Workplace Culture Can Make You Sharp or Dull

Look at the job description for any role in any department at your company and you’ll likely find some overlap between the core competencies.

For many organizations, these competencies, among others, dictate the culture of the organization. Individuals won’t be hired if they don’t share the same values (often aligned with core competencies) as the organization as a whole, and the HR team is required to ensure that resumes fit the bill before bringing someone in for an interview. These parameters are defined not only to find the right fit for the job, but to also find the right fit for the organization, parameters that are often initially established by senior management.

But think about who fills those roles. Do you see those core competencies accurately reflected?

Read the full article on Thrive Global: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/workplace-culture-can-make-you-sharp-or-dull/.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Learning How to Be Self-Managed

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Fill In the Skills Gaps

For most employees, the days of doing the same tasks over and over each day are gone. Today’s service workplace demands every employee to be tuned in, present and thinking to assess their situation and respond in a way that delivers value and care to customers. In addition to having the right talents for the job, they also need to have the best skills.

Yet in a world of constant change, your employees can quickly lose ground with their skills. The skills that helped them perform yesterday may not be the same skills needed to succeed today. So how are employees supposed to stay current while still getting their work done? On-the-job training.

Think about your employees’ proficiency with the technology that drives, measures and evaluates your business.

Think about your employees’ proficiency with understanding emotional intelligence, professionalism and communication so they better connect with each other and your customers.

Think about your employees’ proficiency in problem-solving and critical thinking so they can wisely review, assess and choose how to successfully respond to challenges and opportunities.

It is up to the organization to fill in employees’ skills gap. Consider these two ways to provide the necessary on-the-job training to keep your organization competitive:

  1. Train your managers to act more like coaches. Use the increased contact of a coaching relationship to devote more time to developing employees’ skills by assessing what works and doesn’t work in their performance. Then, work with them to do more of what works and to improve what doesn’t work. They learn on the job, using real-time events, challenges and obstacles, from someone who can guide their learning and performance. It goes without saying that learning in real-time, with real-world examples tends to “stick” much better than theoretical training.
  2. Create versatile learning. Create an employee reading list. Identify your internal subject matter experts and help them create short trainings in a variety of formats, such as live or video. Mandate a certain number of required and elective skill trainings for each employee. Ensure that all skills training include a proficiency review at the end to ensure the training is amplifying skills and therefore performance.

Learning should be an organizational value, supported by every employee and evidenced by pervasive education, training and skill development for all levels.

Take Action
Your employees showed up ready to perform on their first day with a unique set of skills that would help them succeed on the job. Then the world changed. Help them stay productive and skilled by making skill development an essential part of your workplace culture and commitment to your employees. Consider how you can identify any skill gaps and how you must provide effective ways to help them close these gaps. This is a driver of productivity, performance and retention.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Managers: How to Identify and Correct Your Blind Spots

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The Value of Setbacks

“Don’t let your setbacks set you back,” Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate for the Georgia Governor role shared in a recent TED Talk. There is so much wisdom in that line.

So many times, we give up, give in and retreat when we’ve experienced a setback. We get the wind knocked out of us – figuratively or literally – and we run away, focused on our hurt, disappointment or frustration. We use our energy to justify that whatever didn’t go our way wasn’t really worth it anyway. It is easier to give up instead of to get up.

But whoever said anything about work or life would be easy, especially about the meaningful things?

A setback is really something that didn’t go as planned. It could be a promotion that is given to another. It could be your best employee just gave her notice. It could be your largest customer decides to shift his business to your competition. It could be someone in your family becomes ill or hurt. It could be the offer you placed on your dream house was rejected.

Every setback has valuable information for you if you choose to see it. Reflect on how you view setbacks. Do you see them as opportunities for disappointment and despair, or opportunities to become better, wiser and more resilient? Same situation, different outcome. You choose how you are with what work and life sends you.

Questions you can ask yourself when faced with any setback include:

  • What does this setback tell me about me, my approach or my effort?
  • Why did this setback happen?
  • How can I make a success out of what has happened?
  • What would someone courageous and resilient do here?

I regularly share in both my coaching and in the programs I teach to CEOs that life sends us two things: successes so we learn to celebrate, and setbacks so we learn how to be resilient in a world that constantly changes. Both are necessary, but the real progress happens in the setbacks. That is, if you have the courage and tenacity to see and use their value to be better in the next moment.

Take Action
Stop and notice a recent setback. Reflect on how you responded and why. Now, remind yourself that a setback is just new information. Reflect on what this setback taught you about you – and how you can use it to be better. Consider sharing this approach with others who matter to you in work and life.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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The [Destructive] Power of Unmanaged Managers

Everyone knows how infectious certain behaviors are. When you’re around someone bubbly and happy, it doesn’t take you long to feel the same way. This also holds true for someone who is not happy. Whether they’re frustrated, disgruntled or genuinely mad, these negative emotions, especially when perpetually present, can be toxic to those around them, frequently smothering the positive emotions. And putting those negative emotions into the confined area of a workplace in the form of a disengaged employee can lead to a disastrous impact on the morale and productivity of a company.

I personally believe that a disengaged employee is one of the biggest signs that something went wrong. It could be that they were hired for the wrong job, been poorly managed, could be in a dysfunctional workplace culture or maybe an adverse event happened at work.

But frequently, I find the underlying reason for disengaged or disgruntled employees is unmanaged managers.

Unmanaged managers are not in control of their emotions; they let their aggravations and frustrations affect their mood, resulting in a toxic environment and poor relationships with employees.

Know anyone who fits this description? Unfortunately, I do.

I’ve seen first-hand the destructive power an unmanaged manager has on creating and fueling disengaged employees. Just a few things I’ve seen throughout in my career:

  • A parent was reprimanded for leaving work early to be home with their sick child.
  • A female employee was asked to prove her knowledge with industry stats before she could speak in a meeting with the all-male senior executive team.
  • A creative employee was consistently told no and belittled for presenting new ideas that challenged the status quo, just to discover the same ideas were presented from a younger employee, and those ideas were accepted and implemented with gusto.
  • An employee asked a question and was belittled and embarrassed by the manager in front of the team for “not knowing.”
  • Insulting comments were directed to an employee that had nothing to do with the employee but were instead the result of frustrations stemming from an earlier and unrelated event.

There’s little room for misinterpretation; these are real-world examples that led directly to the creation of disengaged employees.

The common thread in each of these situations is the unmanaged manager. When unable to manage his or her emotions, the unmanaged manager misses the opportunity to coach, teach and guide. Instead, they belittle, demean or ignore, all three of which can lead even the most passionate and dedicated employee to wonder what they’re doing there. In a workplace with a less than 4% unemployment rate (as of September 2018, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures National Employment Monthly Update), a manager must be the greatest advocate for employee engagement. And we know that employee engagement leads to greater employee productivity, performance and retention.

So how can you manage the unmanaged manager? It requires two things.

First, senior management must be aware of the behavior and the impact it has on employees. Frequently, the unmanaged manager exists because he or she has been allowed to behave this way by their superiors, behaviors that should have been coached out of them long before they were managers to a larger team. Awareness, coupled with coaching to improve the behaviors, is the best way to not lose your best employees.

Second, employees must be given the opportunity to voice their concerns, to feel like they are part of the organization. Regularly gathering employee perspective through surveys can help identify an unmanaged manager before too much damage is done.

If you continue to allow an unmanaged manager to run the show unchecked, you’ll soon find that your best employees will leave and spread the word that yours is not a workplace of choice. Remember the power of social media, particularly with disengagement.

Take Action
Consider your workplace. If you’re a disengaged employee, ask yourself why. Is the job the right fit for you? If it isn’t, what can you do to find a better fit? If it is, what could be making you feel disengaged or disconnected?

If you’re an unmanaged manager, bravo. The first step is to admit that your management style may need some adjusting. Consider hiring a Corporate Coach to learn the benefits of being a mindful manager and incorporate coaching techniques into your day-to-day management style. Making some little changes can make a world of difference to your employees, their performance and their loyalty.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading When is it Okay to do Just Enough at Work?

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3 Ways to Win in the War for Talent

People are the hands, heart and soul of all organizations. This requires you to have a plan to attract, hire and retain the best because they are the connection to your customers and the drivers of your results.

With record low unemployment rates, many organizations are feeling the pinch for talent. Those people who want and can work are nearly all employed, leaving a small available talent pool to choose from. This, for many, means we are in a war for talent.

The war for talent isn’t as much about hiring the few people available. It is more about winning in to your organization the talented people who are disengaged in their current organizations. The Gallup Organization shares that nearly 70% of the workplace is disengaged. This isn’t because they are average employees. Rather, it is more likely that their current organization isn’t doing what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best talent. This means that today’s war for talent is more the result of a branding problem than a supply problem.

Seeing this challenge from a new perspective can help you see that many of the disengaged employees in other organizations have the interest and capacity to be amazing in your company if you are able to do these three things.

  1. Attract. Spread your story about what makes you different, unique and a great place to work. We used to think that sourcing talent meant going out and finding them. Today, sourcing talent is more about them finding you. Work hard to create a dynamic employee-focused workplace culture that values, develops and engages its employees, then share your story. Let your website host a career or job center that tells your story through images, videos, testimonials and other interactive media. Great people want to work for great companies. Get the word out that you are a great company and the great talent will find and connect with you.
  2. Hire. Commit to only hire people who fit your roles, team and culture. With an expanded amount of interest in your organization, have a clearly defined and well-followed hiring process that clearly states the tasks of each role, and the specific attributes needed to be successful in those tasks. Then, develop an interview process that uses both activities and behavioral-based questions to have the candidate share and prove their skills and strengths, to assess for fit. Be sure that your interview process can assess for team and culture fit. This helps you hire the right people who feel aligned, engaged and competent in your organization, limiting turnover and the need to hire again.
  3. Retain. Guide, support, develop and coach your employees to give them a reason to perform and stay. By hiring wisely, you help employees feel capable and competent in their roles. Then, train your managers to think and act like coaches to build stronger relationships with employees to better understand, support, guide and develop them. This encourages employees’ engagement, which is a key driver in their decision to perform and remain or to do as little as possible and seek new opportunities.

Take Action
Win the war for talent by being an employer of choice, hiring wisely and helping your managers learn how to guide, support and coach instead of direct, control and manage. Commit to getting the best employees up front by building an employee-focused workplace culture that creates a dynamic employee experience that attracts top talent to come, perform and stay.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Will Leave Your in 2019 (and What to Do About It)

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When it is Okay to Do Just Enough at Work?

By Jay Forte

Is it ever okay to do just enough at work?

How about when:

  • a customer aggravates or challenges you?
  • a manager disrespects you?
  • a CEO is sharp, critical or impatient?
  • a fellow employee frustrates you?
  • a customer is late paying their bill?
  • a colleague never says good morning?

My response is “never!”

How you show up to things in the workplace (and in life) is more about you than others or the situation you may find yourself in. It is your choice to allow what and how you encounter bother, distract or irritate you. But with some awareness and mindfulness, you could learn to respond instead of react, letting you keep your cool and live to your own standards.

Think about the list of examples above. Pick one and play out the scenario in your head. A quick reaction in any of those scenarios would most definitely result in an unproductive situation, whether someone yells, someone quits or someone is just in a bad mood.

But imagine what those scenarios could look like if you had a mindful response instead. What if you allowed yourself to not be affected by the situation? What if you just cut the other person some slack because they, like you, sometimes feel overwhelmed? What if you simply remind yourself to see what is right about the person or situation, instead of what is wrong? You just might surprise yourself with how productive the outcome could be.

To get to a productive outcome requires a mindful response, one that can only be reached when you are aware of your feelings, emotions and triggers, and when you choose to manage them.

Self-management is, in my opinion, one of the greatest skills everyone can benefit from, particularly in the workplace. Self-management is the process of being aware of and controlling our behaviors to be more responsive, respectful and productive in any situation. Learning to be self-managed always leads to better outcomes.

Life sends what it sends. People act as they act. As mindfulness author Eckert Tolle says, “people respond from their level of awareness.” The more self-aware and self-managed you are, the more life and work situations will not take you down.  They won’t elicit a reaction and your day and mood will be unaffected. You will take them in stride because sometimes, that is how it is.

Remember, your response is always up to you. Be affected and be miserable, or manage your emotions and stay calm and happy. Or as a very wise Southwest Airlines flight attendant said one day on my flight to Dallas, “Sit back and relax or lean forward and be tense. Your choice. Either way, we are going to Dallas.”

Choose wisely.

Take Action

So, when is it okay to just do enough? Never. Do you best everywhere because every moment of work and life is worthy of your best. Choose it because how you act is always about you. Consider how you can become more self-aware and self-managed. Start by getting a better understanding of yourself with our free 3AboutMe Talent Assessment.

 

Consider reading Bad Days Don’t Have to be Bad

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The Post-it Note as a Mindfulness Tool

By Jay Forte

Everyone is talking about mindfulness, but we can’t truly gain the benefits of being mindful unless we’re clear on what it is. So, let’s start with a couple of quick definitions:

  • Awareness means paying attention on purpose, in the current moment, without judgment. In other words, awareness means paying attention, intentionally tuning in to be present to gather the information that is in front of you.
  • Mindfulness, in my definition, means using that information to seek out, create and act in a way that can make your next moment more effective.

Awareness provides the information; mindfulness uses it to be better or to make better decisions.

A couple of examples.

Let’s say you have to talk to your son about something that happened at school. When you are aware of his body language and emotions, you can then better assess what and how to respond, leading to a more successful outcome. By being aware, and using that awareness, you can choose on purpose what and how to respond. Without this awareness, you could mindlessly react and miss the opportunity to accurately assess the challenge and work with him to come up with a solution that works.

Let’s say you are in a meeting with your team. When you stop and notice who is contributing and who isn’t, you’re tapping into an awareness that creates the ability for you to be mindful – to intentionally bring in the more introverted members of your team with a focused question or invitation to contribute. If you are unaware of who contributes because you are plowing through your agenda, you will miss the opportunity to activate the thinking of your more timid employees.

See, the challenge we all have is that we spend most of our time in our habits, doing what we always do and unaware we are doing it. To become more present and aware, we have to interrupt our habits to be able to gather the information in this moment, to mindfully use it to make our next moment better.

Enter the Post-it note.

A well-placed Post-it note with an important message for you can act as a great interruption to pull you out of habit mode. The Post-it note might say, “pay attention,” or “stop multitasking,” or “ask questions,” or “everyone contributes,” or even “go walk around and talk to your employees.”

You create the message you need to be reminded of and where to place it to be sure it gets your attention to interrupt your habits. This encourages you to be more aware, more mindful and more intentional in your actions.

Because your brain is powerful, it will soon look right past your Post-it note. So change out the colors regularly or move your note reminders to different locations, all within view. The benefit is that you will create an awareness and mindfulness tool to help you tune in, pay better attention and choose more wisely because you have given yourself the ability to see and consider what you regularly miss.

Take Action

Start today. Leave Post-it notes in areas that will get your attention, with messages that will remind you and encourage you to be more aware, so you can be more mindful. Where are you going to put your first three Post-it notes?

 

Consider reading The Way to a Great Life? Tune In, Reflect, Then Respond

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Are Your Employees Sitting on the Sidelines?

By Jay Forte

You have some amazing and remarkable employees who do great things in your workplace. And then you have some employees who do just enough not to get fired.

Sure, these employees show up, but they don’t have the energy, drive and commitment to do the important things in the workplace that advances performance and success. Is it you or is it them?

It is likely a little of both.

The Gallup Organization regularly cites statistics on the engagement levels of employees in the workplace. And alarmingly, nearly 70% of employees are in some form of disengagement. This disengagement happens for many reasons but the most significant are the lack of job alignment and meaningful relationships with managers. Both need to work in concert.

Let me explain.

Alignment is the process of knowing the success attributes of any role and using those attributes to wisely source, interview and hire someone who fits that role. This also applies to knowing and using the success attributes of any role when developing or promoting employees. It is critical for someone to have the abilities needed to be successful in a role.

Alignment, however, cannot stand on its own. You also need a strong, effective and professional working relationship.

In a 2015 study by Peter Massingham and Leona Tam titled, The Relationship Between Human Capital, Value Creation and Employee Reward, the researchers state, “Employee capability may or may not generate value. It is only when individuals are motivated to use their knowledge that it creates organizational benefit, otherwise it is an idle resource.”

Though you may (and must) hire wisely, the job alignment combined with the quality of the relationship the employee has with his or her manager ultimately dictates success. When we feel inspired by those we work for because they make the time for us, value us, develop us and treat us like we matter, we volunteer our best abilities and deliver them with greater energy and effort in the workplace. The result? Greater productivity and performance.

When we don’t make the effort to build the manager-employee relationship, we encourage our employees to move to the sidelines, to do just enough to get by, instead of really contributing. Though they may have what it takes to be great in their roles (they have the abilities), they still need the inspiration, encouragement and interest by their manager to move these abilities from idle to full speed.

Your employees choose how they show up to the moments of their days. Do they do just enough? Or do they fully engage, using their greatest abilities to invent, challenge and improve everything they encounter?

This choice is inspired by how you manage. Are you bringing a healthy combination of alignment and relationships to your workplace?

Take Action

Learn how to be a mindful and inspiring manager. Our Executive Coaching guides you through foundational tools to help leaders and managers better connect with their employees and deliver greater results. Contact us for more information.

 

Consider reading Stop Managing and Start Coaching

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Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

By Jay Forte

It starts with the word potential.

Few of us are aware of our potential – of what is possible in and by us. We haven’t discovered our greatness or our core abilities. Instead, we have allowed the world to fill in these details for us and, as a result, we show up as others want us to be instead of who we really are. We miss out on what we are capable of doing, being or contributing, shortchanging ourselves and our world.

And for this reason, people get stuck. They find themselves disappointed, aggravated and irritated with life. They don’t see its greatness because they find themselves in jobs, lives, relationships and circumstances that just don’t fit them.

As poet Mary Oliver says in her famous poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Will you let others direct it or will you learn to discover who you really are, what remarkable abilities you were born with and how you want to develop and live them to make your impact in your world? Or, will you see that a great and amazing life is one you define, but for that, you must be aware of who you are and aware of what is going on in today’s world, so you can connect the two in an intentional way?

If all of us were able to discover, develop and live our greatness or our potential, think of the impact we could make in every aspect of life. We would put ourselves into the places that need what we do and like best. We would support others to discover and develop their abilities and potential so they could own their part of making a better world. We would begin to realize that we each have something important to discover, develop and share with our world – each of us doing what it is we do best to make things better.

Enter coaching.

Coaching guides you into developing clarity of who you are and how to define and work to achieve your potential in your world through an intentional and thought-provoking conversation.

The coaching conversation examines what you know of you, expands this and identifies what interrupts you from accessing your potential or achieving your goals. Coaching is not designed to relive your past or look to correct or improve you; you are fine as you are, no fixing needed. Coaching does, however, focus on helping you become more aware of who you are, your abilities and liabilities, your beliefs that direct your choices and decisions, and how this information is helping or holding you back from living your potential. Only by becoming aware are you able to navigate through these blocks and challenges to live a great, happy and successful life (in the way you define great, happy and successful).

Coaching creates the time and focus to examine the things in our lives that need a deeper review. Through guidance comes clarity. Through clarity comes direction. Through direction comes achievement. This process helps each of us tap into our own abilities and our own understandings to move ourselves in the direction(s) we want but may sometimes feel are out of reach. And in the process, we access what is best in us to deliver the thing(s) we are called to do.

How well do you know you and what you are capable of? How aware are you of the needs, challenges and opportunities in your world? How willing are you to find a way to bring your best and be your best in all you to to make your and our world better?

Want to change the world? Live your potential and help others live theirs. How can you start this process? Engage a coach.

 

Consider reading Are You Rigid or Flexible?

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The Way to a Great Life? Tune in, Reflect, Then Respond

By Jay Forte

Most of us move through life in a hurried and habit way. We rush through our days, rarely taking the time to actually stop and notice ourselves, how we feel and what is going on around us. We eat lunch and dinner without really even noticing or tasting our food. We have conversations during our days that we can’t even remember we had later the same day. We don’t really know what we like or are good at. The reason? We haven’t learned how to tune in, reflect and respond.

Your world is filled with information that is shared with you in each moment. This information has the ability, when used and reflected on, to improve your next moment, decision or response. This is the process of awareness and mindfulness – of tuning in, reflecting and responding in an intentional way to improve your outcomes.

Let’s use this thinking and look at your relationships, work and life.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your relationships. What if you actually looked at someone when you spoke to them, instead of also trying to multitask? (Newsflash: Multitasking is not a success attribute. Your brain can only process one thing at a time, so the more you try to do multiple things once, it actually shortchanges the impact of each thing you are trying to accomplish.) When connecting with someone, pay attention to them – what they are saying, feeling, thinking and saying. Then reflect on what they said, felt, thought or felt. Only by doing this can you have a more meaningful and intentional response.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your work. How much of your work day are you in habit mode, doing the same things? What if you tuned in and reflected on what you do, and asked yourself “what could be better here?” Make time to reflect on what, why and how you do what you do to determine if you can improve your performance and connection with customers or clients. The impact could be profound for you and for your workplace.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your life. How much time, effort and energy do you give to living a meaningful life that fits you, your abilities and your interests? What effort do you put in to learn what makes you different, unique and amazing? How often do you make time to reflect on where in today’s world are the opportunities that need what you do and like best? The more intentionally you approach the world – to go out and live it on your terms, not on the terms of the loud voices around you that are generally more interested in your compliance to their beliefs than to help you discover, develop and live yours – the more remarkable it can be. As poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s a profound question.

What’s your answer?

Tune in to notice who you are and what is going on in your world. Reflect on the opportunities to connect the real you to the places in work and life that need what you do and like best. Respond using your greater clarity to live and work as it fits you, making a most amazing life and a better world in the process.

Take Action

Practice tuning out to tune in. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes of quiet two times a day. Practice becoming aware. With awareness comes mindfulness, the ability to make informed decisions based on information about you and your world to make your next moment better.

 

Consider reading Tune Out to Tune In

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