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FLEXO Magazine : March 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES Just don't tell them, for example, sales have declined 30 percent; tell them what a 30 percent drop in sales means. people are feeling and move on. Say, if not in words, then by your empathy, "I care." · Interpret the facts. In spite of what is often said, the facts don't speak for themselves. It's your responsibility as a leader to gather the facts (all the facts), evaluate them, analyze them and come to some understanding of what they mean. And then it's your responsibility to share your understanding with your employees. Just don't tell them, for example, sales have declined 30 percent; tell them what a 30 percent drop in sales means. Help them understand what's going on. . Create a positive metaphor. "Yes, these are tough times," the manager at a defense contracting company told his employees, "but we've been through tough times before. We're battle-tested veterans. We don't give up. And we leave no one behind." That metaphor - battle-tested veterans who don't give up - resonated with his employees and renewed their determination. Be sure that the image you choose is one that you personally believe in and that your employees can adopt. happy face, and they'll be less, not more, likely to do so. Be ebullient, and you'll be unbelievable. Instead, be confident, positive and purposeful. · Say what you want and explain why thf!Y want it too. Tell your employees in a short, simple sentence exactly what you want them to do. Then show them how doing what you want will help them achieve what they want. If you want them to work longer or harder or in a different way, you have to figure out how they will benefit from doing so. What's in it for them? . "Be the change you wish to see." The words of Gandhi are as true today in the corporate world as they were 50 years ago in India. Your employees don't simply listen to your words. They filter everything you say through their experience of you. Your actions, attitude, and interactions with them are more than an example for them to follow; they are also the lasting message people will take away from your talk. Your employees want you to succeed. They don't want to slog through their days, depressed and anxious. · Make hope sensible. You can't counteract concrete negative images-homes being foreclosed, people losing jobs, busi- nesses closing down-with abstract positive concepts like perseverance, resolve and dedication. If you want people to believe in hope, you have to make it sensible, which means according to the dictionary "perceptible by the senses or the mind." The best way to show people images of hope is by telling them stories. . Be action oriented. It's counterproductive at best to say, "You're wrong to think like that" or "You shouldn't feel that way." You can't change how people think or feel- only they can do that - but you can change how they act. And by chang- ing how they act, you create the possibility that they'll change their thoughts and feelings. Almost a century ago William J ames, the philosopher and psychologist, made an assertion that has been long since been proven: "Actions seem to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regu- lating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not." . Don't go overboard. This isn't the time-people aren't in the mood-for pep rallies and rah-rah-isn't-everything-great celebrations. Tell anxious people to cheer up and put on a . Tell the truth. Part of why the economy is in such sad shape - not the entire reason, but part of the reason - is because some prominent leaders have been mistaken, unreliable or downright dis- honest. People aren't as willing as they once were to take the word of their leaders. You have to prove your trustworthi- ness. If you say anything that your listeners doubt, they will doubt everything you say. As a leader, it is part of your job to rally your employees in try- ing times and point them toward a better future. What better way to do that than with a well-executed speech? If the challenge of giving such a speech-positive, inspirational and truthful-seems overwhelming, consider this: Your employees want you to succeed. They don't want to slog through their days, de- pressed and anxious. They want you to help them keep hope alive. . ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As an executive speech coach with more than 25 years of professional experience, Chris Witt is author of the newry released book, "Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint," andfounder of Witt Communications. He helps CEOs gain board approval and company-wide support for initiatives, empowers newry promoted managers, helps technical experts simplijj their presenta- tions to win multi-million dollar contracts, and enables entrepre- neurs to grow their businesses through the power of effective speak- ing and presenting. For more information about his services, call 619-295-8411 or visit www.wittcom.com. MARCH 2009 - www.f I exog ra p hy.o rg FLEXO
Sustainable Winter 2009