Archive for Business Research – Page 2

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).

Is Your Work a Test of Endurance or a Labor of Love? Find out with a Simple Survey.

What makes you happy at work? Benefits? Bonuses? Vacations?

Well none of these, actually. The top factors determining a person’s happiness at work are whether they a) enjoy the actual tasks required, b) are able to focus on the things they do best and c) are proud of their employer. Other factors that can impact happiness include relationships at work; the job’s social impact; feeling in control of your work and of workplace decisions; and sensing that you’re progressing and learning.

Statistics show your happiness at work is also a result of skill levels, providing service, supervising others and working at a small company, according to the Happiness at Work Survey jointly developed by Delivering Happiness at Work (DH@W) and Nic Marks.

DH@W is the consultancy firm Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh founded on the heels of his 2010 bestseller, Delivering Happiness.

Nic is one of the founding directors of Happiness Works as well as a fellow of the new economics foundation (nef) and a board member of Action for Happiness. He is best known for creating the award-winning Happy Planet Index—the first global measure of sustainable well-being. Nic spoke at the prestigious TEDGlobal conference in 2010 and authored one the first TEDbooks: A Happiness Manifesto.

More than 11,000 people in 90+ countries have taken the 47-question Happiness at Work Survey, which asks simple questions regarding work-life balance, use of time on the job and overall feelings while at work.

The results confirm that highly skilled workers are 50% more likely to be happy at work than their unskilled counterparts. People whose work involves caregiving or direct service are 75% happier than, for example, those in sales. Supervisors are 27% more likely to be happy than those who are supervised. And you are 25% more likely to be happy working for a company of fewer than 100 employees than for a business with 1,000 or more employees. Age matters, too. Workers age 40 and above tend to be happier than younger employees.

The 47-question survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. It asks questions such as, “How satisfied are you with the balance between the time you spend on your work and the time you spend on other aspects of your life?” and “How much of the time you spend at work do you feel bored?” The assessment also includes questions about colleagues and managers, workspace environment and your individual demeanor. After completion, survey respondents receive personalized reports intended to help navigate the way forward—particularly if, like many workers, they feel work is a test of endurance instead of a labor of love.

Some consider happiness in the workplace a fluffy subject. There’s an extensive body of research, however, demonstrating that a happy workforce can make a big difference. One large meta-analysis found happy employees have on average 31% higher productivity, their sales are 37% higher and their creativity is some three times higher than less-happy workers.

Recent research from the University of Warwick, UK, and IZA, Bonn, Germany, showed that randomly selected individuals who were made happier exhibited approximately 12% greater productivity, as measured by a standardized task of correctly adding combinations of numbers for 10 minutes. In one experiment, a comedy movie clip was played to a group of subjects. Their subsequent productivity was found to be substantially greater (approximately 13%) than the control group that had not viewed the clip (December 15, 2015, HBR The Daily Stat).

Take the happiness survey to find out how happy you are at work. We’ll be curious to hear the results!

Want to make a happy workplace? Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris Cook at Capiche. She will help you assess what’s happening now and make positive moves to increase happiness (and productivity) at work. Your work really can be a labor of love!

Looking for an Edge? Use Disruptive Innovation.

What do strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and courageous conversations have in common? Together, they form a model of coaching that creates more innovative and higher-performing organizations—organizations that use disruptive innovation to become big, juicy and successful rather than withering on the vine.

This holistic coaching model enables people to generate creative solutions to challenges within their workplaces—through disruptive innovation. Capiche uses this model with great success when working with individuals, teams and organizations.

Three scholars from Chicago’s Concordia University are studying this model and its effect on emerging leaders: Kathryn Hollywood, Donna Blaess and Claudia Santin. I saw them present the concept while I was at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute’s Eighth Annual Conference last week. I left the presentation with a huge smile on my face. They were speaking my language!

I share their belief that for today’s and tomorrow’s organizations to thrive, they must rely on the innovations of their people. For people to freely innovate, they need a positive mindset. This mindset can be fostered through a holistic coaching model that blends strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and courageous conversations.

Let’s Look at Each Component

Strengths-Based Leadership

Strengths-based leadership asserts that people are at their best when maximizing their strengths vs. struggling to be mediocre at everything. As Gallup has discovered over nearly 20 years of researching individuals, teams and organizations, leaders who encourage people to develop their strengths can create a powerful organization comprising teams with complementary strengths. A holistic coach can stimulate the development of strengths, inspire the use of strengths in new ways and illuminate accomplishments while nurturing continued growth and development.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI), first introduced in 1998 by Daniel Goleman, is a combination of awareness of self and others—and the ability to manage one’s self and interactions with others for positive outcomes. Some of the benefits of higher EI include greater self-awareness and self-confidence, deeper empathy and a richer capacity to lead and manage change. Other benefits include better health, relationships and overall quality of life. The beauty of EI is that—unlike IQ—it can be increased. Doing so starts with self-awareness, and a coach can be instrumental in a person’s endeavors to increase his EI.

Workplace HipsterAppreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry (AI) focuses on what an individual or organization does well. It shifts the focus from solving problems to multiplying successes. Originally introduced by David Cooperrider in 1986 as a strategy for organizational change, it also is a powerful tool for individual change. As Drs. Hollywood, Blaess and Santin write, “Using AI, the holistic coach will invite the coachee to reflect on specific events or experiences to: a) identify her most outstanding personal accomplishments, b) discuss the learning from these accomplishments, c) identify her values, d) describe five adjectives that describe her ‘at my best’ engagement and e) dream about her contribution to the organization and the world.”

Courageous Conversations

Courageous conversations can only occur in a fearless environment—a place where people are free to try new things as well as to fail. This becomes possible when emotionally intelligent people—working from their strengths—come together to achieve good things and build upon that which is already working. In a trusting and respectful environment, people can share, listen, explore and engage. This is a space where new ideas are born, fresh ways of thinking are embraced and innovation is possible.

The Role of Coaching

We know coaching works. The ICF 2012 Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness and more growth and opportunities. The same study found coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. The median suggests a client who achieved financial benefit from coaching can typically expect a ROI of more than three times the amount spent.

It’s clear coaching supports and sustains the individual growth needed for high-performing organizations. Holistic coaching focuses on appreciating strengths, developing greater emotional intelligence, opening communication and getting more of what’s already good. This contributes to the organization’s success by maximizing performance, productivity and ability to innovate and change—while developing individuals’ potential and connection to their life’s work.

The ICF study reports that 86 percent of companies say they made their investment back. In fact, 19 percent saw a ROI of 50 times their investment, while another 28 percent saw a ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment.

Get Started Now

Are you ready to go to the next level? Is your organization ready? Let the disruptive innovation begin! Capiche specializes in holistic coaching for individuals, teams and organizations. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris Cook to see what coaching can do for your organization.

10 Ways to Make Your Employees Hate You—and Your Company

Mean Boss Yelling at Employee
Narcissistic. Rude. Insensitive. Arrogant. Something tells me you wouldn’t want to hang out with someone who matches this description, much less work for them.

The Costs to Employees

Mean bosses can wreck your work life—and your health. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers author Robert M. Sapolsky informs us that intermittent stressors like incivility in the workplace not only take a toll on our psychological well-being but also our physiological state.

This kind of chronic stress spikes our glucocorticoid levels, compromising our immune system and ultimately leading to a bevy of health problems ranging from ulcers to heart disease, diabetes to cancer. It also makes us hungry and fat.

Women in one decade-long study, for example, were 38% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event when subjected to job stress.

The Costs to Business

Misery and poor health are the costs to employees. According to Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, authors of Harvard Business Review article “The Price of Incivility,” the annual cost to an organization can reach the millions.

Why? When the authors polled 800 leaders and employees across 17 industries, they discovered employees responded to incivility in the workplace by:

  • Purposefully slacking off (48%)
  • Spending as little time as possible at work (47%)
  • Producing poorer-quality results (38%)
  • Taking time off due to anxiety about a specific experience (80%) or to avoid encountering an uncivil boss or colleague (63%)
  • Performing worse (66%)
  • Feeling less committed to the organization (78%)
  • Quitting their job (12%)
  • Treating customers poorly (25%)

Boorish Behavior

So what exactly are the emotionally unintelligent behaviors that trigger these responses in employees?

Christine Porath continues her exploration of incivility in The New York Times article “No Time to Be Nice at Work,” identifying the following rude actions as most frequently cited in a recent survey (ordered by frequency):

  • Interrupting others
  • Judging those perceived as different
  • Not listening to opinions
  • Giving oneself the most appealing task and allotting the tough ones to others
  • Not communicating critical details
  • Lacking standard courtesies (no “please”s or “thank-you”s)
  • Being condescending
  • Taking more credit than is due
  • Using foul language
  • Belittling people

A Failure to Communicate

An Interact/Harris Poll of 1,000 US workers revealed 91% of employees felt flawed communication was at the root of poor leadership.

Lou Solomon documents these cardinal communication sins in her Harvard Business Review article “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders.”

Below are the issues pinpointed by survey participants, ranked according to percentage:

  • Failure to recognize employee accomplishments (63%). As we explored in our series on The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (see part 1 and part 2), bosses who fail to acknowledge employees’ efforts cause them to feel unappreciated. This leads to burnout, resentment, and a decline in performance.
  • Failure to give clear guidance (57%). Vague or ambiguous directions often reveal the leader’s own incompetence and lack of clarity about the project. How can leaders effectively guide a team when they can’t even articulate their goals?
  • Failure to meet with subordinates (52%). Leaders who don’t take the time to meet with their employees lose a crucial opportunity for connection. Employees do not trust aloof managers.
  • Not bothering to talk to employees (51%). Just as lack of communication is one of the predictors of a failed relationship, so is it an indicator of ineffective leadership.
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work (47%). A boss who claims ownership of employees’ ideas undermines motivation and sows mistrust.
  • Failure to provide constructive criticism (39%). Poor managers tend to insult an employee rather than clearly identifying issues and outlining substantive feedback.
  • Not learning the names of their employees (36%). Why should an employee care about a leader’s objectives when that leader can’t even be bothered to learn her name?
  • Avoiding voice-to-voice contact (34%). Managers who are unavailable to their employees via in-person or phone meetings create a further sense of disconnection.
  • Not getting to know employees (23%). When leaders don’t take the time to chat with employees about non-work topics, employees feel as if their personal lives—and by extension, they themselves—don’t matter to their boss.

Your Stories

What are some of the emotionally unintelligent behaviors you’ve observed in leaders? I’d love to hear about your experiences with bosses from hell. On the flip side, I’d also love to hear about your experiences with bosses from heaven. We can learn from both.

Curious How You Can Change Your Workplace?

Give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us. I’m happy to assess your situation and help you develop a plan to improve your work situation.

Want to Accelerate Your Career? The Magic Formula = EI + Coaching

Happy, Successful Leader with Emotional Intelligence
What will get you $29,000 more per year, make you 58% more effective at your job and rank you with 90% of top performers? If you’ve been following this blog, you can probably guess.

Yep, that’s right. Emotional intelligence.

Unless you want to be among the 80% of low-EQ employees classed as “bottom performers,” it’s time to discover how you can accelerate your career and become a better leader by developing your emotional intelligence.

Studies show those with average IQs outshine their highest-IQ counterparts 70% of the time because of their EQ.

Whereas IQ and personality are static elements of your makeup, you can always increase your emotional intelligence (thanks to the wonders of neuroplasticity)—and doing so will make a surprising difference in both your life and work.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

In a recent Forbes article, bestselling coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and cofounder of Talent Smart Travis Bradberry describes the two primary competencies and four core skills that make up emotional intelligence.

Personal Competence

This first competency comprises self-awareness (observation) and self-management (actions). Your observation skills, sensitivity and ability to control your emotions come into play here. How conscious are you of your emotions, and how accurate are your self-perceptions? Do you practice mindfulness to remain aware of your emotions, and are you able to take a step back and regulate them when needed? How malleable are you, and can you transform a negative emotion into a positive action?

Social Competence

This competency focuses on social awareness (observation) and relationship management (actions), mapping the reflection and regulation required for personal competence to social situations and relationships. How well do you understand the motives, actions and moods of those around you? Do you intuitively sense people’s emotions and accurately perceive their intentions? Can you use these perceptions to navigate relationships and communicate successfully?

What’s Your EQ?

In an Inc. article, Bradberry outlines 18 key indicators of highly developed emotional intelligence.

Here are a few questions to help you explore your EQ and see how you well you meet Bradberry’s criteria:

  • Do you use a rich range of vocabulary when describing your and others’ emotions? The better you can articulate emotions, the better you can understand and thus manage those emotions.
  • Are you curious about people? Curiosity is a marker of empathy, and it also suggests a natural willingness to listen.
  • Do you welcome change? When your reaction to change is governed by openness and adaptability rather than fear, you will float rather than flounder in the face of transformation.
  • Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses? If you have a clear sense of your gifts and blind spots, you can leverage your strengths to your advantage while minimizing the impact of your weaknesses.
  • How well can you judge people’s character? This quality is critical to building and leading a successful team.

Ready to Develop Your EI?

Becoming aware of the significance of emotional intelligence is the first step. The second is actively seeking to improve it.

It’s sometimes difficult to objectively evaluate your EI, particularly if you’re one of the many high potentials and middle managers who need to develop this area before they can rise to greatness. Even those who have already achieved success may have difficulty connecting with their employees in meaningful and effective ways.

No matter where you’re at on the EQ scale, you can always benefit from honing your EI. According to Bradberry, “every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary.”

But monetary rewards are only the beginning. Possessing self-understanding and the ability to control your emotions will give you a greater sense of purpose, peace and well-being. Developing a deeper rapport with your colleagues and employees will increase your effectiveness, their productivity and everyone’s happiness.

The Time Is Now

A co-active leadership coach like Chris Cook can accurately assess your EQ, identify ways to improve your emotional intelligence and give you the tools to do so. Chris will nudge you gently but firmly toward outcomes, holding you accountable while inspiring personal and professional growth.

To schedule a complimentary phone, Skype or in-person consultation with Chris, call 541.601.0114, email chris@capiche.us or complete our Contact form today.

The Rock or the Rebel? How Learning Agility Can Make or Break Your Company

Businessman Climbing a Staircase of Books

Your company is expanding into India, and you’ve got to hire a CEO to head up the new branch. What qualities do you look for?

Do you select the candidate with the solid academic credentials, proven track record and cautious yet consistently successful approach? Or do you go with the wildcard—the rogue leader who questions authority, circumvents convention and takes risks, even though they may fail?

A recent Harvard Business Review article by J.P. Flaum and Becky Winkler says you should go with the rebel.

Why? Because the sure thing may not turn out to be so sure when thrown into an unfamiliar context. Leaders who easily achieve success with known variables may find their formulas don’t work so well when those variables change. Unaccustomed to failure, they may react defensively, sending the company into a tailspin while struggling to cope with the unexpected.

The wildcard, on the other hand, embraces challenge. She’s not afraid to take strategic risks because she doesn’t fear failure—instead of crumbling, she bounces back stronger, learning from her mistakes and adapting accordingly. She may be harder to govern, but she listens to her team, reflects, and recalibrates when circumstances demand—and this learning agility is the bellwether of success.

Traditionally, corporations have opted for the kowtower over the renegade—a pattern that frequently produces catastrophic results.

Case in Point: Apple

Take Apple, for example. Go back to 1985, when the Board is faced with a choice between Steve Jobs and CEO John Sculley, who had been specifically directed to “contain” Jobs and his cavalier tendency to lavish resources on new product ideas. The Board chose Sculley, and 13 years later, Sculley left the company $200 million in debt. Sure, Apple still had $2 billion in cash, but their reputation was on the decline along with profits, and it wasn’t until they brought Jobs back in 1997 that Apple’s brand, stock prices and profitability began to soar again.

What the Board had feared in Jobs is precisely what made him such a triumphant leader: he was daring, original, flexible and resilient—in other words, he was learning-agile.

What Is Learning Agility?

Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership and Teachers College, Columbia University say learning-agile leaders are “continually able to jettison skills, perspectives and ideas that are no longer relevant and learn new ones that are.”

Flaum and Winkler summarize the findings on learning agility as “a mind-set and corresponding collection of practices that allow leaders to continually develop, grow and utilize new strategies that will equip them for the increasingly complex problems they face in their organizations.”

The researchers found that the single defining characteristic of non–learning-agile individuals is defensiveness. People who fear change, resist new experiences and respond negatively to critiques or challenges lack the resilience necessary to grow and, subsequently, learn.

Learning-agile leaders, on the other hand, solicit feedback and evolve to integrate what they’ve learned. This kind of emotional intelligence requires listening skills, empathy, imagination and humility.

See the white paper Learning About Learning Agility for more details.

Key Behaviors

Four key behaviors are associated with learning agility:

  • Innovation: People who think different are the revolutionaries who will change the course of your company’s history. You want the wave-makers and the earth-shakers—they’re the ones who are going to launch your organization to success.
  • Performance: The learning-agile cope marvelously with stress, adversity and uncharted territory. They don’t shatter when failure occurs but instead respond with elasticity and grace, deftly changing tack and perfecting a strategy based on what they’ve learned.
  • Reflection: This, again, is where emotional intelligence comes in, specifically self-awareness, according to studies by Green Peak Partners identifying this as the top predictor of success in executive leaders. This quality enables the learning-agile to self-assess, seek feedback and modify their behavior.
  • Risk: Learning-agile individuals don’t take foolhardy risks, but they also don’t let fear or caution prevent them from seizing opportunity. They welcome new experiences and constantly seek out ways to stretch themselves and their team. They court failure, knowing they will always learn from it and do better in future. Like the phoenix rising from its ashes, the learning-agile person grows more confident, resilient and astute with each stumble.

The Connection Between Emotional Intelligence and Learning Agility

In their 1990 article “Emotional Intelligence,” Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer define EI as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”

Flaum and Winkler suggest self-monitoring and managing your emotions both require learning agility, making it crucial to emotional intelligence. They also connect it to superior listening skills.

Do You Want to Become More Learning-Agile?

A coach can help you learn how to innovate, perform, reflect and take risks that will stretch you as well as showing you how to shed obstructive qualities like defensiveness.

Contact Chris Cook at 541.601.0114 or chris@capiche.us to explore how her leadership coaching services can hone your learning agility, emotional intelligence and effectiveness as both a leader and a human being.

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Or Why I Love Positive Psychology

Sunshine Yellow Flower

My students in the Working with Emotional Intelligence class at Southern Oregon University recently presented on an emotional intelligence (EI) topic they wanted to know more about. I was delighted at the number who picked a positive psychology topic. That’s what I chose four years ago when I took an EI class as part of my Master in Management program. That got me thinking back …

Here’s how my thesis began: Previous business bestsellers (e.g., One Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) may have offered good advice, and while much of this advice is intuitive, it was not based on research.

PsyCap

Research has demonstrated that specific psychological states contribute to an organization’s success. Developed by Fred Luthans, the premise of Psychological Capital (or PsyCap) is that a company can enhance its leadership, employee development and performance by developing four psychological states in its employees: hope, confidence [efficacy], optimism and resiliency. PsyCap is something that can be cultivated and can have a profound effect on an organization’s bottom line (Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007).

PsyCap is an individual’s positive state of psychological development characterized by the four constructs of:

  1. Hope: persevering toward goals and making adjustments along the way to succeed
  2. Confidence [efficacy]: taking on and putting in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks
  3. Optimism: feeling positive about succeeding now and in the future
  4. Resiliency: the ability to sustain and bounce back from problems and adversity to attain success (Avey, Luthans, Smith & Palmer, 2010)

PsyCap is made up of the combination of all four states because together they can predict performance outcomes more accurately than any single one (Avey, et al., 2010).

Outcomes

Through his research, Luthans confirmed that these states can be learned and the outcomes measured. He worked with a well-known Silicon Valley high-tech firm, where 75 engineering managers participated in PsyCap training. After subtracting the cost of the training and the engineers’ time, the calculated return on investment was 270% (Hope, Optimism and Other Business Assets, 2007).

Increasing Your PsyCap

I appreciate my students pointing me back to my PsyCap roots, and I love that I am able to use this research to help people and organizations around the Rogue Valley and beyond. If your organization would benefit from greater PsyCap, give me a call at 541.601.0114. Let’s see how successful you can be!

References

Avey, J., Luthans, F., Smith, R., & Palmer, N. (2010). Impact of positive psychological capital on employee well-being over time. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(1), 17–28. doi:10.1037/a0016998.

Hope, optimism, and other business assets: Q&A with Fred Luthans. (2007, January 11). Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved from http://gmi.gallup.com.

Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J., Avey, J.B., & Norman, S.M. (2007, Autumn). Positive psychological capital: measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 60(3), 541–572. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00083.x.

Who’s the Boss of Work Engagement and Happiness?

Time to Focus
Try a new perspective: Instead of asking what your employer is doing, check in with what you are doing.

Whose responsibility is it to create employee engagement, happiness and thus, results?

According to most old-school employee engagement assessments, the employee is treated as a passive participant. Questions like, “My employer encourages work/life balance” or “My manager gives me opportunities to set goals” take control from the employee and put it squarely in the hands of the employer.

Coaching guru and thought leader Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is working on a book based on research he and his daughter, Kelly, are doing on personal responsibility toward engagement and results at work. Kelly has a PhD from Yale in behavioral marketing and is now a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

The Goldsmiths found that the employee has direct control over his or her own happiness, productivity and engagement. Engagement and results are a joint responsibility of the employee and the employer. As I see it and as the book portrays, the employee has more to do with the outcomes than the employer ever will. The results of their research flies in the face of most HR programs, which put the responsibility for engagement and results on the employer.

The results so far have been intriguing. Marshall shared his process and findings in a podcast with Dr. Cathy Greenberg and Dr. Relly Nadler. The podcast aired in January 2015 on the Leadership Development News. I happened to hear it recently while in the San Francisco Bay Area assisting with a workshop on relationship systems coaching through CRR Global.

As relationship systems coaches, we believe the quality of relationship systems is based on the emotional intelligence, social intelligence and relationship intelligence of the participants in each system. In other words, the individual is largely responsible for his or her own engagement, happiness and results.

The Goldsmiths’ research hinges on six questions:

  1. Did I do my best to be happy?
  2. Did I do my best to be kind-meaning?
  3. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  4. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  5. Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?
  6. Did I do my best to be easily engaged?

People evaluate themselves every day with this new paradigm. Instead of asking, “Is the company motivating me?” they now ask, “Did I do my best today to make progress toward goal achievement?” Rather than asking, “Do I have a friend at work?” they ask, “Am I doing my best to build positive relationships?” And so on.

So far the Goldsmiths have conducted 41 studies with 1,710 participants. According to Marshall, “We asked people to just answer these questions, and we give them a challenge every day: ‘Did you do your best to …?’ Then, two weeks later, we asked if they had become happier, is your life more meaningful, etc. What we found is, so far, 30% of the people said, ‘I got better at everything.’ All six items go up. 59% said 4–6 went up, 86% said something got better, 14% said no change, and nobody got worse at anything.”

The results are exciting. It’s more proof about the adaptability of the brain and new developments in neuroscience—what you attend to and focus on becomes prominent and is more malleable. In this case, focusing on doing one’s best to increase engagement, happiness and progress pays off.

Marshall’s 35th book, Triggers, will be published in May 2015. The promo reads, “Drawing on his unparalleled experience as an international executive educator and coach, Marshall Goldsmith invites us to understand how our own beliefs and the environments in which we operate can trigger negative behaviors, or a resistance to the need to change. But he also offers up some simple, practical advice to help us navigate the negative and make the most of the triggers that will help us to sustain positive change.”

Need some help getting started on the path to positive change? Contact Capiche’s Chris Cook to see if performance coaching is right for you. Call 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us.

Naughty or Nice: Which Makes for a More Effective Leader?

Mean Boss

Which boss do you think achieves better results—the one who inspires by kindness or by fear?

Despite the inroads made by science of happiness researchers in recent years, the general consensus in business culture still seems to be that the tougher the leader, the more productive the employees.

Many believe fear goes hand in hand with hard work and that “softer” leaders won’t earn the respect of their employees, rendering them less effective.

What does the research say? A recent Harvard Business Review article (“The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss” by Emma Seppälä) reveals tougher bosses generate higher levels of stress, not performance.

According to Stanford Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education Seppälä, these higher levels of stress “carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.”

These costs include:

1) Healthcare

A stressed employees costs an organization 46 percent more than a healthy, happy employee, partly due to the link between stress and coronary heart disease.

2) Turnover

Stressed employees avoid the workplace through whatever means possible, whether by calling in sick, seeking a new position, or simply quitting, according to research by S. Bridger, A.J. Day, and K. Morton.

Why Be Nice?

On the other hand, nice leaders tend to have higher-performing, happier, and healthier employees.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1) Trust

Harvard Business School Associate Professor of Business Administration and social psychologist Amy Cuddy has demonstrated that managers who convey warmth get better results than harsh ones, even when the tough bosses are more competent. Employees are more likely to trust a person who practices compassion and understanding.

2) Altruism

Leaders who put others above themselves gain a higher status within the group, according to the article “Nice Guys Finish First: The Competitive Altruism Hypothesis.”

3) Fairness

When managers are perceived as being fair to everyone on their team, employees not only perform at higher levels but also become better citizens themselves.

4) Inspiration

According to research by New York University Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership Jonathan Haidt, managers who demonstrate self-sacrificial behavior inspire employees to become more selfless, too. They are not only more helpful and kind to their coworkers but also more loyal to the company. Gretchen Gavett explores the contagious effects of paying it forward in an HBR article titled “The Paying-It-Forward Payoff.”

5) Stress Reduction

More than just a bumper sticker, random acts of kindness reduce stress, making people feel safer and therefore less stressed. Managers who foster a nurturing environment and encourage positive social interactions may actually boost employees’ immune systems and lower their incidences of heart disease. On the other hand, bosses who pit employees against one another and sow division cause stress levels to spike.

6) Engagement

Most of us already understand why employee engagement is crucial, and research connecting engagement to well-being only strengthens the argument for nice bosses since compassionate leadership, altruism, and integrity spark employee engagement.

7) Happiness

If you’re a follower of this blog, you also know happiness trumps high pay. As we discussed in our 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace series (see part 1 and part 2), it is far more important for employees to feel recognized and appreciated. When a workplace exhibits a culture of friendliness, helpfulness, and warmth, improvements are seen in areas ranging from customer service to performance to health and wellness to client satisfaction.

It’s time to shift the consensus that naughty is better than nice when it comes to leadership. Let the holiday call to be good for goodness’ sake carry over into the workplace—throughout the year.

Bad for Business: Where Business Schools Went Wrong

MBA Student at Business School

The golden era of the business school has ended. We’ve gone from a time when MBA programs were regarded as prestigious, pragmatic and even more selective than typical graduate programs to one where they’re something of an embarrassment.

Why? Warren G. Bennis and James O’Toole (authors of the Harvard Business Review article “How Business Schools Lost Their Way”) believe it’s because MBA programs have made decisions that are bad for business—both their own and that of the larger world.

By myopically focusing on scientific research, business schools are neglecting the needs of their students and ultimately failing their alumni.

This primarily shows up in their choice of faculty. Instead of hiring professors with experience in the business world, they are hiring academics whose knowledge is limited to the theoretical realm. Worse, tenure-track professors pressured to publish and conduct research end up focusing more on their careers than their students.

What students miss in this equation is the real-world knowledge and insights that help them navigate the situations they will confront once graduated. Subsequently, MBA alumni are floundering when faced with the complexities inherent to real-life business situations.

Real business is messy, confusing and morally ambiguous at times. It’s impossible to replicate these nuances in a laboratory setting, and faculty whose only experience lies in reading financial analyses and erudite studies rarely grasp what day-to-day activities are like on the ground.

Not only do today’s MBA graduates lack the skills they need to succeed in the corporate world, but they are not exceling as leaders or even securing decent jobs. Furthermore, they possess little understanding of business ethics, causing them to make dubious decisions that put their organizations, people and society at risk.

McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg blames the irrelevant MBA curriculum. Bennis and O’Toole believe the curriculum is merely a symptom of the larger disease.

The authors fault what they call the scientific model for treating business like an academic discipline instead of a profession. Students get lost in a maze of multiple regressions and economic analyses, and they aren’t equipped with the skills to map theory into practice.

Business is also a multidisciplinary field, encompassing everything from mathematics and economics to psychology, sociology and philosophy. Treating it as a solitary major does a disservice to their students.

The recent tilt toward the scientific model of business education may be a well-intentioned but misguided overcorrection of the early 20th century emphasis on job training. More akin to trade schools, these institutions were poorly regarded by both academia and business.

In 1959, reports issued by the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Foundation exposed these business schools for the inept institutions they were. Motivated by the demand for strong leadership during the postwar boom, both foundations offered grants to beef up business school research programs and credentials.

Chasing grant funds and credibility, business schools forgot about the deeper wisdom that comes from practical experience. After first experiencing a rise in substance and prestige during the sixties and seventies, business schools began their decline in the mid-eighties.

Rather than integrating practica and internships in which students can gain on-the-job experience, contemporary MBA programs set up hypothetical lab simulations to gauge how students will react in those kinds of situations. This is pretty silly when you consider how easy it is to set up an internship at a local business and how valuable it is to the student, the business and the institution’s town and gown.

By overemphasizing research and hard facts, business schools are overlooking emotional intelligence, the humanities and ethics—all areas, it turns out, vital to wise decision making and leadership. Qualitative may actually be more valuable than quantitative when it comes to stepping foot in the office.

That’s not to say business schools should eschew scientific research altogether. It just needs to be counterbalanced by relevant real-world experience.

There are exceptions, of course. Flagship institutions like UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Harvard Business School integrate case studies as well as rigorous research into their curricula.

Former University of Dallas provost Thomas Lindsay astutely states, “[S]tudies showed that executives who fail—financially as well as morally—rarely do so from a lack of expertise. Rather, they fail because they lack interpersonal skills and practical wisdom; what Aristotle called prudence.”

Before Enron and other corporate scandals, business students spent only 5% of their time developing their moral capacities and the rest of their time on wealth maximization, says Lindsay. The Dallas business school attempted to reverse that formula by introducing a series of ethical exercises paired with liberal studies coursework.

As enlightenment spreads from business school to business school, perhaps the MBA will experience a renaissance, and we’ll enter a new golden era—one that deftly balances research, teaching, pragmatic experience and the humanities to graduate a more astute, empathetic and inspiring leader.