Unleash the power of King NOPA

Using the methods and tools that come with the NOPA approach – introduced more in detail here – will enable you to unleash a „beast“ of King Kong size that has the potential to successfully defeat nowaday’s challenge I call VUCAzilla.
What do you need to feed the beast called King NOPA? I invite you to read on…

The power of networking
First of all, check your strategies to network with others. Who are you connected with currently? Which are usual ways that you connect with others and get connected? Do you use a face-to-face approach or rather go virtually (e.g. xing or linkedin) or a mixture of both? And how easy do you make it others to get connected with you?
If you want to extend your network you have to start reflecting who you want to get connected with. Which are the precious and valuable contacts that you want to gain in the near future? Put yourself into other’s shoes and think about questions like “Where are they?”, “What are they usually doing?”, “What are their preferences in getting connected?”. Like Woody Allen once said, “going there and meeting them” will increase your probability of success by 50%”. If you do not take the effort (and sometimes a bit of courage) to reach out to others you will never be able to actually maybe get surprised in a positive way. To provide an excellent product or a great service nowadays is – unfortunately – not sufficient anymore. It heavily depends on your network and the list of your contacts if you will be successful.

The power of openness
Secondly, take a step back and think of a situation where somebody gave you feedback in a way that you quite did not like. How did you react? Did you make an effort to stay open-minded or did you simply “shut down” trying to avoid any self-blaming and feelings of shame or guilt? The next time, somebody gives you a feedback with negative implications think of the Spock character in Star Trek and just say, “Fascinating!”. Try to extract a useful aspect out of the feedback you have just received and learn from it. Learning opportunities can be found on a daily business in our lives, but it requires a certain perspective different to the one we usually have. This change of perspective might have a positive impact on your entire way of communicating with others and your self-image.

The power of participation
A wise man (and good speaker) once said, “You can talk about everything, but not for more than 30 minutes.”. Whenever I am part of meetings where a lot of the interaction happens on a 1:n basis (one person speaking, all others just listening) my moderator heart heavily weeps and I wonder, how dare we allow such a waste of resources by not getting participants of meetings engaged, just listening, staying passive? Fortunately, there are already many useful formats available “out there” that enable vivid interaction among members of a group of people getting together. Websites like Liberating structures or Gamestorming offer a great variety of ready-to-use tools for free that maximize the rate of active participation within a group of individuals. These formats enable participants to get engaged, have fun and work together to achieve a successful meeting goal. I strongly encourage you to make use of the two mentioned web sources above (liberating structures and gamestorming) and thereby providing future meetings with lots of interaction, goal-orientation and fun. I guarantee you that your reputation of a moderator that is looked upon with admiration will rise significantly.

The power of agility
At the beginning of the last century, according to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the fittest – in the sense of strongest – would survive others (less fitter) species. With challenges like the economic crisis and evolving new business models as a consequence of the emerging internet, this model has slightly changed to “Survival of the most agile”. As stated in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), “The person or element with the most flexibility in a system will have the highest influence on others.” In this sense we are questioned in our capability to quickly adapt to changes without losing touch with the values and strategic direction we have once chosen for our path to success. Which tools support your sense of agility? What makes it possible for you to stay flexible in terms of challenges that you face? What needs to happen in the near future for you to keep up a certain degree of flexibility, avoiding rigidness?

I encourage you to try out a few of the ideas and approaches explained above to unleash your very own King NOPA beast to successfully conquer VUCAzilla.

How to lose yourself in a VUCA world

VUCA_sinking-down-deep

Activities in our daily (work)life have gotten more and more complex over the past years and decades. Internet, real-time communication and global connectivity have not provided “golden solutions” to this challenge.

Read on if you want to find out how you could make it even worse and thereby get lost in a VUCA world…

Change for the sake of change
Start as many change initiatives at the same time as possible. Never finish a thing. Do not care at all about monitoring of success and never celebrate any achievements.

Fail deadlines
Never stick to once agreed on timelines or milestones. Keep others uninformed as long as possible. Do not show any reliability by committing to appointments early or on time. Be late for meetings often or miss them at all.

Be unsustainable
Focus only on the short-term opportunity or profit. Keep away from any strategic work and only be operative in your tasks. Never think about the “tomorrow”, only stay in the “today”.

Foster your insecurity
Cherish being insecure. Keep your (mental) instability at a maximum level. Never be safe of anything. Doubt everything, and participate in speculations all the time.

Distrust, a lot
Never trust anyone. Assume that everybody you meet has a “hidden agenda” working on betraying you behind your back. Put a lot of your effort into controlling other’s activities. Don’t appreciate others, it is just a waste of time.

Send ambiguous messages
If asked on a question answer in one direction but contradict yourself soon afterwards. Make a statement in a certain way, however sending body language signals that appear totally different. In simple terms: Say “yes”, but mean “no” (or vice versa).

Cultivate the chaos
Keep up the complexity on an astronomic level. Never choose a simple path if there is a more difficult one. Stay away from being clear in your communication. Rather express yourself in many formal and laborious words without bringing any message across.

VUCA_emerging-from-the-deep

3 x 3 methods to win over difficult people

angry-guy3.jpg

From time to time you may meet people that appear extremely difficult to get along with and where you think: “Oh my god, this is a nightmare! It is so frustrating and annoying to work with this person (or group). What on earth could I do to make it easier for me to improve the relationship?”.

If this is the case, please read on and feel inspired by three different approaches I present to you that contain a three-step element in regards to working with resistance in a constructive manner.

Change your perspective
Use the simple “3 position” approach to find out more about different perspectives.

3-positions
Think of a conflict or a challenging situation involving others, then…

  1. First go into position “ME” and ask yourself: What is my desire? What do I need?
  2. Secondly, change to position “YOU” and slip into the shoes of others that were participating in the conflict. Try to see the world from their position. Ask yourself: What do I see / feel / think / need on the YOU position (the position of the other person)?
  3. Thirdly, go to the position of a third person that is able to see both ME and YOU position. Observe, what you can perceive from this different point of view.

At last, go back to ME position and reflect on what you can take away from this exercise.

Crucial success factor: This lesson works best if you not only go through the positions mentally, but you actually work with moderation cards on the floor and change positions physically.

Basic resistance handling
From a change management perspective you can use a three-fold approach reflecting resistance.

basic-strategies_transform-resistance

Ask yourself: Is your counterpart…

  • not knowing?
    Then you will have to communicate and inform more than in the past. Use roadshows, information channels, emailing, websites, flyer. Offer knowledge transfer sessions and feedback opportunities.
  • unable?
    Then you will have to qualify more. Offer trainings, education sessions, support in knowledge transfer. Help impacted employees in better coping with new or adapted roles.
  • unwilling?
    This is the hardest part. In this case, you will have to enter a dialogue, reframing arguments, initiate a negotiation process, may use sanctions/rewards, and/or confront. You may also want to use coaching as a means to support and resolve conflicts.

First of all, you have to find out in which category your counterpart (impacted person) falls, then you choose suitable activities and approaches.

Point-of-view-based resistance handling
Paul Lahninger (“Resistance as a motivation”) has illustrated in his excellent book that you can use three different interventions to effectively deal with difficult people depending on your point of view.

resistance-strategies_lahninger

  • Empathize if the YOU is supposed to be the corner stone of your message => Be an active listener, repeat to what you have heard in appreciative words, ask for more information
  • Rationalize if you want to put the TOPIC and the WE into the center of your message => Clarify topics, negotiate to find solutions for different requirements, delegate to others to find a solution together
  • Set boundaries if you want to put the ME into the center of your message => Show how you feel right now, ask for something, confront your counterpart, set conditions, answer in a provocative way

Your strategy very much depends on what do you want to be the central aspect in your message and interaction with the other person. Is it rather a YOU, WE or ME? This has a vital impact on your proceeding.

These are three different yet similar approaches and methods to cope with difficult personalities, may they be clients, partners, colleagues or employees.
I invite you to give this a chance and use some of these ideas the next time you find yourself in a situation with a difficult counterpart.

Good luck and have success!

How to motivate others well at work

thank-you

According to a Gallup study circa 70% of employees in the USA say that they have never before received neither praise nor recognition in the workplace. Furthermore the study states that

  • 89% of managers think that money matters have caused ex-employees to leave their company
  • Whereas in fact only 12% of ex-employees said that money played a crucial part in their decision to leave a company.

There obviously is a perception gap between managers and employees considering motivating factors including recognition.

I invite you to use the information in this article to actively support in closing this perception gap in your organization.

Categories of recognition
Recognition can be applied in three different dimensions:

Praisal: Considers the performance of an employee or colleague. Focus is the contribution of the employee at the workplace over a longer period of time e.g. an entire calendar year.

Gratitude: Similar to praisal, gratitude focuses on a specific effort of an employee e.g. as part of a project.

Appreciation: Focuses on a person itself, e.g. certain behavior or attitude aspects.

recognition-categories

This categorization illustrates that there are numerous ways to recognize others and thereby motivating them.

Languages of appreciation
Gary Chapman and Paul White have put the various forms of appreciation in five categories, so that they can be clearly separated. These five appreciation “languages” are:

  • Words of affirmation (verbally)
  • Tangible gifts (something you can grasp and present to others)
  • Acts of service (simply helping others)
  • Quality time (spending valuable time with somebody)
  • Appropriate physical touch (e.g. backslapping, to be applied carefully in our working culture)

appreciation-categories

The above mentioned authors have created a survey using 30 different questions to find out what preferences somebody has considering a prioritization/ranking of the five different appreciation styles.

If you want to dig a little deeper into their research, you may want to go here: http://www.appreciationatwork.com/

Practical tips to motivate others
Applying recognition can be a very powerful leadership tool, in fact, it is almost for free and does not require much effort at all. If you consider a few recommendations, as listed below, you may turn into a successful motivator, recognizing your employees or peers and thereby developing into an important influencer that is highly acknowledged by others:

  • Apply approving feedback shortly after a specific performance or an effort that a person has made. Do not wait too long.
  • Your feedback needs to be comprehensible. It has to be easy for your counterpart to understand what the feedback refers to.
  • Face-to-face trumps telephone trumps email/web chat. The more intimate the situation the stronger usually the feedback is perceived.
  • If you want to recognize a specific person, start by finding out what kind of appreciation language your counterpart prefers (see above). To make somebody a tangible present is in vain if this person does not value gifts at all. Your recognition act could even be counter-productive! When it comes to appreciation it is more important what the receiver values than what the sender prefers.

And a final tip on how to successfully get along with difficult characters: Start your dialogue with mentioning what you have lately observed that you liked about your counterpart. You may receive a surprised reaction and enter into a much more fruitful and appreciative interaction…

How you master challenges successfully

to-the-mountain-top

You might one day find yourself in a situation where you have the feeling that you appear rather small in comparison to the challenge you are facing. Similar to hanging along a steep cliff challenges might sometimes be a bit overwhelming for you.

In such a situation it is helpful to take a step back and to reflect your current situation, looking at the options you have. The ALPAN formula might help you with that.

Analyze: your situation
Pick a few tools to investigate the situation you are in from a rather rational point of view. Analysis usually consists of phases such as topic definition > problem description > cause analysis > alternative solutions. In particular, when the challenge you are facing has a sense of “Oh my god!” it is very useful to take a deep breath and to start with a rational analysis (do remember, in emotional states humans often make mistakes).
A friend of mine once felt that he did not get the monetary success that he really deserved. Using the business model “canvas model” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas) helped him realize that his strategy to approach the market was not helpful in making enough money to get wealthy and being able to invest a little. As a consequence, he modified a few of his usual job activities, picked different segments that he wanted to work in with customers and, in addition, set up a different payment model for his clients. Today, he is quite a successful business man, with a great reputation and apparently a substantial income.

Literature: Read and learn
Try to find more information that may help you understand the challenge better. Pick an article, a book, a magazine, a website that provides you more information on the topic so that you have more information available which will improve your decision-making.

When I first heard of coaching as a profession, years ago, I was instantly enthusiastic about it. I knew then that I also wanted to become a coach. However, I did not have the tools, the skills, or the mental attitude to do this job. So I did what I often do, when I want to acquire a new skill: I started reading a lot on the subject. Having read much about coaching enabled me to learn more about where I could start educating myself which I did in a next step.

Perspective: Change yours
If an inter-personal conflict is involved, you might want to change the perspective explicitly. Walk “in the moccasins of your fellow man”. If the challenge basically involves just yourself, try a new perspective by asking circular questions like “If I was person XY and would look down on me in this challenging situation, what would I recommend?”.
You might want to use the approach of “inner mentoring”, visualizing a few great personalities that inspire you and using these as “inner consultants” for yourself. For example, you could imagine what it would be like to sit at a campfire together with your “inner mentor”. Having told him your challenging story, how would he respond? What advice would he give you?

A mentee of mine chose her deceased uncle as an inner mentor she can always “carry” with her and consult in case she faces a significant decision to be made.

In a world with a growing number of power egos and humans with a certain narcissistic attitude the person makes a difference that is capable of consciously changing a perspective.
Do you want to make a difference?

Acquire: helpful knowledge
Think of capabilities that are required to master the situation. Start acquiring these abilities in order to have the proper knowledge at hand that is needed to overcome your obstacle in focus.

King George VI once had a vicious stammer and therefore dreaded public speaking strongly. However, at a certain point in his reign and by the help of speech-therapist Lionel Logue he acquired quite helpful techniques that enabled him to speak more freely in front of large crowds resulting in a higher popularity among the British people.

New: Do things differently
Look for patterns that you have used so far that have not lead to a solution. Then design and implement a different pattern of behavior. Try something new.
Trying to invent the light bulb, Thomas Edison was once asked: “How does it feel to have failed a thousand times?”. Edison responded: “I have not failed, I just know by now a thousand ways of how not to design a light bulb.”

In a book by John Strelecky (http://www.whycafe.com/) the main character John finds a café in the middle of nowhere, in a desert. Meeting different people in this café and talking to them, John finds out that the life he has lived so far did not really make him happy. As a consequence, John made drastic changes in his life, leaving him much more happy and fulfilled.

Albert Einstein once stated that problems cannot be solved in the same way they were created. In this sense, I invite you to try a new and fresh approach to overcome an obstacle in your life.

mastering-challenges

Please share your helpful coping strategies with us, what helps you handling challenges successfully?