SELF DISCOVERY – First Step Employee Experience
Self-discovery through a process of encounter has been an enigma for many over time. While it has reached levels of sophistication and refinement the bare act of following the process of sharing is dealt with fear, suspicion and sometimes joy. Encounter employs the newest, the oldest; its strategies sometimes stress safety, sometimes danger; it revers anger and love, words and deeds, old western drama, old eastern meditation. Encounter groups do share common features. They attempt to provide an intensive, high contact, mutually interactive, individualistic or group experience. They facilitate face to face exchange, focus on here and now and encourage openness, honesty, interpersonal communication, constructive confrontation, self-disclosure and strong emotional expression. The participants strive to enhance self and social awareness and to change behavior. The world has changed. In fact you and I have changed as we have experienced the trials and tribulations of life in a fast paced environment. Counseling, a method often used to bring in proximity between client and counselor in defining and resolving the problem is but one method still used. It is a method by which one person helps another through purposeful conversation. It is also a process where feedback is fast and immediate.
Carolyn Aiken from McKinsey’s Toronto office, and Scott Keller in the Chicago office, office say, “Typically, a personal transformation journey involves 360-degree feedback on leadership behavior specific to the program’s objectives, diary analysis to reveal how time is spent on transformation priorities, a commitment to a short list of personal transformation objectives, and professional coaching toward these ends. CEOs generally report that the process is most powerful when all members of an executive team pursue their transformation journeys individually but collectively discuss and reinforce their personal objectives in order to create an environment “of challenge and support. The quickest way to send shock waves through an organization is to conceive and execute a series of symbolic acts signaling to employees that they should behave in ways appropriate to a transformation and support these types of behavior in others. For instance, C. John Wilder, CEO of the Texas energy utility TXU, gave a large bonus to a woman who had taken a clear leadership role in a very important business initiative. “This leader’s contributions generated real economic value to the bottom line,” he explains. “Of course, news of that raced through the whole organization, but it helped employees understand that rewards will be based on contributions and that ‘pay for performance’ could actually be put into practice”.
Discovery starts with Empathy
It is a process where:
Two people or more are present, depending upon the type of intervention
The process leads to action on the part of the client, or the group
The counselor is the person who listens, along with participants
The client can be trusted to find their own solutions,
Personal growth of the client usually occurs, Resolution of a problem is an expectation.
The essential elements of counseling have been logically listed to be considered as a ideal therapeutic relationship. The list included:
An empathetic relationship
The counselor and client rate well
The counselor sticks closely to the client’s problems
An atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence exists
Rapport becomes essential.
For effective counseling Carl Rogers emphasized minimum conditions being:
Two persons are in psychological contract
The first, the client, is in a state of incongruence, vulnerable and anxious
The second, the counselor, is congruent or integrated in the relationship
The counselor experiences unconditional regard for the client
The counselor experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client
The communication to the client of the counselor’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.
The process of giving and asking has turned different and is now practiced as never done before. Primarily assumptions on people growth and management have changed forever. Most of our people experiences have turned rapacious. Not because individuals and teams have planned to so behave but the situation has determined their behavior. We are now plundering. There is a deluge of human behavior to feel, experience, encounter, lead and manage. There is a conscious dissemination of human experiences receiving formal documentation, synthesis and coping approaches. As we turn more competitive, as we see human nature seeking basic survival instincts there is a case for relook at our maliciousness, a core viperish tendency to demand what we want and seek it at any cost. It is possible and we can learn to “see ourselves as others see us”. I call this “Tell Me Effect”. This, of course, is not an easy task. “Tell Me” implies certain key behavioral characteristics; love, caring, trusting, acceptance, openness, and a concern for the needs of others. Thus, how evaluative, judgmental or helpful “tell me” is may eventually depend on the personal growth plan of the individuals. For example an employee of the company seeks quality time of the HR manager to explore possible career moves or a middle-aged executive faces unemployment and wants to talk through the possible options that may or may not be available for him. Tell Me experience may mean some careful listening and some straight talking.
Discovery means Culture
Essentially Tell Me Effect deals with Culture, Process, Knowledge and People. Culture provides the climate setting that is available for sharing and doing things together. Process offers a method that brings in mutuality and purpose for the transaction to take place between the participating members. Knowledge, perhaps, is the linking pin. Tell Me allows feedback only if the articulation between the group members or the client and the counselor is backed by knowledge of the issue or the problem that has been tabled for discussion. If the knowledge generated is here and now, the feedback should draw upon the here and now and dealt with. If the knowledge is based on an experience of the past, significant portion of the episode should be quite clear to the participating members.
Again, a corporate production manager’s drive may be to become more aware of himself/herself and to learn how his/her behavior affects others. The manager’s determination to learn may arise from the large work force who are dependent on him/her for leadership, direction, goal setting and fundamental inspiration. The production manager operates with a “Because Tell Me Effect”. Information from the group can help him/her to ascertain whether he/she is moving toward this goal. If he/she reacts to criticisms of his/her behavior by displaying emotions not conducive to learn and internalize or otherwise acting defensively, the path to “tell me” is significantly disturbed. Tell Me necessitates adjusting one’s direction, learning path to keep pace and sight at the target. “Because Tell Me”, then, is a technique that helps individuals, to become partners to a problem of a group and set a path to achieve their goals. It is also a means of comparing one’s own perceptions of one’s behavior with the perceptions of others.
Discovery is Honesty
Tell Me is a upfront development approach, verbal or non-verbal as may be deemed necessary, through which an individual or a group would communicate perceptions, feelings, expectations about actions, behavior and competencies. When soliciting Tell Me, an individual is asking for a view of others’ about his behavior. The asking is voluntary and constructive and could break unknown human barriers between people. It is based on a theory of self development and growth that involves natural stages of identity, orientation to an environment of people, organization of data and information that forms a part of our life experiences and into a path of self renewal.
Robert Kaplan writes in HBR, “Too frequently, when these executives ultimately do receive feedback in their year-end reviews (often as part of a 360-degree-feedback program), they are surprised to be confronted with specific criticisms of their leadership style, communication approach, and interpersonal skills. Worse, they may also hear broad concerns raised about their strategy, key tactical decisions, and operating priorities for the business. These executives may even learn, often too late, that the various criticisms and concerns have been widely discussed among their subordinates for an extended period of time without them being aware”.
TELL ME should be aimed at behavior that is relatively easy to manage, deal with, process and understand and consequently change. Many individual behaviors of habitual and routine nature and could be described as a personal style developed through years of behaving and responding in certain ways may not be the best of situations to start with for the “Tell Me Effect” experience. TELL ME on this kind of behavior is often frustrating because the behavior can be very difficult to change. More importantly it is critical to clarify how relevant is there a need for change on the identified behavior. TELL ME on behaviors that are difficult to change may often make a person self conscious, moody, encounter fear and anxious about the displayed behavior. Consequences must focus on the effort.
Discovery is Personal
Occasionally, in tell me, one must determine whether the behavior represents an individual lifestyle or results from unknown personality factors or issues considerably irrelevant to the transaction in progress. That I hate Banana Milk shake is not relevant to this transaction irrespective of how open minded I am being asked to be through the “Tell Me” session.
Sometimes it may be helpful first to ask the receiver whether he/she perceives his/her behavior as modifiable.
Whether, secondly, the person wishes a change.
Thirdly does the person feel that another behavior pattern is more desirable and acceptable to self and others.
Many behaviors can be easily changed through “Tell Me” and the person’s conscious desire to change his/her behavior in order to produce a more effective interpersonal style. Obviously the purpose of the episode is not to make people forget how to think, see and feel. Nor is the purpose to make people wonder how would he/she walk out of this experience.
McKinsey Consultants write, Erika Herb, Keith Leslie and Colin Price, “How could the performance of the senior team be improved quickly without reverting to the command-and-control system? The facilitator felt that the team was missing important opportunities to expand the business while focusing on trivial issues. Further, he wondered why only half of the team participated in debate and whether the others had no opinion or were simply afraid to argue their own points of view. After reviewing the feedback from the leaders of business units, the top team began the process of improvement by acknowledging that it needed to change its approach, and quickly. As a next step, the members of the team identified their top ten priorities—and discovered a range of conflicting views. The team tried to sort these priorities and to define a common strategy. Meanwhile, a facilitator observed the team at work and later interviewed its members at length. Thus, their poor interaction was added to the range of issues under consideration. The team committed itself to monthly one-day sessions focusing on major strategic issues, and the facilitator tracked its progress on interaction. These sessions addressed a series of topics—talent, strategy, performance, growth—that stretched the team’s thinking and opened new opportunities for the company. Between sessions, subgroups of two or three members worked on issues for the full team to debate and resolve”
In all endeavors involving people and their relationships each group will evolve structures and patterns as the members work together and reach individual or collective assumptions. It is imperative for the primary motivation of membership in growth groups is to help one self and others to believe, learn, grow and evolve as a fully rounded person. Conscious attention to structure, roles, relationship linkages are essential to resolve classical individual and team problems as they arise in every day life. Meaning, belief and faith are fundamental to make the TELL ME process happen. Dilemmas and paradoxes continue to haunt when tell me effect is in progress. There are occasions of feelings of emptiness on the exercise. There are questions on whether all this worth it? Would people really change? Why should I offer space and time for tell me session? What do I receive in turn? WHY? WHY?
Discovery is Selfless
The benefits for corporate organizations for questions as above are:
Facilitates employee goals setting and commitment to change towards a desired state of behavior or action,
Makes the goal setting standard and mutual expectation ambitious and shared across family/known groups,
Synergize individual and group problem and expectation priorities within the overall framework of the organization,
Identify behavioral competencies that are relevant to make individuals effective,
It is possible to create a dream, a shared dream, a vision for the group as it interacts with the organization,
That behavioral change would be rewarding in performance enhancement and consequent rewards
And finally, that the change in self make us a happier person.
What are the real encounters that the members feel and experience? Focusing on personal feelings may frequently encourage other group members to help the individual. Anger and conflict are not themselves ‘bad’. Angry feelings are as legitimate as any other feelings. Conflict can be growth-producing phenomenon. It is the matter in which conflict or angry feelings are handled that can have negative consequences. Only through surfacing and resolving conflicts can people develop competence and confidence in dealing with feelings and situations. Effectively “Tell Me Effect” happens when there is a bondage to the cause and that we are participating in an act together. The human feeling to help, care, share and love for each other is fundamental to the cause of “Tell Me”. The belief in the human spirit, the will and the capability to change is basic for the process. To belong as an individual and as a group individually and collectively should be a reciprocated feeling. That the process makes me feel and do things good should be a cause. That the encounter can happen without fear, anxiety, insecurity, dependence is key to the climate of sharing.
Discovery has a carry back
Toby Gibbs, Suzanne Heywood and Matthew Pettigrew write in McKinsey Quarterly, “Senior executives need to focus on rooting out unhealthy habits for they know in their bones how to handle managers who don’t do well on traditional performance measures: provide clear feedback, a development plan to address the problem and build the necessary capabilities, and an evaluation to judge progress. The processes for handling such issues are second nature to most companies. In principle, the same should go for incorporating measures of organizational health. In reality, however, the organizational processes and mechanisms companies employ may well send mixed messages about the importance of health and even undercut it. Often, it’s necessary to start by unlearning bad habits. High-hazard companies, for example, have had to do just that in the wake of much-publicized accidents and subsequent pressure from regulators and consumers for improved safety. One such company started by conducting an audit of critical roles across the organization and compiling a list of all the key safety-related competencies required for each of them. The goal was not only to ensure that workers had the necessary technical know-how and leadership skills but also to spot HR processes, systems, or managerial-training programs the company needed to change so that problems identified at the line level could be traced to their roots”. The intervening processes are possible only with a honest mutual,y caring feedback. Leaders who specialize in hide and seek, half truths and manipulation rarely build either their credibility or that of the team. The divisive nature of a team is often attributable to the leaders managerial style. Insecurity is often the first breaking point in employee experience. “It was one thing for the company to add more realistic emergency scenarios that line managers and their teams could act out together, another to insist that the new approach be taken seriously. Managers who struggled with the new simulations were therefore removed from their roles until they improved, even if their previous track record of operational safety had been impeccable”.
We need to get people to take back an experience after the “Tell Me Effect”. Experiences do not happen unless we agree on the psychological contract that binds people of varying behaviors together. Each of the “encountered” member should train on recall and goal based follow up. Reinforcement feedback sessions are necessary for periodic upgrade of behavioral inputs to make the change permanent. Alteration in the post feedback scenario is possible and the facilitator should take upon himself/herself to offer corrections. Active involvement of the same set of participants over time periods would help in the behavioral evolution. In any event if the “Tell Me Effect” has produced adequate fun and laughter the session can be deemed to be a success and mutually rewarding.
Dr. Ganesh Shermon is a Managing Partner & Lead for North America, Talent Management Platform Solutions with TCS Canada Inc, and earlier a Partner, Country Head and Global Steercom with KPMG LLP.Posted by ZuzukiSX4 Posted on 14 Mar
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