During his 17 years of research about the factors and behaviors that influence effective teams, author and leadership expert Mike Robbins has uncovered an essential truth: Complaining doesn’t help.
“We waste a lot of time trying to change our circumstances when it’s not the circumstances but how we approach them that helps us achieve success,” says Robbins, who addressed the 2017 CUNA Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Council Conference Sunday in Orlando.
He suggests two ways to navigate change and deal with workplace challenges:
Robbins, author of “Focus on the Good Stuff,” offers the example of successful students: Those who employ a “growth mindset” by seeking out and enthusiastically addressing challenges are more likely to succeed than students who try to avoid challenges.
“The child with the growth mindset keeps trying until he or she figures it out, and then wants another challenge when they find the answer,” Robbins says. “All the challenges we face at work and at home are opportunities to learn and grow if we choose to engage with them in that way.”
Another way to adopt a growth mindset is to stop asking, “Why is this happening to me?” and instead ask “Why is this happening for me?”
“Understanding the difference helps us appreciate the importance of not only our challenges but our success,” Robbins says, “and it helps us have more empathy.”
It’s also important to know the difference between recognition and appreciation in the workplace, he says.
Recognition is reaction-based and focused on what people accomplish. Appreciation is about people and their value—it’s about who people are.
“They’re both important and they’re related to each other, but they are distinct,” Robbins say. “Recognition is about performance. Appreciation is about people.”
If we focus only on results, we miss out on opportunities to inspire those around us, he says.
Employees must be accountable for their jobs, and will even fail on occasion, Robbins says. In fact, moments of failure often present the best time to offer appreciation.
“When change is going on, the hardest part to manage is the emotional part,” he says. “Here’s the thing about appreciation: It’s not just some warm, touch-feely thing. It actually drives engagement. It drives performance.”
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