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Aubrey and Maturin, Arthur and Merlin

I have just finished a ten year endeavour – reading all twenty of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey – Maturin novels, two a year.  These are set in the time of Napoleon, among characters of Britain’s Royal Navy.  Here, ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey is one of Nelson’s Band of Brothers – a fighting Captain sailing a fine frigate with a well-trained crew around the world, fighting for England.  Stephen Maturin is his friend, his ship’s surgeon, a skilled naturalist and an intelligence officer for the Admiralty.

Captain Jack Aubrey (left, played by Russell Crowe) and Dr Stephen Maturin (right, played by Paul Bettany) in the Twentieth Century Fox film ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ’.

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That’s enough of the ‘fan stuff’.  If you are a fan, you know all of this – if you aren’t, you either don’t care, or will one day pick up the first book in the series, ‘Master and Commander’, and become hopelessly hooked.

By the way, the movie ‘Master and Commander’ was subtitled ‘The Far Side Of The World’ because it was most closely based on the tenth novel of that name.

Back to Management…  and Leadership

There are too many models of leadership to name, but one of the commonest approaches is to consider how to combine and apply different leadership styles to a situation.  These are sometimes called ‘contingency models’ or ‘situational models’.  Whilst the best known are the trademarked and copyrighted models of situational leadership promoted by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, they all track back to the earliest and possibly the best; that of Tannenbaum and Schmidt.

Attention to task and Attention to the person

All of these (and we could throw around names like Mouton & Blake, and Fiedler too) combine how much attention we give to getting the job done, focusing on facts and data; and how much we attend to the people concerned and our relationship with them.  My worry is that these do not account for the extraordinary leadership O’Brian’s two characters show throughout over 6,000 pages of historically detailed and compelling novels.

Did Patrick O’Brian get it wrong?

This is a fair question, but I think we have to conclude not.  Not only do the characters ring true to thousands (maybe millions) of readers, but Jack Aubrey at least is based closely on a real person, Lord Thomas Cochrane.  Maybe, then, these models of leadership are missing something.

Arthur and Merlin, Watson and Holmes, Kirk and Spock

Captain Kirk is a fearless warrior, prepared to take on any odds in fighting for what he believes in.  So are King Arthur, Dr Watson and Captain Aubrey.  They mobilise their resources and use whatever skills, knowledge and power they have to protect what they value.  Great leader are fighters, prepared to rally their followers and inspire them with their courage, persistence and, ultimately, sacrifice.

Sherlock Holmes, whilst equally fearless, stands for something creative, insightful and even mystical, in his mastery of the finest detail of his science.  So too with Merlin, Mr Spock and Dr Maturin.  People follow them, not because of their desire to fight, but because of the sacrifice they have made in mastering their science or their art.  They are visionary and knowledgeable to a degree that inspires others to follow them.

Where are the task focused and
people focused leaders in fiction?

They are there, in the background, getting the job done and looking after the walk-on characters.  Dr McCoy, Mrs Hudson, Guinevere, Killick, Pullings, Lancelot, Scotty, Lestrade.  Often they are important characters in bringing balance, but they are not the ones who compel our attention.  They are heroes in their own right, but are loved for their contribution to the whole story and their support of those who dominate.

So here’s the deal

Leadership has many dimensions: fighting for what you believe in, a passionate commitment to a body of knowledge or skills, a deep concern for people, a resolute determination to see a job through, and many more.  Your model of leadership must focus on the style of leader you choose to be.  Don’t accept someone else’s model uncritically – it may not work for you.

But also know that to really lead, you need a supporting cast of other heroes to support you or, from another point of view, you can lead without being a star, in a supporting role that brings balance and wholeness.

… and, if you haven’t already done so, go order a copy of ‘Master and Commander’, read it, become hopelessly hooked, and learn new ways to think about management and leadership.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Leadership Pocketbook
– looks at a range of leadership styles

The Management Models Pocketbook
– describes Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Leadership Continuum, and also John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership

The Motivation Pocketbook
– lots of ways a leader can motivate their followers

The Teambuilding Activities Pocketbook
– activities like sailing a 28 gun frigate into battle, exploring space in a starship, solving a brutal murder, and questing for the holy grail
… are strangely missing from an otherwise excellent selection!

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How Good is your Business Card?

If you are self-employed or own your own business, then networking will be one of your most important activities.  And just as you would not expect a carpenter to turn up to a job without a full set of chisels, so you will need the tools of your networking craft.

By the way – if you get your business card given to you and cannot influence its design, skip down a bit and enjoy the links to some of the most imaginative business cards you’ll ever see.

A Sharp Business Card

If business cards are to networking what chisels are to carpentry, then what does a sharp business card look like?  One way to get a feel for what makes a good or a bad business card is to look at loads.  I never throw a business card away, and from time to time, I try to draw some lessons from them.

Business Cards

Five Lessons for Great Business Cards

  1. Keep it simple
    Don’t have more than three zones of content.  Each zone is a compact block of text or graphics that works together, for example, a logo, or a logo and strap-line may be one block; your contact details may be another.
  2. Make sure that the style gives the right message
    We all read something from style, so make sure that people read the right thing from the style of your card.  Run off a number of mock-ups and give them to friends or colleagues and ask them: ’what does this card say about me?’
  3. Colour is important
    Colour conveys a message about you, so choose it with care and, unless you are using full colour images, keep the number of colours down.  While colour conveys a style, don’t rely on it to convey important information, which should be in a strong dark colour for maximum readability.
  4. Make sure it says what you do
    If I take your business card, I will want a prompt to help me remember what you do and why I found you so interesting.
  5. Use the back
    A standard business card has two sides to it.  One way to get more content or more creativity onto your card is to use both sides.  For the marginal extra cost, you get a lot of extra real estate.

The Sixth Lesson for Great Business Cards

There are no rules to good design, and the best designs follow no rules.  Here are five blogs with wonderful business card designs.

42 Awesome Business Card Designs

Cool business card designs

18 Smokin’ Hot Business Card Designs

Cool Business Cards

100 (Really) Creative Business Cards

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

In The Networking Pocketbook, Jon Warner cites the statistic that 90% of us don’t have a calling card.  I suspect that’s mostly the 90% who don’t really need one.  However, far more worrying are his statistics that, of the remaining 10%, 35% show only name, address, and phone number, and 40% are out of date or have incorrect information and therefore have to be amended by hand every time they are given out.  My collection does not quite bear out that statistic, but there are certainly a good handful that have scribbled comments names, numbers or addresses on them.  It looks bad.

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You may also like:

The Personal Success Pocketbook

The Meetings Pocketbook

The Impact and Presence Pocketbook

The Salesperson’s Pocketbook

The Key Account Manager’s Pocketbook

So here’s the deal

Take a critical look at your business card.  Is it time for a refresh?

If no, take a look at some of the cards in the links above and enjoy being awestruck by the creativity.

And, if you have a card you are proud of, or some advice on how to create one, let our readers know by adding a comment below.

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Mending a Relationship Breakdown

Man Getting Pie in the FaceConflict at work, whether between colleagues or with customers or suppliers, can sometimes end in a breakdown of the relationship.  You have two options:

1.  You can walk away
It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s a waste

2.  You can try to fix it
It’s hard, it has the possibility of failure, it can turn disaster into triumph

Your Choice

Which course you take towards managing the end stage of conflict is up to you.  Few would blame you if you were to walk away, but if you choose to try again, consider this: if the relationship has truly broken down, then you have little to lose, so everything to gain.

If you choose to try again, the Management Pocketblog offers you  process that you can follow.  The stronger the prior relationship, the better it can work.

Three Phases to Mending a Breakdown

Phase 1: Reality

If you decide to try to mend the relationship, the first phase is to understand what has happened.  To do this, there are three steps:

  1. Listen to each other
    When you decide to mend the breakdown, take it upon yourself to listen to the other person.
  2. Clarify the facts
    How do each of you perceive the situation, and what would each of you most like to achieve?
  3. Declare a breakdown
    You must end this phase by recognising that a breakdown has occurred and that, whether there is fault or not, both parties have participated and, therefore, both of you must engage if you want to mend it.

Phase 2: Commitment

Building commitment needs an openness to the situation, and a positive statement of intent from both parties.  Respect each other’s perceptions, and try to establish how the objective facts compare to these.  Then offer your commitment to whatever you are prepared to do, to mend the relationship.  When you have done that, ask what commitment the other person is prepared to make.

If your respective commitments complement each other, you have the basis for mending the relationship.

Phase 3: Progress

Now you are ready to make some progress.  Typically, there are three things to put in place:

  1. What’s missing?
    Work together to identify what information, processes, data, options, or solutions are missing, which you will need to mend the relationship fully.
  2. Plans
    Now make your plans for who will do what and when.  Re-iterate promises to honour your respective allocated roles.
  3. Review
    Follow-up with open and honest reviews of progress.  Be generous in recognising what positive steps the other person has taken towards your goal.

So here’s the deal

Mending a broken relationship is not always possible.  There must be a pre-existing strength to the relationship, and both parties must be eager to re-build.  But if these foundations are in place, then it can be done.  It may not be easy, but the results can be well worth the effort.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

The Resolving Conflict Pocketbook has a range of valuable resources to help you understand and resolve conflict.  It also has interesting sections on bullying and harassment, and team conflict.

And if this is not enough for you, there is more than a pocketful of extra help from other Management Pocketbooks:.

For managers,

and, for trainers,

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If it sounds too good to be true …

The old saying goes: ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.  But there is another possibility: ‘if it sounds to good to be true, then you haven’t done your homework’.

Catching out the best negotiators

Sometimes in negotiations, you will be caught off guard by an unanticipated comment, statement or offer.  There is very little that is more disconcerting than an offer that is better than you were expecting.  This is because even the best negotiators rarely prepare for this scenario.

The cautious response is to ask yourself: ‘where’s the catch?’ and proceed delicately.  But there may be no catch; the offer may be genuine.  So whatever you do, don’t risk giving offence by challenging the offer.  Unfortunately, when we get caught out, we often respond in an unguarded manner.

What else could be going on?

If there is no catch, then there are two further possibilities:

  1. the offer is a fair one
  2. they know something you don’t and the value is higher than you thought

What should you do?

Obviously, the lesson from this example is to prepare for even this scenario.  As Patrick Forsyth says in The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, ‘successful negotiators do their homework’.

But if you are unprepared, then you certainly don’t want to just jump on the offer.  So, do what you would do with any offer: make a counter offer, by asking for a little more.  What you do not want to do is quickly accept the offer and leave the other person wondering if they have over bid.  If they do that, it can lead to buyer’s remorse – a sense of disappointment with the deal that they have struck, which can lead to them later reneging on the deal or not doing further business with you.  Worse still, you don’t want to accept a great offer that you could have improved still further.

If you sense the offer is a fair one – just a little better than you had anticipated, then your counter offer can be a little higher.  If, on the other hand, you think they know something more about the value than you do, either go considerably higher or, if you can, take a time out to do some more research.

So here’s the deal

There is no substitute for being prepared before you go into a negotiation: both in command of the facts, and mentally prepared to deal with the unexpected.

What are your tips for negotiating, from your own experiences.  Let us and our readers know, by contributing your own comment.

The Negotiator’s Pocketbook

In The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, Patrick Forsyth sets out a seven step process for your negotiation preparation.  This Pocketbook really is full of fabulous insights and tips.

The Handling Resistance Pocketbook

Okay, so we’ve not been talking about resistance but in the forthcoming Handling Resistance Pocketbook (due in the autumn), you’ll learn a great process, called ‘SCOPE the resistance’ to deal with the kind of surprise this blog talks about.

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Read the Handling Resistance Blog at www.handlingresistance.com

Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The Influencing Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook

The Salesperson’s Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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Making Customer Service Count

We recently wrote about the secret of customer care.  Now, Customer Service Pocketbook co-author, Sean McManus, considers the implications of a recent survey from consumer organisation Which.

The Best and the Worst Customer Service

A recent survey by Which named the UK’s best and worst companies for customer service. Top stores included Lakeland, Richer Sounds, Apple, Lush, John Lewis, Body Shop and Ikea. Those at the bottom of the table of 100 companies were Currys Digital (in last place), WH Smith, Focus, PC World, JJB Sports, and Currys.

To compile the chart, Which surveyed over 14,000 members of the public about their shopping experiences in the previous six months. Over 130 people rated each shop in the top and bottom ten.

What Differentiates the Best and the Worst?

Roughly speaking, the bottom ten shops are those that compete strongly on price. The top ten shops compete more strongly on differentiation and specialisation. You could argue, then, that people get the customer service they pay for. Good customer service doesn’t have to be expensive, but in businesses where costs are under pressure, it can be difficult for the team to keep customers happy.

You might think that stores like Homebase and Focus (both in the bottom 10) have to compete on price because they’re fighting each other, but all the shops in the top ten have strong competition too. By investing in differentiation and great customer service, they’ve managed to create the impression they don’t.

Mediocrity is Instantly Forgettable

Since people were being asked to recall their shopping experiences over the previous six months, mediocre customer service will have been long forgotten. What people remember is when the business goes the extra mile to really deliver above and beyond expectations. That’s what will encourage people to return again next time they are ready to buy, which, in the case of most of the top ten shops, is likely to be months or perhaps years later. (Of course, outstandingly bad customer service is also memorable).

The quality is determined by who is working on the shop floor on the day

Ask around and you’ll probably find plenty of people willing to quibble with the results. I’ve had bad customer service at times from Ikea and excellent service from WH Smith, which runs contrary to the trend. But that highlights a key challenge with customer service: the quality is determined by who is working on the shop floor on the day, how committed they are to delivering to good service, and whether they have the resources to do so. Customers never think ‘that salesperson’ wasn’t helpful, though. They think ‘the company doesn’t care’.

So here’s the deal

Make sure everyone on your shop floor is trained in customer service and, more important, is motivated to really care about it.

The Customer Service Pocketbook

CustomerService Companies that want to be known for chart-topping customer service, the only kind that customers really care about, need to make sure that the whole organisation is geared up to deliver it. For tips on how to do that, see chapter 5 of The Customer Service Pocketbook.

Other Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

This blog was written by Sean McManus

Sean McManus is a writer specialising in business and technology. He is co-author of The Customer Service Pocketbook.

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In Praise of Flip Charts

A recent experience led me to think about the use of visual aids in training.  Two training companies were described as being like ‘chalk and cheese’.

Chalk and Cheese

In this case:

  • one company’s courses are scripted and PowerPoint driven, and trainers appeared to treat participants’ questions as a nuisance.  Hmm.
  • the other company’s trainers welcome interaction and dialogue, and mix PowerPoint with a range of other ways to get their message across.  That’s better!

Visual Aids

It led me to think about the term ‘visual aids’.  Aids to whom?  Some trainers seem to consider that their slides are there to help them in their role as trainers.  Perhaps they need to re-think.  Visual aids should help the learners to learn, participants to understand, and the audience to remember.  And PowerPoint and its kin can be magnificent at this – when used well.  We’ll hold that thought for another day!

Flip Charts – the trainer’s friend

I will come out of the closet: I am a real flip chart lover.  I love them as a consultant, working through ideas and solving problems; I love them as a facilitator, capturing and sharing ideas; and I love them as a trainer, to explain, clarify and illustrate learning points.

PowerPoint is linear and pre-programmed: flip charts are infinitely flexible.  So here are some of my tips and techniques for getting the most from this fabulous tool.

Flip Chart Tips and Techniques

Wings
Lots of flipcharts these days have wings – extendable arms that allow you to fasten a finished sheet to either side of the main display.  This is great for displaying participants’ work when doing a review or even for creating wide screen HD flip chart displays.

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Pre-prepare
If you want to create complex images or drawings that you are not confident to draw ‘live’ then prepare a sheet with the drawing in light pencil (a 2H lead is ideal).  It will be invisible to your audience, but clear enough for you to follow the lines and appear to draw a fabulous image free-hand.  Ruled pencil lines also allow you to write in straight lines if this is not something that comes naturally.

Better, still, practise your drawings on a whiteboard.  Do them over and over until they become second nature, then you won’t have to pre-prep your flip charts!

Laminates
A great way to great more dynamism and use more powerful images is to create full colour printed images and get them laminated.  You can then attach these to your flip chart with blue tack and build up your image more quickly and more stylishly than you could draw it.  For example, create six coloured images of hats for when you want to facilitate a discussion about Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, or illustrate different team dynamics for when you are explaining Tuckman’s model.

StickyNote Sticky Notes
You can use the oh-so-useful sticky notes in a number of ways.  A simple trick is to use them as marker tabs to help you quickly find a pre-prepared sheet quickly.  A favourite use is in exercises where you want participants to identify, then classify items.  If they write their ideas on the notes, they can then place them on the table or grid you or they have created on the flip chart.

Fonts and colours
For large amounts of text, lower case is easier to read, as long as your writing is very clear.  But do ask yourself: ‘are large amounts of text really appropriate?’ They rarely will be.  So upper case is often clearer.  Text should be in strong colours to create good contrast, and do use lots of colour in your diagrams to make your images interesting.

Caution – do not rely on colour contrast to make distinctions that matter.  Around one man in ten has some limitation to their colour vision.  It is rarer in women.

Pens
Good flipchart pens are a must.  Most trainers (including this one) prefer chisel tip to bullet tip.  When you arrive at a training room (if you’re using their pens) or before you leave for the training venue (if you use yours) test all your pens and throw away any that are no longer at their best.  Always travel with your own set, and a back up set if you expect to rely on your own.  Three excellent brands for clarity/strength of colour, range of colour and life-span (and all are chisel tip) are:

  • Berol Flipchart Markers
  • Edding 40
  • Mr Sketch scented markers

Display
Brighten up your training room by putting flip charts up on the walls at breaks.  It creates a stimulating environment, with visual reminders all around, of what participants have been learning.

So here’s the deal

If you don’t already do so, look for more opportunities to use flip charts.  Make time to practise using them well, and use good quality pens to help you do it well.

. . . and, most important, please add your own tips to the comments at the foot of this blog, to share them with others.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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The Secret of Customer Care

. . . is to actually care.

So here’s the deal

This could be our shortest ever blog but, in case you would feel short changed, here’s a little more:

Shocking Customer Care Statistic

Two surveys, by Harvard Business School and Dun & Bradstreet found a consistent result.  When they asked customers why they stopped using a company, they got these results:

Left the area, died, otherwise unable to use the company
– approx. 20%

Found the product, service or price to be poor
– approx. 14%

Don’t think the company cares about me
– approx. 66%

CustomerCare

What to do about it

The answer is simple.  Make time to listen to your customers.  Ask them questions, listen to their answers and act on their feedback.

So here’s the deal

The secret to customer care is to actually care.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Customer Service Pocketbook is filled with tools, tips and techniques to help with your customer care.

Customer Service Pocketbook

You may also enjoy:

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How high is your “Feedback Credibility Barometer?”

You should never take acceptance of your feedback for granted. Creating the conditions to encourage acceptance requires work and focus. Here are some thoughts from Feedback Pocketbook author, Mike Pezet’s presentation at the recent UK HRD conference in April 2010.

Manage your credibility barometer

Many managers underestimate the impact their credibility has on the value, interpretation and acceptance of their feedback.  Credibility is broadly composed of a manager’s perceived competence and trustworthiness.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/ / CC BY 2.0

With a high credibility barometer

· The feedback has perceived value

· The feedback will be more readily
..interpreted as intended

· The feedback will be accepted more readily

With a low credibility barometer

· The feedback has limited value

· Interpretation will be wide and may
..focus on motives for the feedback

· The feedback may be difficult to accept

How to drive up your barometer reading

Here are three things that Mike recommends you can do to increase the level of your credibility barometer and improve the acceptance of your feedback.

  1. Demonstrate awareness and appreciation for the challenges people face in their jobs, and the activities they undertake
  2. Notice and draw attention to what people do well
  3. Discuss the feedback relationship before you try and give your feedback

Manage your judgements

Another important aspect of your credibility and having people accept your feedback is the reliability of the judgements you make.  Overestimating the accuracy of your judgments is easily done, but inaccurate feedback won’t be recognised and accepted.  It may even cause people to re-evaluate your credibility.

Our judgement broadly focuses on two types of cause:

  1. Environmental causes
    You assess me in the light of things I cannot control, such as events and other people
  2. Personal, or internal, causes
    Aspects of who I am and the things I can directly control, such as my character and personal style

Here are four things you can do to become a better judge and encourage acceptance:

  1. Suspend your judgement!
  2. Consider the range of causes of their behaviour
  3. Enquire into and explore their perspective of the situation
  4. Review and evaluate the objective evidence

So here’s the deal

Above all, develop co-ownership of your feedback, by creating a feedback contract and discussing the feedback relationship.  Then, ensure that you base your feedback on the soundest possible judgement – always stay critical of your own judgement process.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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Learning and Making Connections

This week is Adult Learners’ Week.  This is a long-running campaign that encourages adults in all spheres of life to focus on their learning and the benefits they can get from it.

The joy of learning

The Adult Learners’ Week website is full of stories of adults whose lives have been transformed by learning and without a doubt, learning is one the greatest powers for personal and social transformation.

Learning changes your outlook and your potential.  It is available to everyone, and anyone can do it.  Its benefits range from the pure joy of knowing something new or understanding what was previously hidden, to enjoying a longer, more fulfilling life.

We can learn alone, browsing through books, journal or websites, or together with friends and colleagues.  We can learn fundamental skills or advanced concepts; and we can learn manual expertise, aesthetic sensitivity or abstract concepts.  So far there is no evidence that even hints at a limit on our capacity for learning.

A wonderful snippet of knowledge

I am indebted to Dr Peter Honey – a man who exemplifies life-long learning and whose blog is well worth reading – for a wonderful snippet of knowledge that he slipped into a column for Training Journal several years ago.

Have you ever wondered about ‘the three Rs’?  Why does one start with ‘W’ and why are two both about literacy?  What about other areas of knowledge.  Well, Peter pointed out that the origins of the phrase are far more generous in their spread of knowledge, though no more literal in their interpretation of ‘R’.

Peter’s article tracks the phrase back to an origin that recognises the value of vocational as well as other learning; a triangle of:

Reading and writing

Reckoning and arithmetic

Wrighting and wroughting

Wroughting

How far we’ve come.

Now, not only do we not teach wrighting and wroughting, but my spell checker does not even acknowledge their existence.  Yet the power of vocational skills to transform lives is as great as ever.  Three examples strike me from my own friends, in anonymised form:

  1. Ben has never thrived at school.  By taking a vocational pathway at Key Stage 4, however, he is able to combine an NVQ in Construction at a local college for one day a week with English, Maths and core Science.  A feeling that he can now do something he is good at, the prospect of a job, and seeing how the concepts make sense in the real world are spurring Ben to make headway with Maths and Science for the first time.
  2. Suzy was academic at school, did well at university and got a series of high-paying and demanding jobs.  For her, however, work was a source of excitement only in the early days of each new job.  What keeps her enthusiastic about life is learning new skills at weekends, in evening classes and in holidays.  She focuses on craft activities and rarely has to buy Christmas presents – she makes them all herself.
  3. Rob had a highly successful teaching career, rising to Head of Department at a well-regarded secondary school and inspiring his pupils to achieve great grades.  Then, one day, he realised that his next step would not be another teaching post.  Turning to one of his great passions in life, Rob took a huge risk and applied for a lease on a blacksmith’s forge.  Now he spends his days wrighting gates and wroughting the steel they are made from.

So here’s the deal

  1. Make a commitment to yourself to learn something new this week.
  2. Take a look at Jenny’s great blog, Learning to Learn, on the Teachers’ Pocketbook blog

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 1: Predictable

As a learner, or a trainer, or a teacher, here are some pocketbooks you might like:

Learning

Training

Teaching
(Thank you to our sister blog,
The Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog)

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 2: Random

Hey! Learning is not just about a programme, it’s also about serendipity.  Follow these links to random Pocketbooks and look up the words you don’t know.  How many can you drop into conversation this week?

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Ros and Regina who each tipped me off to Adult Learners’ Week

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Is This Relationship Going To Work?

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen, working with people who aren’t our natural soul-mates. Whether the relationship is Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, or two colleagues sharing an office, conflict is probably going to arise at some point in the relationship.

Messrs Clegg and Cameron are both assertive and persuasive individuals who are used to winning the argument. But if they are going to work successfully together they will need to use a range of styles to manage potential conflict between themselves and their party members.

Five Approaches to Managing Conflict

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann describe five approaches we can take to handling any particular conflict:

Compete – we aim to win.

Accommodate – our priority is to keep the other person happy.

Compromise – we do a deal. It’s not perfect but we can both live with it. At least in the short term.

Avoid – we take the view that it’s better not to open the can of worms, so we don’t address the issue.

Collaborate – we look for a solution that fully meets our needs, and also satisfies other person. A true ‘win/win’.

Which One To Use?

Looking at these five styles, you would think that the ‘right’ approach to conflict would always be to collaborate. However, there are a couple of problems with collaboration:

  1. It can take a long time – you have to sit down, explore the other person’s position, analyse the underlying needs and concerns then try to thrash out a resolution. It’s great when you have the time (and the energy) to do this. But sometimes there’s a deadline. Sometimes the markets are showing signs of impatience.
  2. It isn’t always possible. For example, when you and your colleague have fundamentally opposing views or values.

The trick is actually knowing which type of approach is most appropriate in any situation, and consciously adapting your natural preference for one of the five styles.

T-KStyles

So here’s the deal

One of the secrets of handling conflict successfully, whether it’s in a shared office or the House of Commons, is choosing the right strategy.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

TacklingDiffConvsFor more on handling conflict, and coping with difficult conversations generally, take a look at Peter English’s new Pocketbook, The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook.

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Other Pocketbooks you might like include:

You may also be interested to know …

The Thomas-Kilmann model is also available as a self-scoring psychometric instrument. For global sales, check out the CPP website, or for UK sales, check out OPP’s website.

Author: Peter English

This article was written by Peter English, author of:

The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook and

The Succeeding at Interviews Pocketbook.

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