Keep the Conversation Going Series – 2023 Philly SHRM Symposium

By:  Rebecca Deering

What does it mean to strike the right chord?

During the 2023 Philly SHRM Symposium I attended Strike the Right Chord: The Six Essential “Notes” for Optimizing Team Success, a session conducted by Dr. Michael Brenner, CEO, Right Chord Leadership. Attendees were encouraged to consider what ‘chords’ they are playing at work and more broadly, what energy they are putting into the world.

Dr. Brenner used instruments and music to discuss the CHORDS Model and its essential nature to team success. The six notes are what he believes drives peak performance and ultimate harmony in the workplace:

Communication: The trickiest part of communication is the illusion it is automatically going to be done. A common workplace communication failure is individuals using ambiguous words such as ‘ASAP’ and ‘by EOD’ as this can mean something different to everyone, based on all types of factors. Therefore, it is imperative we ensure we are on the same page when working in teams. As Dr. Brenner said during the session, “What happens in vagueness, stays in vagueness.”

Harmony: When considering harmony, Dr. Brenner equated different instruments to different working styles or perspectives. It is imperative to consider other points of view when working in teams as that is what can produce the best outcomes. Steven Covey said, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” It is important to look at our differences as an advantage, not a disadvantage when working in teams.

Ownership: Taking accountability for successes and failures is key in the workplace. There are some killer phrases that need to be avoided when working in teams. Saying something like, ‘they’ll never go for it’ or ‘we tried that once before’ demotivates team members and can result in them shutting down. Instead, we need to have mindsets that believe the smallest idea/action can make the biggest impact. It is possible a mistake can take you in an unexpected positive direction! Miles Davis said it best: “If you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.”

Respect: The sincerest form of respect is actually listening to what the other person has to say and acknowledging that they may have a different opinion, even if you disagree. This shows respect for the other person’s narrative and ultimately leads to successful working relationships.

Direction: Greatness starts with a vision – teams and leaders need to be future focused, asking themselves the question of ‘what could we be?’ versus ‘what are we now?’ When working on an important initiative, there needs to be a holistic vision guiding them.

Support: The last pillar of support is key for holding the whole team together. As leaders and team members, we must bring patience, empathy, and tolerance to work every day and extend an open palm to our colleagues. Research has shown that an employee feeling cared for by their manager has the largest impact on their feeling of trust and safety than any other leadership trait. This support encourages team members to reach beyond their current capabilities and motivates them to overcome challenges.

When learning about this model, Dr. Brenner encouraged attendees to think of their own teams and leaders – are they playing harmoniously or out of tune? He spoke about how this model drives a high performing team – from customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and retention. The more companies focus on these traits, ultimately the more profitable the bottom line will be.

About the Author

Rebecca Deering leads the talent function at Taiho Oncology, Inc., based in Princeton, NJ. She has extensive experience in talent acquisition and talent management working in the pharmaceutical and retail industries. Rebecca holds a BA from James Madison University and MBA from Temple University, with a concentration in Human Resources. Rebecca is also a member of Philly SHRM’s Thought Leadership Team.

Author’s Disclaimer: The content and opinions expressed in the article above are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Editor: Dennis Paris