Archives for company culture

What Do We Really Need More of?

Love by Mayberry Health and Home on Flickr

Sing it with me…”What the world…needs now…is…”

Before you go labeling me as a “snowflake,” or “airy-fairy” or an idealist, all of which I have been accused of and may or may not be true, let me ask you this…. What do you prefer? Love or Rules?

In all the corporate disciplines that exist to help companies become better at cultivating a culture that keeps valuable talent and optimizes engagement (Organizational Development, Human Resources, Training and Development, Talent Management, Change Management, Human Capital Management, etc.,) it seems the best a company can do as of right now is to engage an emotional intelligence trainer, train their managers to be better coaches (I will distinguish between these things below), and re-employ someone who turns out to be suited for their intended role or should their role be eliminated.

Even in these best practices, there are shortcomings, and most companies are just trying to cover their butts with more extensive sexual harassment awareness training and instituting more clear expectations of respectful behavior as well as clear and fair consequences for infractions. Is this adequate? Are these companies treating the symptoms instead of the causes?

Not all managers are coaches. Most managers focus mainly on the pragmatic components of performance. Some, for liability reasons or simply because they don’t feel work is the time or place or because they don’t feel adept at addressing it, ignore the emotional side of their human resources. At what cost?

On the morning I was interviewed by KQTH radio in Tucson last week, I awoke and read a page of Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer. Reading an inspiring passage to start my day was a ritual that I adopted with the Miracle Morning in 2016. I was going to be interviewed on recruiter blacklists by Mike Rapp, and this particular passage was of serendipitous significance.

Think about the problems that would disappear if people were actually kind, instead of being forced to be kind:

  • The negatives of black lists
  • Harassment (sexual or otherwise)
  • Bullying
  • Bias/discrimination

A long time ago I stopped teaching my clients how to act confident and focused more on helping them be confident. If I find that my clients are hurting or resentful about their employment past, I know that they will get much further much faster if they acknowledge that pain, process it, and release it rather than if they ignore it or pretend it isn’t there.

What would happen if instead of creating rules and guidelines to attempt to avoid offensive behaviors, we address why people treat other people poorly in the first place?

“Hurt people hurt people.” (This quote has been attributed to Will Bowen, Yehuda Berg, and Rick Warren)

Regardless of who said it, can you see how this is true?

I’m not suggesting traditional therapy is the answer. I spent years in therapy myself during my youth through my parent’s divorce, and while I did gain some validation for why I acted out as I did, and it was nice to have someone to talk to during that time, I only felt more emboldened and justified in acting out toward my parents. I felt justified in my resentment. I didn’t heal. The healing began when I started to take more accountability, learned how to forgive, and how to be compassionate. This was coaching, not therapy.

It’s not like flicking a switch. I’m not cured of my pain, and I still may tend to react in my old ways rather than respond in a conscious way, but my awareness improves with continued coaching and I continue to add tools to my toolbox to come from a place of love and compassion rather than pain, and the outcomes of my interactions with people are infinitely better when I do.

Coaching is a way of providing an objective perspective on what can hold back peak performance, and what can be done to attain and maintain peak performance. Coaches do not shy away from the nitty gritty of feelings. They create a safe space for a person to be flawed, give feedback without judgment, and provide techniques, drills, exercises. They provide support and accountability in creating new habits.

Some might say that the workplace is no place for:

  • Love
  • Crying
  • Feelings
  • Personal problems
  • Games

Except, science is proving that positive psychology techniques in the workplace are already:

  • Transforming how a company collaborates
  • Feeding innovation
  • Improving workforce health
  • Improving productivity
  • Increasing profits

Shawn Achor proved in his work with Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries that the byproducts of a more positive workforce are well worth the investments and the investments don’t even have to be monetary or require a lot of time.

I am keenly aware that people in pain don’t usually just make a simple choice to be more positive. Personal transformation is much more complex. There are patterns of thinking reinforced over a lifetime that need to be identified and reversed. Yes, you can apply some simple happiness techniques to become more positive, and that WILL trickle down to various elements of your professional and personal life, and maybe that would be adequate to cultivate respect and tolerance.

But what could work look like if there was a focus on healing and helping employees reach potential in areas of their lives besides work?

One thing I can say with confidence – As hard as you can try to compartmentalize an area of your life, it will surely bleed into the others. This goes for both good and bad things. If you form a good habit in your health, it will have a cascading effect on other areas of your life. If you are having problems at home, or are dealing with health issues, you will find your productivity and engagement go down. Even those who escape their personal problems and dive into their work will find that there is a burn out point, or they are just a little less than their best selves when they are at work. There is even greater pressure to make that part of their lives go well.

Your emotions impact your brain chemistry and your brain chemistry impacts your physical body, communication, and cognition (obviously).

What I am suggesting is that companies consider a truly holistic, even “alternative” approach to the very current initiatives of ridding the workplace from bias, harassment of all kinds, bullying, discrimination, toxicity and stifled growth.

Yes, employees will always benefit from being able to relate better with one another, but they also need to relate better to themselves.

We are less able to give when we feel we don’t have enough. If we don’t feel like we have enough of our basic human emotional needs: connectedness, acceptance, love, we won’t be apt or able to offer it. What companies are asking their employees to do is to put other people’s feelings first. I foresee there being much resistance and inadequate execution with this method.

 

In 2018 Epic Careering is launching a program that will help companies create a conscious culture. It will come with assessments, live workshops, online courses, interactive communities, and management and executive consciousness coaching training. If you recognize that your company is experiencing conflicts and breakdowns that require an alternative solution to the traditional corporate approach, e-mail Karen at Karen@epiccareering.com. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Take the first step in transforming your company for everyone’s sake. There could be a day when you feel as good about going to work as you do about coming home.

What The World Needs Now Is Love / Dionne Warwick

Please skip CM. I am sorry to mistake some spellings. Dionne Warwick ディオンヌ・ワーウィック Burt Bacharach バート・バカラック

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

Very few people who have had that word in their resume have been able to tell me what it really means. Most of them just thought it sounded good.

It is true for most people, however. I could definitely say it has been true of all my clients. To me dynamic means multi-dimensional, having a diverse set of interests and skills, and having a certain intrigue.

While some companies are investing millions of dollars and allocating work hours into creativity boosting exercises, other companies seem to stifle individuality and expression.

It certainly does take all kinds of people to make the world go around, and so you could conclude that the same could be true about businesses.

My friend who works at a very conservative financial services company shared a story that in a conference a report was distributed that misspelled “assess” very prominently and in several places. She would not dare laugh. I know she loves her job and her company, but I could not personally work somewhere where we all couldn’t get a good laugh out of that mistake.

Most of my clients agree with me. For my clients’ sake, I am willing to take a risk early on in the writing process. We have an initial 90-minute branding consultation in which I use my intuition and investigative skills to uncover what makes my clients so special, and by that I mean really unique. I craft four-to-six branding points and then provide them with a request letter that they sent to their trusted inner circle for feedback. This is risky for me because often these branding points represent the softer, qualitative aspects of my clients and I have found many people consider these to be “nice and true, but not necessarily relevant.”

I beg to differ.

The other risk is that these branding points tend to be quite wordy, and not really representative of the kind of concise, quantitative content that I would write for a résumé. Often these branding points portray multiple aspects. It is challenging and excessive to explain how these branding points are used for my internal writing process. Basically, they help me make sure that all of the content has a “so what” feel and that every piece of content I write for my clients presents a clear and consistent brand.

The feedback that my client receives from his or her inner circle usually has a fair amount of commentary on the complexity of the bullet points and skepticism on the relevance. The feedback that I dislike the most, however, is when someone takes a strength, like forthrightness, and advises that we either hide this strength because it is not appreciated by some companies. Or they advise we make it sound more vanilla, aka generic, such as to say “effective communicator.”

The intention is good – they want my client to be marketable and attractive to as many companies as possible, thinking that is the best way to succeed. However, then this forthright client finds himself in a company that values passive-aggressive communication, bureaucracy, and pardon my language, ass-kissing. Not only is he miserable, but he sees how the company’s culture is strangling its own progress and he can’t be as successful as he could be were his honest input valued.

I do not mind sorting through the feedback, good or bad, because I get to reinforce for my clients that they do not need to fit someone else’s idea of who they should be.

You do not need to check all the boxes, or fit inside a box in order to be successful.

Certainly we do not step into a job interview spilling our guts about our failures and weaknesses, but no one would believe us if we were perfect anyway. There is quite a sense of freedom in believing that you can be authentic and be valued.

At this point in the process, they have to take a leap of faith that they actually can be accepted and successful, that the job exists, and the offer will come.

This process also uncovers pure gold. The aspects of my clients that I may have missed, the things about them only someone who worked side-by-side with them would be able to notice, or even what their spouses admire about them.

With a renewed appreciation of who they are, a résumé that substantiates their skills and validates their value, and a new hope that they will be compelling and attractive to the right company and the right boss, they actually become excited to be in action. They feel ready to take on whatever challenges present themselves in the transition process. And of course, I will be there to make sure they know exactly what to do when challenges arise.

If the thought of having to check boxes or fit your dynamic self into a box saps any energy you could possibly muster up to conduct a job search, please know that there is another way and we would love to help you discover and execute it. Our six-week Epic Careering Fast Track Program is starting soon!

The more people we help realize a new idea of authentic careering, more people believe it is possible, and the more companies may realize that a “dynamic” culture is in demand.