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In this episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ, our old friend Scott Mautz joins us to talk about how to make work thrilling…
“Inspiration is a three-beers-in guitar solo,” writes author and speaker, Scott Mautz.
Mautz, a retired Proctor and Gamble executive, describes that feeling when we turn down the volume of our rational mind and let “feel” take over actions. Admittedly, our friend may have the more relatable and fun description of inspiration. The point, however, takes the form of a question: Do you experience a state of flow when you enjoy how you do your work? Can you figure out how to make work thrilling?
Two chronic concerns in companies across the country are high stress levels and employees feeling overwhelmed. These definitely are two buzz-kills to finding your work thrilling, inspiring, motivating . . . you get the point.
So, what do you do?
In his latest book, Find the Fire, Mautz shows the indifference in our attitudes towards work some much-needed guidance. After all, work does not need to drain your soul of hope. Your colleagues can also be your friends. And your boss? Well, he or she is actually useful and helpful.
Sound too good to be true? Take a listen to this week’s episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ.
Scott Mautz believes work can be exciting. It’s a belief we share with him. Take a listen to what Mautz recommends you do to evoke inspiration at work. But be prepared to take a look at what you are bringing to the team. Are you truly doing what’s needed to do inspiring work? Where is your focus—on the outcome or shaping the workplace environment?
As a leader it is important you also experience exciting work. That feeling of excitement in our work, however, must be a two-way street. This is not only true for people-leaders (aka managers) but for team players, too.
We are increasingly doing more work in teams. So inspiring work is just as important to the team as it is for each person lifting that team up. As many leaders have learned, there is no one person more important or above the team identity and cohesion.Finding the fire in your work is not a nice to have. In any workplace, it’s a differentiator. Click To Tweet
So make work thrilling!
Be sure to check out these links mentioned in today’s podcast episode:
In this episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ, Mark and I talk with Joshua Feast about how computers can make us better human beings…
If you’re a fan of dystopian science fiction, you know society has a long fascination with android takeovers. If you’re not a fan, you probably share the same aversion to a computer takeover so often found in sci-fi storylines. At the heart of this once-philosophical conversation—man versus machine—is a profound concern that we’ll become irrelevant, replaced by our own creation.
We don’t yet need to worry about androids replacing us. However, we debate, fret, and get angry about the influence automation and artificial intelligence has on our jobs. There is a contrarian argument amidst the loud fury of public debate and outcry; computers can make us better human beings.
What if we could use AI to help customer service agents self-monitor their emotions? What if automation could also free us up from mundane tasks and allow us to be at and do our best at work: collaborate, compromise, innovate, experience emotions, show vulnerability? After all, today’s business challenges are best resolved within an optimistic workplace by our cognitive, emotional, and social skills.Businesses need better human beings for a long foreseeable future. But that need is changing. Click To Tweet
This week on Work That Matters by WorqIQ, we talk with Joshua Feast. Joshua is the co-founder and CEO of Cogito Corporation. From the company’s website, “Cogito enhances the emotional intelligence of phone professionals by applying behavioral science through artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
In short, Cogito has developed an AI that helps customer service agents manage their emotions when working with customers. Imagine that for a moment. You’re getting yelled at by a customer. As the tone of your voice shows sign of anger, Cogito’s software reminds you to watch your tone.
The implications and the benefits from this sort of AI and machine learning are what we discuss with Joshua. It’s also the beginning of multiple conversations we have planned with many experts.
The workplace is transforming. The tasks we do are shifting from people to machines. At the same time, we are spending more time working in teams. The benefits to companies and us are too great to ignore. So we must transform along with the ecosystem that surrounds all businesses.
In this episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ, we talk with Karen Martin about the impact clarity has in today’s workplace culture…
Admittedly, the phrase “high performance” has become cliché. In fact, its overuse seems to have pummeled any meaning out of it. And yet, high performance remains a highly desirable achievement in workplace cultures.
So if “high performance” has lost its sense of originality, what should we use in its place?
Karen Martin, today’s guest on Work That Matters and best-selling author, would provide a one-word answer: “Clarity.”
“Clarity is instrumental to effective communication. It also plays an important role in encouraging employees to bring their best selves to their work,” Karen, author of Clarity First, adds.
Of course, you could ask what does “clarity” mean? In our work with clients, it consists of goals, priorities, and expectations. If none of these three are clear, then you have a performance issue. How can you or your team have a desired impact if there is no desirable outcome that unifies a well-coordinated effort?
“If you want high performance, then you need clarity,” says Karen. “If you want your employees to excel, then you must constantly seek and nurture the core culture element. In the end, this is the culture element that eases the ongoing struggle to focus on doing work of the highest value.”
Karen Martin is president of The Karen Martin Group. Today, we talk with her about what leaders can do to strengthen clarity from the executive level, mid-management level, and at the employee level. As you’ll hear, Karen explains that clarity is not just a highly desirable reality, it is an organizational value, a state of being, and an outcome… all at the same time.
As Karen astutely observes, the opposite of clarity is ambiguity. Though there is no way to remove ambiguity from the workplace completely, you no doubt know the impacts if ambiguity is the norm, rather than the specificity gained through clarity. Additionally, when clarity is more pronounced, it helps to boost employee confidence.
Listen in, and you’ll hear Karen discuss how “confidence breeds competence.” She adds: “Even purpose begins to shape actions when clarity is paramount in your leadership.”
Enjoy the listen… and then think about how much of a culture element clarity might be, or become, in your organization.
Be sure to check out these links mentioned in today’s podcast episode:
“I’m so grateful I have nothing left to give to my family and friends after work,” said nobody ever. Yet, we have an epidemic of exhausted, unwell, overwhelmed employees doing their best to avoid burnout caused by a stale company culture.
While stress plays an important role in fueling performance, distress rips apart human performance. It “takes out” highly competent people, leaving them struggling with mediocrity. As employees fight to find their footing in a chaotic workplace environment, so too do their bosses. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear from or talk with leaders befuddled by the lightning-quick passage of time, their inability to make progress on meaningful work, or summon the energy to motivate and coach their direct reports.
As a result, savvy organizations are investing in higher leverage changes that move the culture in a constructive direction.
Let’s look at four solutions that can help leaders avoid a stale company culture, and eventually employee burnout.
One of the biggest influences on the daily experience of work is the people in the company. So, it may be time to modernize how you bring in new people to the company. A place to start is by understanding what today’s job seekers are looking for in their next opportunity.
Annie Pearl, VP of Product at Glassdoor, the online job board and recruiting company, sees that today’s potential new hires thoroughly research companies before applying for an open position. Job seekers want to work for a company that is transparent and authentic, says Pearl on a trend Glassdoor is seeing. Does the company openly talk about who they are, what they stand for, and even where they need to improve. Such candor reveals a more human side to the company, making it more relatable and desirable.
When you factor into the employee experience the length of time spent doing the work, it makes sense potential new hires carefully evaluate your company and its leaders. Pearl explains that what current and former employees post online about their experience at work needs to match what the company says about itself online.
You can’t bring in highly desirable new employees if you drive them away before they apply.
Another high-leverage solution to prevent a stale workplace is leadership development. Too often eager, savvy individual contributors are promoted to management with too little or no development plan.
Training is hardly the only answer to developing your leaders. A more thorough way to help your leaders be strong in motivating people is to establish a set of human development objectives and key results around mindful leadership. Integrate into your plan on-the-job assignments to expose leaders to myriad opportunities that test and grow their skills. Leverage your managers’ strengths in assignments, too. Establish mentoring and coaching practices. (BetterUp is growing in popularity as a way to match leaders with certified coaches.)
Management is about spreadsheets, numbers, and meetings. These items don’t build your business, people do. Your company needs a robust solution to keep managers in a constant learning loop: learning and growing continuously. Otherwise, a stale company culture is imminent.
Your company’s employees also need to understand how they can grow or promote within the company. If your company does not have clear growth expectations and opportunities to improve, then your company will struggle to find and keep high performers. If employees are “ripe” they are rotting. And if they are “green,” they are growing.
Bottom line: the lack of personal and professional growth, at least from your employee’s perspective, is a sure sign of a stale company culture.
Bygone management practices that trumpet the superiority of the “top brass” are still too common. A systemic and ruthless effort must be implemented to eradicate old cultural leftovers. Here’s a starter list of practices that build ivory towers and separate management from reality and employees:
Your company will find it valuable to equip employees with the relevant technology for their positions. Survey employees across a diverse set of roles to learn what they need to be effective and efficient in their work.
Evaluate and revise your expectations for managing how much time is spent working outside regular office hours. This starts with top leadership. Ban emails after a certain hour and on weekends. Create spaces for employees to step away from their work throughout the day.
Finally, if you do nothing else, be ruthless in creating clarity in your company. Mature operational practices that make it easy for everyone to know company goals and how they contribute to them. Diligently communicate quarterly priorities. Institute a leadership philosophy on sharing individual and team performance expectations. And coach and teach everyone to participate in short feedback loops that let individuals, teams, and units know what progress they are making.
The demands of knowledge work are mentally and physically draining. Their effects are magnified when outdated workplace practices and a stale company culture impede progress and limit human potential.
Avoid becoming a relic slow to respond to outside influences. Masterfully monitor and quickly and adeptly build a culture that makes it easier for people to do what you hired them to do–produce results. Moreover, give them what they want–an experience of work that satisfies, motivates, and fosters excellence. We all want to be part of something great. Don’t let your workplace practices prevent this altruism from applying to your company’s culture.
This post originally appeared in Shawn’s weekly column on Inc.com.
At WorqIQ, we’re constantly looking for insight into what makes great leaders… well, great. After all, one of the indicators of a high level of Workplace Intelligence (or WQ) is “transformational leadership.”
Of course, the definition of a great leader is often a matter of perception or preferred style. Some might say that charisma is a primary trait of great leaders, for example. Others might say confidence or decisiveness. We, though, found this terrific infographic from the good folks at BrianDownard.com that outlines some truly admirable leadership traits – and felt we had to share.
Here, you see Brian’s version of six qualities of great leaders: vision, humility, self-awareness, integrity, commitment and the desire to help others. Just as important, Brian goes into detail on what each of these qualities might mean to those who follow you, or how the traits might show up in every day interactions.
We have several favorites here, but the one that strikes a chord for us most is “help others.” Why? In part because we believe those in management fall into three categories:
Do you take pride in helping others succeed? Is your mindset one where you focus on helping your entire team achieve agreed upon goals? Do you take the time to nurture those who follow you, and impact both their professional and personal lives? If you can answer yes to these questions… you just might be a mentor.
Take Brian’s advice on becoming more self-aware. Take a few minutes to reflect on your current leadership style. Then begin to close the gap between where you are now… and where you want to be.
Soon, you’ll find yourself in the category of a great – perhaps even transformational – leader!
How long would you withstand doing work that drains happiness from your life?
Throughout our life we all have times where we grapple with life changing questions that demand an answer:
Yet, despite the implications, we have become too comfortable bartering our happiness for more money or a promotion. Or maybe because we’re excited to roll out our next big idea.
Some might argue that being happy and the workplace should have nothing to do with each other. There was a time for that thinking, but that time is gone. In America, the workforce invests the equivalent of 6 working days a week. So the need to justify a focus on happiness at work is less about the long work hours. It is mostly about accounting for the cognitive, emotional, and social demands inherent in how we work today.
People leaders are best positioned to shape the environment. And one way to do that is through happiness.
With this set-up in mind, this week’s episode of Work That Matters focuses on happiness in the workplace…
In this episode, we talk with Mike Steib, CEO of the XO Group. You may be familiar with some of the XO Group’s brands: The Knot, The Bump, The Nest, Foundhers, How He Asked, and also Gigamasters. Each of these brands is connected to important milestone in life: from proposing to getting married to empowering female leaders.
Mike talks about how the absence of happiness in his work led him to a career change and a more meaningful life. Fortunately for us, he codified his approach and wrote about it in his book The Career Manifesto: Discover Your Calling and create an Extraordinary Life. We also talk about stress and its influence on performance. We’ll even get a little philosophical and talk about the hedonic treadmill.
Alright, enjoy another new episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ. And get ready to take lots of notes!
Links to concepts and ideas discussed in today’s interview:
When was the last time you were excited to go to work? If you feel that work is a necessity marked mostly with unsatisfying thoughts and unfulfilling opportunities, you’d be in a majority group: 70 percent of employees have a negative experience of work. So how do we, as leaders, create a more fulfilling, human workplace?
Perhaps your experience is stained by feeling like a number in the corporate machinery. Or maybe there is an absence of quality connections at work. Both are symptoms of unhuman workplaces. Such workplaces fail to connect employees’ needs with organizational outcomes.
Unhuman workplaces leave employees at all levels feeling as though their talents are wasted or taken for granted. Such workplaces struggle to connect purpose with individual and team efforts. A predominate belief of one-sidedness creates disbelief that leads to myriad outcomes that don’t benefit the company and its employees.
The belief of one-sidedness is created when the employee experience is forsaken to benefit executives, shareholders, or even Board members. As the employee experience and their experience of work increase in importance, companies that fail to adapt will struggle to attract and retain high performing employees. A failure to change is always a recipe for mediocrity, obsolescence, or irrelevance.
Human workplaces purposefully tap into human needs to generate value for the company’s many stakeholders: employees, customers, shareholders, and executives, at a minimum. Organizational cultures that are human place high importance on ideals like high-quality relationships, trust building/being trustworthy, personal and professional growth, and being curious.
So humanizing the workplace is an intention best shared across all people leaders.
In the spirit of helping and making a difference, the following list includes high-leverage focus areas to shape your culture to be more human. The ideas below are inputs to creating a positive, human workplace. Each one helps make it easier for employees to contribute and fulfill and learn about their potential.
A strengths-based mindset believes it is equally as important to promote what is right with people and not focus solely on their weaknesses. Strengths are defined as competence and work that energizes you. When combined, these two inputs promote peak performance. At WorqIQ, we use the UK’s StrengthScope® assessment to learn about strengths.
At LinkedIn, Scott Shute, the VP of Global Customer Operations, married his lifelong meditation practice to supporting the company’s mindfulness program. To help employees effectively manage stress, promote creating a more profound source of personal happiness, and even increase resilience, Shute and LinkedIn created Mindful Moments. It’s a self-paced online learning program anyone in LinkedIn can take to learn about mindfulness.
Another outcome of mindfulness is positivity. Cultivate positivity by focusing on what’s possible and examining what’s right and not just what’s wrong with an idea or approach. Back at LinkedIn, Shute shared a practice where team meetings start with people sharing a personal win or kudos or story of gratitude. Barbara Fredrickson, professor of psychology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has researched positivity. Positive emotions broaden people’s thinking, an invaluable asset to problem-solving and making a difference.
Belonging is one of our most basic human needs. Working well together with others comes naturally. Menlo Innovations, a software development company, creates a sense of belonging by pairing employees to work together. The pairs are reshuffled each week. This practice helps raise awareness of different working styles and areas of expertise. They build into the pairing a reliance on one another.
When you can articulate what drives you, it’s easier to align your efforts with your growth goals. It better helps the company achieve its goals, too. At Luck Companies, their practice of values-based leadership and expecting employees to know and define their own values shapes belonging, positive self-identity, and stronger relationships.
Other high leverage practices worth evaluating for your company include the following:
Increase employee awareness of their purpose with that of the company’s. Design activities that position employees to know and learn from colleagues outside their immediate work group. Raise employees’ satisfaction with their accomplishments by relentlessly promoting progress in work and projects.
Additionally, redesign physical workspaces to encourage connection and also offer solitary, quiet workspaces useful for deep work. Finally, audit your people processes and practices. Your primary objective is to sunset those long-standing processes and practices that undermine trust (like requiring employees to follow scripts when talking with customers). You’ll also want to modernize requirements that are in step with today’s realities. For example, update your travel and expense limits for meals. It’s not practical to limit employees to $7 for breakfast when traveling for the company.
Your company has big goals. Achieving those goals depends on employees feeling they are valued partners. Without a doubt, this is critical to a more human workplace.
This post originally appeared in Shawn’s weekly column on Inc.com.
Anne Bahr Thompson is a pioneer in brand citizenship, founder of the brand consultancy Onesixtyfourth, and is the author of Do Good: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit. In this episode of Work That Matters, Anne talks one-on-one with Shawn about the philosophies and practices of companies that do good and why they finish first, beating their competitors. For any organization that wants to be a revered brand, purpose must unify all stakeholders.
If you want to create a human-centered workplace or team, Anne’s insights will be useful. From knowing your personal values and how they impact your business, leaders can improve their consistency and predictability. If these outcomes sound odd or strange, consider this: When you and your team go through tough times, can they anticipate how you’d respond? If you answer yes, then you’re likely to have consistent and predictable leadership practices.
Also, in this episode, you’ll learn the importance of “the brand inside.” And the topic that has leaders and employees buzzing—purpose. Anne shares how purpose nurtures profit. We’d add that purpose also helps create clarity—an organizational attribute in high performing cultures.
Other episode highlights include:
You can connect with Anne Bahr Thompson in multiple ways.
LinkedIn: Anne Bahr Thompson
Purchase Anne’s book, Do Good, wherever books are sold.
If you have a guest suggestion or topic you’d like us to explore, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let us know what you think of the show. Share your feedback on iTunes
70 percent of employees, including managers, have a negative experience of work. So businesses must find solutions that change this long-standing reality. While it may be daunting to change how you and your employees experience work, there are significant benefits to consistently doing energizing work.
What’s more, there are intrinsic benefits that are harder to quantify. However, they are equally, if not more, important to shaping perceptions of work.
One input to positively shape the experience of and be energized by work is strengths. Strengths are what energize you. For example, if one of your strengths is creativity the more work you do that flexes that strength the more energized you feel. The positive emotions you experience from energizing work has quantifiable benefits to results.
Studies on strengths have found that when a strengths philosophy is designed into the culture, employee performance increases 38 percent. When you or your employees are energized by work you are more focused, enthused, and can apply greater mental and physical strength to the task. These are key inputs to creating a high performance organization.
Even recruitment is positively impacted by tapping into strengths to energize the workforce. The Strengthscope Partnership found that customer retention improved by 44 percent when a company helped employees learn what energizes and drains them.
When our clients integrate a strengths-based philosophy into the culture a common misconception is employees will work only on energizing assignments. What drains people (the opposite of a strength) is a subjective conclusion. Therefore, it’s way too complicated to align work assignments based on strengths and drainers. What’s more, even well-crafted jobs have “unsexy” work. The goal, then, is to increase the amount of energizing assignments while balancing business needs.
Even if you don’t use an assessment to learn what energizes you and employees, there are sources to energizing work. Here are a few:
Meaningfulness | Work that is meaningful to you energizes and enthuses. Learn what is meaningful to you. Learn what significance people on your team gets from work that that they find meaningful.
Psychological Safety | Focus on creating a team environment where people feel safe to share their ideas and not worry about looking bad or unprepared for not knowing something. In other words, don’t beat people up for being different or not being “in the know.” Instead, focus on coaching people and modeling the way in terms of understanding differences and what barriers exist to staying informed.
Purpose-Orientation | Make sure you know how your work generates value for the company and its customers. That will make it easier for you to help your employees understand their role in generating value. As adults we need to understand “why” something is important.
You do not need to wait for permission from HR, or your CEO (if it’s not you). You can turn work into an energizing experience.
Seek out zero-cost solutions like these. Once discovered, you simply need to be willing to invest the time. One word of caution: avoid taking on this work by yourself. It’s energizing to involve the entire team in transforming the experience of work.
While a bit cliché, we are stronger when we do energizing work together.
This post originally appeared in Shawn’s weekly column on Inc.com.
Welcome to today’s episode of Work That Matters by WorqIQ! In this edition, your hosts Shawn Murphy and Mark S. Babbitt talk about improving the experience of work by understanding, and then improving, our Workplace Intelligence (or WQ).
But what does “Workplace Intelligence” really mean? To learn the answer to that question, let’s listen in!
As you enjoy this episode, you’ll learn that Workplace Intelligence – simply put – is your team’s collective Emotional Intelligence (EQ). You’ll also discover the seven drivers that impact your team’s and organization’s WQ:
As you’ve probably gathered, Workplace Intelligence is a new way to look at the experience of work. It is a way to understand exactly how you, as a leader, can inspire your people to do their best work. By focusing on WQ, leaders can impact culture, productivity, performance, retention and so many other critical business outcomes!
Take 30 minutes or so. Enjoy the listen. And then think about how understanding WQ might positively impact your organization.
Of course, we would love to hear your thoughts that help us all do more work that matters!
Contact us at email@example.com. Let us know about the topics you’d like to take on, and the guests you’d like to hear from. Also, share any questions or comments you might have. In future episodes, the WorqIQ team will be sure to answer! After all, this podcast is all about all of us changing the experience of work.