In our last couple articles, Empathy in Feedback with Positive Intelligence and Bookmark Core Issues, we discussed a variety of great language tools that can be used to present feedback in positive ways using the ideas from Shirzad Chamine’s book “Positive Intelligence.” Now we are going to dive into how to use these ideas to improve workplace harmony, particularly in team meetings. If you haven’t read the last two articles yet, I suggest that you read those first. They will really help with your background understanding of this topic.
Humans and Professionals
At some point in the last couple hundred years our culture forgot that people at work are still people. It might have been right around the time that the word “boss” was invented. Perhaps it came about in the 19-teens with the advent of the billable hour. Whatever the case, there seems to be this idea in our culture that to be “professional” is to be emotionless… or at least devoid of negative emotions. We expect each other to be impeccable in our communication, rational, and, well… perfect.
Let’s go ahead and debunk that right now.
Any system that is based on a set of expectations outside of the scope of reality will never work. No matter what wacky expectations some may have, it doesn’t change the fact that humans are emotional beings. If we want to improve workplace harmony and communication, we need to accept that people have different strengths, passions, and values. That diversity is what gives groups strength, provided that we find people who are the correct fit for the roles needed on the team.
In Les McKeown’s fantastic book The Synergist, he discusses the importance of team-based decision making. This process is a very important step on the journey to Predictable Success. Les breaks the process of decision making down into three main steps that he calls “The 3 I’s.”
These three steps are: Investigation, Interpretation, and Implementation.
Each of the three steps has a sequence of smaller steps within. They encapsulate the main discussions that a team needs to have in order to make an effective decision. Having the discussion dissolve into argument, stalemate, or not having all members of the team on-board and ready to act upon the end result would not be effective. In order for decisions to truly be effective, everyone who has a stake in the outcome needs to be able to take part in the decision making process on some level, and understand why the decision reached is the best option for all. This goes a long way toward building better workplace harmony and improved profitability for the company.
Saboteur Team Decisions
Now think back to the last couple of articles where we discussed Shirzad Chamine’s book, Positive Intelligence. Imagine trying to make an effective team decision when each member’s saboteurs are holding the reins on the meeting. One member’s stickler ignites another member’s victim, and next thing we know we are no longer discussing the matter at hand like rational adults. Instead we are talking about the dissatisfaction and hurt feelings of the members of the team. That is not the path to workplace harmony.
It does not work to build a system based on expectations outside of reality. People are human, and we all have emotions. Those emotions can be powerful assets when handled properly. Pretending they are not there does not fall under the “properly” umbrella.
This is where the ideas of Les McKeown and Shirzad Chamine fit very well together. In the Synergist, Les gives us fantastic tools to build our Synergist capabilities. In this way we can more effectively empathize with our teammates, understand and appreciate the importance of their roles, and communicate in ways that will be more effective for all of the different personality types on the team. Shirzad helps us to better understand each of our own pitfalls. By doing so, we can maintain an open mind and recognize when our saboteurs may be working against our best interests.
Landmines, Tangents, Socks, Smoke & Mirrors, and Bookmarks. Oh My!
In the last two articles, we introduced a nice array of vocabulary words that can be used in positive communication. These same words can be used to improve workplace harmony. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to read the previous articles, as Socks and Bookmarks can be particularly confusing out of context.
I spoke with my business partner, Vanessa, the morning after the fantastic discussions that led to these articles. Vanessa and I went over the terms that Jeff and I invented the day before. We decided to add them to our company lexicon at Polymath, in our ever-present efforts to adapt and evolve in our workplace harmony.
Tangents & Bookmarks in Team Meetings
It takes time to get into new habits, and using new language tools are no exception. These tools are most effective when in a focused team-meeting and using the Three I’s, particularly in the Investigation and Interpretation stages. Our team endeavors to ask all of the questions necessary to uncover the information needed to make the decision while embracing change as a catalyst for growth. We also want to make sure that we don’t get bogged down in “analysis paralysis,” which causes failure to launch.
During these discussions, other important information will inevitably arise. For example, when talking about pricing for a big client, other discussions may come up. Perhaps we need improvements to our onboarding process or CRM, and someone was just hit with inspiration. This could create a tangent. If we do not acknowledge the idea, it can cause the team member who voiced it to feel cast aside. We also may be missing out on a potential solution for a pain-point in another area. By having a process to Bookmark great ideas that come up in tangents, we have eliminated both of those problems. This creates better workplace harmony.
Socks in the Workplace
A team member who is not interested in personal growth could be holding the rest of the team back. A team member who is unwilling to improve through Positive Intelligence will continue to sabotage their own interests and the efforts of those around them. This is where Les McKeown’s concept of the Enterprise Commitment comes in handy.
The Enterprise Commitment: When working with a team or group, we each agree to place the interests of the enterprise above our personal interests.
By ensuring that team members adhere to the Enterprise Commitment, we can work to keep saboteurs out of the way. We all know that it is in the best interest of the company to have happy healthy team members who lead balanced lives. Nonetheless, an employee ruled by their saboteurs may argue that they are unwilling to put their family or personal well-being second to the company. That person could be stuck in a victim mindset, and all the efforts made by the team to help and support them will not change that unless they choose it. This is where the leadership ideas of Freedom and Accountability come into play.
A healthy team working toward workplace harmony will be able to offer each other Socks. Supportive, meaningful relationships with co-workers can offer amazing reflection on our personal journey. After all, we spend most of our waking hours with these people. It makes sense that they would know us very well and become some of our closest and most fulfilling relationships.
People can be complicated, and ignoring emotions in the workplace only makes things worse. By bringing together the ideas of two fantastic authors, Les McKeown and Shirzad Chamine, we can build workplace harmony for more fulfilling, successful, and profitable businesses.