Categories
Engagement Training & Development

Considering Major Organizational Change? Listen Up!

“Executives who initiate strategic change without engaging managers in the process disrespect them by dismissing their work and institutional knowledge.

While organizational change isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be made more painful by those in charge.” Sybil F. Stershic

Those in middle and front-line management who are most affected by change are more than willing to share their ideas on how to best to minimize disruptions and help employees adapt.

Ignore them at your peril, unless you’re looking for an expedited path to disengagement and turnover.

[Image source unknown.]

Categories
Engagement

Why Your Company Needs a Holiday+ Celebration

Let’s start with the “what” before I explain the “why” you need to hold a special event this time of year.

Your options to recognize employees during the November/December holidays, OR wrap-up the year’s results, OR kick-off goals for the new year will depend:

  • on what you’ve done in the past and whether you want to continue it or try something new & different. If you’ve never held an holiday, year-end wrap, or new business year launch event, maybe it’s time.
  • on what employees might want to do. (Have you ever asked them?)
  • on what makes sense based on your workplace culture, leadership (in alignment with or in spite of the prevailing culture), and available resources (budget, scheduling, venue, etc.).

Once you decide to acknowledge your employees for whatever purpose fits best, it’s time to decide on what, when, and where. (With hospitality staffing issues, don’t wait too long to book your on-site catering or off-site venue this November through January.)

Here’s why celebrating your employees now – or any time – matters.

According to one of the best leaders I had the privilege of working with:

“Everyone wants to be part of something … everyone wants to feel that they are valued, that they made a difference. To the degree we can celebrate our people, that’s our greatest weapon, our greatest tool.” Bob Wood

Employees feeling valued … isn’t that what you want as an outcome of your holiday or year-end event?

If you’re looking to make it truly special, consider a session of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® that engages your employees in a uniquely fun, memorable, and stress-free way.

Some may scoff at the idea of playing with LEGO® bricks in a work-related situation, yet research has found play is important to mental health, regardless of age.

“Play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being.”[Jennifer Wallace, “Why It’s Good for Grown-Ups to Go Play,” The Washington Post, May 20, 2017

That’s why I recommend a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® experience for your employees as part of your holiday or year-end event. As a certified facilitator, I’ve seen the power of LSP in enabling teams to strengthen their connection to each other. They appreciate – and enjoy – the opportunity to engage in play at work in way that’s fun but not frivolous. (Email me to explore how you can build a meaningful and memorable event for your employees with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.)

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate the season with your employees, make it a worthwhile event where people enjoy themselves and feel valued.

[Image: Baustin Curtis from Pixabay]

Categories
Engagement Training & Development

Where to go when you need emotional first aid

How do we cope when we’re bombarded with crisis after crisis? Weather-related disasters, hate crimes, political and economic struggles, rampant mistrust and distrust, etc.

If you’re looking to understand how we can help ourselves and each other get through difficult times, I recommend the free online library of Global Facilitators Serving Communities (GFSC), a volunteer facilitator network providing materials, methods, and mentoring to help communities in crisis.

GFSC’s Library contains articles and guides that cover psychosocial crisis management or, more simply, “emotional first aid” topics for individuals, facilitators, and leaders, including:

  • managing grief, anxiety and stress

  • emotional recovery

  • building resilience

  • communicating, leading in crisis situations

  • caring for caregivers

GFSC’s Library materials includes insights and perspectives from different countries and cultures, with many articles available in English and Spanish.

I invite you to explore this online resource and check out one of its most popular articles: A Light in This Dark Valley Guide-A Guide for Emotional Recovery: “Fifty Things You Can Do When There is Nothing Else to Do” by Gilbert Brenson-Lazan and Maria Mercedes Sarmiento Diaz.

This is just one of many helpful articles available for individual and community development.

I also invite you to share GFSC’s Library with others you know who may be in need of emotional first aid.

[Image credit: Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay]

Categories
Engagement Marketing Training & Development

An Engaging Journey on the Impact Revolution Channel

It’s happened. I’ve reached the point when I’m invited to speak on podcasts whose hosts are much younger than I am.

Does this make me feel old?

Surprisingly, no. It makes me appreciative of how much business experience I have to share. Keeping a positive mindset, I prefer to think of it as “sharing my experience” rather than “providing a historical perspective.”

All kidding aside, I’m flattered that younger business professionals are interested in my career journey in internal marketing for employee-customer engagement.

I’m especially encouraged by this next generation of leaders that understand the value and need to foster a positive workplace culture.

Case in point: Yoshi Garnica, CEO of Agile Mind Lab, whose work is focused on helping leaders apply what’s needed to create and sustain a “human-centered culture” that promotes meaningful work for employee well-being, productivity and success. Yoshi hosts the “Impact Revolution” channel where experts and entrepreneurs share successful business practices.

As a recent guest on his show, we talked about how I found my passion for employee-customer engagement and how it resulted in my creating a marketing and facilitation business without a formal education in either field. (Hint: it takes committing to continuous learning, lots of practice, and seeking guidance from mentors; i.e., proactive professional development.) We also covered “lessons learned” that starting solopreneurs can learn from.

Listen to this engaging 30 minute conversation here: https://www.linkedin.com/video/live/urn:li:ugcPost:7069704235222732800/

Categories
Customer service Engagement Marketing

Why I’m More Hopeful

Throughout my career there were times I felt like a tiny voice in the management void.

As an early advocate of internal marketing – a strategic blend of Marketing and Human Resources that focused on taking care of employees to take care of customers – I found companies bought into the concept but not its practice. A typical response: “It says right here in our annual report that employees are our most valuable asset, so we don’t need your services.”

Despite encountering executives unwilling to invest in internal marketing, my passion for employee-customer care kept me going. Perseverance also led me to business leaders who recognized internal marketing’s value and wanted me to help them do more.

My new favorite equation

Now I’m more hopeful than ever about internal marketing for two reasons:

  1. Thanks to the focus on the employee experience as a key competitive differentiator, there is continuing interest in applying internal marketing (also referred to as employer branding).
  2. I’m especially happy to share I’m no longer a voice in the wilderness as building a brand from the inside out is being embraced by a new generation of marketers that include Ron Johnson, co-founder and managing Director of Blueprint Creative.

Ron has taken my internal marketing approach of blending Marketing and HR further: he advocates a stronger, more formal integration of the two functions in “The Bhranding Equation: Branding + HR = Bhranding” that is reflected in his quote:

“Customers will never love a business that is hated by its employees.” Ron Johnson

My new favorite business book

Ron is also the author of Tighten Your Shoelaces: How the World’s Leading Companies Defend and Grow Their Brands During a Crisis (and How You Can, Too!), a book I recommend.

Along with explaining his Bhranding Equation, Ron shares real-life examples of how companies protected and strengthened their brands when faced with the global pandemic and other business, social, economic, and environmental crises. This book is insightful and easy to read as Ron writes in a way that makes readers feel as if he is speaking directly with them. I see “Tighten Your Shoelaces” becoming a classic that will stand the test of time in both crises and non-crises situations.

As internal marketing has evolved into Bhranding, it’s gratifying to know a new generation is carrying employee-customer care forward.

[Photo credit: image by Silvia from Pixabay]

Categories
Engagement

A Powerful Way to Strengthen Team Culture

In today’s remote and hybrid work environments, how do you maintain connection and camaraderie among employees? How do you strengthen team culture and reinforce the message “We’re all in this together?”

One of the best ways I found to do this is to bring people together in-person, in small groups of 6-10, to safely explore and share their experiences as team members in an immersive and impactful way. As a facilitator, I’ve witnessed the power of such an experience that builds better understanding among employees using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

Unlike the traditional approach of employees sitting around a table listening to a few colleagues while someone takes notes on a flipchart, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® enables 100% participant engagement and creative articulation of ideas. It engages small groups in individual and collective discovery as they build and share models using special LEGO bricks. And in its own unique way, it answers the question:

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” (quote attributed to Graham Wallis and E.M. Forster)

What’s most gratifying is how participants are astonished by and appreciative of this shared experience that enables them to re-energize their feelings about work in a focused and fun way.

I love the following quotes which help illustrate the workplace benefits of a facilitated LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session:

Better understanding and alignment among team members

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.” Attributed to Plato

“Leaping into the unknown when done alongside others causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.”  Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code

Better collaboration and innovation

“Remote work makes it all too easy to default to ‘nothing but business’ mode. But genuine interaction, playfulness, and fun are important for collaboration and innovative thinking. You can always tell when teams are joyful in their work: The quality of the work is better.” Jenn Maer, former Design Director IDEO

“As well as providing much-needed stress relief … 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, Boston Consulting Group

Reinforced employee value and empowerment

“Fun is an exhale that people experience when they’re seen, valued, and empowered … we have to recognize that fun is the expression of lots of other important foundational investments in our team that enable people to show up whole, human, and valued.” Amber Naslund, LinkedIn Enterprise Sales Leader

“Shared understanding is what empowers us more than anything.” Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut

In our post-pandemic “next normal” world, employees need to re-connect in a memorable and meaningful way. Let me know when you’re ready to make this happen with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

You’ll be amazed at how well it plays out for you and your team.

[Image credit:  Adithya Rajeev from Pixabay]
Categories
Customer service

“We want your business, not your bad mood”

Facts of life for business:

1: No business has an unlimited supply of employees and customers.
2: Recruitment and retention of both employees and customers are necessary for business survival.
3: Cultivating good employees is as important as cultivating good customers.

However, when good employees are subject to rude and demanding customers, it’s time to let those customers go.

That’s exactly what one business owner did. He was compelled to write the following in response to rude and unruly customers who made a scene at his new steakhouse restaurant shortly after it opened. (The following is cited with permission and minor editing for clarity and space.)

We are a new business – learning and adjusting.

We are not perfect; we are and will make mistakes.

This does NOT give you the right to berate us, scream at us, call us names …

As this business’s primary owner, I will protect and defend my employees – to work in an environment where they feel comfortable and safe.

As this business’s primary owner, I will admit when I am wrong or my employees are wrong and we made a mistake.

I do not want people to pay for food or an experience they did not enjoy. You want a refund? All you need to do is ask.

As this business’s primary owner, a fellow human being, and someone who cares and loves his community and wants it to be a great place to work and live, I cannot believe how inhumane people treat others.

I will personally kick you out of this business if you are unable to treat people like people. You will leave and not be allowed back.

We have customers SCREAMING at employees because we ran out of milk.

We have customers BERATING our employees because we don’t give free bread.

If you are so upset we ran out of milk, and we sincerely apologized for the inconvenience but you still find it necessary to be a jerk – you are gone.

If you walk in here expecting free bread when we NEVER offered it, and you can’t stop complaining about it and decide to treat our staff rudely because of it – you are gone.

You don’t walk into a grocery store demanding free food.

You don’t go to a gas station demanding free gas.

Grow up or go elsewhere.

It’s ok with us.

We want your business, not your bad mood.

Regardless of your experience, we welcome your good or bad or scathing review.

HOWEVER, if you choose to act like a child, a jerk, even an $&@@&$@, we are going to remove you. You are not entitled to treat our staff like you most likely treat everyone else.

If anyone would like clarification on our policy for treating employees with basic decency, you can call either restaurant to speak with me personally; you can also talk to me about your experience. If it’s good, great. If it’s bad, then we need to learn how to adjust and fix it going forward.

Thank you,
Richard Austin, President – Bella’s Sicilian and Bella’s Steakhouse.

Note: Austin’s restaurants are based in Geneva NY, and my husband and I have enjoyed dining in Bella’s Sicilian Ristorante when visiting the Finger Lakes region.

As a long-time employee experience advocate, I applaud Austin publicly defending his employees in this situation. It speaks highly of the culture he has created in his business, and it’s why my husband and I will continue to support his restaurants.

[Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash]
Categories
Engagement Training & Development

A Special Anniversary Worth Sharing

I’m excited to “share” that 10 years ago this summer my book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, was published.

[Note: this was the second – and last – business book I wrote, disappointing my son and husband who pushed for a trilogy. Sorry, guys!]

I was encouraged by my nonprofit colleagues to write Share of Mind, Share of Heart given the favorable response to my first book on workplace engagement. The new book’s content was based on three foundational nonprofit principles I learned through extensive experience both personally (as a frontline volunteer, board member, and board chair) and professionally (as a marketing & organizational advisor, workshop instructor, and facilitator):

  • Mission matters – it provides organizational focus and intention.
  • The people behind the mission also matter – the employees and volunteers who impact the brand.
  • People’s passion for the mission should not be taken for granted – it does not ensure their continued commitment.

In an easy-to-read format, the book shares the insight and practical tools needed to engage employees and volunteers. This short actionable guide also includes thought-provoking questions and worksheets readers can use to apply the concepts in their organizations.

Share of Mind, Share of Heart was introduced on my blog (It’s Here! Help for Engaging Nonprofits’ Most Powerful Assets) in July 2012 and was later recognized as a Winner of the 2013 Small Business Book Awards.

Even post-pandemic, this book’s evergreen content is a valuable guide for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders who want to strengthen their organization’s engagement from the inside-out.

Consider it an affordable investment and inspiring gift you can share with the nonprofits you care about. Limited print copies are still available through Firefly Bookstore.

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

[Photo by Toby Bloomberg of her beloved dog, Max, reading Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits. Such a smart dog!]

 

 

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
Engagement

Volunteers Get to the Heart of the Matter

Q: How would you facilitate a meeting-of-the-minds between two competitive nonprofits?

A: Very carefully.

That was my challenge when I was asked to facilitate a special meeting of two organizations striving to enhance their impact in their community: one was a local affiliate of an established nonprofit and the other was a grass-roots start-up. Both groups were dedicated to helping people with cancer.

Concerned with competing for limited donor and volunteer resources, the established nonprofit felt threatened and candidly admitted they wanted the new organization to just “go away.” Fortunately, they accepted the new group’s invitation to sit down together and explore how they could co-exist to serve the community.

Focusing on what matters

I remember my feelings of trepidation as I prepared for the joint meeting – I was a facilitator, not a peace-keeper! But my fears dissolved after interviewing several volunteers from each organization. Their message was clear and consistent: “We don’t care who we work for as volunteers, we just want to eradicate cancer. So find a way to work out your differences.“

These volunteers provided the critical reinforcement and reminder both nonprofits needed to hear: purpose supersedes politics. It also proved to be the perfect framework for a dynamic and fruitful dialogue.

I’m happy to share both organizations took the volunteers’ message to heart as they continue to successfully co-exist and collaborate in their efforts to help people with cancer.

[Image by Lou Kelly from Pixabay]