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How to change seven rowdy people.

How to Change Seven Rowdy People

Can seven rowdy people agree? Not if they have seven different opinions. The wrong way to build a team is to have them debate their differing solutions and opinions. The wrong way is to discuss whatever is important at the moment; whatever fires happen to be raging.

The right way is to start with the purpose that needs to be accomplished and to build on this common purpose, rather than on what's wrong today.

People differ in their values and behaviors. Some people value tradition and traditional responses over innovation. Some value the reverse. Some live in the past; few live in the future. But that's where you must take them.

In a meeting, people usually show certain repeating behavior patterns. They include:

* Putting solutions before problems.

* Being silent.

* Being an appeaser.

* Saying, "You're wrong."

* Saying, "I'm right."

* Being long-winded.

* Interrupting.

* Taking over.

* Nit-picking.

* Making jokes.

Left to their own, most people hardly ever move from one behavior to another. They remain fixed on their particular behavior styles, often for life. The reason for this is a "script" - a predetermined approach or set of steps that worked once, so we use it all the time.

Have you ever driven downtown and suddenly realized you don't recall making any decisions on the best route to take? You followed a script.

You use scripts when you catch a plane, handle an emergency, or when you go to a restaurant. Your restaurant script says that after you have studied the menu and placed your order, you do not expect the waiter to demand payment before you are served. If, however, the sign in front of the restaurant says McDonald's, you expect the reverse, without exception. Why does it take much longer to get up and dressed in a hotel than at home? It's because your scripts don't work. When you reach for something, it isn't there.

The majority of people's scripted attention focuses on today's concern and issues. It's hard to get people like that to think about tomorrow. Often we script great respect for tradition. This generates loyalty for the old way, but can inhibit change.

In "In Search Of Excellence," Peters and Waterman identify five characteristics of people. Everyone has them, they say, and we should consider them when we deal with people.

Every person:

* Reasons by stories.

* Judges himself/herself to be in the top

10 percent.

* Wants to be part of the crowd.

* Wants to stick out.

* Wants to find meaning.

We can use these characteristics to build powerful teams and personal motivation. Consider the example of a famous sprinter who found himself in the hospital with a temperature of 103 degrees. "Is that a record?" he asked the nurse. "No," came the reply. "Well then," he said, "I guess I'll stay a while longer."

Planning is action now that is based on your image of the future, and effective planning requires that you have a clear vision of that future. Russell Ackoff writes, "Corporate planning should not consist of predicting and preparing for an uncontrolled future but of designing a desirable future and finding or inventing ways of approximating it as closely as possible."

Good planning is based on the future, not the present. Starting your projects with an analysis of what exists - rather than what you want to exist - often leads to disagreements, arguments, and failure. The best way to plan for the future is through team power.

Teams are great for solving problems, planning, decision-making, and getting the job done. Teams bring together managers, subordinates, and technical experts. Teams make sure that decisions reached are workable and practical. Effective teams generate tremendous enthusiasm and motivation for accomplishment. Effective teams cause decisions to be made and implemented.

Teams can draw upon the differences in individuals to make sure that all aspects of any situation have been consider and tested from many points of view.

A well-run team ensures that people can be a part of the crowd while still maintaining their individuality. It helps satisfy each person's belief that he or she is special. The team process helps them find meaning.

Team members should be drawn from various levels and functions within the organization, since all the stakeholders have something to contribute. The best team size is about seven persons. A carefully crafted team ideally consists of:

* A person who cares.

* Doers (Jr. & Sr.).

* A recipient of outcomes.

* A decision-maker.

* Technical expert(s).

* An integrator.

* A trained facilitator.

A team like that will grow and strengthen if you build on their differences, yet help them focus on the future.

Change is keeping your activities in balance with the resources available to you and the purpose you want to accomplish.

Since all these elements - activities, resources, and purpose-are shifting all the time, change becomes a real juggling act.

As contaradictory as it may appear on the surface, change is stability. We must change constantly just to stay where we are. If we stop changing, the world leaves us behind.

It's difficult to think about change when our world is filled with current issues, crises and threats. Our attitude is "fix it when it breaks." We spend our time managing uncertainty and putting out fires, rather than planning for future certainty.

Often, when a group of individuals gets together, there are many urgent problems presented to be solved "now." Participants bring their own predetermined "solutions" and try to force their particular issue to the table. The result is disagreement, and no decisions or action.

A mind dump - For real cooperative change to take place, you must refocus your team's attention away from today. A good way to do this is by using a "mind dump" - an acceptance and listing of all the concerns, issues, and crises put forward by the participants. These are recorded in plain view on a flip chart. No discussion is allowed.

Explain that you want to get everything out on the table first. When they are all listed, comment on their importance and mention that the list identifies most of the issues that the solution must accommodate, and that it will make a great check-list for evaluation. Tear the sheets off the flip chart and place them in plain view, but in a corner.

A common purpose - The mind dump provides psychic space for the second step, which is to focus the group's attention on the purpose to be accomplished.

Purpose provides meaning. It shows us where to go. It provides a focus and can rally our strengths. A clearly stated purpose often provides surprising new insights. People will join your team when they know where you're going.

A careful review of its purpose produced a total restructuring of a Municipalities association in Canada. A similar review refocused the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada away from its journal and towards the promotion of architectural services.

In a large insurance company, a review of one department's purpose moved them from seeking and recovering lost files to preventing their loss in the first place.

In Saudi Arabia, an analysis of the purpose of a medical clinic avoided a crisis concern about after-hours operation by converting it into a more studied review of its total hours of operation.

In a telephone company, a young engineer analyzed his own job purpose and recommended that it be done away with. He got a promotion.

Health care, particularly in the United States, is ripe for a purpose review. Is the purpose of health care to provide patient care, or is it to provide a cure. Or is there another, more powerful purpose to be found?

The Creative Leap - Once your team has put aside its crises concerns through its mind dump, and has refocussed on the purpose to be accomplished, you are ready for step three.

The creative leap addresses where you want to be, rather than where you are now. It means acting now on the basis of the future that you desire, rather than on today's hot issues. Team planning based on the ideal future that you desire eliminates constraints and roadblocks that seem immovable today. It builds great enthusiasm. We call the creative leap "pre-posterior planning"-planning backwards from the future. It works.

In any group project, it's important to keep every person involved and informed. Avoid "unveiling" your conclusions at the end of a project. Invite guests to your meetings. Share your minutes. And don't forget to celebrate change and success. Help your people brag. Make success an unforgettable memory. Make it serve as a guide for even more change in the future.

Resistance to change comes from lack of "ownership" by the stakeholders. This comes about from insufficient participation, secrecy, autocratic decision-making, or fuzziness of purpose. All of these can be overcome through the principles outlined above-team mind dump, clarification of purpose, and the creative leap.

Positive change reduces stress. It creates high morale, and higher productivity.

Bosses are the key if people are to work together effectively. Insecure and dominant bosses kill cooperation. Open but hesitant bosses are no better. The three major secrets of superior boss/subordinate relationships are delegation, motivation, and communication.

Delegation is sharing of responsibility, which is difficult for people who cannot trust or communicate. It requires faith in subordinates as well as the ability to communicate what is expected. The more detailed your instructions, and the more careful your performance monitoring, the less competent you are as a boss. A good boss will say, "Win the war at the lowest human cost. Let me know how you're doing." Motivation is the amount of effort an individual puts into the purpose at hand. People always act in their own interest; so make good performance worth their while. Reward your subordinates for doing the right thing well. Here's a simple but powerful method:

* Publicly specify with great clarity and precision which particular achievement or effort is being recognized.

* Explain why that achievement actually deserves recognition.

* Give personal, not organizational, appreciation.

Communication is the third key to boss/subordinate relations. Keep the lines of communication open. Do not send memos.

One boss sends memos and then literally leaves the country before a reply can be received. He wonders why his organization is deteriorating.

Symptoms that your communications have gone bad, include rejection, distortion, avoidance and misinterpretation. Watch out for all of these.

If you are a boss, here is how to kill your relationship with your subordinates:

* Know you are right.

* Be logical, always.

* Fake a rigid position.

* Don't listen.

* Talk down to the "child."

When two people converse, there are actually three conversations going on at once. The two most important ones are those inside of each player's head. You can read some of these hidden messages through a study of body language. Some additional guides for avoiding interpersonal conflicts are:

* Don't take someone's difficult manner personally.

* Don't try to understand hostility. Focus on coping.

* Don't be difficult in response. Turn lectures into conversations through questions.

* Don't criticize the "person."

* Praise sincerely when possible.

* Don't try to make the difficult person like you.

As bosses or employees, we must become part of the solution. A willingness to change has a big impact. Changing ourselves often leads others to change themselves.

Intolerance is common. We learn to be intolerant through insecurity. It is as common in the workplace as anywhere else. It's important that we accept our subordinates and our bosses for what they are. Both have the right to be different. In fact, they have no choice.

Meetings are a test of your personal leadership. As a leader, you know that a great solution not installed is worthless.

If you are chairperson, your role is to provide the process direction, letting the participants provide the content.

The secret of effective meetings is keeping the generation of ideas separate from their evaluation and selection.

Idea-making is a right-brained activity. Decision-making is left-brained. The two don't mix. When you hear someone say, "I don't agree with that," while an idea is being offered, you are out of control.

This doesn't mean that people can't disagree with an idea. It does mean that there is no place for disagreement in the middle of an idea-generation session.

Helping participants generate all of their ideas first and evaluating them only later will have a major impact on your success. To help ensure productive meetings, you should:

* Define the meeting's purpose.

* Plan and schedule the meeting.

* Stick to your schedule.

* Develop your facilitator skills.

* Maintain control.

* Separate creativity from evaluation.

* Summarize conclusions.

Leadership provides vision, and converts that vision into action. It's the navigation and the steering of a ship. As a leader, it is your job to:

* Make good plans and decisions.

* Be counted on in tough spots.

* See both sides of a question.

* Make rules & regulations clear.

* Be a willing cooperator.

* Remember when a subordinate did well.

* Meet regularly with employees.

* Delegate effectively.

General Eisenhower said, "Think of a string. Pull, and the string will follow: Push it, and it goes nowhere." Leadership makes people follow.

The Iacoccas of the world are useful role models. Some of the more typical attributes of this leadership style are:

* Strategic vision, big goals.

* Very good at articulating vision.

* Inspirational/symbolic image builders.

* Pathfinders. "I know the way."

* Positive and confident.

* Unconventional and tough.

* Effective body language.

* Comfortable working with emotions.

* Good at marketing themselves.

* Energies directed toward winning.

A study of the characteristics of successful young farmers shows some additional desirable characteristics:

* Enthusiastic, by reading about the new ideas and successes of others.

* Confident, aggressive for challenge.

* Motivated self-starters.

* Take intelligent risks.

* Search for new and better ideas.

* Visit other farmers, researchers, advisors; Attend meetings.

* Enjoy making decisions, solving problems, and accepting responsibility.

* Oriented towards achievement, rather than security.

A leader wants implementation. So, a leader plans the implementation at the beginning of every change effort. Consultant Derm Barrett has identified five leadership skills for explaining change:


1) Why the change is needed.

2) What the change is.

3) Who will be involved.

4) Where and when it will start.

5) How we will correct mistakes.

A leader works hard at developing a common purpose among all participants. A leader works harder at creating a feeling of participation among the stakeholders.

A leader focuses on where we are going, not on what exists. A leader avoids unveilings. A leader burns bridges, to ensure forward progress. Leaders create loyalty through vision, participation and sponsorship. Leaders make it happen. Leaders know how to make rowdy people agree. To make people agree, recognize that people are different. Use team power. Make change. Make employees hum; make bosses sing. Make meetings matter.

Be a leader.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Institute of Industrial Engineers, Inc. (IIE)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Scharf, Alan
Publication:Industrial Management
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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