The Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

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I admire people who have a reputation for making people feel noticed and special. Presidents have been lauded for their ability to remember people’s names and making them feel as if they were the only people in the room (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). Others also, they have the keen sense to recognize and comment on any changes in a person’s appearance or behavior. You may be such a person. You have an eye for detail. You know the right questions to ask, and the appropriate comments to make. These individuals have the power of observation and paying positive attention.

Additionally, individuals have a knack for always pointing out when something is wrong. But, we will spend time focusing on the people who have the power of paying positive attention to something that is right. These individuals may have the gift because it comes to them naturally, so they have the knack for it. Or they may have acquired the knowledge of the impact it has on people. They have the knack or the knowledge. Therefore, they have the intuition or received instruction on the value of paying positive attention to others.

We could describe this skill with an acronym (Power Of Paying Positive Attention). It can have a profound effect on productivity, performance, productivity and relationships.

When you watch something carefully, continuously over time, you formulate a mental baseline of how things are. This is cemented in your memory. If something changes, alarm bells signal a deviation from the norm. You may not know what changed immediately, but you are aware that something is different. Observation and perception notify the brain.

POPPA is a great skill to demonstrate in the workplace, home and school. It helps to establish and strengthen relationships. The power of paying positive attention causes you to focus on people and every aspect of their beings. You look them in the eyes. You notice them and ask questions about the quality of their work. You remember their names. You ask questions about the pictures in their workspace and other symbols in which they have pride. You may comment on their backgrounds, families, education and interest as appropriate. They feel important. You value their contributions at work and are authentically concerned about them as individuals with families and a life outside of work. You see the employee, peer or classmate as a total person with long term professional and personal interests.

If you treat people as if they matter, they may ultimately live up to your projections and live up to and exceed your expectations. If you treat people as if they exist and make them feel important, and did not invisible, you will ultimately reap the benefits of an engaged and inspired person.

We are equipped with our 5 senses, highlighted by the senses of sight and hearing to enhance our powers of observation. It does not cost us anything, but a small investment of time to notice someone. If the average human being could walk around with a fictitious cartoon bubble over their head, it would say, “Notice me” or “Please see me.” They want to feel significant, special, substantial, loved and connected.

While observing a sales representative making a presentation a manager noticed that he was obviously preoccupied. There were points in the call when additional information was needed and he was usually very adept at picking up signals and following through with the right questions. After the presentation, rather than point out the obvious oversights, he asked if everything was alright. He discovered that he had personal matters that compromised his thinking and performance. The manager adjusted his coaching accordingly.

A District Sales Manager working with a star performer was confronted with the following situation. During one of her presentations, there was tension in the air on. The sales representative was noticeably reluctant as she was visibly holding back when a strong challenge was required. The company’s reputation was being assaulted and her usually strong personality folded in the moment. The manager asked, “What would you have done if I was not present with you today?” She outlined her strategy and why she did not pursue a more aggressive stance. She told him what she would have said ordinarily if he wasn’t there. She did not want to challenge the doctor in the presence of sales management, so she was reserved.

The manager gave her the following advice. “When I work with you I want to see reality. If I coach behavior that is not your usual behavior I leave feeling that I had a productive day. But my comments would have been a waste of time. You would leave feeling that the words were meaningless because they did not apply to you. If you don’t want me to waste my time, show me what is real and trust the process that I will handle each moment as a teaching and growth opportunity.” The power of paying positive attention allowed him to recognize a change in behavior and to coach to improve performance.

Lastly, there are times in our lives where we give routine responses. We are simply going through the motions in our very busy days. We feature the same words, whether it is in a greeting or part of the key messages delivered in a conversation or presentation. It is important to get these words right, but do not become bored or distracted with repetition. This may cause you to lose focus and fail to pay attention. You may miss an opportunity to connect with someone on a different level and strengthen a relationship. Watch the person’s face and body language to detect the messages they are sending to denote interest or a reaction to your words.

Our interactions in the workplace, at home and in school are environments where we should engage with other people by showing them that they matter. As a species, we want to be recognized and respected, belong and accepted. If we positively and authentically comment on their appearance, behavior, and performance, the compliment will inspire them to work harder to become more competent, which will have a profound impact on their confidence and they will complement your work culture, family, team, and organization.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

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Loyalty – To be or not to be?

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Loyalty is an awkward discussion topic within organizations. The relationship with our jobs is complicated. Layoffs, reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, plant/store closings, and outsourcing jobs overseas have a negative impact on employers/employee relations and more row. Managers in some organizations think, “Why should I be loyal to my employees, after all this is business.” Company survival trumps loyalty is their current mindset. Employees wonder if they should stick around.

Additionally, employees who were loyal to their companies find themselves out of work and feel betrayed and used by their former employers.

Loyalty can be defined as allegiance to something or someone. Loyalty is earned and its compliance is given by consent. We are speaking of loyalty in terms of fidelity to your company. We may also view loyalty on several different levels: loyal to your manager, coworkers and team

Loyalty is an intriguing concept. We know what it is and the circumstances where it should be exercised. It is emotional and enhances the value of a relationship. Relationships have expectations. If these expectations are not met or are threatened, loyalty is affected. When loyalty is coerced or forced, people will stay on the job until the right opportunity arrives to ease their conscience as they leave the organization.

We are loyal when someone or something is worthy of our trust. However, when there is a breach of trust, loyalty is retracted.

Loyalty Demonstration

Loyalty must be discussed in the context of equality and reciprocity. After all, reciprocity is a part of the transactional currency of loyalty. The company is providing something to the individual and the individual performs the work commensurate with the salary and the environment. Loyalty involves fairness and keeping your promises. The employee’s level of engagement reflects their level of appreciation for the services rendered. If the employee is treated fairly, allegedly, they will work hard, speak highly and positively about the company and remain a part of the organization. Loyalty is given as long as both parties fulfill their part of the obligation.

A leader who is loyal to their people may fight hard to justify retaining good people at the expense of others. An organization/leader that has a reputation of doing everything to minimize layoffs and retain employees can influence the number of loyal employees who choose to stay and speak highly of the company. Some companies may take less profit, in the short term, and minimize turnover in their organization.

What do you do to develop loyalty within your people? Some may argue that loyalty is not something that you develop, but like trust, is something that is earned. What steps can you implement that will save your business and earn loyalty from your employees? Do you show that you truly value their contributions? Do you adopt strategies that protect your people during the hard times until profit improves? Do you honor your promises and meet their expectations? Discuss the big picture to keep employees apprised of company challenges and performance, where appropriate.

Seeds of defection

Organizations will frequently make decisions and state that they were made in the best interests of the company. Budgets are cut; people are reassigned or displaced in order to improve the bottom line. Some leaders will not search for an alternative view that would spare jobs and careers. Leadership will quickly reduce headcount. This plants the seeds of defection, as people realize they are only a number, a statistic, headcount and a line item on a budget.

A selfish organization risk creating a selfish, culture where people stay or jump based on their individual needs being met. Therefore, everyone is treated as expendable. People respond by acting as mercenaries or hired guns. This removes the stability that people like to experience.

If a company reduces staff, so they can bring them back later, employees become stressed. They are constantly performing emotional gymnastics in a toxic environment. Conversely, if the company goes out of its way to inform and retain people and they know it, they may go out of their way to stay or deliver higher levels of engagement, retention and overall performance, to protect the company and their jobs.

Loyalty used to be defined in the context of fidelity, as it related to staying with an organization long-term. However, there’ve been countless instances where people passed up job offers from other organizations, only to be terminated by their own company. Individuals are angry at themselves for being loyal to a company and then the company does not show the same kind of loyalty to them. When did these stories circulate around an organization, people vow to never let that happen to them if they can help it.

Mindset in Today’s market

What kind of mindset should you have in today’s precarious job market? Should you keep your head down and not worry and everything will be alright and work itself out? Should you be open-minded to the flirtations from other companies promising a better deal? Should you put the word out that you are interested and seeking a different long term relationship? When people approach work with the mindset of the, “it’s just a job,” loyalty can be compromised.

Some people strategically interview internally and externally to keep their interviewing skills sharp. Their rationale is that it keeps them sharp for jobs inside and outside of the company. Other employees interview for ego and the self worth to see if they still have the skills desired by another organization. Others want to test their market value to benchmark for raises.

Loyalty Risks

People are hired who have demonstrated the propensity to jump frequently from job to job. Their track record is firmly stated on the resume. They are hired hands or have a mercenary mentality. They have an unspoken understanding with management that they are there to fulfill an assignment or until they can’t get something better. This may ultimately become a disadvantage.

I was impressed by a young man who fits the above the description. We met between sales calls and he asked if my company was hiring? He was very impressive; He went on to say that he was always looking for a better job. He made a very elaborate presentation of his thought process of always looking out for something better. As a hiring manager, I pondered the risk of recommending or hiring someone like him who was always looking to leave for greener pastures. Loyalty with him would be misplaced and could be detrimental to the survival of the new organization.

Loyalty is a learned trait. It is generally observed and imitated. Individuals learn from an environment where loyalty is practiced. They learn the components and the guiding principles and foundation regarding its use. Both parties in the employer/employee relationship are evaluating the value of the arrangement. Both groups are under enormous pressure to behave in a manner that is considerate of each other.

If a company lays off employees as a last resort, it may be the nature of the business that is the business required it. Employees may not like it, but ultimately will understand.

If an employee receives an outstanding offer from another company that could benefit them and their families, it may be the right decision to take the job. In some industries, it is the nature of the business to change jobs frequently to build a resume of different experiences. In each situation, the ideal objective is to be respectful of each other and perform in the best interests of all parties involved.

Loyalty also mandates that you honor your decisions, whether they are to work for the company, leave the company, hire or release employees; act in a manner that shows you are respectful and deliver the best you can in the relationship. You can always show loyalty by working as hard as you can, as long as you are on the job. An organization may have to reduce staff, as a last option to remain viable as a company. An individual may be faced with the tough decision to leave a job that has good to them; in today’s turbulent times we should respond to these difficult situations with dignity and respect in all roles and for all employees. Loyalty must continue to be an important value for us. However, loyalty is strained and tested; we must combine it with trust to build stronger organizations and relationships that benefits all participants.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser