We had a chance to speak to presenter Manley Feinberg at the HDI 2016 Conference and Expo. Follow him on Twitter @manleyf.
Manley Feinberg is an expert in business relationships. His company, Vertical Lessons, works with organizations to maximize employee engagement. His methodology is simple yet powerful: “push people out of their comfort zone, build momentum, and get what’s important done.”
Feinberg is an accomplished mountain climber, having summited world famous mountains such as Yosemite’s El Capitan. Through his climbing experiences, Feinberg has brought valuable lessons back to the business world, using Vertical Lessons as his vehicle for communication.
Trust and Awareness
When Feinberg climbs around the world, he places a tremendous amount of trust in whoever is on belay. They essentially have his life in their hands.
“How can you go halfway around the world and meet somebody you’ve never met before that doesn’t speak much english, put your life in their hands, build a connection, and tackle a big project, coming out on top?” said Feinberg. “So, a couple things that I think are really powerful (are) stepping back and driving some awareness. Awareness is the first step to your next summit.” Awareness, or recognition, is the key to cementing the relationships among team members and ensuring a safe, effective climb out on the slopes and in the office.
Feinberg carves out two questions that are crucial to driving awareness.
- “Who’s going to hold the rope for me today that I can trust? And then reach out to them with intention.”
- “Who do I need to reach out to with intention that might need me today on belay? And just say, ‘Hey I was thinking of you. I got your back.’”
The theme in both these quotes is the idea of following up with intention. By clearly communicating with peers, you are transferring a thought from your head into a real meaningful piece of content that drives awareness and recognition among a team.
Mastering the Art of the Restart
“We always fall, we expect we’re going to fall. It’s just one of those things that you do, you don’t think about it,” said Feinberg. “So the idea is we know we’re going to fall, so we don’t ask, well, ‘are we going to fall or not?’ We just ask the next question, which is, ‘when I fall, what will I do next?’”
Feinberg calls this mastering the art of the restart. In climbing and in business, projects are often met with failure. The key is immediately restarting. It’s a very simple mind shift that can maintain momentum regardless of any bumps in the road.
“Reset your calendars the next day,” said Feinberg. “No, I’m not going to wait and procrastinate the restart. That’s just the story we tell ourselves. So immediately we’re restarting. I believe it’s one of the essential keys to momentum.”
The Three Levels of Engagement
Feinberg believes that there are three basic levels of engagement which create leaders, more powerful customer advocates, and all these things we want regardless of title.
“The base level: I want people to show up,” said Feinberg. By show up, he means that there’s a base level expectation that employees will come to work and make the effort to connect with people in a meaningful way. What if your employees can’t do that? “We need to talk about helping them go to a competitor, right? Let your competitors have them.” Easy enough.
“Level two is getting them to speak up, and this is where they start contributing their perspective,” said Feinberg, continuing on to explain the importance of how one speaks up. “There are powerful ways they can [contribute] that’s not confrontational, but furthers the conversation.”
“And, then the third level, where we really want at least a handful of people so that it’s contagious, is people stepping up. Not just showing up, but then stepping up, so they’re contributing to their passion in an engaging way. And, that’s really my life’s work and mission – is to get people to do that.”
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