dr carl robinson

The Currency of Success - Interpersonal Intelligence™


The Language of Motivation

You are a successful manager. You have invested in your team, and it has paid off in a positive working relationship. So where does it go from here?
Can you maintain the praise and rewards that have gotten you to this point? Praise and rewards work well for a limited time, but at some point the team dynamic shifts, yet you need to keep inertia going. So how do you make that transition?
No matter who it is, we all do better if we feel better. Performance rises when the employee in question feels valued and that what they are doing matters. This is where a tenor of ongoing regard can go a long way to developing your team; indeed, it pays off in even more (and higher quality) returns from staff than any rewards can offer.
To accomplish this, practice using the language of motivational regard. Our default mode is often to
1) be stingy with communication about how another’s behaviors matter to us at work
2) when we do acknowledge their contribution, we tend to use indirect, non-specific language and characterize others as a certain “kind” of person. All three of these diminish your ability to develop an atmosphere of motivational regard.
Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, in their book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, advise us that communicating our regard successfully must include specific, direct language, and we must use non-attributive language. Let’s take a look at each of these points:
Being Direct
Directness lends power to your appreciation. We often praise staff members by speaking well of them in front of others (at the weekly staff meeting, for example). It might go something like this: “I just want to say a word of appreciation to Bob who went out of his way to…” This communication is in third person, and is essentially being delivered to the group. Next time you are giving positive feedback, speak directly to the target of your admiration, in front of the group.
Being Specific
Since our communications are often quite general, we end up expressing more about our good feeling than what the staff member actually did to make us feel so great. You might say something like, “Joe, at the staff meeting last week, I thought you were great. I felt so glad that you were on this project with us! This kind of comment may lead Joe to feel good for the moment, but it doesn’t lay the groundwork for further. Specific compliments pay off for now and the long term relationship.
Being Non-Attributive
Carefully use words to compliment specific accomplishments, not to confer attributes on someone. That is, don’t characterize the other person. Instead, describe your experience in working with them.
This can be the most difficult of the three points to put into practice. Instead of telling a direct report, “I want to tell you how much I appreciate how generous you are” use a comment such as, “I want to tell you that your generosity in yesterday’s negotiations broke the tension.”

Using all three of these communication attributes will result in honest, effective encouragement of your staff. It moves you from a manager who hands out praises and rewards to one who recognizes accomplishments and builds an atmosphere of sincerity within your team.

The Art of Effective Delegation

If you are reading the newsletter, then you have already taken a step towards staying “Ahead of the game”. People like yourselves have likely already proven themselves as “Producers”. But if you are a producer who can delegate effectively, then your accomplishments far exceed your efforts, because those you foster will also be producers for you, exponentially increasing your output.
Most managers may think this obvious; of course you have been delegating tasks for years. However, let’s focus on effective delegation that focuses on results instead of methods. This kind of delegation allows people to choose the method of accomplishing the task you have delegated to them, and makes them responsible for the results.
This initially takes more time, but is well worth the investment. By developing mutual understanding in the following areas, you will be able to foster stewardship delegation versus task delegation. Let’s review those areas:
Desired Results—Start by creating a mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Be clear, and focus on what needs to be accomplished, versus how it is going to happen.
Guidelines—Identify parameters and possible pitfalls; are there mistakes you have made that you can share? Are there resources that are off limits in this situation? Share these with your subordinate, so he or she doesn’t waste time and energy going down a “failure” path.
Resources—Identify the human, technical, financial or organizational resources that are available.
Accountability—What are the standards of performance? Don’t leave the set-up meeting without conveying a performance expectation.
What will bring out the best in your staff? Fostering trust. Trust is the highest form of motivation. This takes time and training, but is well worth the investment. Stewardship Delegation, as it is called by Stephen Covey, in his landmark classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will ultimately result in much more work getting done.

Effective Stewardship Delegation will result in much higher returns, and naturally combats Gofer Delegation that requires management of methods as well as results. If you spend your time managing staff in this way, your time will be spent doing all of the process and results management. How many people can you manage in this way? Not very many. Investing in Stewardship Delegation will have positive results for everyone.

The Situation Room: Mixed Results

Your fiscal year is coming to an end. Last year around this time you challenged your workforce to implement several new programs, step up their measurable service rating through increased positive responses in client surveys, and provided three tiers of goals to measure fiscal success.
Your marketplace had been arching, so it was no surprise that you reached all three levels of your goals – however you dwarfed even the highest tier, adding nearly 15% on top of what you thought would be difficult to reach.
The biggest surprise was in the customer service surveys, where you went from a respectable 91% up to a staggering 98.5% satisfaction rating in regards to your frontline service workers. Each of the other managed components for whom a satisfaction rating is compiled, supervisors, sales staff, and IT support stayed nearly identical to the numbers from previous years. However there was a noticeable decrease in satisfaction rating numbers from the product repair department where they dropped from 87% to 79%. The director of the department blamed the drop on a new part that failed consistently, leading to customer frustration, although there was nothing directly in the survey from clients supporting that claim.
You want to recognize everyone in the organization for helping you to exceed goals, and will deal with the possibility of faulty components as a contributor to the low rating for the repairs department. However you want to give special credit to the customer service department at your annual meeting for their increase. How can you best leverage their success to inspire other departments without making the repairs department feel worse for being the only division to see a slide – especially one that may not have been completely their doing?

How Would You Handle This Situation?

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