Friday, 27 January 2012

Winning comes down to Hearts & Minds

Looking at this picture, it could be set anywhere...
So if it were your workplace and your team of colleagues that you spend hours per week with, have you ever wondered what they are really thinking when it comes to joint objectives, innovation, conflicts or perhaps relationships?

Perhaps you all share current thinking, demonstrate emotions that are bubbling away... or not.

But how can you make your work (and home) life easier to fathom and influence what evolves each day?

When it comes to determining how best to get the workplace motivated, focused and joined-up, many businesses have great ideas and try hard, some business are too busy dealing with the day to day to give it consistent focus, others do not factor it in at all!

One thing for sure is, especially during tough times for employees and their families, that being happy and secure at work is as important as being safe and secure at home (enough money, happy relationships, social activities, etc). If the positive/negative balance of either Work or Home comes under threat or perceived threat, an individual can quickly become confused, de-motivated, disillusioned, anxious, resistant or disengaged.

Earning an income and maintaining a level of consistency and significance drives most of us, because it is what we are hard-coded to need. So if being at work becomes a chore, where you don't know what is really going on except what you "hear" or perhaps "see" going on, and you don't particularly feel valued or involved, perhaps because everyone is too busy or secretive, then you are going to be making an impact upon your colleagues, manager and the business - perhaps without even knowing it!

What is "hearts and minds" then?
Within the workplace the dynamics of thinking and emotions drive the best and the worst decisions, they drive positive or negative behaviour. Thinking and emotions are the way that people look at and interact with the world around them. This is not fluffy, it is basic human activity and can be found the world over.

When I left the British Army in 1988 the term "hearts and minds" was synonymous with desert campaigns where troops went into local communities to connect with locals and win their "hearts and minds" through understanding what made them tick (motivations, values, beliefs, fears, anxieties, culture, history, traditions) and then interacting with them through this insight. This was and still is, the chosen way to connect with people's emotions and thinking, and to develop significantly potent and deep connections.

Take this into the world of industry and commerce, the rules and applications are exactly the same, the results and longevity are potent. But, how many organisations and leaders, their managers and supervisors, actually accept that winning "hearts and minds" is a useful and effective tool in getting better engagement, less resistance and greater innovation and adaptability out of employed teams?

Make it a focus, get the results..
I am an advocate of putting "tools" into the hands of people so that they can better enjoy and interact with life (at home and work). Often this involves direct interventions to "walk to talk", but once people see how easy it is to connect with others and to create real buy-in, they enjoy the results of new interactions and of connecting with others - they naturally accept the benefit. Any aspect of working with or leading, other people, requires an ability to connect in order to work together well. Just telling someone to do something doesn't work unless of course they rationalise the task positively themselves and do it anyway but will still have a level of resistance. But by working through the "hearts and minds" logic, you have been encouraging them to think with you and develop self-motivated actions ahead of you/with you - which is the key!

Employees and managers, in many work environments today, are under extreme pressure to deliver more with less. Executives and managers feel the stress and pass this on (intentionally or unintentionally) to those around them. The most effective leaders have created better buy-in and support from those around them, who share the emotions linked to objectives and to drive toward the same goals.... so why do they do this?

Not Rocket Science..
This is not about training, it is something we can all do naturally (making friends, networking, etc we want to get behind the person) but often at work it is not considered either appropriate or applicable. But be honest, at work most decisions are driven my doing some due diligence in advance, where you understand what you are up against and what is best to mitigate the risks. So why then not apply this to people management or team dynamics and do the due diligence? What you will find is not only interesting, but invaluable for winning the "hearts and minds" of those around you and for getting breakthrough results - for longer. 

No more will you then assume you have the inside track, no longer will you expect things to happen and then become frustrated/angry when they simply don't happen. By communicating and interacting through the process of  "hearts and minds" you make things "real" for you and others, which creates a momentum that does not require constant review or monitor.

My message?
Whether you are an executive, consultant, manager or employee one thing is for sure, you have to rely upon other people each day and how they behave impacts upon you. How you think and behave will impact upon them. This is called the People Factor and it is alive, working and needs to be understood. People either inhibit or facilitate progress and stability, so it is critical to accept that winning "hearts and minds" is the only way to ensure that you have the types of buy-in and connections that will help and support you. 

I have met many that dismiss "hearts and minds" as fluffy or see them this as an element of having soft skills. I say they are missing the trick and are making work life (and I suspect home and social life) much harder than is necessary - why? because when I was a business leader, I said it too!

What Next?

  1. Do the due diligence and develop "hearts and minds" skills by getting the inside track on what makes people tick. 
  2. Communicate on a level that connects and behave accordingly, so they connect with you.
  3. Embrace "hearts and minds" because it works and has done for centuries.
  4. My previous blogs explain about the basics of Human Needs, I also provide some basic Resources on my website, that explain about how people think and what drives behaviour... why not have a read.

Until next time... Jay

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