Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creating Rapport - It's Key To Your Professional Success

As any good recruiter will tell you, when it comes down to a hiring manager choosing which candidate to offer their position, the hiring manager will not always select the most experienced, best educated or most credentialed candidate. They will, however, always select the candidate that they connected with - the one with which the hiring manager felt the best rapport.

Creating rapport starts at the first impression. When meeting someone for the first time, especially in an interview situation, most of us become too nervous to think beyond our own role in the interview, i.e., firm handshake, eye contact, genuine smile, listening carefully, selling our talents as we answer questions. But to create rapport, you have to pay attention to the other person. What is their emotional state? What motivates them?

In my coaching practice, I often teach mirroring techniques to help my clients gain understanding of others with whom they interact. For instance, someone who is very direct in their communication style might come across as abrupt to another whose style is to take a softer, more considered approach. When utilizing mirroring techniques, you exhibit a reflective communication style, meaning that you adapt your communication style to reflect harmoniously that of the other person. So that person with a very direct communication style, when interacting with someone with a softer, more considered style, would slow down, listen carefully, and adopt a more considerate approach. By doing this, you are creating immediate understanding and rapport with the other person. Since your communication styles are now compatible, the other person will be focused on what your are saying, rather than your communication style.

Creating rapport begins with your very first encounter with another person, whether in person or in writing. Becoming aware of your own style, the way you prefer to function, is the first step in gaining understanding of the preferences of others, which is the first step in creating rapport. So be aware. Seek out opportunities to practice mirroring techniques. See how your ability to reflect the preferred style of another helps you create rapport with them.

How could you utilize this talent to become the preferred candidate in an interview opportunity?

How could you utilize creating rapport to better demonstrate your effectiveness to your manager?

How would creating rapport help you to better motivate and lead your team?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leadership Performance Management: Reviewing the Reviewer

For a lot of companies, Q1 is performance review time. Given the economic hurdles of the last few years, most employees are hoping that their efforts will be acknowledged by their managers, even if they can't be rewarded with the substantial raises and bonuses of years past. But what if the manager is the one in the review hot seat? And what if that manager has exhibited some serious performance gaps during the last 12 months? How do you provide constructive performance feedback to a performance manager?

When giving feedback to someone in a leadership role, make sure that you have all of the facts and data to back up performance conclusions. Acknowledge positive performance; never allow negative performance issues to completely overshadow positive contributions. Don't allow the person being reviewed to become focused on the fact they are receiving negative feedback. Rather, impart the data and the resulting conclusion, and then guide them to focus on probable resolutions to their performance gaps. Have them offer a reasonable timeline and reporting mechanism for chosen resolutions. As a final close, communicate the expected performance standards for their role, acknowledge those they have performed well, and restate the areas targeted for improvement along with their performance plan, timeline and reporting mechanism.

We coach managers to take CARE when giving bad news: be Confident in their message; exhibit Authenticity and speak the truth to their audience; have all the facts in their Rationale; and always have Empathy for their audience. By taking CARE when imparting poor performance feedback, the reviewer will empower the employee to understand the feedback, and create a performance improvement plan of action. The CARE method applies, even when reviewing the reviewer.