Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) demonstrates the concept of “Shifting Gears” within communication between two people. “Shifting Gears” is a skill taught in all Gordon Model workshops, and it’s where the sender (or the confronter) of the I-Message shifts into Active Listening. The likelihood that the confrontee will hear the confronter’s needs/problem that was expressed in the I-Message, and change their behavior is much greater if the confronter Active Listens to the confrontee’s upset/reaction. This in turns lowers the confrontee’s “emotional temperature” and increases their ability to problem solve – which is a central focus of effective leadership training.
Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discusses the concept of I-Messages, which is a way of stating one’s own needs clearly without making unnecessary assumptions or inferences about other people or events. It represents a rational way of beginning conversations about otherwise difficult topics. The proper format for a Confrontive I-Message (taught in Leader Effectiveness Training, a leadership training program developed by Dr. Thomas Gordon—and the inventor of the I-Message) includes three parts: 1) a description of the behavior (with no inferences, assumptions, judgments, etc.); 2) a statement of the effects (what is it the team member must do or cannot do as a direct result of the other team member’s behavior) and; 3) a word or phrase that explains the importance or significance of the effects (the emotion or feeling). It is your responsibility as a team member (including leaders) to speak for your self. Not doing so puts the team’s performance in jeopardy. So, for a team to start thinking like a “we,” all of the “I’s” need to learn how to take responsibility for stating their own needs in a mature, constructive way.
Did you ever consider that good employees won’t be able to take your company anywhere great anytime soon?
It’s because good employees are just that – good, and companies that are leading the category in their respective industries need something much more than “good.” They need excellence. Good employees represent good brands, while excellent employees represent excellent brands. Competitively speaking, excellence always wins. Consider the differences…
Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discusses the concept of Active Listening, which is taught in the leadership training workshop, L.E.T. He also explains this skill in his article Isn’t It Obvious? Why Leaders Get Into Trouble by Giving Advice – “After listening, test your understanding. Put it into words—both the content and the feelings you heard. Let the other person know that you are truly trying to understand where they are “at” in the moment. Be patient. Give the other person an opportunity to make corrections if your interpretation of their message is inaccurate. Remember, it is their problem. Effective leadership training will spend considerable time helping participants master this essential skill.”
Have you ever found that after you explain your problem to someone, they get really defensive? If you hit the rewind button, you’ll probably notice that you started your statement with a “You Message”. For example: “It really upsets me when you show up to work late everyday….” This is called a You Message because the blame is placed on the other person (“You did this…It’s your fault…”), even though it is you that owns the problem. Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) explains that the natural reaction of most people when they feel they are being blamed is to get angry and defensive. Effective leadership training focuses on how to communicate your message while minimizing the emotional charge.
The “Be Happy You Have a Job” management mantra probably wasn’t the best approach to adopt when the economy was tanking.
Several years ago when people were getting laid off by the thousands each day, I’ve heard about managers who stopped giving a rats behind about their employees because they felt that with unemployment climbing north of ten, eleven and twelve percent, anyone who was lucky enough to avoid waves of layoffs would tolerate crummy working conditions, and still be grateful for getting a paycheck.
For some of those companies, the days of reckoning have arrived.
Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discusses how sometimes being good at a work task (i.e. “Chris is great at details.”) can have an unwanted effect of receiving more of only that kind of work. So while Chris is getting overloaded with more “detail” work, others may also be hesitant to give him more creative work. In the stereotype mindset, Chris – a detail-oriented person – couldn’t possibly do creative brain-storming. Leadership training such as L.E.T. can prevent type-casting effect, by focusing on the team member’s actual behavior and not labels or stereotyping.
Bill Stinnett, Ph.D (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discusses how poor leadership training, if taught too quickly or superficially, can be seen as a tool to manipulate employees. Many of those in the training field have introduced so many, many ideas/programs quickly either in one day, half day or a couple of hours (think “McTraining”) and it’s backfired. Linda Adams (President and CEO of Gordon Training International) writes in her article Learning a New Skill is Easier Said Than Done , “No matter what new skill we decide to learn, there are four learning stages each of us goes through. Being aware of these stages helps us better accept that learning can be a slow and frequently uncomfortable process.” An effective leadership training workshop such as L.E.T. acknowledges that communication skills are complex and student needs enough time to practice, fail and practice the skills again.
November 16, 2011 – SOLANA BEACH, CA — Gordon Training International has just trained 16 new P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) instructors in Riga, Latvia. In addition to Latvians, participants from Estonia and Bulgaria also attended. This was possible because everyone there was fluent in Russian which meant the workshop could be interpreted from English into Russian.
Here is some feedback from one of the participants:
“[The workshop in] Latvia is now over and I just want to share and express our joy and a great feedback from the course – Markus [the facilitator] and the course itself were absolutely fantastic! We were thrilled about the group and their ideas and thoughts how to do the P.E.T. in Latvia in the future.”
About Gordon Training International
Gordon Training International (GTI) headquartered in Solana Beach, California, is a world-renowned human relations training organization. GTI was founded in 1962 by Dr. Thomas Gordon, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who is best-known for his parenting program, Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) and his leadership training program, Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.).
The meeting starts in seven minutes. You grab a pen and something to write on and head to the conference room on the first floor. When you show up, only six of the ten people are there and they are all laughing about something. You say something witty to add to the light and friendly mood in the room.
And then he walks in with a hard, serious look. He grabs the seat at the head of the conference table, painfully greets everyone with the requisite, insincere “good morning” while looking at no one, and starts handing out stapled sheets of paper. In an instant, the tone in the room went from conversational to a dead, cold silence that is almost deafening. The looks on peoples’ faces went from happy to tense. If you think for one second this is going to be a productive meeting with a friendly exchange of opinions and views, well, as your grandmother used to say, “You’ve got another thing coming.”
Pete C. (L.E.T. Trainer and Police Sergeant) and Bill Stinnett (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discuss how verbal communication is essential in clarifying what the other person is communicating. Your co-worker may slam the door at work – you think to yourself “She must have be having a bad day—I better stay away from her!” So all day you assume that this co-worker is upset and you avoid approaching or working with her. She may be upset or maybe not—maybe slamming the door was accidental—who knows? Granted this is a rather innocuous example, but you get the general idea. In effective leadership training, verbal communication, in addition to reading non-verbal communication, is used to help one understand the other more clearly. Leadership training reminds us to put the assumptions aside and collect the facts (what specific behavior did you actually observe, what did the other actually say).
Pete C. (L.E.T. Trainer and Police Sergeant) and Bill Stinnett (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discuss how as a leader, listening to your team members and caring about their feelings can sometimes be quickly dismissed as “touchy-feely” stuff. But effective leadership training reminds the leader that when work begins, people are still people that have feelings that greatly affect their work experience and productivity. Recognizing the emotional side within team members creates a more satisfying experience for the 40 hours or so they spend at work. So what may be cast aside as “touchy-feely” leadership training, is in fact people-centric skills that allow team members to be the best they can be for themselves– and ultimately for the organization.
It would be so much easier if they did. If one was underperforming, you could go to the index, look up “underperforming employee” and find the page number with instructions on how to increase employees’ productivity. If another causes friction on your work team, you could look up a not very nice word that describes a difficult person in the same index and it would lead you to the pages where you would discover tips on how to turn a difficult employee into a team player. But of course, this is all wishful thinking.
A young, talented engineer accepted the second job of his career. It was with a company renowned for its progressive culture. No more authoritarian leadership, everyone’s on a team, titles are not important, creativity and freedom are important corporate values. He was very excited about the opportunity. He would have a chance to try out some of his new ideas without worrying about some tyrant telling him to get back to work and stop bothering him with crazy plans.
Sure enough, much of what he had been told about the new company was true. Titles were not important. People did believe in teamwork and the atmosphere was very informal. People had a lot of flexibility and there were many learning opportunities. After a few weeks of learning his way around, he saw an opportunity to make an improvement in the manufacturing process. It was a simple change that involved moving an inspection point two stations earlier in the process. He had seen this done dozens of times with great success: fewer errors, less scrap, etc. He told one of his colleagues about his idea and he was very positive. He said, “Bring it up at the team meeting. That’s how we go about implementing changes around here.”
Without proper leadership training, it can be quite enticing for an individual in a leadership position to lead by fear. After all, you’re in charge; have power over all your subordinates and they should follow without question….right? The problem with this leadership mindset is that it makes team members create their own sense of control – for example, withholding information. Bill Stinnett, Ph.D. (L.E.T. Master Trainer) explains that when people work in fear and keep ideas to themselves, it leads to much bigger problems. But if the leader proves over time to their team members that he/she is there to genuinely listen to them without judgment (Active Listening) – they will be much more willing to share their ideas, creativity and concerns with him/her.
Some people float through their days at the office with little enthusiasm for what they do, mindlessly going through the motions of doing their jobs from one day to the next. At 5:01, chairs can be found tucked under desks with computer monitors either blacked out, or displaying login screens. Another day. Another buck.
If you know who these people are, they may not feel a sense of purpose, or they may not feel any sense of fulfillment in their jobs. That’s a problem, because they are likely very intelligent and talented employees who are seeking to fill those voids elsewhere. Some immerse themselves into volunteer work, others join groups and some exhaust themselves organizing events for worthy causes. And, they feel great doing these things, because they fulfill a variety of needs.
Pete C. (L.E.T. Trainer and Police Sergeant) and Bill Stinnett (L.E.T. Master Trainer) discuss that it’s easy for everyone to agree on following orders and guidelines when extreme danger is a risk, for example police chasing a bank robber. But when there is no immediate danger, such as scheduling a time for a meeting or how you relate to one another when not in a crisis or safety situation, it’s is much more difficult for a leader to “give orders”. The same mindset can not be used in both work situations effectively and without conflict—there needs to be rules of engagement for the daily, routine “office stuff”. Leadership training, such as L.E.T., emphasizes that most work environments (since the vast majority of jobs do not involve immediate danger) function better when all the team members are listened to, have a say, and feel they are participating in the goal of the organization.