Working Dynamics



December 2007  


Welcome to the quarterly Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight how we can have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in the workplace.

I hope you'll find our suggestions useful and contact us when we can help.

Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

In this issue...


Headed for a Thrill or a Spill?


What's ahead in the coming year for your team? It depends a great deal on your team's current well-being and how you start the year. Do you know what team members and team leaders would say about communication, trust, management support, and work relationships, if asked? How long has it been since there was an organizational assessment?

You can expect "ups and downs" and "some chugging to the top" and "sweeping thrills" in the life of a successful team. If you aren't headed toward success, you'll see more "downs" than "ups," interpersonal issues that drag everyone down, and slow (often costly) recovery from the "lows."

With tighter budgets in 2008, some organizations will close their eyes and hope for the best. A wiser, and less costly, strategy is to learn team strengths on the front end, then shore up weak areas before they become unwieldy and expensive.

Working Dynamics offers clients various methods of organizational assessment — online survey, focus groups, and/or interviews to learn employee perceptions. A simple assessment will give the information needed to plan for a successful year where resources can be used wisely.

Contact us for an assessment plan and estimate...

Get Half of What Teams Have to Offer


What a silly premise — being satisfied with 50% of anything, especially team performance! You want more than half of your team's capacity, right? What you want and what you may have settled for are two different things.

Team members check out and scale down to 50% when they no longer "believe" in following you. Believing is trust -- trust that you will share information, that you will be honorable, will do what you say, and be truthful.

Your actions speak volumes. Some managers plan what they are going to do, talk about what they are going to do, and put what they plan to do in reports and written plans. This is a valuable first step. It demonstrates direction and will give everyone a sense of accomplishment when it is achieved. However, all this is lost if actions that match the words don't follow.

What team members say they want from their leaders —

  • Do what you say you'll do.
  • Keep promises.
  • Demonstrate high ethical standards.
  • Apologize and admit mistakes.
  • Disclose information fully.
  • Act consistently.
  • Make expectations clear from the start.
  • Accurately represent words and agreements.
  • If you say "I'll take care of this," take action and do it.

What can leaders do to receive 100% from their team? Listen to the advice of real-life team members and give them what they need to give you the 100% you need.

 Struggling to Understand

graphicStruggling to understand someone else (especially when you see things differently) communicates the most positive message of all. Think about it. How often do you sense that others really understand what you think and feel? How often do you feel 100% heard? We remember (and respect) those who have made this effort for us.

Practically speaking, understanding others also gets us closer to what we want. How often do you see people change without first being understood? This means we need to listen -- concentrate on what we are hearing, recognize non-verbals, and not interrupt. We need to ask the right questions to hear the heart of what the speaker is saying and seek to understand what they are saying. Some examples:

  • Can you say more about how you see things?
  • How do you see it differently?
  • What impact have my actions had on you?
  • Will you say more about why this is important to you?
  • What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Inquire to learn (and only to learn). Be sincere. Don't ask questions just to be asking them. Use questioning to understand how the conclusion was reached and what the other person sees going forward. Keep your questions open-ended and ask for additional concrete information that will help you see a different point of view. The time and energy invested in keeping an open mind and listening will pay off for both of you.

Book Review: The Speed of Trust — The One Thing That Changes Everything

BookStephen M.R. Covey's book articulates why trust has become the key leadership competency of the new global economy. Leaders interested in developing, restoring, building, or incorporating trust within their work relationships will find the author's insights and tools immediately useful. Covey makes the concept of trust easy to understand and integrate into our lives by putting it in behavioral terms.

Behaviors common to high trust leaders: Talk straight ... Demonstrate respect ... Create transparency ... Right wrongs ... Show loyalty ... Deliver results ... Get better ... Confront reality ... Clarify

Covey convincingly makes the case that trust is a measurable accelerator to performance and that when trust goes up, speed also goes up while cost comes down, producing what Covey calls a "trust dividend." Conversely, trust can be a quantifiable tax for an organization.

Is your organization being taxed by low trust or receiving a dividend because trust is high? Review the link below and decide for yourself. Better yet, ask us to be an impartial source and hear what your team really wants to say.

Summary of Trust Taxes and Dividends...

About the publisher

Susan Gunn is president of Working Dynamics, a Richmond, VA, consulting firm. Working Dynamics builds collaboration and success in the workplace through development programs and conflict management. Learn more about us at

"Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly." — Plutarch

"Trust is earned a penny at a time ... but spent by the dollar." — Unknown

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." — Maya Angelou


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