How do you feel about the people you influence?
Let’s back up a step. Do you know who you influence? It may not be something you’ve thought much about, but you DO influence people. They may be the people on your team or they could be customers you serve or suppliers you deal with.
With that definition in mind, let me ask again: how do you feel about the people you influence?
How do you feel when you encounter them? Are you energized or do you dread the exchange? Do you roll your eyes behind their back and get frustrated? Or do you acknowledge and appreciate the work they are doing and look for ways to support them?
I am a strong believer that we must find a way to fall in love with those we serve, not our products, services, business model or the past.
But how do you do that when they do things that flat out annoy you? How do you do it when, maybe, you really don’t like them?
A Strong Leadership Example
Cheryl was named to the Popeye’s Board of Directors in 2006 and became CEO the following year.
In the leadership challenge, she said when she first become CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken this is what they believed about the franchisees, their most important stakeholders:
- They have a lot of emotion and relatively few facts.
- They always want some special favor.
- They never trust the franchise leader.
- They are quick to anger and slow to forgive.
- They always defend their people, even when they are wrong.
Would you be surprised to learn Popeye’s had declining sales, market share and profitability? With attitudes like that towards their franchisees, how could they have anything else?
It was clear to Cheryl that in order to be successful Popeye’s needed to reframe how they viewed their most important and valuable business partners.
They needed to find a way to love them, not loathe them.
To do this they reframed their beliefs about their partners to the following:
- They are risk takers – willing to bet their lives and bank accounts on Popeye’s. We are grateful.
- They sometimes find themselves in difficult situations. We are here to help. They have a long history with our company. It will take time for trust to build.
- They are passionate people. We appreciate their zeal for our business.
- They are loyal to their people. We could learn from them.
Wow! What a shift.
Imagine how this shift in belief impacted the way Popeye’s corporate employees behaved, responded to requests and ultimately treated their partners. Do you believe the partners felt the difference in their energy? You bet they did.
And over the course of her reign as CEO, the company made a phenomenal shift growing their market cap from less than $300 million in 2007 to over $1.8 billion in 2017. That’s staggering growth.
What limiting beliefs do you have about the people you serve? How can you re-frame those beliefs to something positive?
I have learned over the years that people are not their behaviors. We all have a tendency to see the worst in people from time to time and start to develop limiting beliefs about certain types of people, similar to the way Popeye’s corporate was developing limiting beliefs about the franchises.
If we want to reach our potential it is imperative that we guard ourselves against this tendency. We must intentionally guard against the confirmation bias that can creep in when we start to honor these perceptions. Confirmation bias causes us to see only the behaviors that confirm our beliefs. In other words, when we start to see more negatives than positives we start to develop negative beliefs and the negative beliefs cause us to look for more proof that the belief is true.
Remember, a belief is not truth. A belief is just a feeling of certainty about something or someone.
Let’s go through an exercise. Grab this worksheet before you start and then:
Choose one of the groups you influence. It could be bosses, peers, customers or someone in another department such as sales, operations, customer service, implementations etc.
Take a minute and write down all the things you believe are negative or annoying about that group. You can do this exercise thinking about groups of people as a whole and you can also do it focusing on individuals. (I have found our biases can be more negative when we think of groups as a whole. The goal is to pull out the limiting beliefs.)
Once you are done, take a step back and look at your list. How can you re-frame some of your perceptions and develop new beliefs? Take a look at the list below:
|They are lazy.||They need to be given clear goals and an inspiring environment.|
|They do not want to be held accountable.||I need to create an environment of trust so my people are willing to commit to large goals.|
|They are entitled.||They have a strong belief in their ability to deliver and a vision of success for their future. How do I leverage these traits and keep them challenged?|
|The sales team only cares about themselves and closing business.||They are very committed to delivering on their promises and ensuring they generate revenue for the company. How can we help them win?|
|The project services team does not take accountability for their results.||They have a tough environment with lots of moving pieces. How can I reduce the pressure on them to over commit?|
|The professional services department is the department of “no”.||These folks want to stay disciplined in our target market. How can I help ensure my requests are in our sweet spot?|
What Difference Could it Make?
What difference would it make if you used the re-framed perceptions and new beliefs in your interactions with this group? Remember what happened at Popeye’s?
I’m not saying you’ll experience that kind of growth and results may not be noticeable after the first interaction. In fact, you may encounter some surprise or push back when you suddenly change the way you respond to a request or behave in a conversation.
Don’t give up. You will see a difference if you stick with it.
After you’ve worked through this exercise, respond below and let me know how what you were able to reframe. More importantly, how do you think it will impact your relationships with those you influence?