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Dealing with Two Faces June 28, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in Changing behavior, Handling hot buttons, Relationship.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

The oldest challenge in business is dealing with people who have two faces.  You know what I mean.  They show you one face but really have another completely different face they don’t want to show you.  Saying one thing but really meaning another.  Doing one thing but really undermining you behind the scenes.  It’s just one of those things in life that irritate and often can be a drain on time and resources.

Here are my thoughts on this age-old issue:

  • No, you are not paranoid.  Given enough time, people who are two-faced will show themselves to be who they are.  It’s almost impossible for them not to.  You’ll eventually be able to verify for yourself that they wear two-faces.
  • Being two-faced is natural for humans.  People are people and there will always be some who just can’t help themselves – it’s in their behavioral “genes”.
  • You will not cure them.  It’s life and so we move on.
  • No, I will not have a beer with them.  When I find them out, I’ll work with them of course in the spirit of professionalism but we’re not going to be buddy-buddy and have a beer after hours or anytime in between.  It’s bad enough I have to deal with them knowing they are so phony.
  • Never let them know.  The worst thing you can do is to try to expose them (“You’re so two-faced”) – not productive or helpful.  It’s enough that you know what you know.

As irritating as they are to me, two-faced people are a fact of life and we must deal with them the best we can.  In the long run, I think it’s always better to know who they are and keep them at a respectable distance without offending them.  They can’t help themselves.

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Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

Take control of your hot buttons June 29, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Handling hot buttons, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want to maintain control in a heated discussion? The Big Dogz know how to do that.  Most of us encounter those times in meetings, phone calls or one on one discussion where we go off on tangents defending ourselves or an issue that is vital to us. Frequently these diversions cause us to lose effectiveness or to even look unprofessional. Why does this happen? Well, probably someone has pushed one of our buttons. This phrase is commonly used to describe a situation where we are thrown off track and lose our ability to influence. People are thinking “There he goes again, on that soapbox.”

Here is a technique the Big Dogz use to keep themselves from getting on that soapbox, and to keep themselves focused on the topic at hand.

  1. Be aware of your “button pushed” behavior. For some people there are definite physical indicators. We can feel our heart beating harder and faster. Our ears get red. We begin emphatic gesturing to emphasis points that do not need emphasis.  Get a friend to help you create this awareness. This step is the single most important step in taking control of your buttons. You cannot do anything about your buttons unless you know your behaviors when they are pushed.
  2.  When you engage in “button pushed” behavior, that is, either you or a colleague have discovered you are engaged in this behavior, stop, take a breath and think about what just happened. What did this person say or do that made me go into “button pushed” behavior? You can be sure the other person knows what your buttons are. They just pushed one because you were winning the discussion and they were unwilling to change. If they can divert your thinking, they can at least walk away with a “no decision.” You have just moved from the offensive to the defensive!
  3.  As soon as possible, focus back on the original discussion. You can say something like “That is an interesting point, let’s consider it later.” It is an effective technique to take a deep breath or if possible a short break. Of course, you will want to let the other person know that you know they tried to push one of your buttons! “As you know, that issue is very important to me, but in the context of this discussion does not move us forward in getting to a solution. I would be interested in exploring that issue after we have settled this discussion.”
  4. You now have complete awareness of this issue that causes you to engage in “button pushed” behavior. This awareness means you can take control! Try to spend some time analyzing why this issue is so important to you and can you really do anything about it. If the issue is some past wrong committed, let it go so you can move on. If the issue is a moral or ethical one, think deeply about how you can make the issue right. What is your plan to address the issue? If you do not let it go or work on fixing it, the issue will continue to haunt you as a button.
  5. If you are not able to eliminate this button, at least you can be aware that it is a button and those around you will also be aware of it. Even the most well meaning of us will push a person’s button from time to time. Expect that people will use this knowledge, not because they are evil and dedicated to your demise, but because they are human. When this button is pushed, take control — remain calm, acknowledge the importance of the issue to you, separate the issue from the current discussion and move back into being effective. If you really need to vent or talk about this button, schedule another meeting or discussion around the issue.

 

The Big Dogz take control of their issues. You can not expect to uncover every button you have; but you can identify the really big ones and develop a strategy for handling situations where your buttons are pushed,

 

In the next thirty days, start observing your own behavior to identify your specific “button pushed” behavior. Then put in place the rest of this process to be on your way to being more effective.