Objectives-Based Communication – Are you good at it?

24 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

What do you really want to accomplish?

Earlier this week, I was told, “No!” when I made a request for an exception to a leader a group of which I am a part, through his conflict-avoiding right hand person. And there was no reason for him to say no.

So, I asked politely to speak directly with him. The conversation that followed required my patience and persistent focus on my objective. It started with:

Me: “I’m not sure if your assistant has shared all the details of my situation with you.”

Leader: “Doesn’t matter, I won’t do what you asked.”

However, as I proceeded to offer the additional information, piece by piece, and let him process, fight it, and say no, I could hear him starting to soften, as he more fully understood my situation. I was very careful not to tell him that the protests he presented were not good reasons to say no.

In response to each of us, “I can’t because…” I moved on to the next point, knowing he was also hearing how his protests were relatively weak. I let go of my frustration with him and desire to have him admit he was wrong, and stayed laser focused on my objective: Get the Yes. And, finally, I did.

What are the key components of Objectives-Based Communication?

1. Be extremely clear about your objective and be okay with accomplishing only that.
2. Avoid being selfish about anything other than that objective you are focused on. Let go of things like:
a. Having someone admit they are wrong
b. Finding out why they did/are doing or saying what they did/are doing or saying
3. Have a clear list in your head of the reasons for doing it your way and present them systematically and patiently. Listen to their response in order to understand them better. Being understood often helps people to soften their stance.
4. Empathize with the person separate from the impact they are having on you. A person with power can appear to have little sympathy for your position, but that may not be the case. In my situation, he was frustrated and didn’t want to disrupt his schedule.
5. Answer their questions unemotionally and factually, without sarcasm.
Leader: “When did you find out about this?”
Me: “Yesterday.”

Conversations feel successful to different people for different reasons. However, when you have clear objectives, put your emotions aside and stay focused on that objective.

Work gets Results!

03 Sep
by Bridget DiCello

Happy Labor Day!

Since I started cleaning horse stalls for $15 a week when I was 11 years old through my current entrepreneurial career, I have thoroughly enjoyed every job and been wearied by certain aspects of each job.  Some places I have been blessed to work with fabulous mentors, and others I have been challenged to communicate with much more difficult individuals.

Every opportunity, no matter its challenges, has been an opportunity for me to grow as a person.

Even when you crave your weekends or days off, look forward to your next vacation, or pine for retirement, there is incredible potential not to be missed in your everyday work.

Work pushes you to develop as a person.  That is a tough process and one you might choose to avoid, if it were a choice.  Work pushes you to accomplish more than you thought you could, solve problems you thought were impossible, push your physical limits, think in new ways, and work with people you think are impossible.  It forces you to be disciplined, to learn to empathize and connect with a variety of people, and to access talents you didn’t know you had.

And the result is that you discover your potential and those talents hidden within you in order to be more productive, more compassionate, more disciplined, more focused, and to make a contribution and bring out greatness in others.  Growing as a person means you move beyond what makes you happy to what enlightens you, and identify and build on your strengths and pinpoint and develop in your areas of weakness.  You develop your emotional intelligence and learn to cope with stress.  You enlarge your comfort zone, expand what you think is possible, and become a more courageous and humble person.

Whether you are working at your first job, or are ready to retire; or work in a comfortable office or sweat or freeze out in the elements, my hat is off to every working person.  Thank you for all you do to contribute to our great country, and to discover your own greatness!

What has been your favorite job?  Where did you work where you developed the most as a person?

Do Your Managers Handle Diversity Well?

14 May
by Bridget DiCello

When I search the internet for workplace diversity, results include avoiding discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, and religion.  Multicultural workplaces and the global marketplace are also popular discussion topics.

Should managers treat people differently because of their race, gender, age, religion or country of origin?  I say, “Of course!”  People are all unique and the qualifiers that have been pulled out in the legal world are only the tip of that iceberg.

Managers have the challenge of dealing with a group of individuals.  If they all look alike, that only serves to provide a false sense of security and comfort for the manager.  Truly that group can be just as challenging to manage since they are all individuals with their own experiences, beliefs, and histories.

Leadership is about interacting effectively with members of the team to accomplish business results.  Plain and simple, leadership is about people, people are all different from one another, and similarities often only delude you into thinking you are effectively communicating with another person.

A leader’s success level results from their ability to genuinely connect with all the individuals on their team to the level where they are able to access their potential and enable that person to become the best employee they can be, while keeping each person focused on their role in achieving the business goals.

In order to connect well, a manager must:

  1. Listen to the employee with genuine interest and be acutely aware of any assumptions they are making about an individual, both positive and negative.
  2. Engage the employee in conversation to learn where the employee is coming from in order to lead them in a productive direction.
  3. Encourage creativity and innovative solutions while diligently pursuing a strong and clear set of goals, within a defined way of doing business (values and culture).
  4. Provide a structure of accountability that is fair but demanding, enforcing this company culture through a series of productive conversations to address employees’ concerns and varying approaches.
  5. Take this aggressive and discerning communication approach to each and every employee to avoid the legal headaches, but also because it is the right thing to do if you want to bring out the best in each and every employee!

Many hard-charging, driven managers who experience a great deal of success will eventually hit a wall because of challenges with their effectiveness in motivating their team to higher levels of productivity and effectiveness.  Upper management often has been trained, mentored or self taught to be more effective, where middle managers may be limited unless their ability to listen, communicate and hold people accountable results in concrete business results.

What does your management team look like?  Do they have the skills they need to take the team members in your company to the next level of performance and motivation?  Are your managers able to embrace the diversity inherent in every team, no matter how much they look alike?