Categories
Engagement

Leaders, Business Owners: Now is the Time to Do Something Intentional and Impactful

If you care about your employees, now is the best time to show them.

We’re in the midst of “The Great Resignation,” also known as the “The Great Awakening,” in which millions of people are quitting their jobs or striking for better work conditions. Not only has the pandemic lead to job and career burnout, it’s given people the time and impetus to re-assess their work options.

This assessment and self-exploration process includes people asking themselves two critical questions:

  • Do I find meaning and purpose in my work?
  • And does my employer value what I do?

For those fortunate to answer “Yes” to the first question, a “No” in response to the second question can be a deal breaker as doing meaningful work doesn’t ensure employees’ continued commitment to what they do when they don’t feel valued by their employer. 

Everyone needs to know that their work matters AND that they matter

Ideally, employees’ value should be embedded in a safe workplace and positive company culture that also honors them in special recognition programs, celebratory milestone events, Employee Appreciation Week, etc.

The months November through January, however, offer a unique opportunity to acknowledge employees’ collective contributions in sustaining operations and serving customers – especially in these most challenging times – as part of holiday festivities, a year-end wrap up, or new year kick-off.

These quotes sum it up best:

“In this tight job market, the last thing a company should do is forget to show appreciation. That’s important all of the time – and especially during the holidays … The holiday celebration is a worthwhile investment that will impact your company’s morale and, ultimately, its bottom line. It shouldn’t be trivialized.” Tina Hamilton, founder, myHRPartner, Inc. [Learn more in her article, Creative Ways to Celebrate Holidays in the Workplace.]

“What’s one thing you’re going to do to signal to people that you value and appreciate them for their efforts and making progress?” Christopher Littlefield, founder, Beyond Thank You

How will your employees know they’re valued this season?

[Image credit: photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash]
Categories
Customer service Engagement

Attention, please

Pandemic-induced stress and other reasons have led to decreasing workforce numbers and increasing pressure on remaining employees. Demanding, rude, and uncivil behaviors by some customers – and employers – only exacerbate the situation.

Please be patient, understanding, and considerate. Thank you.

[Image credits: “Dude breathe” photo by Kyndall Ramirez on Unsplash.jpg. Sign posted in office or store window – source unknown.]
Categories
Engagement

Favorite Quotes on Pandemic-Related Changes in the Workplace

Last year’s disruption by COVID-19 led to copious content on its impact on the workplace discussing how leaders could navigate, cope, innovate, sustain and/or continue to grow in anxious and uncertain times.

As an advocate for a positive and engaged organizational culture, I was fascinated with the discussions and resulting responses to the pandemic. And I’m excited that aspects of the workplace have actually changed for the better. Here are some of my favorite quotes that reflect these changes.

Collaboration

“While no organization has the exact answer yet (that we know of), many are seeing the office of the future as a meeting place for collaboration, connection, and innovation and much less as a heads-down cubical farm for individual work.” Aaron De Smet, Laura Tegelber, Rob Theunissen, and Tiffany Vogel, Overcoming pandemic fatigue: How to reenergize organizations for the long run

“If there’s a silver lining to crisis, it’s that it shakes up structure … Many teams have seen people across functions step up and speak up with effective results — and now that they’ve found their voices, taking them away would be both difficult and wrong. Leaders and teams alike need to learn a new style of collaborative decision making.” Lolly Daskal, How to Prepare Your People for the New Normal

Employee wellness

“This crisis has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent the workplace. Things that might once have seemed impossible have proved surprisingly workable … Focusing on well-being and social connectivity will serve [an] important purpose: helping employees to recover faster from what, for so many people, has been a traumatic, painful, and stressful period. And that is not only good for business—it is good for people.” Adriana Dahik, Deborah Lovich, Caroline Kreafle, Allison Bailey, Julie Kilmann, Derek Kennedy, Prateek Roongta, Felix Schuler, Leo Tomlin, and John Wenstrup, What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote Work

“In unprecedented, rapidly changing situations, play is a critical capability. As well as providing much-needed stress relief – how many of us are currently working from dawn to dusk? – play can end up being counterintuitively, very productive. We can make interesting, new connections between ideas when we allow ourselves to loosen up from our regular goal-driven, laser-focused, instrumental approach.” Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, We Need Imagination Now More than Ever

Leadership

“This is a time for leaders to try to invoke or provoke a degree of reflection, spending the time to talk about a shared sense of purpose and core values while also spending the time to emotionally check in. In fact, it will have the dual benefit of helping people move past the present suffering and begin to envision and create their new future together.” Richard Boyatzis interviewed in Psychological safety, emotional intelligence, and leadership in a time of flux

Better Workplace Culture

“… companies are waking up to the need for greater empathy and compassion to create a workplace that can unleash the full potential of their people even beyond the crisis … introducing new, more human-centered principles that truly put talent and people at the heart of organizational success. [These principles] all have one thing in common: a vision of successful organizations that are intensely human, nurturing the very best elements of emotion, creativity, human connection, and empathy and inspiring emergent leadership at every level.” Aaron De Smet, Laura Tegelber, Rob Theunissen, and Tiffany Vogel, Overcoming pandemic fatigue: How to reenergize organizations for the long run

[Image by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash]
Categories
Customer service Engagement Musings

New Books for Holiday Gift-Giving This Year

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

I’m a fan of giving books as gifts especially when paired with soothing tea, specialty coffee, indulgent chocolate or other sweet treat. Such gifts feed the senses as well as the mind.

So I’m happy to recommend five new nonfiction books that will appeal to a variety of readers. They were written by first-time and long-time authors that I’m privileged to know. I’ve enjoyed reading their books and am happy to have them grace my bookshelves.

For anyone concerned about their health these days:
Your Journey to Aging Well by Sally Handlon, certified Integrative Nutritional Health Coach, is a short, easy-to-read and practical guide to doing what’s needed to create and maintain wellness. Sally addresses the four major components of good health and shares what she’s learned in her own journey to aging well.

For children and adults:
In this fascinating story of about the life of Audrey Evans: Not Your Ordinary Doctor, author Heidi Bright Butler shares how children can overcome challenges to pursue a dream career – even when other people don’t think it’s possible.

For cooks who love ethnic cuisine:
The New Ukrainian Cookbook by Annette Ogrodnik Corona features delicious recipes for more than 200 traditional and modern Ukrainian recipes based on her grandmother’s culinary secrets and the author’s extensive cooking experience. (Note: I bought the original edition for my husband several years ago and  purchased the updated version as a retirement gift for a friend.)

For executives, managers, and business owners:
Chip Bell’s latest best-seller, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination, explains how to effectively engage customers and employees in “creating breakthrough products, services, and solutions” in a win-win situation that makes them feel valued in the process.

For teachers, parents, and everyone who loves to read:
Read ‘Em & Reap is a powerful little book that affirms why reading is good for your health.  Author Tom Collins draws on research to explain how reading benefits both physical and mental health. What more reasons do you need to read books?

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” Mason Cooley

Categories
Engagement Training & Development

“Hands down, face-to-face is the best” (pun intentional)

Confession: I have as much fun talking about LEGO® bricks as I do working with them.

I actually use these colorful plastic building blocks in team development as a Certified Facilitator in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) – a novel approach that enables participants to “think with their hands and listen with their eyes.”

I had a special opportunity to share why I find this hands-on method so powerful with fellow LSP facilitator, Peter Tonge, host of “LSP – Face-to-Face,” a podcast produced primarily for the global LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator community. Peter is a member of the Brickstorming team whose founder, the brilliant Kristen Klassen, trained me in LSP.

In our conversation we discuss some of my favorite early participant LSP models (shown here in this post) to illustrate the power of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in people’s hands. I’m amazed how deeply participants engage in individual and collective discovery as they create and share their models with each other. That’s why this hands-on approach must be held in-person — LSP’s potent immersive experience cannot be duplicated in a virtual setting.

One of my takeaways from our discussion was this insightful quote from Peter, “The [LSP] Method doesn’t require it to be complicated. The Method requires it to be thoughtful.” This quote ties in with why I cite the single grey brick as one of my favorites. Take a listen to learn more, including what the models included in this post mean.

A special thank you to Peter for allowing me to post our conversation here.

 

Categories
Engagement Training & Development

What I Enjoy about My “Work” as a Facilitator

How many people do you know who truly love what they do? Well, you can count me as one of them.

Combining multiple roles of “catalyst, conductor, and coach,” my work as a facilitator is complex, challenging, and gratifying. Projects may appear to be similar, yet each facilitated session is unique.

I enjoy my work on two parallel levels.

Working with people to ensure a meaningful experience:

  • helping clients create the appropriate space (i.e., opportunity) for groups of employees, customers, partners, volunteers, board members, and other stakeholders to purposefully be together
  • developing and applying the appropriate questions and flow that safely enable individual and collective discovery, shared understanding, focused discussion, problem-solving, planning, ideation, etc.
  • sharing outcomes and observed insights with clients + keeping in touch with them about their progress.

Working on myself for ongoing professional and personal development:

When it comes to my work, I’m fortunate to enjoy both what I do and how I do it.

“People don’t choose their careers; they are engulfed by them.” John Dos Passos

[Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay]
Categories
Engagement Training & Development

Boss’s Day 2020 – Appreciating the Best and Worst Bosses

Seeing the selection of Boss’s Day cards for October 16th reminded me of the bosses I previously worked for who ranged from great to toxic. [See my suggestion below for observing Boss’s Day this year.]

I had the privilege of working for a few executives I highly respected. I also worked for execs who were inept, inconsistent, immature, and egotistical to the point of being intolerable.

Along my journey in the workplace, I did my best to practice the positive traits of the best bosses and avoid the negative behaviors of the bad ones. They all taught me how much influence those in charge have on engaging employees to do their best or causing them to disengage over time.

The Best Bosses taught me the value of working effectively with employees. Through their attitudes and actions they demonstrated:

  • honesty, transparency, and clarity in communicating what was happening in the organization and how it impacted people’s work
  • fairness in their dealings with employees by showing no favoritism
  • support for employees by providing the tools, training, and trust to do their jobs.

The Bad Bosses taught me the behaviors that frustrate employees and lead to a toxic work environment:

  • treating employees as minions whose function was to bolster the boss’s ego
  • assuming employees have no life outside of work and are available to be called upon 24/7. (The mantra of one boss could have been “Lack of planning on my part will constitute a constant emergency on your part.”)
  • assigning employees projects without all the proper information and/or support needed to accomplish them.  (I experienced this situation because one boss was into power trips. Another couldn’t make up his mind on what he wanted and waited until the project was near-completion. Then he’d shift gears so my team would have to start over – wasting precious resources in the process.)

I don’t know if anyone is ever fortunate to work with only the best bosses or cursed to work with only nightmare bosses; most likely it’s some combination. Regardless, each has something to teach us about what works and what doesn’t in managing and leading people.

How to Observe Boss’s Day 2020

COVID-19 restrictions and working remotely may preclude the usual celebration of taking the boss to lunch. If you’re fortunate to work for someone worth acknowledging on Oct. 16th, let that person know you appreciate working with her/him/them and offer specific feedback that compliments and reinforces why you like being part of that person’s team.

If you work for a bad boss, consider observing Boss’s Day discretely by updating your resume. It might turn out to be the best gift you give yourself.

[Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]

 

Categories
Customer service Engagement

Important Reminder for All Employers

It’s been several months since COVID-19 disrupted and changed the workplace. Regardless of where your employees now work – whether from home, at your place of business, on the road, or some hybrid approach – the following still applies.

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.
And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”     
– Sybil F. Stershic

[Image by jessica45 from Pixabay]
Categories
Engagement

Exploring the Work-from-Home Experience & Its Out-of-Office Toll

Employees who are used to working in an office environment have undergone an abrupt change to working from home the past several months due to COVID-19. Curious to learn how they were handling the absence of in-person communications, collaboration, and teamwork, I reached out to colleagues (executives and professionals in a variety of organizations where working from home is not the norm) to understand their experience.

Here are the qualitative highlights compiled from more than a dozen responses.

Describe your experience about working from home since COVID-19 impacted your workplace.
Similar to many articles exploring the pro’s and con’s of working from home, my colleagues confirmed it’s a “mixed bag” and a “means to an end.” They appreciate the convenience and time-saving of not having to commute, and many are grateful to have the opportunity to continue working. At the same time, they’re frustrated with distractions from other family members confined at home, insufficient and/or inconsistent bandwidth, and fatigue from meeting virtually.

“The lack of personal engagement has created more challenges than I would’ve guessed. I underestimated how much I benefit from organically ‘talking something through’ – the benefits of speaking out loud and receiving real time feedback.”

“Having always had a lot of interaction with others in the office, I now have to make an effort to keep this collaboration going.”

What stands out for you about working remotely compared with working in your office location with fellow employees?
Most notably, respondents commented on missing personal interaction.

“Emails have doubled or tripled as a result of not being able to casually talk to others in the office. And the virtual meetings are more tedious than those around the table.”

“Our work has intensified and what stands out most for me, as CEO, is a lingering concern about staff burnout and my inability to intercede. Working remotely reduces the opportunities to ‘check-in’ on staff and make sure they’re doing okay.”

“Working from home takes a lot more effort to stay connected. While in the office chats occur naturally, I now have to pick up the phone or setup a virtual meeting to run ideas by somebody or just chat about the weather. It’s easy to lose contact with an introverted person and difficult to find out how somebody is really coping with this new normal.”

What are you most looking forward to about returning to your workplace environment?
The act and impact of being with other employees is a major theme. Being together feeds the energy of working as a team.

“I am most looking forward to the sense of team momentum. I know we can all knock out our work independently but that feeling of striving and progress is different when we can’t work as a true team.”

“Collaboration! Seeing somebody in person and not through a screen.”

“I look forward to the camaraderie of my colleagues.” 

Takeaway: the Energy Toll
While coping as best they can under the circumstances, people who prefer the office environment find that working from home requires more emotional energy to connect, communicate, and collaborate with others. They look forward to returning to their respective workplaces to regain the strong sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that happens when being together.

Note: Special thanks to everyone who took the time to share their working from home experiences for this post.

[Image by You X Ventures on Unsplash]

Categories
Engagement

Acts of Employee Engagement Needed Now

I was recently reminded of a practical and low-cost way to help keep employees engaged in this stressful time. Surprisingly, I found it in an article written last year before the unthinkable happened.

  • It’s easy and something everyone can do — bosses, business owners, co-workers, colleagues, partners; i.e., anyone you work with.
  • It can be used with any employees, regardless of whether they work remotely, at a company locale, or combination of the two.
  • And it’s applicable anytime it’s appropriate, not just during this pandemic.

Here it is:

“Tell someone how grateful you are that they took something annoying off of your plate, stepped up when you needed them, or just made work a little better.

Whatever it is, be as specific as possible. It might feel small, but this tiny nudge towards gratitude is incredibly powerful. It will ripple throughout your organization. And it will make work better for you and for the people around you.” Laszlo Bock, CEO and author

In the past several months we’ve witnessed heart-warming and well-deserved expressions of gratitude to people on the front lines of the current crisis. Similarly, we can extend simple, sincere acknowledgment to the people we work with and for. And we can do the same with our family, friends, and neighbors.

Note: the excerpt above is from Laszlo Bock’s “Your Culture Will Make or Break Your Business, a worthwhile read.

[Image by Diego PH on Unsplash]