The Power of Ordinary Practices describes how apparently mundane interactions with managers have a major impact on people’s work.
Management and leadership are so often described in heroic terms which seem to disconnect everyone from reality. In the search for impact, leaders often miss details and leave people behind. I liked this point from Teresa Amabile in the article:
One, people have incredibly rich, intense, daily inner work lives; emotions, motivations, and perceptions about their work environment permeate their daily experience at work. Second, these feelings powerfully affect people’s day-to-day performance. And third, those feelings, which are so important for performance, are powerfully influenced by particular daily events.
She gives lots of examples of how managers small scale interactions have a big impact on morale, creativity and productivity.
One of my favourite workshop activities is to look at real world conversations, especially those seen as difficult by participants. We’ll often just take two lines of dialogue (a classic “he-said, she-said”) and play with multiple ways of replaying them differently. The results can be dramatic.
The other thing that the article brings out is timing. Too many interactions, or two few, or at the wrong or right time, have big impacts. Failing relationships and conversations often feel to me like badly co-ordinated dances; we think we’re fighting over the content but really we’re experiencing a lack of synchrony.
Hat tip: Keith de la Rue (on Facebook)