the imbalance…

First glance at the title may trigger thoughts of the vogue buzz words ‘work life balance’;  which of course means to find the happy path between your own ‘9-5’ and whatever makes your boat float in your personal life.

No, the  balance I’m talking about is a different angle. This is a challenge to think about the actual place you work; no surprise after multiple blog posts.

The bottom line of thinking about balance at work actually means that you can make your work life better. It would mean that the extremes and intensity of your tasks, deadlines, charts/graphs, marketing, customer service complaints and demands are in direct proportion with your relationships, conversations, face to face interactions; the human connections.

Yes, that’s right…..it means to get a good grip on priority/equality of tasks and the human factor. Look at as 50/50 equilibrium. As much as process, skill technology is involved in the work, think about the fact that none of the work gets done without the  human factor…all roads lead to our absence of compassion and connection. We are guilty of out prioritizing our greatest assets; people.

Southwest Airlines lives this theory. Their mantra is to never out prioritize people; this includes their own employees and the customers. They do this with a sense of humor and respect. Result? Success, healthy environment, happy people. I invite you to go take a look at their internal cultural history; it is an inspiration.

This is a shift in the way we view work; not for the length of this post, or for tomorrow,  but for the duration of our working lives. Balancing the importance of the human factors and the necessary tasks will ease the stress of working day in and day out. And according to our nations/global crisis in employee engagement we are in need of renovation. You can find the employee engagement data at the Gallup website (Gallup has been measuring employee engagement in our workplaces since 2000).

 http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/188033/worldwide-employee-engagement-crisis.aspx 

Take a look, or a re-look at blog post ‘A new light’ in this blog series. The assement tool I have provided is based on these principles. I offer just a little help along this journey with a tool in the quest for insight and balance.

33% of our lives goes to our work;  if there is balance infused in those hours, minutes and years,  we will be living with so much greater satisfaction and purpose.

 

 

mOnDaY’s

Its an Autumn Sunday morning….its chilly, and you are huddled in the comforter…the coffee pot has started and wafting is the familiar smell of rich java brewing. You know this coveted Sunday promises moments of calm or fun, but as the day progresses those thoughts begin to evolve on the returning ho-hum of another Monday just around the corner.

Why is Monday such a nemeses? An obvious answer that is known to all about not being at your workplace. It also surfaces on your Sunday in the form of a grim reaper lurking in the dirty clothes hamper waiting for the spin cycle renewal of your laundry. Trying to muster yet another dose of motivation that is grossly absent for the ‘Monday’ as the weekend draws to a close.

There are those motivational speakers and self help books that offer advice for attitude modification; ways to cope. Do we just want to react to the effects? What is really happening?  It could be fearsadness, dissatisfaction, performance, fatigue, stress and disappointment.  Some experts suggest starting Monday, on Sunday night. Lots of Internet advice exists out there to create a priority list to tackle the Monday to do’s and brace for impact of Monday events. Psych Central(2016) suggests that Monday depression is a sign for emotional unrest. These remedies are all reactive. We are subconciously anticipating another Monday, then we will deal with the inevitable and we continually revisit & rewind the video for another week.

What if we looked at in new way, consider Monday as a milestone in the creation of new ideas? Not easy when we are so auto pilot programmed to make the way to the top of the task heap somewhere in the deep dark depths of Sunday night.  After a study of conducting one to one conversations with a variety of those in the working world, consensus was that by the onset of Tuesday the majority of participants say they get caught up in actions; lists of stuff that command a motion to do something. Then it becomes the goal to check off those actions and be able to exhale on Friday as the finishline for accomplishing tasks. Same stuff, different date.

What if we started by dedicating parts of Monday for thought, innovation, and to treat our downtime as a refresh?  It’s permission for our minds to innovate versus the cycle that typical Monday can bring. Innovative solutions can become habit and develop in a few weeks time, it will take the self discipline to form your own guidelines and stay focused on innovation all to better your work life.

New ideas created on Monday.…. Entertain the thought of creating a process from an action on the ‘Tuesday’ checklist that may have become a cycle of repetiveness. This will be one less action that requires a weekly future investment of your time. Imagine over a reasonable amount of time what could be accomplished if we developed a smarter way take a close look at our actions. Eventually you will eliminate the mundane and repetitive, paving the way for ideas and innovation. Take the improvement possibility and make a lean analysis.

Be proactive to the stigmas of Monday. Open the mind to the fact it’s quite feasible to enjoy it as the day you have set aside time for your own personal invitation to explore. Charting new territory and finding a new way always eases the pain of the mundane.

 

 

 

 

 

A new light….

 

Discontent is the first necessity of progress….

Thomas A Edison

 

Earlier posts were about opportunity and challenge for self reflection but for anyone and/or everyone to look at the workplace in a new & different way. …read on

I recently went to the local home store to buy lightbulbs. What I found on the shelves were a massive selection of bulbs of an overwhelming variety. So I could have exited the store with the standard 60 watt bulb that has been available since the 50’s. It may have lasted a few months. What difference would that have made? A light that satisfied a basic need, meeting my previous expectations. It would have provided me the ability to light a space; no frills, no questions, with the same characteristics, and an unknown life expectancy. We go to work with the same frame of mind.

Why would I want new energy, a new look, new life or light?

Rewind to Brockton Massachusetts, August 1883….Thomas Edison created an electrical power phenomena by painstakingly developing the epitome of engineering marvels. Not without trials, tribulations and failures. He created the first functional home/business indoor electrical system. The three wire design, (110 and eventually, added 220) was a profound breakthrough. The point here is that he was the creator of the core of our modern electrical system and …the light bulb for the shedding of new light and providing a brighter future for us all . The possibility has just gained momentum since his years of discovery; those of which we take for granted when we enter a darkened space.  Edison was the visionary and equally important he didn’t lay on the sofa after all of his hard work..he just kept moving forward.

Buy the ‘soft white’, natural light, or the 17 year life lightbulb, maybe the one that looks unique; or the crystal clear ones that are being beautifully modeled today after the 1883 Edison original. Gain new perspective simply by looking at light in a new way. Had he not pursued possibility, we would not be in the same place today. Thomas Edison, 1093  US patents later, didn’t settle for conventional.

Anyone can challenge themselves to gain understanding from a different angle, focus, light, or attitude and sum up a situation. Below is a basic time friendly analysis tool that can be utilized for those promoting open minds and implementing change to the workplace. This analysis tool is useful for team leaders, all levels of leadership, facilitators, the small business owner;  those wanting to gain insight into the fundamental health of a group or small organizations culture and potential. It is also beneficial for the entrepreneurs needing support to build teams, create internally healthy businesses and build connections with people. Present each segment and encourage the group to read the statements, gaining consensus on one answer per. Share the analysis questions and the results with the participating groups; it is a learning experience and the transparency will create your foundation for change building trust. There are few limitations; it is recommended to document results/notes for reflection, and the analysis can be repeated at intervals (for example, it could be completed quarterly).  It requires a pencil, notebook, legal pad or a notes/word function on any computer. The analysis format is below:

This tool can be used for virtual groups.

1. Climate (select one)-Environment

 

a. Group/meeting participation is low

b. Group is skeptical

c. Group is randomly asking questions for understanding

d. Group is talkative and engaging in regular conversation

e. Members are collaborative or working as a team

 

2. Task (select one)- Job Skills/Processes

 

a. Group is resistant from the topic/project

b. Group requires a clear task direction

c. Group members have technical knowledge/training on subject or task

d. Group is understanding of project tasks and/or addressing problem areas

e. Team is collectively talking about task and solutions

 

The selections are rated and stair stepped ‘a’ as the lower group maturity level, thru ‘e’ as a cohesive higher performing team. It is segmented into ‘Climate’, the human characteristic piece of the environment and ‘Task’, the work/task piece of the environment. Marrying these two basic ideas can help you to understand the importance of balancing human nature with productivity and where the opportunity for improvements may lie….

How do we move on results? Start with group/team discussions on the selected answers; potential questions ‘what is happening for us to arrive at that answer?’ and ‘how can we change it for the better?’. Allow everyone to offer input, with a voice.

More to come on the subject ….

Amy

compassion……

Why is it that when we hear the term ‘compassion’, we don’t automatically conger up images of our workplace? Acts of compassion while in our work spaces don’t  seem to  fit the daily grind puzzle; or at least not as a priority practice of taking care of people first.

 

Chances are when we think about compassion, we think about something closer to our own emotional home. We can empathize, but empathy isn’t an effort where we are seeking clarity for understanding of someone’s situation and doesn’t always put us in a common place. Empathy and compassion have different meaning.

Chade-Meng Tan, a former Google engineer and longtime leader of employee personal growth for the company, has a 180 degree different workplace mind set; his approach totally unique. His official title with Google was ‘Jolly Good Fellow’. His mantra is world peace.  And now his goal has led him to follow his own quest to educate people in the art of compassion..  Sound unrealistic, lofty or even laughable by today’s corporate mindset?  The mindset of ‘get ahead at any expense’, prestige/power at all cost, and of course there is always the material competitive drive ‘the person who gets in the newest, hottest car at the end of the day is a winner’. Tan is clear with his message; compassion creates happiness. His philosophy …live an altruistic state of mind and get past the superficial nonsense.

Be kind whenever possible……….

………It’s always possible’

Dalai Lama

 

Why is compassion of importance; why should we put it at the top of our values, especially when we get up in the AM and put on the work shirt?  Here are a few tried and true answers.

 

Compassion is a personal connection to another human being.

You are moving relationships in a continuous positive direction.

 

Having compassion levels all human interactions

This puts everyone involved on a plane of equality vs judgement. You are making the leap to see the world from the eyes of another.

 

Authentic compassion creates internal and external happiness

Simply put, this is like planting a tree. There is happiness, growth and a depth of roots as it takes shape in all its beauty.

 

Compassion may be an inherent, natural characteristic or not; but proven through much study, trial and training it can be a learned skill in the quest to have genuine concern over others well being (Dalai Lama). Dare to look at life through someone else’s camera lens. Be perpetually authentic and caring to the human race, yes even at work. It will soon become second nature and the rewards are immeasurable.

Who will you be?

 

acw

 

Elephants in the room

cropped-image5.jpegWhen there are elephants in the room…..just introduce them’

Randy Pausch

 

What exactly does is it mean to have an elephant in the room? That statement is made frequently and it often comes across as being negative.

Is it a distraction say in a meeting, when there are other burning priorities perhaps? Or something else like a sensitive subject and controversy ?  Could be a repeated and revisited boulder of a problem that is difficult to get past? Quite possible it is unspoken animosity that generates and brews disdain from anger and fear.  Whatever it is, it is consuming, blocks the view, steps on toes, and as many would say, is annoying.  All this from the negative side of having ‘an elephant in the room’.  Something you feel but you can’t see, like stifling humidity.

Shift gears for a moment and focus on the iconic elephant.  True pachyderm societies are in reality, full of emotional and caring mammals. The character of elephants can be described as grand, loyal, protective, iconic, majestic, and potentially aggressive. Elephants are typically identifiable in the wild by their personalities. So when in our evolution of business to the 21st century, did elephants develop such a bad wrap? This simply suggests a  change in the way we view a given situation; one that causes us to react to an uncomfortable climate in a room.

Metaphorically we have labeled the elephant as a menace to our potentially productive environments. 

What if we went out on the limb and looked at this from a different angle? Inviting ‘elephants’ to pull up a chair and bring those hidden agendas to our tables?  It’s fair game for dialogue, those often times heavy boulders of granite like issues.  Risk?   Yes. Consider this however; is the pain of continuous agitation  greater than the difficult conversations on the road to resolution where you get to build a bridge with an elephant and save your toes in the process? Another step on the road to happier work.  Heavy topic, pun intended.

I say we can learn great things from the elephants.

Amy

 

I love my job?

How do you get there; you know that place where we can say going to work everyday is an accomplishment, a place to look forward to, worthy of our skill, knowledge, education and most importantly time. Are we working to earn dollars or are we looking to make a difference for our selves and the workplace?

In the movie Internship (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn), two older, stagnant and careerless guys stumble upon an opportunity to be selected for a coveted job at Google through an internship program.  What happens in this movie makes an important statement about culture, generational differences, how technology has evolved and thrown us into an uber thunder storm of evolution. Ultimately the movie sends a moving message in the importance of generational connections, relationships and how to get past some tough obstacles to meld old and new capabilities, building bonds. It is equally about diligence taking risk and making change.

Noting the importance of our individual contribution; lead from where you are on the angle and approach we take. I know that in many instances it has taken discipline to resist speaking my mind and while transparency in communication is always a priority, moving with tact and respect will pave over some nasty potholes. Be a voice and contributor at your workplace. They need your input.

Data is perpetually collected from prestigious, reliable resources . You can gain insight and history on nearly everything job related; best places to work, news, complaints,  strategy, earnings, employee perks, salary and even internal culture.  Thanks to technology you can access all of the details; even what others are saying.  This information is nearly always available and accessible to anyone whether it be a gas station chain or a financial institution. You most likely already know all of this; the point here is we can stay informed, be smart about where we spend our time and educated on what is taking place around the job place…..or the job hopeful place.

Create the plan to love your job….even if it means making the change..

 

 

 

 

the changing of the mind…..

‘Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their mind, will not be changing anything’          

George Bernard Shaw

It begins with the internal motivation;  a craving for  different, a need for forward momentum. After hours of researching on what’s new out there on change, while I learned new morsels on the subject, the effort quickly  became repetitive and mundane.  “How to Implement Change in the Workplace”, “The 7 Keys to change”, ” The 12 Keys to Change”,  “Change Management” “How to Motivate Employees to Change” over and over and over again.

The bottom line is that change begins by changing your mind.  The concept is easy enough, but the action is deliberate effort. Much of the change that we initiate occurs because we have reached a level of pain we are no longer willing to accept.  It’s as simple as taking on something you have resisted doing ….a software you may not understand, a skill that you fear, or initiating  a conversation you’ve always thought about having….or as easy as asking questions about something of interest.

New possibility by shifts in the cranium is what will develop from the effort you invest in removing the boundaries.  Addressing problems, dilemmas, or work related ideas like you did 10 years ago will take you in the express lane headed to frustration. By the inability to recalibrate your thinking, you will consistently achieve less than past experiences from the same status quo thinking and actions.

Toss the box, think like you’ve never thought before…..the first steps to changing your mind.

 

 

 

?’s for the universe

A new spin on the subject of going to work..

In the past days I have shared a few epiphanies on the disconnects of what I see everyday that generate those ‘I’ve gotten to work, sitting in my car, but I need motivation to walk in the door’ thoughts and to work with people you may wish would find employment elsewhere.

Not another survey. We do need those surveys to extract data from the masses; to build spreadsheets, to study, collect answers from large audiences and to prove arguments for professors. The up/down sides to those Likert scales is fitting in someone else’s frame work. You can target answers with close ended question but you can’t capture the passions of the human race; no stories, and no painting of someone’s canvas that way. You can’t arrive at the feeling of the subject matter with a traditional survey. And no this is not fluffy, view it as a little reality check as we are all human and have a story.

This is a critical puzzle piece to why we don’t have harmony, why we don’t want to get out of the car and why we need to work smarter at communicating with our counterparts. We are way out of balance on the scale with the humanity and task pieces of our jobs. We’ve got a lot of national and global employee engagement data that says there is no shortage of opportunity.

I extend an invitation to answer the questions or offer a comment and I am happy to respond; these are also open ended questions for your thoughts with the added benefit of possibly seeing your workplace from a little different angle. The questions were designed to use for all job roles and workplaces.

Work happier……Amy

A great place to start investing energy into reviving the culture. The questions are below..

a. Choose a single word that represents your workplace.

b. Meeting outside of work builds connections; what social plans do you make with work counterparts off hours?

c. How or are you encouraged to bring new ideas to the table?

How do you collect and work through the ideas?

d. How does your organization address or promote process/product/people improvement activities?
(Example: the org or leadership sets aside time specifically for making improvements)

e. Training opportunities to learn/improve skills are vital to to the health of the business and its people.

What training opportunities have been available?

What was/is of value?

f. What is working for you In your internal work environment?

What isn’t working?

g. What are your thoughts on being recognized for your work?
(examples: ‘no public recognition please’, ‘it’s not often enough’ or this is an opportunity to share ideas)

Fog

It hangs in the air and causes confusion for the cranium. Fog is a total game changer and when it wafts into a space all bets are off. We lose perspective.

Millions of us suffer metaphorically from it every day. In a workspace that could be a cubicle, a restaurant, a laptop, a retail store, a construction site or hospital, fog creeps in a consuming way. The unknowns of what may or may not exist in the misty opaque mass, are impacting our efforts. We second guess, lose focus, we reach out to clear the way, question what we can’t see, rumors blossom and covert conversations develop; fog creates illusions. We are depleted of our precious time trying to figure it out.

Enter stage right, the leaders of our workplaces; or the entrepreneur that must wear the leadership hat amongst many.   If one aspires to be a leader, then clearing the fog is the logical priority for people and the right thing to do. Ensuring that the members of the organization know what is out there, what may be in harms’ way; what is real and what isn’t is communication at its finest. Are there land mines, are there opportunities, can you see for miles? Concealing the nasty storm brewing ahead is sabotage fog for the biz. Honesty, clarity and a forecast direct from the leaders to support the energies of the members is paramount for respect and for productivity.

Clearing the organizationational communication and visibility fog is a necessity all of the time. Great leaders are committed to this philosophy, and it makes the profound difference in biz success.

As beyond the fog lies clarity…….

moments of brilliance

We all have them………….now, what do you do with them?

If a moment of brilliance goes unspoken, is it still a nugget of fabulousness? What happens if we don’t share the moment…Is it a fallen tree in the forest that no one heard?….

Fear of appearing crazy, or wrong, misguided and silly is mega powerful. So what is a driving force for the ability to speak openly and with purpose when we are at work and with those we have spent hundreds of hours with?

This is all about acceptance. If we feel we can speak and communicate without painful consequences, judgement or if we ourselves can welcome honest feedback, then those moments of brilliance are diamonds. And yes, on the flip side there will always be those individuals, the perpetual skeptics, the ones you have at best a luke warm connection and are the reason you are even more hesitant about speaking up.

The real challenge is to accept those differences and work at developing the internal strength/maturity to be able to see, but to get past the quirky, uncomfortable obstacles. Moving on these actions are a big bold effort to conquer our fear…great moments of brilliance don’t materialize from ones comfort zone; they are cultivated through critical thought and are the essential ingredients for progress. It may be a moment in its natural state; polished to its full potential by the team.

Recognize and value your moments, but value the moments of others…

“It is in moments of brilliance that our destiny is shaped” Steve Jobs