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Resources for Managers
 

    
 
 

How can you make that bothersome colleague disappear—without magic? You probably can’t, but you can change how you understand your “problem” employees and work with them, according to author Monica Wofford in Make Difficult People Disappear (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).

Trainer and consultant Wofford says that most people aren’t naturally difficult. They’re different from us and from each other, and by expecting them to be like us, we make them difficult for us to deal with. We too often expect co-workers to behave as we would—even though we know they won’t. Then we fault them for simply acting like themselves.

The book uses the CORE Multidimensional Awareness Profile to help readers examine their own and others’ personal traits. Attributes can classify people as assertive, decisive Commanders who can shade into bossiness and anger when stressed; orderly, thorough Organizers who can become narrow-minded or withdrawn; extroverted, spontaneous Entertainers who under stress can become argumentative or impatient; and cooperative, supportive Relaters who can turn passive or overly sensitive under stress.

Wofford describes how people combine traits from different types, or they may suppress their natural tendencies—like natural Commanders who try to fake being Relaters. Some types are simply wired in ways that make them more likely to be in conflict with other types—something it’s useful to know before rejecting co-workers as “difficult.”

Understanding personality types helps you mold how you talk with others so they can understand you better, Wofford notes. Knowing how someone else might react under stress can help you prepare not to take those reactions personally.

Wofford gives tips on how to communicate from one type to another. For instance, how does a detail-oriented, logical Organizer with a need to be right communicate to a Relater who needs to be more professional when talking to customers? The Relater craves reassurance, direction and stability, while the Organizer doing the coaching isn’t big on those things. What does the Organizer need to say to reach the Relater?

Another case: A customer complains. Do you send a Commander, who will focus on getting the fix done and getting out of there, or an Entertainer or Relater, who will also rebuild the relationship with the customer on a personal level?

The book looks at how managers can work with employees’ personality traits to manage them better—for instance, by being more specific with Organizers or keeping Entertainers more focused. Managers can learn to consider the leadership potential of all types of employees, not just Commanders. Also, different types of recognition—tangible or intangible, public or private—appeal to different types of workers.

SHRM members can buy this book at a discount at the SHRMStore.

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One in nine U.S. workers is in sales, earning a living by persuading others to buy things. And the other eight of nine don’t know it, but they’re all selling, too—selling themselves, their ideas or their work product.

In To Sell Is Human (Riverhead Books, 2012), author Daniel H. Pink examines why sales and selling are changing and how we all came to be salespeople. He outlines ways to improve your ability to sell what you have to offer, whether that’s an item in retail, an idea to your boss or your influence on employees.

How do people sell themselves and their ideas in a changing workplace that is increasingly a marketplace? Pink starts with the ABCs of selling, long known as “Always Be Closing.” That outdated formula gets a remake here as “Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity.” For each of these attributes, Pink offers a detailed case study.

Attunement is about observing others and bringing your “actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in.” Readers learn about approaching interactions as if they have less power than other participants, as a way to help them see the other person’s perspective. Pink also coaches readers on using subtle mimicry to make others more comfortable (and more susceptible to a sale).

Buoyancy keeps your outlook positive while readying you to take on your task. Readers learn how to practice interrogative self-talk, asking, “Can I do this? Can I make this pitch? Can I persuade this person?” Asking questions helps bring out your reasons for doing things and reminds you how you prepared. Pink also covers how to explain why your “sale” did or didn’t succeed. Those who see rejection as temporary and based on specific circumstances tend to be better at persuading others, Pink notes.

Clarity means seeing things as they really are. Learn to identify the problems that need solving. Try reframing what you have to offer others; how can you contrast your offering with what others have to sell? Try getting a new angle by doing something unfamiliar. And when you want people to take an action, be clear about what they need to do.

Pink also looks at the sales pitch in a world where everyone pitches, all the time. The classic “elevator speech” summarizing what you can do for someone else isn’t the peak of pitching any more. Readers get a tutorial in pitches shaped as tweets on Twitter; subject lines on e-mails; a single, provocative question; and even a single word.

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Trust among those who work together feels good and makes life easier, but does it really have specific benefits for businesses? “Trust may be a soft skill, but its economic results are anything but soft,” write Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe in The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2012). They lay out how trust can increase revenue, reduce costs, improve relationships with clients and suppliers, and build employee loyalty and retention.

But making the business case for trust is only part of this workbook’s aim. The authors provide practical tools, worksheets, exercises and to-do lists that leaders can start using immediately to build others’ trust in them and to build trust within their organizations.

Among the lessons in the fieldbook are these:

  • What are the basic skills for building trust? Readers learn five fundamental trust skills and get a self-assessment to evaluate their current skill level.
  • What are the basic rules of trust and trustworthiness between people, and how does influence work?
  • How do you overcome the adversarial relationships of business (buyer and seller, client and consultant, etc.) and conduct business with trust from the start?
  • How do you curb your own ego, the one thing most likely to get in the way of trust in relationships?
  • How can you navigate organizational politics better, build trust from a distance where others aren’t located near you, and work with difficult partners whom you might feel aren’t trustworthy?
  • How do you create an organization where trust is paramount? Learn techniques for creating a culture of trust, building trust among team members, and balancing the urgency of business demands and the need for long-term trust in a business organization.
  • Can you transform a relationship that has soured? Can you deal with people who are simply untrustworthy? Tactics for reframing problems and confronting people constructively teach ways to salvage, or at least deal with, such difficult situations.

The book’s structure lends itself to quick, practical use. Case studies come packaged in short sidebars. Tips and steps are in easy-to-use lists. Worksheets let users apply the book’s lessons to their own situations.

SHRM members can buy this book at a discount at the SHRMStore.

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Face it: You make decisions based on your biases. You’re irrational and overconfident, and you prefer data that tell you what you want to hear. In other words, you’re human.

Even the most self-aware people make choices that are influenced by their unconscious biases. In Decisive (Crown Business, 2013), Chip and Dan Heath ask how we can do better and be better as decision-makers.

The Heath brothers first look at how human weaknesses create flawed decisions. Then they lay out a process to help readers learn to get past their flaws: “Why a process? Because understanding our shortcomings is not enough to fix them,” they write. This book examines why we make biased choices but mostly guides readers on how to reach better, less biased decisions.

People typically make decisions in four stages: encountering a choice, analyzing options, making the choice and then living with it. But the book shows how each stage has a villain lurking within it. For example, we fail to see possible options. Or our analysis is based on self-serving information—what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Or our choices can be wrong if emotion drives them. Or we are overconfident about how our choices will turn out.

The Heaths show how to defeat the four pitfalls:

Widen your options. Discover ways to see more possibilities. Techniques include the “vanishing options test” (what if all the options you’re considering dried up?) and the “opportunity cost test” (how much does this option really cost you?). Learn to weigh more than one option at a time. Get tips on how to locate others who have faced similar decisions and how to learn from their choices. Learn how to make and use checklists to prompt more-thorough decision-making.

“Reality-test” your assumptions. Consider the opposite of what you instinctively want to choose, and encourage some “constructive disagreement” in the organization to root out any biases. Learn how to get an outside perspective on your problem so you can see how others might interpret it.

Attain distance before deciding. The Heaths teach specific strategies for separating your emotions from your decision-making. They also advocate establishing core principles so that you can refer to those principles for guidance when decisions become emotionally charged.

Prepare to be wrong. Consider the full range of possible outcomes for decisions—not just the outcomes you wish would happen. Learn to anticipate problems and prepare for them. Use deadlines and limits—such as “We won’t spend more than X on this project”—to prevent you from escalating potentially poor choices.

SHRM members can buy this book at a discount at the SHRMStore.

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Talent Management 2 by Colin Coulson-Thomas is a new report published by Policy Publications. The 184-page document, available at www.policypublications.com, describes how employers can take a quicker, less expensive and more sustainable route to becoming a high-performing business by working with existing key and front-line workers.

Contact: 011-44-(0)-7718-921-950 | www.policypublications.com | info@policypublications.com

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Ipsos InnoQuest has developed an innovation performance framework that identifies nine drivers for achieving innovation. Using the framework as a guide, business leaders can focus on key factors that drive innovation among their staffs.

Contact: 212-265-3200 | www.ipsos-na.com | info@ipsos-na.com

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ANCILE Solutions Inc. has released ANCILE uAlign. This communications tool is a cloud-based application designed to help employers keep their staffs informed and up-to-date on organizational business goals and objectives. ANCILE uAlign can simplify and mobilize corporate communications by quickly and accurately summarizing workflow status and progress across an organization.

Contact: 410-379-0253 | www.ancile.com info@ancile.com

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Allegis Group Services has launched a workforce management and talent acquisition blog that offers perspectives on the evolving global workforce. Topics covered include contingent labor, labor economics, business analytics, recruitment technology and social media developments as they pertain to the talent marketplace.

Contact: 877-247-4426 | www.allegisgroupservices.com/blog | info@allegisgroupservices.com

 

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