Trust is the basis for communication.

Safety (and Self Preservation) are in the top 5 needs of Humans. When people don’t feel safe, when they don’t trust the environment that they are in – they can’t communicate. Their belief is that I will be harmed if I communicate. Cultures that lack trust, foster sarcasm, retaliate for open/honest debate, or criticize anything beyond the status quo CANNOT have productive communication.

Trust does not mean predictability of behavior, trust means a belief that there is safety, integrity, and a full desire for the best in the life of another. You could say, “I TRUST that John will use this information and twist it to his benefit.” Or “I TRUST that Jane will take credit for this idea.” Those are when the word trust is more about predictability. To say, “I TRUST that if Sue says the idea needs to be fleshed out a little more that is what she means” implies that you believe that Sue is operating with authenticity and integrity and not just trying to buy time to get her own agenda implemented.

Where is the trust level in your organization? On your team?

What are the factors that impact trust?

I’ll throw out a couple and then ask that the group adds more in the comments section.

· Hidden agendas

· Unresolved offenses

· Misinterpretation

· Overly competitive culture

· Lack of confrontation of wrong behaviors

What other points can you add to the mix? What are the issues that you have seen in the past that cause distrust?

We need Organizations and teams that can have the “rigorous” honesty and debate without fear of rejection, retaliation or humiliation!

When we spend more time guarding information, fighting each other, or simply closed off to working together as a team, we limit our success for the mission. Our “Trail to Glory” becomes more of a “Trial of the Gory”.

Many times sickness and disease can ravage a team and spread to other teams nearby in Dog Sled races. The cure is to treat each team member and it can take a number of weeks to get the group back to health. If it happens during the race, your race could be over!

There is hope! There are communication programs and remedies that can be put into place to grow and heal your communication culture. Step 1 of all of them goes to understanding and fixing the Trust level in the team.

Please jump in on this Friday blog and let’s discuss communication, trust, and having a healthy team!

When does perception = reality?

You say, “Tomato”. I Say “TomAHto”. You say, “we’re going to change…”. I think, “What do you mean change? I like it the way it is now. I’m used to doing it this way. If you change, it’s going to mean extra work. If you need to change, it means I’m not doing my job right. Or the company is in trouble. Either way I’m probably going to lose my job. This is a terrible time to be out of work. I Hate rebuilding my resume. I hate interviewing. What about the house? What about the bills? …..”

You get the point.

All of us bend information to our own level of understanding. I call this the “Sunglass” principle. Light comes into our “Eyes” but before it gets to the final stage of understanding – it gets interpreted or “bent” by our “lenses”. Without going into a full discussion or session on “Belief Windows”, these “Lenses” are formed from our past experiences, both in our business and our personal lives. The resulting effect on the team is that communication that is not intentional is left to everyone’s separate “Lens” and, at each interpretation, it gets bent. Their Perception = their reality.

Intentional “Iditarod Leadership” Communication takes into account the “Sunglasses” or lens of the recipient(s) before the message is ever launched out there. The message is, intentionally, crafted to each person AND each personality type.

Bending the information to each personality type, basically, means we need to consider:

· How much detail or factual based communication each recipient may need

· How some are going to perceive it affecting their image, social status, or income

· How others are going to feel before they think

· And how some just need us to cut to the bottom line.

Most, if not all, will, immediately, want to know how it affects them and their future. Like it or not, most of us are wired to think of self and self-preservation first.

If the message is to a large audience or is to be cascaded, we will need to build the intentional model to make sure the message isn’t bent at each level or with each department or divisional leader’s agenda.

Intentional Communication takes effort, but with the understanding that it will take more time to clarify, re-engage, re-purpose, re-direct, and get back on track – the effort on the front end is well worth the price of admission!

When communicating to the team, do you consider your teams personality and lenses?

If you are on the team, Do you consider your leader’s personality or lens?

On the trail, in life and business, perceptions and beliefs drive behaviors. To ensure we have the right actions or behaviors we must consider when perception is bending the message.

Have a great day!

Ever met a psychic Husky?

Mush! Hike! Gee, Haw. Line out. Pick it up. Whoa. On By. Come.

Simple. Direct. Actionable.

When it comes to directing the team and leading them toward an actionable result, we cannot mince words, make veiled references, or throw out cloudy innuendoes and hope they get it. I haven’t seen or heard of any Husky that has claimed to be psychic!

For years, my communication weakness was to suggest a course of action that I, actually, wanted implemented and needed implemented quickly for the sake of the company. When the team failed to act, failed to make course correction quickly enough I moved in to more of a command and control mode. Neither extreme works well and the combination of the two is certainly not recommended!

Here’s what I was dealing with – I had been under an extreme leader – one that communicated harshly, stifled creativity, and used emotional outbursts and anger as “management” techniques. Being under that type of “Musher”, I quickly went to the other side and made the communication more relational, less threatening – but at the cost of productivity. Reduction in productivity and effectiveness created relational problems from both sides. I was wondering why I had people that didn’t “Get it” and my people were wondering why I couldn’t say what I meant the first time!

What I learned was to become more clear, more focused, more purposeful and intentional on the front end. I was operating in what has now become one of the ‘Mantras’ I use in my sessions, “Frustration is a function of expectation.” Have the right expectations, communication those expectations, ensure crystal clarity, next steps…”Who does What by When” methodology and we lessen frustration, increase productivity, AND maintain great relationships. Clarity excels accomplishment.

The team has running in their DNA. If the team is not directed with clarity on where to run, we can’t be surprised or frustrated as leaders when we don’t reach the right destination. If we’re not clear about the timing and accountability piece, then we won’t reach the right checkpoint in the right timeframe and our race position slips.

In our sessions, we work the clients to adopt their “Language” where everyone knows when ‘Gee’ is said by the leader or another team mate, it means to go to the right. When someone says, “I need to have an accountability conversation with you” that doesn’t mean they are trying to catch you doing something wrong. They are clueing you in that we are in this team together and in order for us to have the right outcome, we MUST hold each other accountable.

Implementing cultural buzz words develops the code where the offense can be reduced for the sake of the Burled Arch (the mission). These words are reinforced to mean the same thing every time. They are not to be used as weapons or daggers but as clarification points that reduce uneasy, emotional pain points. “Can we have this discussion offline?” = I don’t want to disagree with you in public. “Can you let me in on your lens?” = I know we all perceive things differently, what is your perception of what I said, or the situation, etc. “I’m not good being Wheel Dog” = the conversation is revealing too much for my comfort level or more playfully stated, “Keep the baggage on the sled”.

Every entity or team has their own lingo and ‘culture’. How healthy is your team’s communiqué? Where does it need work?

Remember: It’s your sled, your team – you set the tone! Make sure it is intentional, clear, AND relational.

Has your communication ever led you off a cliff?

Last week we talked about Influence and used the acronym BARK. I think we’ll use that as a segway to talk about the communication culture with the team.

It’s almost stereotypical to talk about barking at each other. A tremendous number of organizations have severe communications issues within their teams, as well as, outside their teams to their customers, vendors, and investors. Millions of dollars are spent every year on trying to help people learn how to communicate and how to communicate more effectively.

When communication is done well, it can lead the team to victory and when it is dysfunctional, it can lead your team off a cliff or down any number of ravines!

Communication is the greatest asset a corporate culture can develop, to gain the highest rate of return. When people can communicate with clarity, goals are achieved easily, and swift. When employees have an open understanding of the way others think and feel, they are able to manage conflict, overcome challenges, and communicate solutions quickly.

Those who can communicate well can change the world. (and often do!) Those who learn to shape their message, effectively transfer that message and motivate others to action often rise to the position of leadership within an organization. They become the team’s Musher!

Mushers that have difficulty communicating tend to lose support for existing initiatives, rarely gain support for new initiatives, and are left with only their title or positional power to try to force engagement from their team.

In dog sled mushing, you may be surprised to learn, they do not use whips or reigns. In order to control, motivate, correct, adjust, etc., the leader must verbally communicate that to the team. Mushing has its’ own language and it contains about 10 to 20 words – that’s it. The simplicity of the language is vital in order to communicate to the team, communicate with speed and precision, and get the team to act on that communication.

Act on the communication. Isn’t that the goal of our communication? Action.

For a good amount of the time I would agree. However, there are times when our communication is there to simply inform, maintain team continuity, or to create or maintain connectedness. Most times, communication effectiveness increases where there is connectedness and relationship. As action oriented as most of us are, we can’t forget that the ACTION of relationship development is one of the first keys to effectively transferring communication into action.

Just like the Iditarod has different challenges on different parts of the trail – our business communication trail has differing landscapes. How we navigate each of those affects our race success.

Knowing that all leaders have strengths and weaknesses; can we take a minute and look at our business race? Where on the trail are you strong in communication and where are you, presently, weak?

Sections on the communication trail are: one-on-one conversations, one-to-many conversations, meetings, vision casting, presentations, confrontation, demonstration, delegation, accountability,…. And the list goes on. It is, truly, a long trail.

Take a minute today and some time the rest of the week and think about your communication strengths and weaknesses. Write it down and let’s develop a game plan to become masters at communicating in all areas of life and business.

If you want your Leaders attention – BARK (just not too much)

There are many obstacles out on the trail, many places where you can dump the sled. The most deadly? Belief. The first and most formidable opponent will, usually, be belief. The old saying on the trail is, “If you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you’re probably right.”

When it comes to ‘Influence’, if you don’t own the belief system that you can develop and increase your influence – then you won’t even try – you’ll leave the sled on the trailer or just run with your head down believing that you are simply a beast of burden meant to pull the sled without input, feedback – ‘Influence’.

We’ll talk more about beliefs in a latter blog – so for now – let’s use the Friday blog to rally around HOW to increase your influence. I’ll throw out some things and leave them for addition by the group.

(Note of housekeeping: some of you are emailing your thoughts to maintain privacy – if that is needed I’ll be glad to repost your comments without using your name – otherwise please post them here – thx)

If you want your Musher to hear you – if you want to have influence with your Leader then BARK.

BARK is an acronym for HOW we are going to take the steps to create, develop, and grow our Influence.

B – Be Consistent.

Consistent performance matters. Why do franchises work? Consistent product leads to consumer belief in quality and allows them to freely stop into any location. Same thing with your leader choosing or valuing you – consistent delivery, consistent results = Influence.

A – Attitude.

There is tremendous room for a great attitude. Add value from an ‘Attitude’ arena and you’ll lift the entire team – including your leader.

R – Real.

Leaders appreciate people who are real. Real, as in Authentic and Real, as in open and honest with their feedback, helping the leader get the true business picture, etc.

K – Knowledge.

Knowledge is a broad category. Knowledge is being a SME(Subject Matter Expert). Knowledge of the tasks needed to perform your job well. Knowledge is daily growth and insight into the industry. AND knowledge of your Musher (Leader). When it comes to knowing your Musher – learn about their personality, communication style, their rules (spoken and unspoken), and even to the point of learning their SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).

As a final and over all other things comment – we want to be consistent with the Application of BARK – but don’t go overboard. Remember: A dog and a team player that simply BARKS for the sake of barking, and barks all the time is just an annoyance!

Look forward to your comments – Have a great Friday and, if you’re stateside, a great Memorial Day weekend.