CRA President’s Message: Lasting Impressions
By Tim RansonCanadian Rental Association
We are often reminded of the importance of creating a good impression, one that leaves the other person with a sense that this meeting was very fruitful. It might be a first date, a job or client interview or perhaps a conversation with an employee that changes behavior in a positive way. The message was delivered in such a manner that it created a long-term benefit to both the employee and the employer. I am going to use this analogy to provide a framework on how to enhance your positive, lasting impressions.
The “soft” skill of creating lasting impressions can be distilled into four elements: engagement, recognition, communication and measurement. In the world of managing or working with others we are often perplexed by a lack of understanding or perhaps disinterest on the part of an employee, client or significant other. The missing element is often engagement.
Engagement is exactly as it sounds. It is summarized easily by finding the connection points that allow people to bond in meaningful ways. If your employee’s work approach is placing him in danger you may catch yourself telling them to stop doing what they are doing. This is a one-way approach with less than stellar results. I recall hearing a manager say, “I just don’t understand. I told him…” or, “I keep telling him..” The next time this situation arises reflect on finding the connection points with the individual to help him consider a personal element attached to his approach. You might find by connecting to the individual on a personal level you have created a conversation between parties and improved engagement is the probable outcome.
The next way to ensure continued buy-in from another party is recognition. This is the “energy” that is welcomed in a highly engaged relationship. Recognition can be summed up by sincere appreciation for the efforts being expended. For this to be most effective, I have found timing my recognition of the employee’s correct behavior is most effective when they are actually completing the work. When you are rewarding the behavior or actions that are linked to the success of a project, we both recognize there is positive value to the organization and each other. Recognition is the energy that is inherently desired in human behavior.
Communications come in a variety of forms and books are being constantly written on how to do it better with the wide variety of media and communication channels. With the volume of inputs from our society, it’s no wonder that personal communications are less valued. Most recently, relationships are suffering from incomplete information. Think of the one-line text messaging often used to communicate an important message when picking up the phone or a face-to-face meeting is warranted. Communication could be seen as the “wiring” that forms two-way interactions between all parties. This wiring is easily disrupted, and often assumptions are made because we are intent on delivering our message rather than ensuring there is reception and understanding with the other party. Two-way communication requires confirmation of the message. My wife learned this early on in our relationship when asking me to pick up a few things on the way home. She soon realized that if she asks me to repeat back my assignment I am less likely to pull in the driveway empty-handed. In short, she created a two-way communication stream and I was confirming her message with clarity.
Measurement of your application of these elements of interaction will help you stay on track. Measuring the “input stream” is necessary to make informed decisions. Measurement of the responses to your engagement, recognition and communication will often be quite simple, not requiring any graphs or analytics. Quite the reverse, as you will find the employee or other party is happily completing the tasks, providing you with the desired responses, and continuing to evolve through coaching, team building and participation. If they look forward to new challenges, eventually they may become a leader you can be proud of who uses these same tools successfully. This legacy can create a lasting impression and may be the key to your success in relationships throughout your interactions.
Tim Ranson is Environment, Health and Safety manager at Finning (Canada) / The Cat Rental Store in Edmonton, Alta. He has worked in the rental industry for more than 20 years. Tim sat on the ARA Trade Show Committee and the ARA Risk Management Committee and helped start its Professional Driver Improvement Program. He was also a speaker/panelist over the past three years at the ARA Rental Show learning sessions.
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