This is the second in a series of articles related to how to re-enter your work environment after a training, learning or coaching process that has given you new insight and prompted you to do things differently.
There will be times when you take the energy from a new learning, realize how much applying it could help you and those you lead. You are excited, filled with optimism about the outcomes and diligently start to put your new skills into use. But wait, you sense skepticism. Some people are acting like you have contracted a contagious disease; others give you quizzical looks and raised eyebrows. Most of them are asking themselves, “What is this all about? What is going on? Is there an ulterior motive? Did he/she get in trouble with their boss and this is their attempt to show good behavior (probably until he/she figures they are out of trouble and go back to their old behavior)? People who always seemed to trust you aren’t quite as quick to do so now.
When we recognize these things are happening we need to take time to understand that you know what your intentions are in making the personal changes. However, those around you are going to form impressions and perceptions based largely on how you used to act and behave. You need to take time to explain your intentions up-front. Simple but important. A good investment of your time considering the misunderstanding and mistrust that could otherwise occur.
So you use candid discussion to explain things like: what you learned; why you think it will be helpful to both of you; what you will be working on doing differently; what you need from them in terms of support, cooperation and feedback.
Here are a few examples (hypothetical but easily adapted for real use):
“David, you might know that I recently attended a leadership program to enhance my skills and one of the many things I learned that I want to make use of was how to be more effective in identifying potential compromise solutions in the midst of conflict. As a result of the training and some practice sessions with feedback I realized that I tend to focus on the differences that exist between me and others and then often get stuck on my view when flexibility is needed. I can use your help by asking you to give me candid feedback when we are working together or in groups and you see me fall into the old pattern. If necessary, ask me to consider some middle of the road solutions; be willing to tell me when I am getting too inflexible. When you do so, if I react negatively, please remind me that you are doing what I asked you to do. If you have any questions or want to know more about what I learned, let’s talk about it. Thanks for being willing to help”
“Tracey, in the recent leadership training I completed one of the exercises we went through was a diagnosis of one of our direct reports to assess our view of their level of ability and willingness to accept responsibility and deliver results. I chose you for the diagnostic because I think I am under-utilizing you and maybe even frustrating you or giving you the impression I don’t have confidence in you. The results of the diagnostic were eye-opening for me because I gave you high ratings in almost everyone of the 24 factors measured. I want to spend some time right now giving you that feedback and then working together to decide exactly what I can do to start to utilize your talent and motivation. As we go through each rating please give me your feedback. If you think my rating was too high, let’s talk about it because I don’t ever want you to think I am setting you up for failure or not meeting my expectations. If you think the rating was too low, please give me your perspective and things you have done that would indicate a higher rating. This is a great opportunity for me to learn how to utilize everyone on my team more effectively. Thanks for being my “pilot project.”
Take a few minutes to think about a recent learning or coaching insight that you want to put into practice and have the conversation with those who will experience the changes you implement. If you have already begun to apply a new learning or coaching feedback ask yourself if you have had the conversation and, if not, make it a priority.