If we stick to the gist of it, BALANCE 2014 (posted 2 days ago) was about attention moving toward intention, and settling within welcomed engagement, without “Please, just leave me alone” withdrawal putting up an attention-blinding roadblock. The Venn diagram would look like this:
The self-coaching journaling I asked you to do at the end of the posting, was something I did for myself and my Say Leadership Coaching team too. We had a conversation about what attention means: I’ve noticed. I’m pausing to listen better, and think about it. Whereas intention means: I can own this too, or at least participate with you… this is is what I’m going to do, converting attention to action.
The exercise led me toward thinking more about engagement as a bigger, more inclusive word for the kinds of actions we will take. Engagement can run the gamut, from having a conversation we might not otherwise have had on something, to turning that initial conversation into a comprehensive new project.
Food for thought, and for Coaching in value-mapping:
When you think about ENGAGEMENT, which of our 19 Values of Aloha most readily come to mind for you? Think about your why-to and how-to decisions and their value alignment [MWA Key 3]: There aren’t ‘right’ answers, just contextual ones, as best suit your current workplace or other Sense of Place.
Discretionary Actions vs. Rules
And then there are workplace RULES, whether explicit (stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt), and expected in team behaviors, or implicit (implied though not plainly expressed).
Taking action of any kind is essentially about personal decision-making, and about taking initiative and affirmative action. Workplace rules are more baseline and foundational; they contribute to the sense of place within your ‘Ohana in Business [Key 6] by stating expectations on professional attitude — for everyone: Personal decision-making is expected to be in harmonious alignment [Lōkahi and Kākou] with those positive, and profession-affirming attitudes. If those workplace rules are written well, they will also connect with and articulate key workplace values.
Which brings me back to this redux revival of an article in our Managing with Aloha publishing annals: “The Real Rules of Engagement” was something I wrote for Lifehack.org several years ago. As you read through this, see if you can determine which value-drivers influenced our team back then. As you will read, sporting metaphors were in favor, and helped us keep our rules rather succinct. The links I have added in will refer you to our previous conversations here on MWA Central.
The Real Rules of Engagement
On a recent late night I found myself needing to wind down before sleep, I flipped on the TV and happened to catch the tail end of Rules of Engagement.
The military action drama seemed so completely out of context for me, for without ever having seen the movie when it came out for the first time in 2000, the phrase “Rules of Engagement” had quickly caught on in our workplace a bit more literally.
For us, the phrase meant that work was not a spectator sport; it was one you participated in fully, going for the score every time. Further, we couldn’t afford to carry bench-warmers: When you came to work, everyone expected you to “suit up” and be fully engaged. Period.
That was the primary rule of engagement; that you did just that — engage and participate from the moment you clocked in. However there were some others that we felt were our ground rules of professionalism, and the fact that we all understood and agreed to them afforded us some basic efficiencies. Moreover, they kept unnecessary annoyances and many small petty squabbles out of our workplace, opening the door wider for Aloha and only Aloha.
Rules of Engagement
1. Engage. Participate. Be fully present. No auto-pilot.
2. Meetings and multiple appointments are a fact of work-life; the least we can do is be on time so they can start on time and our peers are not kept waiting.
3. Respect the attention of your peers. Come prepared means come prepared.
4. Always have a pen and paper for note-taking. First, you respect others who are giving you information by acknowledging it, and secondly you’re expected to capture it, and follow-up; forgetting is not an option.
5. Whatever your role is, you’re expected to be the expert in that role. Own it, and don’t be shy about it. Stake your claim proudly. (This was part of the no bench-warmers philosophy.)
6. When you say you’ll follow-up on something, do. If it’s not going to happen, say so. People trip when you sweep stuff under the rug. (On apology, and making amends.)
7. Own up to your mistakes and be okay with them. Making mistakes is perfectly fine for we all make them. However huffing and puffing about them with excuses and justifications is not fine. Get over it (we already did) and just correct it.
8. Communicate. We have found that relying on mind-reading doesn’t work that well for us.
9. Trust and be trust-worthy. Much easier when Rules 1 – 8 are honored and we all keep it real.
They may seem obvious, however having Rules of Engagement can save heaps of time and wasted energy, and they can stem frustration. We purposely kept ours to less than 10 in a Q&D* brainstorm one day that happened when someone had asked, “What are your pet peeves? What would make things so much pleasant here if those pet peeves went away forever?” and we committed to each other to do just that — make them go away forever.
*Q&D stands for Question and Dialogue, which we preferred to Q&A.
Rules of Engagement. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Gather your folks together, and brainstorm your own, be they at work, at home, in your club or association, and on your sports or community team. Just imagine the bliss if everyone were to fully engage, participate, and be present.
Begin with the End in Mind
We had some specific objectives in mind, and they framed the Q&D brainstorm which generated our Rules. Here is another example (a Pinterest link which will open on another tab for you) pertaining to meeting expectations. I like their “no surprises” rule.
Would writing Rules of Engagement assist your workplace team? A very beneficial way to facilitate a Q&D brainstorm of your own, would be to ask everyone what they consider to presently be your explicit workplace expectations, in comparison to your implicit ones, using a Rules of Engagement draft to better articulate and blend the two. It’s sure to be a very interesting conversation.
1st Draft: Pursue clarity with explicit and implicit expectations.
2nd Draft: Determine your value drivers. Are there any key values missing, or misstated?