Nov 11, 2015

Have you met anyone who complained about receiving too much appreciation?

Think about this: have you met anyone who quit his job because his boss had appreciated him too often? – See, we neither! The opposite is usually the case. Staff members are not appreciated often enough. We probably all know this thought „If I’m not critizised my boss seems so be satisfied with me!“. Some executives even think this is cool, but our staff members often are disappointed – and at the end of the day get frustrated and quite demotivated over time.

But how are appreciation and motivation linked up?

It’s quite obvious that appreciating staff members motivates them to go the extra mile. But, some executives think that when giving too much appreciation staff members will run riot. We believe, you can’t praise someone too often, if you do it the right way.  

Staff – and superiors as well – are motivated by different reasons to do a good job. Frederick Herzberg, well-known US psychologist and management thinker, showed in his motivation model that working motivation is influenced by two factors: Motivators and Stabilizers.

Motivators increase satisfaction and performance. 

Motivators are: interesting tasks, autonomous working, personal responsibility, empowerment for decisions, successes, appreciation for good results from your superior, and career opportunities.

Stabilizers include all your working conditions. 

They stabilize the team atmosphere and prevent dissatisfaction. Stabilizers are: good work place equipments, adaquate salary and social benefits, job security, satisfying relationships with colleagues, and attractive company image. 

So, if you appreciate good results of your staff you pay into the motivators and increase performance.

How do you to articulate your appreciation in a way that it is heared and believed?

We often observe that executives struggle with positive feedback. They think that they always have to suggest how things can be done better instead of just expressing an appreciation.

Try to avoid this example: „You have worked well on this document, but on page 5,6, and 10 are typos.“ You’re reducing the impact of your positive feedback immediately with your critisism. Your employee will not remember the positive message but rather get hooked on the negative.

We suggest this: „You have worked well on this document. Your research was good and you wrote the report in a very clear way.“ – Then you pause! Let the message sink in. Now you can continue with: „Could you please check pages 5,6, and 10 again for typos.“

Can you see the difference between these two small examples? 

The first approach is focused on mistakes. The second approach is focused on taking personal responsibility for the work piece. This is a strong and positive message for your employee. You’re expressing that you believe he’s skilled enough for this job and autonomous enough for healing the mistake alone. Understanding this message your employee will definitely want more of your appreciation and will try harder the next time.

We encourage you to appreciate your employees more often and give concrete positive feedback. 

Over time you will observe how motivation in your team increases and atmosphere stabilizes. We see this in our work with executives and teams all the time and it makes us smile every time.

Oct 9, 2015

3 Tips for Your Self and Time Management

Do you know this: Your whole day is packed with dates, your assistant has gone the extra mile to make all these dates possible, and still time just seems to be too short for all your tasks? Well, what can you do to manage yourself and your time in a much better way?

Recent research on self- and time management has shown that we have to forget about a long-time believe and recommends: No multitasking! – Disband multitasking and work through your tasks one after the other.

Our brain can’t process multiple tasks at the same time. Therefore, multitasking makes us slower and vulnerable to mistakes. Just think about it now: how much time do you need to work on a task in the afternoon you already had looked at in the morning the first time? – Usually, it takes much longer because you have to re-read the paper, re-consider conclusions you might already have had in the morning, and start working through from the beginning. 

One quick tip here: Organize your dates along tasks and topics instead of spreading dates with different topics all over the day. This will focus your energy and increase your concentration.

Here are three more tips for your successfull self- and time management:

Focus – Strictly prioritize which tasks you have to work on
Caution: it’s not about „wanting“, it’s about „having“ to work on. This means you should focus on tasks where your input is crucial and not the ones you might find attractive. It requires quite a piece of self-discipline not to jump on every attactive topic and get lost in time. You should be aware that time is your most precious asset which you shouldn’t waste for useless work.

Tip: Just take 5 minutes now and write a list of 10 topics you are just busy with. Now prioritize the true top 3 tasks on your list…and delegate the rest.

Filter – Filter your emails, e.g. by delegating a pre-selection to your assistant

Only read emailst hat are addressed to you and that you are not only copied in with hundreds of others. You have to educate your environment only to send emails to you that are important and relvant.

Tip: You have to tell your environment that you expect them only to send relevant emails to you if you want to manage your inbox. This is a process and needs some time. It’s worth though if you can reduce the amount of emails over time because you win time and focus.

Forget – You should forget your work for a while

If you want to re-charge your creativity your brain needs some time out. Being busy all the time and  caught in the treadmill prevents you from thinking out of the box. There is no room for innovation. So seek for time to press „reset“ and do things you love to do. I mean really love to do.

Tip: The best ideas usually come when you are relaxed. You can plan such relaxing acticities or times. Think of things that are good for you, be it reading, sleeping, swimming, walking, medidating, golfing, or whatever is fun for you. You will be in good company of some very successful CEOs with long-standing meditation practice, good golf handicap, or triathlon experience.

Oct 2, 2015

9 Top Ways Women Give Away Power

Business women showing thumbs up on a isolated white background
One of the best articles I read about the most important traps women tend to step into during their carreer. I see it in almost every executive coaching with female leaders, regardless which level, how talented women still struggle with the male code in business.

After reading this article in Forbes you will be prepared for the next step in your carreer by stopping using minimizing language, apologizing, or letting others take credit for your ideas.

To all my female readers: follow these tips and have fun storming the management world!

Brigitta Wurnig, Top Management Coach

Here the link to the full article:

Sep 23, 2015

McKinsey Quarterly - Gender equality: Taking stock of where we are

Dominic Barton, McKinsey's global managing director, Sandrine Devillard and Judith Hazlewood clarify that companies need to challenge fundamental mind-sets and behaviors inside the company while setting (or continuing) in motion a number of initiatives in support of gender diversity.

It's a long-term effort and not a sprint. - And from our experience as executive coaches and business women it's worth every mile!

Read the whole article here:

Why are women still underrepresented at every level of today’s corporations?

September 2015 | byDominic Barton, Sandrine Devillard, and Judith Hazlewood
There is a growing consensus among top executives that gender diversity is both an ethical and a business imperative. Yet progress is painfully slow. Despite modest improvements, women are underrepresented at every level of today’s corporations, especially in senior positions.

Sep 16, 2015

How to improve your listening skills

“We do not take the time to listen. We keep quiet while we look for arguments!” commented an executive in one of our sessions.

Unfortunate as this comment might be, it only reflects the reality we live in. We all recognize the importance of listening and how great a leadership skill it is. It would be difficult to find a person in business who would not stress how vital listening is.

We only listen for a pause when we can talk!

Unfortunately, it is also very rare to find a good listener. The way this usually works is as follows:
  • We start talking to someone with the good intention of really listening. We really focus on the other person and do our best to concentrate on what they say.
  • Then we hear something that really catches our attention. Maybe we do have a strong opinion on it, either for or against; or maybe a funny story to tell about it.
  • This is when our brain starts thinking about what we want to say and we only listen for a pause when we can talk and tell our story.

Our good intentions go out of the window, together with our effective listening.

Improve your listening skills in three areas

To help improve our listening skills, there are three areas to focus on:
1.       Listen to what is being said. Do not think about possible answers and keep your mind empty. Listening is an active process. This means you have to actively focus on what is being said and actively work on stopping all the other stories going on in your head.
2.       Listen to understand, not to respond. Suspend all possible judgment about what is being said and switch on your curiosity to really understand the other person.
3.       Listen to what is not being said. This really is the golden nugget. Do look out for pauses in the conversation, tone of voice, eye movement, gestures, etc. Usually some very important stuff remains unsaid.

Tips on how to improve your listening skills

As in any coaching session, the question now would be: how can I put this into practice?
Here are two good and simple exercises to help you sharpen your listening skills:
  •               Sharpen your non-verbal communication skills – “listen with your eyes”

o   Watch groups of people from far away and try to “follow their conversations” and interactions. The way to do this is: go to a coffee shop and sit where you can see a group of people and cannot hear them. Watch them talk and work out the different interactions, who supports whom, who is against whom, who is engaged, who is bored, who has switched off. Watch TV with the voice switched off and do the same exercise as above. This also works if you watch a movie in a language you do not understand. This way you practice to get the message with your eyes.
  •           Be strong remaining silent – Use your will power

o   Whenever you catch yourself wanting to tell your story instead of keeping focused on your counterpart just keep your mouth shut. Sounds bold, when we write this, but in reality that’s the way it works. You could make it a sport by counting the times you couldn’t resist and interrupted your counterpart as well as remaining silent. See which side wins…and work on your personal area for improvement.

Gravitas, not simple power!

With our clients we often discuss the pro and cons of listening and waiting for the right time for action in a meeting or conversation. It’s about the fear or risk of losing authority if you don’t interrupt others and demonstrate your power. In our opinion authority comes from gravitas – and for gravitas you need to listen to others for clearly understanding their agenda. Then you have the chance to stir the conversation in the direction you want it.

Sep 9, 2015

Contradicting your boss across cultures - Part 2

Remember from our last week’s post: “German-Spanish project team facing severe issues with quality delivery”? – Here are our expert tips:

Spaniards make everything possible
In the Spanish working culture, it is seen as a sign of engagement and commitment to do your best to deliver what your boss asks for. To tell your manager that what he is requesting is not realistic is perceived as lack of engagement and interest. You always do your utmost to meet client´s and boss´s expectations fully. It is also vital to preserve the relationship with the person and not make them lose face by pointing out that what they are requesting is not feasible. A Spanish employee would be very reluctant to put their managers or clients in such an awkward position.

Germans gain standing by contradicting
In the German culture it is a sign of professionalism to analyse your client´s or boss’s request. Should the request be unrealistic, you do let them know in the clearest possible way. They may be your managers or your clients but you are the professional who can assess what is feasible and what is not. Here the facts are important. It is your duty as an expert to teach your boss or client about them.

And how did our client team learn from this
Now, back to our international team, once we highlighted these differences to them, the breakthrough came when the German Unit Manager asked the Spanish project manager to contradict him. The Unit manager explained that this would earn the Spanish employee more professional respect.
At the end of our workshop, the team had reached an agreement. Spanish people would clearly communicate to the German management when something was not feasible or wrong.

You have to change the mindset if you want to overcome cultural differences
Implementation of this type of agreements is always difficult because of how deeply ingrained cultural values and belief systems are in our behaviors. Once people get back to their normal environment and work becomes stressful, it is difficult to implement a new behaviour. Individuals automatically go back to the old way of acting when circumstances become challenging.

How intercultural coaching can help
A longer support and follow up is required to ensure a behavioural change, so the team also enlisted our help to keep their commitments.
Enlisting the help of a coach to support the team or individuals in their journey towards change is the best way to ensure that they stay on track and continue displaying the new behavior.

Some coaching questions
to help implement a new behavior in a challenging environment are:
  • What are the triggers for the old and now undesired behavior?
  • How could you anticipate these triggers and prepare yourself to display the new behavior when they happen?
  • What would be the smallest step you could take to implement the new behavior?

It is vital to keep in mind how different values and belief systems are in different cultures. Once you know about them, you can work to integrate them. It is then that the full power of your international team can be released!! You can read more about our team coaching approach on our website here (link).

Sep 2, 2015

Contradicting your boss across cultures - Part 1

Bildergebnis für contradicting

“It is impossible!! I cannot do it…- said the senior project manager, feeling completely overwhelmed. 

“But you must!!”- Answered the unit manager- “you must contradict me!!”

This happened during one of our intercultural workshops. The client had called us in to help with a German-Spanish team that was having significant problems with the quality of their deliverables.

What would you have done in this situation?
·         try reducing scope,
·         extending deadlines,
·         scheduling more meetings,
·         adding extra testing resources?

None of this had worked so far in our client’s project. We and our intercultural coaching were their last attempt.

Cultural differences
During our preparation meetings, the Spanish sub-team had worked with our Spanish senior coach and the German sub-team with our German senior coach. Now we were all together with senior management in a kick off workshop. Once we started working on quality issues of the deliverables, we quickly realised what the problem was:

The German management team was producing requirements that the Spanish team was not able to deliver, despite their incredibly long working hours.

Two natural reactions from both sides highlight the different perspectives and frustrations:
“Why is the Spanish team not telling us that our requirements cannot be delivered?”- Was wondering the German management.

“Why is our management not appreciating the efforts we are making to deliver the next best thing to these clearly unachievable deliverables and very tight deadlines?”- was wondering the Spanish team.

It sounds like an insurmountable mismatch, doesn’t it? The impact we saw was the German management getting frustrated and could not understand the lack of quality. The Spanish team was getting frustrated at having their enormous efforts go unnoticed and their technical expertise questioned.

This was yet another clear example of how different cultures and their different value systems play a vital role in the functioning of a team. We know it is best to address them as soon as possible to ensure a successful delivery.

Find out in our next week´s post what the root cause of the problem was and how we helped the project team solve it.

Aug 27, 2015

Sprechen mit den eigenen Leuten: Warum scheitern Spitzenmanager?

Kommentar von BWC Senior Coach Dr. Anke van Kempen, unsere Expertin für Kommunikation

Stefan Wachtel bringt es im Managermagazin auf den Punkt: Die interne Kommunikation ist das Feld, in dem die meisten Manager versagen. 

Trotz oft akribischer Vorbereitung bis ins kleinste Detail bleiben Präsentationen und so genannte Informationsveranstaltungen blutleer und unglaubwürdig.

Warum? Drei Gründe spielen eine entscheidende Rolle:
1. Falsche und verschwommene Vorstellungen davon, was durch die interne Kommunikation erreicht werden kann und soll. Hinter Management-Jargon verschwindet, worum es geht – oder gehen sollte.
2. Die Illusion, Vollständigkeit und Fakten-Schlachten trügen zur Klarheit bei, nach dem Motto: Es wurde doch alles gesagt.
3. Die falschen Ratgeber. Fachlich und sachlich kompetent in Finanz- oder IT-Fragen zu sein, bedeutet noch lange nicht, dass man die Interessen und Erwartungen der Kollegen richtig einschätzt und darauf reagieren kann.

Fazit: Es gibt kein Patentrezept, das auf alle Fälle anwendbar ist. Zu Recht verweist Wachtel auf eine mehr als 2.500 Jahre alte Tradition der Reflexion darüber, wie man mit Worten Menschen erreicht, um einer Sache zum Erfolg zu verhelfen.

Es gilt, jeweils den Einzelfall zu betrachten und für jede Führungspersönlichkeit die ihr entsprechende Form zu finden: Denn über Glaubwürdigkeit urteilen immer die anderen.

Erfahren Sie mehr über die Expertise von Dr. Anke van Kempen und unsere speziellen Coaching Angebote für eine gelungene Kommunikation. Hier

Hier geht's zum Artikel von Stefan Wachtel
Beliebt bei Rednern in der Wirtschaft ist es, überfüllte Charts zu erläutern. Leider geht das oft daneben

Aug 9, 2015

Netzwerken statt Teamführung - Neue Erfolgskriterien für Team Leader

Fragen Sie sich manchmal „Wie schaffe ich es, mein Team motiviert zu halten, wenn sich ständig etwas ändert?“ Haben Sie den Eindruck, dass der Aufwand zunimmt, um perfekte Ergebnisse abzuliefern? Kommt es Ihnen auch so vor, dass das Tempo zunimmt? - Dann nehmen Sie vermutlich die Auswirkungen einer Arbeitswelt wahr, die von vielen als „VUCA“ bezeichnet wird.

Die Abkürzung VUCA steht für „volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity“ und stammt ursprünglich vom US Militär. Mittlerweile wird der Ausdruck auf das Management übertragen, um die heutige Arbeitswelt zu beschreiben, die viele einfach als chaotisch und schwer zu managen bezeichnen würden. Viele Manager werden sich angesichts der Dynamik fragen:
„Was braucht es, um in der heutigen Arbeitswelt eine erfolgreiche Führungskraft zu sein?“

In zahlreichen Situationen werden Sie erkennen, dass tradierte Führungsmodelle nicht mehr funktionieren: Perfektion, Teamführung, Erfolge fortschreiben, Ziele vorgeben, Stabilität und Fachkompetenz werden zunehmend unwichtiger. Diese Grundsätze sind für unsere Arbeitswelt mittlerweile zu starr geworden. Wenn Sie beispielsweise einfach nur Erfolge fortschreiben wollen, vernachlässigen Sie die erforderlichen Wechsel. Fokussieren Sie sich bei Ihrem Team nur darauf, es ziel- und aufgabenorientiert zu führen, klammern Sie die Komplexität virtueller und internationaler Rahmenbedingungen aus, die ein verändertes Führungsverständnis erfordern.

In einer VUCA-Welt sind neue Führungskompetenzen gefordert:
  • Schnelligkeit statt Perfektion
  • in Netzwerken denken  statt Teamführung
  • innovativ Denken statt Erfolge fortschreiben
  • inspirieren statt nur Ziele vorgeben
  • Veränderungsbereitschaft statt Stabilität und
  • digitale Kompetenz statt reiner Fachkompetenz.
Besonders deutlich zeigt sich das neue Führungsverständnis aus unserer Erfahrung als Coaches bei der Teamführung.

Wie Sie „Netzwerken statt Teamführung“ umsetzen:

Bisher gehörte zur erfolgreichen Teamführung, dass Sie Ihrem Team Ziele geben, die Dynamiken zwischen den Teammitgliedern managen und mit einem kooperativen Führungsstil alle im Team einbeziehen und motivieren. In der heutigen Welt arbeiten wir aber zunehmend in virtuell aufgesetzten Teams, teils mit internationalen Teammitgliedern und globalem Kontext.

Da werden bereits gemeinsame Meetings zu einer Herausforderung. Probleme und Konflikte können manchmal nur telefonisch geklärt werden. Teammitglieder sehen sich vielleicht nur ein- bis zweimal im Jahr. Interkulturelle Differenzen lösen bislang unbekannte Dynamiken aus. Diese Teams brauchen keinen Chef, der sagt wo es lang geht.

Diese Teams brauchen einen Leader, der als Netzwerker im und für das Team agiert.

Teams sind heute kein starres System mehr, sondern ein Netzwerk von engagierten Leuten, die an einer Lösung arbeiten. In der Regel kann der Team Leader sie gar nicht kontrollieren, wenn sie an unterschiedlichen Orten arbeiten. Vielmehr muss er es schaffen, durch gute und kontinuierliche Kommunikation- am Telefon, mit Email, per Video oder persönlich - die Zielerreichung zu unterstützen, Ergebnisse im Team zu teilen und ein Teamgefühl zu schaffen.  Dies erfordert neben sehr guter Kommunikation vor allem die Fähigkeit, schnell Zusammenhänge zu erkennen und die richtigen Leute im Team miteinander in Verbindung zu bringen, damit sie die Themen gemeinsam erfolgreich lösen können. 

Silos verhindern Fortschritt - Netzwerke ermöglichen Impulse und Flexibilität.

Netzwerken ist auch außerhalb des eigenen Teams gefordert. In unserer dynamischen Welt ist Isolation für ein Team fast tödlich. Silos haben ausgedient, denn sie erhöhen die Gefahr, dass wichtige Entwicklungen verpasst werden. Es wird strategisch immer wichtiger, sich mit vielen Kollegen und Abteilungen innerhalb und außerhalb des eigenen Unternehmens zu verbinden, um frühzeitig mitzubekommen, was gerade an Neuem entsteht und dies mitzugestalten.

Checkliste für erfolgreiche Team Leader :
  • Netzwerke im Team und innerhalb des Unternehmens aufbauen und mit Leben füllen
  • Die richtigen Leute an einen Tisch bringen, um Themen zu treiben
  • Verantwortung abgeben können und nur im Hintergrund steuern
  • Oft und gekonnt mit seinem Team kommunizieren, um den Kontakt aufrechtzuerhalten
  • Trends und Entwicklungen im Team früh erkennen und managen
  • Mit Empathie auf unterschiedliche Kulturen eingehen und Dynamiken steuern
Sind Sie bereit für neue Führungskompetenzen?

Meistens stehen uns unsere Denkparadigmen im Weg, wenn es um persönliche Veränderungen geht. Vielleicht gehen Ihnen während des Lesens diese Fragen im Kopf herum: „Warum ist Perfektion nicht mehr so wichtig, wo ich doch alles so gerne perfekt mache und kontrolliere?“ - „Warum will mein Team lieber von mir motiviert werden, wenn es doch darum geht, die Arbeit zu schaffen?“ - „Muss ich wirklich die neuen Medien verstehen, um meinen Bereich zu führen. Kann das nicht die IT-Abteilung für mich erledigen?“. - Sie merken, hier entsteht Diskussionsbedarf.

In unseren Coachings nähern wir uns den passenden Antworten mit dem Ansatz „Awareness - Reflection - Action“.

Durch die Gespräche mit Ihrem Senior Coach werden Sie erkennen, welche Muster Ihr Denken und Handeln bestimmen. Durch die Reflektion über Ursachen und mögliche Veränderungen erarbeiten wir gemeinsam mit Ihnen konkrete Handlungsalternativen, die Sie in Ihrem Führungsalltag einsetzen können. Wir finden mit Ihnen Antworten, die in Ihrer persönlichen VUCA-Welt funktionieren.  Mehr zu unserem Ansatz finden Sie auf unserer Webseite für „Topmanager Coaching“. Lesen Sie mehr darüber, wie wir mit Teams arbeiten.

Wir freuen uns auf Sie!
Viele Grüße,
Brigitta Wurnig

P.S. Kennen Sie schon unser Experten Team für die Themen Change Kommunikation, Krisen im Beruf managen sowie interkulturelle Teamführung? - Schauen Sie doch mal bei uns vorbei.

Jul 28, 2015

Changing change management

If you're looking for new tools driving your change process consider more digital methods. Easy to implement and with high impact. I like the "hands-on" approach  in this article as it reduces complexity. Published by Boris Ewenstein, Wesley Smith, and Ashvin Sologar from McKinsey & Company.

Jul 21, 2015

“Agreed” is a promise - How you ensure delivery in a German-Spanish team

„We need your help. Our Spanish team colleagues are not delivering what we agreed…“ - This was about the first thing we heard when a German client called us. He was desperate because the project was very important, time lines were tight, and workload high. Of course, we thought something like “Well, then let’s start improving the project plan…” would help. But, as always reality was a little different and this team needed something else than a perfect project plan. 

So we went back to basics and interviewed the key players.  Our Spanish Senior Coach talked to the Spanish team in Madrid and our German Senior Coach did the same with the German team in Munich. Interviews went very well because the teams could speak in their mother tongue. This made it much easier for them talking about sensitive topics. 

Teresa Ramos, BWC Coach,
talking about intercultural diffenrences
It became clear very quickly that we were facing some intercultural differences influencing collaboration, trust level, and communication in the team.  One of the big pain points was about reliable delivery. Wouldn’t you think that agreeing on tasks and deadlines would be sufficient enough for delivery? - The Germans did and were disappointed when commitments weren’t kept.

Here we could really help with highlighting an important difference between German and Spanish cultures. In German culture reliability is a core value. If you agree on a deadline you keep the deadline. If you agree to deliver a certain result the result will be 100% the standard you want. If you agree, you make a promise to fulfill your commitments! Germans believe this and rely on your word.

In Spanish culture you can see a more flexible way of fulfilling tasks - which is great when you need to react to spontaneous changes. Deadlines are not always final. Delivering 60% quality is fine if meeting the deadline is the priority, because low quality can be always improved along the way.  “We’re reliable because we deliver in time” is the Spanish perception, “even if the results are not perfect.” In Spain you can negotiate any time - even after agreeing - and you will always find a solution.

So back to our multinational client team: for the Spanish team understanding that agreements are a promise and quality is not negotiable for Germans was one of the biggest eye-openers. Now they knew they had to clarify tasks before delivering, ensure 100% quality is possible with given resources, and negotiate stronger if time was the constraint. Otherwise, their reliability would suffer. 

The German team became aware how strong their values had influenced their assumptions and how important it was accepting different perceptions. “Don’t expect Spaniards to act like Germans even if they work in a German setting” was one of their key learning. If they wanted 100% quality and reliable delivery they now ensured that the Spanish team had sufficient information and time. 

Some tips for working in or leading German-Spanish teams:

  • Clarify mutual expectations right from the start - Don’t only follow your assumptions.
  • Talk about your values when it comes to quality and deadlines - Stay open for compromises.
  • Explain what agreements mean and imply for you - Don’t rely “agree” means the same to all.
  • Open up for different perspectives - Your reality is not the only valid one!
  • Build trust by listening to your team - Respect different cultures.
Brigitta Wurnig, BWC CEO, talking about team dynamics.

It’s fun working in international teams and you can benefit from different cultures if you integrate them. For us this is crucial for today’s leaders of multinational teams, especially in virtual settings.  It still is a journey for some leaders and we love supporting them and their teams with our intercultural coaching bringing our German, Spanish, and British expertise to the table.  Read more about our team coaching approach on our website here