Author Archive for Chris Cook – Page 2

Why Are Women Leaving the Workforce?

What’s different about the twenty-first century American woman? Why did the United States go from having one of the highest rates of female participation in the workforce to one of the lowest in a comparative study conducted in 2015?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 60% of women 15 and older were employed in 2000. By 2015, that figure had dropped to 56.7%. While the difference seems small, it represents a trajectory toward fewer women in the workplace, and companies are losing out on the unique strengths women bring to the table.

As discussed in our last post, societal barriers no longer prevent women from pursuing careers, but that doesn’t automatically mean all of them want to. Increasingly, women are choosing a different path—particularly mothers of young children.

In its Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived report, Gallup found that more than half (54%) of working mothers expressed a preference to stay at home, while a mere 40% indicated a desire to work outside home.

Women feel the pull of family more strongly than men. Seventy percent of working fathers express a preference to work outside the home (interestingly, the same percentage as working women without children)—10% lower than those who don’t have children. While men’s desire to work outside the home is lessened if they have children, 70% is still far higher than the 40% of working mothers who wish to do so.

It’s not so much that women want to opt out of work but rather out of the workplace, finding the culture less accommodating to their needs and broader work-life aspirations. So what can organizations do differently to draw in and support women?

Where Are Companies Failing Women?

  1. Work-at-home policies. While a third of the women surveyed indicated their employers were doing “very well” when it came to permitting them to work at home, another third said their employers were doing “very poorly.” Obviously, some jobs require a physical presence, but most office work can be conducted remotely these days. This is more of a cultural shift since the technology already exists to implement a more malleable work-at-home policy.
  2. Health insurance. Companies also scored relatively low when it came to providing adequate health insurance coverage—of special concern to women raising families. Sixteen percent reported their companies did “very poorly” in this area, and 12% said “somewhat poorly.”
  3. Wage gap. Most think women have achieved equality in the workplace, but as recently as 2015, women still suffered a 20-percent wage gap, making just “80 cents for every dollar earned by men” according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Lower wages paired with higher health insurance premiums and childcare costs make employment a greater challenge for mothers.
  4. Flexible schedules. For many women, pay is less important than flexible hours, whether it be working an earlier or later shift or simply being able to pop out during the afternoon to pick up their kids from school. As employers adapt to these growing demands, they will be able to attract more female candidates.
  5. Sick and vacation leave. Companies seem to be doing better in this regard, with 58% of women stating their employers provided adequate sick and vacation time. That response, however, did not indicate whether the women felt free to take said leave. Some companies may make it difficult or impossible for women to take advantage of leave policies due to scheduling demands and a high-pressure workplace culture.
  6. Opportunity for advancement. While 38% of women reported their employers are doing well in this area, 10% and 14% said their organizations were doing “very poorly” and “somewhat poorly.”

Both mothers and women without children ranked their employers similarly on all six of these factors, suggesting these organizational shortcomings affect all women equally.

How does your organization rank in these areas? Do you consider the workplace hostile or welcoming to women, particularly working mothers, and why? If you’re not sure, let Capiche help you assess the situation. Give Chris a call at 541.601.0114 or email her to explore options.

In our next post, we’ll delve into what motivates women to enter the workforce along with the benefits companies reap by employing women.

Women in the Workplace—How Far Have We Really Come?

These days, women are told they can have it all—career, family, personal growth. For many, this is true, but that’s not to say it’s an easy juggling act—particularly with the escalating demands of an increasingly competitive workplace. Forty years ago, women had to choose: either work or family, not both. A few decades before that, there wasn’t even a choice. The answer was a given: family.

Women’s roles in the workplace and home have changed radically in the last century. We tend to forget it was only 1920 when women gained the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. Gallup explores the topic of women in the workplace in a new 94-page report titled Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived.

For this study, Gallup surveyed approximately 323,500 US women and has plans to issue a follow-up report on women worldwide in collaboration with the International Labour Organization in 2017.

With more than 73.5 million women working today and more millennial females holding higher education degrees than their male counterparts, women of the twenty-first century clearly have more options than their grandmothers did.

While women experienced a temporary burst of freedom when they were welcomed into the workforce during World War II, they were immediately ushered back into the kitchen as soon as soldiers began returning home and seeking work.

It was perhaps this cruel juxtaposition of empowerment followed by oppression that set the stage for the second-wave feminism that was to emerge in the early 1960s along with landmark works like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.

Nearly half (47%) the US labor force comprised women by 1990. The previous decades’ movement toward greater equality and diversification had transformed the workplace, and women were beginning to crack the glass ceiling.

Surprisingly, this trend of more women in the workforce started reversing after it peaked in 1999. The United States went from having one of the highest rates of women workers to one of the lowest in comparison with eight other developed countries analyzed in a study conducted by Maximiliano Dvorkin and Hannah Shell.

Dvorkin and Shell also discovered a recent drop in workforce participation by women between 25 and 54. Those who remain seem less tied to work than their 1990s predecessors. Gallup found that almost half (48%) the women surveyed said they were on the job hunt, suggesting dissatisfaction with their current positions.

What accounts for this dramatic decline in female laborers and their growing discontentment?

For one large subset of women, a single factor makes all the difference in whether they decide to remain in—or leave—the workplace. That subset is mothers, and the influential factor—not surprisingly—is whether they have children under 18.

While 70% of women who do not have younger children at home express the desire to work outside the home, that number falls to 40% for employed women who have under-18 kids.

Even in this age of more progressive gender roles such as stay-at-home dads, Gallup shows that mothers still feel compelled to devote more time to nurturing their growing children. Trying to achieve balance between work and family is one of modern woman’s greatest challenges.

We will explore other potential causes for the twenty-first-century exodus of women from the workplace in our next post, followed by tips for employers on how to attract, engage and retain female employees. In the meantime, let us know what your greatest challenges are related to women in the workplace.

How Do You Retain and Grow Your Best Performers?

With the economy growing and the job market tightening, you have two choices as a manager: either bring high potentials along to succeed in higher-level positions or hire from outside. Many leaders like to bring tried and true employees into higher-level positions in the organization. They like to grow their own.

People are motivated when you let them know you want them to be successful. You can boost your stars and star-potential employees with a highly focused workshop coming up in December.

I’m slated to lead a workshop called Success Factors for Emerging Leaders through the Southern Oregon University Professional Development Series in December. (Yes, this is shameless self-promotion. Please forgive me.)

Scheduled on December 14 in Medford, OR, the half-day workshop is for new managers, emerging leaders and high-potential employees ready to move up in the organization.

We will cover topics such as:

  • How do you make a successful transition into management and avoid tripping over common first-time mistakes?
  • How do you develop as a new leader, making sure you have the right roadmap and directions for success?

This hands-on workshop will explain and demonstrate essential competencies for leading effectively with social and emotional intelligence. Attendees will acquire and put into practice the necessary tools to better understand how others perceive them while being increasingly attuned to the needs of their team, the management team and the organization. With this heightened understanding, participants will be equipped to develop the confidence, relationships and authority required to successfully transition into a new leadership role.

I’m curious—do you have any success (or horror) stories about transitioning to a new role within your organization? What and who helped you? Please share so I can use in the workshop and others can benefit from your experiences.


“Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.”
Warren Bennis


Creed for Optimists: 11 Ways to Build Resilience

Have you ever stumbled across something that resonated so deeply you could have been its author? This happened to me recently when I came across Christian D. Larson’s “Creed for Optimists,” written in 1912. Here it is.

Promise yourself to:

Founder of the New Thought movement, Larson (1874–1954) is credited for being an American New Thought leader and teacher as well as a prolific author of metaphysical and New Thought books. Many of Larson’s books remain in print today, more than 100 years after they were first published, and his writings influenced notable New Thought authors and leaders. His Optimist Creed was adopted by Optimists International, better know as the Optimist Clubs.
  1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  3. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
  4. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.
  5. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  6. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  7. Give everyone a smile.
  8. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
  9. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  10. Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world—not in loud words—but in great deeds.
  11. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Makes me happy just to read the Creed. So what about living it?

It’s what I strive for every day. By mindfully following these tenets, I have seen benefits in my work environment, home environment and all personal relationships. Although the learning is continuous and I have a long way to go, I have become better at listening and have developed higher levels of understanding and compassion.

What would change if you were to incorporate the Creed into your everyday life? Give it a try. Let me know how it changes you—and how it changes those you interact with. Cheers!

New Agreements: 5 Ways to Transform Your Workplace

Thanks to LinkedIn, I had a chance to talk with author David Dibble last week. He read a recent blog I posted and asked to connect with me. Funny thing is I’ve been using his book The New Agreements in the Workplace for the last five years as source material for the Working with Emotional Intelligence class I teach at Southern Oregon University. I’ve summarized his work below and added a few quotes to illustrate. Thanks, David!

1. Find Your Path


“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
—Goethe


As individuals in the workplace and in the world, each of us must find our own path to personal freedom and transformation. If the release of the creative human spirit in the workplace is your passion, following a true path will accelerate the journey dramatically. A true path is a roadmap that includes proven practices, community support along the way and possibly a teacher. Most importantly, a true path will ignite your higher purpose for work based in love.

A true path will ignite your higher purpose for work based in love. Click To Tweet

2. Love, Grow and Serve Your People


“All work is empty, save when there is love.”
—Kahlil Gibran


The workplace can be thought of as a living being. Workplaces are alive because they are made of people. To love, grow and serve your people means loving, growing and serving the organization. In doing so, you love, grow and serve yourself. This is true leadership.

3. Mind Your Mind in the Moment


“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.”
—John Milton


Science has been looking at the human mind for thousands of years, and many questions remain. Your mind creates both your individual and organizational realities. To change yourself or your workplace, you must transform your mind. Awareness of the mind in the moment when life and work take place is a central practice to nearly every true path. With awareness, you can create heaven on earth in your workplace.

4. Shift Your Systems


“Men have become the tools of their tools.”
—Henry David Thoreau


All organizations have structural components we call systems. Systems are the formal and informal policies, procedures, habits and agreements that tell you how to do things in the workplace. They control about 90 percent of the results you create in your organization. To unlock your creative human spirit, you must shift from the fear and control that drive most workplace systems to an atmosphere of love and support.

You must shift from fear and control to an atmosphere of love and support. Click To Tweet

5. Practice a Little Every Day


“The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection—even though nothing more than the pounding of an old piano—is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star.”
—Logan Pearsall Smith


Did you know the space shuttle is off course approximately 97 percent of the time? To make the New Agreements a reality, you must practice a little every day. As you practice, you will notice change. With regular practice, you embody the New Agreements. As you move from doing to being, you become the unbridled release of your creative human spirit. This is true mastery.

Living the New Agreements

How does this sit with you? How does it manifest in your workplace? If you want to work with the New Agreements, let’s talk about how coaching or consulting can help you create positive change.

Feeling Rootbound? Maybe It’s Time to Repot

Tending the Garden

It’s springtime, and for the gardeners among us, that means digging our hands into earth, pruning overgrowth and planting seedlings for the harvest to come. It also means weeding, tending to ailing plants and finding new homes for the rootbound ones beginning to wilt.

Perhaps you’re feeling a bit wilted yourself. Have you been rooted in the same career for years? Has the zing for accomplishment morphed into a dull boredom and resignation to monotony? Do you find yourself daydreaming about new career trajectories that could offer deeper satisfaction?

Time to Repot

It might be time to repot. Former Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) Dean Ernie Arbuckle taught a generation of Stanford students the secret to lifelong flourishing: “Repotting, that’s how you get new bloom.” He advises, “You should have a plan of accomplishment and when that is achieved you should be willing to start off again.”

Arbuckle’s advice to repot every decade stuck with many Stanford alumni, including Donald E. Petersen, who told The New York Times, “It’s time to repot myself” when stepping down as head of Ford Motor after 10 years. Arjay Miller, who succeeded Arbuckle as Stanford GSB dean, repeated the line at his resignation.

From Mad Man to Philanthropist

Peter Hero, another Arbuckle mentee, left a lucrative Madison Avenue agency when the pointlessness of his career suddenly smacked him in the face during a debate about Sugar Crisp cereal. “I have to get out of here,” Hero said, initiating a series of repottings that included managing Spice Islands, pursuing a graduate degree in art history, heading the Oregon Arts Commission and serving as president of the Maine College of Art.

Eventually, Hero accepted his current position as CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, growing its assets from $9 million to over $1.2 billion. Today, the foundation has an enormous philanthropic impact, distributing a million dollars a week to charitable organizations.

Hero has found the purpose lacking in his past careers. “I realized later on that the whole time I was exploring new paths, I was moving toward a job that for me was far more than a way to earn money,” he says.

To learn five lessons Hero offers on repotting, see Loren Mooney’s Insights article Is It Time to “Repot” Your Career?.

My Own Repotting

When I launched Capiche five years ago, I was in the midst of a major repotting myself. Not only was I starting my own consulting business, but I was also completing a master in management degree after decades of serving in marketing leadership positions.

My studies focused on the inspiration that would drive my business model: using science of happiness and positive psychology research to boost employee productivity, strengthen organizations and boost company profits. Ahead of the curve, I was excited to see happiness explode onto the business scene as publications such as Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal published a wave of articles validating my emphasis on employee happiness as a lynchpin of productivity and profit.

I continued to reinvent myself, earning a co-active coaching certification from The Coaches Institute (CTI). Adding coaching to my branding, culture and marketing services enabled me to work one on one with individuals, impacting companies through their leadership while helping people achieve life-changing personal and professional goals.

But I wasn’t done repotting. I wanted to apply my expertise to a subject I have always been passionate about: wine. Given the growing international recognition for Southern Oregon wineries, I decided to add a specialization in wine marketing.

Currently enrolled in the viticulture and enology program at the Southern Oregon Wine Institute (SOWI), I have spent the past year getting to know the regional wine industry. I serve on the Marketing Committee for the Southern Oregon Wineries Association and regularly attend events such as the Oregon Wine Symposium.

With every fresh repotting, I find a deeper sense of purpose and gratification, and Capiche clients benefit from my evolving range of expertise and expanding services.

What’s Next for You?

If you were to repot, where would you spread your new roots? What would you find most nourishing?

I would love to help you or your organization discover and fulfill your deeper purpose. Call 541.601.0114 or email me to begin repotting today.

5 Strategies for Managing Attention

Do you live in a 200-emails-a-day world? Do you delete emails based solely on the subject line? Or merely skim the contents of most emails? Or automatically discard email from certain senders? Maybe you hit ‘5’ on your mobile phone to skip through long voicemails. More and more information gets ignored these days—and this sometimes results in critical matters not receiving the attention necessary.

Our workplaces have become increasingly leaner, with fewer people handling ever-growing amounts of work. Managers are working more hours than before. Many employees devote considerable time to work after hours, checking email and voicemail. With 24/7 Internet access, we need a strategy to process the sheer volume of information we receive to ensure we allocate our attention effectively.

Here are five strategies you can use to better manage your attention—and that of your employees.

  1. Control your gray mail—email generated from newsletters, coupons, discounted airfare, social media and more—with a productivity app like Unroll.me or SaneBox. These apps bundle the gray mail into a single summary email so you just need to scan one message instead of dozens of individual ones. Some productivity apps even handle the unsubscribe process for you on request.
  2. Use the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) principle when composing email. State the purpose of the email at the beginning, without all the details. End the email with your request for action. If the email is informational, your readers can opt to read it later. And if it requires action, they will be more likely to give it attention.
  3. Get less email by sending less email. Sometimes a quick walk down the hall or phone call will accomplish something in far less time than sending emails back and forth.
  4. Be judicious. If an email goes out companywide to remind everyone of a deadline and you reply all to say you’ve met the deadline, you’ve just generated dozens of unnecessary emails for others. Become more mindful of who needs to receive an email and who needs to see the reply.
  5. Remove heated conversations from the kitchen. Email can easily be misinterpreted, resulting in unintended consequences. Save the controversial topics for a face-to-face meeting or phone call.

What will you do with the time these strategies free up? Hmm . . . why not build, create, innovate, dream. . . . Focus on the things that truly make a difference for you, your organization and the world!

What strategies help you manage your attention? Please share.

Stop Working So Much!

Let’s start with a short quiz.

True or false: US businesses owe $224 billion in unused vacation time.1

True or false: Working 11-hour days or longer increases your chances of developing heart disease by 67% over those who work 7- or 8-hour days.2

True or false: Individuals who work more than 55 hours a week have lower productivity levels.3

If you answered true for all three questions, you’re right! In today’s economy, most of us find ourselves overworked as organizations reduce benefits and put the kibosh on raises.

Others, however, work for companies that value employee health and wellness. The December 15, 2015, issue of Fortune Magazine highlights a few standout organizations where work-life balance is serious business.

Denver-based software company FullContact specializes in contact management software. In addition to company stock options, employees enjoy 100% paid health, dental and vision care for the employee and family; free bus and light rail passes; parking stipends (for those who don’t live near bus or rail lines); one month a year to work remotely from any location in the world—with lodging and travel paid by the company; and paid holidays and vacation.

About that vacation. FullContact requires employees to take at least three weeks off every year. “There is a catch. You must be off the grid, no emails, no calling work, absolutely no work.”

Lindon, Utah–based BambooHR has a philosophy: “Do great work. Then go home. Work stays at work.” Their “no workaholics” policy requires that every employee leave the office by 5 pm. And no employee may work more than 40 hours a week. Benefits include three weeks off, 11 paid holidays, health insurance and more.

Many of us will never work for a company that provides free lunch and dinner (Google); on-site gyms and free Taylor Swift concerts (Yahoo); on-site massage services and pet insurance (Scripps Health); concierge services to pick up your groceries or change the oil in your car (SC Johnson and Son); three to six months of partially paid time to do volunteer work (Deloitte); or professional dress clothing advances (Umpqua Bank).

You might, though, work for an organization that offers benefits promoting employee work-life balance. If so, the benefits are probably quite evident to you!

If you are a leader, consider how you might implement new goals for 2016:

  1. Help your employees take advantage of accrued vacation time.
  2. Reduce employee risks of developing heart disease by keeping their workdays to eight hours.
  3. Ensure maximum productivity of employees by reducing demands beyond a 40-hour week.

Your employees will thank you. Their families will thank you. And your company will retain employees who are engaged, productive, creative and healthy. Gee—wouldn’t that help you meet your strategic goals!

References

  1. Oxford Economics analysis based on SEC filings for 114 companies (2015).
  2. University College London study (2011).
  3. Study conducted by Stanford University’s John Pencavel (2014).

What’s Your Theme for 2016?

Here’s how to set yourself up for success in the new year.

Guess what? You get to choose the way you show up in 2016. Barring certain life circumstances, you can set the tone for personal and professional experiences. Whether you are conscious of this or not, you DO set the tone for your experiences.

Think about this as you look back on last year.

  • Was it a good year?
  • What tone did I set for the year, and how did it play out?
  • What am I grateful for, and what do I appreciate about last year?
  • What is there for me to acknowledge about myself in 2015?
  • How would I rate 2015 on a scale of 1 to 10—personally and professionally?
  • What would have made 2015 an 11 out of 10?

As you think about 2016, what tone do you want to set? How do you want to experience 2016? How do you want people to experience YOU in 2016? (Think of it as creating your personal brand.)

  • As you look ahead to 2016, what excites you?
  • What are your key goals and objectives for 2016?
  • What state of being will best serve you in 2016?
  • Where and how do you want to stretch yourself in 2016?
  • What will make 2016 an 11 out of 10 year for you, both personally and professionally?
Climb ev’ry mountain,
Ford ev’ry stream,
Follow ev’ry rainbow,
’Til you find your dream.

Finally, what is a possible theme for the year that could serve as a structure to lock in a SUCCESSFUL 2016? Think about a song, movie, book, or TV show.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve picked a song with rich meaning and memories—Climb Ev’ry Mountain by Rodgers and Hammerstein. How well I remember going to the theater with my mom to see The Sound of Music and leaving the movie singing at the top of my lungs.

Want some help focusing in on your theme for 2016? Call 541.601.0114 or email me for a complimentary coaching session. Now’s the time to get clarity for a great new year. Cheers!

Rewire Your Brain for Happiness: Why What You Think About Is What You Think About

This time of year, I’m reminded of the connection between gratitude and happiness and the need to get more of both. I’ve noticed people tend to spend more time focusing on what is wrong and not enough about what is right in their lives.

For some people, it’s their job. People in professions like tax accounting, auditing, and law may be even more focused on the wrong—the mistakes—because that’s what they are trained and paid to do: to find the wrong and fix it.

What happens when we focus on what’s wrong more than what’s right? Harvard researcher Shawn Achor calls it the Tetris Effect. I call it “What You Think About Is What You Think About.” Granted, Shawn’s title is catchier, but mine is more descriptive.

Four years ago, a Google search for gratitude + happiness yielded 14.6 million results. This month, the same search yielded 25.8 million results. That’s 11.2 million more instances of gratitude + happiness online. Now that in itself is something I’m grateful for, and it makes me happy. That means more people discussing, researching, writing about and considering the combination of gratitude and happiness at reputable institutions such as The New York Times, Harvard, Psychology Today and Forbes.

In a research study, 27 Harvard students were paid to play the videogame Tetris for multiple hours a day, three days in a row. In the following days, the students reported they couldn’t stop seeing the Tetris shapes everywhere they looked. Their brains kept trying to rearrange everything—from buildings and trees on the landscape to cereal boxes on the shelf in the grocery store—to form a solid line so as to advance to the next level of the videogame. They couldn’t stop seeing the world as sequences of Tetris blocks!

This is caused by a natural physical process that actually changes the wiring of the brain. These new neural pathways warped the way these students viewed real-life situations. When people are focused on something—anything—their brains adapt and hone in on those circumstances and events.

A tax accountant may be terrific at her job, but when she brings her way of looking at the world home, she will miss seeing all the good in her life and may be on the road to depression. The same goes for the great attorney, who may be terrific in court but not so much at home, where family members feel like they are participants in a deposition.

Think about what you think about. When you notice something good happening, really notice it. Relish it. The more you can take notice, the more you will begin to see. Revisit my blog post What Went Well to learn a great technique for boosting your awareness and gratitude for the happy moments in life.

References

Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage: The seven principals of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.