Dear Travel Coach
Our weekly agency staff meetings are becoming challenging because this current Pre / During / Post Brexit climate is leading to vulnerability and team arguments. How can I alter my approach to make people calmer and better?
- Fail to prepare…
Be sure of your objective/agenda before the meeting and any ensuing conversation. This will help you get back on track when the discussion heats up and gets emotional. People under pressure tend to challenge, blame, threaten, and curse. By knowing where you are taking the conversation, you can allow their (important) emotional outpourings, yet still move them forward.
- Don’t fudge it. The first thing is to demonstrate you are not fazed by the climate by tackling the key issues straight away. Subjects such as disloyal customers, double-dealing suppliers, and the Sterling unfriendly market really should be talked about. Even if you don’t solve the actual issue, the team will respect your awareness.
- Reality first. (Group) conversations include three elements; facts, emotions and suppositions. By starting with the facts (“profit is down by 26%”) moving through the emotions (“I feel insecure too”) and keeping assumptions (“You just don’t seem to care enough”) until last, you have a better chance of stressing your own feelings which in turn will the bring out the group’s empathy for you.
- Respect the varying speeds of osmosis. Otherwise known as learning styles, people take in information in different ways and at different speeds. Let them know they can say (or scribble or email or text) their piece at any time-it doesn’t have to be right now.
- Stay neutral. When people share their feelings with you try to maintain a ‘clean’ position. Clearly, you have feelings too but by showing you have no axe to grind and that you’re not being defensive they can unload more easily. Once they know that you have understood they will be much easier to communicate with.
- Common Ground. Great negotiators, sales people, and mediators have a natural ability to discover what they have in common with the other person. They invest time in learning about their inspirations and priorities. Once you have shown you are interested in the members of your team individually they will trust you more.
- Talk about real occurrences. Some leaders have a habit of placing bad news between a good news intro and a good news outro in the hope that it will be easier to deal with. Your people however are not stupid and would see this technique as fake. By discussing the actual behaviours of clients, markets and colleagues you will deliver a more coherent message.
- Have an agenda and keep to time. Because team meetings usually last around half an hour, it is vital not to get bogged down in any one subject. If a conflict arises, a good way of diffusing it is to make a note to return to it-and to swiftly move on. Do however deliver on the promise, people are wise to the ‘Let’s park it here for now’ lie.
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