Not Just More of the Same!

Originally shared in A Daily Dose Of Leadership on July 30, 2020.

Before I pick up where we left off, I want to share some feedback I received from the questions I closed that last blog with. My challenge was for you to think into how you’ve been proactive about including the people on your team who may not have the same background as you and to consider what you can do to help someone who may have been on a proverbial island become a part of the team.

Truth be told, my thought process with that was geared to the BC (Before Covid) era… Here’s what a great friend sent in response: “I think you could do an entire lesson on the questions you just asked. In the last few months, I’ve been more intentional about reaching out to my co-workers through text, phone calls, emails, and Zoom to stay connected to them. I struggle though to get the message across to Senior Management that I have felt like that proverbial island since I work in an office by myself.”

While that wasn’t what I was alluding to with those questions, she certainly brings up some very relevant and current issues that a lot of people are now dealing with. And I’d guess the companies that struggled to help folks feel like part of the team in that BC era have even bigger issues today!

Now let’s pick up where we left off and take a look at the how can we piece of all this…

When Cindy and I work with an organization to help them build a strong culture around tools for effective communication, we nearly always start by assessing the communication styles of each of their team members. And the results always catch their attention!

Just a few blogs back, I referenced John Maxwell’s Law of Magnetism from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, stating that “who you are is who you attract.” When it comes to the behavioral and communication styles we see in organizations, especially within specific segments of that organization, this can be borderline spooky in how much that Law of Magnetism has had an impact! 

While specific roles and industries tend to naturally attract people with certain characteristics, it’s been absolutely amazing to see how polarizing this can be when there’s a significant amount of seniority within the group and there’s never been any intentional focus put on raising awareness to address or even avoid it! Quick point though: I’m not sharing this to throw stones, only to paint a picture of a reality that exists in a large number of organizations today. I don’t believe for a minute that the majority of places where this happiness have done so intentionally, but it still results in some level of cognitive bias, a lack in that wide range of different things we looked at previously, and some real challenges in achieving a state of being included… And all too often, this results in a fairly vanilla workforce (pun intended).

 Again, I’m not suggesting this has been intentional – at least not most of the time…

One of the first steps we take in helping organizations create more effective communication across all segments of their operation is to provide them with tools they can use on a daily basis to recognize the primary behavioral and communication style of the other individuals they’re interacting with and we help them develop a foundational understanding of how they can communicate most effectively with that other person’s style. Without being able to bridge those gaps, it may never matter how good an organization becomes at attracting team members from a wide range. Even the best aren’t likely to stick around when they don’t feel like they’re being included!

Once there’s an authentic awareness of these differences, it opens the door for becoming more intentional about recruiting a well rounded mix of folks who have those varying backgrounds and experiences. And that nearly always results in a wider range of other things too. But without taking specific steps to create that state of being included, those organizations can still have a revolving door with all sorts of other issues! We’ll take a look at a few of those steps in the next blog…

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