Collaborative Mindset

I teach humanistic business management.  A big part of the approach is a philosophic tweak and it does involve thinking about all your interactions collaboratively.

So what are the benefits of a collaborative mindset and how can someone develop a collaborative mind.

Benefits of a collaborative mindset?  Better problem solving, less conflict and higher feelings of motivation and satisfaction.

All businesses are in the business of solving problems. If you aren’t solving people’s problems, you aren’t in business. When you adopt a collaborative mindset, it is easier to focus on solving problems because – that is what you are in business to do. You aren’t in business to be the best. You aren’t in business to feed your ego. Your business is to solve problems and that is best done in a collaborative way. Once you get your ego out of the way – things just become easier.

And because your ego is out of the way – you get into less conflict. When you disagree with someone – it isn’t personal. Your goal is not to “win.” It’s to solve the problem so – when you are thinking collaboratively – you actually listen to the pros and cons of the alternate suggestions and make decisions based on what will work – rather than other petty ego driven considerations.

Finally – solving problems is very motivating.   Instead of figuring out what to do for yourself, you are working in service to others and that feels great. It’s a mindset that leads to greater job and life satisfaction and it’s  motivating to help people solve their problems.

The big question is how. How do we get out of our own heads and concerns and focus on collaboration? The answer is love and compassion.  When we focus on helping people, collaboration comes naturally.  It makes work easier, funnier and more satisfying and the solutions you create collaboratively tend to be better than those made alone.  The end result is in addition to all the above benefits, you gain the respect of your peers when you take this approach. There really is no downside which is why its surprising why more people don’t adopt this mindset.

To help teams adopt collaborative approaches managers need to lead by example, encourage moral/ethical decision making in all the decisions that are made and encourage and reward collaboration.

House Hunters International, the Rule of Threes and Reality Based Problem Solving.

I have a guilty pleasure. I really like watching people move to foreign countries and figure out where to live. My husband and I have started watching House Hunters International. It dawned on me one of the reasons I like the show is because of how they utilize the rule of threes to help the participants choose where to live.

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I have been editing a new book for a publisher on applied humanism for business management. We don't have a release date yet (Feb 2019) - but feel free to look it up as it should be available later in the year. 

Anyway - one of the sections has to do with reality based decision making and critical thinking. And in that section I discuss using the rule of threes to help both expand your thinking and simplify your thinking simultaneously.  I have been using this technique for decades and yes, that does age me.

My point is that if I have a difficult decision to make - I list at least 3 requirements of a good solution, and I consider at least 3 options to find a solution that will meet my criteria.

I find this helps me simplify my thinking quite a bit and yields good results.  I can also use this to engage in brain storming, but that is outside the scope of this post and if you want to learn more - then check out my course, book and dvd - Reality Based Decision Making for Effective Strategy Development - and yes - I do do group training on this topic.

In House Hunters International - they use the rule of threes, exactly as I do. And the participants are almost always super happy with the results, or at least they say they are.  So how does this work?

We have 2 people looking for housing in some city somewhere in the world. They meet with a realtor and list 3 things they really want in a property. This could be a yard, or a view or a washer and dryer or a specific location close to city center and of course price. Whatever the criteria is - there is at least 3 criteria against which they are going to judge their housing options.

They then view 3 different properties. Some of these properties meet more of the criteria than others do. Some might have a yard but be farther away from their ideal location. Some might be in the ideal location, but more expensive than they want.

The participants then have to weigh the three different properties against their three stated criteria and pick the property that they feel will best meet their needs based on their criteria.  Once a decision is made- we get a 3 months later update on how they are adjusting to their new home. 

I realized that the reason this appeals to me is not only that it allows me to live vicariously through other people  But I also like it because it's such a logical way to go about making what is really a life altering decision.   And I get to think along and consider what decision I would make given the criteria the people set for themselves.  I have learned that I am willing to let go of some of my like to have - to stay within budget. That is super important to me.

Which brings me to another thing I like about the show - participants have to weigh the things they value - against each other. And this is a lot like ethics. We have things we value. When we can't get an ideal solution which of those values is paramount?  I LOVE thinking about what I think is most important in any given situation and I think practicing making decisions - is a good thing to practice because the more you practice the better you get. 

If you are interesting in learning more about how I use the rule of threes - check out the course/book etc - 

And just so you know - I would love to live in Valencia Spain or Kobe Japan so if anyone has work for me in either location - let me know. 

Positive Employee Experiences When Company Culture Changes

I was recently asked by a reporter about to create positive employee experiences when a company culture changes. Here are my answers to their questions.

In your opinion, why do some employees view a change in company culture as a negative? 

Resistance to change is instinctual. It involves unlearning and unlearning in all animals, including humans, follows a very specific pattern and that pattern involves initial resistance to change. The key for leaders is to understand that resistance is not necessarily a reflection on employee desire. Though it can be if the culture is changing for the wrong reasons on in a less ethical direction.

How do you communicate those changes to keep employees on the same page? 

It can help involve the employees directly in the planning. If a manager says – we are doing this differently – without input – they risk creating changes that make things worse for employees. When employees are involved in the discussions on WHY changes are being made – they are less likely to resist.  It’s the difference between dictating change and co-creating change.   If you want to establish new rules for handle interpersonal disagreements for instance, telling people – here is the new complaint process yields very different results from having conversations where individuals agree on a new process together. When people co-create new social rules, they are accountable for the rules they helped co-create and agreed to.  If they didn’t agree to the new rules, they aren’t accountable to them – as much as a manager might like them to be.

How do you help employees remain positive as the company culture evolves?

Positive reinforcement and support through the process and regular check ins to make sure the new culture being co-created is still moving in a good direction – so that course corrections can occur quickly and that people are rewarded for pointing out the problems with implementation – will help employees remain positive. It is when people don’t feel like they are being heard – that they get really negative. Culture must be co-created. It cannot be dictated and people who don’t like where the culture is going, have a right to be heard. But the process through which these conversations take place – should be positive which is why appreciative inquiry works so well.

I teach both humanistic management approaches and behavioral science based approaches to change management. 

House Hold Chores, Operant Conditioning & Perverse Incentives

Whenever I give live programs on how to stop harassment using behavioral science - this comes up.

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As I'm teaching a team how to train a bully to stop using rewards, reinforcements and neutral responses, someone will inevitably ask me whether they can use this to get their spouse to do the dishes.

The short answer is yes. You can. 

And I highly recommend doing it if you want a happy humanist marriage.  A good division of labor for chores is really helpful to make sure that one person doesn't feel exploited.  Humanist marriages are about collaborative partnerships, not exploitation. Using marriage as an excuse to exploit the labor of your spouse is not ok. And yes, I do suddenly find myself sounding like a communist. But the point is - a marriage creates a community and a voluntary one at that. If you do not treat your spouse with dignity - they can leave!!!

Ok - so - how do you do it?  First - I recommend taking my - ending harassment course and/or reading my book the Bully Vaccine.  Either of these will help give you a grounding in the science of behavioral modification. 

Second, commit to only using these powers for good.

Third, review your current interactions. The reason your spouse isn't helping is probably because you are disincentive them. If they do a chore and instead of thanks and rewards, they get  a lecture of how everything they did was wrong, you will very quickly find that they do NOT want to do the chore. You aren't helping them. You aren't positively rewarding the behavior you want - the dishes done. You are training them to not do it by punishing them when they do it. Seriously. This is the dynamic.

If you want to change the outcome, you need to change the dynamic. And that means - really think about what it is you want them to do and then - reward them for doing it!!!!! This does require you to allow them to do it wrong and not the way you would do it. The point is - they did it and they should be rewarded.

Should you have to reward them for doing a chore they should be doing anyway?  Yes!!!!!! OK. No. I understand they should just do it - but pretend you are training a dog to do a new trick. You have to reward the behavior you want in order to establish it.

My husband and son - do the dishes. Without me asking. Yes - this really does work. No - I don't make a fuss when they don't do it the way I would do it. Why? Because I would rather they do the dishes than do it my way.  As long as the dishes get cleaned and I didn't have to do them  - to me- that's a win. And yes - the little amount of time it takes to thank them - which you should be doing anyway - because people like to be appreciated - is well worth the teeny bit of effort it takes me to say - thank you!

People really need to get off the - I'm the injured long suffering party and I need to be catered too high horse they are on in their marriages. Just be nice to each other. When a spouse does a chore - even if they do it wrong - thank them for the effort!!!!

Treat your spouse with dignity. They are an adult (I hope) and you married them for a reason. Treat them as if they are the awesome person you want them to be and let them live up to your expectations.

Please note - that this only really works when you and your spouse are basically sane mature adults. If one of you has a mental health issue like OCD - then I have another suggestion for you.  One time I had a guy in one of my sessions who was the one who asked this. He said he had OCD and hated the way his wife did dishes and he was really hoping to train her to do them the way he likes.   My advice to him was this. if you REALLY can't stand how she does it - stop asking that she do it. Just - that's your job. Period. Let her do another chore that isn't going to trigger you. Not everything has to be a fight. Divide up the labor and allow each partner to have autonomy over it.

I lived in a house in college with 6 people total. I hated dishes piled up and so did the dishes. One of the guys hated dirty floors and so was always sweeping. Another hated trash being piled up and so would take the trash out. Another hated dirty kitchen and so would clean the kitchen and dining room table. You get the idea.

Everyone complained that they were the only ones doing that particular chore. But no one in the house was slacking. We all had chores that became ours by virtue of our low tolerance for that problem. We had migrated to our jobs and divided up the labor evenly.

Really look at your chore list and divide it up and give people autonomy. Or split the parts of the chores up. Hubby unloads, wife loads the dishwasher. Whatever it is. you can come up with an equitable division of labor if you let go of the control of needing the job done a certain way.

And if you can't let it go - then do it yourself and stop hassling everyone for not being perfect.

Can this help you be a better leader?  YES!!!!!! Allow people to do the work you asked them to do. DOn't punish them when they do it wrong. Thank them and then encourage them to improve or show them how to do it an easier way or slightly different way. But don't go all negative on them and expect positive results. People don't respond to negativity with positive responses. You want people doing the work - thank them!!!!
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