Monday, November 30, 2009

Taking issue with change

Originally uploaded by flightlessXbird

Why is it that when we want to see change it can't happen soon enough, yet when other people want it we resist? Is it just a symptom of our inner control freak that's emerging for the world to see? Or is there more to it than that?

  1. It's much easier to expect external change than it is to implement internal change. We've got our habits of thought and behavior, our own personal cart paths that we walk every day, mostly without engaging conscious thought. Our habits feel comfortable and familiar, even if they are not getting the results that we want. And when we mess with them, even for the sake of a better outcome, we feel out of whack and disoriented for a while.
  2. It's obvious what other people need to do to improve. All it takes is a good look. But then if we consider that they are subject to #1 just like we are - hmmm....they might not see it and it might not be comfortable for them to change, either. I see where this is going - change starts with self. Rats.
  3. We don't like change as much when somebody else has thought of it. Especially when it upsets our apple cart. Don't tell me that I'm never going to be allowed to eat peanut butter again because when I breathe PB & J your allergies kick in. And don't mess with my perfected budget by sending me a request that I didn't anticipate and didn't build into it. If I didn't include it you must not need it very much - you just think you do. Wait until next year. Maybe.
  4. Some of us automatically dislike change more than others. Certain temperaments tend to cling to stability and stasis more than others do. Systemic thinkers try to fit things to the pre-existing rules, to the precedents. We can choose to look at these people as appropriate balance for the precipitous action takers, or we can look at them as ballast that slows the ship down.
  5. One change can create a chain reaction of other changes. Just paint the family room a different color and you'll see. The carpet will suddenly need to be updated - then once the floor looks as fresh as the walls you'll be itching for a new chair. At least that's what my husband keeps telling me. Same goes if you upgrade your laptop - you start thinking about new software and an updated carry bag for it (hate that unpacking and repacking of the briefcase at airport security.) On the upside, one small improvement can create momentum for a chain of other small improvements, and together they can transform a person, a relationship, a process or a company.
  6. There's often a lag time between the change and the results of change. We want to see the benefit - now. We don't want to wait. The lag time can cause us to revert to our old ways, or to tinker with our change and change again before the results of the first have time to reveal themselves. Even the quickest-growing vegetable seeds need time to germinate. And some of the best plants take years to sprout.
  7. There's no avoiding it. Some people live in homes that are homages to the Victorian era, so much so that you'd expect Abe Lincoln to step out of the guest bedroom. That's on purpose, but I'll bet you that they have central heat and indoor plumbing. And in the business world some products are valued partly because they are produced by the old, handcrafted methods. But you can't sustain a market position by standing still. You have to change just to keep your same place in the queue. If you try to stay just the way you are (or were 20 years ago,) the waves of change will have you face down in the sand.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Putting the giving in Thanksgiving

Give a hand
Originally uploaded by ph7labs

On television and in print media we see images of Thanksgiving Day with tables heaped high with comfort food, family members and/or friends around the table - visions of plenty. We know that not everyone has the same level of comfort and resources that we have, yet for many of us the official Day of Thanksgiving is about us - about gathering our people around our table to share our food, our home, and our good times.

I have a lot of admiration for people who spend Thanksgiving serving food to those who don't have fancy dinners at home, or any dinners for that matter. But for those of us who have grown attached to our private family celebrations on the big day and for whom missing one of the post-feast football games would be sacrilege, there's good news: the giving part of Thanksgiving can be done any day of the year.

That's not exactly news. But just in case you're short on ideas on how to give back, or you're in search of new ones, here are some cool ways that people have been passing their gifts along:

  • A group of Rotarians volunteered to plant trees to beautify their city streets.
  • Medical groups went abroad to perform dental work, plastic surgery on cleft palates, and other health care services in places with scarce medical resources.
  • A business owner contributed the resources and his own time to dig wells in Africa, ensuring safe drinking water for communities plagued by illnesses linked to poor quality water sources.
  • A busy young mother volunteered to get training and then meet weekly one-on-one to help another adult learn to read.
  • A bagel shop donated its day-end inventory to a local swim team to use at its fundraiser snack bar.
  • A neighbor volunteered and painted the garage exterior of a disabled resident to cover profane graffitti and spruce up the appearance of the streetscape.
  • A retired couple traveled to help with post-Katrina cleanup.
  • A brother and sister donated the toys that they don't use any more and are still in good condition to a crisis shelter for battered women and their families.
  • Companies sponsored at-risk children to attend a summer leadership camp, where they learned about how to set goals and to see brighter futures for themselves.
  • An elderly gentleman read in the newspaper about a boy's bike being stolen, so he went out and purchased a replacement for the boy, who happened to live in a nearby town. They had no other connection other than the news story.
  • A professional firm makes a point of doing two pro bono projects per year so people who would not typically have access to their services can do so.
  • Group after group volunteers to provide the dream of home ownership by volunteering to help build through Habitat for Humanity.
  • A couple of singing friends from a local church make the rounds of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, entertaining residents who are often lonely and in need of cheering up.

Our gifts are so varied, and so are the opportunities for us to give - in our neighborhoods, in our community organizations, in our country and around the world. The first key is in being open enough to notice the opportunities, and the second is taking action to respond when the opportunity arises. Yes, a lot of us are strapped right now, and a lot of us are crushingly busy with our own lives. What better way, though, to really show our thanks than to give?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The time for gratitude is now

A lot of murky water has flowed under the bridge since this time last year - jobs at risk or eliminated, families upset at their frustrating financial condition, companies eking out slim profits or even shutting down pieces of their operations. We've had contentious exchanges, even hostility at health care town hall meetings and tea-baggers protesting what they perceive as the overthrow of the country by the government.

All of this notwithstanding, we owe it to ourselves to think about what has gone right in our lives, in our country, in the world - and to be grateful for it. It's not all bad news. People are extending themselves to one another, looking out for one another, and progress is being made on many fronts - from business turnarounds to science to our country's leadership in the world.

What do you have - right now?
  • Good health?
  • A caring, involved family?
  • Neighbors who help one another?
  • A really good dog?
  • Children who make you laugh?
  • A beautiful view out the living room window?
  • Work that you love to do?
  • Limitless opportunity to create?

This isn't about planning, about tomorrow - it's about being here, completely, today. There's good reason to do so - we create the things we think about. When we think scarcity we attract it to us, and when we think in terms of abundance we do those things that bring it closer. When we decide to notice joyful moments we discover that we have more of them. When we look for good we see it.

If only just for today, choose to notice the good news. Choose to be thankful for what is right now in your life. Rest in the moments. Life is abundant, and we have every reason to be grateful for it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Figuring out what comes first

When groups engage in brainstorming about improvement projects the list can grow pretty long pretty fast. One way to prioritize the list is to develop a criteria screen. Make a list of criteria against which you will judge the ideas, and give each idea a score for each of the criteria. The projects scoring the highest against the criteria go first.

For example, I might judge a home improvement project list against these criteria:

  1. Safety
  2. Impact on home value
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Low cost to do
  5. Little disruption to household function

On each of these criteria a specific project could earn from 0 to 10 points. Notice that I've worded numbers 4 and 5 in a way that makes the scoring clear - low cost is the standard on number 4, for instance. Otherwise it would be difficult to understand whether a high score means a desirable project or an expensive one.

You can use the criteria screen when exploring other multiple alternatives, like which car you like the best or which computer you want to purchase. A friend of mine even has developed a five-point set of criteria for the women he dates - although he hasn't disclosed whether he actually gives them number scores in each of the criteria categories! And no, I'm not telling you what the criteria are!

Give this method a try in a small group by allowing each team member to assign his or her own score for each of the criteria. You can find out a lot about the assumptions each are making about the options. And if the reason for the score is not obvious, ask. When you use the criteria screen in a larger group, consensus is the most common method used to develop the scores. (Consensus - People call out their suggested scores, and after some mud wrestling and a call of "going, going, gone!" from the facilitator, the score is added to the list.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Listening to the voice of the customer

Ethel Merman
Originally uploaded by Greenman 2008

The future of your business depends upon the loyalty of your customer base, meaning that your success is the result of repeat purchases, growing relationships and referrals to other prospective customers. It would follow, then, that your improvement efforts should be guided by the voice of your customers.

Your customer might tell you, "It takes too long to get an order delivered." If you're really listening you'll find out what they define as "on time," build a performance standard around it and then do what's necessary to meet the standard. You might have to look at your production process, your ordering process, your delivery systems - one or all of them to reach your targeted "on time" definition.

This, of course, is only one example of the voice of the customer determining requirements. Your internal customers (your employees) have requirements too, and they are the folks who enable you to satisfy external customers. Their voice is important too. Internal customer requirements might revolve around adequate equipment, materials, information, time, etc. to do their part of the job properly.

You could look at the voice of the customer as a perspective that says "Keep the bad news coming!" Complaints are your friend here - not because you want customers to be dissatisfied, but because you need to know what customer requirements are in order to fulfill them.

If you don't want to wait to get a complaint before you listen to the voice of the customer, ASK THEM.

  • Do a survey. Annual ones will only give you the really big picture. Smaller, more frequent report cards, quick and easy to complete with only a couple of key questions will give you more direct data and enable you to make more timely improvements.
  • Go out and talk with them. Your sales and customer service staff will play a big role in helping you keep your ear to the ground. But even if you sit tucked away in a corner office - maybe especially if you do so - it's tremendously beneficial for you to get out and talk to your customers face to face. You'll find out their requirements and at the same time communicate to them that you care about their business.
  • Involve them in innovation. Who cares whether you figure out how to create an iridescent pink phone if nobody wants an iridescent pink phone? Without the voice of the customer (someone who would buy it) you might not really have a product.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Part 2

This is day two of Jim Poland's guest blogs...

Take a moment to imagine in your mind's eye how a cohesive, collaborative team behaves. According to author Patrick Lencioni that team would:

  • Trust one another

  • Engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas

  • Truly commit to team decisions and plans of action

  • Hold one another accountable for delivering on those plans

  • Continually focus on the achievement of collective results

Lencioni goes on to state that "if this sounds simple, it's because it is simple, at least in theory. In practice, however, it is extremely difficult because it requires levels of discipline and persistence that few teams can muster."

In his book The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team, Mr. Lencioni provides a model that illustrates just how detrimental any one of the five critical dysfunctions can be to your team, to your firm's success, to you. Success of any team is the result of actually using discipline and persistence and common sense to overcome the frailty of the key dynamic of every team: that we are all homans with our individual needs and fears.

If you have honestely assessed your own daily behaviors, those of your fellow team members, and your leaders based on the questions I posed in yesterday's post (11/17/09) and you've identified that some of these team dysfunctions exist for you, then you are ready to cinsider how to improve your team's effectiveness. Let's start with achieving trust for one another.

As the team's leader you must demonstrate true vulnerability. By showing that genuine vulnerability will not be see by you as a weakness and will not be punished by you, you can attract levels of trust among team members that have not been experienced before. You may want to take a look inward to learn what drives you today and where you are leading yourself. Diagnostics related to values can help you identify your internal motivators, or a coaching relationship can help you "hold up the mirror" and get both greater insight and faster progress on your goals.

You may also want to gain insights for your team members from individual assessments, or from surveys of the company as a whole. Summit can provide DIALOG, a companywide assessment against performance excellence criteria, as well as DISC Index, Values Index, and Attribute Index for data related to individuals.

Next let's consider attracting engagement in unfiltered conflict around workplace ideas. Your ability to model appropriate and productive conflict behavior for your team members and your leaders is crucial to attract healthy discourse for beneficial idea generation. Most Americans placed in leadership roles seek to avoid open conflict, but in so doing they invite team dysfunction to flourish. Embrace it well with constructive intent and you will teach your workplace to do the same.

The next successful team behavior to consider is to obtain true commitment to team decisions and action plans. Commitment is an outgrowth of trust and the resolution of conflict around the decision options. When you model commitment to making timely group-based decisions, and not relying upon certainty or consensus you attract the same from your team members, staff, and leaders. Demonstrate daily that it is acceptable to you to make informed decisions that may over time turn out to be wrong. Be consistently demanding on yourself and others to adhere to action step deadlines that were originally agreed upon by your team.

Once you obtain commitment it's important to earnestly hold one another accountable for taking the right action, on time, for the goals and corresponding action steps the team agreed to.

Does your firm and/or your team have agreed-upon values and principles to guide minute-to-minute interactions and influence the direction of decisions? If not, you would benefit from having your team collaborate to publish their values and principles and their key goals/objectives as a collective, cohesive unit. Then get out of their way. Often strong-willed leaders become the ONLY source of accountability. Let the team police itself. Positive peer pressure can be a wonderful thing.

Last of all, you will want to achieve a climate and culture within your team of focusing on the team's desired RESULTS. As the leader you must ensure that the team has clearly identified and made highly public what the desired results of the team are. Then you must use words of praise and other tools that reward ONLY those behaviors and actions that will readily contribute to those collectively desired results. By doing this you nurture the climate that will attract behaviors from your team, your leaders, and other staff that focuses on achieving stated goals and pursuing attainment of your key metrics of performance excellence.

Mr. Lencioni stipulates that "teams succeed because they are exceedingly human. By acknowledging the imperfections of their humanity, members of functional teams overcome the natural tendencies that make trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and a focus on results so elusive."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book review - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - part 1

This is part one of one of my favorite guest posts by Jim Poland, plucked from the Peak Performance archives for your enjoyment and illumination. - JEP

How would you describe the daily behavior of your coworkers, your leader(s), yourself, your team? Do you see overt behaviors or learn about covert behaviors that demonstrate allies or foes, synergistic collaborators or saboteurs?

Would an independent auditor who could intimately observe the interactions and follow through of you, your team members, and your leader(s) see trustworthy, genuine, authentic, accountable, and effective communicators who can agree to disagree? How about as team players who responsibly balance their individual needs against those of their collective team to accelerate attainment of their organization's vision, values, mission, and tactical goals?

Effective and efficient teamwork is the hallmark of customer-focused, continuously improving organizations. Firms who seek to attain performance excellence, both quantitatively and in the hearts and minds of all their stakeholders and customers must have valid teamwork among all leaders and staff. All publicly traded and privately held businesses, governmental departments, community service agencies, clubs, societies, associations, chambers, political parties, churches, temples, and mosques have one common trait: they are made up of humand engaging in human interaction. This trait means that all are faced with the complexity of human emotions, egos, and dynamic psychology. But you already know that, because you live with that dynamic every day.

Are you a collaborator, a source of positive encouragement, an interpersonally effective communicator and creative problem-solver for your peer team members? In short, are you a team player? Or are you an untrusting, insincere saboteur and foe to those who should be able to rely upon you?

Patrick Lencioni takes a compelling and insightful look at how to build and manage successful teams in his book entitled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni identifies those critical team dysfunctions that are interdependent and which detrimentally build upon each other in a cascading effect as:

  1. Absence of trust

  2. Fear of conflict

  3. Lack of commitment

  4. Avoidance of accountability

  5. Inattention to results

Lencioni states that "like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates if even a single dysfunction is allowed to flourish." Which of these five characteristics, or how many, do you see in your own behavior or at the behaviors of your fellow team members in the workplace?

Learn more tomorrow about how you can begin to overcome these barriers and get on the right track to achieve successful teamwork.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Write your own fortune cookie

Fortune Cookie
Originally uploaded by Sutanto

No dinner at our local Chinese restaurant is complete for me without a fortune cookie, even though Sutanto, who uploaded this photo to Flickr, says that they were actually invented in California, not China. Regardless of its origin, I'm convinced that my fortune cookie has the ability to deliver an accurate prediction of my near future. That is, unless I don't like what it says. In that case, whoever got the "good" fortune at my table must have gotten my cookie.

Just like I decide which fortune is mine on the cookie plate, I also determine what fortune is mine when I'm outside the restaurant at work, home etc. No, I can't control what happens to me. But I can often influence the unfolding of events, and I certainly am the only one who determines how I am going to respond to whatever happens. And if I want to write my own fortune cookie, there are several things I can do:

  • Consciously choose the way I am interpreting events, how I am framing them in my own mind. I can look for the mud or I can look for the lesson in them. It's funny how some people can manage to see the cloud behind any silver lining, and how I can notice them doing it. Who's the negative one in this scenario? Both of us are.
  • Keep learning. The world is changing, and the waves of change come more and more quickly every day. If I stand still, perhaps even if I keep my same old pace, I stand a chance of being knocked over by the next one and tumbled in the sand.
  • Go to the place of greatest opportunity. If I want to sell strollers, I'm probably not going to spend the bulk of my time in the over-55 communities. In stroller sales, the place of greatest opportunity is wherever the growing young families are.
  • Gather key data and use it to guide your actions. How do you know that you're not beating your head against a wall that's not going to budge? (Well, except for the bruises.) Use data to help you learn how many sales calls it takes to get a new customer. Measure to determine how long it REALLY takes you to get ready for work, and you might never be late again.
  • Define your purpose and choose to behave in alignment with it. It's not that you have no choices - you are presented with a multitude of opportunities every day. Your purpose, your big reason for doing whatever it is that you do, can serve as the litmus test that helps you sort options in or out of your life. In that way you can avoid bouncing around directionless.
  • Take a snapshot of the balance in your life. Not all fortunes have dollar signs attached - or euros, or yuan, or pesos. Your fortune may be about family, or about friends, or your spiritual life, or your physical and mental development.

It's a new day. Open that cookie and decide what you want it to say. Then do something about it. It's your fortune.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The battle of the two faces

[ Two faced ]
Originally uploaded by Andrea LUCY Lex

"You're so two-faced!" one teenaged girl says to another when she catches her in a lie.

"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?" Abraham Lincoln

Inconsistency in our messages can lead us to look to others like we have two faces. When they see differences between how we handle one situation versus another one that might look identical to them, they get confused about what might be the best way to relate to us. If they observe us saying one thing and doing another, they a) notice the difference and b) believe what we do rather than what we say. When we're two-faced we can become unpredictable and frustrating to them. Which is our "real" face, and why the inconsistency?

  • We show our real face when our behavior is consistent with our beliefs, when our espoused theories and our theories in use are aligned. Unfortunately, for many people there's a gap, sometimes a sizeable one, between what we say and what we do.
  • We often show different faces (aside from the values-based interpretation of it) when we are in different roles. At work we might be the dutiful enforcer and at home we may be the supportive caretaker. We are court jester with our friends and protector with our children.

Sometimes it's not easy to be our authentic selves.

  • When you put your fake, adaptive self out there you feel less risk of rejection - if they don't like it, too bad, because that's not really you. If, on the other hand, you make yourself vulnerable by showing your real self and they don't like that - well, that can cut deeply. So many people get caught up in taking the lower-risk option and forget who the real person is.
  • If you're trying to be a better person, you're not always already there. You forget or backslide, you make a mistake or you have a bad day. This two-faced behavior isn't a cover - it's an unfulfilled promise to yourself.

The "new and improved you" is often an intangible thing. Clients have found it helpful to

  1. break that intangible "better parent" or "physically fit" down into specific behaviors or criteria, then
  2. set goals around those more tangible factors and
  3. be intentional about your self-talk so you can keep your desired behavior top of mind and reinforce the confidence that helps you resist the urge to fake it

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Turning it over - for real

Do you have a bit of the control freak coursing through your veins? The people I know who will confess that the answer to the question is yes, they do, would tell you that they have reasons for being that way:
  • They genuinely believe that they can do it better
  • They want a great outcome and don't want to leave it to chance
  • They lack trust in others' followthrough because they've been burnt at some time in the past
  • They have habits of thought that say the best way to be responsible is to do it yourself

There are a couple of problems with these reasons, perhaps the biggest being that we never really control anything. Control is an illusion. Yes, we can take initiative and move our hands and feet. We can prepare. We can follow up. But ultimately the moment of reckoning involves factors bigger than us, beyond us. Another person, or the weather, or yeast, or God, steps in between us and the outcome. And then we have to respond to whatever is at the time.

The need to control can become a big barrier in relationships with other people. We invade their space when we try to grab the steering wheel, either literally or figuratively, out of their hands. We demonstrate that we do not trust, that we think they are in some way less than we are. We show that we are afraid when we thrash away at circumstances or people, trying to change them. Other people have their own lessons to learn, and when we grab the wheel from them we take away their opportunity to discover the relationship between cause and effect.

Perhaps the best form of control is self control. Perhaps the best thing is to resist the pull of ego, of skepticism, of fear, and to turn it over - for real - into another capable person's hands, or into the hands of a higher power. We need to recognize those times when it's really not our responsibility, then sit back, relax our minds, and prepare ourselves to respond to whatever happens.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You too can be a genius

I'd bet that you'd be tickled pink to have someone say to you, "Wow, you are an absolute genius when it comes to understanding people!" (or getting the big picture, doing small engine repair, etc.) You do have genius inside - it's a matter of identifying it and focusing your energies on developing it.

I've just finished reading What's Your Genius? by Jay Niblick, a newly released book that not only provides a means by which you can uncover your talents, but also that gives you a game plan for helping your genius grow.

Niblick defines genius as "better than excellent," and cites five levels of accomplishment that lead up to it:
  1. Level One - below average
  2. Level Two - average
  3. Level Three - above average
  4. Level Four - excellent
  5. Level 5 - genius

One of the biggest issues that interferes with the development of genius is that a vast number of people focus their efforts on shoring up weaknesses rather than developing strengths. Niblick says that they try to change themselves instead of changing their jobs to fit their genius better. "They turn left instead of right."

This "turning left" habit creates "The Problem" - "an epidemic of people who feel frustrated and dissatisfied with their own performance and success." Overreliance on non-talents is what creates weaknesses, and Niblick's take is that discussion of weaknesses is a completely preventable activity when people choose to "turn right" instead.

Niblick has included in the book an assessment for readers to take to start to identify their talents and their non-talents. Then he shifts gears to talk about how to "turn right" more often. Instead of trying to jam themselves into roles that don't fit, geniuses use one or more strategies to create more alignment.

  1. Select one talent to increase your dependence on and one non-talent to reduce your dependence on. Repeat until you are satisfied with your results.
  2. Talent Barter - choose another person whose talent complements yours and team up with them so they can do the things they are good at and you can do the things you are good at doing. This is a process that helps both of you become more specialized in your respective areas of genius.
  3. Dump and Grab - Get rid of the activities that rely on your nontalents (by delegation, etc.) and take hold of more activities that use your talents.
  4. Change Roles - If the role you are in doesn't suit you, you're unlikely to perform at a genius level doing it. This will result in you earning less than you could if you were to serve in a role that's aligned with your natural gifts.

Niblick says that the steps above will help increase your effectiveness, your authenticity, and as a result, your success. His recommendation would be to "Just do you!"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Emotional engagement vs. emotional display

I'll freely admit it - my emotions are very close to the surface and directly connected to my tear ducts. I used to cry at Hallmark or AT&T long distance ads. And last Spring at my daughter's KidWriting volunteer thank-you party I leaked relentlessly when as part of the program my kindergartener read me a poem about helping her class grow. When I'm sentimental I well up. When I'm frustrated and angry the tears threaten as well. I laugh heartily and I cry while I'm laughing.

I'm not alone in this, I'm certain. Being emotionally engaged can be quite an asset, from the standpoint of understanding where other people are coming from, and intuiting an appropriate direction and pace at which to take a discussion. The emotional connection creates some of the spice in life. And genuine emotion reveals that the individual is truly involved and committed to a specific result.

But dagnabbit, sometimes at work it feels like a weakness, or it's viewed that way by others. Although there's no correlation between being emotional and handling problems, it seems that in the workplace it is incumbent on we emotional types to manage our noisy and sometimes moisture-laden responses to the events around us. Being dragged around by our emotions is not a good thing - but channelling our emotional connection with other people, and using our gut knowledge of ourselves to focus our energies can be an incredible engine for change and improvement.

On a related note, I can think of an individual who uses emotional display to try to achieve her goals. This is different from emotional engagement. Emotional engagement is internal and its physiological symptoms (like smiles or leaking eyes) are unintentional, while emotional display is strategically structured to elicit a certain reaction from an external audience. Its physical manifestations are orchestrated, constructed with prior knowledge of what "works" on the targeted recipients.

The six-year-old who, when thwarted, will pull a frown and work themselves into crocodile tears, is engaging in emotional display. You can tell it's a strategy and not real because of the delay between the triggering event and the response - sometimes you can even see the strategy unfolding like it was written in red letters on the culprit's forehead. And sometimes the individual will "try on" a couple of different emotional strategems until they identify one that elicits the reaction they want.

Emotional display can be particularly effective with groups, because at a distance it's harder to distinguish the small inconsistencies in facial expression and body language that reveal the displayed emotion's inauthenticity. I know of an educator/band director who spoke of a "policy" of flipping out in front of his students at one rehearsal per term, strategically timed approximately two weeks before the concert. His rant, coming from a person who is usually low-key and easygoing, made the students sit up and take notice. "Wow, Mr. _____ is REALLY mad!" They would embark on a flurry of individual buffing and polishing, so by the concert the band was really tight.

I suppose it would be far less messy in the workplace if we could simply operate like calculators, add two and two and reliably come up with four. But what fun would that be? If you take the volatility out of the stock market you reduce the risk but remove a large proportion of the reward in the process. The same goes for people and their emotions.