creativity

What Brings You the Greatest Joy?

 “What do you do?” a new acquaintance asked me the other day. “I’m in the business of changing people’s lives,” I replied.

“Tell me more,” he smiled. “I use co-active coaching, positive psychology and the science of happiness to help people become healthier, more productive and to flourish,” I said.

I followed up by asking him what in his life brings him the greatest joy. “My partner,” he replied. “She is an amazing woman, and we have a wonderful relationship. Every day is a new adventure, and I cherish our every moment together.”

“What would it be like if you could have that passion in other areas of you life—in your career, for example?” I invited him to explore. “It would be great!” he replied. “I’ve never really thought that could be possible. The place I work at is so miserable. While I try to stay positive, there is so much negativity around me when I’m there. I don’t think I can make lemonade out of the lemons I’ve been given at Blankety-Blank Company.”

Isn’t that the way so many people feel? And what a shame. The thing is, each person has the option to control a good deal of his or her own happiness. Here’s where the science of happiness at work comes in. Because we can measure the key drivers of happiness at work (contribution, conviction, commitment, culture, confidence—coupled with trust, recognition and pride), we can focus in on the areas that need a boost. My business, Capiche, does this with individual coaching and team workshops. The results are impressive—both for the individuals and for the company. Individuals gain greater confidence, creativity, energy and job satisfaction. The company gains longer-term employees with 100% greater productivity who take ten times less sick leave, provide better customer service, make more accurate and better decisions, and are better team players.

Are you interested? I’d love to explore how the science of happiness can work for you. I invite you to contact me for a 30-minute sample coaching session to explore your personal happiness—either as it pertains to work or anything else. If you are a team leader and want to explore how your team can be happier, contact me for a free team happiness at work report that shows where your team could use a boost. Nothing to lose. No obligations. No kidding! I’m in the business of changing people’s lives. chris@capiche.us or 541-601-0114

 

Friday
29
June 2012
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Build Your Leadership Cache: The Wall Street Journal Picks the Best Books of 2011

With a steady stream of terrific leadership advice hitting bookstores and inboxes, how do you prioritize your reading? Do you wonder which leadership books will help you make the most difference in your organization? Check out the latest recommendations from The Wall Street Journal here. One recommendation is “The Progress Principal” by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Read it and you’ll learn what enhances a worker’s “inner work life”—the stuff that inspires and motivates them to be more productive and creative, among other positive outcomes.

Let me give you a hint: let your workers make meaningful progress at work.

Sounds simple enough, but in the 15 years that Amabile and Kramer collected confidential data from 238 professionals at seven companies (totaling nearly 12,000 days), they gained a laser focus on what frustrates employees, de-motivates them, makes them hate their boss and prompts them to sabotage the success of their employer—and conversely, what motivates them toward better performance, loyalty and innovation.

So how do you facilitate your employees’ feeling of making meaningful progress at work?

Step 1: Allow pride of accomplishment. People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to boost an employee’s work life. This must be harder than it sounds, as in the work diaries, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, de-motivated by the work, or both. One of the most egregious examples was a head of product development, who routinely moved people on and off projects like chess pieces in a game for which only he had the rules.

Step 2: Set smaller goals to create a sense of movement toward achieving larger goals. This naturally follows the first step. By setting smaller, achievable goals and allowing workers the autonomy to meet them, workers feel a sense of accomplishment and progress. This goes a long way toward increasing motivation and performance.

Step 3: Give recognition for good work. One of the most common mistakes managers make is to assume their employees are doing just fine—or that “bad morale” was a result of poor work ethics or undesirable personality traits. A manager’s actions and words set the tone for the entire organization, and without their recognizing good work, there is little sense of accomplishment and motivation to perform.

Step 4: Encourage and reward transparency. When you hear about problems within the ranks, listen and take action. Don’t deny. Here’s a great example from Amabile and Kramer’s research. In an open Q&A with one company’s chief operating officer, an employee asked about the morale problem and got this answer: “There is no morale problem in this company. And, for anybody who thinks there is, we have a nice big bus waiting outside to take you wherever you want to look for work.” How’s that for a motivator? Makes me want to work for that manager—not!

While Amabile and Kramer’s research doesn’t provide any great new insights, it does drive home concepts that leadership gurus have been preaching for years. Provide meaningful work. Let your employees make progress toward achievable goals. And set the tone for success by recognizing and rewarding good work.

If your business could benefit by leveraging management practices that enhance employee work life, contact Capiche. We specialize in working with businesses and organizations to build high performing teams and to create a culture of productivity and innovation. Or tell us what is working for you! We hope to hear from you soon.

Photo: Image by Dan

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
13
March 2012
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What’s so Funny ‘bout Peace, Love and Understanding? Making Cross-functional Teams Succeed.

Have you ever endured a team meeting that went from productive to disastrous? Where the people from the departments that make up the team just didn’t seem to get it? They fought with each other, protected their own departments and were distracted by a bazillion side issues and personal problems? Did you drift off, thinking of Elvis Costello’s plaintive cry, “What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?” Does it make you want to go back to the good ol’ days where each department did its job and didn’t have to worry about what was going on in other areas of the organization?

I hope not, because those days are gone and not likely to return. With your organization’s competition re-re-engineering, Six Sigma-ing, TQM-ing and getting even leaner and meaner, now is the time to get your cross-functional teams working better together.

A cross-functional team is made up of at least three people from different functional areas working toward a common goal. This team will have members with different functional experiences and abilities, and who will likely come from different departments within the organization. A team member might even be an external partner. A cross-functional team is typically responsible for all or some segment of a work process that delivers a product or service to a customer who is either external or internal to the organization. The work process requires input from several functional areas, therefore group collaboration is essential. When managed properly cross-functional teams provide flexibility, control and speed, coupled with multi-disciplinary knowledge. In fast-changing markets, cross-functional teams can quickly respond to customer needs.

So what can you do to get a cross-functional team operating at its peak potential? Start by establishing shared values and a common goal. Emphasize collaboration and team rewards. As a team, agree upon how you will operate. How you will communicate and how often? How will you hold each other accountable? How can you best help one another? Effective teams are committed to communication and collaboration as well as constructive conflict. People working on teams also develop mutual accountability for the success or failure of the team’s efforts.

What can you do to be a better team member?

  • Consider things from the point of view of your teammates
  • Think about how your work impacts the work of others on the team
  • Look for input, advice and ideas from others on the team, and don’t push your solutions on others
  • Share ideas freely; don’t be afraid to give away your “secrets”
  • Embrace the diversity of your team
  • Get to know your teammates—what they value, how they like to be recognized, their preferred methods of communication

What if you’re the team leader? Do all of the above PLUS take on more the role of a coach than a traditional manager. You champion ideas, but don’t command. You don’t give orders or assignments, but you rely on the entire team to take part in decision-making. You are not “over” the group, but rather a contributing member of the group. You promote performance and makes sure that the team efforts are in line with the goals of your organization. It is also your responsibility to be the liaison for upper management, suppliers and other outside entities. In a sense, you are the team’s key spokesperson that keeps a clear vision of the team’s goals and promotes activities to obtain those goals.

The return on investment will be increased productivity, creativity and efficiency. The end result will be better because you have developed a product or service that meets the customer’s needs and has the sales associates’ buy in. AND you will have improved quality and innovation because you are getting all the best ideas from everyone. Cheers!

Image by digitalart

 

 

 

Monday
27
February 2012
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Is Anyone Sick of Happiness at Work? I’m Not, and Here’s Why

Happiness at work is a big topic these days. I spoke to a packed room at the Medford Rotary about it just last week. Even with unemployment still looming large, most people are carrying 150% or more of the workload they were hired for. Companies are cutting their workforce without lowering the expected output. Someone needs to pick up the slack. How can employees stay positive and how can a company justify investing in workforce engagement programs?

How can they not? 

The billboard you see above is posted all over the San Francisco Bay area. There are many terrific books on happiness at work, and more and more articles continue to be published as the research continues. Just Google “happiness at work” and you will find articles in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business ReviewPsychology Today, etc. There is even a great LinkedIn group that I belong to called ‘Happy at Work.’ Check it out!

According to one of my favorite happiness gurus, Shawn Achor, “Nearly every company in the world gives lip service to the idea that ‘our people are our greatest asset’. Yet when the Conference Board Survey came out last year, employees were the unhappiest they have been in their 22 years of tracking job satisfaction rates. Around the same time, CNNMoney reported a survey that indicated 84% of Americans are unhappy with their current job. Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey found that one in three US employees are serious about leaving their current jobs.”

Why is this lack of happiness at work important? Job satisfaction is not only the key predictor of turnover rates. In The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard University professor Achor makes the research case for the fact that the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce. A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements. Yet even those companies that do take leadership training seriously still ignore the role that happiness plays in leadership effectiveness.

So the secret is out! Happiness, job satisfaction and fulfillment, and employee engagement are WIN-WIN situations for employees and employers. How does your company invest in yours?

(Photo credit to: Anne Espiritu – Google+ http://bit.ly/pElTPu.)

Sunday
22
January 2012
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The Value of Happiness: How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits

Do you have any idea how happy I was to see my January/February 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review with this cover? “The Value of Happiness: How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits.” My good cheer was palpable. This further confirms all that I have learned about the Science of Happiness at Work and the Performance-Happiness Model.

The issue has several articles that make good points.

The Economics of Well-Being: This article points out how GNP and GDP (which measure wealth by income generated) don’t take into account the unpaid good in society (volunteering, child rearing, etc.) yet do include the paid “bad” such as the money generated by building prisons, paying lawyers for divorces, etc. It talks about metrics like the Human Development Index (we’re 4th after Norway, Australia and the Netherlands) and Human Development, Adjusted for Inequality (we don‘t place). The main gist of the article is about the history of how well-being intersects with economics and what direction it’s headed. Good news: it’s headed toward looking more closely at happiness and quality of life as indicators of wealth. The countries of Bhutan and Great Britain are on the leading edge of that new measurement.

The Science Behind the Smile: Researchers are now measuring happiness and defining what really makes people happy. It’s not what you think. Yes, people who are rich, in a good relationship, actively participating in their church and healthy are happier overall. But events like getting a promotion, a new house or car or acing an exam only create more happiness for about three months. The frequency of positive experiences is more important than the intensity. And at work, what really contributes most to happiness is feeling appropriately challenged—when you’re striving to achieve goals that are ambitious but not out of reach. Managers take note: happier workers are more productive and creative. Years of research on rewards and punishment present a very clear finding: rewards work better.

Creating Sustainable Performance: “If you give your employees the chance to learn and grow, they’ll thrive—and so will your organization.” How do you create an environment where employees feel that they are learning, achieving their potential and contributing to something that matters? Do all of the following:

  • Give them decision-making discretion.
  • Share information.
  • Minimize incivility.
  • Offer performance feedback.

These four tactics work together to create a culture where your employees can thrive. This mindset is contagious. And drives better performance in a sustainable way.

Positive Intelligence: More research shows that when people work with a positive mindset, every business outcome shows improvement. That includes greater productivity, creativity, customer service and sales, and less sick time and turnover. And while we believe that happiness is mainly determined by genetics and environment, there is much that we can do to increase our levels and frequency of happiness. Three activities the author recommends:

  • Develop a habit that trains your brain to be happier (i.e., meditate at your desk for 2 minutes, exercise for 10 minutes, write a positive message to someone in your social support network or write down three things each day that you are grateful for). See my blog on What Went Well for more details on this.
  • Help your coworkers—research shows that people with high levels of social support reap many benefits including better health, more promotions and better customer experiences.
  • Mitigate stress. Although stress is an inevitable part of work and can sometimes enhance your performance, getting stressed out about things outside of your control is harmful. Next time you are feeling overly stressed, make a list of the things that are causing the stress. Separate these stressors into two types: the things you can change and the things you cannot. Then choose one that you can change and take one concrete step toward mitigating that stressor.

I’d like to help you become happier at work. Start by taking a free assessment at http://tinyurl.com/free-Capiche-survey. Then call me for a complimentary coaching session to explore what you can do to increase your happiness at work—and increase your productivity and value to your company.

 

Monday
09
January 2012
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Change Your Business; Transform Your Life in 2012

With the start of the new year, many of us reflect on areas in which we hope to improve, leading us to a more fulfilled life. Perhaps one of these challenges resonates with you.

  • You are a manager who is trying to improve the performance of a struggling employee.
  • You are unhappy at work and wonder if you’re the problem.
  • You supervise a unit that has been downsized; yet you are challenged with increasing profits and productivity – doing more with less.

Consider hiring an executive coach. A coach can help you evoke excellence in yourself and in others. Don’t worry – coaching isn’t prescriptive; it isn’t someone else telling you what to do (you probably get enough of that already!). Coaching helps you tap into your own inner wisdom. It begins with the shared understanding that you are creative, resourceful, and whole. In other words, you aren’t the problem; you are the solution.

Why hire a coach? A coach will:

  • Provide you with someone outside of your office to work with on sensitive work-related issues
  • Help with goal setting
  • Create accountability for your actions
  • Help you measure your progress toward your goal(s)
  • Provide unbiased perspectives
  • Guide you toward balance, fulfillment, and processes necessary to create an environment for your professional and personal success.

If you are wondering if coaching can help you, take our free happiness at work assessment. There may be areas at work where you could use a little boost. (Take the free assessment here to see how you score.) Then, contact me for a free consultation. You can transform your life, increase your profits, and enhance productivity. I look forward to talking with you.

 

Monday
02
January 2012
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Playing to the Edge in Las Vegas

What an incredible week as I attended the International Coaching Federation’s international conference! The theme was Playing to the Edge. With more than 1,000 coaches from around the world, we gathered together to continue our studies in the art and science of coaching and share perspectives on how we can help businesses and employees achieve their potential in our global economy.

Some of my personal highlights:

Having returned from the conference, renewed and invigorated, I was today’s guest on KCMX 880AM’s “Southern Oregon Live,” where I talked about happiness at work. In the next few weeks, I’ll be speaking at the 2011 Mentoring Conference at the University of New Mexico’s Mentoring Institute; return as a guest to KCMX, where I’ll appear on the “Open for Business” program; and also address the members of the Southern Oregon Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Managers in Medford, Oregon.

Wednesday
05
October 2011
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