The Election and Your Team

The Election and Your Team

WHAT AN EMOTIONAL WEEK.

Regardless of which political candidate you supported in the recent United States election – YOU. HAVE. HAD. A. WEEK.

Your team is likely filled with extremely strong thoughts and emotions (both positive or negative or a confusing mix of both). And sometimes, it feels like tension is so high that it could explode if a pin poked it.

What is a Manager to do?

In times like these, one of the most important roles you play, as Manager, is to hold your team together.

How?

Give your individual members of your team the space to talk it out, if and only if they want.

If they want to – choose to ask and actually listen without judgment. Something that often plagues us is judging (or assuming) and not asking, and really being curious about others and their thoughts.

The goal should not be to change opinions, but to allow people to really share their opinions /struggles /thoughts /challenges. These skills can be helpful when talking about the election and in your daily work.

Need a place to start?

First, make sure this is a 1:1 conversation.

Second, ideally this conversation takes place where the person you are talking to is comfortable and relaxed. This is not the time to corner them in the crowded break room or over the water cooler with their peers!

Third, the key is to NOT to argue or ‘fix’ their opinion if you don’t agree with their thoughts. This is the place to give your direct report the space to share their thoughts and ideas. In fact, don’t even say what you think unless they ask you.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • I’ve noticed I haven’t heard your voice as often in meetings during the last week. What’s up?
  • I remember you mentioning your support of [insert political candidate here that you’ve ACTUALLY heard them mention that they support]. What is intriguing to you about them?
  • I’ve noticed recent posts you’ve made on (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) around the election. What’s been coming up?

Choosing to mention what you are seeing (noticing or observing) and then asking a very open-ended question inviting your direct report’s opinion is extremely powerful.

This may be a new approach for you! So, try it out and let us know what you think!

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How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

Navigating Your Workplace

Murkey Water

Organizational politics.

I know… those two little words made you shutter. No matter how large or small an organization is—all of them have politics. Regardless of where you are in your organization, navigating these can be tricky!

Terry Hildebrandt, PhD, PCC is back to Middle Seats to share some tips on becoming more political savvy.

Here’s what he’s got to say:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PMPolitics do not need to be negative. In fact, one can use political savvy in a very ethical and positive way to expand one’s influence and increase the probability of getting what you want at work and in life.

 

Here are some steps:

 

Step 1: Recognize Key Players

 

In any given scenario there will be key players. The obvious players include the executive sponsor, the team members, any relevant customers or suppliers, and supporting staff. What is less clear are the hidden players that work behind the scenes to influence the stakeholders to make certain decisions or take certain actions.

 

Best Practice: Create a Stakeholder Map listing each of the key players and their roles and relationships.

 

Step 2: Identify Interests

 

Each of the key players identified in step 1 will have their own interests that need to be understood. It is your job to build relationships with the key players in order to understand their true motivations. This will require some time and networking skills to talk to those close to key stakeholders to understand their perspectives.

 

Best Practice: create a table listing all the key players and their interests as they become clear to you.

 

Step 3: Understanding Authority and Power

 

Understanding who has authority (those empowered by the organization to make decisions) and who has power (those who have the ability to influence those in authority to make decisions) among the key players will help you understand how influence flows in an organization, how decisions are made, and how resources get allocated.

 

Best Practice: creating a power and authority map of who has access to the ears of key managers can help you better understand how power and authority flow in your organization.

 

Check back next week for Terry’s final two steps!