How to recognise when you & the team are out of tune?
In the words of George Bernard Shaw “In the right key, one can say anything. In the wrong key, nothing. The only delicate part is the establishment of the key.”
This morning a frustrated General Manager shared “I’ve had to send a team member home, they’re taking two weeks holidays. We’ve had to draw the line in the sand. Enough is enough. Other staff are complaining, upset. It’s the bullishness, aggression, it’s beyond rude. It’s not about the actual work. They’re good at that. It’s the communication part – the people stuff that’s just not working! Do you reckon a person can change their behaviour?”
Having played the piano since I was barely 8 years old, over the years, I’ve hit a lot of wrong notes. Felt too tired to play.
The piece was tricky. My fingers have slipped, or simply forgotten the notes or totally misread the music in front of me.
Leadership is similar.
We can slip up, forget and very frequently misread the people in front of us. The cues that are so obvious, yet, if we’re not watching closely we miss them.
Or worse still, we may not have ever learnt how to read them in the first place. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone.
Like learning to read, write, walk, talk, do maths or kick and catch a ball, learning to read and understand people is an extraordinarily important part of our daily life.
Yet, how often do we actually sit down and take the time to study and learn this stuff?
How many hours do you spend interacting with people in some way shape or form in a day, a week, across a year?
Hours and hours, weeks and weeks, years and years.
And time after time, again and again, the misreading, the misunderstanding and the miscommunication are happening in our workplaces and at home.
Have you ever had someone in your work environment totally hit the wrong note with you or the rest of the team?
You know…. that feeling, they’ve really rubbed you the wrong way?
Nothing physical about this, I mean because of the way in which they speak to you, to others, how they respond, what they say and do…. It completely drives you nuts?
No doubt YES.
And perhaps you’ve maybe had that effect on someone else? Yet not realised it either.
A good 80% of the problems in a workplace environment are due to the people stuff. People not getting and understanding each other. Those often basic and subtle nuances of human behaviour. The distinctions that we’re born with or then moulded with by parents, carers, teachers, coaches and peers over time.
They make and break relationships, internal with team and external with clients, partners, board members and suppliers, the greater community and beyond. (Think Trump here… he’s impacting Nations/World, well and truly ruffling feathers…. Enough said on politics for the moment though).
Back to the GM – “Do you reckon a person can change?”
I do believe people can change.
They have to want to and they have to realise why and how change is beneficial. So too can the GM and the other staff evolve and adapt too because change is about individuals and an entire teams learning and growing.
Each individual can become more self-aware of their own energy and communication style. What behaviours or personality traits may be working or not working for them. For others. And for the business or organisation.
It’s subtle. It’s powerful. It’s about understanding.
What can be played louder?
What needs softening?
Speed up, slow down?
Get closer? Step back?
Music is an art form, as is communication and creating a high-performing team.
Rarely does anyone learn Schumann’s “Toccata in C Major, Op.7” or Chopin’s “Etude in G# minor, Op.25; No.6” or Franz Liszt’s “La Campanella” overnight.
Renown as some of the hardest piano pieces of all time, they take an extraordinary amount of time, finesse, practice and persistence, along with a whole kit bag of other great qualities that are required for skilful piano playing, performance and similarly leadership.
Do you and your team have what it takes?
Is there self-awareness to start with?
Change is not required if there is mutual consent that the team is all happy and good with their energy and style, it’s working for everyone, there are stoked customers and clients, shareholders are thrilled, business is booming. Yep, right. It’s a rarity that it’s all roses and happy days.
Honestly, though, it can be easier to avoid the difficult conversations or the areas of conflict. Being curious takes courage. Being honest takes bravery.
Are you the leader ready and prepared to say to the team “Let’s work at this?”
Being ok with the status quo is absolutely easier, safer and more comfortable.
It could ALSO be easier to make it about one person’s ways.
But is it really only about that one person and their ways?
– Some type of people take things very personally – they’re ‘Feeling’ people, whilst others are all about the outcomes, bulldozing in the extreme over people’s feelings when they’re out to achieve the results.
– Some type of people are all about the details, the nuts and bolts, driven to get things right and accurate and that may annoy the hell out of those bigger picture types, who want someone else to take care of the detail.
– Some type of people loves to wait to be told what to do. They weren’t handed out a bottle of initiative and drive at birth to use for a lifetime. But heck they make great doers and get on with a stack-load of work when the pathway and instructions are clear and specific.
– Some type of people can talk underwater, making it all about themselves or you watch them at a networking party full of charm, oozing charisma, small talk and are the life of the party. Others watch in amazement, then cringe, checking their watch yet again and wonder “When’s too early to do a toilet fade* without the boss noticing?” (* = exit a party/event or pub night without saying goodbye) or maybe they ‘yet again’ give themselves a good talking to about “I should have stayed home and not come at all”.
We’re all different and we all do things for certain reasons. Some of it is innate and some of it’s learnt behaviour. Sometimes it can be a strength, sometimes an unrealised strength and perhaps it’s a weakness doing more damage in a variety of ways we’re not even aware of yet. To self and others.
No matter what, there is an art to it.
There is an art to creating extraordinary music, to building a high-performance team, improving communication and creating an outstanding environment, where each and every member of the team can flourish and thrive.
Genevieve “Making Music” Matthews
P.S Whenever you’re ready – here are 4 ways I can help you grow your business leadership capabilities.
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