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culture of change

3 Steps: How to Create a Culture of Change That Motivates and Inspires

How can your company innovate fast enough to surpass the competition? And at the same time, what can you do to maximize the human aspect of the organization and create stability in execution? An agile organization could be the answer. Such structures have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, the best indicator of long-term performance. An agile firm uses change as an engagement factor. Such organizations empower employees to create value through autonomous creation and collaboration. And they all share a similar foundation: a culture of change. Below, I share three steps to create a culture of change that truly motivates and inspires.

Step 1: Promote Learning in the Workplace

Small targeted projects call for a learning-based culture. And according to Robert Half, “Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30 to 50 percent higher than those that don’t.”

When structured and executed well, learning and development can drive culture and business forward. We need to remember that employees want to learn, with 87 percent of millennials stating development is important in a job. Learning also reduces turnover. For example, did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their jobs within five years? By focusing on learning in the workplace, you’ll be able to see improve retention and improve culture.

All together, learning and development fuels engagement. And appeals to the C-suite! 68 percent of them believe their employees would be more engaged if they had opportunities to be challenged by working on purpose projects.

Step 2: Focus on Performance Motivation

A millennial workforce is driven by a strong sense of purpose. As a result, they expect transparent performance discussions based on real-time feedback. What happens to that feedback though? How can you take action on feedback and empower the employee? In her book Smart Tribes, Christine Comfort suggests performance motivation. She shares:

“Performance motivation results in intrinsic motivation within a supportive environment, because team members are empowered to understand their role, believe they are making a difference in their company and desire to bring their A-Game.”

The concept of performance motivation supports a culture where employees can create value for both their company as well as themselves. How do you take action?

  • Instead of the functional responsibility of the role, connect performance to the value it creates for the organization.
  • An agile organization creates value throughout the full breath of the organization. As growth can happen in any direction, individual development needs to align to a 360 degree view.
  • Encourage employees to drive their own growth and engagement. They’re fully responsible for their own performance and give them the support and feedback required to succeed.

Step 3: Lead with Emotional Intelligence

According to Brian David Johnson, Futurist in Residence at Arizona State University and ACE 2019 speaker, the real opportunity for machines to transform the workforce is in their power to free up more time for us to be more human.

Making sure employees connect the reality of today to a positive version of the future remains a challenge for their leaders. Change is hard, because it’s first an emotional experience. Leading beyond the now means accessing the inner resources required for human-centric leadership.

How do we do this? Mindfulness could be the answer towards creating more meaningful interactions. For instance, the introduction of Search Inside Yourself’s mindfulness program to SAP, a multinational software corporation, gave outstanding results. They reported a 200 percent return on investment through mindfulness in the workplace. Providing employees with tools to reduce stress, improve empathy and communication can increase employee engagement. A statistically significant increase in creativity and collaboration could be correlated directly to business outcomes as profits were boosted by 85 to 95 million euros.

In disruptive environments, it’s easy to sit on the edge of your comfort zone. An emotionally intelligent leader is all it takes to role model constructive change and motivate teams to spread a culture of efficiency and emotional agility.

We know that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. This can make the task of increasing employee engagement feel massive. But you can start making a positive difference by putting change in the employees’ hands and creating the culture that goes with it.

I was able to attend ACE 2018, the leading employee engagement and recognition conference, and learn new takeaways and insights, including some of the above. If you are in HR and looking for a fun event that focuses on employee engagement, check out ACE 2019 which will be taking place on Sept. 10th-11th 2019 in Chicago. Register by Dec. 31st for 50% off.

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About the Author

Coralie SawrukCoralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie shares her insights on confident leadership and leading happy teams on her website. Get in touch on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Leadership

What Does a Self-Aware Leader Look Like at Your Organization?

Although most organizations spend much of their training budget on technical skills, a large percentage of leaders do not have the necessary skills and emotional competencies to manage the demands of the new economy.

In Dan Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, his research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is twice the indicator of leadership success as IQ and technical skills combined. He further explains that once people leave school and enter the workforce, IQ and technical skills are often equal among those climbing the professional ladder. The differentiator is emotional intelligence (hear Goleman discuss his research in this video on YouTube).

Mr. Goleman has written several books and articles about how stellar career performance requires a leader to have a combination of business strategy knowledge and interpersonal skills. Many leaders don’t have the qualifications to mentor, lead, adapt, inspire, and manage others on their team.

Drawing from decades of analysis of great companies, Mr. Goleman has identified that powerful leaders excel by connecting with others using emotional intelligence (EI) competencies like mindfulness, self-awareness and empathy. These skill sets exist outside the domain of technical skills or IQ.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in psychology and neuroscience. It suggests that when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally.

Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis. Providing tools to leaders on how to self-manage and successfully communicate with others is highly effective in times of tension and complexity. We need more leaders who can deliver a difficult message in an authentic way, creating a trusting environment without hidden agendas.

What can you do to start to build on your own EI skills?

It starts with self-awareness. How do you respond in high-pressure moments? Are you able to understand and recognize your strengths and areas of challenge? Is there a voice in your head that is saying you are not good enough?

To become a self-aware leader, it takes time, guts, vulnerability, and experiencing failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Here are some things you can do to become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Test yourself or take assessments:
    Participate in a 360-Assessment, StrengthFinders, Disk, Myers-Briggs or Color Code. There are several assessments, and each one offers a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Know your strengths and areas of challenge and get to know your peers and team members. Understand what ignites you and what triggers you.
  2. Ask for feedback
    Do you know how your emotions impact behaviors, and can you recognize when you have impacted someone else negatively? Ask your circle of influence how you are doing and what can you do to improve. Sometimes the best advice comes from others on your team. Find a mentor – someone who can offer constructive feedback without you becoming defensive.
  3. Identify patterns in your own decision making and behaviors
    Write down why you made a buying decision or why you hired or fired someone. Did it turn out as you expected? Understand your own emotional needs and what causes you to be triggered. Understand how you respond during pressure moments and move away from bad habits that sabotage your best performance. Identify things that have happened in your past that may not be serving your present or future.
  4. Learn from your setbacks or failures
    Don’t let a failure define you. Optimist view failure as a short-term setback. Are you willing to do something different and have you changed your game? Be willing to take a risk or be vulnerable to grow as a leader. Look at opportunities to balance intuition with reason and logic when taking risks.

Effective self-awareness cannot be thought of as a soft science or new age meditation. It is vital to your leadership growth. As a business coach, I find many leaders are not aware enough to admit they have a problem or opportunity for growth. Often, awareness does not come to them until they experience a significant setback. Don’t wait – work on your self-awareness right now and see the impact on your Emotional Intelligence, and then see how Emotional Intelligence will change the way you work and live.

If you would like to learn more about EI, check out the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix, Arizona.  She can be reached at bobi@swiei.com.

 

 

 

 

 

empathetic engagement

Emotions in the Workplace

What are the five steps to finding an emotional balance in the workplace? I’ll tell you. But first, let’s dive into where we, as employees, are currently situated in the workplace. The emergence of the millennial generation in the contemporary workforce has led to a greater need for companies to emphasize an employee-centric workplace. The importance of organizations understanding the expectations of an employee is greater than ever before, leading to stronger ties between corporate and private life. This phenomenon is not just limited to human interactions. With the surge of technology over the past ten years, the lines between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ have become even more blurred. From BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) programs to securing laptops for ‘work from home’ opportunities, the ties between employer and employee have become intertwined. Consequently, it has become harder to bottle up what could be perceived as negative emotions in the workplace. Who hasn’t wanted to throw their computer out a window after a terrible meeting?

Because believe me, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s being passed over for a well-deserved promotion, a document closing unexpectedly or what seems like everything in your day is going wrong – we get emotional at work. And although people have been running into the bathroom stall to have a good cry for generations, the current state of the workforce has introduced a new landscape for emotional expression. On the contrary to cultural norms, I believe that fully experiencing your emotions and acting proactively because of them, will lead to a more productive and successful career.

Anne Kreamer, author of the novel It’s Always Personal, says, “By denying the range of emotional expressiveness intrinsic and appropriate to the workplace, we find ourselves at a loss for how to handle this brave new boundary-less world.” In my experience, being able to express all emotions within an office environment directly reflects the people that work within a company and creates a culture that makes it a great place to work. The idea of positive corporate culture is more prominent than ever before because we are finally able to correlate it to organizational success.

Regardless of the type of industry, the size of the organization or the culture already in place, the volatile nature of businesses will eventually present itself, leading to ups and downs in every workplace. Finding the emotional balance and practice that is best for your productivity is often difficult but nonetheless key to adapting to any situation and navigating towards your idea of successful career. Here are five steps I use when approaching a situation that seems to take my breath away:

Learn to Greet Your Emotions

At the heart of any mindfulness practice is the ability to become “witness” to your own emotions. Being able to recognize an emotion that is coming up and identify it before reacting is one of the first steps in healthy emotional digestion. Greeting these emotions without judgement or attaching to the idea that they somehow represent the entirety of YOU, starts with awareness of exactly how you are feeling and how you physically react. Starting with the simple idea of “Oh, that’s frustration,” after clenching your jaw or “Hello, anxiety” after biting your nails, will bring familiarity to your triggers.  Because once you have the power to take a step back from those initial reactions to your true emotional state, you will be able to fully process and continue with a controlled, thoughtful next step.

Get to Your ‘Why’ Reasons

After I hold up the accurate emotional flag (the true emotion I am seeking to exhibit in a situation) without responding immediately with my default reaction, I always ask myself…why? Getting to your “why” reason will help you get to the true internal issue that prompted a reaction.  Being inquisitive until you get to your truth, not blaming external sources will help you proactively face insecurities and build a foundation around those feelings. One of my greatest yoga and mindfulness teachers, Jean Mazzei, taught me this concept and suggested I start by practicing through a journaling exercise.  I begin these sessions by asking myself questions like “why did I have want to cry after this?” or “why did this situation trigger XYZ?” and keep asking why to the prior answer in the most open and honest fashion. I get to my Why Reasons quickly and most of the time come to the realization that it wasn’t external factors like co-workers, deadlines or my commute that were really bothering me. Instead, these intense emotions come from within, only now I deal with them knowing I need to take responsibility for only what I can control. 

Know Your Limits

As stated earlier, it’s almost impossible not to have emotional ties to your work. Similar to a major project you have championed for a long time, work becomes a part of you.  When you’re coming in early or staying late every night, it’s an individual’s passion that gets them across the goal line. One of the best things about getting to your Why Reason, is learning what really motivates you, the driving factor behind why you make the choices you do, and finding out what your personal limits are. Being able to effectively draw a line in the sand and create healthy boundaries around your work is key to finding emotional balance. Just because you may be practicing empathy and not being reactive, doesn’t mean you want to constantly be putting yourself in a situation that gets you upset or angry. Knowing what your limits are and sticking to them will show you how far you are willing to go and help you better sustain a positive mindset in all aspects of your role.

Harness Your Empathetic Engagement

Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller, said it best, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

At the end of each day, what matters is what you made of it. “Emotion, as defined by Webster’s dictionary is “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others.” The ability to effectively channel overwhelming negative or positive emotions to more productively react to your circumstances, mood and relationships at work will only better your effectiveness within your role. Encouraging yourself and others to create a culture of enthusiastic people (that don’t always have perfect days!) will ultimately drive positive values that align with your organization. I constantly make mistakes and wish I would have acted differently, but by practicing these steps, I am able to forgive myself and learn what I can do better, one day at a time.

For some tips on how to cultivate mindfulness at work, check out my previous blog post here.

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About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness at Work

4 Tips: How to Cultivate Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness by definition is, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Seems simple enough, right?

However, achieving a state of mindfulness as defined above, while balancing the busy schedule of a working professional seems like another impossible task on the grand to-do list. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and wellness industry hit a record high of $3.4 trillion dollars in 2014, and that number continues to grow as more and more businesses seek to launch health and wellness initiatives of their own.

While mindfulness is a highly personal state of being, to me, it is the feeling of being more aware of myself and what’s happening around me. This takes dedication and a willingness to be fully aware of even the most-minute aspects of my daily life, both at home and at work. Mindfulness can give you the tools to handle the ups and downs of office culture. No matter how you achieve it, once you experience the effects of having a mindfulness practice, it can help you to successfully navigate all areas of your life.

To get started, here are four areas of focus that will help cultivate a mindfulness practice within the office:

  1. Awareness and Breath

Despite the ubiquity of health and wellness programs in contemporary office culture, it feels as though our society is more stressed than ever. Most of us work at least 40 to 50 hours a week, and then juggle personal tasks like looking after kids/pets, rushing to the gym, staying in touch with friends, a monthly book (read: wine) club, etc.

Our lives get so jammed packed, we need multiple calendars just to keep up with it all. The American Psychological Association found that “…money and work are the top two sources of very or somewhat significant stress (67 percent and 65 percent in 2015.)”

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control, take a few minutes to simply take some deep breaths. By completing the easy task of breathing, you are already more mindful because you acknowledged how stressed you felt before reacting. From there, take it one step further by aiming for balanced breath; equal lengths of inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

While continuing this breathing exercise, observe how the signs of stress in your body reveal themselves. Were your shoulders up to your ears? Was your jaw clenched? Is your breath short and chest tight?

After you’ve identified the symptoms of stress, try to relax that specific area of tension by at least 20%. As little as 2-5 minutes of controlled breathing will bring you to a greater state of control over your feelings and help take your physical being out of fight or flight mode. By increasing circulation to the brain and slowing your heart rate, you’ll have greater clarity, allowing you to better assess the situation at hand. If you would like to go one step further and give meditation a try, Headspace is a great app for beginners.

  1. Forgive Yourself

Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most influential business thinkers said, “You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people.” To me, the essence of this quote is understanding that none of us are superheroes; it can be very difficult to finish everything within the work day and still live a balanced, healthy personal life.  This is why it is crucial to let go of any emotional baggage you might carry with you, in both your personal and professional life.

Forgiving yourself when things are not going as planned is critical in accepting the way things truly are and gives us the ability to move forward toward a more productive mindset. Feeling guilty, mad or frustrated can render us unwilling to be open-minded.

Instead, use this as a learning experience to reflect on what you can do better next time these feelings of frustration emerge, focusing on understanding why the end goal is important and then letting go of whatever is out of your control. Flexibility within the workplace is key to success, regardless of the environment in which you work. Behind every great person, company or business success, there was probably a moment where the prospect of failure was faced and overcome. The difference between losing and victory was likely a reinvention or evolution of an approach that turned failure into triumph. So make a conscious effort to learn from difficult situations in the moment and then, let go.

  1. Lighten Up

If you’re a “Yes Person” like me, your workload can rapidly become overwhelming. One way to counteract the weight of a stressful week at work is to lighten up and laugh more often. If you’re laughing while reading this, you’re off to a great start.

We’ve all had moments when things took a wrong turn and it feels like the WORST has happened. In these situations, it’s hard to remove the typical ‘should have, could have, would have’ narrative that is on constant loop in your mind. Next time, break the habit of being hard on yourself by focusing on a positive aspect. Ask yourself: what is it that is making me so upset? Why do I feel like this is so important?

Once you have answered the questions above, approach this situation with gratitude for what you DO have, it will likely help illuminate the problem and help reshape your frame of mind from “this is what I need to do… [Fill in what you are dreading]” to “this is what I want to do because… [Fill in what you are grateful for.]”

If you still need a lift, reach out to your colleagues; the people around you are there for support and will offer much needed perceptive on some of the challenges you’re facing.

  1. Recognize Others

The average American spends over 2,000 hours a year in the office, which means aside from sleep, we are spending more time with co-workers than anyone else in our lives. This is why ‘working with great people’ is such an important core value for many working professionals.

Recognizing the fact that your team plays a major part in creating a positive office environment is crucial for work happiness. Treating work relationships with mindfulness will open your eyes to the great things people are doing around you every day.

In, The Neuroscience of Trust, published by The Harvard Business Review, the author states, “Neuroscience experiments by my lab show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.”

A Google study similarly found that managers who, “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.”

In the daily flow of work, a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way to boost morale. A company that fosters a culture of mindful employees leads to a team that is recognizing, communicating and celebrating the accomplishments that make the organization successful. Increased employee mindfulness will also contribute to reduced stress, increased productivity and a better bottom line for the company; a win-win for all.

For more information on creating a culture of recognition, check out this ebook on Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards and recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn.