“This is Marketing” By Seth Godin – Book Review: People Like Us Don’t Do Things Like Them

Book Reviewed by Cory Davis

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See: Godin, Seth:  9780525540830: Books - Amazon.ca
This is Marketing By Seth Godin – Cover


This is a book review of Seth Godin’s This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See (2018), published by Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, USA.

5/5

This is Marketing does an effective job of addressing cultural challenges the marketing industry has faced for decades. It is a refreshing perspective that attempts to put the humanity back into marketing.

About the Author

Seth Godin image from Joi Ito, image retrieved from Wiki Commons and modified.

Seth Godin is a marketing guru who made the Guerrilla Marketing Hall of Fame, Direct Marketing Hall of Fame and the Marketing Hall of Fame. He has written 19 best-selling books and has given five TED Talks. He is the founder of the podcast Akimbo, and altMBA, a 30-day marketing workshop. In 1996, Godin and Mark Hurst founded Yoyodyne, which was purchased by Yahoo for $30 million dollars two years later. Godin then became Yahoo’s vice president of Direct Marketing. In 2006, he went on to found Squidoo, which within two years became one of the top 500 websites visited globally.

About the Book

“This is Marketing” attempts to change the culture of marketing and shift public perception about what marketers do. We have all had poor experiences with marketing. We have been victims of shady marketing tactics, bought items that were not as advertised, and have been bombarded with untrustworthy marketing content, especially online. This book guides marketers away from the crooked hype train of hacks, and get rich quick schemes enshrouded in false hope. “This is Marketing” is an organic approach that helps marketers leverage their operation’s core competencies to the smallest viable market who could benefit from them the most. This book is about creating change, serving people, and honest work. When you see that YouTube ad of a so-called self-made millionaire who claims to have the one trick that could make you, or anyone rich with the click of a few buttons, you know they did not read this book.

What It Promises The Reader

This book promises to give readers direction by working with you to help spread your ideas and innovations to create change in the world that you want to see.

How It Delivers On Its Promise

The book is broken down into 23 small, easy digestible chapters that provide high level overviews on topics such as identifying your target market (those who you intend to serve), how to engage them, and how to position yourself in the market with respect to your competition.

In the second chapter, he gives five steps to marketing. However this is not a step by step guide, just intended to provide direction.

Five steps of Marketing:

  1. Invest something that is worth producing. Invest in something meaningful to people, something that will help them. Have a powerful story, something that communicates why it is important, and why people should care. Have a contribution that is worth communicating as well. Do something for that cause and tell people about it.
  2. Design and build it out in such a way that a few people will benefit immensely from, that they will really care about. In other words, tailor your product to a very narrow audience. The more narrow the audience, the more personalized your product or service will be. The more personalized it is, the more effective it will be at addressing their unique problems. The broader the audience, the less effective it will be at addressing their unique problems.
  3. Build a story that aligns with the narrative of the tiniest group of people, the “smallest viable market”. Align your story to that narrowest of audiences. Don’t try to make it for everyone, because the more it is for everyone, the more is it personal to no one.
  4. Communicate to people about your product. Engage with your audience. You must put yourself out there, risk rejection, and use rejection to make a better product. You need the feedback to continually improve. Rejection is not a bad thing, it orientates you.
  5. Be present very regularly and be active to see the change you are trying to make, lead people and build confidence. You not only need to market your product, you need to market yourself. Engage with others and be a leader. To market yourself effectively, you need to be honest, authentic and genuine. You need to genuinely want to see the change you are trying to produce in this world, not just in your pockets. If your motives are sideways, hidden, or greedy, people will find out.

Favourite Part of the Book

My favourite part of the book is the author’s perspective. People like Seth do things like this because they want to create change. People like us do not do things like them. By them, I mean the people behind that YouTube advertisement trying to sell you a get-rich-quick scheme, or that this one ingredient will make you thin in no time. Rather than being driven by get-rich scheming, this book helps marketers stay grounded, by reassuring them that better business is done by a genuine desire to serve others and create a change for the better. It humbles us by reminding you that better is not always what you think it should be, but rather by what better means to your audience.

This is Marketing does an effective job of addressing cultural challenges the marketing industry has faced for decades. It is a refreshing perspective that attempts to put the humanity back into marketing. In the first chapter, Seth articulates this message.  He says that shameless marketers have hurt the rest of us by generating a stereotype in the public sphere through scamming, spamming, hustling and shady tactics such as fake reviews, and giving consumers unrealistic expectations of what their products can offer. Marketers today should not follow suite. Effective marketing requires you to understand the needs of consumers intimately and providing them with solutions. Don’t make consumers your victims, rather make them volunteers.

People like us do things this way, because we are genuinely trying to make the world a better place and doing our part to get there. People like us don’t do things like them, because those people are driven by greed, or other ulterior motives that are not in their audience’s best interest.

Some Favourite Quotes:

“The marketing that has suffused our entire lives is not the marketing that you want to do. The shortcuts using money to buy attention to sell average stuff to average people are an artifact of another time…”

“Marketers make change happen: from the smallest viable market, and by delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages that people actually want to get.”

“Empathy is at the heart of marketing”.

“When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete”. That if all you do is try to fill a gap in the market, you are “nothing but a commodity in the making”.

“Marketers don’t make average stuff for average people. Marketers make change. And they do it by normalizing new behaviours.”

“Advertising is unearned media. It is bought and paid for. And the people you are trying to reach know it. They’re suspicious. They’re inundated. They’re exhausted. You didn’t pay the recipient to run that ad, and yet you want the recipient to pay you with their attention. So you’re ignored”.

Pricing is a marketing tool, not simply a way to get money.”

“Cheap is another way to say scared”.

“Treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention”.

“What really matters is the quality of their story and the depth of their empathy and generosity”.

“Permission, attention, and enrollment drive commerce.”

“Everyone is famous to 1500 people”

“Just because you can market something doesn’t mean that you should”

Least favourite part of the book

There were areas of this book where I thought it was vague, or too high level to get enough direction from the message. For example, I really appreciate the sections that highlight the need to create and relieve tension in the market, however I did not immediately understand how to apply that concept. There were sections that were also too detailed, such as walking you through how to position yourself on a positioning map, which is very basic marketing curriculum.

Another criticism I have is that it sometimes feels more geared toward physical products rather than services. Since I am more interested in delivering services, it did not connect with me as deeply as I anticipated after reading the first couple chapters. Maybe this book is not for me, I thought. However, the book does incorporate services into it on occation and much of the theory could apply to both services and products. On the other hand, many case studies and examples were about products and the takeaways were product oriented. With some creativity, you can apply them to services.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone interested to learn more about marketing, entrepreneurship, or those wanting create change in this world. If you are adverse to marketing, like I am, maybe it will help you open yourself to some marketers, those behind causes you believe in and create community around it.

Thank you so much for reading my review of This is Marketing by Seth Godin. I found this book very interesting. But, I am more interested to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you have any thoughts about marketing and this book, please share them in the comment section below. I always appreciate it when you do.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like or subscribe. You can also follow me on twitter @interestpeaks.

Dale Carnegie’s Advice on How To Be Liked At Work… Let’s Change The World By Following It

By Cory Davis

In November, 2020, I read and reviewed Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. It was so inspiring and impactful that I thought it would be a great idea to share some of the advice from it here. In this post, I will share two priciples from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to be liked at work and in your daily life.

It may be impossible to get everyone you meet to like you. However, what you can do is increase the likelihood that they will? One method noted by Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is to “make the other person feel important and do it sincerely”. So how do you do this, and why is it a good tool to bring to work?

How to make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

First ask yourself, “what is it about that individual that you can truly and honestly admire?”. If you cannot identify something, then be creative. I am sure you can find something you admire about almost anyone if you approach the situation with the mindset that everyone has a unique quality and untapped potential. Brainstorm things about people that you can admire:

  • Fashion sense
  • Work ethic
  • Positive attitude
  • Knowledgeable in a particular area
  • Their personal interests
  • A book they are reading
  • Some life experience they have
  • Advice they gave
  • A report they wrote

After you found something that you can genuinely admire about that person, tell them. It may be increasingly more difficult with strangers, but even try saying something like “your workmanship is only exceeded by your contagious smile”. A compliment is a good way to make that person feel important.

Next, if you can, be sincere by turning the compliment into some kind of action. For example, if you are a manager and communicating to an employee, giving someone responsibility followed by a compliment can go a long way to boosting their confidence in themselves and you as a confidant. For example, say “I would feel so much more secure if you managed this [important task] because you are clearly qualified [list qualifications; organized, sharp, knowledgeable, etc…]”.  By doing this, you may avoid any feelings that you are singling them out. For example, an employee may feel like you are picking on them by giving them an additional workload. The point is to make them feel important by taking the project, explicitly state that leaving no room for uncertainty or miscommunication.

Most importantly, this gesture needs to be sincere and authentic. Do not use this as a trick or hack. If you state their qualifications and they are not something that has been demonstrated or communicated to you, then your dishonesty will be made clear. Not only does it show off your dishonesty, but it may make the other person feel used while demonstrating an irresponsible level of disregard for them. If you state their qualification, be sure you can back it up. You can back it up through their resume, previous jobs they held, or better yet, work/training they have done for your organization and the aspirations or goals they shared with you.

Getting someone to like you instantly could even be as easy as just acknowledging something they do as interesting, or making their opinions feel legitimate and recognized. You as a colleague, a peer, or manager, can get people to like you by acknowledging their feedback or opinions on business matters. Listen to them and compliment the good points.

Remember, this quote:

Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.
– Jess Lair, Psychologist.

Remember to Smile When it’s Worth Smiling

Another principle mentioned by Dale Carnegie is so simple that we often overlook its impact, just smile. A smile they say is worth a thousand words, but a sincere and genuine one says that you are friendly, warm, kind, non-judgemental and approachable.

As Dale Carnegie proclaims:

The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back”.

So, whatever you do, give people a smile. It doesn’t hurt to try.

Conclusion

These tidbits of advice do not only benefit you. It can benefit others as well. They may return the sentiment to others. Your smile could lead to a hundred more. Your compliment could lead to 100 more. If more people behaved this way, undoubtedly, we would be making our world a better place to live. How simple is that?

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Breakdown: How to be a Good Motivator – Highlights from “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) Ch. 12-14

If you are like me, you may never get a chance to read all the books you would like to. There is just not enough time in a single lifetime to absorb it all. That is why I wanted to breakdown “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) by Alan Loy McGinnis to share the key takeaways that I got out of it.

Image result for bringing out the best in people mcginnis

“Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) is a guide to be a good motivator. It provides the reader with 12 principles to bring out the best in people through motivation. The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

In this post, I will break down chapters 12-14. These chapters capture principles 11 and 12 to bring the best out of people. If you like it, please check out my previous post capturing chapters 1-11.

Chapter 12: How to deal with an abrasive troublemaker

This chapter highlights principle #11, build into the group an allowance for storms. Right off the bat, the term “troublemaker” should be avoided all together because it attacks another person’s character rather than addressing the problem – the behaviour. So in order to attack problems, rather than people, this chapter should be titled “How to deal with continual problematic behaviours”.

This chapter emphases how problematic behaviours can destroy team synergies and drain their enthusiasm. Unfortunately, too often we see these behaviours come from positions of authority such as supervisors, or managers. So as a leader who observes these behaviours, you need to act quickly. Your response should not be fire them first, then hire someone else later. If that is your philosophy, then you will be running from this problem your whole life. The best leaders will only replace an employee as a last-ditch effort after all other options have been exhausted. The cost of staff turnover financially, on morale, time and relationships is too high.

One option to manage problematic behaviours is to diffuse them through ventilation. Good leaders are prepared to absorb a heavy load of complaints. For your team to function smoothly, they need to vent all the junk out of their systems. You are the leader who needs to absorb it. So the point here is to build a corridor for others to steer their grievances through so that negativity does not infect the office. That corridor is your gentle, attentive ears. Don’t let the complaints bring down your enthusiasm – you are listening for a good cause – for the team.

For the continually observed problematic behaviours, here are seven pieces of advice to manage them:

  1. Allow some disruptive behaviour. Build into your team charter an acceptance of the storming phase, an allowance for temporary periods of insanity. We will all laugh about it later on.
  2. Uncover the underlying reasons for the behaviour. J.P. Morgan once said it bluntly, “There are two reasons why anyone does anything – the good reason, and the real reason.”
  3. Identify how harmful the problematic behaviour is. You may find out that the individual exhibiting the behaviour is loved and adored by his or her colleagues – for their honesty and bravery to state how they truly see things. Do not degrade him or her at the expense of your damaging your relationships with your team.
  4. Ask for help. This is straightforward, ask others for advice. Remember though, never attack the person – especially in front of others. Seek help about the problem. Maybe others have experience managing similar behaviours or have exhibited those behaviours themselves at some point.
  5.  Weigh the individual who is exhibiting problematic behaviour’s contribution to the team. It may be the case that their performance is incredible and outweighs the damage that they did. That does not mean that you should not address the behaviour, it just helps evaluate the situation.
  6. Appeal to the good side of the person exhibiting the behaviour. Remember, most of us have good intentions. Don’t assume the worst of the other person. You do not know their circumstances. If anything else, give them good intentions to live up to. Say, “I know you mean well, you are a good person. I noticed XY behaviours, that is not your usual self. I hope you are doing well. But if there is anything I could do to help out, even if it is just an ear to listen, I am here for you.”
  7. If the problematic behaviour is severely harmful, you may need to remove the person.

Chapter 13: The personality of the motivator

This chapter highlights principle #12, take steps to keep your own motivation high. This chapter is all about you as a motivator. It is difficult to be motivated by someone who is unmotivated themselves. McGinnis asserts that to lead people successfully, you need to understand what makes your team tick, and have a “spirit that spreads excitement and energy to those around you”. You cannot spread excitement and energy if you cannot take care of yourself. Don’t let anger, bitterness, resentment, exhaustion, or hatred dominate your soul. You need positivity to drive your motivation of others.

McGinnis provides five tips to keep yourself motivated to motivated others:

  1. Surround yourself with positive and successful people and minimize contact with those who exhaust you or bring you down.
  2. Be careful about what you let enter your mind. Any statistician or computer scientist will tell you: “garbage in – garbage out” or “your conclusions are only as good as the data you put in”.
  3. Take advantage of credible podcasts, audiobooks, and paper books. Or, as McGinnis put it, there is a “wealth of information on audio cassettes.”
  4. Go to conferences, seminars, lectures, or other networking events.
  5. Keep a journal. Record your leadership journey and reflect on them. Develop lessons learned and document your thoughts.

Chapter 14: Why Helping Others Can Become Life’s Greatest Joy

This chapter is supposed to inspire the reader to continue their efforts to motivate others. He notes the all-too-real experience we have, starting out on a mission to save the world – then end up just fighting to survive. Don’t let life bring you down. Remember to celebrate your wins – even small ones. Keep chipping away at your dreams and idealistic aspirations. Giving up now will mean you have wasted a lot of time for nothing. You may not see the change now, but big change is built upon an aggregate of small ones – keep making them.

Remember that motivating others is about seeing the best in them. Other people have potential that has yet to be acknowledged – and you are there to do that. It is very impactful for people. Try it. See if you can inspire someone today. Let them know that you genuinely believe in them and that you know they can and will do great things. You can change lives and inspire a better world because of it.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People”. I loved this book. It challenged my behaviours and forced me to reflect on my personal experiences. I hope you got a lot out of it too. It was a pleasure for me to share these chapters with you and I look forward to next time.

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice on motivation are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Breakdown: How to be a Good Motivator – Highlights from “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) Ch. 9-11

If you are like me, you may never get a chance to read all the books you would like to. There is just not enough time in a single lifetime to absorb it all. That is why I wanted to breakdown “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) by Alan Loy McGinnis to share the key takeaways that I got out of it.

See the source image

“Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) is a guide to be a good motivator. It provides the reader with 12 principles to bring out the best in people through motivation. The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

In this post, I will break down chapters 9-11. These chapters capture principles 8-10 to bring the best out of people. If you like it, please check out my previous posts capturing chapters 1-8 and look out for another post where I will cover the last two principles.

Chapter 9: When to Praise and When to Reprimand

This chapter highlights principle #8, employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement. Here the author emphasizes the need to use more positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement, but there still needs to be elements of both.

The good person in us will cringe at the thought of negative reinforcement. We all had bad experiences with it. However, negative reinforcement does not have to be mean, aggressive or result in a loss of morale.

McGinnis offers the Scorn/Reinstruction Method of negative reinforcement as an example. Using this method, when you see something that was done wrong, say something like “Don’t do it that way, do it this way”. Then you can proceed to show them exactly how it is supposed to be done. It seems reasonable.

McGinnis offers several pieces of advice for giving negative reinforcement:

  1. Teach them to avoid disruptive behaviours. Don’t teach them to avoid you. You still need to be approachable, respectful, and tactful.
  2. Be timely and give negative reinforcement immediately after the bad behaviour. The longer you wait, the less effective the negative reinforcement will be at correcting the behaviour.
  3. Stop any negative reinforcement effects as soon as the poor behaviour stops. If you punish your child for 30 days for a bad behaviour, there is little incentive to change those behaviours quickly because there are still many days of punishment to go.
  4. If negative reinforcement does not work for undesirable behaviours, then use positive reinforcement for any desirable behaviours. Give positive reinforcement for anything other than the bad behaviour. Once the undesirable behavior stops, then begin to withdraw any additional positive reinforcement.

The last thing discussed in the chapter is the use of guilt as a motivator. There are two schools of thought along a spectrum. At the extremes, one perspective is that guilt is not a good motivator, and the other is that guilt is a good motivator. Both schools of thought have some criticisms. Guilt is a valid emotion for people to have. So, who are we to say it is wrong to feel? On the other hand, if you use guilt against people excessively it can result in disturbed relationships. The bottom line is that leaders should not be there to control people. What we need to do is objectively point out consequences of certain behaviours. It is up to the those you wish to motivate whether they will feel guilty about it.

Chapter 10: The Will to Win

This chapter highlights rule #9, appeal sparingly to the competitive urge. People love a challenge. McGinnis used the exact same example as in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to demonstrate this.

There was a series of mills all owned by the same company. One of the mills had very low productivity. When the boss from headquarters came to visit, he asked the manager about it. The manager said that he tried everything to get his staff to work harder and nothing worked. So, at the end of one team’s shift, he asked how many tonnes of steel they produced, they said 4. He took a piece of chalk and wrote 4 on the wall, big and clear where most will see. When the next shift arrived, they asked about the number 4. They were told it was how many tonnes of steel the last crew produced. At the end of their shift, 4 was rubbed off and replaced with a 6. The next day there was a 7, then 8. You get it. The boss gently provided the workers with an opportunity to compete, and they took it. That mill became one of the most productive.

The competition here was not forced, it was only gently encouraged. Healthy competition can boost morale, but remember not to create a competitive arena that accommodates unethical or mean-spirited behaviour.

Chapter 11: How to Get People to Cooperate with Each Other

Chapter 11 highlights rule #10, place a premium on collaboration. It emphasizes that people have a need to belong and are more attracted to high morale teams than even its leadership. So good leadership will go above and beyond to create a good, positive, enthusiastic, and collaborative atmosphere. This will facilitate solidarity and kinship, a sense of pride and loyalty shared by the group, or as the French would say esprit de Corps.

So how do you create esprit de corps? McGinnis provides four suggestions:

  1. Reward cooperation. Some organizations would rather reward individuals for their successes rather than high functioning teams. However, this creates incentives for individuals to exaggerate their successes and downplay their teammates successes. This may facilitate a mean-spirited competition resulting in poor morale and unethical behaviour.
  2. Assign responsibility for cooperation to the team as a whole rather than a project champion, team lead, or other individual member. This makes accountability everyone’s responsibility.
  3. Plan some occasions for the team to travel outside of the office together. When you place a team together outside of the office, an interesting thing happens. They tend become more creative, open to each others’ perspectives, build respect and form bonds with each other. It allows them to see each other as people, rather than just employees. So send them to a conference, resort or something like that to build team comradery.
  4. Do not undervalue good communication. Often times distance and petty arguments between teammates is caused by a misunderstanding or a lack of consideration for each other which can escalate rapidly into a massive grievance.

Conclusion

I hope you liked this breakdown of the key highlights from Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People”, chapters 9 –11. If you would like more tips on how to be a good motivator, look out for my future posts which will cover more of this material. Or better yet, buy his book!

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice on motivation are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Engaging the System: Tapping into Diversity

By Cory Davis

In a previous post, I discussed tips and tools for engaging teams. Now, I would like to discuss some tips and thoughts about how to engage the system at work.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools that I share with you here, please check out his book.

Engaging the System

What do I mean when I say “the System”? I mean everyone at your organization. Not just your team or department. The system refers to all available departments or employees. The idea of engaging the system is designed to tap into different perspectives from all available angles or viewpoints.

There is power in numbers and diversity. Interesting ideas, stories, and knowledge stored in the system can spur innovation and creative problem solving if you can dig it out. By opening yourself up to data burried in the system, you can get a broader range of perspectives to address challenges and tackle problems.

Bob Chartier gave an example that resonated with me, demonstrating the value of diversity in problem solving. The operations department at an energy company in northern Canada regularly incurred massive damages to its powerlines in one particular area due to snow piling up on the lines that underwent melting and freezing. This was very expensive for the company. Furthermore, it created a dangerous and harsh work environment for repair crews. One employee from the health and safety department shared a story about her previous job in Vietnam. She worked at a hospital where helicopters regularly caused harsh drafts, which caused problems for them. Would flying a helicopter to blow the snow off the powerlines right after it snowed help? Yes, it would… and it saved the company a fortune.

The point here is to engage the entire company, community, or organization. However, engaging such a large audience can be tricky. Without a carefully designed approach handy, it can become a daunting task. There are too many large meetings designed around a problem, issue or task that result in no tangible deliverables.

That is why I wanted to share two facilitation tools from Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” to engage the system:

1. The Open Space

This is not your traditionally structured company meeting, with a power-point, strict agenda and formal seating. It is designed around the idea of a “Town Hall”, where everyone’s voice will be heard. The Open House is a themed meeting. It could be about a policy, new idea, or a problem that needs to be solved.

Design the meeting space to be in circles around the center of the room where your facilitator will be at the beginning. Have everyone introduce themselves and state what they think should be on the agenda. The boss will not create the agenda, the particpants will.

Once the agenda is created, post each agenda item around the conference room with an attendee, perhaps someone who came up with it. Then participants will be split into “pods” of 3-5 people who can wander freely to talk about the agenda items together. Each pod will generate ideas, recommendations or solutions for each agenda item. Give them a template to document them. You dont need to limit participation to employees, you can also invite partners or other stakeholders as well.

2. The World Café

This is a fairly common tool with lots of material online about it. Unlike the Open Space which is generative (creating ideas, solutions, etc.), the World Café is responsive. It is designed to elicit reactions from participants to a speaker’s presentation, new ideas, policies, challenges, a presentation, or new information. It is also a good chance to spur innovation and share knowledge, that you can put into action.

The World Café consists of three elements:

  1. The presentation or talk. This will provide the audience with information.
  2. The Conversation. Get everyone talking about the presentation. It will consist of a host at each table to faciliate a conversation between 3-4 people. Set a time limit for each group, then get them to switch tables about 3-4 times. Have a different theme for each round of conversations. For example, the first round can just debrief the presentation. The second round could be about ideas and questions. The third round could try to uncover the deepest unanswered questions.
  3. The Response. Questions that result from the conversation will be gathered and the speaker or other audience members can answer them in the format of a talk show.

This is a great tool to engage an audience after a presentation. We are all sick of sitting through a presentation to only have a few questions answered before particpants have a chance to discuss them or let the material sink in. The audience members will generate much higher quality questions after they have conversations about it.

Conclusion

The above are just two facilitation tools you can use to engage the system. If you are ot familiar with facilitation tools like the ones mentioned here, please check out the plethora of free facilitation resources online, or better yet, read Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership”. One resource that I love found free online is the Institute for Innovation and Improvement’s Facilitator Toolkit.

This post was intended to create a dialogue about engaging the system. There is so much to be gained by opening up to the diverse perspectives deep within the system that can enable us to attack problems, or generate ideas from a wide range of angles. With the right approach, you can engage the system in an organized, effective and time-efficient way.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found this topic interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions, or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

Breakdown: How to be a Good Motivator – Highlights from “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) Ch. 5-8

If you are like me, you may never get a chance to read all the books you would like to. There is just not enough time in a single lifetime to absorb it all. That is why I wanted to breakdown “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) by Alan Loy McGinnis to share the key takeaways that I got out of it.

See the source image

“Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) is a guide to be a good motivator. It provides the reader with 12 principles to bring out the best in people through motivation. The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

In this post, I will break down chapters 5-8. These chapters capture principles 4-7 to bring the best out of people. If you like it, please check out my previous post capturing chapters 1-4 and look out for future posts where I will share highlights from later chapters.

Chapter 5: Management of Failure

This chapter highlights principle #4, create an environment where failure is not fatal. As motivators, we need to help the people we motivate manage their failures, and as leaders we need to approach failures creatively. Failure is an important learning opportunity and can be used as a tool for innovation.

The main theme of this chapter is to anticipate and expect failure, so you and your organization is prepared for it. It also notes that as motivators, we need to learn from our own mistakes also and be open and honest about them. Let others see your mistakes. Richard J. Needham, late columnist for the Globe and Mail said it succinctly, “Strong people make as many and as ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at them, and learn from them. That is how they become strong.”

What I thought was missed in this chapter is the power of recognizing mistakes of others as a learning opportunity for you and the organization. Mistakes may stem from problems within the system. It may be an opportunity to improve processes, procedures, and leadership. By turning a mistake from an individual learning opportunity to a systems learning opportunity, we have more corridors to accommodate it. By not personalizing the mistake, and instead capturing it under a broader umbrella of responsibility, we make it more comfortable for employees to make them. The mistakes are not always solely their own, the team can recognize errors and identify if there are changes that could be made to reduce or learn from them.

The trick here is to be able to address and correct errors without harming the person who made them resulting in a loss of their enthusiasm. Don’t let failures deter staff. Major success often comes after long stings of major failure. Look at Abraham Lincoln’s track record before his presidency.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” For this reason, you should probably reprimand teams who never make mistakes – they are probably playing it way too safe.

Chapter 6: Building an Inner Drive

This chapter highlights principle #5, if they are going anywhere near where you want to go, jump on their bandwagon. The main purpose of this chapter is to drill into your head that the best way to give advice to those you want to motivate is to find out their wants and needs, then give them advice to achieve it. Remember, manipulation is convincing people to do things against their own interests. Manipulation is a red flag for poor leadership. As motivators, we need to understand the interests of others.

McGinnis points out here that a real test on the effectiveness of your efforts, is how much people continue to stay motivated when you are absent. They could behave as if they are motivated when you are there, but as soon as you leave become complacent. To get them to stay motivated when you are gone, help them develop personal goals that are SMART (SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). These goals need to satisfy their interests, dreams, and aspirations. Then the motivator will help them create a plan to reach those goals and help them follow it. Do everything you can do to help them achieve their goals. This is “hopping on their bandwagon.”

What you should not do is plant an idea in their head, then convince them that the idea was theirs in the first place. This is a manipulation tactic that often backfires. So, don’t approach people with a view that you know what that person should be then change them to be that. Clarify what they want by asking how they want to change, what makes them happy and how they wish to modify their behaviour. Then set goals together.

Another sharp point made here is that employees’ goals and values need to align with the organization. For example, I would not recommend that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hire carnivores who actively protest against plant-based diets. They are probably not a good fit.

As much as you need to establish a fit between employees and the organization, you as a leader needs to have clear goals and objectives too. People want leaders with clear objectives, but you need to be consistent. People who waiver on values and objectives are often seen as weak or unstable. This becomes particularly dangerous when you change your values and objectives in such a way that people can no longer be on your bandwagon. But we know that it is okay to change your beliefs, it is human and shows that you can learn and grow as a person without blindly holding onto beliefs that are irrational. That is the foundation of science, as new information comes in, new understandings emerge that force us to let go of the old ones. So, the author clarifies that we need to build into conversations some room for others to change their minds and to say “no”. To avoid manipulation, don’t lock them into a position that they cannot change from.

Also highlighted in this chapter is to not let people believe that they are failures because they failed. Tomas Edison had the right mindset when he said, ““I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Chapter 7: The Power of the Success Story

Chapter 7 highlights principle #6, employ models that encourage success. The purpose is to get the reader to realize the power of story telling. Success stories are motivating because they touch the hearts and minds of people and as a result can change their attitudes and perspectives.

Here, you should not simply use stories that you find compelling. People are motivated in different ways. You should not use the success story of Donald Trump to motivate a democrat or use stories of war to motivate a pacifist.

Here, it is important that you know those who you want to motivate. Understand their values, goals, and aspirations. Then pick stories that you think will tug at their heart strings.

Chapter 8: The Secret of Parlaying Small Successes into Larger Gains

This Chapter highlights principle # 7, recognize and applaud achievement. Here the author notes the all-too-often complaint from employees: “The boss never gives me feedback, except when something goes wrong”. Remember, as motivators we want to recognize the good side of people and build on that. If we are only recognizing when they make mistakes, we are focussing on their bad sides.

The advice in this chapter is based off BF Skinner’s seminal work in psychology about positive and negative reinforcement.  It is clear that positive reinforcement, or rewarding good behaviour is a much more effective tool for changing behaviours than negative reinforcement or punishing bad behaviour. So, the art of praise is an important skill for any leader.

The art of praise works best if you reinforce specific behaviours. This is not saying “I expect great things from you”. This is saying “Wow, I overheard your call with that client and you demonstrated the kind of customer service excellence we like to show off to the world”.

The author gives a tool here called one-minute praisings, where you take regular breaks to catch employees doing something right or exceptional and give them compliments. Everyone is starving for appreciation. So, when someone comes along to genuinely acknowledge our good side, we will follow them enthusiastically. Employees are more motivated when they know that they are doing things right, so create systems that regularly identify wins, reinforcing that your people are winners and then celebrate those wins.

To master the art of praise, McGinnis provides four suggestions:

  1. Give praise publicly as one-on-ones are less effective. People like it when nice things are said about them to other people. For example, it feels really nice when your partner says something very nice about you to their friends.
  2. Seize the moment to celebrate every success. Successes are an excuse for celebration, and celebration supports morale and a positive atmosphere.
  3. Write your compliment down in a hand-written letter. 
  4. Be very specific about the compliment you give. Identify exactly why you appreciate what they did and how they did it.

Here the author also notes that too much reinforcement with things like pay incentives and gifts can be dangerous. You don’t want those you motivate to become more motivated by material rewards than they are by their values and goals. Don’t lose sight of the importance of your mission and purpose as a tool for motivation. People can turn into “reinforcement junkies” who must have some material reward available to put in hard work. Furthermore, too much praise can become meaningless. Don’t praise for the sake of praise, this is not genuine. People will recognize it and it will become less effective.

As leaders we need to observe improvements in those we motivate. If bad habits have changed into good ones, we need to acknowledge them for that. It is extraordinarily demoralizing to change your behaviours at great effort and/or personal expense, then see it go unnoticed by your leadership.

There is this idea that by celebrating success, you produce overconfident employees who think they are better than others. McGinnis argues that this is not the case. It is a mistake for leadership to think that they need to “peg employees down a notch”. William Somerset Maugham, a famous English playwright and novelist once noted, “The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistical and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them for the most part humble, tolerant, and firm. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.”

Conclusion

I hope you liked this breakdown of the key highlights from Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People”, chapters 5 –8. If you would like more tips on how to be a good motivator, look out for my future posts which will cover more of this material. Or better yet, buy his book.

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice on motivation are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Breakdown: How to be a Good Motivator – Highlights from “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) Ch. 1-4

If you are like me, you may never get a chance to read all the books you would like to. There is just not enough time in a single lifetime to absorb it all. That is why I wanted to breakdown “Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) by Alan Loy McGinnis to share the key takeaways that I got out of it.

See the source image

“Bringing Out the Best in People” (1985) is a guide to be a good motivator. It provides the reader with 12 principles to bring out the best in people through motivation. The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

In this post, I will break down the first 4 chapters. The first chapter is dedicated to “The Psychology of Motivation”, which was not explained academically but rather in plain, every day english. Chapters 2-4 cover the first three principles to bring out the best in people. If you like it, please look out for future posts where I will share highlights from other chapters.

Chapter 1: The Psychology of Motivation

This chapter highlights the notion that motivation is not always internally sourced. There are all kinds of external motivators that influences one’s drive. There is a need for inspiration. Have you ever thought of someone as being lazy, lacking motivation? It could be that they just have not been sufficiently motivated by any leadership, that nobody has acknowledged their potential and put in the effort to use it. Your employees don’t want to feel unengaged. They want leaders who can teach them to enjoy their work.

Some people can confuse motivation for manipulation. Manipulation is persuading someone to behave in a way that supports your best interests, not theirs. Whereas motivation is where you identify compatible interests and goals then develop a partnership to achieve them.

The famous poet Goethe once noted that “the greatest genius will not be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources”. What he is trying to do here is warn you not to fail to achieve great things because you failed to inspire others. This was an impactful statement for me. It highlights that there is power in relationships.

Chapter 2: Expecting the Best

This chapter is dedicated the first principle to bring the best out of people: expect the best out of the people you lead. It highlights that if you set the bar low, the people you lead will meet that expectation, but if you set the bar high – to greatness – people will tend to put in great efforts to live up to that.

Not only should you set the bar high for things like productivity, but you should also expect that others have the best of intentions. If you treat people like they have good intentions, you will get good things out of them. This chapter encourages the reader to see the good side of people, picking out the best in them and building on that. To do so, you need a genuine desire to help others.

This is in contrast to the authoritative policing style boss who always looks for the worst in people. It makes people defensive, protective and forces them to close the door to their inner potential. If you make people feel defensive and productive, they won’t be confident enough to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and become the best they can be.

So, to bring out the best in people, you need to set up high expectations. Recall that Eminem song “The Way I Am”. In the chorus he rhymes “I am whatever you say I am, if I wasn’t, then why would you say I am”. This lyric gives insight into the human psyche, that we are moulded by others’ expectations of us to an extent.

This is summed up in what some call “The Pygmalion Effect”. It is derived from the George Bernard Shaw play “Pygmalion” where a professor helps a woman become an elegant lady. He does this by always treating her like one and the result was that she lived up to those expectations.

Goethe also sums it up succinctly: “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be”.

Everyone has the desire to do great things and to be somebody. The goal for you as a leader or motivator is to tap into that drive by showing them that you believe in them. If you show that you believe in them, they will try very hard to live up to those expectations.

Chapter 3: A Tailor-Made Plan of Motivation

This chapter is dedicated to principle #2, to make a thorough study of the other person’s needs. To be a motivator, you first need to understand what the person you are trying to motivate wants. They may not know this themselves, so you need to be patient. You may not get it out of them in the first conversation. If you don’t know what someone wants, then how can you motivate them to attain it? Remember, if you motivate others to do what you want, against their own interest then it is manipulation.  

Motivation is not some form of hype. Good motivators make motivational plans tailored to individuals they are trying to motivate. To do this effectively, you need to understand their beliefs, aspirations, and what they love (and don’t love). You need to understand their system of needs and desires. McGinnis says it well “People are driven by a bundle of interests. So, save yourself time and frustration by carefully appealing to their interests.”

The real key to this chapter is to tailor your leadership to the individual. For example, if someone is a pacifist, don’t motivate them using military code or stories about war. George Bernard Shaw said it succinctly “The only person who behaves sensibly is my tailor. He makes new measurements every time he sees me. All the rest go on with the old measurements

McGinnis gives two reasons why you should seriously study those you want to motivate:

  1. It gives you powerful data to inform your motivational plan
  2. It is a compliment to those you are trying to motivate. You are not only studying them, but you are also building a relationship with them and showing them genuine interest in them as individuals. Remember Bob Chartier’s note from “Handcrafted Leadership” that shows the association between relationships, possibilities, and action.

Some leaders will lead with the mindset of “follow me, I am the strongest! I know more than all of you.”. But the best leaders lead others by first saying “tell me about yourself”. They know that if they listen long enough, their people will explain how to motivate them.

Chapter 4: A Commitment to Excellence

This chapter is dedicated to principle # 3, to establish high standards of excellence. It highlights that you don’t have to sacrifice positivity and encouragement to be hard on standards. The best companies out there encourage and accommodate employees’ individuality while enforcing standards.

Being tough on standards does not mean that you have to be an oppressive leader. Being tough on standards simply means that you care. Standards are born to uphold excellence and the well-being of the organization as well as the employees within it. They are meant to act in the best interest of those invested in the company. So, if you are not tough on standards, you are not supporting the employees or the organization.

So how do you reprimand employees who are not meeting the standards? McGinnis provides four pieces of advice:

  1. Do it immediately. The longer you wait, the less impactful the reprimand will be. Don’t wait for a performance review, do it right away.
  2. Before you reprimand, confirm all the facts about what happened. You need to ensure that your data is accurate. Refrain from accusatory statements and blame.
  3. Be specific. Once you have all the facts, be very specific about what went wrong. Criticize behaviour, not the person or their motives.
  4. Do not hesitate to show your feelings. McGinnis states here to show your feelings of anger, annoyance, and frustration. However, please be mindful not to dramatize those emotions. Do not sacrifice your emotionally intelligent demeaner and high morale in your office for the sake of a reprimand. If you can refrain from being angry or harming your relationship with your colleagues, then don’t.

Remember that there is immense power in a challenge. People are not inspired when they are not expected to do much. People are inspired by a challenge. William James put it bluntly, “need and struggle are what excite and motivate us”.

There is also power in a cause. People can be motivated if leaders can offer a challenge and a cause. The cause gives meaning, a deeper level of motivation driven by the want to do good in this world.

Remember, that your expectations need to be realistic. It can be demoralizing to reprimand someone for not upholding standards that are unrealistic.

Conclusion

I hope you liked this breakdown of the key highlights from Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People”, chapters 1 – 4. If you would like more tips on how to be a good motivator, look out for my future posts which will cover more of this material. Or better yet, buy his book.

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice on motivation are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Bringing Out the Best in People (1985) By Alan Loy McGinnis Book Review

This is a book review of Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Enjoy Helping Others Excel” published in 1985 by Augsburg Publishing House.

4/5

“…a lighthearted look into the principles behind motivating others.”

See the source image

About the Author

The late Alan Loy McGinnis was a psychotherapist and the founder and director of the Valley Counselling Centre in Glendale, California. He is the author of several books, including The Friendship Factor (1979), The Power of Optimism (1993) and Confidence (1987).

He received degrees in theology, psychology and counselling from Wheaton College, Princeton Theology Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Columbia University.

About the Book

This book resulted from a seminar given by Alan Loy McGinnis titled “How to Bring the Best Out of People”. It turned out to be very popular as there was a growing recognition that managers and leaders need good interpersonal skills.

What “Bringing Out the Best in People” Promises the Reader

This book promises to deliver 12 principles to help you do well. The author promises that if you incorporate these principles into your daily life, you will get ahead and people around you will be grateful. What I got out of the book was good advice and tips to practice that will hopefully allow me to motivate others more effectively.

This book is really for those who want to become more effective motivators. It helps you realize that there is a vast amount of unutilized potential in people waiting to be tapped. Good leaders are able to capitalize on that potential through motivation and inspire people to give it their best.

How “Bringing Out the Best in People” Delivers on its Promise

The book is structured in an easily accessible way. It espouses 12 principles to bring out the best in people, each given its own chapter. Each chapter provides some theory, story-telling and quotes from influential people. If you crave leadership techniques, then this book is for you.

The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

There are 14 chapters. The two additional chapters provide context. The first chapter discusses the psychology of motivation. Don’t expect an academic, in-depth explanation about the psychology of motivation. It is broken down with very plain, easy to understand language. The last chapter highlights the joy of motivating others for the motivator. You help people, achieve great things and bring a lot of positivity into your life.

My Favourite Part of the Book

This book helps you develop legitimate power as a leader by helping people. I love this philosophy. This is as opposed to the “me-first” philosophy which encourages you to gain power at the expense of other people. The “me-first” philosophy grossly undermines the power found in good relationships. Like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, this book conveys its message through a combination of story-telling and theory which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My favourite part of this book is its light-hearted demeaner and its effort to bring the best out of the reader – you, the motivator. It emphasizes the importance of being kind, reasonable, and helping other people. As the famous poet Goethe once noted that “the greatest genius will not be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources”.

There were also so many fantastic, inspiring, and motivational quotes.

Favorite Quotes

“History shows that in almost every arena there is a vacuum waiting to be filled by some person who can impart vision and steer people’s energies into the best endeavours.”

“You are a motivator when you find goals that will be good for both sides, then weld together a high-achieving, high morale partnership to achieve them”

“If people expect good things from them, they will in most cases go to great lengths to live up to our expectations”

“The people who like people and who believe that those they lead have the best intentions will get the best from them”

“We can choose whether to build on their strengths or become obsessed with their weaknesses”

“You need the ability to fail. I’m amazed at the number of organizations that set up an environment where they do not permit their people to be wrong. You cannot innovate unless you are willing to make mistakes” – Charles Knight

“…the art of motivation is the heightening of emotion. It is appealing to the unconscious more than the conscious, to the right side of the brain than the left.”

“The best motivators know that one reason to recognize achievement is to help people concentrate on images of themselves succeeding, and that such mental exercises have an undeniable effect on performance.”

“Competition is always a factor for highly motivated people. The trick is to know how to use it in balance”

My Least Favourite Part of the Book

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, there are parts where I disagree, it is sometimes cryptic, and not always inclusive to the reader.

The book is framed from a Christian perspective. It is not as inclusive as it could be to other belief systems. He said early on that you need to study the people you are trying to motivate to find out their beliefs. So, for a book like this intended for motivators – not necessarily Christian motivators, I would have liked it to be more neutral without prescribing to any one political or religious stance. Earlier on in the book, he used an example of a man who became agnostic. As a therapist, he found success in his treatment by getting him to identify values and beliefs that he knows to be true. But when describing the result, he stated that the patient “even” came back to the church, to demonstrate how successful it was. I don’t know why that would add to the success of a therapy session unless the reader is assumed to have the same Christian value system. Many of the stories shared were biblical. I can find inspiration in biblical myths too, I love them. The bible is a great read full of ideas and stories that show insight into human nature over time. There is great wisdom to be realized in bible. However, the biblical stories chosen here were not the most powerful to me.

McGinnis goes on to say this: “…the longer I have sat in my counselling room and listened to people tell how they’re in over their heads and sometimes feel as if they’re going down for the third time, the more I’ve realized that no one can ignore tragedy even when they try, and that everyone needs some place to go once a week where they are picked up, given the long view, and strengthened with renewed hope.” This is an argument concluding that everyone should to go to church. I like church sometimes, there is always community there. However, I cannot help but feel this is out of place in a book like this.

Even if you are not a Christian, I still recommend this book. The Christian perspectives espoused are not too enforcing, and the content is still accessible and insightful.

Criticisms

Chapter 4 highlights principle #3, commit to excellence by establishing high standards for those you are trying to motivate. For the most part, it does an excellent job. However, in a discussion about reprimanding others it says to show your anger, annoyance, and frustration. I agree in a sense, but to what degree do you show these emotions? I struggle to understand why a motivator would want to sacrifice morale in the workplace for the sake of being angry. The best leaders are able to control their emotions (which is encouraged later in the book). But here the author explicitly tells the reader to be angry – which if not done tactfully could contradict your effort to create a positive culture. I assume the advice he gives here is not to be angry in a dramatic way, but to show others that their actions are impactful, even to you – the leader.

He goes on to cite Dan Rather who said, “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called the truth”. But I struggle to understand why the truth has to be a sharp stick in the first place. Getting negative criticism at work for me is often a blessing. It is a chance for someone to show me how I can be better. So rather than making the truth hurt, teach people how to absorb negative feedback in a positive way then teach them how to do things better. So why can’t the truth be encouraging, rather than a stab? If you both believe in their potential, the truth is a tool to help them achieve it. As Bob Chartier (author of “Handcrafted Leadership”) would say, this requires a shift in your mental model of criticism.

Dale Carnegie in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” gives a number of good tips on how to criticize others while still being liked. This is opposed to Alan Loy McGinnis’ view that you should expect others to be unhappy with you after they have been reprimanded. Yes, you will never be always liked by everyone. But I think there are diplomatic and strategic ways to reduce the unpleasantries of criticism and reprimands resulting in a less damaging experience. It is true, some of the worst leaders are those who have a desperate need to be loved by everyone and thus bend rules for some in an effort to appease them. Others will see that you treated them differently, counter to the rules or standards an organization upholds to ensure excellence. By bending those rules, you are harming the organization as a whole and everyone in it. In other words, by bending the rules for some, you are not acting in the best interest of the organization. So, McGinnis makes a good point here.

The author goes on to advise not to set people up for failure by setting expectations too high for someone to achieve. This enters a dangerous territory where you don’t want to cut someone short either. Don’t undermine their potential by setting your expectations lower than what they are capable of. McGinnis warns not to tell the “bottle washer” that she will be president. But maybe she could be. I would suggest talking with the other person. See what their expectations of themselves are. They will often undermine their own potential, at which point you can raise that expectation with encouragement. Many successful people started at the level of a “bottle washer”, then go on to do great things. The comment not to tell the bottle washer that they will be president troubles me because it forces the motivator to put a cap on someone’s potential. Is potential static? I think that potential can fluctuate and there is potential to increase someone’s potential. McGinnis uses an example about setting realistic expectations. If your child gets a D on an assignment say “I bet you will get a C next time”. Yes, maybe moving from a D to an A+ is unrealistic, so you do need to set the expectation somewhere more appropriate. What McGinnis does not say here is that you could set expectations up incrementally. Expect a C next time, but then expect a C+, then a B, then that A+. But that does not mean the child couldn’t get an A+ right away. People can be much more nuanced than on the surface of things. You need to ask why the child got a D. Maybe she was not challenged, or the teacher did not set good expectations of her, maybe she is being bullied or simply finds the subject matter boring. So, I get it – don’t set someone up for failure. It is good advice. However, I would say this needs to be done strategically, incrementally building up expectations.

Chapter 5 highlights principle #4, to create an environment where failure is not fatal. I love this rule, it establishes that failure is a good learning opportunity. However, this is highly centred on the employee, that they will learn from those mistakes. What it does not highlight is how the motivator or leader should also learn from their mistakes. They could be learning opportunities for the entire organization. This chapter is all about when someone makes a mistake, help that person learn from it. This is a narrow view in my opinion. Mistakes should be documented with lessons learned that can be shared. Why let a mistake one person made, be made time and time again by others, each one learning discretely. Imagine if we handled safety in this way. Every time a worker gets a concussion, they learn to wear a helmet. How many concussions will occur before everyone wears the  helmet? The motivator should not act like he or she cannot learn from someone else’s mistakes either. Mistakes that keep occurring may stem from processes, procedures or changes in external factors that have not yet been accommodated by the system. Mistakes made require lessons learned, not just on the individual level, but in a broader, systems thinking point of view.

Chapter 6 highlights principle #5, if they are going anywhere near where you want to go, jump on their bandwagon. Here McGinnis states not to let people think that they are failures just because they failed. This is an impactful statement. However, I found he missed the mark. I agree with the comment, but it still assumes that one’s failure in an organization are their own. It may be the case. But too often there are flaws in the system, the management, motivators, leaders, processes, procedures, standards, values, etc. Leaders should be able to learn from others’ mistakes too and assess those learnings through the lens of systems thinking. Sometimes a mistake is one’s own. I don’t want to diminish that possibility. However, what could you have done as a manager, or leader to have reduced those errors? How could you apply that to new employees, processes, leadership, etc. Take responsibility for those errors too if you can. Acknowledge the failure as a success if it results in better procedures, standards, or learnings for the organization. This takes humility, something discussed in the book, but not explicitly emphasized yet.

Chapter 7 highlights principle #6, to employ models that encourage success. He does this by emphasizing the power of story-telling, that “the best way to appeal to emotions is by talking about people, their struggles and their triumphs”. I think there is power in stories, however they must be used strategically and tactfully. Don’t give success stories about people with whom your audience cannot relate to. Don’t tell a democrat the success story of Donald Trump to motivate them. In business school they always use the filthy-rich as examples in their stories of success. I was never motivated by that. But even if I was, I think money as a motivator has limited use. Don’t appeal to the lowest common denominator – money. Use examples based on merit, principles and values that align with your organization, family or team. You want to have superior standards and values. You want your staff to be motivated by your company’s mission and values. Or do you want them to be motivated by wealth? What will the cost to your values and standards be, if trumped by wealth? This can lead you to a shady area, were corruption is accommodated. You cannot blame employees for prioritizing wealth over values if that is how you motivated them.

McGinnis goes on to say that these stories symbolize the human capacity to achieve greatness and to tell your staff that they can achieve greatness too if they work hard enough. But some organizations overwork their employees, who then become burned out. If someone was worked to the bone with core work-load resulting in minimal time to accomplish side-of-the desk projects and innovate, I could see them get slightly offended if a manager said, “you could be great if you worked harder”. They could fire back, “Am I not working hard as hell now? Maybe I could achieve greatness if you didn’t bog down each waking workday with mundane tasks.” Saying that you could be great if you work harder insinuates something about the other persons character – that they are not working hard enough now. That may or may not be true. It is also how and what you work, not just how hard you work. The farmer who works 12 hours a day doing hard labour is certainly working “harder” than the office manager on an 8-hour shift. So, McGinnis’ notion of creating a roadmap or pathway to success resonates with me. Not simply saying “he did, so can you, so do it. You’re not successful like that legend, so you are obviously not putting in the effort.” No. As a leader you need to steer their effort in the right direction to achieve that success. If you cannot steer them to the type of success you said they can reach in your story-telling – then how can you as a leader tell them that they can?

Chapter 8 highlights rule #7, to recognize and applaud achievement. I had a problem with an example he used here. He gives several suggestions to master the art of the compliment. The first one is to hand out commendations in public as one-on-one kudos are not as effective. McGinnis played sports in high-school. One game he played very well and wondered if the coach noticed. The coach did notice and said it in front of the whole team. This made Alan feel good, like he was somebody. However, he also notes that the coach chewed out a few other players, saying that they were nothing like Alan. So, do we also chew people out when we give commendations? It seems like a bizarre fact to throw in for no reason. So, we give praise to one person then single out two others to “chew out”. I don’t think that public commendations should go along with public reprimands at work. You don’t give an achievement award to someone followed by bringing up two underachievers to humiliate in front of everybody. I doubt he intended the reader to interpret it this way, but the example clearly implies it.

Chapter 12 highlights principle #11, to build into the group an allowance for storms. This is brilliant, there should be a pathway for negative behaviour to be accommodated. It will inevitably happen. There is always a storming phase in teams and there needs to be a way to manage that – it should be expected and prepared for. Here McGinnis gives you seven techniques to deal with troublemakers. The third technique is to identify “how destructive the person is”. But to me, a person is not destructive – their behaviour is. Do not frame it like this in your mind by degrading who a person is as a whole to some negative connotation. Behaviours can be destructive, and we want to nail down the why, how, and severity of those actions. Separate the people from the problem, not just in your communication with others, but how you think about others as well. McGinnis gives the advice himself when he says to see the best in people and assume that they have good intentions.

Conclusion

This book is a lighthearted look into the principles behind motivating others. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. In the near future, I will write a post giving you the highlights and best tips on motivation that I found.

I found this material interesting. But I am more interested to hear what your thoughts are. If you have any comments, questions or criticisms about my post, or this book, please share them in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and subscribe, I always appreciate it when you do. Or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

Engaging Teams at Work

In a previous post, I discussed tips and tools for engaging individuals at work. Now, I will discuss how to engage teams at work.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools that I share with you here, please check out his book.

It is clear that engaging individuals has significant benefits in terms of productivity and morale, but we still cannot ignore engagement on the other layers of an organizations structure.

Bob Chartier highlights in his book “Handcrafted Leadership” the need to engage people in organizations on the following levels:

  1. Individuals
  2. Teams
  3. The System

Engaging Teams

Free Images : team building, teamwork, technology, togetherness, unity,  wireless, wires, woman, wooden table, hand, product design, communication,  brand 3000x1962 - rawpixel.com - 1432563 - Free stock photos - PxHere

What do you think about when you hear “engaging teams”? We often think about team engagement as team building activities such as a two-hour meeting, a team-building session, the old close your eyes, fall back and let others catch you technique, or a team-building course. That is the traditional mental model of team building.

Those activities may have a degree of effectiveness. However, as our understanding grows about team dynamics, we will need to shift our mental model about what team building is. For example, we now recognize that there are major benefits of building a culture within teams through continuous engagement, not necessarily one offs here or there.

There are benefits of one-off team building activities though. As Alan Loy McGinnis (late psychotherapist) in his book “Bringing out the Best in People” identifies, one technique to create high morale in teams is to “plan occasions for people to be away together”. He asserts that there is an interesting phenomenon observed by sending teams away out of their usual environment. They become more creative, open to new ideas and tend to form strong bonds rather quickly. So, sending them off for a few days together to a resort with planned activities, or a conference or something like that is an excellent tool to build team comradery.

As effective as this type of one-off is, it is just one tool within a suite of techniques to engage your team. Regular engagement with teams to build a culture of excellence, in addition to Alan Loy McGinnis’ advice, has proven to be effective for both its development and maintenance.

Bob Chartier recommends several tools for continuous engagement of teams which will be discussed below.

Tools to Engage Teams

Teamwork Icons - Download Free Vector Icons | Noun Project
  1. The Daily Stand-Up Meeting. This tool is not time consuming and should occur daily at a scheduled time. The time you choose may depend on your team or the type of work you do. Mornings will work well with highly structured and organized workloads. However, if it is not highly structured then employees may not know exactly what their day will look like. In that case, this type of meeting may be best scheduled in the early or late afternoon. Everyone on the team stands around so they can see each other. Each person will have 1-2 minutes each to say how they are doing and what they are up to that day. This is also a good opportunity to disseminate information, give praise or congratulations, and get to know your employees personally. Not only does this tool engage teams, but it gives the leader an excellent opportunity to keep their fingers on the pulse on the team, the lives of individuals within it, and to observe team dynamics.
  2. The One-Hour Meeting Space/ Preventative Maintenance. Arrange for a one-hour meeting time in a quiet, comfortable space once a week, month, quarter or even year. This time is intended for good conversations. Make this meeting a ritual and make it mandatory. Bring snacks. This is not intended to be a time for brainstorming, problem solving or working on core-work duties. Just facilitate meaningful and rich conversation about what is going on. Again, this is an opportunity for you as a leader to get to know your team, but also for the group to develop bonds.
  3. The Team Charter. The team charter is not something set in stone, it can be continually revised. It is a conversation about how a team will get work done effectively. Too often we focus on the “what”, this is a document about the “how”. It may not translate to a document, but the most important thing about it is the conversation. It is a conversation about how the team wants and needs each other to work together to get things done effectively with excellence. The team charter should be viewed as a work activity, not an activity for your retreat or team-building sessions. It is work – not play and needs to be approached with that mentality.

Engaging Teams Remotely

working, suit, alone, isolated, space, astronaut, nasa, earth, beautiful, oxygen, pack, freestyle motocross, lifeline, tether, space walk

While you can use the above tools remotely over some video conferencing service, the dynamic of teams will have changed. Many of our leaders are weary of remote work, telework agreements and the lack of direct contact with people. There are many benefits of providing remote work options to your employees which deserves its own post here. But we have now been forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. It is unfortunate and sad that many organizations were not prepared for working remotely due to their insecurities about it.

Luckily, Simone Sloan from Forbes shed some light on how to engage teams remotely in an article found here.

  1. Trust. Your employees need to feel like you trust them. If you are a leader ho tends to micromanage and limit the creativity of your staff, you may need to reflect on how effective this leadership style can be while working remotely. Your team now desperately needs that feeling of autonomy to get their work done. Micromanagement can undermine that sense of trust. If you dont trust them, can they trust you?
  2. Set Boundaries but Provide Flexibility. Providing flexibility in how they work can help secure and maintain team motivation.
  3. Connect with Your Team Daily. This is a bit of advice that is not necessarily about how much you connect, but rather ensuring regular quality connections. You can use the stand-up tool here, or get more creative, encourage team members to share their experiences and show their personalities – make it fun. Good motivators know the importance of knowing their team on a personal level. There is no one sure-fire way to motivate all. Motivation plans need to be personalized, so keep your fingers on the pulse on individuals as well as the team. This connection will serve several functions. But importantly, some people will struggle more than others with remote work. There will be varying degrees of stress and discomfort. Humans are social creatures. Creating a connection with people can reduce that discomfort of isolation.
  4. Show Confidence in Your Team – Expect Greatness. People need to feel safe where they work and that includes at home too. Your team needs to feel confident without excess fear-induced stress about negative consequences. If you are not confident, then build confidence. You can do this be jointly creating expectations and goals together. It shows that you respect your team by including them in the process.
  5. Provide Regular Feedback. People desperately want feedback. It lets them know that their work is acknowledged. It also gives them a chance to be recognized and improve.
  6. Watch Your Emotions. We are all stressed out about the pandemic. The last thing your employees need is a Negative Nancy leading their team. This can be very demoralizing.
  7. Let People Be Themselves. Create an inclusive environment, where people can provide value and have fun while working without feeling like they are walking on eggshells – they need the freedom to be themselves. The moment you provide negative reinforcement for people being themselves is the moment you endanger their individuality. Threatening one’s individuality is offensive, heart-breaking and devalues that person at their core. People want to be part of a cohesive team, but we need our individuality to be valued, not punished.

Conclusion

This post was intended to open a discussion about how to engage teams. In conclusion, keep connected with your team, respect them as people, stay positive, and never waiver on your high standard of excellence. There is an art to maintaining excellence without damaging team morale. Be tactful, inclusive, and open to acknowledging and tapping into the potential of your staff, remotely or otherwise.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found this topic interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions, or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

Engaging Individuals at Work

In my previous post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“, I highlighted the relationship between productivity and engagement, among other benefits.

In this post, I will share with you some tools and tips for engaging individuals. Stay tuned for posts in the near future about engaging teams, engaging the system, and engaging accountability.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools I share with you here, please check out his book.

How to Engage Individuals

First, acknowledge that engagement is a priority and disengagement is a problem. If you are not convinced of this, then read my blog post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“.

Second, identify behaviours that indicate disengagement. This will help you prioritize your time. Forbes Human Resource Council (2018) identified 12 signs that your employee is disengaged. Here are a few signs that may indicate disengagement:

90+ Free Exhaustion & Exhausted Illustrations - Pixabay
  1. Withdrawl. Disengaged employees tend to withdraw from activities, conversations, communities of practice, social gatherings, non-essential meetings and side-of-the-desk projects. They tend to do the minimum to get by, limiting their productivity.
  2. Poor Communication. Disengaged employees tend to limit their participation in meetings, debriefs, one-on-one’s, and sharing their feedback, opinions, ideas, or problems.
  3. Silence. Disengaged employees tend to not talk a lot in meetings, calls, one-on-one’s, performance reviews or just in general. This may be glaringly obvious if they started out talkative and positive but over time became less so. This is a sign of disempowerment also. Remember, relationships – possibily – action. If someone is not engaged, your possibilities diminish.
  4. Exhaustion, Cycnicism and Inefficiency. Disengaged employees may result from extended burnout. They may simply have lacked the tools to preserve their mental and physical well-being during periods of intense work-load, or lacked the support or soical structure to accommodate it.

Once you identified individuals who exhibit disengagement, prioritize them in your engagement efforts. So how do you engage individuals? Karlyn Borysenko (2019) at Forbes highlights four ways to engage employees.

Free Images : achievement, aerial, agreement, arms, asian, black, business  deal, caucasian, celebration, cheerful, closeup, coffee, collaboration,  colleague, communication, computer, connection, cooperation, digital  device, diverse, european ...
  1. Be Transparent. Do not give your employees half-truths, they will begin to recognize to take what you say with a grain of salt. Be honest if you identify a problem with engagement at your workplace, but also highlight any positives.
  2. Get Your Employees Involved. Have individuals commit to a few actions they can take to improve engagement at the workplace.
  3. Check in with People. Talk to individuals, get their feedback and dont be a stranger.
  4. Create Measures for Continuous Improvement. You want to have a culture of engagement, which may take a continuous effort that needs monitoring.

So the above are all good general measures, or tips for engaging employees. However, there are engagement tools you should place in your toolbox to get results. Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” provides several tools to help you engage individuals.

200+ Free Conversation & Talk Illustrations - Pixabay
  1. The One-On-One Conversation. This tool gives disengaged employees your time, letting them know that you are interested in them. As noted in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, let them do most of the talking, practice active listening, and give encouragement. Find out things about them such as what is going on in their life, remember their wife and kids names, find out their hobibies and their interests. Use this information to let them know that you are genuinely interested in them in your one-on-one’s. Create a personal-confidential profile for each emploeyee if you need help remembering facts about them.
  2. Reward Good Behaviour. Remember BF Skinners seminal work in psychology on rewards and punishment. Behaviours change more effectively and efficiently when rewarding good behaviours, rather than punishing bad behaviours. So spend your energy rations on rewarding good behaviour. You will find it less emotionally draining and it will result in a more positive environment.
  3. The Feedback Tool. Remember that employees crave feedback. If you are a manager or a supervisor, then remember to regularly give feedback. It lets the person know that their work is acknowledged. But prior to giving feedback, let them give themselves feedback first. They may criticize their own work for you, allowing you to focus on more positives. Then you can acknowledge their their self-awareness and give them advice or encouragement for improvement.
  4. 12-Minute Tool. Set aside 12 minutes every day at a designated consistent time to have conversations with employees that need to be re-engaged. Go to the coffee room or other visible space and encourage conversations with those that need it most. This time should be spent asking the employees what they are working on, challenges they are facing or successes they had.

Conclusion

These are just a few tips and tools for engaging individuals in the workplace. If you are interested in engaging teams, the system and accountability, then stay tuned!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found the material here interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.