Crack The Behavior Code


Propel Employee Engagement To Sky-Rocketing Levels

Season 1, Ep. 3

Often leaders are focusing so intensely on growth that we miss the fact that our team’s emotional experience is suffering. And when they’re suffering, they’re in their Critter State (versus the ideal of being in their Smart State.)  


Most likely because safety, belonging or mattering are missing. But how do you know who needs what, and when? When I do culture coaching I use three main tools to find out: 


Today we are diving into the SBM Behavior Decoder and how this tool can help forge greater emotional agility for your tribe. 


You don’t need to ask if a team member needs safety, belonging, or mattering--their behavior says it all. The SBM Behavior Decoder below will help you give them what they need to shift to their Smart State. Click the infographic link and view the Behavior Decoder.


SBM Behavior Decoder Infographic

What Do Your People Really Crave? 


  • If people are in their Critter State and craving safety, they’ll take safety away from others. They need their outside world to match their inside world. This could manifest in the workplace as someone spreading gossip, rumors, or fear in general. 


  • If people are in their Critter State and craving belonging, they’ll isolate, withhold information, or form silos—they will essentially “leave the tribe.” They feel they don’t belong, so they’ll behave accordingly… and their outside world will reflect their inside experience. 


  • If people are in their Critter State and craving mattering, they’ll take mattering away from others via condescending behavior and making people feel small. They don’t matter, so they make sure that others don’t either. Then their world will make sense. 


Discover the SBM Trigger of An Individual 


Once you determine what you think your people really crave, based on their behavior, you can begin a dialogue to confirm your findings. 


Ask your people - What is most important to you at work? 

Please list in order of importance: 

  • You’re on a team that has a plan, and people have your back. (safety) 
  • You’re part of the team, and you have equal value to others. (belonging) 
  • You’re acknowledged and appreciated for your unique contributions, and you are making a difference. (mattering) 


This dialogue starts the process of becoming aware and once we are aware of what state we are in, we can apply the appropriate tools to manifest change. Next, notice both the “go to” behavior of a person in Critter State, as well as what lights them up. If their “go to” is Belonging in Critter State, you may want to try giving them Belonging regularly to light them up. You could do this by saying “I’m so glad you’re on the team. You really bring a lot to everyone! The team is better with you on it.” Notice also your “go to” and what lights you up, as well as your family members too! 


The Net-Net 

When we give people what they crave, their critter brain calms down, and we can guide them into their Smart State. This is where true rapport, connection, alignment, enrollment, and engagement live. Oh—and high performance, collaboration, and sustainability are the results! 


Remember, safety + belonging + mattering = trust. I’ve added links to more information on this topic in today’s show notes for you.

Resources Mentioned:

You’re busy growing. Let’s have a strategy session when it makes sense, which means you are…

· Committed to getting better results and finding out how awesome your performance can truly be

· Ready to make this a priority and get started in the next few months

· Allocating budget to improving the leadership, culture and results of you and your company

· Able to make the decision to move forward (or can convince the person who can)

Ready? Great! Please fill out the form here. If not, check out our resources and subscribe to receive news and more tools as they become available, and we’ll work together when the time is right.

More Episodes


Are You Killing Your Career By Avoiding Conflict?

Season 3, Ep. 4
Are You Killing Your Career By Avoiding Conflict?Bob is the CEO of a thriving construction company. The only trouble is he works75-hourweeks, because he “picks up the pieces” when his key leaders drop the ball. Yet he hasn’t made it clear they need to own their work.Sharon is the SVP Sales at a mid-sized software company. Her salespeople are highlycompensated, yetcontinue to miss their numbers. And their compensation hasn’t been reduced.What do both leaders have in common?They’re avoiding conflict.How Your Brain Handles ConflictMany of us have been socialized or learned as adults that conflict is “bad” and in order to succeed, we should appear optimistic and positive at all times. Yet while this avoidance of conflict leads to superficial harmony, it denies what is really going on, and undermines genuine trust.When conflict occurs, many leaders (like Bob and Sharon) have a tendency to participate in it versus lead through it. It’s comfortable to do this, becauseour brains are wiredto want to belong.Fear of ostracism leads to fear of conflict… but when weavoid conflict, it has a tendency to escalate.The state of conflict or friction in the workplace (or life) is something I call theCritter State. [explain Critter State] We dive into Critter State when we feel threatened. Any time there’s conflict, the animalistic instincts in our limbic and survival systems kick into gear. This undermines communication and teamwork — and fuels aggression. All of this leads to even more issues.Here’s what to do:1.UnpackHowYour CultureCreatesConflict, And Address It.Chances are goodyou’ll find:Recurring low/incompletecommunication, leading to mis-matched expectations and misunderstandings in general,so make sure communication is actionable, accurate (have the communication “receiver” echo back what they heard) and complete (ensure dependencies and contingencies are being considered)Infrequent or incompletefeedback, leading topeople not knowing if they are on or off trackNo consequences for droppedaccountability, so the pattern repeats.Follow the above links for brain-based tools to help in each scenario.2.Know Your Conflict Avoidance Strategy.Avoiding conflict comes in three flavors:Passivity—doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away, or waiting for the actions of others to fail,Overly compliant and trying not to rock theharmony boatof the relationship versus trusting that the relationship will be stronger when ideas and opinions are discussedhonestly,Overly controlling without including time for discussionand connection.While each of these strategies has a time and a place where they are effective, they will damage results, morale, and sustainability if they aren’t stopped. Through coaching Bob and Sharon came to understand their conflict avoidance pattern. Next, I needed to give them some tools to move through conflict more comfortably…3.Ask Open-Ended Questions to Design A Shared Outcome.This will enable you and the other person(s) to move from the Critter State and into the prefrontal cortex (woohoo! Now you’re in yourSmart State). To design the better-feeling reality that you all want you’ll use an Outcome Frame.AnOutcome Framehelps you create a strong vision of the state you want to be in. Here are the basic questions:What would you like?What will having that do for you?How will you know when you have it?When, where, and with whom would you like it?What of value might you risk or lose?What are your next steps?Use this tool to discover how your team can move forward in conflict. Have them answer these questions in order to assess where they really want to be. The Outcome Frame is a terrific conflict prevention tool as well.4.To Stir Up Healthy Conflict, Use APinata.Consider yourself the “PinataMaker.”Offer potential solutions as if you werehangingup aPinataand expecting everyone to take a hit at it. No whacks to the idea, no candy comes out. This mindset may help your team to not get too attached to an idea or solution before others have had their say. And at the same time, it’llallow youa wayto offer ideas for discussion before they are fully formed in your own mind. Work with your coach to make this collaborative solution-forming style feel safe and productive.Recognize that when you are willing to have direct, non-judgmental conversations about topics like low accountability, blaming behavior and boundaries, youare able tocreate powerful learning opportunities for your team and for yourself. Scan your relationships and identify with whom you are holding resentments, festering worries about some of their behaviors, or withholding some other information out of worry they may not like what you have to say or because you have written them off.Net-NetLearn why your culture has conflictavoidance, and put the tools mentioned above in place to reduce it.Understand your conflict avoidance strategy. With this awareness you can “catch” it, become conscious of it, and choose to use our conflict navigation tools.Use an Outcome Frame to set a plan for thefuture, andunderstand where your team wants to be.Use aPinatawhen you need to mix it up!How will you overcome workplace conflict by using these tools? Let’s discuss!SHOW NOTESTools to unpack cultural conflict: communication, feedback, accountabilityFeedback Frame infographicOutcome Frame infographic

The Art of Showing Up

Season 3, Ep. 2
The Art Of Showing Up: How To Own Your Leadership Role And The Authority It BringsSue, CMO at a Midwest insurance company, receives a litany of excuses from her VP Marketing when deadlines are missed. And he continues to miss them.Dan, VP Sales at a Silicon Valley software company, runs ragged tracking the performance of his sales people and cajoling them into using the CRM. He often donates time from his own assistant to do the sales people’s CRM data entry.Karen, VP Talent at an East coast professional services firm, has frequent challenges with one of the firm’s top consultants. He changes agreements constantly, says he doesn’t remember promises made, and even bullies her and her team.What do all these leaders have in common?They’re not owning their role and the power and authority it brings. They’re not standing in their energetic weight. They're being "inappropriately small" and letting their direct reports become "inappropriately big" by default. Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don't stand in your energetic weight either someone else will, or if you're the leader, anarchy will result.The Art Of Showing Up: Standing In Your Role And Its WeightEnergetic weight is the energy, the power, the authority that comes with a given role. Now the role has it, sure, but does the individual with that role choose to use it? Standing in one’s energetic weight is about standing up for what you believe is right, it’s about doing the right thing, it’s about treating others with respect and also drawing the line when others are not honoring who you are and what your role represents.Too many leaders, in an attempt to “be nice,” to fit in, to be popular miss the opportunity to stand in their energetic weight. Then they wonder why they are mired in low value activities, when their team doesn't perform, when it’s hard to just get things done through other people.Think of energetic weight like a mantle you wear, or even a crown. When you accept the responsibility of a given role, you “take on” or wear an energetic mantle of sorts. You agree to hold yourself to a higher standard than your prior role perhaps, because this new role may convey more authority, carry more responsibility (financial, larger team, etc.). This does require you to ensure your team honors your "weight".A while back one of our junior team members made a mistake. It was a big one, and she didn't have the capacity to clean it up. So her leader had to dive in to fix things at a level she shouldn't have had to work at. This reduced the leader's energetic weight. Next, since the leader's weight had been reduced and she was now doing more Low Value Activities than she should've had to, this impacted her leader. Which is me. So now my energetic weight was reduced because I wasn't getting the support I need. Make sure your direct reports and their direct reports understand energetic weight!What’s Your Weight?Here’s a quick quiz to provide some insight into your energetic weight. Answer Yes or No to each:1. I spend 70% or more of my time on High Value Activities.2. I hold others accountable to their commitments even if they go into victim or persecutor behavior and try to make me “the bad guy.”3. My team knows what is expected of them and they come forth when they drop the ball—rarely do I have to mention it.4. My peers know what to expect in our interactions, what’s OK and what’s not, and where the line is that they shouldn’t cross.5. My supervisor/boss/leader wouldn’t dream of delegating work to me that could be given to someone more junior.6. My team wouldn’t dream of bouncing delegated work back to me, their leader.7. I am known as fair, direct, collaborative and a straight shooter. This is why people trust me—I don’t play games, I give others credit when due, and continuously elevate and cultivate others.8. I see my role as a privilege and not an entitlement. I am here to serve my company’s mission, fulfill its vision, and honor its values, and make a positive contribution to its clients, partners, and team.9. I complete the work I am able to complete that is appropriate for my role and the amount of time I dedicate to work. I don’t self-sacrifice and work excessive hours--that would reduce my work quality and also mean I either am not delegating enough or am taking on more work than is healthy or appropriate.10. I am OK with conflict and stress. If I disagree with something I say so, in a respectful way, with the reasons why. If others try to shoot down my ideas I get curious and find out what I may have missed. If under stress I stay calm and move through it. We’re all works in progress and that’s OK. We’ll get through this together.If you have:0-3 Yes Answers: It’s time to get a coach or work solo on building your energetic weight. Start to uncover the stories you’re telling yourself about being seen, having power, claiming your rightful place. It may be time to rewrite them.4-6 Yes Answers: You’re on your way. Hone your skills, expand your heart, ground your energy into the earth and be the glorious human being you are. Now comes the best part: You get to help others understand this too.7+ Yes Answers: Optimization is your adventure now. Let’s see how mentally clear, how inwardly still, how authentic and transparent you can be. It will be of great benefit to those you have the great good fortune to work with.So what happened to the three leaders I mentioned earlier?Once I coached them in their energetic weight and they began to stand in it, the results were fantastic.Sue no longer receives a litany of excuses from her VP Marketing when deadlines are missed. Because he doesn’t miss them. He understands now that this isn’t OK.Dan no longer runs ragged tracking the performance of his sales people and cajoling them into using the CRM. They now understand that if they don’t enter the CRM data timely, they can find a job elsewhere. And his assistant now has time to implement cool sales contests to increase revenue.Karen let the consultant prima donna go. Her team is much happier now.How is your energetic weight? Where would you like to grow?Show Notes:Energetic Weight and Say What You Mean infographicERA Assessment: Episode - Emotions Have Energy tutorial