As a manager, I was accountable for productivity and results. I tried to take it a step further. I sought to know why people did what they did. I wanted to know employees thoughts and feelings. They are the subtext behind their actions; the impetus to employee engagement. These variables influenced the quantity and quality of output whether at work or in their personal lives.
The thinking involved;
- What were their plans?
- Why did they perform a certain action?
- What were they thinking during the course of a transaction, activity, assignment or presentation?
For example, after a sales call, I would ask;
- How did their results match up to their plans or intentions?
- What were their thoughts during specific points of the presentation, i.e. when the customer asked a question or wore a certain expression on their face?
It is important to know the action and the reason for the action? If the person understood the cause behind the action, I was confident they could reproduce it when necessary. This cause lies in their thoughts. I wanted them to consciously make decisions based on a plan and their interpretation of the events in front of them. This kind of control is exhibited by peak performers.
For years I treated symptoms. I was a symptoms chaser. I saw an action and tried to correct it by telling people how to do it or how to make it better. In other words, I said, do it my way to be successful or more successful. But management must be diagnostic in our approach and rather than try to correct symptoms, seek the reasons which originated in their thoughts. Most of the time, actions are consistent with thinking. We may need to correct their thinking, perceptions and understanding. If this is done, then the appropriate action will follow.
I observed Becky’s sales call. I went into my usual mode of telling how to do it better when she disagreed with my observations. She said she never said the main part of my coaching. “I would never say that,” she responded. Rather than get into “yes you did, see I have it in my notes, or liar, liar pants on fire,” I asked questions. “What did you say,” I asked. She told me what she thought she said. “And how did the customer respond?” I wanted to know. She said the customer response was odd and did not make sense. “I understand what you mean,” I said. “Let’s connect the customer’s response to what I thought you said. Now does it make sense?” She agreed. Once I understood her thoughts, I was able to correct her thinking and listening. This helps me become a more effective coach.
Thoughts are also important because they affect attitude. Charles Swindoll says that he is convinced that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how we react to it. This is our attitude. Optimistic thinking has a greater chance of generating positive results. In his book Learned optimism, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman states that, “Optimistic individuals produce more, particularly under pressure, than do pessimists. Talent and drive alone are not enough.” Negative thoughts are debilitating and can sap energy, sabotage careers and damage relationships.
Secondly, I wanted to determine someone’s passion level. I wanted to know how they felt and the intensity of their feelings. This is related to attitude. Their feelings are emotional responses to the thoughts they had about life’s experiences. Feelings reflect their emotional, physical and spiritual condition.
Feelings are influenced by;
- Diet and exercise
- Electronic stimulation
- Environmental factors
- Passion for the subject
I seek a holistic approach to life. I realize that I must eat properly to give myself the energy to perform at a high level. Many books speak to the value of good nutrition. I should follow their direction for a healthy diet to improve health. Exercise gives me the fitness and stamina to move quickly through the day, deal with stress and think more clearly. Since I traveled a lot I had to design an exercise routine that I could stick to whether on the road or at home. I only selected hotels that had exercise facilities or had a relationship with nearby clubs. My daily regimen involved calisthenics that I could do in my room. I also learned that if we aren’t physically or mentally feeling well, this has an adverse effect on performance.
Sleep cannot be over emphasized. Many of us are operating below our potential because we are half asleep. We are pseudo zombies, unaware of the numbing effect of insufficient sleep. We are driving as a car in low gear. We need to determine the correct amount of sleep for our bodies and design our lives around getting it. I have noticed that I am cranky, impatient and don’t listen well when I don’t get enough sleep. Small things bother me and my relationships are vulnerable. I discussed my insight on fitness and sleep with my direct reports.
I get mentally tired when I absorb too much electronic stimulation. Maybe it is just me, but loud music affects my thought speed and concentration. I have watched this affect my disposition. I get short-tempered as if under the influence of medication that alters my mood. The temperament of my children changed after too much stimulation. My children, when they were young, became hostile if they were bombarded with too much electronic stimulation over long periods of time. We had to pull them away
from the loud music and the video games to get a breather and a sanity check.
Faith, worship, study and living a life consistent with religious values affect how we feel and why we feel as we do. The ability to handle stress and bounce back from adversity is linked to spiritual anchors. Many find that cultivating a relationship with God is therapeutic for them. Faith and worshipping the Creator helps them develop feelings to live a more productive life.
Environmental factors which include personal problems may have a deleterious effect on work performance. Managers usually observe a trend line of individual and team performance. If a person who is a top performer or a medium performer begins to
shift in a downward fashion, alarm bells should sound. The manager may find that their thoughts and feelings are at the core of their difficulties. An immediate conversation is necessary to show concern for the person and concern for the business.
Performing tasks that are connected to passion and purpose will propel people to excellence. “We feel pressure from our purpose to align our passion with our potential.” These words are taken from my book the “Isle of Knowledge.” Passion is internal and expresses itself outwardly when people are doing what they love to do. If they are not doing something they love there is pressure and internal tension that says there is a need for something more. They are not fulfilled.
So there you have it. Constantly examine your thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others. They contain the secrets to act in powerful ways. This can lead to creating strategies enabling people to obtain remarkable results in the workplace and in other areas of their lives.
Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser