This is a communication follow-up to this: The Real Problem with Leadership
Dear Alaka‘i Manager,
I’m sure you do tell your people that you want them to speak up, that you sincerely value their initiative, and that you are completely willing to support them whenever they feel their own stirrings of self-leadership bloom.
Thank you, for doing all those things.
Question: Are you getting better results because of those efforts?
If not, do you understand what might be missing? So many good messages… why might they not be getting through?
Repeat, repeat, repeat
I don’t want you to give up too soon, or get frustrated when results don’t happen as quickly as you hope they will.
People need prodding; we all do. Whether we admit it or not, we like repeated attention, especially encouragement. A manager’s constant reassurance is a kind of refueling in the workplace, keeping progress humming along. You can’t allow your voicing of support to falter or stop: Constancy and repetition is important in fulfilling some basic needs of our human nature.
So be a broken record. You know you mean what you say the first time, or you wouldn’t have said it at all. However you can say that too, and still be doubted. People need to hear things from you over and over again so they believe them. We all ‘hear’ sincerity in those statements that our managers repeat constantly because then we’re convinced you really mean it, and aren’t just saying it because you think you should, or because it’s the company line. We believe it when we feel you do.
Animation invigorates everyone
It’s become crystal clear to me that of all the presentations I do, the ones people pay attention to most are the ones in which I’m the most animated, and seem to have taken a theatrical pill of some kind: I become the message of Managing with Aloha on steroids. These are the talks people will learn something from, allowing my message to impact them positively, and be a source of energy for them.
It’s not acting, and it’s easy for me to do because I’m passionate about it, for Managing with Aloha does evoke definite emotion in me. The same thing has to happen with the messages you convey to your people as a manager: If you want results, you have to connect what you believe in, to some very visible emotional volume.
We hear emotion. Messages accompanied by emotion are the ones we take to heart. Everything else, if it captures our attention at all, is merely interesting. The Ho‘ohana work managers want to inspire is beyond “merely interesting” — it moves people.
Whatever it may be about, it’s not enough for your message to be accurate, insightful, and oh-so-right. If it’s to inspire, and spark another person’s motivations, it has to be ‘emotionally loud.’ It must create an energy that reverberates in the workplace.
For “it” to achieve those things, YOU have to. You have the message, now BE the messenger. If you want others to be passionate about their work, you have to be passionate about yours as their manager.
Results will trump any embarrassment
Where this post comes from, is that I’ve watched you in your meetings, and frankly, you have to be less boring. You’re smart and you’re talented (or you wouldn’t be the manager or the boss) but you need to become more passionate and intense about the work you lead, for intensity is hard to ignore. You’ve got to be willing to speak repeatedly, and with more pizzazz.
I’ll give this coaching to managers I’ve observed in action, and they will say, (“yeah, but”” alert!) “That’s not me; I’m a calmer person, and more animation doesn’t come naturally to me.”
Well guess what? It doesn’t come naturally to me either. I learned to get animated because it works. If your message doesn’t wake up the troops, all your other efforts to equip them won’t be worth much, no matter how detailed or involved they are, and you’ll continue to wonder why not.
Chances are, your people want you to be different: Normal is unexciting. This next link goes to a resource article which illuminates what “being unnatural” can do for you. It’s written by voice coach Janet Dowd. In part…
Activities such as giving presentations, delivering conference papers, facilitating seminars, running workshops, passing on information to others in any communal way are not natural. They are contrivances devised since time immemorial as the means by which the information that one person owns can best be disseminated to as many and as varied listeners as possible.
The discomfort of trial and error is part of the deal you must make with yourself to get to a position where other people attending your sessions are not made uncomfortable by your ineptness as you put across the knowledge you own.
We presenters must be prepared to put ourselves through the pain and discomfort of feeling extra-ordinary and silly in order to gain access to the comfort zone in which elements of stance, rhythm, flow, tune, pitch and vocal volume can express ideas openly and clearly. Our tongues must learn a multiplicity of percussive tricks and manipulate the space behind the face to produce the varied tonal qualities that will entice or command other people’s comprehension. Our memories must incorporate unusual words with specific meaning into our vocabularies and our bodies know how best to support us as we perform to inform.
Start small, and then Go Big!
I know that speaking in front of groups can be scary, yet great managers learn to do it, and learn to do it well. They have to.
Start small. Start to turn up the emotional volume in your one-on-one conversations, for in those situations the other person feels a responsibility with making you feel more comfortable, and with responding to you immediately: You will be creating a positive feedback loop. Follow-up conversations are great times to convey more emotion because your follow-up is so welcomed.
Then you can progress to team huddles, and to those meetings with larger groups: Bring Back the Staff Meeting!
You’ll be speaking one day without being to help yourself, because your Ho‘ohana passion has taken over and there’s no turning back. You don’t want to!
Photo Credit: Another volume by MikeLao26 on Flickr
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My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Thursday I write a management posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. If this is the first you have caught sight of my Say “Alaka‘i” tagline, you can learn more on this Talking Story page: About Say “Alaka‘i”. There are some differences in this Talking Story version, most notably that all links will keep you here on this blog.