How Managers Build Trust in Their Teams (Part 2)

How Managers Build Trust in Their Teams (Part 2)

Safety has been top of mind for the past two years since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. Leaders have had to tackle shifting expectations to keep their employees’ wellbeing a priority. But during times of ever changing uncertainty, we’ve come to deeply explore a new type of safety within the workplace: psychological safety.

Psychological safety is the intentional balance of fear with trust, employee voice, and empowerment. Organisational research has identified psychological safety as an important factor in understanding how people collaborate to achieve a shared outcome.

Psychologically safe environments promote a clear sense of trust within an organisation, which leads to employees feeling empowered to communicate openly, voice concerns and make critical decisions.

In this three-part series on psychological safety, we are presenting 31 actionable tips and tricks to create psychological safety in your organization. If you missed our first article on how leaders can build trust, click here.

Our next 10 pieces of advice are specific to managers and how they can leverage their unique position within the organization to build trust with their own teams and direct reports.

Here are our 10 tips on how managers can build trust:

  1. Be you. It doesn’t matter if you have perfected all the skills to lead. This is not a time to be a friend but be a trusted colleague who is open and honest. Go out of your way to be clear with what you say and what you mean. And practice kindness – everyone around feels it, even when it is not directed to them.
  2. Daily ‘Office Visits’. Conduct a daily wellness check with each team member. Simply make the effort to physically (within safe social distancing guidelines) reach out and check in on your colleagues. How is their day going? How is their family? How is their transition back to work going? The art is not in the question, it is in the act. Genuinely try to understand where they are in the moment knowing that each day may bring something new.
  3. Recognition, not reward. Organizations may not be able to be as generous with material bonuses and reward programs. But, that should not stop recognition programs, which are critical components of safe and high-culture work environments. Employees of all generations are gravitating toward the recognition systems that celebrate them on a local and broader basis for their work or adherence to the culture, values or behavioral competencies.
  4. Release the pressure valves. The pressure is real for you and them. What can you do to release the pressure? Consider where the pressure points are and ways to gradually release it. Does the pressure come from not enough people, unrealistic timelines, fear of illness in the workplace, anxiety of a new routine? Actively identify what those places may be (they could be different for different people) and what mechanisms (existing or new) you can implement to begin that slow release. These can be serious, structured or simply fun.
  5. Commit to “Wonder Wander” Sessions. The world of essential workers is now shifting to all workers being essential. Give people time and space to dream and imagine through wonder-wander sessions. These sessions are part wonder (simply asking questions) and part wander (freestyle mental exploration – similar to brainstorming and taking concepts farther). This allows the brain space and gives the person freedom from their normal task.
  6. Never Why? Building trust starts with genuine connection. One of the ways to connect is to approach people with a question. Ask genuine questions that don’t allow a one-word answer (i.e. Fine. Okay. Good.) Practice leading with a question in all your encounters with others. But, never start the question with “Why?…”  as it creates barriers. You can get more information and create more connections by simply asking: “I am interested in learning more about…” or “Can you help to explain?” It eliminates the barriers and feeling of being put on the spot.
  7. Color. Color. Color. Color is critical in chaos. When things around us are in constant motion and swirling, color allows us an opportunity to ground and reorient. Try to color code your meetings – eliminate the ambiguity around what kind of meeting it is by assigning a color. Use “Stop Light” systems as your dashboards to simplify reporting and focus energy and time. Try color coding conversations with coworkers and your staff – it eliminates unnecessary time for everyone to get into the “same place” for the conversation. You can visit our the Bermuda Clarity Institute and get your own copy of  Huemanize MindMapsTM to help you use color in future meetings.
  8. Expectation over environment. We have debunked the concept that we are products of our environment – as many people have been productive while working remotely. What we know from research is setting clear expectations is fundamental to driving performance and results. Don’t make this an annual or bi-annual exercise. Think about this as a weekly or monthly exercise as people transition into the office. It sets expectations, reduces anxiety of the unknown, and gives a leader an additional natural check-in point.
  9. Positivity is the glue that binds. Chaos. Transition. Challenge. These are the realities of our times. But, not necessarily the reality of our outcomes. Positivity becomes the central force in connecting you to other people and to your desired future state. It is easy to “default to negative” but that will not yield the results that your work requires. Positivity is a science that includes inspiration, mindfulness, gratitude, happiness and optimism.
  10. Different is Stronger. Empathize. Understand. Connect. Recognize that each person you work with and each person you interact with requires something unique. What works for one person, does not necessarily work for someone else. Go out of your way to vary your connection points and approaches with each of your colleagues and direct reports. Practicing active listening enables you to truly hear what is being said – remember, when you are talking you are not learning.

For the time being, uncertainty is our “new normal” so leaders, managers and employees should lean into making these genuine human connections and practicing empathy, positivity and creativity to build a trusting working environment. Also, as a manager, give yourself grace. Start with just one of the above tips and see where it leads you! We’ll have the final 11 tips in this series on psychological safety in 2 week’s time.

If you would like to learn more about the organizational research we do at the Bermuda Clarity Institute, visit https://bermudaclarityinstitute.com today.

How Leaders Build Trust in Uncertain Times (Part 1)

How Leaders Build Trust in Uncertain Times (Part 1)

As leaders collectively set their intentions towards a successful 2022, they do so in an environment of continued worry, concern and overall uncertainty. Critical to success in such times is clarity on their team’s psychological safety: which is the delicate balance of fear with employee trust, voice, and empowerment. As employees (who will already be filled with anxiety) head back to the office, leaders and managers will need to understand how to create psychologically safe environments that promote a clear sense of trust. This will include the ability to feel safe speaking openly and allowing employees to feel empowered to make decisions and independently get their work done. While it is was of key importance before the COVID-19 pandemic, psychological safety has been elevated into one of the most defining issues in the workplace.

The Bermuda Clarity Institute with our partner, the Deutser Clarity Institute, has done extensive research on psychological safety over the past 20 years. In this 3 Part series on psychological safety, we will present 31 actionable tips and tricks to create psychological safety in your organization to build trust with leaders, managers, and your company.

Here are our top 10 tips on how leaders can build trust:

  1. Accept the fundamentals. Listening is one of the most important leadership attributes. Trust your leadership sixth sense – you will feel when people are feeling safe or fearful. Work on focusing on the art of listening instead of the art of reacting.
  2. Rinse. Repeat. Communication is key to success in connecting with others and helping you to overcome challenge and the next crisis ahead. Be real with your words and emotions. Don’t be scripted. Actively work to connect. Create a weekly engagement plan with a theme for the week. Think about how many ways you can influence understanding and action around it. Is it email, phone, videos, or other tools?
  3. Talk to your friend. You are the leader, but you don’t have to talk in corporate speak or talk down to people. Imagine you are talking to a friend with every communication. Try to write a communication with the salutation “Dear Mom.” After finalizing, change mom to “Dear Employees” to see how tone changes. Find ways to humanize your messages even more.
  4. Don’t hide bad news. Trust your people, who overwhelmingly want to do good. Respect them by not hiding difficult information. Identify a potentially difficult situation and think about how you would communicate the news. Then create a mini timeline with high level messaging to manage bad news earlier and in stages. What changes?
  5. Culture matters more today. Culture is defined in times of challenge and cemented for good and bad. This is the time to rethink values and define them with clarity. Be purposeful and reorient your leadership and employees around your purpose and recommit to the fact that culture has a direct link to performance. Review your values. Do they still apply to where the company is going in the near and long-term future?
  6. Eliminate excess policies. Make the workplace easy to understand. Make it more about reinforcing what is right. Take time to eliminate redundant or punitive policies. Identify at least one policy you are willing to remove. Let your team know and why.
  7. Double up on leadership training. This is the time to invest in people. Give them the gift that will last through this job and trust it will pay off with work dividends and a more trusting employee. Identify three people in your organization that you want to recognize. Talk to them about wanting to help them with training. Create a plan together. Training can start with a few books or articles and discussions.
  8. Health assessments aren’t just for people. Your company needs a health checkup. Understanding the whole of the organization as people reenter the workforce is fundamental for alignment at every level. Take time to listen. Try a complimentary organizational health assessment or The Clarity Performance IndexTM – both available through BCI.
  9. Tether to the future. We are disconnected from so many aspects of life. Working remotely has disconnected our normal flow and relationships at work. As people return, it is vital to tether them to your belief in what is possible for the future. Review your company vision. Is it still right for the environment today? Reiterate the shared vision or create a statement of where the organization is headed. Define your North Star.
  10. Positivity is the glue that binds. Transition. Challenge. These are the realities of our times but not necessarily the reality of our outcomes. Positivity is central in connecting you to others and your desired state. Lead positively with “Happy You Year” Exercise (complimentary download at www.clarity.bm) by setting your daily trajectory, meditating for 8 minutes, picking one daily leadership competency, identifying one gratitude for you, and measuring your personal positivity quotient.

In this ever-changing environment, there is no “right” answer but there are many right things to consider in order to build a work environment formed on trust. Be on the lookout for future articles diving into more tips on creating a psychologically safe workplace. If you would like our full guide “Getting Back to Work: Building an Organization of Trust and Empowerment,” please visit our website at https://bermudaclarityinstitute.com/downloads/.

Seeking Purposeful Positivity in the New Year

Seeking Purposeful Positivity in the New Year

At the Bermuda Clarity Institute, we believe that finding the positive side of the box is what separates great companies and leaders from merely good ones. We believe that embedding positivity in the DNA of an organization creates the foundation for longevity and the expectation of greatness. In fact, positivity and optimism are key measures in our assessments and surveys.

But what makes a positive culture? Three simple yet challenging elements.  1) Leaders in touch with their people. 2) People aligned with the organizational expectations. 3) An environment where those people are openly encouraged to share their insights and build a belief in what they can collectively achieve.

Understanding and accepting both the role and the importance of positivity in the psyche of an organization is a fundamental part of leading. Because of the constant bombardment of information that confronts us daily, leaders can easily succumb to information overload. If we are not careful, these distractions will derail us.

So how can we keep on track and take time to think about the positive? We recommend to many of the leaders we work with to employ a short weekly exercise that helps us purposely leave behind things that doesn’t serve us and reinforces the positivity that defines us when we are at our best.

Gratitude for all we accomplish every day is the foundation for positivity and performance. Yet, as each new week begins, leaders often hold on to shortcomings, frustrations and negativity that they encountered over the past week, quarter or year. Research shows that when we let go of the past, good and bad, we can achieve a level of clarity to move forward with purpose.

  • Letting go of what I need to leave behind.

Take some time and thing about those things that did not go well or created negativity or resentment in your current life. What are some things you continue to hold on to at your company’s (or your own) detriment?

  • Identify what you must take forward.

What are those things that, when completed, will bring positive value to you and your organization? Think about tasks, projects and obstacles that must be addressed.

  • Expressing gratitude for all that you have accomplished.

There is nothing more important than identifying the good that you and your team achieve each week. It is easy for us to allow negativity to form clouds of doubt or discomfort. For your well-being, it is crucial to identify and express gratitude for the good, positive things we have created or are a part of. Take a moment to list 10 specific things you’re grateful for.

Doing this small exercise will help center leaders and allow them to actively tackle the first steps in achieving a positive organizational culture. It is the glue that binds an organization to its future state and its importance cannot be understated. To learn more about how we define positivity, explore our previous article on how we define the five fundamental elements of positivity here. (https://www.royalgazette.com/local-business/business/article/20210705/defining-and-measuring-positivity-in-the-workplace/)  You can also learn about our other areas of research by visiting our website

On the 12 days of Clarity, the Institute gave to me ….

On the 12 days of Clarity, the Institute gave to me ….

The holidays are a magical time to celebrate with friends and family and show our gratitude to all who are around us! It’s also a time to have a little bit of whimsical fun. At the Bermuda Clarity Institute, we love talking about our experiences, exercises and research that can help you seek “clarity” in your business but now, let’s add a holiday spin! Feel free to hum along with us!

On the 12 days of Clarity, the Institute gave to me ….

12 , Leadership Levers …

When you’re compliant, you do the bare minimum that is required. When you’re committed, you’re invested in both the endeavor and the expectation of lasting impact. This could mean committing to the ugliest sweater you can find for that upcoming party, as well as driving performance within your organization to start the new year strong!  The institute’s 12 levers work together to shift organizations towards positivity and improved performance.

11 , Pipers Pitstopping …

Whether you’re a Formula One driver, Santa traveling the world in one night, or a leader with responsibility driving a busy pace, you need to pause. With our Pit Stop program, we bring companies briefly off their track to listen to and help their leadership teams “work on the company” instead working “in the company”. Eleven highlights and stories of impact from the Pit Stop experience can be found in our RG article from Nov 22nd .

10 , Lords so Lucky …

You might feel lucky when you manage to find the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, but nothing beats a simple and powerful formula that you can follow. BCI Co-founder Stuart Lacey’s The Formula for Luck sets out 10 Powerful Principles for building a Luck MindsetÔ. It’s all about a mindset change to change your life – during the holidays and always!

9 , Ladies Leading …

We all know that Ms Claus is the real reason Santa’s Workshop gets everything done on time and on budget. Our commitment is to diversity, equality and inclusive representation in gender, race, sexual orientation and identity. All of these are evidenced by BCI in the composition of our team, our board, our trustees and our share ownership. We are all stronger when we are inclusive.

8 , Maids a Meditating …

With the business and frenzy that the holidays bring, are you maintaining a mindset of gratitude and thankfulness? Mindfulness meditation is proven to enhance creativity by reducing cognitive rigidity and judgment. BCI’s Mindset Room is a quiet, calm, reflective space with yoga equipment, bolsters, and mats for meditation and a colorful mandala painting designed to allow the creative mind to run freely.

7 , Swans Assessing …

Do you struggle to think clearly in the chaos of today’s world, the stress of the holidays, and the many demands setting your organization up for a strong end-of-year performance? Our Clarity Performance Index (CPI) is backed by over 20 years of data; focusing outcomes on the drivers of corporate performance – Direction, Operations, People and Engagement. Using the CPI is an essential first step of your clarity process and identifying the positivity quotient within your organization! Bonus gift in your Clarity Stocking? It also determines your employee Net Promoter Score!

6 , Engaged Employees …

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, it’s easy to forget what the most important part is…people! People are our greatest asset. Our people develop our festive products, implement our jolly strategic plans and execute on our cheerful promises to customers. As leaders, please take a moment to learn how we drive engagement through meaning and progress in our RG article from July 20th.

5 , Golden … Values …

The holidays are filled with tales of small groups following a guiding Star. Just as inspiring, is knowing exactly what your core values are and aligning them to your own North Star. At Clarity, our 5 golden values are: Curiosity (about ourselves and our work with you), Intentionality (it’s in everything that we do), Positivity (it transforms mindsets), Collaboration (we are all in it together) and Creativity (our Lab and our method). We work with all types of teams to help them identify and live their values and do so in service of measurable gains towards their North Star.

4 , Circuit Breakers …

Although holidays are a joyous time, we also know the inherit challenges that come with balancing all that needs to get done. It can really drain the positivity from this season, can’t it? Circuit Breakers is an exercise where we challenge individuals to identify what is inhibiting their natural positive flow of energy – and categorize them into the 4 quadrants of Healthy, Irritant, Acute & Overload. Once you can identify what is derailing you, you can aim to fix it. This builds bridges between teams, results in compassion, empathy and a better overall team culture.

3 , Clocks a Ticking …

Clocks are ticking in the countdown to Christmas, but the three clocks in the Institute create another dimension of time altogether! The numbers have been removed from the clocks and replaced with concepts for the leader to consider, process and prioritize. Reflect on time for Self, time for Others, and time for Work – they come together so that you are on schedule for learning and growth as a leader.

2 ,  Learning Labs …

More incredible than the sound of hooves and sleigh bells on your roof, is the harmony of local and remote teams working perfectly in sync and in real time – in BOTH of our Learning Labs – the one here at BCI and our other sister lab exactly 2,919 miles away in Houston. Using cutting edge 4k video conferencing and studio quality sound systems – we can deliver fully hybridized workshops where the more than 30 team members in our Houston Lab can co-deliver, facilitate and support our live teams here and anywhere.

And a …. Mindset of Clarity!

At the Bermuda Clarity Institute, we strive to help organizations to achieve clarity through a positive mindset, a focus on connection, an intentional leadership structure, and more. Join us for an interactive experience, where every single designed element and every exercise creates a space to explore the potential of both individuals and organizations. Happy holidays and happy clarity!

Why marriage therapy helps make businesses work

Why marriage therapy helps make businesses work

When helping our clients prepare for organizational growth and sustainability, one of the first things we do is introduce the concept of marriage therapy. Since we are a boutique management consulting firm, this typically elicits some bewildered reactions, but we assure them (and you) that this is a worthwhile exercise 🙂

While we aren’t suggesting that our clients and their significant others need actual therapy, we bring up this discussion to point out the striking commonalities between marriages and businesses in the 2020’s: Both exist in an environment of increasing uncertainty and face a stark reality for success.

Dr. John Gottman, one of the most influential and world-renowned relationship experts (known for being able to predict marital success with 90% accuracy), has an incredibly insightful take on addressing marital challenges today:

“Every new relationship is a new culture that has never existed before…When we build a relationship together we must decide on our own new meanings. Culture means the way people create meaning out of almost everything.”

So what does Dr. Gottman’s decades of research have to do with strengthening organizations?

Everything.

Just as two people make a commitment to each other based on proven compatibility and a shared vision of their future (let’s call this “strategy”), CEOs assemble their teams and build strategic plans of their own that, on paper, make complete sense. But over time, nearly half of marriages and 90% of startups will fail — most often having little to do with strategy.

The culprit? Culture.

Logic dictates that strategy is the most important component for any business to succeed. But the reality is that organizations aren’t dysfunctional; people are. If leaders are not in touch with what’s happening with their people, and their people aren’t aligned with the organization’s expectations, then the culture is weak and it’s only a matter of time until the business will suffer.

We believe so much in the impact of culture that we’ve built a business centered squarely on it. Culture is the single most foundational element to driving organizational performance. And the best time to articulate, shape, grow, and protect your culture is before you’re faced with critical decisions related to growth, transition or crisis.

Dr. Gottman suggests that newlyweds who engage in relationship therapy programs (focused on creating meaning out of their new culture) are three times more likely to succeed than those who wait for a much-needed intervention. Why should CEOs and board chairs view their organizational culture any differently? If you wait to address your culture until you’re confronted with an economic downturn, a new leader, a threat from a competitor, or an unexpected reputational issue, the resulting ambiguity will make it an even greater challenge to find ways to protect your organization.

CULTURE MATTERS

As organizations face unprecedented uncertainty in the current business, technological, societal, and political landscapes, the speed of change increases the pressure to perform. This forces leaders to make decisions based on short-term goals and gains that oftentimes sacrifice long-term growth. As a result, employee engagement decreases when they see a disconnect between the corporate vision and operational realities.

When the culture of a workplace is not clearly defined, the risk is that under stress, the culture defaults to whatever the prior status quo was. Whilst recoverable, this puts the company on its back foot at exactly the time it can least afford it.

IS YOUR ENVIRONMENT POSITIVE?

Shawn Achor, best-selling author and founder of the most successful positive psychology corporate training program in the world, has proven that positive environments enhance organizational performance — characterized by higher productivity, less turnover and more resilient cultures (more adaptable with a capacity to see more opportunities that lead to better results).

We couldn’t agree more.

Which is why we begin our relationships with clients by focusing on uncovering the DNA of their organizations — not by looking for what’s wrong, but by discovering what is working. We help reveal what’s inherently good and unique about that organization — based on the principles of positivity. This is a different view than traditional consultancies, which typically identify what is broken.

CONCLUSION

Marriages and organizations are formed with the best intentions — with thoughtful consideration of passion, long-term viability, compatibility, and ultimately, success. But the research on both is clear: The more we focus our attention on ensuring a positive culture, the better positioned we will be to weather downturns, thrive during uncertain times, and grow with confidence and clarity.

These are the conversations we have at the Bermuda Clarity Institute and we hope you’ll join us in our open house learning lab series, aptly named “Catch up with Clarity”, so you can actually experience the research and participate in the exercises which help identify levers that can improve culture within your organization. Our last one is on December 9th , 2021 from 4:30pm-6:00pm and will be limited in attendance to create a blend of maximum personal value and respect for safe spaces – as such please book your spot now by RSVP. If you prefer to bring your team over for a custom tour, please email us at info@clarity.bm to request and we will be happy to accommodate you.

We look forward to seeing you in person and to learn more about our work at the Bermuda Clarity Institute, visit us at clarity.bm

Why companies should not Retreat – and instead do a Pit Stop

Why companies should not Retreat – and instead do a Pit Stop

 

As the clientele of Bermuda Clarity Institute continues to expand and serve the breadth of the Bermuda community, we are experiencing an increase in questions being asked about some of the high-value sessions we conduct, especially the more creatively named ones! In response and over the next few months, we have decided to profile some of these transformative sessions as Use Case type articles – where we share with you the problem, process and outcome – including real data and User feedback. Our hope is that you can start incorporating these principles to positively impact your team and business and to help your organization also achieve clarity.

PROBLEM:

When local construction and contracting company Greymane approached BCI this summer, its CEO shared his concern that “after a period of sustained growth, it had been too long since they had paused to consider strategic direction and take the time to listen to and invest in their employees.” Their management team was “constantly firefighting and felt like they were always in the trenches.” Prior attempts at conducting retreats had taught them that they had to minimize unnecessary expenses such as down-time at their sites, be more efficient and “had to achieve measurable and lasting impact for all stakeholders.” Stories are also too often circulated that retreats often end up with too much cost and socializing, and often not enough overall focus or team alignment and typically no real net-change in productivity or engagement.

PROCESS STEP 1: INTRODUCTION

BCI conducted a focused consultation with Greymane and introduced the concept of Pit Stop. By insisting that companies should never retreat, BCI rather shared the inspiration from Formula 1 and how they Pit Stop. Instead of a car, BCI brings the entire company briefly off its track – and pauses it just long enough to allow a highly qualified team of experts to co-ordinate with and help the leadership team “work on the company” versus “work in the company”.

PROCESS STEP 2: SCOPING

Through a series of interviews and assessments, BCI scoped a proposed Pit Stop plan that included numerous sessions tailored to fit various cohorts of team members given their respective roles, responsibilities and hoped for outcomes. Every session needed to be creative, intentional and result in measurable value. Timelines and milestones were agreed – and a communications plan for the entire company was prepared. What success looked like was defined. A formal engagement was agreed and signed off on with clear expectations, deliverables and responsibilities identified.

PROCESS STEP 3: DESIGN

Sessions were timed to suit various site limitations and to blend listening, learning, collaboration and team building. Parts of the program were designed to be inspirational, some instructional and others to offer gratitude. Some were competitive, others collaborative – and all done to foster greater inclusivity, team spirit and aligned to the company values. The resulting 48-hour program included: a values re-discovery and prioritization session; a strategy session based on “Start, Stop and Do More”; a North Star session; a growth session; a cost/operations session; several interactive team-based games; company awards and gratitude through storytelling; and a number of team meals and breaks all designed with purpose. Every session invited attendees to listen, learn and be open. Each had purpose, and an identified group of attendees – such that those not needed for any sessions could remain otherwise productive, and never feel like a third wheel.

PROCESS STEP 4: DELIVERY

Many sessions were conducted in the Learning Lab at BCI – where interactive and experiential activities demand creativity, collaboration and active listening. Other sessions were hosted elsewhere in our Institute, or offsite, invoking new experiences, ideas and flavours. All created safe spaces where attendees could be more open, vulnerable, authentic and build bridges with each other. All were in service of Greymane. Each built on the one before – so that North Star built on Values, and Growth built on Start/Stop/More yet was in service of North Star.

SOLUTION:

Careful attention to planning, costing and execution ensured the Pit Stop was delivered on time and on budget. It achieved all the goals of the engagement agreement. Alex DeCouto, CEO of Greymane shared this experience shortly after: “The results have been outstanding. We’ve been able to reset our ‘North Star’. Despite having deeply entrenched core values, our team discovered another that was there all along and which is critical to our culture.” Alex added “Thanks to the experienced team at BCI, the Pit Stop concept proved itself as both exciting and well worth the investment; we’ve been able to agree on a new set of priorities for our focus in the future and our team is closer than it’s ever been.”
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If you want to learn more about Pit Stop, we encourage you to attend one of our open house Learning Lab series at BCI, where you can experience the research, participate in some exercises and explore the values we talk about in a tangible and tactile way. If you want to experience for yourself our credo “Arrive Inspired, Leave Changed” please stop by or visit Bermuda Clarity Institute, at https://bermudaclarityinstitute.com