Archive for September, 2010

You have to leave town but before you go, you ask one of your directs to fill in for you and lead the next team meeting. They have never led a meeting before and you can tell they are really nervous. Their anxiety is caused by a simple question; “Can I do this?”

The answer to this question is rooted in the degree of Self-Efficacy a person possesses. Self-Efficacy is the belief that you have the skills necessary to complete a task, and that you  have the capacity to translate those skills into effective performance, especially under difficult circumstances. Those who have high Self-Efficacy for a certain task will usually out perform those who score low in the same area.

The opposite of efficacy is doubt. If you doubt your ability to run the meeting in place of your boss, you will most likely experience anxiety, confusion, and negative thinking. All of these states produce sub-par performance.

So in order to give your direct the best chance of performing like a super star, you need to help them increase their self-efficacy beliefs for the task at hand. But how do you do that?

Here’s how to boost a person’s performance by helping increase their self-efficacy beliefs by focusing on these three sources.

  • Previous Experience

People learn their current self-efficacy from their interpretations and memories of past attempts to enact the behavior. When you remind your direct that while they may have never led any meetings for you, they have led tons of them in the past it strengthens their confidence for the task at hand. This is why reviewing your own resume is usually an uplifting experience. It reminds you of all of things you have done before and has a leavening effect on your confidence.

  • Vicarious Experiences

When we see others do the same task it gives us a great boost in confidence. It ignites the “If they can do it, so can I” principle. Asking a colleague if your direct can sit in and observe how they lead their meeting will give them a boost in confidence. This concept is even more powerful when the people we watch our most like us. If you want your child to stop wearing a life jacket in the pool, but you are having a hard time convincing them to give it up, simply put them in a pool with kids their age who are not wearing life jackets. In no time at all, your child will ditch the swimming aid for good.

  • Pep Talks

Pep talks help switch a performers focus from their sources of weakness, to sources of strength. By helping people see their strengths and potential, it bolsters their internal belief that they can accomplish what lies before them. Pep talks are the most powerful when they come from someone we view possessing

    • Credibility
    • Expertise
    • Trustworthiness

Pep talks can provide a temporary boost in motivation, convincing people to at least give it one more try. By helping your direct focus on what strengths they possess that will help them lead a great meeting will increase confidence.

I have used these three principles before with my own children with great success. My teenage daughter recently had to audition for a dance academy and was understandably nervous. I was ably to remind her of all of the other auditions and tryouts she had succeeded at in various sports and then helped her focus on her natural strengths she could rely in on her audition. After my mini pep talk, she said, “Thanks that actually makes me feel better”( a rare confirmation that she is listening to me).

So next time you ask one of your directs to go outside of their comfort zone, employ the three sources of self-efficacy to help give them a boost, and watch their performance take off because of it.

Leave a comment below…

The 4 Questions

Whenever you must communicate an idea or concept, there are 4 questions you must answer to maximize the effectiveness of your message. By making sure each of these 4 questions are answered in your presentation you will hold the attention of more people in the room and get more of them to take action on what you are saying. You will also avoid giving a presentation that people are not interested in because they don’t see any benefit.

In this post we answer the first of the four questions.
Why

In your opening sentences you want to answer the question “Why should I listen to you?” You do this by outlining clear and tangible outcomes that make this information important. People are inundated with information these days and need a good reason to give their full attention. By answering “Why” in the opening you give them reason to pay attention to what you have to say.

Compare these two openings:
1. Today I want to talk to you about how to run an effective meeting. As you all know, running an effective meeting is part of the tool set every good manager needs. Meetings are an essential part of the communication process. There are three points I want to make today about running effective meetings. They are……….

2. Today I want to talk to you about how to run an effective meeting. I’m going to outline 3 things you need to do in every meeting you run. In fact, if you do these three things, you will be able to cut your meeting time in half, boost your productivity by 30%, and create an experience that soon becomes the highlight of everyone’s week.
Also by doing these three things you are going to avoid those long boring meetings where nothing gets decided, and everyone in the room would rather be someplace else.

So here you can see two different openings but the second one is vastly more impacting. Notice that in the first opening it sounds like an essay from English class. Wordy, proper, but not grabby. Our goal is to communicate a message not impress people with poise, and grammer.

The second opening does two things. First it outlines there are 3 things you need to do in every meeting you run but does not tell you what they are yet. This helps build interest. Secondly it gives reasons why you want to do these three things:

1. Cut your meeting time in half

2. Boost your productivity by 30%

3. Create a time that soon becomes the highlight of everyone’s week

These are all “Approach Motivations”. They outline positive outcomes we want.

Then the opening provides some “Avoidance Motivation” by giving what you will avoid if you do these three things.

“avoid those long boring meetings where nothing gets decided, and everyone in the room would rather be someplace else.”

A certain segment of the population are driven more by approach motivation whereas the rest are driven predominantly by avoidance motivation. Including both of these in your intro creates a compelling answer to the question, “Why should you listen to me?”

Next entry we will cover the other three questions you need to answer in every speech or presentation.

Question Three – How
Answering “How” is especially important for those people who really want the practical steps outlined for them. This type of learning style does not care as much about why or what, they just want the action steps to take. This is the learning style that doesn’t bother to read the introduction or forward to books or even the first few chapters. They want to jump ahead to the solutions. Of course having practical steps to take in any speech is a good idea but a certain segment of the population needs to hear this if you are going to keep their attention.
So lets take the example we used above about metabolism and weight loss. We have already answered “Why” and then “What”. So next we can segue into a series of steps on how someone might speed up their metabolism. It might be the top 5 foods to eat, or the the 7 things you can do today to speed up your metabolism. This practical list of steps will really meet the needs of this learning style.

Question Four
The last question we want to answer is “What if”. For example, “If I start eating the five foods you are telling me to eat, what should I look for, or how will I know if it is working.” In this step we are telling people what to look for “if” they have done the steps above. This helps people create their own feedback system which is important for any sense of achievement to take place.

So there you have it. Four questions you want to answer in most speeches you give, no matter how long they are. So next time you have to give a speech or convince your employees of something at your next meeting consider structuring your presentation to answer the four questions.

Good Luck

Leave a comment below,

James

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