My post on 4/3 tackled getting into alignment at work and it was a doozie! Many of you had requests to go a bit deeper into the content, so I am breaking it in pieces to share a bit more about each of the “7 Ways To Get Alignment At Work” (and in life!). This is an expansion of tip #5: Ask Questions and Listen
Focus on Them
If you’re working to get alignment with others, you have to make it about them first. What are their opinions on the situation or topic?
This should be a balanced approach, as you want your interaction to be forward-looking and solution-focused and not appear to accuse them of anything. Often, before we get there we need to allow the other person to “catch up.” Specifically, you want to understand how the other person believes they are impacting the situation/outcomes. There’s a dance that needs to happen here:
Share what you believe is the situation. Ask for their thoughts.
Share an outcome that you believe can be mutually beneficial to both of you. Ask for their thoughts.
Share how you believe you’ve been impacting it. You see where I’m going here…ask for their thoughts.
When asking their opinion, a good way to approach that is to say, “What has been your interaction with this situation so far” OR “How have you been involved with XYZ?” This is curious without being confrontational.
Build Them Up
Knowing your goal is to be more aligned with this person for the “good of the cause,” this is a great chance for you to point out how you view their strengths. Additionally, how they can be applied to the situation.
If your company has taken a personality or some other type of assessment, leverage that for common language. This can help you both speak the same language and be a nice starting point for the conversation. Exercise caution when approaching any categorization that comes from these assessments. I am a huge fan and have experience in Myers Briggs, Insights, DiSC and am certified in StrengthsFinder. I’ve seen time and time again where people over-use these categories and treat them as labels. We’re complex individuals and even if we show up as one thing on an assessment, we are multi-layer individuals.
So, leverage any documentation or tools that are out there to help you understand your own style/strengths as well as theirs. Then focus on using your own language and observations to point out their talents/strengths. Who doesn’t appreciate a sincere compliment, that’s specific and kind?
One you’ve pointed out strengths, it’s time to move the conversation forward to action. Ask if they are willing to have a brainstorming session with you on where and how you both can increase your impact.
Some key questions for consideration:
What do you believe is the ideal outcome?
How can you and I best impact it?
How can we leverage others?
What do you think I can do better or differently?
Reverse It With Your Leader
If you are working to create better alignment with your leader, I suggest you follow these steps in reverse. You’ll need to be ready to sell your own solutions, so think that through thoroughly before engaging them. They still need to hear how they can be valuable to the cause so don’t skimp here. Be authentic, but don’t skimp. There are some mediocre leaders out there, so if you truly can’t think of any powerful individual strengths, focus on the benefit of the opportunity to the organization.
Once you’ve shared your thoughts and provided your leader with the appropriate space to process this for their style/personality, ask for their opinion. What guidance do they have to share? What haven’t you thought of?
Keep Up Momentum
Once you’ve engaged someone else, be ready to keep the momentum going. The best way to do this is to gather more people to the cause or action needed. How do you do that? Pick a new person, move to the top of this article and repeat the steps.
If you are looking for a common ground, I’m a Certified StrengthsFinder Coach and can help you with the survey (both the top 5 and full 34 are reasonably priced) and guidance on how to implement. It’s strength-focused and easy to understand. If your organization could use some additional help in navigating change, growth plans, etc. I am able to support you through a consulting partnership.
Peace and Progress,