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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

More than just-for-fun: how playing leads to better understanding

It’s true:
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.”  [attributed to Plato]

This was confirmed in feedback from a group of professionals for whom I recently had the privilege of providing a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop.

This special session was designed to bring a small group of department managers and supervisors together, who work in the office and/or remotely, to connect and better understand each other in a safe, engaging way.

Verbatim comments included:

“It got me to think internally about my role and growth but also add an extra value and appreciation for my team, their roles, and talents.”

“It helped to connect with co-workers and see how they thought. To see them interact with one another and think alike was very positive.”

“Today’s session helped me experience the team’s unity. We all had different ideas, thoughts, but we were all joined in a single purpose and this is to serve our community.”

As a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator, I find it gratifying to witness the group’s progress from their initial reactions about playing with LEGO® bricks at work -ranging from skepticism to amusement – to their full immersion in the process of shared understanding and unexpected joy in the process.

[Photos by Sybil F. Stershic]

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 Marketing Training & Development

Sharing Experience to Pay It Forward

“With age comes wisdom” … and wrinkles.

As a long-time solopreneur with a start in the corporate world, I’m fortunate to have more wisdom than wrinkles.

I’m also fortunate to have the opportunity to share what I learned along the way with career coach and podcast host, Deborah Brown-Volkman.

We covered a lot of ground in our 23 minute conversation that included:

  • the backstory of how I came to focus on internal marketing as a niche
  • my framework to effectively engage employees to engage customers
  • how my work evolved to include LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

I also shared one of the most important lessons I learned early on in my business – a lesson that can be helpful to any starting solopreneur.

Listen to our conversation here: https://lnkd.in/ehpRNyxW

Special thanks to Deborah for the opportunity to share my experience as a way to “pay it forward to the next generation.”

[Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]
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
Engagement

Getting Real with Resilience

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller

I’m amazed at how people have responded – and continue responding – to the pandemic and other serious issues affecting us. I’m talking about something people do individually and collectively; something they may not even realize they’re doing that needs to be acknowledged and recognized.

This “something” is resilience – the ability to face adversity, bounce back from it, and learn and grow from the experience. Too often people take their ability to move forward in difficult situations for granted. When they step back and acknowledge this capacity, when they and others reinforce it, they’re more likely to learn from/build on their experience as they work their way through.

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.” Greg Kincaid

Necessary to move forward in life, resilience involves strength and stamina; it also can be gritty and hard. Here are several more of my favorite quotes on this topic.

“Resilience, the ability to adapt to difficult situations, doesn’t make your problems go away. Rather, it gives you the ability to put problems in perspective and to better handle stress.” Izzy Gesell

“In the aftermath of shocking events, people often start over and re-think their priorities. They might change careers to better match their values or reconnect with estranged friends. Many experience greater purpose, stronger social connections, or deepened spirituality. Psychologists call this ‘posttraumatic growth'” …” Jamil Zaki

“Resilient people can be anxious, angry, afraid, and sad, which doesn’t make them less resilient. It makes them – us – human.” Julia Mines

“Truth is, resilience is often very quiet. It’s putting one foot in front of the other even when the steps feel heavy. It’s deciding to try one more time. It’s taking a deep breath and promising yourself you won’t surrender just yet. It’s looking in the mirror, knowing the cavalry isn’t coming to save you, and choosing yourself again today.” Amber Naslund

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

[Image credit by symphonyoflove on Pixabay]
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

I Don’t Need to Have the Answers

… as long as I have the right questions.

That’s one of my most important tasks as a facilitator: to carefully select the “right” questions. These are thoughtful questions that engage all participants in purposeful discussion leading to outcomes such as resolving a problem, getting everyone on the same page, setting strategic priorities, identifying resources and next steps, etc.

“Most facilitators spend considerable time looking for and thinking about a question for a particular situation with a particular group of people.” Dorothy Strachan, facilitator and author of Making Questions Work. 

That’s why I put much effort and energy into building a toolkit of engaging and focused questions – collecting them, adapting them, and coming up with new ones. It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my work.

My clients are smart 

I learned that the groups I work with have the answers – they just don’t know it. My role is to come up with the best questions and guide the process that enables clients to uncover the answers they need to get unstuck and move forward.

Sounds simple, but it’s not. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to come up with the most appropriate questions for each group. Given the answers are unknown until participants ponder the questions, their answers cannot be presumed or predicted in advance. So the stakes are incredibly high in choosing the right questions and creating a psychologically safe space in which to pose questions that:

  • frame the issue(s)
  • provoke thought
  • provide focus and clarity
  • prompt creative thinking
  • foster idea-exchange and development
  • encourage the sharing of relevant experiences that help people learn from each other.

Coming together to address carefully chosen engaging questions, reflecting on them, building on one another’s responses, and reaching resolution is most important for the participants … and most satisfying  for the facilitator.

“I asked, ‘What would you like me to do when you feel stuck?’
She said, ‘Do what you do best. Ask questions. Help me find an answer.'” Peter Drucker

[Image credit: Pete Linforth from Pixabay]