Archive | February, 2012

Create #POSITIVITY AT WORK

This week marks the official launch of my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, co-authored with the fabulous Lisa Zigarmi.

The book is a quick read, featuring 140 quotes (of 140 characters or less) that describe five elements of personal and workplace well-being.

These actionable statements help the reader take steps to improve their own well-being. Only when we enjoy high well-being personally can we proactively create better well-being for colleagues at work or home. Our focus in this book is on positivity in the workplace, though you’ll find fabulous opportunities to use these same actions to improve well-being with family and friends.

Well-Being Research

Our desire is that this book changes workplaces for the positive. Most workplaces are not as safe, not as inspiring, and not as collegial as they could be. Studies from the University of Pennsylvania to Gallup to USA Today have noted the remarkable effects that high well-being has in the workplace. People with high well-being:

  • Are 31% more productive than those with low well-being
  • Demonstrate 3 times the creativity
  • Are 10 times more engaged or passionate about work
  • Generate 37% greater sales
  • Are 3 times more satisfied with their careers.

Wouldn’t your business THRIVE with those positive impacts on performance, attitude, and proactive effort?

Five Elements of Well-Being

The #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet book “ah-ha’s” and insights are organized around these five key elements of well-being:

  • Positive Emotion
    We demonstrate emotion in the workplace with nearly every breath. The ten positive emotions are joy, gratitude, amusement, hope, awe, interest, serenity, love, appreciation, and inspiration. Where these emotions are frequent & authentic, individual and collective well-being thrives.
  • Positive Relationships
    Humans are wired for social connection. Positive relationships are equitable, kind, loving, supportive, warm, and continuous. This element is the single most important source of well-being.
  • Meaning & Purpose
    This element is about the extent to which people perceive their job actions are important inside and outside their organization while creating lasting worth for self and others.
  • Positive Accomplishment
    This element highlights the vital benefit to personal and collective well-being of people developing mastery and leveraging those strengths in service to self, others, and your organization.
  • Positive Physical Health
    We are only able to live fulfilling, inspiring lives if our physical bodies fully support our reasons for living. This element is about more than the absence of sickness – it’s about the incredible benefit of wellness to body,  mind, and spirit.

To learn more, head over to Positivity Works, the “home on the web” for this positivity revolution Lisa and I are trying to inspire. There you’ll find links to a free excerpt from the book (plus you’ll be entered into our monthly contest for the entire ebook, free), a few sample tweets to whet your appetite, and links to buy the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Bookstore.

Let us know what you think about this “positivity revolution” in the comments section below.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cultivate Intelligent Disobedience

A recent coaching conversation with a senior leader provided great insights. This client described a situation where an employee followed their company policies but his customer did not feel heard during the interaction.

I need staff to see beyond our policies and procedures. We sometimes need to be flexible in dealing with our customer’s circumstances,” this senior leader stated.

This client was describing a vital skill set for guide dogs for the blind. Years ago two colleagues visited a guide dog organization to learn the best practices of training service dogs. They learned that sometimes the best dogs don’t make it to graduation. The washout dogs’ issue? They obey every command. The dogs that graduate and go on to serve sight-impaired masters demonstrate intelligent disobedience – they obey commands only if those commands make sense.

“Great service dogs are very attuned to their owner’s needs. The dogs’ purpose is to keep their owners safe while engaging in everyday activities,” the trainer explained. “That means that when the dogs are given commands that risk their owner’s safety – being told to cross the street when there is oncoming traffic – they refuse.”

Why Staff Do What They Do

I probed my client’s assumptions about why his staff do what they do, today. Why would they follow policies and procedures, even when they don’t make sense? The client admitted that their organization monitors adherence to policies regularly. The company redirects staff who do not follow procedures and celebrate staff who follow procedures consistently.

I said, “You and your leaders have taught staff to strictly follow policies and procedures.” He agreed. Their company has reinforced policy alignment and have quashed any thoughtful approach to do something different if the policies are, well, stupid in a particular circumstance.

Adherence to policies and procedures is generally a good thing in organizations. And, if my client wants staff to modify application of policies in certain circumstances, their workplace culture must create the conditions for staff to do that.

Cultivating Intelligent Disobedience

These three key conditions will help any organization to enable staff to make good decisions when existing policies and procedures miss the mark.

  • Define Purpose & Values
    Make clear your company’s “reason for being” – then reinforce it regularly. Ensure all staff know the company’s purpose. Then define values in behavioral terms. This will set the benchmark of what good corporate citizens look, act, and sound like.
  • Delegate Authority to Talented Staff
    Talented staff deserve the responsibility and authority to act independently. W.L. Gore has a concept in their culture called “waterline.” Staff earn the right over time to make decisions. Each are given a monetary standard that defines their waterline; if a decision risks more than their monetary standard, those staff seek insight from others to ensure their decision is the right one. Let talented staff use their heads, hearts, and hands in the workplace.
  • Refine Policies & Procedures
    Create mechanisms to learn, every day, from talented staff experiences. You’ll spot stupid policies and can fix them. You’ll identify the most common “out of the norm” customer needs that are cropping up. See your policy manual as a “working document.”

Putting these conditions in place will inspire your talented staff to do the right thing, even as that “right thing” evolves.

What is your experience with “intelligent disobedience” in the workplace? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get your FREE excerpt of Chris’ new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, co-authored with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. You’ll automatically be entered in our contest – each month one lucky submitter wins the entire ebook!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/stockcube


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Business Ethics Needs More Than A Class

I recently received an inquiry from a Blanchard sales partner. She had a potential client that wanted a business ethics class. The answer was easy: “No, Blanchard doesn’t offer courses in business ethics.”

I described how our culture change process creates an environment where HOW goals are achieved is as important as WHAT is achieved. My sales partner knew that – and this potential client wanted to offer a class. Quickly.

There are some terrific training providers that offer business ethics classes; this client should be able to schedule a class quickly. Whether the class resolves their issue is a different question entirely.

I was disheartened that a potential client had a need that we were unable to help them with. Something happened to prompt this need but the potential client was not interested in further discussion. They were committed to a classroom solution.

It’s vital for senior leaders to understand what training can do and what culture can do.

What Training Can Do

At it’s core, training provides skill building. It offers context for desired skills (which helps learners understand why these skills are important) as well as creating a knowledge base. Exposure to effective skills is followed by skill practice and application planning.

Many course graduates embrace the new skills quickly and embed them into their daily practices. Yet it is rare that more than 20% of course graduates demonstrate new skills one month after a program.

Sustainability efforts can increase this percentage by another 20-25% as they help remind course graduates to use their new skills on the job. In the best of circumstances a maximum of 70% of course graduates embrace the desired new practices.

What gets in the way of the new skills being regularly acted upon? Your organization’s culture.

Therefore, a weakness of a stand-alone training session is that the organization’s culture may or may not support the skills and behaviors the class teaches.

What Culture Can Do

Culture is “the way we do things around here.” Corporate culture often evolves by default, not by intentional design. Typically a company discovers a product or service that customers demand, so people, systems, and processes emerge to support delivery of those desired products and services. The way the people, systems, and processes interact offers good indications of an organization’s culture.

Over time, an organization’s culture becomes immensely powerful. It creates norms and expectations (some subtle, some bold) that are difficult to for it’s members to resist.

If a training class teaches leadership skills and mechanisms (for example) that are more democratic in nature – i.e. the leader provides directive and supportive behaviors, depending upon task-specific needs of their direct reports – yet the organization’s culture is dictatorial, guess what happens to course graduates? The culture inhibits the utilization of the new skills as it provides reinforcement only for those leader behaviors that match the dictatorial norms.

If your culture doesn’t support the skills and behaviors being taught in a class, you won’t see broad demonstration of those skills and behaviors.

Our potential client above experienced something in their culture that caused them to seek a business ethics class to address it. However, it’s clear that their current culture enabled the ethics issue to occur. Without refining the culture, the class will not have much impact.

What is your experience with training skills that your company culture supports or not? Tell us in the comments section below.

Get your FREE excerpt of Chris’ new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, co-authored with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. You’ll automatically be entered in our contest – each month one lucky submitter wins the entire ebook!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/vm


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Integrity Takes Intention & Dedication

Copyright istockphoto.com

I’ve been engaged with an aspiring leader for a couple of months, providing coaching about effective leadership in three contexts: self, leading others, and leading teams. I love these coaching engagements with leaders because I learn as much as I guide!

When coaching, I am challenged to take proven best practices and present them in ways that are relevant to the leader’s reality. I may think my coaching is brilliant, but if the leader isn’t behaving differently after my coaching, I’m not doing any earthly good.

As an executive coach, I can only be effective if my suggestions (what I call my “poking and prodding behind the scenes”) are embraced by the leader during their influencing moments with others. If the leader I’m coaching influences more effectively over time, generating better performance AND better relationships with every direct report, then I’m doing my job well.

A Question of Integrity

As is often the case in my coaching conversations, our discussion centered upon integrity. I define integrity as “doing what you say you will do.” A person maintains their integrity when they make commitments intentionally, fully aware of what they are promising to deliver (quality level, within budget, by “X” date, etc.).

Proactive communication maintains your integrity. If you learn you might miss a deadline, communicate that possibility as soon as you know. Inform everyone who will be impacted by that missed deadline.

Your integrity lies in YOUR hands. It is built up and maintained (or torn down and eroded) based upon your promises made and your promises kept, day in and day out.

The Scenario

“When people I work with don’t deliver what they said they’d deliver, I’m left up a creek without a paddle,” my client stated. As I learned more about this particular situation, it was obvious that a key player was covering two people’s jobs. She was overwhelmed with too many tasks, and her commitments were falling through the cracks. This player meant well but her missed targets were causing 1) havoc with other’s commitments, and 2) reduced trust in anything she promised.

My client indicated that he’d mentioned the missed commitments to her before. Her attitude was, “I’m doing the best that I can.” He said she seemed resigned to missing promises due to her “unfair” workload. He knows she doesn’t intend to cause these issues but the problems continue to occur.

I described the impact of this woman’s behavior by stating, “Integrity is eroded by even ONE commitment dropped, and is maintained or enhanced by ALL commitments being kept.

I certainly understand the volume of work this woman is trying to manage, AND, promises are promises. I’d rather the overwhelmed player be bold with saying, “OK, I can do this new task. Which of these other six I’m doing shall I set aside so I can do this new one?” If s/he says, “Sure, I can do that,” a promise has been made. Once you make a commitment, dedicate your head, heart, and hands to ensure that commitment is honored.

Even one missed commitment compromises one’s integrity. You cannot take responsibility for others’ behavior – but you can certainly be fully present to proactively manage your promises.

What is your experience with integrity issues or “stars” in the workplace? Join in the conversation in the comments section below.

Get your FREE excerpt of Chris’ #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet book and enter a contest for a free ebook copy.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/shapechange


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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