Archive for Organizational Development

Develop Intelligent Teams for Optimal Performance in an Ever-Changing Landscape

An intelligent team—sounds good, huh? But what is it and how do you get it? These are the questions I am preparing to answer on Wednesday when I lead a workshop at Southern Oregon University for members of a high-tech company, timber products company and municipality. And while these seem like disparate organizations, the concepts and steps needed to create intelligent teams are the same for all.

Let’s start with a description. Anchored in constructive collaboration, intelligent teams optimize functioning for enhanced performance, greater productivity and intense creativity. They are critical to successfully navigate the changes we face daily in today’s organizations.

An intelligent team is deeply fluent in the competencies from emotional and social intelligence—the ability to interpret and manage your own emotions to the benefit of the situation and to read and respond with empathy to the feelings of others. Add to this an understanding of social situations and a big-picture perspective. In other words, it’s moving from a frame of “I” to “you” and then “we.”

An intelligent team takes this a step further and employs Relationship Systems Intelligence—the capacity to move beyond personal concerns to a powerful, generative group identity with resilience and resources to address challenges as our world transforms. Sound amazing? Well, it is!

My knowledge of this topic comes directly from hands-on training I received over the last four years at CRR Global’s Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching workshops and from reading CRR founder Marita Fridjhon’s 2016 book, Creating Intelligent Teams. Marita coauthored the book with Anne Rød. My thanks to Marita for permission to quote/paraphrase liberally.

In this blog, I will share the five principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) and give you a few things to consider while contemplating your organization’s intelligence. Future blog posts will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

Five Principles of Intelligent Teams

  1. Each relationship system (team) has its own unique entity.
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System.
  3. The team has the answers.
  4. Roles belong to the team, not the individuals.
  5. Change is constant.

What Does This Mean?

  1. Each relationship system has its own unique entity. Any time there are two or more people, they create a “system” or “team entity.” This thing is bigger than the sum of its parts. Intelligent teams are aware of the system and together act as a system—as a “we” vs. a “you” or “me.”
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System. (Everyone is right—partially!) A strong system is one where all members’ voices are heard, which only happens with trust and willingness to share without repercussions. Together, they can add enough information to the system to create an intelligent entity.
  3. The team has the answers. This is one of my favorites! We hold true that relationship systems are naturally intelligent, generative and creative. Kind of like the old 1+1=3 equation and underscored by mutual accountability and responsibility to speak up. Disagreement is good—it’s simply what can happen as more information (voices) is added to the system as it works toward intelligent outcomes.
  4. Roles belong to the team. Relationship systems rely on roles for their organization and execution of functions. For example, there are functional roles (boss, customer service, IT) and emotional roles (peacekeeper, visionary, truth-teller). These roles belong to the system, not the individuals who inhabit the system. If a person leaves the system, the system regenerates and fills the roles as necessary.
  5. Change is constant. Relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence, always in the process of expressing their potential. By noticing signals, team members can explore hidden opportunities and help the entity remain open to new ideas and inspirations that would not be accessible to an individual.

In my next post, I’ll explore the key competencies of an intelligent team along with pointers on how to develop those key competencies. In the meantime, take a look at your own team/organization and get a sense as to where you are now.

Here are a few things to consider (straight from the book):

  1. How would you describe the leadership in your team and organization?
  2. Who are your colleagues? How many are Millennials? Other? How are you bridging the generation gap and working together optimally?
GENERATIONS KEY
  • Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: Born 1996 and later. (<21)
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995. (22–40)
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976. (41–52)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. (53–71)
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before. (>72)
  1. How well do you know your colleagues’ background, talents, special skills? How often do you use their specialized knowledge?
  2. How often and in what situations do you and your colleagues work as a team system rather than independent individuals?
  3. How high do you think the level of RSI in your team is?

Questions?

Please call or email me. Let’s see what’s possible in developing the intelligence of your team.

Critical Factors for Keeping Top Talent

Pssst … it’s all about happiness!

Last week, I got to present “Critical Factors for Keeping Top Talent” at a SOREDI event. It was fun to share one of my favorite topics—the importance of happiness at work. With Oregon’s unemployment rate at 3.8% and the country’s at 4.3%, SOREDI was smart to focus on such a relevant topic!

The 2017 PwC CEO Survey found the top three CEO challenges in the United States are talent, technology and innovation. About talent, the report states, “Talent will help an organization distinguish itself from the competition. Organizations need people who can surmount big challenges and tackle complex issues. CEOs are looking for employees who are agile, curious, and can collaborate with others to achieve the greatest results. These skill sets are among the hardest to recruit.”

I believe in two simple truths:

  1. Your people are the #1 resource that will determine your success.
  2. Happy people perform better.

There are many factors that influence success, but it’s your people who give you an absolute advantage.

Happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.Shawn Achor

Happiness is a worthwhile investment. Decades of compelling evidence shows that improving happiness in the workplace delivers significant increases in profit, productivity and innovation—not to mention substantial cost savings. Happier workers are healthier and more effective team members, and they provide superior customer service. Happier businesses attract top talent and are more likely to retain their best workers.

Why worry about happiness at work? You can count on:
  • 30% Higher productivity1
  • 54% Better staff retention2
  • 3x Higher creativity3

Social economist and researcher (and all-around good guy) Nic Marks uses a dynamic model to explain which factors create a happy workplace. The model takes into account people’s “experience of work” (how they feel), which is influenced by how they are “functioning at work” (what they do). This depends on the “organizational system” (where they work) and their “personal resources” (who they are). Using an assessment developed by Nic and his company Happiness Works, you can generate your own dynamic model for your workplace.

Dynamic Model

This dynamic model is from a Portland tech company Capiche worked with. Notice the colors ranging from orange to dark green. Like a stoplight, red to orange is a non-starter, and green is a go.

Measured within each of the four components of the dynamic model are:

  • Experience of work: Positive and negative feelings, engaging work, worthwhile work
  • Functioning at work: Self-expression, sense of control, sense of progress, work relationships
  • Organizational system: Job design, management system, work environment, social value
  • Personal resources: Vitality, happiness, confidence, work-life integration

People’s happiness at work is not fixed or static; instead, it is fluid and moving, interconnected and dynamic. I like the illustration of shared responsibility between the employee and employer.

People’s happiness at work is not fixed or static; instead, it is fluid and moving. Click To Tweet

Finders, Keepers?

The factors you need to keep top talent directly correlate with the factors needed to recruit talent.

Happiness at work isn’t something that’s reserved for companies like Zappos and Google. There are plenty of smaller or lesser-known companies like these Southern Oregon ones that have it right: Coding Zeal, Darex, Bio Skin, and Dutch Bros.

If you are ready to step up to happiness, give me a holler via email or phone at 541.601.0114. Let’s see where you are now and make plans to increase your organization’s happiness—and recruitment, retention, innovation, customer service and profits!


References

  1. “Insight to impact leadership that gets results.” Hay Group.
  2. “Engaging hearts and minds: preparing for a changing world.” Hay Group.
  3. “Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving.” Isen, A.M., Daubman, K.A., and Nowicki, G.P. (1987). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(6), 1122.

Is Radical Candor the Key to Transforming Your Company?

You know that employee who means well but is so ill-suited to her responsibilities that her coworkers have to pick up the slack? Or the knowledgeable guy who looked great on paper before you hired him but who is now disrupting the workplace with his logorrhea?

Let’s face it—sometimes we make mistakes. We get one impression of a candidate during the hiring process and later discover he or she is a poor fit for our organization’s culture. Maybe we inherit a bad apple from a predecessor. Whatever the reason, as managers we occasionally encounter a problem employee whose behavior compromises the effectiveness of the team or even the larger organization.

But you’re a nice person—how do you tell these folks they’re not measuring up to your expectations, or even more awkward, that some personal idiosyncrasy is irritating the rest of the staff?

Perhaps the offense isn’t egregious enough to merit termination, requiring tact given that you and your team will need to continue collaborating with this individual.

So what do you do? Candor, Inc. cofounder and CEO Kim Scott has two words for you: radical candor. Forget the spoonful of sugar—pour that medicine right down their gullet. Be brave enough to give employees candid feedback about their performance.

In Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity—currently the #1 Best Seller in Workplace Culture at Amazon—Scott presents a management philosophy based on two counterbalancing approaches: you need to care personally while simultaneously challenging directly.

Scott coins the term obnoxious aggression for the brutal honesty managers exhibit when they don’t care. Those are the one-in-five-psychopath CEOs we discussed in a previous article. That’s not the kind of candor we mean.

On the flip side, compassionate managers who don’t want to hurt their employee’s feelings are practicing what Scott calls ruinous empathy. That is equally destructive, not only undermining your leadership but compromising the integrity of the workplace by allowing poor workmanship to slide.

What may surprise you—when you do muster the courage to confront an employee about problematic behavior—is that withholding honest assessment of a person’s abilities and performance actually harms the employee, too. He may find himself continually fired from job after job without ever understanding why and being given the opportunity to correct his behavior.

While Scott’s advice may be old hat to veteran leaders, less-seasoned managers can benefit from her general rules of thumb: practice humility, offer immediate feedback and deliver criticism in private.

The last thing you want to do is shame an employee. That will only serve to trigger her defense mechanisms, and she won’t be able to absorb your instruction.

Instead, take more of a mentorship approach. Maybe you’ve made similar missteps in your past—share an example of where you went awry and how you appreciated when someone took you to task for your shortcomings. Let the employee know you’re on her side and you want to come up with a solution together, whether it involves reconfiguring the job description to focus on strengths and offset weaknesses or introducing some ground rules to help curb the problematic behavior.

However you choose to approach situations like this, remember to practice emotional intelligence along with radical candor, and you’ll be ahead of most bosses when it comes to giving honest but sensitive feedback.

Trickle-up Theory: 10 Ways Organizations Can Create Stronger Leaders

When a ship founders, blame rarely lies at the feet of the crew. True, a seaman may fail to properly secure a mooring line or spot a collision risk on the horizon, but ultimately it is the captain who is liable for keeping the vessel afloat and on course.

Just as managers are responsible for the poor performance of their team, a company is culpable for any weaknesses present in its leadership. Responsibility flows upward, and senior administrators need to employ smart strategies to keep their organizations from capsizing.

Here are 10 ways organizations can create stronger leaders:

  1. Avoid just-because promotions to management. Before transplanting employees from positions they are flourishing in, make sure they have the appropriate skills—and desire—to succeed in a leadership role. You can still reward employees for good work with a pay raise or more challenging job description—just make sure it’s well-suited to their strengths.
  2. Encourage managers to seek advice. Don’t cultivate a culture of fear, shame and ego but rather nurturing, humility and collegiality. Make sure managers feel comfortable approaching senior leaders about questions or problems.
  3. Invite a fresh perspective. Sometimes a pair of unfamiliar eyes combined with professional expertise can reshape a flabby company into a high-performance athlete. Consider bringing in an organizational consultant to gain clarity on your culture; develop your leadership; and assess and address barriers to performance. You can boost employee happiness, engagement and productivity by creating a positive organization.
  4. Provide training opportunities. Companies should offer ongoing training and professional development opportunities for leaders and staff alike. Creating an atmosphere of learning is a key way to enhance engagement while honing and deepening your team’s competencies.
  5. Strive for professional and personal growth. Senior administrators should not only be seeking to become their best selves through leadership coaching, but they should be encouraging their managers to do the same.
  6. Challenge folks. When people feel stuck in a routine, they quickly grow bored. Our brains thrive on stimulation, and that means constantly pushing at the edges of our existing skill sets and forging new neural pathways. Even those who fear change need a sense of challenge to propel them forward.
  7. Understand the difference between managing and leading. In the post Managing Stuff, Leading People, Senior Manager of Sales and Leadership Development Steve Keating articulates the difference between managing and leading: “When you’re talking to a manager you get the feeling that they are important; when you’re talking to a leader you get the feeling that you are important.” Leaders are acutely aware of their team members’ abilities, they care for them as individuals and they possess a grander vision, which they can communicate to others in ways that stir enthusiastic engagement.
  8. Mentor each other. Instead of assuming an autocratic demeanor, handing down performance targets like kingly decrees, senior leaders should take new managers under their wings, offering wisdom from the trenches as they rear up the next generation of trailblazers.
  9. Seek out strengths. Don’t focus on people’s weaknesses but rather their strengths. If some employees are faltering, figure out why and redefine their roles to capitalize on their talents. Take advantage of Strengths Finder and other resources such as an organizational development consultant to pinpoint and polish the gifts in each team member.
  10. Lead by inspiration. Great leaders model the leadership skills they would like their managers to exhibit. There is nothing less motivating than a hypocritical boss or more inspiring than a leader who authentically embodies the best that leaders can be.

Ready to Make Your Leadership Shine?

Contact Chris Cook at chris@capiche.us or 541.601.0114 to discuss how she can cultivate the gems at your company through organizational development consulting and leadership coaching.

The Dangers of Disengagement—and Its Likely Cause

Have you ever felt yourself slipping into an apathetic haze at work, too bored, uninspired or beaten down to bother?

According to Gallup, nearly a quarter of employees around the globe are actively disengaged. That translates to bottom-line losses in the trillions. Not only are companies paying for sagging productivity by disengaged employees, but they’re also missing out on the benefits of having highly engaged powerhouses on their team.

What Causes Employee Disengagement?

What is one of the top causes of employee disengagement? You can probably guess. Whether you call them incompetent, narcissistic, psychopathic or straight-up evil, bad bosses shoulder much of the blame.

A recent Gallup article titled The Damage Inflicted by Poor Managers explores the consequences of lousy leadership—a subject we have examined in past articles (see sidebar).

Coauthors Marco Nink and Jennifer Robison note that in comparison with disengaged teams, engaged teams are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable; suffer 41% less absenteeism and 70% fewer accidents; and experience up to 59% less turnover, 28% less waste and 10% higher scores from customers.

At 24%, disengaged employees practically double the number of engaged employees (13%). That’s like having a bunch of anchors attached to a handful of balloons. It’s tough for an organization to achieve performance goals with that kind of ballast weighing it down.

The answer isn’t axing the disengaged employees, though. If the cause is bad leadership, the replacement hires will simply become the next crop of disengaged employees, creating a perpetual and costly cycle of turnover.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bad Leaders?

When the problem starts at the top, that’s where we need to focus our attention. In another Gallup article, Nink and Robison ask, Can Bad Managers Be Saved?

Falling into a management role without proper preparation can transform decent folks into petty tyrants as they attempt to compensate for insecurity about their lack of leadership skills. Or they may be perfectly nice individuals engaging in poor management habits without realizing it. They might even have untapped leadership talents that simply haven’t been identified or developed.

As Steve Keating discusses in his piece Managing Stuff, Leading People, people often get promoted to management positions because they excelled in their previous roles—often having nothing to do with leadership. Just because a software engineer is brilliant at designing algorithms doesn’t mean she’s strong at leading a software development team—in fact, it’s frequently the opposite.

Not all bad bosses are beyond redemption. It takes astute judgment to determine which managers have the potential for growth and which ones will continue to flail. In our next article, we’ll examine some strategies companies can adopt to ensure their leaders are motivating engagement rather than provoking disengagement.

Need Some Advice?

Whether your organization is struggling with disengagement, ineffectual leadership or low performance, Chris Cook can help. Email her at chris@capiche.us or call 541.601.0114 to find out how.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire Women—and 5 Ways to Entice Them

When you’re sizing up a potential employer, what are some of the factors that go in your Pros column? For men and women alike, a lot of those priorities will look similar, but there are certain items women tend to value more highly than men according to Gallup’s Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived.

What Motivates Women to Work?

For 84% of the 323,500 US women Gallup surveyed, the satisfaction of earning their own money provided a compelling reason for working. Three-quarters report that they work because they enjoy the work itself, and two-thirds are drawn to the relationships formed in the workplace.

What Makes a Workplace Attractive to Women?

Our last article outlined some of the organizational shortcomings causing women to leave the workplace, but what are some of the positive characteristics that draw female employees to a company?

  1. Good Match. Two-thirds (66%) of women—11% more than men—place the greatest emphasis on whether the position matches their strengths and talents. For most women, having a job that allows them to flourish and achieve their potential is more important than a boost in pay, which only 39% ranked “very important” when evaluating a potential job.
  2. Balance. For 60% of female respondents (vs. 48% of men), the ability to balance professional and personal responsibilities is the second most-important factor in considering a new job.
  3. Dependability. For both women (52%) and men (50%), workplace stability ranks relatively high.
  4. Standing. As many as 39% of female respondents (compared with 33% of men) ranked a company’s brand, or reputation, as “very important” when weighing whether to join the organization.
  5. Purpose. Ten percent more women (32% versus 22%) consider an organization’s cause “very important.” For female millennials, however, the opportunity to do meaningful work (38%) outranks reputation (34%). Purpose-driven work holds a higher appeal for this new generation of women, who have had the greatest access to education.

What Do Women Bring to the Table?

Political correctness aside, why should a company make efforts to recruit female employees? In what ways do women have the statistical edge over men?

  1. Engagement. Female employees have higher rates of engagement than men: 35% versus 29%. That 6% differential is echoed in management roles, with 41% of female leaders being engaged versus 35% of male leaders. As we’ve repeatedly stressed in past articles (Blue Ocean Leadership: 4 Steps to Boosting Employee Engagement, Millennial Mindset: What Gen Y Wants out of Work and Life, Naughty or Nice: Which Makes for a More Effective Leader? and The Top 4 Employee Needs to Fulfill for Greater Happiness and Productivity), research shows that higher employee engagement leads to yields in productivity and profits.
  2. Stronger Teams. Female managers are not only more engaged than their male counterparts, but their team members are more engaged, too. Whether it’s due to higher emotional intelligence, better relationship-building skills, a more intuitive approach or an emphasis on cooperation over competition, female leaders garner 6% more engagement from their employees.
  3. Satisfaction. According to Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement data, more women report that their companies are meeting their needs than men do. This is surprising given the failure of many organizations to offer a flexible workplace and accommodate women’s unique needs as we’ve discussed previously. Still, in 11 out of the 12 items on the Gallup Q12 engagement survey, female employees score higher, which is in line with the findings that female employees are more engaged in general.
  4. Potential. Female leaders often hone in on the strengths of their team members and are more likely to encourage the development of their employees’ potential. They tend to play a more nurturing role, coaching rather than dictating. Women generally practice more collaborative, democratic forms of leadership, whereas traditional patriarchal models follow a more authoritarian hierarchy.
  5. Bottom Line. Gallup notes, “Gender diversity strengthens a company’s financial performance.” While it is difficult to pinpoint the precise causes, organizations with more female employees and managers tend to fare better financially—perhaps from a combination of deeper engagement, increased productivity, stronger performance and greater workplace satisfaction.

How Can You Create a More Female-Friendly Workplace?

If you’d like to reap the rewards of gender diversity at your company, call me at 541.601.0114 or email to find out how Capiche can help improve your organizational culture; articulate your branding; and boost employee engagement, productivity, performance and profit.

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.

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


Keep Drama on the Stage—and out of the Workplace

In the requisite Stein on Writing, publisher, writer and master editor Sol Stein reveals this secret to successful plotting: create a crucible.

If you’ve ever seen Mike NicholsWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, you know how compelling a crucible can be. When you pit two forces of nature like Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) and George (Richard Burton) against one another, the results are explosive.

As Stein writes, “Characters caught in a crucible won’t declare a truce and quit.… the motivation of the characters to continue opposing each other is greater than their motivation to run away.”

While such a formula makes for gripping drama, that’s the last thing you want in the workplace.

Good leaders know how to navigate conflicts, dissipate tension and redirect negative energies into positive, productive outlets. Most importantly, they themselves are not the source of drama.

Unfortunately, those leaders are rare. A recent Australian study suggests there are more villains at the top than we realize—1 in 5 CEOs may be psychopaths (versus 1 in 100 in the general population).

“Typically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other,” says Nathan Brooks, the forensic psychologist who conducted the study.

A profit-driven corporate culture often propels sociopaths—who unabashedly violate ethics in pursuit of the bottom line—to positions of power, even though such behavior collectively costs companies hundreds of billions annually due to employee turnover and disengagement.

Just as the recent Wells Fargo scandal teaches us, myopic thinking may yield short-term profits but reaps incalculable damage. Sure, there are the obvious costs like $185 million in fines, $5 million in customer refunds and the potential billions in class action lawsuits from customers and the 5,300 terminated employees.

At a deeper level, however, the damage done to the Wells Fargo brand is incalculable. A bank losing the trust of its customers is tantamount to drinking Jonestown Flavor Aid.

Let’s play a word game. What do you think of when you hear Enron, Exxon and Monsanto? It’s probably fraud, Valdez and mass farmer suicides. Even when they change their names and attempt to reinvent themselves, corporations can never escape the toxic taint of corruption.

This is why it is so crucial to carefully define, protect and live your brand. From the epic to the everyday, how companies and leaders behave has lasting ramifications.

While we may not be in a position to shape the epic dimensions of our organization, all of us play a role in the everyday, and reducing drama in the workplace has widespread benefits—including boosting happiness and health, which subsequently reduces turnover, increases engagement and heightens productivity.

In this SmartBrief article, Dr. Nate Regier offers three tips for quashing office drama:

  • Practice transparency. In times of conflict, honesty is indeed the best policy. Instead of passive-aggressively venting your frustration, explain why a certain behavior is bothering you. Sidestep blame in favor of expressing your feelings. This is a common tactic in couples counseling for a reason—it reframes the concern as an expression of feeling rather than an attack and helps each understand the other’s perspective.
  • Offer your expertise. This doesn’t mean going around handing out uninvited advice. Rather, it means genuinely assessing the problem and offering to share relevant knowledge if desired—the last part being key.
  • Set realistic limits. In a conflict, identify your non-negotiables in a non-threatening manner. Once both parties have a clear understanding of the stated goals and obstacles, it’s easier to chart a path to resolution.

This kind of “compassionate accountability is key to productive relationships and communication,” writes Regier.

What are your workplace drama stories? Do you have any tips on how to cope with psychopathic bosses and smooth out tensions in the workplace?

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.