I recently spent the weekend with my grandsons. They are both adorable. The oldest is nearly two. A toddler. A full on toddler with a seriously strong and direct throwing arm.  The youngest is only a couple of months old.

As you can imagine life is pretty full on. Never a dull moment.

I am constantly just so impressed with how well our eldest daughter and her husband does with managing their toddler’s behaviour.  At the moment, they are sleep deprived, run down and in the trenches. They could so easily notice all the things the toddler does wrong. The food accidentally ending up on the floor, flying teaspoons or a wayward ball ending up on little brother’s head.

But they don’t. They go out of their way not to notice; not to pay attention to behaviour that they don’t want. They don’t make a fuss about these things; they only make a fuss about the behaviour that they want more of.

They let my grandson take appropriate risks, they let him feed himself even though it’s extremely messy, they let him safely try things that he might not be able to achieve quite yet. They ask for his help, even though it is usually more work for them than help.

They notice and provide praise when he uses his manners, when the two year old uses his spoon well, when he is helpful or kind. The notice the behaviour they want more of and they let the rest go. They don’t make any fuss about the behaviour that they don’t want him to engage in.

Adults aren’t very different to toddlers. If you want your staff to model a certain behaviour or attitude then you need to focus on when they demonstrate that behaviour or attitude and not make a fuss about the behaviour you don’t want.  

Draw attention and praise what you want to see more of and you will get more of that behaviour.  At the same time you will create a culture that is positive and rewarding; where people are looking out for others to do the right thing. You will have less complaining and whinging; because that is not the behaviour you will encourage.

Focus on the positive and reap the rewards.

 

I am part of this networking group where we meet every Friday for breakfast. It’s a great group and I thoroughly enjoy going.

I don’t eat many carbs because I can put on weight just by looking at donut. So every Friday I have the same breakfast which includes cooked spinach.

Now I don’t know about you, but the older I have got the more food that gets stuck in my teeth. They are now a magnet for food; in particular cooked spinach.

These days I spend my life checking my teeth in a mirror or on my phone – so that I don’t embarrass myself in front of clients.

Last Friday, like nearly every Friday, I ate my spinach, talked to lots of people and had a great time. As I walked out the door one of my fellow networkers turned to me and said quietly, “you have a bit of food in your teeth”.  

At that moment I realised that I had spent the last 30 minutes talking to a number of people with a great big piece of spinach on one of my front teeth. I was off to meet a new client.

I am so grateful for my friend for telling me about the food in my teeth. I was rushing, so I may have gone off to meet my new client without the usual check of my teeth.

It was no biggie for her to tell me about the spinach. She didn’t make a fuss.  She was looking out for me; she had my back. She would want to know if she had food in her teeth.

Often we need to give feedback to a team member and we worry about them feeling embarrassed; we worry that we will make them feel uncomfortable. We don’t want to upset anyone.  Chances are they would much rather know there is a problem so they can do something about it.

Just say it, quietly, with little fuss and a smile so that they know that you care.

Warning: self serving blog.  

I have been having so much fun lately. I have been running a lot of workshops lately and I’ve been having a ball. It’s my happy place.

I love creating the plan, working out what the team needs and how to best meet their needs. I love meeting the team and finding out more about the different personalities.  I like to see how they work together; the good, the bad and the ugly.

I enjoy working with the leader, whether they be a CEO, a director or a team leader. It is always enjoyable to work with leaders that care; that want to improve their current position, that want to nurture and develop their team and who can take critical feedback.

I believe in giving everyone a voice, so I use the stakeholder engagement software, Powernoodle. I ask the team to answer questions anonymously about what it feels like and looks like when things are going well and what it looks like and feels like when things are not going well. The leader and I usually agree that it is best that everyone reads those results together at the same time; better there than having staff gossiping in the car park.

We usually talk about respect and what respect looks like for their team. We create ground rules and boundaries that are developed by and owned by the team; to be honoured by the team.

We determine how the team will celebrate successes and we make room to grieve any losses.

Putting all that information on the table; letting people own the good and the bad elements of the team; identifying what it feels like when things are going well and working out the triggers for a bad day and creating boundaries that mean something to the team – when you put it all together you get a team that understands what it needs to do to improve; to work better together. You get a team that wants to spend time together, that is productive and can deal with stress and conflict.  

I believe I have the best job in the world.

 

I am sitting in our car waiting to disembark from the Spirit of Tasmania.  We are on our way to Launceston to watch our boys (Port Adelaide) play Hawthorn – an important game for both teams.

What a great voyage. My first and only “cruise” so far. Best sleep I’ve had in ages.

What they did so well was manage the experience and all those on board.

No question was too stupid. All staff knew exactly what was going on. At one stage I asked someone doing some cleaning where I needed to go to get our electronic key card fixed.  She gave us directions and when we passed her later she remembered me and asked if the problem had been fixed.

You felt reassured knowing that the staff were all over this.

And over the loudspeaker we were told the rules of what was expected when we disembarked a number of times. They needed us to be compliant. They needed people to move their cars punctually.  If people didn’t follow the rules when we disembarked there would be chaos.

Make life easy for yourself. Have clear boundaries and expectations and make sure everyone in your team knows therm. Talk about the rules and boundaries on a regular basis. Unclear is unsafe, unclear is unfair.  Don’t assume that people know the rules. People love rules; particularly if they make sense.

Be like the Spirit of Tasmania and you will ensure your team has a great journey.

Once upon a time we pretty much all worked in an office. We would start the day at 9am and finish at 5 pm (or later if we did overtime) and we would take a 30 minute lunch break.

Once upon a time there was a ladder to climb and you started at the bottom and you worked your way up to the top. There was a hierarchy and we all knew who the boss was.

This was when we had very basic communication tools and the world was very big.

But the world has changed. A lot of people work flexible hours, they might work from home, there might be no hierarchy or a very even playing field for staff and nowadays it can sometimes be harder to work out who is the leader.

Sometimes now we have regional offices who, as a means of saving money and to show how well connected we are, report to a person in head office; that is, there is no one who is the leader of the regional office.

Sometimes we have teams where people are located all over the country; they may super flexible work arrangements and they only communicate by email or some other communication tool.

The world may have changed; but it hasn’t changed that much. We all need leaders. We need to know who to turn to when there is a problem.

No matter where you are in the world, if you are a member of a team, you need to have some structure to that team. You need someone to guide the decision making process; someone to deal with problems or complaints; someone to turn to if you are having problems with the work that you do. If you don’t appoint that person, they will appoint themself.

 

I get told over and over that the leader can’t be friends with their team. That they can’t address poor behaviour or make the hard calls if they have a drink with their staff outside of the office.

I recognise that some situations can be quite tricky. But as a leader it is vital that you have a good relationship with your team members.

Because the problems of our team members become our own; that is they impact on how our team performs.

We need to know what is going on with all the members of our team. We need to have a relationship with them.

This takes time. Lots of time. You can’t rush relationships. Saying hello in the morning and goodbye at the end of the day is not a relationship.

Those relationships are crucial when we have to give feedback.

It’s much easier to tell someone that there is a problem if you have a relationship with them. You will know how to start that conversation; you will be in a better position to manage that situation. You will be able to provide empathy because you will have some understanding as to what is going on in their life that might impacting on their performance at work.

Get to know your team. Break bread together. Take an interest in their personal life. Know what football team they barrack for. Your not a robot – you’re their leader.

Being a leader is probably one of the hardest roles a person can have.

It comes with so much responsibility.

We are constantly challenged, tested, confronted. We witness behaviour that is not okay. We see mistakes being made. We have a responsibility to deal with it.

What message are we giving our team if we tolerate poor behaviour such as letting a staff member talk down to someone else; take credit for someone else’s work or totally dominating a meeting?

How can we say that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated in our office, if we in fact let bullying behaviour go unchecked?

What are the consequences of letting bad behaviour go unchecked?

Firstly, we lose the respect of our team.

Secondly, other staff take matters into their own hands. They find ways to punish the perpetrators; they go slow, they work to rule or less. They gossip.

Thirdly, our staff will stop telling us that there is a problem because really, what’s the point?

Fourthly, we will lose our best staff because they recognise that this is not a safe workplace.

Finally, our staff say bad things about us and our company behind our backs; to members of the public outside of the organisation.

So you probably owe your team an apology if your management style has lapsed into not setting boundaries, not addressing issues when they arise, not being a leader and taking responsibility for the behaviour in your team.

The other day I was on a plane to Melbourne.  We were off to see our grandchildren and in particular our mission was to indoctrinate them into the Port Power family.

The weather was terrible. There had been storms overnight and it was very windy.  The flight was slightly delayed.  A young man near the front of the plane and just across from me kept asking the flight attendant questions. He was clearly agitated.

The flight attendant was fantastic. She stopped and listened to him. She provided him a lot of information about why the flight was delayed. She explained how planes take off in windy conditions and how they would manage the landing in Melbourne.

She checked in on him a few times during the flight. I could see that he kept checking on where she was. She was the person who was going to ensure that this was a safe experience for him.

She was never dismissive or condescending. She was respectful and calm. This young man took up quite a lot of her attention throughout the flight; but she didn’t at any stage act as though that was a problem or that he was being annoying.

I was so impressed. She had lots of jobs to do and other people to care for. But she understood that for this young man to cope on what was potentially going to be a rocky flight, that she needed to be a rock for him.

It’s interesting to ponder on what might have been the case if she had been dismissive or condescending; or if she had told him that she didn’t have time for him.

He may have acted out. Been rude or aggressive. Potentially there may have been a scene if there had been a lot of turbulence.

The flight attendant read the situation brilliantly. She understood that this young man was scared and when people are scared they need a lot of information. It helps them process the situation.

The flight attendant showed brilliant leadership on that flight and it was a joy to watch.

My family were not big on holidays when I was a kid.  We didn’t have any money and Mum and Dad weren’t very fond of each other most of the time; so we didn’t go away often.

But we did go on a couple of “big” holidays.  The first holiday was to Broken Hill to see Dad’s family home. That was an OK holiday. We were quite little and we had a few adventures.  The second was to Leigh Creek (I kid you not).

In both cases, Mum and Dad – actually it was probably just Dad – decided that we were going on a holiday and this is where we were going. No discussion was entered into regarding the destination. No one was asked what we wanted to do.

Dad was exhausted. He needed a break. We all just had to go for the ride.

I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty but the trip to Leigh Creek was a disaster.  It was the mid 70s.  Our big family holiday was to travel to the original Leigh Creek (not the new fancy Leigh Creek) in the middle of summer.

Picture this, five people sitting in the baby poo coloured Galant that didn’t have air conditioning travelling to a very basic house (again no air conditioning) in a fairly desolate mining town on the edge of a desert. A long, sweaty, unbearable car ride with three kids in the back saying “don’t breathe on me”, “don’t look at me”.  I can’t even…

On the up side, I saw my very first live snake on this holiday.

We were meant to stay a week. We lasted three days. It was torture.

This all happened in the 70s. It was a different time. Kids didn’t have much of a say. Kids weren’t consulted much. (And my dad wasn’t so great at taking holidays).

But we do things differently now.  If we go on holidays we are more likely to get buy in from the whole family.

The parents might say, “hey, we’ve decided to go to the Gold Coast for a week in the holidays. What do you want to do when we get there?” The parents might show them photos of all the things you can do at the Gold Coast. They might create a Facebook page so they can track all the things they want to do when they get there.  They might ask the kids to help them plan what they’re going to do on each day. They build up the trip and everyone is really excited.  They plan, they dream and they count down the days until the holiday.

Do that in business. Be clear about where you are going and when you want to be there. Take people with you. Get their buy in. Make them excited. Include them in the decision making process.

It will be a much better and more enjoyable journey if your team is traveling with you. And they will love you for it.