Vol-22_No-10_July 11-2022

July 10, 2022




In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at managing with compassion, giving up cheerleading approaches to change, perseverance vs. stubbornness, pairing typefaces, roadblocks that take us off track, and how it’s better to be different. Enjoy!

1. Managing with Compassion in a Heartless Culture

Employees who work for compassionate managers are 25% more engaged in their jobs, 20% more committed to the organization, and 11% less likely to burn out. But, of course, many organizations can be rigid and heartless.

If you find yourself managing in that environment, consultant Liz Kislik advises you to start working out your own robust, business-focused definition of compassion.  She notes in Harvard Business Review that compassion is not laid back but activist.

“Compassion is the feeling you have when you see someone else struggling or suffering in some way and feel the desire to take action to help relieve that suffering.” The desire to act distinguishes compassion from empathy.

You must model compassion. She points out people notice how you change your position when you receive new information, how you deal with pressure, and whether you’re negotiating with another leader on their behalf.

Keep in mind you can never be everything to everyone. “Even as you try to treat everyone with kindness and interest, you will still have to make choices about where to invest your precious time and energy,” she says.

Choose your priorities carefully and without overpromising. Certainly no banners on the wall proclaiming your compassionate mission. And deliver business results. The bottom line is the bottom line — if your bosses feel you’re not a successful leader, you won’t be able to continue taking care of your team.

2. We Need to Stop Cheerleading Change

The past two years involved significant if not unparalleled change for most organizations. But there is also a widespread feeling little progress was made towards over-arching goals – in some ways, we stood still – and the urge to kick-start change programs is strong.

So listen to change consultant Greg Satell: We need to stop cheerleading change.

Transformation is challenging. People are tired from the pandemic. Even before that period, in 2014, PwC revealed that 65% of respondents to a survey cited change fatigue, 44% of employees complained they didn’t understand the change they’re being asked to make, and 38% said they didn’t agree with it.

Curb the early grandiose talk about transition. Managers launching a new initiative often seek to start with a bang. Yet that can backfire as it gives opponents an early warning they can us to prepare to sabotage your efforts.

On his blog, he notes change is non-linear and there can be advantages to starting slow. When Wyeth Pharmaceuticals began lean manufacturing, it started with a single team in a single plant, but success there led to an eventual transformation involving 17,000 employees.

“The problem with cheerleading change is that it puts the cart before the horse. People don’t embrace change because you came up with a fancy slogan; they adopt what they find meaningful, and that creates genuine value to their lives and their work. Without that, all the happy talk just seems like a con.”

3. Perseverance vs. Stubbornness

It’s important to distinguish between perseverance and stubbornness.

Blogger Donald Latumahina says perseverance is insisting on reaching your vision but staying flexible on how to get there. Stubbornness is insisting on a certain way to reach your vision.

He warns against two traps of stubbornness.

The first is forgetting the big picture. “As a result, you treat an intermediate goal as the end goal. You forget what the real destination is and pursue a proxy instead,” he writes on the Life Optimizer blog.

Clarity is therefore essential for perseverance. You need to know what your real goal is, never losing sight of your final destination. That can help you recognize a better approach when it appears.

Another major cause of stubbornness is overconfidence. Your method may have worked in the past and you assume it will continue to work in the future.

Keep that in mind as you persevere while avoiding stubbornness.

4. How to Pair Typefaces

Decorative typefaces – script and display – can assert your brand personality on your web site or other marketing material. But user experience specialist Rachel Krause warns you not to go overboard.

She recommends pairing a decorative typeface with a sans-serif or neutral serif font. (Serifs are extra strokes or “feet” on the ends of letters. A sans-serif typeface does not have them.)

“If your decorative typeface has intense flourishes, it will look best when paired with a sans-serif typeface. If you’d rather pair it with a serif or a slab-serif, make sure its serifs aren’t so pronounced that they compete with the decorative typeface,” she writes on the Nielsen Norman Group website.

Keep in mind that pairing multiple typefaces isn’t always necessary. She notes a design employing a single typeface with multiple weights (degrees of light or bold) to distinguish components can look professional and well-balanced.

5. Zingers

  • Staff Retention Tip: One solution to current staffing challenges, particularly in low-wage situations, is to advance your own workers, suggest Harvard Business School professors Joseph Fuller and Manjari Raman. Invest in programs rooted in stability, mentorship, and a clear path to promotion. (Source: Harvard Business School Working Knowledge).
  • Hybrid Conflict Traps: Consultant Marlene Chism advises you to anticipate conflict in a hybrid workplace. The hybrid formulation creates more complexities and a greater likelihood of falling into three traps: unrealistic expectations, unfulfilled agreements and unwanted change. Look through this triple lens to anticipate where conflict will arise and with whom.  (Source: SmartBrief).
  • Two Types of Help: When you have a plan, what kind of help do you look for? Entrepreneur Seth Godin says the first kind is when someone helps you with advice or labour to accomplish what you’ve already set out to do. The second kind, rarer and more useful, is when someone helps you to realize your original plan wasn’t as good as you thought, and then assists you to devise a better one. (Source: Seth’s Blog).
  • Overcommitment Endangers Performance: High performers become poor performers when they overcommit, warns executive coach Dan Rockwell. That can come when management sets unrealistic expectations.  Challenge invigorates but overcommitment discourages high achievers. (Source: LeadershipFreak).
  • Perfection and Grace: Strive for perfection in process and grace with people, advises leadership coach Jennifer V. Miller. A process doesn’t have feelings, but the people in charge of the process do. That doesn’t mean tolerating mediocrity but remembering people are not perfect. (Source: People-Equation.com).

6. The List: Dan Sullivan’s Checklist to Stay On Track

It may be a consequence of pandemic “slow-mo”, but leaders we encounter are feeling a quickening desire for action and progress these days. They want to accomplish some concrete goals.

Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan notes that successful entrepreneurs often are good at staying on track and not getting held up for too long by unproductive obstacles — roadblocks that “hook” us, dominating thoughts and diverting our energies. Here is his list of seven common culprits:

  • Unmet Expectations. Something didn’t work out the way you planned; someone didn’t act the way you hoped they would.
  • Miscommunication. Your intention was misunderstood, or your words had an impact you didn’t intend.
  • Outside Events. Something outside your control happens and puts you off course, leading to self-criticism that  you “should have seen it coming”.
  • Ill Will. Emotional reactions to the inconsiderate, unfair or malicious behaviours of others can pull you off course.
  • Obligations. Look at those actions you don’t really want to take, but you still feel obliged to do something.
  • Unfinished Business. Your mind won’t rest until you get closure on an issue.
  • Getting Caught Up in Your Own Spin. Instead of soaring on extraordinary results or external accolades, stay focused on what got you there. Remember to “wait for the other shoe to drop”.

Take a look at these trouble spots and respond to them as raw material for making progress.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


Different is Better

AJ Vaden, CEO & Co-Founder of Brand Builders Group, says one of the first questions they ask clients is:  What makes you unique and distinct from everyone else who offers something similar?

She says most people squirm when asked this question. They’ve learned what, in Australia, is called Tall Poppy Syndrome — the idea that if you grow taller than the other poppies, you’ll get cut down. Don’t stand out from the crowd.

When you can articulate how you’re different, though, you take away confusion and guess work. You’re giving your potential clients/customers the information they need to determine whether there’s a fit with you or not.

She suggests this seven-minute exercise: Write (or riff out loud if you’re more verbal) about what makes you unique. It may help to reflect on how others have described you.

  • Do you bring an unusual combination of experience and education to the table?
  • Do people gravitate to something you do/are naturally, without much effort?
  • Do you break one of the common ‘rules’ that others in your niche generally follow?

Vaden uses this exercise as a strategic thinking tool to help their most successful clients. If your brand needs help, the seven minutes may well be worth your time.

What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: The Power of Employee Resource Groups by diversity consultant Farzana Nayani is a useful guidebook for establishing identity groups to create a more inclusive environment in your workplace.
  • Rob’s Pick: Sentient: What Animals Reveal About Our Senses. Who knew there were so many ways to sense and interpret our environment? As you look beyond the standard five senses of what we see, hear, feel and so on (e.g. think how we sense our body/self, or time, space and balance), it prompts  you to think how we might broaden the ways we feed daily decision-making in organizations. I haven’t read much biology, but this engaging, surprising and fascinating book by Jackie Higgins can change how you make sense of the world. (Found it through this short overview on CBC As It Happens.)


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

8.  Closing Thought

“Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.”

Alan Alda, Actor/Comedian