performance

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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The One Minute Manager—Do You Remember It? Do You Use It?

I was reminded of the classic book yesterday while Skyping with a young manager who trains employees for a multinational Fortune 100 consumer electronics firm in the Washington, D.C., area. She asked me if I’d ever read the book—well yes! We laughed. In 1982 when it was first published!

Hearing this young manager’s perspectives on the book led me to dust off my copy and peruse this forgotten gem. Since reading it nearly 30 years ago, I’ve worked for nine different managers. Which ones were most effective? Which ones elicited the best from their staff? Which ones ran productive, prosperous and happy shops? Yep, it’s the ones who employed the One Minute Management techniques: One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Reprimands. They weren’t the ones who spent their days sequestered in their closed offices not providing any feedback—good or bad.

“The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.”

Written as a parable told through the eyes of a young manager’s search for the best leadership and management skills, one of the key elements of One Minute Management is MBWA (management by walking around), which was coined by Tom Peters around the same time in his best-selling In Search of Excellence.

“Goals begin behaviors; consequences maintain behaviors.”

Good performance begins with clear goals and expectations. These are set during a One Minute Goals meeting. Here, the manager and the employee agree on goals, write them down and then occasionally review them to ensure that they are being met. Consequences are reviewed too—for positive and negative outcomes. The meetings are longer than one minute, but are short and to the point.

MBWA is critical to techniques two and three. Walking around helps a manager catch someone doing something right and provides the opportunity to give One Minute Praisings. The manager praises the employee on the spot, telling him specifically what he did correctly and how that positively impacts the company’s business. Then, the manager lets the employee savor the moment, and finishes with a handshake.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

The third technique is the One Minute Reprimand. Being honest and accountable with those around you involves reprimanding when a wrong has occurred. The first step is to reprimand immediately and specifically. This is the same as the praise technique, and it holds an important aspect of the goals technique: it enables an understanding of goals and responsibilities and how to complete them correctly. It’s critical that following the reprimand, you shake hands and remind the person that it was simply their performance that you did not like—not them as a person. The handshake is important and reinforces that you believe in the person and their abilities.

“People who feel good about themselves, produce good results.”

The One Minute Manager is one of the best selling business books of all time. For nearly 30 years, millions of managers in companies small and large worldwide have benefitted from the simple techniques laid out by authors Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

It’s a quick read that lays out simple and easy-to-use basic management skills (that are used less often that you would think). You can differentiate yourself from most managers by actually using them!

If you’re not regularly using these simple techniques, I challenge you to try them out and see what changes with your team. Call or email me for a 30-minute leadership coaching session. Let’s put the One Minute Management techniques to work for you!

Saturday
16
June 2012
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April is the Cruelest Month

Fools, showers and tax returns. Perhaps T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”

April is bad news whether you’re in New York desperately trying to fill in your tax return (due April 17 this year), in London gathering together your end-of-year accounts (April 6) or are one of hundreds of new graduates having a nerve-wracking start at a major company in Tokyo (April 1 is the usual date for the entry ceremony—Nyushashiki—for new employees).

Data gathered in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal (see original article; see results), tells us that people around the world are more unhappy at work in April than any other month. So why does this matter? The Science of Happiness at Work and The Performance-Happiness Model tell us that happiness is a significant indicator of performance outcomes. The happier employees are at work, the more they feel engaged, energized, and “on task.” And the less they’ll be out sick or thinking about leaving their job.

In other words, Happiness at Work predicts employee performance and motivation. And it has a significant impact on the bottom line.

Back to April and its effects. Employees appear to experience a significant rough patch throughout the month. They report spending less time on task, less time feeling energized, and less time feeling engaged. What’s worse for employers is that April is when employees report their greatest desire to leave their jobs.

But why April? There are two massive and obvious drivers: recruitment and HR practices.

Let’s take recruitment first. When organizations think of recruiting, they are unlikely to do it in December. They start in January. They write the job descriptions, check with HR and their favorite consultants. Then they get going in early February.

But by the time they’ve found the right person, April has come around–and that’s when employees move on. So it’s no surprise that the housing market is buoyant at the same time. Movement is the order of the day in April, so things get done before the summer break.

There is however a serious added effect. The employees who quit, don’t only leave their jobs: they leave a great deal of dissatisfaction behind them too.  No one likes being left while others move on to greener pastures.

The negative effect of changed relationships and responsibilities rumbles throughout April, spreading like contagion from person to person, but like wildfire if more than one key employee leaves. It’s the time when personal and professional networks interact creating a strong ripple effect.

Turning to HR practices. The exodus in April is often kick-started by new targets and key performance indicators set in January.  When the old year ends, a new one begins, and that’s when fresh targets are set. The satisfaction of having achieved a budget or met your targets lasts only a very short time—especially compared to the difficulty of starting again from scratch.

Many organizations make things worse by asking for “stretch targets” or “big, hairy, audacious goals,” aka impossible ones. Too often impossible goals, which get bosses salivating, are seen as unachievable and therefore massively demotivating by the employees who have to deliver them. Especially when those goals are coupled with uncertain economic times. That’s when employees start thinking about greener pastures—at the same time as recruitment is getting going.

So what should organizations do? Being aware of the coupled effect is one thing. If you know it’s happening you can take steps to nurture your best employees and make sure that you are connected to them. Especially at this time of year.

Oh. There’s one more thing to be aware of. Mondays are less happy than other days of the week. Employees report significantly lower levels of commitment to their jobs, goal achievement, feelings of efficiency and effectiveness, and general positive feelings to name a few.

This year April has five Unhappy Mondays and a tragic Tuesday (Tax Day). Enjoy them all.

If you’re interested in finding out how happy at work you are, click here. For a free team report for 9-19 people, contact Chris.

 

Tuesday
20
March 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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Why Happiness at Work Trumps Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction

Last Friday, I had another chance to share the benefits of happiness at work – this time with 20 members of the Douglas County, OR, Society for Human Resource Management. There was a diverse group of organizations represented – from Roseburg Forest Products, the News Review, Umpqua Dairy Products and Ingram Book Company to the Umpqua Indian Development Corp.

As defined, happiness at work is a mindset that allows you to maximize your performance and achieve your potential.

During the two hours we shared, there was discussion about the difference between happiness at work, employee engagement and job satisfaction. Fortunately, I am familiar with recent research on just that topic, so I shared the latest facts.

The concepts are related, yet very different different. One thing is certain: happiness at work is a stronger predictor of performance than engagement or satisfaction. And that’s important because performance is what you really want on the job. Here’s the paradox: people who report high levels of happiness at work also report high job satisfaction and high engagement. But people with high engagement or job satisfaction are not always happy.

How can that be? You might be strongly self-motivated and power through the challenges at work (high engagement), but you may not be happy. Nor will you be satisfied with your job. (In fact, this is often the situation with executives. And this is a good predictor of intention to quit.) This suggests that happiness at work is a bigger and more important concept than employee engagement or job satisfaction. We know the drivers of happiness at work, and we can measure them quite accurately for individuals and teams. Job satisfaction and engagement don’t lend themselves to such definitive measurement. These two concepts are more closely tied to organizational attitudes that are extremely hard to interpret or influence. These typical questions illustrate this point: “My manager helps me engage with my work” and “As an employee, how satisfied are you with your work?” Engagement and job satisfaction are typically seen as driven by the top down. I believe that happiness at work is a joint responsibility of managers and employees.

Keep in mind that job satisfaction and engagement are older concepts that were developed in the ’60s and ’70s when the workplace was very different. They are based on research that occurred inside organizations whose structures were more hierarchical and had more of a command and control approach. This doesn’t jibe in today’s flatter, lean-and-mean organizations that rely more on knowledge work.

Happiness at work takes the traditional measures of employee engagement and job satisfaction to a deeper and more practical place, with outcomes of greater performance, leading to higher levels of productivity and profits.

 

 

Sunday
12
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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Holiday Festivities Showcase Inspiring Leadership

Last week, I was invited to take part in a local client’s holiday festivities (and I mean festivities)! I am so grateful that I could say yes because it gave me a better understanding of why this company is successful.

During this generous and genuine flutter of festivities (dinner theatre at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, followed the next day by fun games, gift-giving and a brunch at the Ashland Springs Hotel), I got an even better picture of this company’s culture and leadership. The attendees included corporate office staff, regional theatre managers and several key advisors/vendors including the company attorney, accountant, Coke rep and me. What an honor for me!

This was a time of great happiness and celebration, with much praise and recognition for the years’ accomplishments along with a strategic vision for 2012. I was impressed with the loyalty and desire to perform that this leader has inspired in his team, with many of them being part of the company longer than 5 years, and some for 10, 15 and 20 years.

This leader inspires his team by leading with his own core values of integrity, loyalty, concern for others, accountability and fun. When he learned about my work with the Science of Happiness at Work and the Performance-Happiness Model, he engaged me to work with the corporate team to increase happiness and productivity. Since then, he’s told me that this work has paid off in various ways. In his words:

“Christine has helped me become a better executive. I’m a better listener and I’m handling stress better by realizing when to let things go that I can’t change. During this time of extraordinary challenges in the entertainment business, Christine has helped us come to a common vision, function as a team and communicate better using a shared language. This has made a difference in bringing organization back into the company,” according to John C. Schweiger, chairman and CEO, Coming Attractions Theatres, Inc.

This is the most gratifying thing I can hear. My mission is to spread the Science of Happiness at Work to the masses, helping businesses and organizations create a competitive advantage while doing the right thing for their workforce. Greater profits and doing the right thing DO go hand in hand. Email or call if you’d like a free consultation on what your organization has to gain in terms of happiness and profits.

Image

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

Thursday
15
December 2011
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Trying to do more with less – less personnel, less cost and less time?


Earlier this week I spoke to a group of human resources professionals from the Rogue Valley about their most pressing challenges. What rose to the top? Finding ways to retain and motivate good employees without increasing payroll. Why is this important? Because their organizations are trying to do more with less – less personnel, less cost and less time.

I shared some startling statistics with them related to retention, sick leave, time on task and energy levels of the employees – and then I tied it to The Performance-Happiness Model.

Fact: The least happy employees take 5+ sick days per year compared with their happiest counterparts, who take .75 days.

Fact: The least happy employees plan to stay on the job for 1 year compared with their happiest counterparts, who plan to stay 5 years.

Fact: The least happy employees focus on task 20 percent of the time compared with their happiest counterparts, who are working productively 80 percent of the time.

Fact: The happiest employees are 180 percent more energized.

An organization of 100 people with an average pay of $40,000 per year can save more than $650,000 per year in sick pay, employee turnover and lost productivity by increasing employee happiness by just one standard deviation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does an organization do this? By employing The Performance-Happiness Model (see http://capiche.us/services/organizational-development/performance-happiness-model for details).

Contact me if you are interested in seeing if your organization could benefit from using this model. I will provide you with a free team report and consultation. You may be surprised!

Saturday
19
November 2011
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Is Happiness a Luxury Small Businesses Can’t Afford?

As I am preparing for next week’s “Leveraging the Science of Happiness at Work” presentation to the Rogue Valley Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I’m reflecting on a comment a Facebook friend made the other day when I shared results from a Wall Street Journal survey on happiness in the workplace.

She wrote, “As a small business-owner, no matter the type of business, my primary concern is to make a living, to pay my staff, my taxes and my vendors. Since 2008 when the recession slammed all of us, it’s been a very, very hard slog. Like many other businesses, we’ve laid off employees and we’ve cut costs to the bone. I’m concerned about survival – of my business and of my family. Frankly, ‘happiness’ on the job is merely a luxury, an afterthought that I cannot afford.”

I expect that many people are feeling the same way. What business owners don’t understand is that happiness at work – defined as “a mindset that enables action to maximize performance and achieve potential” – actually saves them money.  In fact, research has proven it can enhance revenue.

Empirical research by iOpeners Institute for People and Performance, involving 9,000 people from around the world, reveals some astonishing findings. Employees who report being happiest at work:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
  • Spend double their time at work focused on what they are paid to do
  • Take ten times less sick leave
  • Believe they are achieving their potential twice as much

This means greater outcomes and profits for employers.

And the “science of happiness at work” has big benefits for individuals too. If you’re really happy at work, you’ll solve problems faster, be more creative, adapt fastest to change, receive better feedback, get promoted quicker and earn more over the long-term.

So the next time start to feel that happiness at work is a luxury you can’t afford, think again. Give me a holler if you’d like to see how you can be happier at work. I’ll provide a free individual or team happiness assessment to the first person that contacts me.

 

 

 

Thursday
10
November 2011
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