Consider Adding These to Your Office

Categories Culture, Human ResourcesPosted on
Forbes Magazine reports that 1 in 5 employed Americans work from home. Experts believe that number will grow by 60% in the next five years. Greater flexibility, increased productivity, and financial savings are cited as the catalysts driving the teleworking trend. Small businesses, large corporations, and government agencies around the globe are participating in the work-from-home movement.

If you work from home, or might find yourself doing so in the not-so-distant future, might I suggest you get a dog.

It’s true; dogs do bark during an occasional conference call or demand you feed them while you are in the middle of an important task, but these four arguments make the decision a no-brainer.

1. Trust

The importance of trust in the workplace is well documented. Here are two quick examples:

  • A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt showed that total return to shareholders in high-trust organizations is almost three times higher than the return in low-trust organizations.
  • The 2013 Human Capital Institute’s Building Trust Survey indicates that higher trust aligns with increased levels of productivity, involvement, and employee satisfaction.

You may not always know where you stand with your human boss or co-worker, but last week’s edition Science contends that you can determine if your dog trusts you:

The work shows that when dogs and their people gaze into each other’s eyes, all get a boost in their circulating levels of oxytocin — a hormone thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding.

2. Forgive & Forget

Let’s face it; we all mess-up. You may have had the best of intentions, but still find yourself in one of these situations:

  • You invest hours preparing for a presentation, but fail to deliver a clear message. Your boss is disappointed and perhaps the episode shows up on your next performance report.
  • You offer to help a colleague with a task, but then you are pulled by another requirement and can’t follow through as you had initial planned. The colleague understands; however, she is still disappointed. Maybe she tells others not to ask you for help.

Mess up something with your canine co-worker and I promise the entire issue will be forgotten in a matter of moments.

3. Supportive

Over the years, I’ve had some co-workers who celebrate my achievements. They are genuinely happy for me. I’ve also had others who appeared to be less than pleased when I did something well.

Your dog is all in for you! Hang up the phone after a great call and you are guaranteed a kiss on the lips.

4. Active 

In recent years, I’ve heard people say that, “sitting is the new smoking.” They argue that we need to move throughout the day. With no parking lot to walk across, no conference room to journey to, and no bathroom on the other side of the building, it is easy for a teleworker to sit idle for hours.

As content as a dog might be to lay around, most are willing to get up and move at a moment’s notice. When I’m working from home, I just ask, “Wes, do you want to go for a walk?” and he is halfway out the door.

If You Don’t Work From Home…

If you don’t work from home, you might consider bringing a pet to the office. A 2012 Frontiers of Psychology article, analyzed human-animal interaction (HAI) studies conducted over the previous decade. The analysis points to HAI benefits including reductions in aggressive behaviors, increased empathy, reduced depression, and improved social interaction. Pet allergies aside, most work environments would benefit from these outcomes.

Your Turn…

If you work from home and have a dog by your side, please leave a comment and let everyone know why your dog is an excellent co-worker!

Creating a Culture Where Everyone is Heard

Categories Culture, Leadership & ManagementPosted on

Deep down, we all want to be heard. Each of us yearns for our voice to count. We want to be active members of the process vice marginalized actors pushed to the side.

istockLet’s face it; many people feel that their voices aren’t heard, or even welcome. This phenomena is not limited to any particular country, industry, or business – it’s ubiquitous.

This isn’t just a concern.

It is a tragedy.

The good news is that regardless of your role, you can be the key to helping the voices of others be heard.

After all, leadership starts with you.

Using the Believe – Behave – Become framework, I invite you to consider how well you understand and embrace the value of all voices.

Step 1: Believe

What you create in the physical world begins in your mind. In order to create, you must first imagine. I invite you to reflect on how you value the voices of others by answering these questions:

  • Do you believe that everyone’s voice matters?
  • Can you envision people that you work with who are marginalized, or left out of key conversations?
  • Is it possible that no matter your role in the organization, you could help to bring the less heard voices into the open?
  • Do you believe that some of those people might have something of value to add to the conversation?
  • If so, which conversations and which people (name them)?

Step 2: Behave 

Although mindset matters, it is insufficient without a change in behavior. Take a moment to reflect on how you currently behave and what you would like to do differently in the future by answering these questions:

  • Do you listen with the intent of understanding? Or, do you fake listen, partially listen, or outright ignore?
  • Are you constantly asking the same people to be part of the conversation?
  • How good are you at asking one question at a time and waiting for an answer?
  • Have you established systems to encourage everyone’s voice to be heard? Or, do your systems limit input to that from only a select few?
  • What might you do differently tomorrow, to encourage and embrace the voices of others?

Step 3: Become

Shifting your beliefs and your behaviors will no doubt lead to changes in yourself, your team, and the broader organization. However, change can be difficult. Unless the benefits are worthwhile, you might chose to go back to old patterns. So, take a moment to think about what you, your employees, and the organization might achieve from bringing more voices into the conversation. Answer these questions:

  • If those who currently don’t have a voice begin to contribute more, how will it impact them? Will they be more engaged, committed, or driven?
  • How might you change? Will you learn new things or experience better results? Will people see you differently? Will you see yourself differently?
  • How might the organization benefit? What might be accomplished in both the short- and long-run?

One last thought…

I’m not naive enough to think that everyone has something of value to add to every conversation. So, once you allow voices to be heard, you must discern what should be listened to and acted upon.

As the saying goes…create an environment where everyone gets their say, but not necessarily their way.

Great Leaders Address 5 Key Issues to Drive Engagement

Categories Culture, Leadership & ManagementPosted on

Are you effectively engaging both the passion and potential of your people in order to bring out their very best?

If you can honestly answer “yes” to this question. That’s wonderful.

I would imagine that many of your people do love their jobs as they find them fulfilling and a source of purpose and enjoyment.

(Note: If you think love is an overused, inappropriate, or inaccurate word choice, pick something else, but don’t let the word cause you to miss the message.)

As a leader, the engagement level of your people often comes down to how you interact with them, and how you support or hinder their development. I have noticed that great leaders, no matter their level in an organization, ensure that 5 key issues are addressed and necessary programs are in place to foster a culture of engagement.

To help remember the 5 programs, I’ve structured them with the first letter of each program combining to spell out the word STARS.

As an individual leader, you can be the catalyst to help your organization get these right. However, I encourage you not to wait for the entire organization or some other department to put these programs in place or to get them right.

You can start today to cover down on the basics and care for your people in each area.

Here are the 5 key elements, a brief explanation of each, and questions for you to consider as you assess your current performance:

  1. Selection & Orientation
  2. Training & Development
  3. Accountability & Performance Management
  4. Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)
  5. Succession Planning

1. Selection & Orientation

Imagine what it is like to be the new employee who shows up for her first day at the office and finds herself with no building access, an unprepared workspace, and no clear plan for the first few days of work. If you’ve had more than one job in your life, you can likely relate to the different ways organizations select and orient their people.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you and your organization have a clear process for interviewing employees?
  • Is there a documented and consistently followed process for on-boarding new people?
  • Are new employees quickly and professionally oriented to your team and the broader organization as to have the biggest impact from day one?
  • Employees understand from the first day what is expected of them?

2. Training & Development

Many teams and organizations approach training as an event. Employees attend training workshops and then go back to their daily work applying little of what they learned. This typically doesn’t happen because the employee is a bad person or lacks the desire to improve. The outcome is often a result of treating training as an event – not a process and development as a function of circumstance – not a deliberate process.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you wisely and effectively use your training resources (e.g., funding, facilities, etc.)?
  • Do all employees on your team clearly understand the training, education, and experience requirements required as they progress through their careers?
  • Does your organization have an effective means for measuring return on its training investment?

3. Accountability & Performance Management

People should come to work each day knowing where they stand. They shouldn’t be confused as to what is expected of them, nor should they be unaware of how well they are performing. This means that the organization needs to set and communicate clear goals, encourage employees to connect their daily work to the overarching goals, track progress openly, and ensure that leaders and team members work together to ensure accountability.

Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have a clear performance management process that leaders consistently use to assess individual performance?
  • Do all employees on your team understand how the organization is performing on its top priorities and how individual contributions align to top goals?
  • Do you recognize and reward performance?
  • Are you and other organizational leaders capable and comfortable with providing candid performance feedback?

4. Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)

People want a voice and a sounding board. Look for opportunities in your organization to establish both coaching and mentoring programs. Don’t confuse the two. They aren’t the same. A good coaching program establishes relationships where the individual employee is able to explore situations, develop options, and ultimately discover for themselves the best route forward. Coaching isn’t about telling – it’s about allowing the employee to uncover for themselves the way forward. Mentoring programs allow more junior employees the chance to learn from seasoned workers. Unlike coaching, proteges do receive guidance and direction from their mentors.

Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have an active and effective mentoring program to connect and develop employees? If not, what can you do?
  • Does your organization have active and effective coaching program that allows employees to dialogue with a third party coach where the sole purpose is to help the employee unleash his or her highest potential? If not, what can you do?
  • Are all your employees encouraged and provide time to develop mentoring and coaching relationships?

5. Succession Planning

Whether you are a team of 10 people or an organization of 1,000s, you should take the time to assess future vacancies and how you will fill them. Are you grooming bench strength that can step up and fill key positions if they go vacant or are you going to be caught flatfooted? Things happen, people change jobs (today more often then ever before). Take the time now to map out which positions will turnover in the short- and long-term and create a plan of how you groom people for future success.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you and the broader organization avoid having key positions unfilled for extended periods of time?
  • Is there an effective succession process in place that gives leaders and high potential employees a career path to future job positions within the organization?
  • Do you transition key employees well? Who is leaving next?

Put STARS into practice

If you want to put STARS into practice at your organization, click here. You will be able to get a free copy of a STARS assessment that you can use today.

Best of luck to you and your team as your work to unleash the Passion & Potential of each of your people!

Smart Leaders Don’t Fuel a Culture of Busyness.

Categories Culture, Leadership & ManagementPosted on

“Leaders Beware! Every time you open your mouth, you create culture.” – Stephen R. Covey

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that in most organizations, most of the time, people tend to do what leaders check.

This doesn’t mean that team members believe it’s important. Nor, does it mean that they are excited about, energized from, or committed to the activity. It simply means they do it because they know that the leader will ask about it.

Imagine this…

I invite you to consider if you have ever experienced this situation.

You are sitting in a meeting where team members are discussing work with their leader. The session starts with one person telling the leader about what he is working on and how busy he is.

The leader seems impressed, and offers a few words about the team member’s efforts. The team member feels validated because of his hard work and his busyness. It’s clear that his busyness is valued.

One-by-one, the attendees report on the activities they are performing. Each subsequent presenter goes a bit longer in an effort to demonstrate how busy she or he is.

The team members are very busy – they’ve got a lot going on.

The leader seems pleased. Praise is heaped upon the employees for how busy everyone is and all that they are doing.

The session ends with a motivational, “Let’s get back to work!”

People file out of the room…

Now, imagine that these questions are swirling around in their heads:

  • Sure we are busy, but what are we doing that truly matters?
  • If we are so busy, why do I come home most days feeling like I didn’t get any real work done?
  • I have heard the same person discuss the same things for the last month with no real progress. When is the leader going to hold him accountable?

Now, imagine this…

You are the team leader. You have fueled a culture where busyness is rewarded.

  • Maybe all of it started from a good place. You wanted people to be involved, to get on board, to be recognized for their efforts. So, you started praising activity.
  • Perhaps it occurred because you and the team are caught in a crazy environment and are trying to get some traction – any traction. Thus, praising busyness feels right.
  • Or, maybe you simply haven’t taken the time to clarify what matters most, don’t like to hold people accountable, or thrive on activity yourself.

Keep in mind, your team doesn’t exist to simply do things. It exists to deliver results. Don’t get these two confused, as they aren’t necessarily the same things.

Take a quick look at this 1 minute video about measuring busyness

 

Now what?

I invite you to take time to complete the activity I discussed in the video. It’s an easy three-step process that might prove very enlightening. To help you to do it, I’ve created a document to print out and give to your team. Click here for the form.

Best- Patrick

5 Key Programs to Foster a Culture of Engagement

Categories Culture, Human ResourcesPosted on

What are you doing to foster a culture of engagement in your organization?

These are the employees who are both passionate about the organization and have tremendous potential to do well in their roles. In short, they are engaged and contributing their best!

As a leader, the engagement level of your people often comes down to how you interact with them, and how you support or hinder their development. Over the years, I have noticed that great leaders, no matter their level in an organization, ensure that 5 key programs are in place to foster culture of engagement.

You will note that you can use the first letter of each program to spell out the word S-T-A-R-S, as in Shooting Stars.

As an individual leader, you can be the catalyst to help your organization get these right. However, I encourage you not to wait for the entire organization or some other department to put these programs in place or to get them right.

You can start today to cover down on the basics and care for your people in each area.

Here are the 5 key programs, a brief explanation of each, and questions for you to consider as you assess your current performance:

  1. Selection & Orientation
  2. Training & Development
  3. Accountability & Performance Management
  4. Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)
  5. Succession Planning

1.  Selection & Orientation

Imagine what it is like to be the new employee who shows up for her first day at the office and finds herself with no building access, an unprepared workspace, and no clear plan for the first few days of work. If you’ve had more than one job in your life, you can likely relate to the different ways organizations select and orient their people. Consider these questions:

  • Do you and your organization have a clear process for interviewing employees?
  • Is there a documented and consistently followed process for on-boarding new people?
  • Are new employees quickly and professionally oriented to your team and the broader organization as to have the biggest impact from day one?
  • Employees understand from the first day what is expected of them?

2.  Training & Development

Many teams and organizations approach training as an event. Employees attend training workshops and then go back to their daily work applying little of what they learned. This typically doesn’t happen because the employee is a bad person or lacks the desire to improve. The outcome is often a result of treating training as an event – not a process and development as a function of circumstance – not a deliberate process. Consider these questions:

  • Do you wisely and effectively use your training resources (e.g., funding, facilities, etc.)?
  • Do all employees on your team clearly understand the training, education, and experience requirements required as they progress through their careers?
  • Does your organization have an effective means for measuring return on its training investment?

3.  Accountability & Performance Management

People should come to work each day knowing where they stand. They shouldn’t be confused as to what is expected of them, nor should they be unaware of how well they are performing. This means that the organization needs to set and communicate clear goals, encourage employees to connect their daily work to the overarching goals, track progress openly, and ensure that leaders and team members work together to ensure accountability. Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have a clear performance management process that leaders consistently use to assess individual performance?
  • Do all employees on your team understand how the organization is performing on its top priorities and how individual contributions align to top goals?
  • Do you recognize and reward performance?
  • Are you and other organizational leaders capable and comfortable with providing candid performance feedback?

4.  Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)

People want a voice and a sounding board. Look for opportunities in your organization to establish both coaching and mentoring programs. Don’t confuse the two. They aren’t the same. A good coaching program establishes relationships where the individual employee is able to explore situations, develop options, and ultimately discover for themselves the best route forward. Coaching isn’t about telling – it’s about allowing the employee to uncover for themselves the way forward. Mentoring programs allow more junior employees the chance to learn from seasoned workers. Unlike coaching, proteges do receive guidance and direction from their mentors. Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have an active and effective mentoring program to connect and develop employees? If not, what can you do?
  • Does your organization have active and effective coaching program that allows employees to dialogue with a third party coach where the sole purpose is to help the employee unleash his or her highest potential? If not, what can you do?
  • Are all your employees encouraged and provide time to develop mentoring and coaching relationships?

5.  Succession Planning

Whether you are a team of 10 people or an organization of 1,000s, you should take the time to assess future vacancies and how you will fill them. Are you grooming bench strength that can step up and fill key positions if they go vacant or are you going to be caught flatfooted? Things happen, people change jobs (today more often then ever before). Take the time now to map out which positions will turnover in the short- and long-term and create a plan of how you groom people for future success. Consider these questions:

  • Do you and the broader organization avoid having key positions unfilled for extended periods of time?
  • Is there an effective succession process in place that gives leaders and high potential employees a career path to future job positions within the organization?
  • Do you transition key employees well? Who is leaving next?

Best of luck to you and your team as your work to unleash the Passion & Potential of each of your people!