Ever wondered how to enhance your team’s performance with just the right words?

In this episode of Whole Grain, host Jim Lenz welcomes Kristen Ireland, a seasoned expert in human resources and co-founder of People Spark Consulting.

Communication is key to building trust, which impacts engagement and retention. They dive deep into the world of effective communication in management and share invaluable phrases that every manager should incorporate into their conversations. They also discuss the importance of recognition, trust-building, and habit-stacking techniques.

Jim introduces Kristin Ireland as a guest who brings extensive experience in HR and agricultural industries. They discuss her professional mantra, which emphasizes the importance of enjoying work.

Kristin’s Background:
Kristin shares her 25 years of experience, highlighting her time in a large agricultural co-op where she discovered her passion for HR. People Spark Consulting primarily works with businesses in agriculture, helping them align their culture, processes, and strategies for success.

The Power of Effective Communication:
Kristin emphasizes that clear communication is vital for employee engagement and retention. She mentions a study that identifies eight factors of engagement, all of which are influenced by good communication.

Top Phrases for Managers: Recognizing Excellence:
Kristin discusses the first two phrases every manager should use: “Thank you” and “I appreciate you.” Expressing gratitude and appreciation fosters employee engagement and motivation.

Avoiding Miscommunication:
The next two phrases, “What I’m hearing you say is…” and “What am I missing?” are tools for avoiding miscommunication. Active listening and seeking clarity in conversations are crucial.

Building Trust:
Kristin introduces the phrases “My intent is…” and “My intent is not…” as tools for building trust. Being transparent about intentions reassures others and fosters trust within the team or organization.

Implementing the Phrases:
Kristin advises managers to focus on one or two phrases and be intentional about using them consistently. Habit stacking, associating new habits with existing ones, can make implementation more effective.

The People Spark Consulting Approach:
Kristin and her team help businesses align their HR strategies with their goals, processes, and culture. They emphasize the importance of creating a workplace where people are heard and valued.

Jim wraps up the episode by thanking Kristin for sharing her insights on mastering managerial communication and the importance of using these top phrases consistently. The theme of the show is the importance of communication – two-way communication, where we, as leaders, share information, ask questions, and listen.

The Book: “The People Spark”
Kristin and her team have co-authored a book called “The People Spark: A Business Leader’s Essential Guide to Crafting Your Culture with Confidence.”

Connect with People Spark Consulting:
For additional tips, tools, and resources, visit this link.

Grain Elevator and Processing Society is the global leader in advancing the grain handling and processing industry. Be sure to visit the GEAPS website to learn how you can grow your network, support your personal professional development, and advance your career. Thank you for listening to another episode of the GEAPS’s Whole Grain podcast

Transforming Workplace Culture: Mastering Managerial Communication Transcript

Jim Lenz: 0:43 Tune in to this episode. As we work to strengthen workplace culture by effective communication, our guests for today show off or and suggest 10 phrases every manager should incorporate into their conversations. We’ll also discuss a strategy to reinforce these phrases as we work to build trust, clarity and purpose. We’re talking about an easy way to improve our communication in the workplace. Stay tuned. Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Jim Lenz, your host of whole grain and director of global training and education at GEAPS. We’re the mission of the grain elevator processing societies to champion, connect and serve the global grain industry and our members At GEAPS. We work to be the global community and thought leader for the grain industry, which feeds and fuels the world. Thanks for listening today and for joining the network of thousands of other grain handling and processing professionals across the globe taking strategic steps to grow professionally. The whole grain show will give you the competitive advantage to when at work, so you can make more of an impact. In this episode of whole grain, we’re joined by Kristin Ireland. Kristin has spent 18 plus years in the human resource sector and agriculture industry and currently serves as the co-founder of PeopleSpark Consulting. Kristin sheds light on why clear communication is such a crucial skill for managers. She also adds the top 10 phrases every manager should use and will discuss habits, stacking techniques to help in consistency of applying these phrases. All that and more coming up next, all right. Our guest for today is a very well connected individual within the grain industry. She’s a co-founder of PeopleSpark Consulting. Peoplespark Consulting specializes in transforming business cultures through human resources and people strategies. It’s also exciting as she is co-author of the book the PeopleSpark a business leader’s essential guide to crafting your culture with confidence, and so it’s a great pleasure to welcome Kristin Ireland to the show. Thank you for your participation in whole grain, kristin. Kristin Ireland: 3:00 Well, thank you so much, jim. I’m looking forward to it. Jim Lenz: 3:03 Now to allow our listeners to get to know you a bit at the start of the show and add a little bit of positive spirit. Often ask guests if they could share with our listeners a mantra or success quote that they live by professionally. Do you have one? Kristin Ireland: 3:17 I do and, interestingly enough, it’s what brought me into human resources as a whole, and really my mantra is we all spend too much time at work to not enjoy ourselves when we’re there. And that’s what brought me into human resources is I wanted to be in a role where I could impact that for other people. I have to admit it took me several years into my career to realize that as HR, that’s not always the role that we get to play, that it’s managers and leaders that really have the biggest impact and influence. But I want to enjoy my time every day. If I’m going to spend this much time at work, I want to feel good about what I’m doing and enjoy my time there. Jim Lenz: 3:56 I love that. That’s a great mantra to go by Now. Not that it is critical to have an agricultural background for this topic that we have for today, but I think our listeners will be interested to know that you have devoted a good portion of your professional career working in the agriculture industry. Could you provide a brief background with whole grain listeners? Kristin Ireland: 4:16 Sure, I actually have about 20, 25 years within human resources. I think it’s higher than that. I just tried to stop counting a while ago, so the plus just gets bigger. So in human resources, worked within a large agricultural co-op and that is really where I found my home the people and the relationships. It was really important to me and it was fun to work in environment where people were really connected and really valued each other. On the relationships that we have, I couldn’t think of a better place to be. And now we primarily work. So, as people start consulting, we primarily work with businesses in agriculture. So most of our clients are co-ops feed ag, retailers, independent feed dealers, things like that. So we absolutely love being in the egg industry and wouldn’t have it any other way. Jim Lenz: 5:11 Great to have that perspective. Thank you for sharing. Now the big picture topic for today we’re going to talk about is about the power of effective communication. It said great managers are often great communicators. Did you explain why clear communication is such a crucial skill for managers? Kristin Ireland: 5:31 Yes, definitely. This is one of the areas of focus that we have when we work with our clients. First of all, I want to talk a little bit more about communication, because when we think about communication, a lot of times we think about communication as what we communicate to others. That communication is really that bigger picture. It’s not just sharing information, it’s asking questions, it’s being a good listener, so that good communication encompasses a lot of that. As for why good communication is important, I mentioned my mantra of wanting to enjoy being at work, to be engaged at work. We do a lot of focus around engagement and what can engage employees. There is a study that was recently done by Gallup to really focus on the things that can impact employee engagement. When you look at all eight, there are eight factors of engagement. It includes things like I clearly understand what’s expected of me. I know I will be recognized for excellent work. I’m surrounded by people who share my values. All of those are impacted by good communication. When we hear about engagement, these days, a lot of people are focusing on other stuff, like we need to have ping-pong tables or we need to have recognition programs, and they tend to go big when really all eight of those key factors of engagement are impacted by good communication, which is simple, practical. It’s not hard stuff. It’s simple, practical things that you can do to increase communication and, as a result, increase engagement and retention. Jim Lenz: 7:03 Yeah, it makes sense. I know you have a list for us today to share with listeners of the top 10 phrases managers should incorporate into their conversations. The first two phrases fall under the category of recognizing excellence. Can you talk about that a bit? Kristin Ireland: 7:20 For sure. So a little bit of background on our top 10 list. When we travel to meet with clients or speak at industry events, we tend to hand out a bookmark of what are the top 10 phrases, because a lot of it is. What are those sentence starters, what are those words that you can or phrases you can have in your back pocket that you can use consistently? And so these are the top ones that we have identified in the work that we do that can have the biggest impact. And I mentioned earlier you talked about recognition. Those first two really focused on recognition. I mentioned that one of the eight factors of engagement that was identified is I know that I will be recognized for excellent work. So saying things like thank you or I appreciate you have a big impact on whether or not somebody feels recognized. And we really stress that because a lot of times in our day-to-day as leaders and managers, what stands out to us is the stuff that’s not going well. We see the mistakes, we see the issues. We tend to focus and there are physiological reasons why we do. We tend to focus on the negative and we tend to miss the really good things that people are doing every day or take for granted good things that people are doing. Every day, somebody is consistently showing up for work. Yes, that’s their job. Recognize them, thank you. I notice that you are here every day ready for work with a smile on your face. I appreciate you can have a big impact on that. So we really start with notice those things that people are doing well and take that time to thank them and tell them that you appreciate them and not their work. We know that you appreciate your work. Make it more personal. I appreciate you as a person. Jim Lenz: 9:04 That’s a nice touch. To make sure that you make that personal. Now, the next two phrases align with avoiding miscommunication. What do you have for us there? Kristin Ireland: 9:15 So two of the phrases that we talk about and we usually bring them together in one is what I’m hearing you say is as you’re listening to somebody, what I’m hearing you say is and then asking what am I missing? Listening being a key part of communication, we, as the listeners, don’t get to decide whether or not we did well. We don’t get to decide that. It’s not whether or not we listened well, it’s whether or not the other individual felt heard, and so these two sentences, or two phrases, are a great way to ensure that the other person feels heard. What I’m hearing you say is and then summarizing what they say what am I missing? And you’ll get two responses to that question. You’ll either get yep, that’s right on, or you’ll get you know, that’s not exactly what I meant. I meant this. Either way, you’re helping the other person feel heard and you’re getting a better idea of what they said, so that we do minimize that miscommunication. Jim Lenz: 10:13 Wonderful. Now there are times when we are seeking feedback, so this is on a feedback. What do you suggest as phrases to support this? Kristin Ireland: 10:23 We actually narrowed these phrases down to two. We have multiple that we use quite frequently and phrases like say more about that. Help me understand. What we recommend with leaders in using those two phrases is so many times somebody will say something to us and we and I say we collectively, as managers we feel like we need to problem solve. We feel like we need to jump in with a solution or we need to answer it, and a lot of times people have that answer themselves and if we do jump in and answer it, we could be answering the wrong thing. So in that moment when somebody makes a comment to you to say say more about that, it’s amazing the additional information that you will get. It’s amazing One people will start to solve it themselves and come up with an idea that you wouldn’t have come up with. Or they just feel heard in that process, they feel seen, they feel valued. So say more about that. We had one leader who went through our leadership development program and I said what was your biggest learning after you went through the leadership development program? And he said it was reflecting on how many hours and how much time I spent solving problems that weren’t problems, because I didn’t listen enough. So his key learning was if I would have said, say more about that more often, I would have saved myself a lot more time and we would have gotten a lot further. So it was a fascinating reflection from him on the power of not jumping to solution but asking one more question. Jim Lenz: 11:57 Yeah, that’s the key. You know your phrasing of the question. You want to trigger additional response, gathering more information, which kind of leads into the next topic here, and that is trust. So developing trust is key to any relationship, of course. What phrases do you suggest here? Kristin Ireland: 12:18 So these phrases number eight on our list for those of you who will come back on our list is my intent is my intent is not. We are huge fans of the book Crucial Conversations, so that is a book recommendation. I’ll talk a little bit about our book too, but of course, contrasting statements will be talked about in there too. But Crucial Conversations is a great book and one of the quotes from the author is people don’t question your words, they question your intent, which is fascinating when you think about it, because two people you can have somebody that you trust and somebody that you don’t and they can use the exact same words and you perceive them differently. You know one person. If one person says, hey, I want to give you some feedback about something, if it’s a person you trust, you think, yes, right, your interpreting is their intent is that they want what’s best for you, that they want you to be successful. They want to give you feedback because they want you to be successful. Where, if you have somebody you don’t trust and they say, hey, I’ve got some feedback for you, you’re thinking what’s in this for you, right? What are you going to get out of this? What are you trying to accomplish. We’re questioning their intent. So people don’t question your words. They question your intent. The best way that you can make sure that people don’t question your intent is to be clear about what it is. So that’s those two statements my intent is. My intent is that we have a two-way conversation about this. My intent is to support you. My intent is to understand the bigger picture, but my intent is not is what you feel somebody may think. My intent is not to question the decisions that we’re making. My intent is to understand them. So, when used collectively, my intent is, my intent is not. People don’t need to question what your intent is. They know and it’s a great way to build trust in that way. We use those consistently and I was saying before we started this phone call a lot of these phrases aren’t just for work. We use them a lot in our personal life. This is one I use consistently with my 13-year-old daughters. Jim Lenz: 14:29 Ah, interesting. All right, this is not just for grain-hailing and processing industry, for sure. Great thought. There You’re being clear, very intentful, very defined. In these phrases, they all have a purpose. And finally, to wrap up the list of 10 phrases every manager should use when addressing concerns, what are the two phrases you suggest? Kristin Ireland: 14:54 These two are fascinating. The two phrases are this is not okay and let me be clear. And what we found is that Leaning into some of these more difficult conversations is really hard for leaders. It feels awkward or it doesn’t feel like them when being clear about what the expectations are, being clear about what’s okay and what’s not, is really important. So using phrases like let me be clear when you say let me be clear, somebody’s response is usually like oh, oh, this is serious, I better listen. That’s a one that’s an attention grabber. This is not okay is a very clear way to say what’s acceptable and what’s not. And that one was one of my favorites, because I worked with managers for so long in my 20 plus years of HR experience, talked with managers who were having performance concerns and I would say have you told the employee that this is not okay? And the response that I would get back from managers was can I say that People actually felt uncomfortable saying that, so I said, yes, please do. It is important that an employee knows what is expected, and that is a great way to communicate that we also have. So we are in the process of doing an update to this and we are going to be replacing one of our sentences, and the phrase that we’re replacing it with as one of the top 10 phrases every manager should use is I expect, and we actually have a blog coming up soon that is going to be focused on I expect as well, because this is another one where managers are really hesitant to share the words I expect. But when you think about one of those eight factors of engagement is I clearly understand what is expected of me. The most clear way to communicate your expectations is to say I expect, and that people really hesitate with those phrases. They feel like they’re going to sound harsh, they feel like they’re going to sound more formal than what they need to, and we had a manager who was going through our leadership development program and we spent a lot of time one day talking about the importance of saying I expect, and the next week he came back and he said I did it. I used it. I was having a performance review with an employee and I hesitated but I used I expect, and he said it felt awkward but I did it. And what he heard through the grapevine later, when the employee shared this communication or this discussion with another employee, was it was really great to hear what he expected. So where he felt like he was being too formal or too assertive was received, as it was so good to hear what was expected. So I expect is going to be added to our list because it is such a key phrase that people hesitate with. Also, what I want to add when we talk about these phrases where it may feel like it’s being more harsh, that is a great place for contrasting statements. My intent isn’t to be harsh. My intent is to be clear about expectations. So if you feel like you’re hesitant to lean in to use some of those more difficult ones, using contrasting statements is a great way to balance that. Jim Lenz: 18:20 That’s a great tip, very good, good example. You’ve provided a valuable list of phrases. Every manager should use Valuable phrases. Indeed, we could end the show now and I think we’d help a lot of listeners in their workplace. Very fantastic phrases. But I know life can get in the way and these phrases and actions can sometimes be lost early on. So if you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem often lies in your system of habit formation. So we want to form these new habits. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again, not because you don’t want to change, but because you have a wrong system, maybe for change, and as a result, you may not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Instead. There’s a great book called Atomic Habits. It’s written by James Clear. He offers a proven system that can elevate your game in terms of maintaining new habits. He reveals practical strategies that can teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones and master those tiny little behaviors. And that’s where Atomic comes in the name of the book Atomic Habits master those tiny behaviors that lead to some remarkable results. So we’ve got these phrases here you share with us. Now it’s about application, kristen. How can managers make these 10 phrases you shared with us A habit in their communication arsenal? What could you offer to listeners to help implement these valuable phrases? Kristin Ireland: 19:53 That is a great question, because that is the biggest thing is people will hear these phrases or go through any programs where you’re talking about skills or tools. It’s about whether or not you build them into habits. So the first thing I would recommend is focus on one or two. So don’t look at a whole list of okay, here are phrases I need to work on. I’m gonna focus on all of them. Don’t do that. It’s overwhelming and you can get lost in the weeds. So pick one, and it could be as specific as I want to be more intentional about saying thank you. I want to recognize people. That can be your one that you really focus on using. So that is one we see a lot. Another one, the combination we see a lot to focus on, is what I’m hearing you say is what am I missing? So maybe it’s. I want to leave here and I want to focus on those two. Another one we hear more commonly is my intent is my intent is not right. So pick one, or, in that case, two, that you want to focus on, be specific, be intentional. Then, using one of the concepts from Atomic Habits and I found this really helpful for me is this concept called habit stacking of. We have habits that we do every day and we don’t realize them. They’re habits, they’re part of our system, right? If you can identify one of those habits you already have and stack a new habit on top of it, it will make a difference. So for me, for example, I realized when I was giving recognition that I focused on the phrase you rock. That was my habit. That’s the phrase that came out of my mouth before I even realized that it was coming out when I was showing appreciation. If I know that that’s the phrase that I use now, what can I do to make sure that I remember to add the thank you I appreciate you. So, as soon as I was very intentional about it, as soon as I heard you rock come out of my mouth, I followed it up with more specific recognition, which Erin will actually talk about in a future podcast about how you can make that recognition even better but stack it on top of something you do. We had a participant in one of our programs really want to focus on that recognition, really want to focus on thank you, and it was that. How do I make sure that I see those things that are going well, that I don’t miss those, and her habit that she realized she had because it could be physical is she drinks a lot of water, so she would walk out to the drinking fountain to fill up her glass multiple times a day. So, knowing that that was a habit, she would build on that habit of. In that moment, when I walk out, I am going to look for something that is going really well. I’m going to find somebody that I am going to say thank you to. So it doesn’t have to be a what words come out of your mouth, it can be a physical habit. We had somebody else tie it to every time they walked out for lunch. The nice thing with that habit is it’s physiological. Your stomach is telling you. You don’t need to remember so that he could stack his new habits, what he wanted to focus on on that. But a lot of times it’s being aware of what phrases come out of our mouth. Usually there’s a phrase that’s our go to and if you can identify that go to phrase, that’s what you can stack on top of to add into these new phrases. And again, only one or two. Here is the one I would use. The moment that you try to problem solve. Usually somebody has a phrase that they use to problem solve. Have you tried? If that’s your phrase, don’t use that phrase. Add in. Say more about that, right? Jim Lenz: 23:46 Wow, simple but effective, and so that habit stacking. Technique is important. Could be mental, could be physical. Consistency is key. So how does habitual communication influence a manager’s long-term growth and team success? Kristin Ireland: 24:04 Well, this is. You mentioned trust earlier. This is about trust Ken Blanchard talks about. Trust is built through a consistent set of behaviors repeated over time. It’s not the big behaviors, it’s not trust falls, it’s not huge. It is these small, consistent behaviors, repeated over time. These phrases are the small, consistent behaviors, repeated over time, that can build trust. And once you have trust, you will be more likely to have an engaged population, you will be more likely to retain your high performing employees, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals. So that’s good for you as a leader, it’s good for your team and it’s good for your business. And again, they’re simple, practical. It’s small things, it’s not anything big simple, practical. Jim Lenz: 24:49 I love this Whole grain listeners. Remember that these phrases and techniques that Kristen just shared can transform your management approach and workplace culture. Stay tuned, she said, for more enlightening discussions on leadership and growth in future episodes of Whole Grain. One of Kristen’s colleagues at People Spark Consulting will join us in a near future episode. Erin Meese will join us. We look forward to that upcoming episode. Now, Kristen, thank you for sharing your expertise on mastering managerial communication, top phrases and habit stacking secrets. Thank you for spending some time with whole grain listeners, but before we go, I would love for you to share if any listeners may be interested in learning more about People Spark Consulting. Can you tell us about what solutions you offer and what is the best way to connect with you? And don’t forget Don’t forget to tell us about the book that you and Erin have co-written together. Kristin Ireland: 25:46 Wonderful, yes. So first of all, our website is peoplesparkconsultingcom and information about us, about what we do, is available on that website. We really focus in a couple of areas. One I’ve referenced it a few times we do focus on leadership development. What are those simple, practical skills and tools that leaders can use implement to build engaged teams? So we focus a lot on these types of communication skills in that leadership development program. So there’s information about that on our website. You can also come find us at Jeeps. We will be at Jeeps. We are in the Jeeps directory if you would like to contact us there. So if you’re interested in more information. The other way that we engage and interact with clients is we talk about human resources sometimes is seen as a separate function. It’s that administration, that paperwork, that payroll, when really it is HR strategies that will build business success. So we work with businesses a lot on where is it that you’re trying to go? How do we make sure that your people, that your systems, that your processes, that your compensation is aligned to where you want to go? So that’s another area that we work with a lot of businesses. But again, our website, peoplesparkconsultingcom, our emails you can reach me directly at Kristen K-R-I-S-T-E -N at peoplesparkconsultingcom, and you can sign up for our newsletter, where we give tips, tools, resources. I mentioned the blog that we’ll talk a little bit more about, I expect, and the importance of using those phrases, and we are very excited to talk about the book. So the book is called the People Spark a business leader’s essential guide to crafting your culture with confidence. So we talk about big picture. What are the goals and strategies of your business? What is that intentional culture you need to have in place to meet those goals and strategies? So we help you come up with what that culture is. And then what do you do to build that into your organization through alignment of people, processes, strategies. So we’re excited about that as well. More information will be coming on our website there too. Jim Lenz: 28:03 Very exciting. Very exciting for people, spark consulting, very exciting for those who are looking for some support and they can reach out to you. We’ll have some links in the show notes on jeepscom for slash whole grain. Again, thank you, kristen, for joining us here today. It’s an a pleasure and honor. Appreciate your time. Kristin Ireland: 28:20 Thank you. Jim Lenz: 28:22 We thank Kristen Ireland for serving as guest in today’s episode of whole grain. The insights Kristen offer can have a lasting impact and improve both interpersonal communication and organizational culture. Be sure to check out the show notes at the page dedicated to this episode at jeepscom for slash whole grain. More resources from Kristen and people spark consulting. This episode, like our other episodes of whole grain, is super easy to share with others. The whole grain podcast can be found in your favorite podcast apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and more. Just do a search for whole grain. You’ll easily find it. And don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. That way, every episode we’ve downloaded to your device as soon as it is released and you can quickly catch up on past episodes as well. Additionally, you can also connect with the whole grain show on the jeeps website through jeepscom. Forward slash whole grain Access audio player, review the show notes and links and access the transcript. We already have listeners from 46 countries at the time of this recording. If you find value in the show, please give us a five-star rating and leave a comment that really supports what we do and helps people discover the show more easily. The whole grain show is the production of jeeps, the grain elevator and processing society. The grain elevator and processing society is the largest organization dedicated to advancing the grain handling and processing industry. Be sure to check out jeepscom G E A P S dot com If you and your organization want to sponsor an episode and be a future guest in the whole grain show, or if you are interested in us producing audio ads to support your product or service. We can help you with that. Please reach out to me, Jim Lenz, Director of Global Training and Education. My email is james at jeeps dot com. Have yourself a great day and thanks for listening to whole grain.

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