As a disruptive executive coach I am often asked what that entails. I usually give them the high level response that indicates a system may be broken and we need some radical ideas of how to fix it. There may be, however, many reasons or contradictions that seem to stand in the way of resolving the issue. One version of disruptive thinking would be to apply TRIZ to the situation. If we follow the TRIZ idea that someone somewhere has solved the problem in some way before, all we need to do is find that solution then adapt it to our needs and make it a unique solution.
All successful businesses, regardless of what they do or sell, have one thing in common: their leaders know how to build and maintain relationships. Let’s face it, relationships are the glue that holds a company culture together and ensures customer satisfaction is paramount. We can also refer to this as relationship capital, which as its name implies is an asset for your company that should be treasured, nurtured and grown.
10 steps to build a relationship capital rich company
Developing relationship capital should be a personal and intentional activity for all employees, not just the leaders. It is a known fact that people will buy from people and firms they Know, Like and Trust so when your culture is ingrained with an attitude of earning relationship capital then it is easy for other relationships to flourish.
Too often leaders get caught up in the details of the products or services they are selling to notice how critical it is to build and maintain relationships, not just with customers but also with vendors, colleagues, and even competitors. Without strong, agile, relationships, it is impossible to have a sustainable, successful enterprise.
If you own a business today and you want it to be around for a long time, you need to spend at least 33% of your time (my number) innovating. In our hyper-connected, fast-moving world, where people expect things to get better, cheaper and more environmental friendly, sustaining innovation is your route to getting ahead of your competition.
Here are 8 suggestions that can put new vitality into your company through innovation.
I have been advocating the move to a collaborative economy for the last 3 years and while many seem to like the idea, the move to it seems to have stalled a bit. However, our rapidly changing world continues to be forcing businesses and organizations to take a new approach to what they do, i.e., collaborate.
This change is not just smart but necessary for sustainable growth. It has been shown many times in recent history that value is being created daily through complex, technology-enabled architectures of interconnection that link people and ideas across all types of interfaces.
Leaders everywhere are asking what will it take to be part of a Collaboration Economy?
Let’s look at a few:
Hopping on Board the Collaborative Economy!
The first step of the collaborative approach: “Recognize” – Authentic leaders need to recognize that everyone on your team should be able to step up and lead. When engaged, every person in your organization can be a source of vital ideas, observations and risk watchdogs when trusted.
There is an information processing term in psychology called “bounded rationality” that comes to play here. At its core is that we all have serious limits in our ability to process information. None of us know everything that we want to know. However, we don’t need to know everything if we know people who know what we don’t know. This allows us to collaborate with others by connecting with them to help us find better solutions.
Organizations can be wildly effective when they are open to using the expanded information sets that their collective membership commands – especially if they can tap and use that information when it is critical. When this light bulb turns on the organization can be bathed in a great light of encouragement and empowerment.
The second step of the collaborative approach: “Know your People” – Each person in the organization must know as much as they can about each other’s skills and limitations, without being judgmental. This is also where great leaders come into play because it’s most important for them to have this kind of knowledge.
How often do you think, before you make a promise or commitment to someone? Do you even think about what will happen if you can’t deliver on your word? Does it really matter? Many would say that most promises are not tied to life and death situations so you can be flexible but in my opinion, YES, they really do matter.
Today, many are very casual about making promises and commitments. I find many times, that promises and commitments are made in a knee-jerk reaction with little or no real intention of keeping them. For example, how often have you uttered these words, “Let’s do lunch,” “I’ll call you later,” or “I’ll be there in a sec”. Do you realize that these are really examples of disposable promises or commitments? They are often made but seldom kept in real life, whether personal or in business.
Typically, when you break a promise, small or large, sirens aren’t going to go off, however, it can subtly or not so subtly damage a relationship or your reputation. To better frame the potential, I always recommend that people think about how they feel when someone else breaks a promise to them or gets caught in a lie. Doesn’t it make you feel violated or cheated? Often you begin to question the trust that you may have given to this person in the past.
Lies, which can often be part of a promise or commitment challenge, can be equally dangerous because getting away with a lie often traps a person into believing they’re invincible and that there is little chance of getting caught. The problem with this, like breaking promises or commitments, it can become a habit, forcing people to spend precious time and energy keeping their stories straight.
As Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
The trap: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
So how do you avoid the casual treatment trap of promises or commitments and avoid building bad habits that bring about lies and manipulation? Here are some ideas to help you navigate this very critical part of being authentic and transparent.
Understand that Keeping a Promise and Telling the Truth Are Liberating:
I have always held that a promise given is a commitment that must be kept. In our relativistic world, we often apply an arbitrary rating scale. In this system, we believe that breaking a big promise is inexcusable while a small one (disposable one) is acceptable.
Personally, I think that’s simply false. While breaking a big promise, such as failing to meet a project deliverable or completing an important task, can destroy a peer or customer relationship, reneging on simple promises, such as being on time, sets an atmosphere of doubt on future behavior.
Simply put, trust is built through a series of communication experiences and successful commitment deliveries shared with others. When this behavior is consistent, faith in the relationship continues to develop and strengthens. Now this is very liberating and frees you to expand and grow.
On the other hand, when promises are broken or people are misled, the bonds of trust are breached.
Broken promises or commitments often send a subtle message that the individual either didn’t think before making the promises or didn’t care if they let you down. It also sends a perception that their needs are more important than yours.
When done consistently this puts you in a negative spiral that can challenge any growth you or your company are striving to accomplish. I look at it as putting you into bondage as opposed to the liberation that comes with being authentic and transparent. So, be careful about the promises and that you make and with whom you make them.
Always Under Promise and Over Deliver
Too many times today products and services are promising astronomical results. Personally, I believe, if you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it. The same holds true for commitments of time and effort.
I highly suggest NOT using the word guarantee in any business or personal situation. For example, as a programmer, you can’t guarantee someone a program will work perfectly the first time the client uses it. However, you can show them your track record and promise them that you’ll work hard on their behalf, that provides value.
When it comes to time, you can’t guarantee that you’ll arrive in two hours, particularly if you live in an urban area, but you can promise that you’re going to leave at 10am.
Anticipate the Uncontrollable Influences
There are things that occur that are uncontrollable by us that can lead to broken promises, and generally, these are excusable. For example, when you can’t deliver something on time because of an uncontrollable event, such as a family illness, most people will understand that the lapse was unintentional and unavoidable.
On the other hand, breaking a promise or commitment by oversleeping or forgetting, will be viewed by many as intentionally missing the deadline or appointment and you’ll have to face the consequences. After all, you should be able to control your calendar & time.
Stop the Spin, Perceptions Can Be Damaging
When we distort the truth by exaggerating, spinning the truth, or withholding key facts, we definitely weaken our credibility for the future. This is often the result of short-term thinking and poor planning, both of which are, in reality, under our control.
Vin Scully once said: “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost; for support, not illumination.”
Most the time, I believe that spin is really nothing more than lying and it comes in many forms. Some people exaggerate or stretch the truth to make something look more attractive. Others “spin the truth” by presenting “selected” facts that support their position. Withholding key facts is also lying. it’s clearly meant to deceive or manipulate and influence. Now, when you tell a lie, everything that you say in the future may be treated as suspect.
Today, as in the past, You’re often judged by the company you keep. When people cover for the spin or misinformation of others, they’re as guilty as those who created the “spin.” Remember, you are putting your own reputation and good name on the line if you cover for someone else. Is it worth it?
Keeping Your Promises or Commitments is an Action, People Always Look Most at Actions:
Always remember that actions speak louder than words. Historically, there was a time when keeping your word held special significance. Your word was your bond. But with the rise of self-exultation and excuses, there has been a diminishing of the popularity and reliability of this action in almost every human relationship and endeavor.
Being of good character was a thing to be proud of in the past and it needs to be revived today. Previously, personal integrity was trusted, expected and valued. During this time family was important, everyone knew each other’s family, and you wouldn’t do anything that would cast a shadow on your family’s good name. Today this has disappeared in many families.
It was also a time when integrity was instilled in kids at a very early age and was viewed as instrumental in achieving success. Schools could actually make a difference, kids would listen and respect teachers and teachers strove to inspire and excite kids. Actions & massive inaction speaks volumes in this arena today.
The real truth is, the world has changed, but the importance of integrity has not. Unfortunately, too many have expectations for everyone else demonstrate integrity but like to hide behind a shield of privacy so their integrity cannot be challenged. Politicians provide a perfect example of this behavior.
Every time you make a promise or commitment, you’re putting your integrity and honor on the line, whether you like it or not. In business, you are requesting that others place their trust in you because you value integrity and would never let them down.
It should go without saying that if you don’t live up to your promise or commitment you will wind up destroying your credibility, damaging your relationships, and tarnishing your reputation. The unseen damage is equally important, you let yourself down.
This summer we will be introducing a SaaS tool called PE-ER Solution that will allow you to ask for and give commitment requests and track the outcome for validation of performance. If you desire to really make a difference this tool will be helpful for those high visibility commitments and promises.
I would love to help you instill this in your company and make a cultural impact that demonstrates to all stakeholder that you are serious about keeping your promises and commitments. For more info, please visit my website at Transformative Leadership Group or call me to discuss at 630-454-4821.
Simon Sinek makes some major statements in his 2011 book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, but he emphasizes the fundamental need of every human, who is striving to succeed, to know the “WHY” of what they are doing. He discusses the idea of inspiring others to do well and provide great service. This is true of everyone; leaders, employees, or contractors within your company.
It should be no surprise that this is also the basis of PE-ER, the tool that helps you unlock the “real” potential of relationship capital. The currency of the 21st century. It tracks how well you keep your commitments or promises.
No, this is not a magic pill nor is it a silver bullet that will make everyone a super commitment maker. It is a tool that will help you see how well you and others do and provide a process that can help build the disciplines necessary to encourage success.
Will some people game the system? Of course, I am sure we will have some, but the goal is to create an environment that is built on authenticity, integrity, transparency, and trust. My belief is that those who do game it will be exposed readily.
Every day, as a leader, you are involved in communications and processes with various clients, employees or community members that are all trying to get your attention. The pace is always hectic, with everyone in the community involved in doing what they do best – providing or soliciting high-quality delivery of the services you provide.
Your pace, as the leader, is hectic as well, trying to ensure that all requests by your ‘clients’ are being met with excellent results in a timely fashion, while also attempting to ensure that all of your people are fully engaged in tasks that meet or stretch their capabilities without being overwhelmed.
In a prior article we discussed what commitment was and why it is important, so here we will look at some specific techniques, tasks or ideas that will assist you in building and sustaining commitment in yourself personally or your company.
In this article, I will refer to the organization and clients quite a bit but remember there are always parallels between the processes in organizations of all sizes, even solopreneurs.
You can refresh by reading my previous article here!
Up front, I recommend that you acknowledge and learn to work within the following guidelines of commitment management:
PE-ER Feedback is one of the key value components of our new commitment tracking application, being introduced this fall, so we take this process very seriously. I also believe this applies to business in general so the thoughts here can apply across the board.
Usually, commitment feedback can be given two ways: through positive feedback or negative feedback.
I caution all leaders to avoid falling into the trap of giving confusing, unusable, or fluffy feedback. On the platform, we encourage Requesters to take their feedback role as both an obligation and an honor so it must be considerate, well thought out and provide a balance of praise or criticism, where necessary, on every completed feedback.
We are about being intentional, authentic, and high integrity so it is really about respect and balance so with that in mind here are some topical guidelines:
- Feedback should be specific, commitment-focused, and based on first-hand observations. Generally, it is going to take one of two directions: Positive feedback with opportunities for improvement if desired or Negative feedback with opportunities for improvement. Input is limited to 1500 characters so it should be focused on the commitment, and based on how you felt the expectations were met, as objectively as possible.
- Be concise when delivering your message. Get to the point and avoid beating around the bush. Both negative and positive feedback should be given in a straightforward manner. Avoid filling the space with a fuzzy language where a Maker really doesn’t know how to respond. If they have to ask themselves, was that good or bad, then your feedback missed the mark.
- Be sincere, do not give mixed messages. Authenticity stands for being someone who means what they say with care and respect. Don’t fall into the habit of doing mixed message feedbacks which we refer to as “yes, but” messages.
Here is an example; “Jim, you have worked hard on this project, but. . ..” The word “but,” along with its cousins “however” and “although,” when said in the middle of a thought, creates contradictions or mixed messages. In essence, putting “but” in the middle tells the other person, “Don’t believe a thing I said before.”
- When providing positive feedback, express appreciation. Praise alone is good but praise with appreciation is better. When you add it to the specifics of positive feedback, your message carries an extra oomph of sincerity. For example: “Mary, your handling of all the paperwork while John did the callbacks, made for an efficient effort and showed good teamwork. Everything you did was accurate, as well. Thanks so much for helping out. Such initiative is a real value to the team.”
- When providing negative feedback, express concern. A tone of concern communicates a sense of importance and care and provides the appropriate level of sincerity to the message. Tones such as anger, frustration, disappointment, and the ever-popular sarcasm tend to intensify the language of the message and turn attempts at negative feedback into sharp, often unfair, criticism. The content of the message gets lost in the noise and harshness.
- The purpose of negative feedback is to create awareness that can lead to improvement in delivery or quality. If you can’t give negative feedback in a helpful manner, in the language and tone of concern, you defeat its purpose.
- Give the feedback person-to-person first, then put it into the platform technology. The best flow of constructive feedback is verbal and informal initially, followed up with written confirmation. We recommend that you begin by talking to the employee, either face-to-face — or by phone. Once you have provided the feedback personally, then commit the feedback on the platform.
The answer should be ASAP (as soon as possible). Positive feedback is meant to be given in real-time, as close as possible to when the commitment delivery occurs so that the events are fresh in everyone’s minds. When feedback is given well after the fact, the value of the feedback is lessened.
When giving negative feedback, you may want to apply a slightly different timeline:ASAR (As Soon as Ready — that is, when you’re ready).
Sometimes when a commitment delivery fails or expires, you may be feeling angry or frustrated about it, and you need time to cool off and get your thoughts together before you give any negative feedback. Our recommendation is that “reasonable” is usually within 24 hours but not to exceed 48 hours.
I would love to have a discussion with you regarding how you can establish this as a part of your current culture. For more information, please feel free to call me at 630-454-4821.
A Credibility Reliability Index (CRI) is a measurement that was developed as part of the PE-ER platform to establish a basis for understanding trust and focus on being trustworthy. The basic premise is, the more commitments you successfully keep the more reliable you will be and hence more trustworthy.
Therefore, it’s really quite simple. The higher the Credibility Reliability Index score, the more reliable the individual or company is to deliver on their commitments- the lower the score, the less reliable they are.
As a guideline the Credibility Reliability Index figure is calculated as a combination of:
- The number of commitments you met or exceeded on the timeline,
- The number of commitments that you missed delivery on,
- The total number of points available for commitments requested
- The feedback scores received on all completed commitments
So it’s not simply a case of recording how many commitments you make – it’s much more comprehensive than that and the data is constantly updated.
Not all commitments are present in the CRI – only when you and your collaborative partner have determined that a particular commitment has sufficient visibility and value to warrant tracking does it become data reality. However, the more commitments tracked successfully the better the integrity of the Index.
It is our thought that once you have developed a habit of completing high visibility, high-value commitments well, then the small commitments become second nature and improve also. If you try to track every commitment you make in a day, you will find yourself buried in a morass of detail that will cause you to lose focus and destroy your productivity. It is all about balance.
A commitment is formed by type, due date, priority, and expectations. This ensures that no single commitment can unduly influence a maker’s overall Index figure.
Another thing to bear in mind when reviewing an individual’s CRI score is that it can be dependent on the diligence and discipline of each partner in terms of recording correctly. I like to refer people to the acronym: F.D.A. or Full Disclosure Always when it comes to building commitments.