VOLUME ONE, ISSUE 2

3 Human Elements  There's a term that's been around a little while - "psychosclerosis" - which means hardening of beliefs. When we're hardened in what we believe, it keeps new ideas from developing. And when we shut the door on new ideas, we shut the door on creativity, on opportunity, perhaps even on success. Consider this. What if I said to you, "You have to cover 50-80 miles a day on foot, every day." What would your response be?  Fat chance, right? You don't believe you could do it - you wouldn't even try.
     But what if you were a member of the Tarahumara tribe living in Mexico? The area in which they live is rugged. And the only way to travel is on foot. Being nomadic, the Tarahumaras often travel long distances every day. It's no big deal for them to run (you read that right - RUN) 50-80 miles a day, every day. And they do it at a mile and a half above sea level. How? Because it never occurs to them that they can't.
     Do you suffer from "psychosclerosis"? Are there areas of your life where your beliefs have become so steadfast that you choke off new possibilities? Isn't it time for all of us to focus on what we can do rather than what we can't? Think about it - I am.
Jennie Ayers
President, Challenge It Now 

Organizational Climate: What Weather Patterns Do Your Leaders Create?
by Rebecca Ripley 
question mark cloud 

As we said in our last e-letter, organizational climate is one of the most important and direct determinants of motivated behavior. People behave in accordance with the work climate in which they live and work. Within that climate, an employee's "boss" exerts the single most powerful and important influence and is therefore a key to organizational success.


Metaphorically, individual leaders are the psychological equivalent of the sun in an employee's work life. This might explain why all employees are boss anthropologists. They learn to read the signs. Is it a good day to approach the boss, i.e., the sun is shining brightly, or is it smarter to stay scarce, i.e., there are storm clouds on the horizon? They know if the leader is more receptive in the morning or later in the day. They know if they should prepare a Cliff Notes version of a report or provide the War and Peace version. Employees pay attention to their bosses. The sun rises and sets over the future of their careers.



Leaders have a direct impact on organizational climate through their managerial styles, the way they design their own jobs and their employees' jobs, and the overall structure of their organizations. Of the many factors that can drive an "achievement aroused climate," David McClelland's research on motivation indicates that clarity is primary. Clarity is the degree to which employees "clearly understand" what is expected of them in their present job. Are rules and regulations clear and applied consistently? Are employees sure of what their leaders want in performance and product? Clarity in the workplace needs constant attention, because without it, employees' drive for achievement is gradually extinguished. 

Leaders want all employees to feel a sense of ownership and commitment. Team members need to accept responsibility for their pieces of the workload. Do employees feel they have direct impact and participation in business activities or are they simply told what to do without being part of the decision-making? When something is delegated, does it have "worthwhileness" to the employee?

Accountability inevitably links back to clarity, because if you're not in agreement regarding what it is you are accountable for, how can you possibly do it right? Years ago when I started in HR and was writing job descriptions, I learned that there is generally 60% agreement between leader and employee regarding their understanding of job responsibilities. Forty percent of what the employee thinks s/he is supposed to do, the leader doesn't care about or expect. Forty percent of what the leader thinks the employee is doing is not even on the employee's radar screen. With that kind of disconnect, is there any wonder organizations have performance problems?
The leader sets the tone for performance in his/her organization. What the boss says and the way a leader behaves is of enormous importance to employees because it represents a standard against which they are asked to perform. Standards are vital because people need to know what is expected of them. To what degree does the leader require excellence in performance and product? Is there appropriate pressure to continually improve, to develop and be the best - or is the leader willing to accept average performance? While excellence is desired, it's important to have standards that are reachable - and that can be surpassed with stretch effort. That triggers the achievement drive. If we raise the bar too high, achievers may feel they can't possibly be successful, so instead of stretching to attain the impossible, they shut down.
Clarity, accountability and standards are the three key factors that impact work climate. By paying attention to these key areas, leaders can increase their team productivity dramatically. What is the level of shared understanding on your team? 
For more information...

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You can also go to our website,, click on Consulting and then on Intentional WorkClimate. 


In This Issue
How Do You Read Your Boss?
PCM: How Does It Work?
Hard Facts About "Soft Skills"
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 "Psychosclerosis is a hardening of the attitude. When that happens, we cease to dream, to see, to think and we cease to lead."
     Ashley Montegue
The ROI from Work Climate 
"A positive work climate will increase important bottom line performance measures by up to 30%."
The Hay Group
"The true bottom-line imperative for any business is that the work environment be conducive to employee productivity. In fact, organizational climate has been found to be the single greatest internal factor that drives employee performance. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated the link between organizational climate and key performance measures such as sales growth, product cycles, productivity and customer perceptions of service quality."
The Hay Group
Climate Hands

How's Your Social Intelligence?
At its core, Social Intelligence (SI) is a combination of an ability to understand people - a kind of strategic awareness - and a set of skills for interacting successfully with others. SI can reduce conflict, create collaboration, replace polarization with understanding and mobilize people toward common goals.
Social science research suggests that SI has five key dimensions:
(1) Situational Radar (Awareness) - able to accurately "read" situations and choose behaviors that are likely to succeed.

(2) Presence - able to project a sense of self-confidence, self-respect and self-worth.

(3) Authenticity - able to engender trust; others perceive you as honest.

(4) Clarity - Able to use language effectively, explain concepts clearly and persuade with ideas.

(5) Empathy - able to create a sense of being connected to others; you get them on your wavelength and invite them to move with and toward you, rather than away and against you. 

*reprinted from "Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success" by Dr. Karl Albrecht
  open brain

Beginning at the Beginning

How Does the Process Communication Model® Work? by Janice Criddle 
Based on the feedback received from last month's article, a lot of people are intrigued with the Process Communication Model. And they all have the same question: how does it work? So I guess I should begin at the beginning. Let me share the gift of PCM with you.


Imagine that you're having one of those "important conversations" and it isn't going well. You planned what you wanted to say during the conversation. You're using every communication skill you've learned. You maintain eye contact, you're leaning forward and nodding, you're engaged. You're paraphrasing and reflecting like crazy. You're controlling your emotions and staying objective. You're working diligently to stay focused on problem-solving. And still, things go south. Why?

Once you understand and can use PCM, you'll be able to answer this question.
Simply put, PCM identifies 6 personality types. We each have parts of all 6, but one type is more dominant than the others. Each personality type perceives the world in a different way. We advertise our preferred perception through the words we use, like "I think" or "I feel". Once we know how another person perceives the world, we know what language to use in order to connect with them. (In PCM, we refer to this as their preferred channel.) Think of it this way. If a person speaks Mandarin Chinese and you speak to them in Spanish, it's unlikely that you'll have effective dialogue. And the longer you speak a language that they don't understand, the more frustrating it becomes...for both of you. Frustration gives way to ever deepening distress and miscommunication. This is what happens when communication "goes south" - and it can happen quickly. (Irate customers, for example.) PCM helps us avoid distress and miscommunication by teaching us how to identify and use the other person's preferred channel of communication.
It's equally important to know and understand the perceptual preference and the communication channel we respond to most effectively. We can discover this important information by taking the Kahler Type Inventory (KTI), an assessment instrument developed by Dr. Taibi Kahler. In addition to identifying personalty type and its implications for interacting with others, the KTI looks at each type's psychological needs, predicts what will happen if those needs aren't met, explains why we're more successful interacting with some people and not others and offers solutions we can use to diffuse conflict and restore effective communication.
PCM reinvented communication
in my personal life.
I have teenagers!
penguins communicating 
Using PCM will change your life. It has changed mine. I now have a process that allows me to assess and respond to situations "in the moment". Even when I'm confronted with surprises involving total strangers, I'm better equipped to facilitate a positive outcome by keeping dialogue productive.
PCM is a gift for me. It enriched my professional life and reinvented communication in my personal life (I have teenagers!). If you haven't experienced it, I promise, you are missing out.
Join us at our next one day public workshop for the Process Communication Model on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90040. Visit our website and click on PCM brochure to download information and registration. 



The Hard Facts about "Soft Skills" by Jennie Ayers
 collaboration Last month, I attended a breakfast for a professional women's group, with an eye toward joining. Having recently relocated from another part of the country, I thought it was a good way to network and build a local support system. But it's also important to me to find a group where I can bring something tangible to the party, a skill set that others would find useful. My work focuses on helping leaders become more effective and on strengthening their ability to communicate and influence. So I offered to either join an already standing committee or form one that would target leadership development. This is the response I got: "We don't create committees for 'soft skills'." The respondent went on to say that the organization was currently focused on building infrastructure, but that some time in the future members wanted to create a learning annex of some kind where members could teach.
What irks me about this response is twofold: (1) I don't think learning to be a more effective leader is something you put on hold. Acquiring the skill set to manage people and influence organizations is ongoing, a continuous learning process that doesn't need a formal "annex" in order to flower. And (2) I take issue with referring to the competencies needed to be an effective leader as "soft skills". Developing leadership capabilities takes hard work, strength of character and perseverance.
For some reason, the ability to be socially savvy or emotionally intelligent was labeled a "soft skill" early on and the belief that this label is apt has hardened. "Psychosclerosis" has set in. But in today's business climate, "old school" managers who still rely on a command and control leadership style fall short. For example, today's economic climate fosters greater stress in all organizations. According to a survey by the Center for Creative Leadership, the greater the stress on an organization, the more important a leader's social savvy becomes. When asked what they seek when hiring MBA's, corporations said their 3 most desired capabilities are communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative - all tagged "soft skills". And studies of almost 500 organizations worldwide found that people who scored highest in emotional intelligence are the ones who rise to the top leadership positions.
In addition, we're undergoing a seismic shift in the workforce demographic. In order to be effective in today's business arena, leaders have to create relationships with their workers and recognize the need for an interactive flow of information and knowledge across all levels of an organization. Even the concept of networking has changed. It's no longer simply a matter of passing out business cards or seeing how many contacts you can add to your social media. Building a relationship is as vital to networking as it is to building a successful, collaborative team. And learning how to build those relationships, how to influence people to reach collective goals, how to communicate effectively across all levels of an organization - there's nothing "soft" about the skill to do all that.
So...could we please stop referring to those capabilities as "soft skills"?
3 Human Elements
Challenge It Now focuses its energies on a common goal - through consultation, coaching and facilitation, we help professionals in business organizations create and sustain a workplace climate where the positive experience of work is optimized, engagement is enriched and performance potential is maximized.
Please take a moment and visit our website at to find out more about us and what we have to offer.
Save $50.00
Save $50.00 off the regular price of $399 when you sign up and send in a check by September 28th for our next public PCM workshop to be held Wednesday, October 14th at the Skirball Cultural Center. Coupon cannot be combined with any other offer.
Offer Expires: September 28, 2009