December 2, 2018



The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we discuss dealing with four types of difficult behaviour, customer decision fatigue, ways to improve your hiring, and a new feature called “The List” — in this issue, it’s a short list of how perfectionists get in their own way.  Season’s greetings to all our clients, friends and readers of The 8020Info Water Cooler. Enjoy!


1. Dealing With Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people can be… well, difficult.

Conflict engagement practitioner Kari Boyle suggests the first step is probably to change your mindset. You’re not dealing with a difficult person. You are dealing with difficult behaviours.

She also stresses in the Queen’s University IRC e-news that “it is probably safe to say that the chances that we can actually change another person are pretty low. So it makes sense that we need to start by examining ourselves.”  You’ll need some curiosity, vulnerability and empathy to understand the situation better.

In conflict, she says, people’s difficult behaviours fall into four broad categories:

  • Upset: Anyone can be upset for a wide variety of reasons.
  • One-Off: Again, any of us can exhibit these occasional but difficult behaviours.
  • Repeated Patterns of Behaviour: This happens with what has been called “high conflict personalities” — only some of us.
  • Personality Disorders: This occurs in a few of us and training is required for diagnosis. If it is present, it may be helpful to call in skilled support.

Serena Williams’ public outburst at the U.S. Open this year led to her being labelled by some as “difficult” or “high strung.” But Julie Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Windsor, wrote on the NSRLP blog: “Serena behaved badly, no doubt about it. But her anger was righteous and for good reason.”

So avoid snap judgment. Think through what is happening. The person may need psychological safety – understanding and empathy – rather than punishment.


2.  Overcoming Your Customer’s Decision Fatigue

Much has been written in recent years about the dangers of decision fatigue for managers. But your customers also suffer decision fatigue, starting with what to wear, choosing and switching lanes as they drive to work, and wending their way through their inbox.

“So when it comes to buying something, the last thing customers want is a large selection that makes choosing complicated,” Calgary-based consultant Jeff Mowatt write on his blog.

They seek what he calls A.I.D. — Analysis, Interpretation and Direction.

“Customers want you to analyze the various options available for that customer, interpret those options based on the customer’s individual needs, and direct the customer to a maximum of 3 choices,” he notes. Simply being an order taker and leaving everything to them doesn’t cut it anymore.

Claiming your product is better than the competition also doesn’t cut it. Your competitors are probably not offering junk. If your customers are already comfortably buying your competitor’s offering they will be wary of the hassles and risks of switching.

“Unless you’re offering something that provides a different – as opposed to better – way to achieve an outcome, customers often stick with the devil they know,” he writes.

After listening to the customer’s specific needs, describe the conventional solutions and explain that given the customer’s unique needs, those conventional approaches won’t achieve the desired outcome and might have a negative impact. Now describe your different solution. That’s the pathway to a sale.


3.  How To Improve Your Hiring

In Training magazine, search consultant William Vanderbloemen offers these practical tips to improve your hiring:

  • Conduct a ridiculous number of interviews: He notes that David Ramsey, a U.S. syndicated radio host on financial matters, says “even a donkey can look like a thoroughbred for two interviews.”
  • Delegate hiring: It can be a big mistake for leaders to take on the lion’s share of the hiring if they aren’t the ones who will have a lot of direct contact with the person once he or she is hired. The interview should be handled mainly by the person’s future team members. “The team should hire its own people. The leader’s role should be more as the protector or guardian of the workplace’s culture,” he says.
  • Widen the circle: Include someone outside the normal circle of interviewers in the process. If a candidate is interviewing for a job in your marketing department, have someone in another department present or have someone who would be working for that candidate conduct part of the interview.


4.  Making Flexibility Work

Flexibility is a key concept for attracting staff these days: Flexible scheduling and flexible location. But consultant Bruce Tulgan says flexibility works only if your employees feel that they can actually make use of that flexibility without hurting their careers.

“Flexibility fails as a retention tool when a company’s culture doesn’t reflect the values it proposes to new hires during the attraction stage,” he writes on LinkedIn.

“The solution? Either you admit that your culture won’t support flexibility and stop offering it as an incentive, or you transform your culture.”


5. Zingers

  • Failures fade fast:  Something crucial to understand about failure, blogger Ron Edmondson notes, is that not everyone is talking about you after it occurs. It sometimes feels as if they all are, but only some people and only for a short time, but not for long. (Source: RonEdmondson.com)
  • Manage your workplace:  Some good questions to ask your direct reports: What do you miss most about the jobs you had in the past – and why? What things about your current job do you enjoy the least – and why? To help you do your job, what could I change about your work environment or the content of your work? (Source: EricJacobsonOnManagement)
  • I don’t know: Executive coach Lisa Kohn says the best leaders know what they know and admit what they don’t know or are not sure of. They can easily say these three hard words: “I don’t know.” (Source: LeadChangeGroup)
  • Performance insights: If your organization uses KPIs – key performance indicators – consultant Dave Paradi suggests tweaking one word. Call them key performance insights. That moves you from a focus on the level of performance to a focus on understanding performance. (Source: ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com)
  • Words: Also on words, blogger Dan Black says the powerful words that all great leaders speak are encouraging words, kind words, challenging words, and corrective words. How do you fare? (Source: DanBlackOnLeadership)


6.  The List: How Perfectionists Get In Their Own Way

  • They avoid challenges in order to avoid failure.
  • They struggle to make decisions or take action.
  • They worry excessively about costs incurred that can’t be recovered.
  • They apply their high standards to others.
  • They ruminate about weaknesses, mistakes and failures.

Alice Boyes, in Harvard Business Review


7.  Around Our Water Cooler:
     Our 2018 Year-End Shout Out

At 8020Info, it’s been another year loaded with meaningful projects, and we’d like to say thanks to all those special people we collaborate with and serve — our clients.

Again this year we facilitated strategy development and planning sessions, stakeholder consultations and research, and designed communications approaches to help them move forward.

Best wishes of the season from our team to:

  • Agencies of the Lanark Developmental Services Table
  • Beth Israel Congregation – Kingston
  • Bryan Paterson Campaign for Mayor
  • Canadian Mental Health Association of Kingston / KFL&A United Way
  • Career Services of Brockville
  • City of Kingston – Public Engagement
  • City of Kingston – Workforce Development & In-migration
  • Community Living Ajax-Pickering and Whitby
  • Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
  • County of Frontenac
  • Cushman & Wakefield Kingston
  • Developmental Services of Ontario
  • Guelph-Eramosa Township
  • Kingston Day Care Inc.
  • Kingston Economic Development Corporation
  • Kingston Frontenacs
  • Kingston Police
  • Limestone Advisory on Child Care Programs
  • Madoc COPE (Community Living)
  • Providence Manor
  • Queen’s Department of Critical Care of Medicine
  • Queen’s Department of Family Medicine
  • Queen’s Library
  • Queen’s Regional Education Office
  • Resolve Counselling Services Canada
  • RTO9 “The Great Waterway” & Ontario Tourism Education Council
  • Springer Group of Companies
  • St. Vincent De Paul Society of Kingston
  • United Way of Hastings & Prince Edward

We also salute the good works of those worthy community organizations in our home town where we contributed this year as supporters and volunteers:

  • Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
  • Compassionate Kingston
  • Downtown Kingston BIA
  • Hospice Kingston
  • Imagine Kingston
  • Queen’s Family Health Team
  • SPEAKingston
  • Youth to Kingston (Y2K)

Happy holidays and best wishes for 2018!


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8020Info helps boards and senior leadership teams develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support research / stakeholder consultations, strategic planning processes, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8.  Closing Thought 

“I don’t know how to succeed. But I know how to fail — just try to please everybody.”

— Buddy Holly