Career Reboot – Turn A Career Crisis Into An Opportunity

Are you amidst a career crisis? Or, do you see one on the horizon? Do you need help turning a crisis into an opportunity? Check out our video to learn more about a free event hosted by The Spiggle Law Firm with Anne as a special guest!

Date: April 27

Time: 5:45 PM

Where: 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006

Details & Registration

Follow Anne on Twitter @StepIntoPower

Connect with Anne on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/stepintopower

When To Use Coaching

When can I use Coaching Skills?

Did you know that Coaching Skills can help you solve difficult challenges AND can help you run more effective meetings?  Take a look at our video to learn when and how to use Coaching Skills!

Is What You Are Saying Being Heard?

We want to be effective communicators. In fact, as a general matter, we believe what we say is clear – otherwise we would have said it differently. The startling truth is that the same words said to different people could be heard as different messages.

So how can you tell whether people are hearing what you intend them to hear? Everyone’s perception of a conversation goes though filters: generation, personality Type – preferences for extraversion v. introversion and perception and judging of information – and other filters. First, notice how your colleagues might differ from you and take that into account when you talk with them. For example, are they more extraverted and tend to think aloud or are they more introverted and need more time to reflect? These kinds of observations will help you tailor your message so that the listener understands it as you intended.

Yet, there is still a chance that what you say might not be understood, especially if you and your colleague disagree about an issue that is important to both of you. Your colleague may have already drawn conclusions, made assumptions, or perhaps is just too preoccupied with a “position” on the matter, or even personal troubles, to listen in that moment. Sometimes, you might realize that you just selected the wrong time for the conversation because your colleague is distracted. Or if your colleague strongly disagrees with your point of view, she might be coming up with her response or rebuttal instead of listening to you. In other words, your colleague isn’t fully present to what you are saying.

Our second bit of advice, therefore, is to help your colleague to be present by using the Win-Win Conversation’s awareness of others. Focus first on your colleague’s feelings and needs so that you truly get where she is coming from. You may even help your colleague clarify her feelings and needs by asking focused question and letting your colleague talk it out while you listen for what is important to her. You increase your chances of being truly heard when you understand your colleague’s feelings and needs before delving back into the discussion.

Third, remember to listen closely so that you recognize when (and if) your colleague climbs the ladder of inference (which is drawing conclusions based on the selection of observations and the addition of meaning, and then taking action based on those conclusions, which then reinforces a particular (negative) view about a person or situation). If you hear the climb, you can ask questions that challenge the underlying assumptions or suggest alternative interpretations. Armed with the understanding of your colleague’s needs and goals, take a step back and restate, clarify, or rephrase your message if it still seems relevant.

And lastly, be a good listener yourself. You need to be present and engaged yourself to understand the message as intended because you may have to guess the other person’s feelings and needs. If appropriate, you can check by asking “I heard… you feel… because you need…” and offer clarification or help. The bottom line is that awareness of others – observing not just what they’re saying but what they’re communicating about their feelings and needs through body language, tones, and facial expressions – is necessary to ensure your message is heard and understood as intended.

While it can be frustrating when your words are misunderstood, stay calm and avoid blame or judgment so that you retain the objectivity necessary to have a productive conversation about needs and goals.  In other words, focus on what’s important and ignore the noise. Communication is simple, but not easy!

Do You Resist Change or Advocate For It?

Who knew that change and thinking about change could be so complicated? Even if the change is the one we advocate for, embrace, and want, it can cause stress.

You are the agent of change and change happens to you. You are the agent of change when you take a new job, a first job, move up the ranks, or take on new responsibility. Change happens to you when the market for your services crashes and you are made redundant, your organization’s business model morphs, or there is new leadership with new visions and work practices.

Regardless of whether you are the stream (making change happen) or the leaf (carried by the stream), change can be brutal. Bridge’s Transition Model helps us understand what happens in people’s minds during the three stages of change and the corresponding emotions:

  • Stage 1: Ending, Losing, and Letting Go. Resistance and emotional upheaval mark this stage. Even when you embrace change, you will experience this stage, if only for a very short time.
  • Stage 2: The Neutral Zone. This stage is spaced between the old and new; people hold on to the old way, but are trying to adapt to the new way.  People can experience resentment and low productivity.
  • Stage 3: The New Beginning. During this stage people embrace change and are excited about it!  They experience early wins and productivity gains.

How quickly a person moves through the three stages depends on a number of factors, including problem-solving style. Adaption-Innovation Theory (A-I Theory) and Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (“KAI”) address who are the so-called resisters and advocates of change. A-I Theory measures the problem-solving style, which has implications for whether one resists or advocates for any particular change. Under A-I Theory, we all advocate for the kind of change that is consistent with how we prefer to solve problems.  We tend to resist change that is inconsistent with our own problem-solving style.

Problem-solving style typically runs the continuum between more adaptive and more innovative. People who are more adaptive prefer to keep the current paradigm in place. The type of change they advocate for are improvements; they want to make the current system better and are risk averse. This is because their preferred problem-solving style is to leverage the system in place, as-is, to solve problems.

People who are more innovative prefer the efficiency and flexibility of devising a solution and then modifying or replacing the system or process to accommodate that solution.  They are also less risk averse and more interested in trying something different than their more adaptive colleagues.

The tension in an organization struggling with change boils down to this: the change either goes too far or not far enough.  And, no one person is always a resister or always an advocate of change. When it comes to a radical change (and remember, whether the change is radical or not is in the eye of the beholder), the more adaptive are likely to resist and the innovative are more likely to advocate for it.  Similarly, when it comes to tweaking or perfecting the current system, the more adaptive are more likely to advocate and the more innovative will resist because the change doesn’t go far enough.

Under Bridges Model, so-called resisters resist because they’re still in Stage 1 and are likely experiencing, fear, denial, anger, sadness, disorientation, frustration, uncertainty, or a sense of loss.

So, if you’re trying to lessen resistance, that is help your colleague move from Stage 1 to 2, be sure to listen for the essence of your colleague’s feelings and needs. Moreover, it’s important for new leadership to communicate a clear picture of how the new organization will look and feel and that they will provide the support necessary to successfully transition and thrive long term. Don’t forget to acknowledge difficulties and to take the time to explain the reasons for change. Authentic communication goes a long way toward moving people from Stage 1 to Stage 2.

In this regard, usingThe Win-Win Conversation, and then Coaching Skills to collaboratively identify a solution that meets those needs will likely engage these so-called resisters, achieve buy-in, and leverage that person’s best thinking not just on meeting his or her needs, but on how to implement change more effectively and with less stress for all.

Change happens and we all make the transition eventually. If we didn’t, how would we progress?

Communicate More Effectively Across Generations

On January 13, 2016, Anne Collier will lead a workshop for the Junior League of Washington on transforming your communication with members of other generations. During this session, you will learn the hallmarks of each generation and the best ways to frame your meaage so that the members of other generations tune into your ideas more readily.

Generational Training for the Junior League of Washington

Photo Credit: Emily Rouse, twitter: @emily_rouse

On January 13th, 2016 Anne Collier and Sarah Albro led a pro bono session for the Junior League of Washington on how to communicate effectively across generations. During the presentation, which took place in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., Anne discussed how the women of the Junior League can modify their communicate style to help members of different generations more readily tune into their ideas. The Junior League, whose mission is to improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers, invited Anne as part of its educational programming for members.

The questions asked during the session revealed the concerns of three generations, Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, such as the lack of support employers provide to Millennials because they don’t believe Millennials will stay with an employer for very long. Anne believes it’s still worth investing in young people and they won’t leave the employer unless there is a reason to do so. And, the lack of investment, she says, is a reason to leave.

The ensuing discussion revealed agreement that (i) these days workplaces don’t offer what they used to in terms of opportunity and professional development so it’s no wonder Millennials job-hop more than any other generation; and (ii) what employers and managers really want is for Millennials to be engaged before moving on.

Another generational question raised by the Junior League was about an “us” versus “them” situation – the hostile environment caused by the employees in the times of change. Anne suggested the impetus and support for changing this culture needs to come from the top to be effective. Anne also believes that if the system needs to change, the change needs to be framed in understanding of the employees’ needs and it is the job (and challenge!) of the leadership to communicate to the employees how the new system meets their needs.

During the presentation, which was favorably discussed on social media by the participants the following day, Anne also talked about leveraging communications skills, which are necessary for growth and advancement, as the foundation of becoming a better leader, colleague, and teammate.

An Actionable Approach Is The Approach That Works

Would you like to be able to successfully address interpersonal challenges, collaborate effectively 360 degrees and foster others’ best thinking? In this case, you need what we refer to as Actionable Approaches to People Problems. At the foundation of Actionable Approaches is being present and aware so that you are able to choose how to respond rather than just react as if you were on “auto pilot.”

Being aware means being aware of your own feelings and needs in any given situation, being aware of the other person’s feeling and needs, and focusing on a desired outcome for a particular conversation. Being aware doesn’t mean, however, that you have to know everything. For example, there is an Actionable Approach to address an issue with a colleague for which you don’t have an answer, and give constructive feedback, and improve your team’s effectiveness.

You ask, what exactly are Actionable Approaches? They are the proven tools for addressing just about any workplace situation. You can even apply them to your spouse, teenagers, or toddler!

First, the Win-Win Conversation is a five-step process for coming to an agreement, key elements of which are:

  • Stating fact neutrally, avoiding loaded words and judgment
  • Being aware of your own feelings and needs about the situation

In addition to workshops and a workbook, we now offer online courses that feature Actionable Approaches. If you look at our packages, you’ll see that you can combine our Win-Win conversation and Coaching Skills eLearning workshops or get them separately (at a New Year’s discounted price through February 11th!)

If any of your New Year’s resolutions happen to be related to becoming a better communicator or teammate or if you’re determined to become more effective, productive and known for your strengths, look at the sample page from our Win-Win Conversation online workshop below and see if it’s right for you. We wish you good luck in the New Year!

Sample page from the Win-Win Online Workshop:

Definitions of Goals and Strategies

  • A goal is what you are trying to accomplish.
  • A strategy is how you get there.

There are often many strategies that you can utilize to achieve a particular goal or satisfy a need. To identify a solution that works for both of you, you must identify the goals and needs at stake and then focus on a strategy that meets both parties’ goals and needs.

Example: Working it out

Read the example of Working it Out and consider the goals, strategies, and how the needs of both Joe and Tom are met.

Tip 52: Ask Good Questions

Use good questions to help filter the goals and needs of a situation from the possible strategies for achieving the goals.  Do this before you focus on potential solutions or strategies to resolve a situation.  This increases the chances of an efficient and effective process by creating a collaborative dynamic as well as reassuring both parties that their needs are important and will be met.

Tip 53: Shift The Dynamic

You don’t have to be the nominative leader to use the foregoing technique.   Use questions to focus colleagues on goals any time the goals are unclear, communication is unproductive, or when people seem defensive or closed to others’ suggestions.   You have the power to shift the dynamic by asking good questions.

Tip 54: Pause And Reflect

Introverts tend to “pause” more readily, especially if they also prefer Feeling Judgment and Perception. Introverted Feeling Perceivers are hard-wired to check in with their values and determine how they feel.  Introverted Thinking Perceivers will pause to check in with their Thinking Judgment, that is, analyze accordingly.  Pausing can be a challenge for Extraverted Judgers and Extraverted Sensing Perceivers because they are hard-wired to be in action.  Preferences aside, all Types benefit from pausing to reflect and then making a deliberate choice to respond in a Win-Win manner.

Tip 55: Clear The Air

If you know you tend to avoid conflict and let issues fester, you may have to push yourself to respond so that you can clear the air.  Feeling Judgers are more likely to experience avoidance unless they are practiced at confronting issues.  Feeling Judgers tend to be motivated to address conflict in order to preserve the relationship.  INFPs and ISFPs are often most challenged in this regard because they prefer the inner world and, when extraverting, prefer to “go with the flow” rather than confront issues.  Thinking Judgers typically are more comfortable addressing objective issues such as the failings of another’s work product than deeply emotional issues.

The Hard Way Ends Hard

The hard way ends hard, you know. Have you ever considered adopting a knowledge strategy approach to help you and your firm more easily produce great results, cost effectively (meaning competitively!) in a shorter period of time?

Let’s say your firm has not taken time to organize its institutional learning in ways its lawyers can easily access. Or, there is not much of a formal system or training program. Your more junior associates, who might be working on a type of project for the first time, have no other choice but to take their best shot at what you and the client need, which you, as the lawyer responsible, find unsatisfactory.

Now imagine how much better off everyone would be if the firm’s knowledge management system made it possible for a more junior/lower-cost lawyer to produce work equivalent to that of a more senior lawyer. The firm’s fees would be lower, making it more competitive. The more senior lawyers would have more time to develop business and focus their attention where it really counts,  increasing the firm’s overall revenues and individual career satisfaction. Profits would be higher, too, because the firm wouldn’t have to hire additional junior lawyers or wait as long for them to become profitable. And, a robust knowledge strategy is the confident response to clients’ concerns that more junior lawyers don’t have enough experience to justify their billing rate.

Keep in mind that knowledge strategy is not about technology.  It’s about culture. Culture is the one-word descriptor for “how we will do it.” Importantly, and distinct from a mere information management system, the firm’s leadership designs the system with the desired result  – lawyers working more effectively – in mind and supports the adoption and use of the system through training and setting clear expectations.

Actually changing the ways in which lawyers work is simple but not easy. The very reason that lawyers are attracted to law is because they possess a unique set of personality traits, which include skepticism, autonomy, reluctance to change, and low sociability. Therein lies the challenge! Be on the lookout for a post on successfully managing change.

To learn more about how knowledge strategy can improve your client service and the economics of your practice regardless of a firm size, please join the upcoming FREE 30-minute webinar,How to Compete with IBM Watson JD:  Future-proof your practice by improving efficiency now – Part 1, to be broadcast on January 28, 2016 at 12:00 Noon, Eastern time. The webinar is sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division.