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Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace

Book Review-Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace

I’ve been trying to crystallize some thinking on building adoption and engagement for SharePoint implementations which lead me to models for change and John Kotter’s Leading Change book. Step 2 of his 8 step process is to Creating a Guiding Coalition. There are aspects of building the coalition that Kotter covers well: Position Power, Expertise, Credibility, and Leadership – however, inherently there’s the component of trust that’s missing in his discussion of this topic. Credibility touches ever so slightly on it. Credibility is a specific trust around someone but I believe this issue of trust and being a part of a team is much more.

I read the book Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life – but it was a philosophy discussion not a discussion of how to break down trust and how to create it. I picked up Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace by Dennis and Michelle Reina looking for something more solid and direct. I was very pleased to see them take trust and break it into components. To look at each part and way that we trust – and in so doing created the opportunity to realize what builds trust – and what destroys it.

Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace defines three types of transactional trust and associated components (I paraphrased some of the below to match my thinking):

  • Contractual
    • Managing Expectations
    • Establishing Boundaries
    • Delegating Appropriately
    • Mutual Intentions
    • Keep Agreements
    • Being Congruent
  • Communication
    • Share Information
    • Tell the Truth
    • Admit Mistakes
    • Give/Receive Feedback
    • Maintain Confidentiality
    • Speak Directly
  • Competence
    • Acknowledge Skills/Talents
    • Allow Decisions
    • Involve Others/Seek Input
    • Encourage Learning

In addition to the awareness of different kinds of trust, there are also models for recovering from betrayal – which is a natural part of trusting someone. You’re going to find that you are betrayed sometimes. Most of those betrayals will be small and unintentional – but not all of them.

The end of the book includes a concept of transformative trust that relies on conviction, courage, compassion, and community. In my opinion, this “higher level” trust is the kind of trust which radiates and encourages others to trust – and it’s the kind of trust that’s demonstrated by some of the best leaders.

If you’re struggling with an organization where there’s little trust and lots of betrayal you may find that the book Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace is just what the doctor ordered.

Building Trust: in business, politics, relationships, and life

Book Review-Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships and Life

In a former life I ran a Novell MHS based mail delivery system. This was before the Internet was commercial and when I was working with suppliers from across the globe. We found that faxes weren’t very reliable and we needed a better way to deliver mail. The email client was The Coordinator by Action Technologies. It had the distinction of mapping email messages into types of commitments that we were making with one another (request for action, request for meeting, etc.) It was based on the thinking of Fernando Flores and to a lesser extent his book (together with Terry Winograd) Understsanding Computers and Cognition. Because of this I had a sense of nostalgia when I was researching building trust and saw Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life by Fernanando Flores and Robert Solomon.

I was concerned because I rememebered that Understanding Computers and Cognition was a bit philosophical and hard to convert into practical use. It’s a good thing to think about – but difficult to leverage. In fact, that was one of the things I admired about The Coordinator, it was a good way to take the philosophy and turn it into something real.

Unfortunately, Building Trust is similar as it reads more like a philosophy discertation than a mass-market book. However, it’s not without merit if you’re struggling to understand what trust is – and how it works. Perhaps my favorite piece in the book is an exercise where the authors would ask audiences to complete the following: “Trust is _____.” The most common answer is “earned” and in all candor that’s the answer I would have given before reading the book. Instead through reading the book I would say that “Trustworthiness is earned.” And that “Trust is given.”

The book sets out many examples of how we confuse trust and trustworthiness as well as how trust must sometimes be given when the other person isn’t trustworthy and importantly how trust has limits.

The book describes three kinds of trust:

  • Basic Trust – Un tested often overlooked trust. The authors assert that most trust is basic – and unconscious.
  • Blind Trust – Trust that ignores all factors including evidence (or lack there of) of trustworthiness on the part of the recepient. This is also called naieve trust.
  • Authentic Trust – A conscious form of trust where the limits of trust are exposed and thought about.

One key point is that while we tend to believe that trust is an absolute, the reality is that trust does – and should – have limits. You wouldn’t necessarily trust your attorney to watch your children – though you almost certainly trust his advice on legal matters.

If you’re up for challenging your beliefs on trust, you should pickup Building Trust.

42 Rules of Employee Engagement

Book Review-42 Rules of Employee Engagement

One of the best things about 42 Rules of Employee Engagement by Susan Stamm is that because it’s 42 separate rules – so you can consume the material a few pages at a time. The book for me was a sort of flash cards, a collection of bits and pieces that I’d learned elsewhere that I was in some state of forgetfulness about. Although my interest wasn’t in engaging the employees I manage – I still found some nuggets of useful information about how to engage employees – and perhaps more importantly what breaks employee engagement.

The book ends with a list of references to other books that might be useful to the reader. In fact about 15% of the book are these references to other books and tools.

Here’s the list of rules covered in the book:

  • Rule 1 Rules Are Meant to Be Broken
  • Rule 2 Get “Under New Management”
  • Rule 3 Begin at the very Beginning
  • Rule 4 Listen, Listen, Listen
  • Rule 5 Be a Hands-On Manager
  • Rule 6 Be a Low-Tech Communicator
  • Rule 7 Everyone Needs Feedback
  • Rule 8 Keep Learning
  • Rule 9 Allow Your Team to Grow
  • Rule 10 Support Your Team Members When Needed
  • Rule 11 Relationships Determine Results
  • Rule 12 Sharing Builds Community
  • Rule 13 Your Beliefs Drive Results
  • Rule 14 You’re Still the Boss
  • Rule 15 Everyone’s Not Like You (Thank Goodness!)
  • Rule 16 Be Direct with People Who value Results
  • Rule 17 Be Enthusiastic with People Who value Enthusiasm
  • Rule 18 Be Accepting with People Who value Sincerity
  • Rule 19 Be Reliable with People Who value Quality
  • Rule 20 Build Self-Esteem When Discussing Performance
  • Rule 21 Involve to Engage
  • Rule 22 Use Your Head
  • Rule 23 You Don’t Have to Be the Smartest Person in the Room
  • Rule 24 Compete with Your Competitors
  • Rule 25 Get Out of the Shower
  • Rule 26 Turf is for Stadiums, Not Teams
  • Rule 27 Right Actions Bring Engagement
  • Rule 28 Leave Your “Good Parenting” Skills at Home
  • Rule 29 Leave Your “Bad Parenting” Skills at Home
  • Rule 30 Expect Exceeded Expectations
  • Rule 31 It Only Takes a Minute
  • Rule 32 Recognize Good Performances
  • Rule 33 Problem Solving Is a Team Sport
  • Rule 34 Help Your Team Accept Change
  • Rule 35 He Who Has the Gold, Rules
  • Rule 36 Build Acceptance, Reject Prejudices
  • Rule 37 Honesty Is Always the Best Policy
  • Rule 38 Give It Your All
  • Rule 39 Know What You Want
  • Rule 40 Engaged Teams Get the Facts
  • Rule 41 Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Rule 42 These Are My Rules, What Are Yours?
365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees Every Day - With Little or No Money

Book Review-365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees with Little or No Money

Sometimes you can’t control the environment you’re in. If that’s the case and you’ve got to reward folks, I’d strongly suggest you pick up 365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees with Little or Not Money by Dianna Podmoroff. I know that’s a qualified recommendation, but let me explain. The book does an absolutely excellent job of providing techniques for motivating employees. It’s a great book to keep you thinking about different approaches for “gimicks” and “games” to motivate employees. There are some truly great ideas in here to inspire you to take some action to motivate employees – whether you’re in HR or not. The book recognizes all of the key factors of motivation, that you can’t create motivation you can only foster it. The book struggles with the same concepts that managers everywhere struggle with – “How do you awaken employee’s natural desire to be better?”

My real struggle with the book is that it’s an “evolutionary” rather than “revolutionary” approach to the topic. It’s not that this is wrong, it’s the right answer for most situations, however, I was looking for more of how you can drive change in an organization – to refocus the organization to enabling the employees to be better – it’s just that this book doesn’t do that. The book does, however, still get to keep a space on my virtual bookshelf so I can refer to it when I’m looking for ways to plug people in.

The New Comedy Writing Step by Step

Book Review-The New Comedy Writing Step by Step

The New Comedy Writing Step by Step by Gene Perret is a great book that helped moved me from beginner to intermediate. I loved Greg Dean’s book, it got things started. However, there were some great exercises to help kick start the writing process in this book. Unlike Dean’s definitions, Perret’s definition for what makes a joke is a bit broader – “A joke is anything that gets a laugh.” That definition was helpful to allow me to break out from the formula provided by Dean and move into other kinds and types of joke structures. I really appreciated Perret’s perspective that comedy can be taught. There are folks in the comedy community – particularly those who learned from the school of hard knocks who don’t believe that comedy can be taught – or learned from techniques.

I particularly realized that some of the things that make people laugh are just funny observations. For instance, men buy shoes based on type (sandal, boot, tennis shoe, dress shoe). Women buy shoes by outfit or color – they’re trying to match an outfit. In text this is boring. In a room it never fails to get a laugh as people realize how men and women are different in ways that we rarely think about.

The other BIG thing for me out of this book were ideas for getting the ball rolling on writing comedy. For instance, captioning photos with funny captions. You can go on Flickr and download a random set of community commons images and caption them. It’s great fun because you never know what sort of caption you might come up with. For instance what caption would you put on:

© CC Alexander von Halem

I captioned that one “God’s Grenade.” There are other silly little ideas for exercises – but they did get things going.

There’s a ton of other good things like awareness that jokes release tention, ideas for focusing on emotion, etc. If you’ve got the basics and you’re looking for a book to move you forward, The New Comedy Writing Step-By-Step may be for you.

Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy

Book Review-Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy

What makes a joke? Well according to Greg Dean, it’s surprise. In Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy Dean lays out how jokes are fundamentally about causing the audience expect one thing while delivering another. Of course,what you surprise them with must be related to what they assumed. In short form, a joke is two stories that are connected. The trick is to get the audience to think of the first story while the comedian finishes with the second. While I think that there are other definitions for what makes up a joke – and even more about what makes funny – I like Dean’s definition because it’s easy to work with and create material. You take anything that can mean two things and you can make a joke out of it.

Dean walks you through a process of creating jokes by looking for the places where you can have two premises that can come out of one idea. The process is somewhat mechanical – but that’s sort of what you want when you’re beginning. It is something that you can teach, practice, and perfect.

Beyond the introduction to jokes and joke writing are guides for assembling the jokes into a routine, practicing, rehersing, and performing. These sections are very helpful if you need to know how to practice and prepare – for me the material was mostly review since I do that sort of thing for my regular presentations. So while the material was good, it wasn’t new to me.

From my perspective this was singlehandedly the most effective joke writing book for beginners. I’d say that this provided tons of insight into the process that I can use – even if I don’t follow the process precisely. If you’re trying to figure out how to write jokes Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy is a great place to start.

Leading Change

Book Review-Leading Change

I’ve been working on crystallizing my thoughts on creating adoption and engagement. As a part of that I’ve been looking for frameworks for creating change. One of the models that I was investigating was John Kotter’s 8-step model that’s laid out in his book Leading Change. I decided that it was worth getting the full story so I read the book. The model in summary is:

  • Create Urgency
  • Form a Powerful Coalition
  • Create a Vision for Change
  • Communicate the Vision
  • Remove Obstacles
  • Create Short-term Wins
  • Build on the Change
  • Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

There are three key things that were important to me in reading the book – in addition to the detailed look at each of the individual bullets so I could fully understand what he meant. First, was that there’s a tendency to skip past the first steps, the preparation, and try to leap directly to the end where they can see the impact of their work. (OK, not to the very end because most folks don’t do the final step to anchor the changes). The problem with this is that it’s the preparation that makes this change work. Skipping right to the end just doesn’t work – unless the problem is small. Despite this I’ve seen folks struggle over and over again to not do the background work necessary to facilitate the change.

Second, there is a difference between management and leadership. It’s not a new idea. However, it struck me that the difference between management and leadership is like I talk about how server adminstrators and developers are different. Server administrators are focused on keeping things running. Developers are focused on improving functionality – which means change and change is not good for keeping things running. Management is about controlling things – orchestrating them to make them work. Leadership is more long term, focused on change, and where the organization should be in the future. Kotter also makes an interesting point that both leadership and management are necessary – and are rarely found in the same individual.

Third, the concept of lifelong learning was essential to leadership. Kotter isn’t the first to have said this. Malcom Gladwell talks about the value of meaningful practice in his book Outliers. One of the statements from Leading Change is “Lifelong learners take risks. Much more than others, these men and women push themselves out of their comfort zones and try new ideas. While most of us become set in our ways, they keep experimenting.” I’d say this is true, however, I’d qualify that most leaders I’ve met don’t classify the things they’re doing as risks in the same way others do. They will say something like “I was just trying new things.” Most folks believe that to be inharently risky but most lifelong learners don’t see it that way. It’s just normal operating procedure.

If you’re struggling with driving change in your organization (like SharePoint Adoption/Engagement) Leading Change is worth a read. It will give you insight into the process.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Book Review-Drive

What makes you get up in the morning? Chances are it’s not your desire to conquer the world, unless you’re The Brain. One of the really crazy parts about working with SharePoint adoption is realizing how little we know about motivating users. In his book Drive Daniel Pink tears apart what we think we know about motivation. We all know that carrots and sticks work – or do they? They work when the task being performed is algorithmic – predictable – but they don’t seem to work as well when the task is heuristic. In other words, carrots and sticks work when you don’t have to think. Given that most of the folks that I work with have to think, carrots and sticks don’t seem to be the right answer.

Economics would seem to be the study of money – but it’s not. Economics is the study of human behavior – as it relates to money. We used to think that bonuses lead to better performance but there is a plenty of research now that says that this isn’t the case. It turns out that people don’t always behave in their own best financial interests – and those that do create their own problems (think financial crisis, housing melt down, etc.) There’s a standard economic experiment called the Ultimatum game. In the game there are two parties. The first person gets to decide how to split the money. The second person gets to decide whether either of the parties gets to keep their share. If they second party doesn’t like the offer they both walk away with nothing. If you give this to an economist who believes that people always behave in their own best interests would think that as long as the second person is going to get more than nothing they would always opt that both people would get money. However, in most case when the split is less than 20% for the second party they reject the offer and both parties walk away with nothing. Clearly there’s more going on here than financial best interests.

It turns out that there’s plenty of research that says that we just don’t do that. Larger rewards for larger performance can sometimes lead to reduced performance. Irrational – yes. True – Yes.

Maslow would be confused since his hierarchy of needs doesn’t make any sense when you consider that people are willing to be artists and starve to get the freedom and mastery of their craft that they want. There’s something going on that Maslow didn’t see. There’s an internal motivation and intrinsic drive happening. The crazy part is that this intrinsic drive doesn’t have a chance against the carrot-and-the-stick. It’s really turned upside down. Consider the act of giving blood. It’s an important part of our healthcare system. There are all sorts of rewards for giving blood but money is rarely one of them. Why? People give blood because they want to help others. If they’re paid for it they don’t believe their motives are pure. If someone is paid for giving blood they will give less. (As a sidebar it is OK if that money gets diverted to a charity.)

Drive puts forward the idea that there are three key things that people really want:

  • Autonomy – People want to be in control of their own destiny and their world. The dimensions of autonomy are: task, time, technique, and team.
  • Mastery – People genuinely want to become a master of what they do. They want to feel like they’re a master of a topic. Of course there’s no such thing as complete mastery – but it’s a nice place to fix your desire.
  • Purpose – People want to believe that their life has a purpose or a meaning.

It’s refreshing to give my thoughts about how to motivate people a dust-off to see how valid they really are – and how they fail me.

The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

Book Review-The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

The Time Paradox – The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life may have a hyperbole for a sub-title but the insights that it provides are valuable. I try to look for new perspectives to view the world around me. Being a consultant and speaker means I meet lots of people and it helps to be able to understand where they’re coming from. This book provided me another way to frame my thinking about how others think differently.

The short summary is that people have different ways that they view time. Some folks look to the past and view it negatively – -reflecting and remembering only those things that happened that were bad. Some look to the past and draw from it the warm moments like roasting marshmallows and making smores. Some folks are more focused on living for the moment, what the book calls a present hedonistic focus. Still others view the present from a fatalistic point of view. That is they believe everything is fated and that what they do doesn’t matter. Finally, there are folks that focus on the future. They’re willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

In reality there are aspects of each of these in every person. Sometimes we are able to live in the moment. Sometimes we’re willing to remember those camping trips with our family. However, we all have tendencies towards one or more time perspectives. For instance, I have an interesting mix of future orientation and present orientation.

The book’s web site allows you to calculate your perspectives on time using a standard scale. My future score is 4.15. (Pretty high) This isn’t a surprise to the folks who know me. I replaced mulch beds with rock beds in places because it had a lower long term maintenance cost. I’ve replaced the siding on my house with concrete board that can’t rot. My deck is made of composite materials that won’t rot. My furnaces are both heat pumps with gas backup which is more expensive to install but has the best long term operational costs. I drive a 12 year old Lexus ES 300 because it’s reliable. If you offer me a choice between something that’s slightly cheaper today or has good long term benefits I almost always choose the option which will have the best long term benefits.

I also tend to view the past relatively positively (3.3 past-positive vs. 2.8 past-negative). On the present measurements I score very low on the present-fatalistic measurement (1.2) and moderately on hedonistic (3.7). I’m sure that I could improve my perception of the past to improve my overall outlook – and I know that I can get better at living in the moment (present-hedonistic) – but that’s actually one of the points of the book. Once you know what your time perspectives are you can work to gently nudge them into a more healthy perspective. (At least more happy, see my book review of Stumbling on Happiness.)

For me the book provides a context for evaluating my own perspectives and for understanding why other folks might not understand the inherent benefits of solutions that have long term rewards. If you’re interested in psychology, how you think or how to relate to others I think you’ll like The Time Paradox – The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life.

Outliers: The Story of Success

Book Review-Outliers

I’ve read Malcom Gladwell’s other two works: The Tipping Point and Blink. I figured that Outliers would be interesting and entertaining. Why not? The other two books were. What I didn’t expect was that it would change the way I see myself and the world around me. In retrospect that’s what Blink did. It changed my perception of perception – of how we make decisions and how the lines aren’t as clean as we would like them to be. Outliers was different though because the book was talking about me. It was talking about me as someone who doesn’t fit the norm who doesn’t fall into the normal categories. Through my history I’ve been called odd, abnormal, and several other things… so I can identify with the idea of being an outlier.

The two main sections of the book are: the opportunity and the legacy. I translate the legacy into hard work. Not hard work in terms of difficulty but meaningful work over long periods of time. I won’t rehash the book’ main points, but I do want to explain it from my perspective. I should say that I don’t believe that I have done – or will do – extraordinary things. My world is comfortable. I’m blessed by the opportunity to work with good people. That being said – I’ve never followed the easy path.

So if we start first with opportunity. I can remember having powdered milk on cereal. (I don’t recommend this.) I can remember drinking out of plastic butter “cups.” There are dozens of other memories that can remind me that growing up we didn’t have an abundance of money. However, my mother by the time I was in the fifth grade managed a Commodore 64 computer. I, of course, wanted to play games. Her response was that I could play anything I wrote. Of course, that broke down at some point but the message was clear enough.

In High School, her work had a computer for her at home. I used it to learn programming again. (It was C and assembly back then.) I had the opportunity to use the modem to connect to BBSs. The high school had a program with the local community college that allowed high school students to attend classes at the community college. This was advantageous for two reasons. First, it allowed you to get high school credits which in turn meant you didn’t need to take many classes at high school. Second, you could start getting a college education while in high school.

So opportunity is about the opportunity for hard work. During my tenure at high school I had one semester where I was carrying 10 credit hours at the community college and going to high school all day. I can remember taking my college homework into my high school speaking class and working on it while the other students were at the front of the room doing their turn. I also had a stretch where I was working 40 hours a week on top of high school.

I should point out at this point that this was completely against child labor laws – but we manipulated the system so that it appeared I had only worked 20 hours and that my rate was doubled. I suspect that the co-op program coordinator knew but I’m also sure that since the work was actually as a consultant/developer for a local computer company everyone looked the other way. However, I kept my grades up. I didn’t give the teachers any problems. I got along well with my counselors and the principal. So no one had any reason to expose what was going on.

I should also say that during this time the high school had an “open attendance policy.” This means that you weren’t considered for disciplinary action for not attending classes as long as your grades were acceptable. At one point I racked up 157 unexcused absences in a single semester. That doesn’t count the few that were excused and a handful more which were “school related” which means that the principal asked me to talk to another kid, or we there was some other reason I wasn’t in my normal class. This is a tad confusing until you realize there were 7 classes a day so an absence is only an absence from a single period. I only missed 22 days worth of classes. However, that’s not really correct either. In truth I missed most of my economics class after the teacher – I want to say his last name was Ryan – had a heart attack. I’d find out if there was a test – if there wasn’t I’d get the homework and not show up. The principal asked me about this once and I explained that the class wasn’t useful. She told me that the substitute was following the same lesson plan. I told her that the substitute was probably teaching the same breadth of material – just not to the same depth.

So high school was busy for me. I was sleeping about 4 hours a night – maybe 5 – back then. I had an alarm that, it was said, could wake the dead. I was on the 3rd floor of the house in the old maid’s quarters and my parents would have to yell up at me to wake up because my alarm had been going off for 15 minutes. I was living in Bay City Michigan at the time which had one of the lowest property values in the nation – so the idea were living in a house that used to have maids quarters isn’t as impressive as it sounds.

I left high school half a year early and came back to Indiana to work. A part of that deal was supposed to be that I’d go to college – although that didn’t happen. I got a job working on a VAX writing C. I stayed with family in Terre Haute, IN and then Greenwood, IN for a few months before getting an apartment in Carmel, IN where I was working – and where I live today. If you fast forward a bit I changed jobs and met a marketing manager at the company who introduced me to her husband who was a product development specialist at New Riders Publishing. He asked me if I was interested in doing some tech editing of books. Tech Editing he explained meant fact checking. It was following the steps to make sure things were right. It was trying things out.

Over the next SEVERAL years I was doing a lot of tech editing, some writing and some development editing. (A summary of my book work is on my site.) I estimated that at one point I was editing 16,000 pages per year – in addition to my full time job. It was busy but perhaps not as busy as during high school. I learned a ton of what I know about computers through the process of reading, trying, and verifying those books over the years.

Jumping forward again, my schedule today is – for the most part – getting up at 5:30. In my office by 6AM and leaving my office between 6PM and 6:30 PM for dinner and time with the family. I come back out for an hour after my son is in bed – to give my wife some quiet time to herself before we spend time together. My neighbor asked what time I got into my office because he would go out and get his newspaper and the lights in my office would already be on. When I told him he thought that it was pretty early. My wife has asked why I get up so early (particularly during the brief respites where I don’t feel overwhelmed.) The honest answer is that I enjoy what I do – and I even more importantly love the time of a morning when I can do things like this blog post – I can contemplate things and work on projects uninterrupted.

Back to the book… The book talks about how Bill Gates had opportunity – and hard work. The Beatles had opportunity – and hard work. There are less popular examples but the pattern remains the same opportunity + hardwork => Success. Of course, you’ll need to define for yourself what hard work is. The number recommended in the text is 10,000 hours of “practice.” I don’t know that I got 10,000 hours of practice in working on the tech editing of books – but I know I’m grateful for the opportunity.

If you’re trying to figure out how success was made in other people. If you’re trying to understand your own success – Outliers is a new perspective.