.
That experience is one I remember when faced with a challenge today. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Even writing this out has been beneficial.
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).
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.