Charmaine Hammond is a highly sought-after business keynote and and workshop speaker, enterpreneurship, author,and educator.
She was with Omobola on life well lived and shared her professional and industry insights on collaboration,conflict management and resolution, organisational capacity,and trust issues in a business organisation.
Here is the excerpt:
OS: Who is Charmaine Hammond?
CH: Who is Charmaine Hammond? Well! I started out my career in the correctional services. I was a jail guard for about ten(10) years and that inspired me to go on and learn about conflict resolution. I became a mediator and that’s when I opened up my own business so I have had my own businesses for about twenty three(23) years and I love working on projects that matters and make a difference in the world.
OS: Can you tell me about your organization- RAISE A DREAM?
CH: Sure! Raise a dream is actually a collaboration I started myself and my business partner Rebecca Kirstein started the company a few years ago because both of us were working with enterpreneurs,service clubs,and organisations,charities,non-profits to help them build collaboration and get projects off the ground and really raise a dream and we discovered that we both love doing the same kind of work.Probably,we do it a little bit differently and we came together,started RAISE A DREAM and we have had the opportunity to work with incredible difference makers and help them build powerful collaborations with governments,other businesses,other non-profit organizations to really make a difference in the world together.
OS: I understand that conflicts will always arise even in the workplace. How can your organization work with teams to resolve conflicts?
CH: Conflict is such a costly expense in the workplace and it happens all the time. If you are looking at personal life- children…I’m sure that there are some disagreements with children. We have conflicts in our family,our community,in our workplaces.One of the things that I think it’s really important in resolving conflict is first of all,to get past the assumption.We make alot of assumptions as humans and I know you know that in the workplace. You do as well. And most of the assumptions we make are wrong and what happens is that we go on and solve the wrong problem and often damage the relationship. The other piece about resolving conflict is that it doesn’t get better with age and there’s a tendency for us a lot of times to delay it,avoid it. We don’t want to have that conversation,we don’t want to make the situation worse so we either delay it,avoid it so what happens in that process is more emotions built,more people that pulledare pulledthe conflict and it becomes a lot more difficult to resolve. So the other tip I would say is that,if there’s a communication breakdown,or a misunderstanding,it’s better to address it early. It doesn’t have to be perfect conversation. You can fix it s you go,you can take ownership if you said something incorrectly or you didn’t land well on the other person. But, it’s really important to get those conversations going even if they are uncomfortable.
OS: How do you help resolve difficult conversations. Do you have any tools or strategies you employ?
CH: Strategies! Yeah! When I think about difficult conversations,and the strategies to resolve that,one of the first thing I always say is to prepare. Many of us,when we have difficult conversations,whether it’s with children,whether it’s our partners,whether it’s in our workplace,we really got to prepare and a lot of times,what happens is people just go into conversations not having given any thought to what they want to say,how the best way to frame it,would be what the other person might be thinking,or wondering about and then what happens is that strategy of not preparing sort of create a whole bunch of other issues in that conversation. I think it’s strategy. I almost think of it as a roadmap.Start with preparing, then,of course,you need to figure out what is it we are here to talk about? What is the issue on the table? And then,what we want to do is talk about why this is an issues from every person’s perspective? It’s in their conversation and then we want to look at what are the ways to solve this issues in a way that works for you and for me and for all people involved and then come up with a solution and the key at the end of the strategy is to follow up. Becaus alot of times,we are just so really to get out of the conversation,well, that’s done,and then, we don’t follow up,we don’t want to revisit that conversations. Meanwhile,it could be brewing again. And then,we are going to be right back to the beginning. So,check up in those difficult conversations to make sure things are okay and nothing was left unsaid and it’s going to become an issue later.
OS: Let’s talk about organizational capacity building. Do you think organisations are improving in this area or not?
CH: Yeah! That’s a great question. When we think about organizational capacity,a lot of the clients I work with whether they are coporations or non-profits are really starting to look at organisational capacity right now and I wonder if it’s because of the world we are living in right now. Where we are all having to do things differently. And the policies and processes that we used to use may not work if we have people working from home or partially remotely. I love if we raise organizational capacity because I believe that when we can properly train from leaders to brand new employees. When we can provide people the skills to resolve conflict and the culture that welcomes healthy conversations,respectful conversations. What will often happen is that people will resolve these issues on their own,they won’t go knock on the supervisors door. One of the reasons… I mean,you know from the work you do that so many times,that people don’t resolve issues without going to leadership or human resources. They don’t resolve it on their own because they don’t know how. They don’t know how to get the conversation started . They don’t know if they would be supported ,if they go sideways. So,organisational capacity building is so important right now. You know,you heard that term,’soft skills’ for communication and I always think it’s conflict resolution as being an essential skill. It’s not a soft skill, it’s really an important skill. Capacity building I think is a great way to also grow your future leaders. So as you have employees that are showing strength in a certain area,building those skills,supporting and mentoring. That’s an incredible way to build capacity with also to free up some of the time that leadership is spending on task the could be done by somebody who really want to learn a new skill and excelling in an organization.
OS: Why is leadership a big issue in a business organisation?
CH: Leadership! That’s such a big topic. When I think of leadership in an organization,first of all,it’s vital because I have worked in teams that sort of …that has to be some kind of leadership because otherwise, who’s being the champion of the values? I have worked for organisations where they really want to have a flat leadership but what has happened is that there’s a lot of confusion to who is sort of driving the vehicle? Who is driving the change,the policies. One of the pieces that’s really important for leadership is that leaders be trained. I have seen so many times and you have probably have seen this,where people get promoted to a leadership job often they are not even wanting it. They get promoted to a position . They first don’t want or they don’t get prepared for. And then, it’s very difficult for a leader to step into that position feeling unpreparing and often not supported. And so,they sort of fail about. What happens is that trust within the team is deteriorating,the employees fail in that leadership style or leaders skills starts to waiver and it creates all kinds of team issues. So,I really believe that in organizations,when they invest in leadership and making sure leaders have the right training and support and mentoring,it would really further the organisation. I think of one company I worked for,they did a great project around leadership. They build what they call leadership cohort and so that would pair up a seasoned leader to a new leader or a leader that was quite in leadership role yet or they were being progress or succession plan to be in that role and it was fantastic because the newer leader felt so supported and they were going to fastrack their learning and so,back to your question of capacity building that’s another. Know we are going to combine capacity and leadership.
OS: Now,talking about trust,I know you mentioned trust in your earlier conversation,Steven Covey once said, “Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication,it is the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” How important is the subject of trust in making it through any crisis?
CH: I love that quote by the way. Steven Covey’s work…I just so appreciate the work that he did. Trust is so important in any crisis. I have done a lot of work when I worked in the correctional system. I have done a lot of work around community disasters and when a crisis occurs whether a crisis in a family. Somebody loses a job, there’s financial impaft ,a family member become sick or whether there’s a crisis in a workplace or community,trust is often what will get people through. What I have learnt is that people don’t need to have all the answers,they need to have helpful answers. And so, there’s often a tendency of leaders to provide people with so much information in a crisis that’s overwhelming and one of the colleagues that I have in my world and I respect his works so much. He’s a crisis communicator and he always sort of remind me of the importance of speaking when you are in a crisis to communicate in short sentences with clear information and let people know what they need to do and to reduce fear like to help people calm. When leaders can do that repeatedly,what they are actually doing is building trust. And in a crisis,people want to feel that whoever is in charge or leading this crisis, they can go to that person,that if they have a question,they can ask and so trust is key and I believe is a fundamental foundation in our relationships. When we trust each other,things can go side ways,things can go messy,and we can still get back on track and work it through. But if there isn’t trust,and something goes sideways,and something gets messy, sometimes that’s the end of a relationship which is so tragic and we see that at work and in our home.
OS: People often talk about resiliency,how important is resiliency to an individual or any business organisation Do you have any insights?
CH: Resilience! One of my favorite topics to talk about. Resilience is,I believe now more than ever,so important because,given the world we are living in right now,people are dealing not only with a lot of stress and frequent change,sometimes change that doesn’t even make sense in the moment. Change can’that wet control, and so, there’s change going on, there’s uncertainty going on. A lot of times,families have had their own challenges come up and impacting in the workplace. And so,resilience,I like to think about it… it’s the ability to bounce forward after change,challenge, crisis,and adversity. By bouncing forward,I mean that when difficult things happen in our life, it’s sort of around taking a step forward and the bounce forward part might be that you learnt a new skill,that you are able to ask for help and it’s about not getting getting stuck,not getting stuck in a situation that you are not able to move forward. So, it’s a crucial skill. What I’m loving right now is that I’m seeing a lot of organizations from small little charities to big launch coporations providing employees with programs on resilience,training on resilience and I have actually seen some that are opening up those training programs to their employees families and that gets me really excited because “conflict resolution, conflict management” hcause you have got the workplace dealing with resilience and the family learning the same skill and I think that’s a recipe for success.
OS: What are the top five(5) leadership skills for successfully building and leading teams?
CH: Five top leadership skills! One of them I believe is communication. It’s so critical to be a strong and effective communicator. The other one I’m going to go back to what you mentioned earlier. I think trust and trustworthiness; being trusting. The third skill,I think not in any particular order is the ability to engage differences . The ability to engage people in decision making,in conversations even if they akward or uncomfortable. Being able to engage people,get people excited about the goal I think in number three(3). Number four(4) I think,the top skill for leadership is that ability to know when to lead and know when to follow and I learnt this one from a leader who brought me into this facilitation in their team and he pulled me aside after a breakout session. He said, “I have no idea on how to solve this problem.” He was so nervous and I said “Why do you believe it’s your problem to solve?” And I said, “You have a team of twenty-one(21)incredibly talented skilled decent people. What if they were to help you?” And what I learnt from him. This the step number five(5) on leadership,step number five(5). He said,”Are they expecting me to have all the answers ,the offerings to help people?” And I said, ” Maybe they are expecting you to be vulnerable and ask for help.” He did and went back in the room and he said to his team, “I don’t know what to do.” And one of his teams,the one he was having problems with jumped up the chair,ran over to him and gave him a hug and she said, “Thank you,thank you for letting us help you solve this problem. Do you know how difficult it is to be on a team seeing our leader struggle and feeling that it’s not okay for us to share an idea.” And I just said ‘Waoh!’ how incredible. So, vulnerability and asking for help is also an essential leadership skills.
Charmaine’s delivery on this important subject was apt and succinctly put. Her industry knowledge is profound. You can listen to our conversation via this link. Click on E159.
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