Open the window

Don’t give it a second thought….because wherever you work, that space needs constant fresh air. It’s as vital as the need to keep up with the rapidity of technological change.

So why do we never give the human side of our workplaces the equal investments of our energy, intellect and time as we afford our tasks? All data related to people, team productivity and engagement is the very loud message that globally we are not making wise choices when it comes to the people of our organizations.  

We are not working to full capability, utilizing our own internal intellectual resources, practicing humanistic compassion to foster relationships or encouraging growth from happier employees per nearly every reliable piece of data being collected in the world today. 

I challenge you to do the research.  We are no longer focusing on the productivity of a workers’ 8 hours (minus the labor laws negotiated lunch break 30 min requirement plus two bathroom breaks) the standard 8am to 5pm routine workday.

A perfect example below; Fortune magazine is measuring and bringing data to the market place on the 50 most flexible companies to work for. Subjects like ‘job sharing’, ‘flexible work week schedules’, and  ‘phased retirement’. These are charateristics of changes that are going to impact employee morale and ones that appeal to the human side of all of us. Not only are these very attatractive benefits, but they send the message to the workforce that not only do they care, but they are listening with open minds to the needs of their own people. We are now fully engaged with  a new generation of workers and we must consider the impacts of outdated thinking.

http://fortune.com/best-workplaces-flexibility/intertech-7/

A constant supply of fresh air, new ideas, compassionate leaders supporting with the promotion of equal practices and inclusion. These are all windows that will bring much needed results to the stagnant data from a discouraged and dispondent  workforce.

May your walls know joy; may each room know laughter and may every window open to great possibility”              Mary Ann Hershey

We can work happier...

Amy

What’s in a ‘title’?…..

We ask the question ‘what’s in a name’ …this implies deep thought about the greater meaning far beyond the first impression. Look at ‘what’s in a title’ like you would an iceberg, knowing that there is massive volume of meaning beneath the surface.

And why is this important? Give an individual a title and you have instantly given them an image. This poses some interesting circumstances.  Someone (or a group of someone’s), the organizations primary decision makers or possibly long ago chisled doctrine has dictated these labels to establish structure. The unfortunate piece of this plan is generally there is much planning for the business structure, and little consideration for the titles; they most likely are selected with conformance to “we’ve always done it that way”.  Trust me when I say the definitions of all these titles are based on individual interpretation whether there is a documented key to the titles or not.

1. manager- (true #1)

2. lead (shift, team, many variations)

3. leader (this one is highly ambiguous)

4. level 1,2,3,4 (based on a hierarchy seniority system)

5. supervisor

6. executive

The message of this post …If you have been knighted with a title are you performing to your potential, engaged in the work day or are you filling the perceived interpretations of it? Your own interpretation maybe? Trying to fit really round pegs in square holes based on your label?

There is a huge difference in a title versus a job role. For example, a ‘project manager’ is a pretty straightforward job role. We have some common industry smarts in what is they do. Remove the term ‘project’ and  basically we know that there should be recognizable biz intelligence and there is some flavor of authority.  Individuals can easily hide there strengths and weaknesses behind a title; they may be of rocket science mentality and they are managing the petty cash.

Why do we get so distracted and invested  in titles? Why not spend that energy from our image building in the building connections and level the playing field? Call everyone a manager; in essence everyone is managing and leading. Relationships will develop when the authoritative titles become less important than work that is being accomplished.

Just consider what this change has the power to do within the workplace. Work happier…

Amy

 

 

 

 

…navigating layoff; for employees & leaders …

Call it a reduction in staff, a cost cutting exercise, efforts in combatting the competition; one can never fully anticipate receiving this news. Once the layoff has been shared with those impacted, it is an instantaneous stiff belt of reality.

Immediately following comes facing the counterparts. These are the people that you have spent countless hours collaborating, meeting, conflicting, learning, conversing in confidence and drinking coffee with.  Another jolt of reality. Making this more complicated emotionally, many of these coworkers aren’t making the same journey. It will soon be a huge factor to the remaining members with impacts to workloads, gaps in expertise, but loss of friends and relationships.

There is a moral responsibility of fair decision making by leadership. The company and the leadership must support, be present and available for its people during this time. Based on the values/characteristics of a servant leader, during organizational devastation, humanistic care and concern is critical. Based on the principles of transformational leaders, empathy and healing are top priorities equally from all levels of leaders or managers.

The following chapters from this experience becomes an employees to write. Generally speaking, the majority of the population has been here at some point in their working life.

‘Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it’

Chares Swindoll

It could quite possibly be your message from the universe; a need for change to your true talents, a wake up call for another skill and a time to reflect on working happier. It could quite possibly be an opportunity for great things and new considerations. When walking away from the experience, remember, it may be the best thing that could have happened.

 

Your working world…

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? …There wasn’t one today” ..

 Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

Aside from inheriting millions, or winning the lottery (both of these are slim to none for the majority of us) we are most likely working for a living. Saving for the future and or the day when we can bid farewell to a classic work life is closer to the real story.

Ultimately many of us are working for retirement, squandering precious time. We are settling instead of seeking what matters,  compromising our selves instead of collaborating with our own universe.

Prior to reading on, toss the box in your mind ……..get rid of all your self imposed boundaries. 

Imagine someone has singled you out and asked the question ‘if you could create your own working world, what would it look like?’  When they ask you they don’t mean what model chair would you choose for sitting in 8 hours a day. (Not to imply that designing a workspace is off the table).

My very first thoughts on carte blanche, were daring to contemplate the thrill of waking up wanting to go and do the things that gave me the greatest satisfaction, motivation, sense of accomplishment; the excitement of doing what I really wanted to do, using my greatest gifts. It would fully use all of the education, skill and practice that I had the privilege of adding to my vitae over time.

Contemplate everything from when is reasonable for you to get up in the morning,  ideal schedule, work space to what will leave you everyday with that sense of awe, accomplishment and looking forward to tomorrow. Reality is earning a living. Reality is equally not having to be chained to that which makes us feel like we are on the miserable express or the Ground Hog Day commute. Create your own best value; you are a worthwhile investment.

They call it ‘career shifting’ ..its brave, its profound difference, its listening to your gut, heart and head. Example…TJ Campbell corporate investment banker…TJ was the ideal corporate exec. He had all the right stuff, experience education..except it was making him grossly unhappy, unsettled. He was not working with his greatest capabilities.

http://www.careershifters.org/success-stories/from-investment-banking-to-philanthropy.

I  prefer spending my time exploring, seeking and acting on all my possibility rather then settling for that which is simply the means to retired living. Not easy to make change, but what are the impacts of not making change?

Work happier…….

 

 

…..’question’ art…

The wisest person doesn’t give the right answers, they pose the right questions…..

Levi Strauss

You are in the middle of a meeting; could be a problem-solving huddle, adventures in providing status, or a management fact-finding.  There are elephants roaming free in the meeting space; no one has asked for input or feedback but there is no shortage of tsunami strong opinions. You have a plethora of details on the subject but you are blocked by the grazing elephants.

A tool as old as time is at your disposal; asking a well-constructed question is your best defense. Questions have the power to defuse negative energy, redirect, and offer the catalyst to gain expertise and topic knowledge. Speak up with robust tact and raise your hand if that will work.

Open-ended questions generate critical thought, creativity, innovation, and subject redirection. What and how questions are less invasive and are a kinder, respectful way to get answers.  Example: ‘what facts do we know about the progress of the  product?’  To gain the information and a deeper level of detail, ask a follow on question that creates a need for critical subject thought. Example: What details have the potential to derail a release this year? These questions have the power to channel dialogue, realign chaos.

Closed-ended questions are the best tool for delivering facts, expertise and for fostering consensus building. Example: ‘Does a release on a new product make sense at this time of year?’ With mixed yes or no responses, ask a follow on question to move towards a buy-in direction. Example: Is it better to release a new product in June for appealing to a summer clientele use, or October in anticipation for the holiday season?

Planning questions is the most efficient use of a very simple tool. Anyone can draft questions in a notebook or a laptop note app. Taking a few minutes to create questions in advance of a potentially difficult situation can alleviate public speaking jitters too. Document and modify your questions after the meeting;  you will be able to pick up where you left off without revisiting any issues that have moved forward.

Another step to working happier….

..a new roadmap through 2017

You are always one decision away from a difference in your life”

author unknown

 

2016 posed significant challenges and It generated epic change. Many events just simply painful. We lost many wonderful people, a nation experienced a tumultuous political divide, there was an increased amount of violent acts as we battled terrorism in multiple forms globally. What do you do with all of this?…and we must include the events we experienced on a more personal level. The frustrations seemed to never end  for me personally.

Consider this …if you are wanting  to sculpt your own plan for 2017, learning from 2016 is a critical element to the outcome.

Lessons learned; what was so significant that you gained useful wisdom throughout a particularly difficult year?  Tradition dictates we create resolutions for each passing year. What if we tried a little reflection, connecting the dots and the potential for growth if we explore the lessons learned from the personal and the more public experiences we’ve had all year?

The following are three of my epiphanies from 2016 :

What we have labeled and dismissed as mistakes, failures and blunders are really lifes lessons in a spectrum of colors; imagine a world where everything we do is limited to either black or white. 

I choose to view what is considered to be ‘failure’ not as what it suggests. I am dedicated to make the shift and challenging myself
to not think of it as a downer but to realize the learning evolution in failure instead.

Complacency takes us down the higway of mundane and stagnant; glass half empty or glass half full…..Or maybe neither…Have we become so fixed on routine day in, day out that we are simply living out of habit.

Instead of allowing ourselves to fall into the rut routine, challenge the status quo. Its simple; make it a habit to find the new angle, the new hues in every situation. The new ideas may be crazy and may or may not work; the bottom line is the challenge to go beyond the norm. Color outside the lines.;  there is a lot of fun and excitement in different. 

Expand the color palette

Challenging yourself to learn something new in a quest to make life better. Possibly going back to the classroom for challenging the cranium and to stay progressive to new methods. Learning happens everywhere. Find a something that gets you motivated to grow.

Epiphanies and creating a plan (going into this I know plans are always subject to change; approach it as a living thing) are  ways of challenging the status quo. The classic resolution list which we all know contains a lot of ‘ I will do this, this and this and lose 40 pounds’ …gets forgotten pretty quickly. Do you know where the 2016 resolution list is? Or what benefits you gained from it.

After you have identified the value in the bits of learned wisdom from the year, constructing a map for 2017 becomes a great thing to  create; capture the goals that you have been processing, add the changes you want to make  from lessons learned and stretch the imagination to your possibilities. Very important that you keep this map close and check in with it regularity. Review keeps your map alway present throughout the year.

 

We all know the meaning of insanity; doing  exactly the same things we have always done but expecting different results.

 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a vibrant new year ….

 

Amy

 

Never forget rule number fifteen

Because we are human, we will never have all the answers; there wil be no perfection nor will we stop making silly mistakes. There will be times when others will witness a foot lodged in our mouth and ridiculousness will be a houseguest where our intelligence lives.  The ego will need to take the back seat when stupidity insists on driving the Gremlin of shame.

We must make acceptance our reality. We work everyday in diverse environments where our common denominator is the fact that we are all part of the same human race.  The view changes when we look at the world through empathetic lenses. It is true that we do put our pants on the same way, and generally with a like goal in mind. Passing judgement is not a characteristic of the authentic individual.

For example, imagine getting on a lift/elevator with complete strangers and say a work colleague. For a moment picture everyone wearing the same biz logo polo shirt. You strike up a slightly funny maybe questionable brief conversation; you and your work friend are having a good laugh. Next you walk into the conference room to find that one of the unknown individuals from the elevator ends up being an executive who happens to have a rumored reputation comparable to cow pies.

If your whole focus becomes tangled up in a mass of nerves, guilt and an anticipated apocalypse because of the earlier elevator exchange, all the energy and momentum of the subject is wasted. The moral of this story, is don’t allow yourself to get into a downward spiral. The exec has had his/her ego bruised most likely many times, is critical of everyone around them, and he/she too has had many errors worthy of lessons learned. Acknowledge a misstep,  do your best to dismiss or quickly solve it; move on, move forward. Don’t give it permission to derail your own mission.

Work happier….

Rule number fifteen goes like this… ‘never take yourself too seriously’. Laugh it off; as laughter is the best organic medicine.

The essential communication tool

Call it discussion, conversation or debate. Communication is the most fundamental, comprehensible and unpretentious tool that every individual uses thousands of times per day.

Yet we all struggle with communicating optimally. Communication never rightfully gets the attention or recognition it deserves. For example, we often do a half hearted attempt at getting our point across because we are under stress, in a hurry or just don’t have a stake in the game.

What if we were to educate ourselves or those we nurture and support the basics to a standard where we are communicating on common ground? What if we invested a few more moments in making sure that what we are processing in our minds gets delivered effectively? It really is as simple as that.

Using the following tool will connect people in a way where there will be useful conflict resolution, build relationships that were never existent before, problem solve due to discovery, and improve an unhealthy environment. This is tried and true, budget friendly with a time ROI that will astound. I have used, witnessed and I would like to think perfected this for best possible outcome.

Instructions to read, re-read and apply on Monday. 

For the targeted group or team, best results for a achieving consensus is a ceiling of 7; this isn’t always reality and is workable with a larger group. Ultimately don’t allow team size to deter from using the tool.

Evolution of a team will develop; until the team matures through their interaction, a leader or owner-entrepreneur, or a willing team member will need to take some administration responsibility. Ideally the tool is best used face to face; that isn’t reality however. Use it virtually by phone and if all you’ve got is text and IM make it work that way.

Schedule three 15 minute meetings over the course of a week extend the repeated  schedule out for 6 months; Monday, Wednesday, Friday is obvious but may not be practical. It may be a 24 hour business, and you need to get together at 3am.  If you are meeting face to face, meet anywhere that is going to promote the following of the two critical to the mission rules. You can meet on the lawn out front, the dishwashing room in a restaurant, a conference room, the pub, the break room. It doesn’t even always need to be at work.

Two rules MUST be followed for tool success:

1. Be consistent. A minimum of three 15 minute meet ups, no less (altering the plan, additions may evolve with mature team decision).

2. The meet ups must be made a top priority.

These rules may be a wake up call for some members of your start up group. It will become second nature if there are no exceptions allowed to the rule. Another benefit to this is self accountability for all involved.

The conversation will develop. The subject may be a flaming problem of the day and may be a vent session. The meet ups will develop into linked discussions and problem solving. You will witness relationships building, far less rumors and many questions will be answered collectively. Many questions will develop out of this process too; perfect. When questions happen, it means the group is engaging, thinking and the tool is working.

 

..ode to the small business

Entrepreneurs & small business owners; innovative idea generators that are brave first but ultimate risk takers and adventurers. What a profound message that sends to the masses.  They have had the tenacity to go out on the limb ; believe in an idea or a garden full of them to nurture.

Huffington Post says this…our economy is being driven by small biz; and that is on the rise. Truth that 50% of the small businesses will face failure, but look at it from this angle; over a third of us living in the USA work for a company with less than 100 employees. This phenomena has created the customer connected evolution of engaging behavior, but of equal importance is that small businesses can far better keep pace with evolving customer needs and expectations. The mondo major corps cannot compete by adjusting on the dime or keep up anywhere near where agile small business can go to meet the uber fast changing customer need. They cannot turn corners without threat of stalling in beauracracy.  Turns out it is personal, we are human and it is affecting business; it’s not just about shareholder value. 

Lets talk about the failure part of Post research…is failure really failure? Or is it the evolution of learning. It could be a twighlight or rejuvenation….a chance to regroup, make things better or start over. It could be progressive change and not failure. Maybe we just need to be able to plant something new. Reconsider what we have done to someone in the past who has failed; criticism, demotion, humiliation. Not a good way to treat a risk taker. We need to celebrate evolution.

Critically consider this info….it is all worth contemplation. We need to take care of our innovators as collectively they are taking care of a nation.

 

 

 

 

Something’s missing

There are missing pieces to the puzzle after taking  a critical look at the social media opinions and epiphanies on what employee engagement data from Gallup is telling us. Yes, we remain at 34% or less engaged, having been for far too long, as a nation of people at our jobs where we spend 33% of our lives.  It’s becoming a popular topic. Some of that enthusiasm is artificial and there are misconceptions of what that data is really saying.

As employers are recognizing there is a problem, the advice is building momentum; there are many options for solving the perceived problems; choose from ‘3, 5, 7 or 12 keys to solving lack of engagement’, dozens of publications ‘ lack of effective leadership named as culprit in lack lustre employee engagement’ and some are solving and dismissing it within a one liner about absent productivity (a very 1980’s TQM  heirarchecal moldy statement).

Why are we taking such an antiquated, out dated angle on the people that are at the heart of our business?  We are way past due for thinking, planning and innovating the actions to put our people at the very top of all of our priorities. They are the front and face of all of the effort to make  businesses great.

Many facades in suit and tie where it is painfully obvious that it is focus on the spread sheets and the bonuses tied to them; not about those who are responsible for  putting them in the competition.

Balance it. Talk honestly, fairly, candidly with those who are supporting sustenance and growth. Recognize effort. Forget boundaries from the titles we’ve been labeled by. Step off the  leadership pedestals, level your work environments and be authentic. Collaborate with every employee.

You may have hired them, their opinions, knowledge and experience matter. Do the right thing. The productivity will develop from from the person who is valued. Engagement is eminent when contributions are the priority.