Archive for Organizational Development

Capiche Conversations: Interview with Jessica Pryce-Jones, Founder of Webpsyched

Interview conducted by Melissa L. Michaels, Capiche Contributor/Strategic Partner, Michaels & Michaels Creative, LLC

Having founded iOpener Institute for People & Performance in 2003, Happiness at Work author Jessica Pryce-Jones led this pioneering organization until leaving the company to embark on her current adventure in 2017. Today, she is the founder and director of Webpsyched, a collective that integrates hard data, soft data, and intuitive data along with the team’s diverse, deep expertise to help organizations and individuals achieve greatness. Webpsyched clientele range from health care multinationals to banks to manufacturing and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries to educational institutions to nonprofits to government agencies to creative, publishing, and engineering companies. A fellow of Harvard’s Institute of Coaching, Jessica has taught at such business schools as Cambridge Judge, Cass, Cornell, Chicago Booth, Cranfield, London Business School, and Saïd (Oxford).
iOpener Institute Logo

Q: iOpener Institute was a trailblazer in the field of organizational development. What was different about iOpener’s services at the time you founded it, and how did companies respond to this new approach?

A: What was different was that we provided tools to measure and base an intervention on and then the interventions themselves as part of that solution. So, consultants had access to a one-stop-shop of tried and tested individual and team development activities without needing to reinvent the wheel each time. That meant we quite quickly built a global community of practice.

Q: Can you give a couple examples of major organizations that benefited from iOpener Institute’s services and explain what those benefits entailed?

A: We did a lot of work at one stage with Domino’s Pizza, and that was all about engagement and looking at exactly what was going on in all the different teams and across all the different layers up and down, then devising some interventions that would help senior leaders and individuals as well. That was really exciting to do. Another thing we did was partner with The Wall Street Journal to see what we could do with the research. We got a lot of data and insights at the time.

Q: You mentored Chris Cook while she was completing her master in management (MiM) thesis on the science of happiness at work in 2010–11, right after your industry-defining book, Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, was published. Chris got so excited about the research, it changed her career path and expanded her focus from marketing to defining and then actually living your brand. Can you speak to your experience of mentoring Chris and your subsequent work with her as the only person in the Northwest accredited by iOpener Institute?

Chris Cook and Jessica Pryce Jones in the UKA:  It was fun to mentor Chris because she’s up for all of it, she’s open to all of it, and she’s very thoughtful. The thing I like about working with Chris is her thoughtfulness and her willingness to get deep, and not everybody wants to do that, wants to really introspect on stuff and get to grips with it—that’s what’s special about Chris’s approach.

Q: What strengths does Chris bring to organizational development and coaching?

A: The special strength that Chris brings both to organizational development and coaching is that ability to go deep and to do that pretty quickly. And you can see when she’s thinking, and that’s a lovely thing to watch.

Q: It’s been two decades since you founded iOpener and wrote Happiness at Work. How has the science of happiness at work field evolved during that time?

Happiness at WorkA: Now it’s no longer a dirty word to say “science of happiness at work” and ask people if they’re happy. I think a lot of that is the next generation is moving on. When I first started talking about happiness at work, I’d go into a conference, and people would say, “I can’t talk about that. I can talk about engagement or fulfillment or satisfaction, but happiness, no.”

Everybody has recognized that it’s for all now. There are plenty of researchers in the field, and that’s a joy. You don’t want to be alone surfing on a wave because that tells you there’s probably a lot of coral and rocks underneath the surface.

Webpsyched Logo

Q: Since leaving iOpener, you’ve started a new venture related to intuition. What services does Webpsyched provide, and why was iOpener a perfect springboard for this endeavor?

A: With iOpener, I always thought there was something deeper. I remember when the book came out saying to some of my business partners and associates, “There’s something beyond this,” and they’re going, “No, no, Jess, this is enough.”

With this new venture related to intuition, the services are the same as iOpener’s, but we wanted to take it to the kind of level where Chris goes—a deeper level. And it’s all on the web. We’ve all discovered with COVID that we can work remotely, and it’s easy. It’s not the same as a face-to-face experience, but it does deliver close to the experience in a different way.

We’re doing organizational development, organizational health checks, senior team coaching, consulting projects, and some workshops. iOpener had become a little bit top-heavy, and this is super-lean. I really like working in a very lean kind of way, which I think is a bit more modern.
Albert Einstein (1947)

Q: You open your article Using Your Intuition with a quote by Albert Einstein, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” How does Webpsyched help organizations and individuals rediscover that gift?

A: We put together some workshops to show people how you use this skill. All leaders say they make decisions using their intuition, and people want leaders to. When did you last buy a house or pick a partner using a cost-benefit analysis? With all of our big decisions where we have either too much information or zero information, we have to use some kind of inner sense. Whether you call it your intuition, your judgment, or your experience, we use that information to make our decisions, but we don’t talk about it.

In the same way that talking about happiness is now an easy thing, I’d like to be able to bring using, talking about, and understanding how you use your intuition to the workplace to that point.

At the workshops, we just talk about it. We ask people to go with their gut feeling, what their heart’s telling them. Because if we don’t talk about it, how do we ever surface this thing? And if we don’t hear and share how other people use it, ditto.
Jessica Pryce-Jones Portrait

Q: Also in that article, you share a striking (no pun intended) example of how intuition saved you and your unborn child from injury when a ball crashed through a window. You write:

“During break, I went to the staff room to get a cup of coffee. I stood drinking it by a large glass window, watching the kids playing football in the playground. As I stood there, the thought came to me ‘a kid is going to kick that football in this direction; it will come through the window, I’ll be hit by the ball, showered in glass, and my face will get cut.’ And having had that thought, I started to take a couple of steps back.

“I’d moved about three paces when the football came crashing through came window to land near my feet; sure, a few glass shards were sprinkled on my bump and I had a tiny scratch on one cheek. But that was all. As teachers rushed up to me to see if I was OK, they commented on how calm I was. I was totally unruffled because I’d known it was going to happen.”

Q: Can you talk about other times when you intuited and subsequently averted danger?

A: Actually, the very first time I used my intuition, I remember I was four, and my mother asked me to jump over a little wooden stile. I didn’t want to jump, and she was encouraging me, “Yeah, Jess, jump, jump, jump!” I just knew that something bad was going to happen, and I was only four.

As I hit the ground, I half-bit my tongue off, and I was bleeding everywhere. It’s very sharp in my memory, but I remember so strongly not wanting to do it and then doing it. And we’ve all had that experience of not wanting to do something, not listening to our intuition, going ahead, and it’s been a mistake. That was the very first time I was aware of it, but I’ve used it countless times since then. I’ve known when cars were coming around a short bend, I’ve known when a higher-up wasn’t going to be good, I’ve known when I’ve taken the wrong job. But when I was young, I still took the wrong job. I remember walking up the steps going, “This is the wrong job. What am I doing?”—before I’d even gone in there. I was young and foolish.

I had a breast cancer experience, and I saw two separate events. One was me walking into my house and sticking the key in the door and being terribly upset and alone in my home. And the second was just getting a really strong sense that I needed to go for an unscheduled mammogram. And I didn’t pick up that the two were related, which is probably a good thing, but I went and had the unscheduled mammogram, and they did find breast cancer. If I had waited even a few more months, it would have been a very bad outcome for me, but, actually, it’s been a super outcome, so thank you, my intuition.
Microbiome Gut Health

Q: There has been an explosion of research on the gut microbiome—some call it our “second brain” or a “gut feeling”—over the past decade. Scientists have discovered our gut takes in thousands of details at lightning speed, and those who are attuned to their intuition and emotions can benefit from that data, whereas those ruled by their rational mind often override their gut instinct to their detriment. How can people cultivate their second brain for the betterment of their lives and organizations?

A: On the explosion of research and the gut biome, your second brain—and also heart—what do they say? In your gut, you carry the same amount of neurons in your gut as in your brain. It’s your gut mind, you get that instant feeling that in your stomach that you should or shouldn’t do something. Same with your heart.

How do you cultivate that? Keep a journal, write down when you’re intuiting something and what your stomach, what your heart, is telling you—or any other part of your body, because it doesn’t have to just be your gut and your heart.

I’ve been working with a delightful person, and he often says to me, “What are your knees telling you?” You can use any part of your body. Quite often, it’s good to use a part that you don’t always use because you don’t make the same assumptions. Write it down. When you make these judgments, write it down because then you can see when you’re right and when you’re not right. Who’s going to walk into the elevator first? Whose email is going to be top of your list? What’s someone going to say in a meeting? Who’s going to speak next? These are very simple ways of tuning in to how you use your intuition.
No Self No Problem Book Cover

Q: In his book No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism, cognitive neuropsychology PhD Chris Niebauer uses the left brain/right brain paradigm to describe what is fundamentally the difference between the categorical mind and the intuitive mind, which also maps closely to Western philosophy versus Eastern philosophy. Although the left-right division has fallen into disuse by neuropsychologists, Niebauer uses this simplified model to help us understand the distinction between two modes of being, noting, “the left brain is the language center and the right brain is the spatial center.” He explains:

“In the same way that the left brain is categorical, the right brain takes a more global approach to what it perceives. Rather than dividing things into categories and making judgments that separate the world, the right brain gives attention to the whole scene and processes the world as a continuum. Whereas the attention of the left brain is focused and narrow, the right brain is broad, vigilant, and attends to the big picture. Whereas the left brain focuses on the local elements, the right brain processes the global form that the elements create. The left brain is sequential, separating time into ‘before that’ or ‘after this,’ while the right brain is focused on the immediacy of the present moment.

Does this description of the right brain jibe with your findings on intuition? When your Webpsyched team is providing executive and personal coaching, how do your clients respond to the transition from left to right brain living?

A: The left–right brain paradigm, and the model there—I see that as a metaphor. And metaphors are a very good way of also using your intuition. What’s that like? And the brain will throw up some very powerful metaphors, which is a part of what I consider the intuitive experience.

The left–right brain doesn’t really sit well with me. Your brain doesn’t really work like that, but I do think that we, as a society, rely on rational judgment way too much. We talk about it way too much. And we don’t talk about this other experience that people have and use all the time, and that is the important thing.

The physical operation of it or how you perceive it doesn’t really matter for me rather than the doing of it. Any leaders who read this who are interested in talking to me, I would love to talk to them because I’m interviewing. I think the interesting thing is understanding and shedding light on other people’s experiences so we can have a conversation around this. Anybody who has had a very profound experience using their intuition and doing that at work, I would love to talk to you, so please do get in touch.

Q: Tell me about the Webpsyched leadership masterclasses. What is involved in these remote and face-to-face workshops?

Woman on Zoom Session Leadership MeetingA: I ask participants, “What’s your intuition telling you? What’s your judgment telling you? What are you thinking about this? And then what are you thinking?” Sometimes you can’t get to the intuition straight away, and sometimes our first intuitions are wrong. I think you need to get yourself to quite a grounded place to have those insights. When you’re rushing and hurrying, it’s harder to pay attention because intuition is also about paying attention, and you don’t pay attention when you’re in overload. That’s the important thing—to take yourself down to a place where you’re feeling connected with yourself so you can start listening to those signals because otherwise you miss them. I perceive them more as whispers—what are you whispering to yourself?

Another way of using your intuition is to talk to it as if it was a person sitting in front of you and saying, “Oh, hello, intuition, what have you got to tell me today about this thing?” And listen for the answer. Then you can check in with yourself because you may not be right, not all intuitions are right, just in the same ways not all decisions are right. That’s when we second-guess ourselves and go, “Oh, it wasn’t working then,” and then we mistrust ourselves. It’s to build the trust in your experience and in you.

For the website leadership master classes, like everybody else, we’ve all been working on Zoom, and I am now running everything programmatically. People spend an hour, an hour-and-a-half, two hours max, and we do something as a program. And I much prefer that than a one-and-you’re-done. When it’s one-and-you’re-done, it’s more tempting to be the sage on the stage—sorry, all these rhymes—but actually, in a program, everybody is everybody else’s guide by the side. And that’s where you get some profound learning, because it’s the continuity, it’s the building of something.

I use a WhatsApp group so we’re in touch and giving people nudges and putting information up through that and adding readings or poems or videos—just little nudges to help people and offer reminders because building new habits is hard, as we all know, and building muscle is really hard. This is the equivalent of going to your mental gym.

Q: Why should values matter to an organization?

A: Because they are how people live the culture. Mostly, people say one thing and do another, but it’s how you can hold people to account. Values are extremely important in creating an organizational culture and then holding people accountable to make that culture live.

At Webpsyched, we’ve learned from our research and experience that when values are clear, communicated, and regularly reinforced, there is greater performance, happiness, commitment, satisfaction, and motivation. There’s also less anxiety and work stress. Value congruence helps with:

  • getting support to drive change
  • reducing unethical practices
  • promoting positive work behavior
  • encouraging people to participate in challenging activities
  • instilling a greater sense of accomplishment

Glen Elder

Q: You also write about resilience. I found your reference to Glen Elder’s discovery that “children who’d grown up in the Depression were much more resilient than people who’d faced their first challenge later in life” fascinating. In The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt documents the flip side of the equation in which helicopter/bulldozer parenting has yielded fragility instead of resilience, dependency instead of independence. How can parents build resilience in their children without subjecting them to harsh experiences and undue risks?

A: The question is what’s a harsh experience and what are undue risks. Of course, it’s going to be context- and person- or child-specific. You always want to give someone a test that is going to stretch them, going to get them out of their comfort zone. Always staying in your comfort zone never stretches it and gets you any further, but children are their own natural-born scientists. They will take risks, especially when testosterone kicks in and they start hanging out in groups, so I guess it’s got to be age-dependent as well.

This helicopter-tiger-bulldozer parenting hasn’t helped. I was talking to a Gen Z, and he was saying that the education experiences that he’s had means it’s impossible for him to listen to his intuition. He’s been taught that there are “answers” rather than that there’s a range of answers, so he has no clue how to listen in.

By our education system saying, “These are answers that are correct,” students are stressed about getting the correct answer. When you’re working with clients and in business, there are no correct answers. There are some answers that are better than others.

Regarding parents building resilience—let kids go exploring. Give them boundaries. Let them operate within those boundaries and constantly ask yourself, “Are these boundaries appropriate to my child?” If everybody else has got an iPhone, you probably want to give your child one, too. If all other kids are using WhatsApp, you probably want to allow them to do that, too.

I think things are very different today. When I was a kid, I was allowed to take the London Tube to school. My nephews are not allowed to do some of those things. Are we holding our children back by not allowing them to fall out of trees and break their arms? Maybe we are, because you could also discover that you can have a bad experience, get through it, and the world doesn’t end. And you need to discover that young. It’s no good discovering that for the first time in your forties because then it’s much harder to learn. It’s much easier to learn resilience younger.
Kids Playing in Woods on Log

Q: That also makes me think of an article called Thinking About Thinking I read back in the 1990s. The authors, Alan Carter and Colston Sanger, describe two modes of thinking they call mapping versus packing. Mappers are constantly mapping knowledge from one domain to another, building a coherent mental map of the world that enables them to achieve elegant solutions with fluidity and speed. Packers horde “knowledge packets” and must laboriously assemble them to produce mediocre results. The authors describe how mapping capabilities can be “reawakened by trauma,” citing the extraordinary transformation of Japanese manufacturing following World War II (i.e., Hiroshima and Nagasaki) from “an odd mix of the medieval and industrial ages” to a world leader in manufacturing within a generation. Your article What One Attribute Do You Need in a Robotized Workplace? seems to be describing the qualities of mappers. Do you have any suggestions on how packers can rewire their brains to become more like mappers?

A: Packers horde knowledge packets, yeah! As for how packers can rewire their brains, it’s going to take some mentoring. I talk about field tests. What’s a field test you can do? It’s not saying, “I’m going to change this forever,” but it’s a field test. And maybe it’s the same about resilience. What’s a field test that you feel you can let your children do, for example, and then you can reflect on that experience together. I’m not sure that it’s rewiring, but it’s giving yourself the confidence that what you’re doing is the right thing. One field test leads to another, and if you’re mentoring somebody or coaching them, I think that is probably the best way to go about it.

Q: Out of your Ten Top Coaching Questions, which is your favorite, and why?

A: “And what else?” “And what else” is my favorite coaching question because it always leads to something else and to something deeper. If I had to take one in my back pocket with me, it would be that one.

Capiche Conversations: Interview with Jonathan Hann, Operations Director at iOpener Institute

With Contributions from Oriana Tickell, iOpener Director of Coaching Programs & Science of Happiness at Work™, and Chris Cook, Founder of Capiche

Interview conducted by Melissa L. Michaels, Capiche Contributor/Strategic Partner, Michaels & Michaels Creative, LLC

In 2003 when Jessica Pryce-Jones founded iOpener Institute for People and Performance, the Science of Happiness at Work™ was just a ripple in the sea of business research. Today, it is a tidal wave that has transformed organizational development. Jessica’s 2010 book, Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, played a pivotal role in creating the science of happiness field (a topic we have frequently written about at Capiche), and the data proving the profitability of pursuing employee happiness has only continued to accumulate in the ensuing years. It was shortly after the publication of that book that Chris Cook became the only person in the Northwest accredited by iOpener Institute under Jessica’s mentorship.

Today, Jessica is spearheading a new enterprise (stay tuned for details in a future Capiche Conversations interview), but iOpener Institute continues to thrive, having helped as many as 60,000 people from organizations across 182 countries renew their culture while boosting employee happiness and productivity. Following is an interview with Operations Director Jonathan Hann with contributions from Director of Coaching Programs & Science of Happiness at Work™ Oriana Tickell. Chris Cook also shares a real-life example of her iOpener consulting in action.

Special Offer! Starting now until August 15, Chris is offering free iPPQ individual assessments with a coaching follow-up. Call 541.601.0114, email Chris, or use our Contact form to schedule your assessment.


Jonathan Hann HeadshotQ: How did a Canadian wind up living and working in Oxford, England?

Jonathan: I had just finished my BMus at McGill University and was beginning to think about next steps. Around the same time, my partner got accepted to a master’s program at the University of Oxford. I tagged along for the adventure, landed a place in an orchestra as well as job to help cover the rent, and the rest is history!

Jonathan Hann Performing in Orchestra

Q: Describe the trajectory that took an oboe player with a BMus in music performance to a position as operations director of iOpener Institute?

Jonathan: One of my many passions is classical music, but I’ve always been inspired by social entrepreneurship, community development, labor relations, and the ability to make a positive impact. Much of that drive was instilled in me by Peter Frampton, a friend and mentor whom I worked with at The Learning Enrichment Foundation. He also showed me how important it is that your values are aligned with your work. When I saw the job posting for iOpener, that was what I looked for. Seeing that the values matched, I decided to apply.

Q: You bring a broad range of experience to your present role, including investment consultant; account executive; events and entertainment coordinator; and childcare research and financial analyst. How did these various posts prepare you for your current responsibilities?

Jonathan: In the learning and development space, it’s important to be constantly curious—curious about what’s possible and happening in various industries. Having a broad range of experiences is both a product of my curiosity and part of what sparks it, so it helps with my current responsibilities. It’s also helped me learn how to juggle—not literally, though.

Q: Haha. Tell me about iOpener Institute and how this international consultancy firm serves organizations and their employees.

iOpener Institute LogoJonathan: We make leadership, learning, and life better—both for our clients and our team—by helping everyone find the tools they need and the capability within themselves to achieve their potential. We do this by getting under the skin of any problems and bridging the knowing-doing gap in our programs, interventions, and research.

Q: You became operations director after nearly three years serving as senior project manager, so you’ve been at iOpener for over six years now. What it is like working at iOpener? How does it model the principles of a happy workplace?

Science of Happiness at Work LogoJonathan: We do our best to hold ourselves accountable in the same way we would hold our clients accountable, and that’s grounded in the Science of Happiness at Work™. Sometimes holding ourselves to that high standard can get difficult, but by having those conversations, we can ensure we can constantly grow as a team. And I appreciate the freedom that model gives us to explore and change. Ultimately, no two days are the same, and we get to work remotely and collaborate with consultants and teams around the globe to create actionable change. That makes me happy.

Q: iOpener offers a free iPPQ Happiness @ Work assessment to individuals. As an accredited practitioner, Chris Cook is available to provide coaching to individuals and consulting to organizations who wish to take advantage of this extraordinary tool. How does the iPPQ (People & Performance Questionnaire) help both individuals and organizations improve their happiness at work?

Jonathan: Let me give you an example. An organization came to us with a big strategic problem. They were having trouble retaining business-critical employees, and this was having a devastating effect on their ability to grow. They simply couldn’t take on more client work and were in danger of over-trading. Internally, there were problems scoping projects, meetings milestones, and delivering quality outcomes for their clients. The business was unable to expand because they were losing talent fast. That meant every team was pretty much in permanent crisis, so our goal was to help them improve this turnover number.

iOpener iPPQ Report Team Overview: 5 C's

To aid with employee retention, we:

  • Assessed the whole organization using our research-driven tool, the iOpener People & Performance Questionnaire (iPPQ).
  • Analyzed the data to see what worked and what could work better both at a team and organizational level.
  • Ran focus groups to flesh out some of the internal issues that were hampering growth.
  • Coached the board and senior leaders using our proprietary 360 tool, which aligns with individual iPPQ reports.
  • Ensured the people strategy was aligned with the organizational strategy.
  • Realigned some of the HR processes to ensure they were based on what worked well and what could work better.
  • Helped leaders implement the refreshed and realigned HR processes.
  • Worked with HR to plan and then deliver leadership development aligned with the Science of Happiness at Work™.
  • Ensured knowledge transfer into the organization so that HR, leaders, and managers could be self-sustaining.
  • Found champions for every team so the approach would remain alive and at top-of-mind.
  • Reassessed the organization.

iOpener iPPQ Report Trust, Recognition, and Pride

So what were the outcomes? When the project started, turnover of business-critical employees was running at 25%. Over 15 months, this halved to 12.5%. Not only has this reduction created much more stability and a platform for growth, but recruitment costs have fallen dramatically.

What matters more is the intangible effect on the organization’s social networks. Real-time relationships and therefore trust within and between teams has increased significantly because there is a much greater sense of stability and progress.

A further positive outcome is the language of the organization has changed. Employees and leaders are using the terminology of the Science of Happiness at Work™. This means conversations are easier because there is a framework and language, where before there wasn’t. And that means it’s much easier to have new, deeper, and potentially more meaningful interactions. When the shape of language changes, you open up different conversations, cultures, and outcomes. And to do that through a positive approach creates incredible cohesion, which is something all organizations need in today’s uncertain world.

Q: Chris Cook says of the iOpener tools and research, “I find the work extremely powerful because it’s not about what your employer does for you but about what you bring to the table: the 5 C’s.” What are the 5 C’s?

Oriana Tickell HeadshotOriana: Culture, Conviction, Commitment, Confidence, and Contribution. The 5 C’s come together to create the model and show how happiness at work is structured.

  1. Culture is about having a feeling of fit with the organization.
  2. Conviction is about the short-term and can be influenced by any current situation, such as, “My boss hates me,” or, “I hate my boss,” which will obviously have an immediate impact on performance.
  3. Commitment is long-term and is about feeling committed despite any short-term obstacles simply because we believe that work has a sense of purpose and we are making a difference. This distinction often makes sense and helps people make solid decisions about their careers.
  4. Confidence is about levels of personal confidence.
  5. Contribution is about an individual’s feeling of contributing to something bigger than themselves and sense that the organization also contributes to the individual.

Balance between the five elements will create well-being for any individual, and the particular formulation is highly personal.

As you mention, happiness at work requires input from both sides. Individuals can only create sustainable well-being for themselves through the 5 C’s when the organization has the right factors in place for this to happen.

When we look at the bigger picture of creating the right environment for happiness at work, we have to address it at all levels of an organization—top-down and bottom-up. Misery is contagious wherever you find it.

iOpener Pride Trust Recognition GraphicQ: And how do pride, trust, and recognition fit into the equation?

Oriana: Pride, trust, and recognition are the elements that wrap up the 5 C’s and hold them together. They are the questions to ask oneself—how proud am I of what I do, how much do I trust the vision of my leaders, and am I getting the recognition I need to keep me engaged and motivated? These factors help create an environment in which employees can thrive. And leaders can be directly involved in making sure they are present.

Pride, trust, and recognition underpin the 5 C’s and relate directly to achieving your potential, which is at the center of our model. For us, “potential” is an elastic term—when you are growing at work, achieving your potential will always be just out of reach. The goal posts move in a positive way, encouraging you to achieve that little bit more.

This, of course, is what companies want to see in their employees—that they really are stretching themselves and expanding their idea of what their potential is. The data helps us see what people need to feel in order to keep engaged and find their inner motivation.

Q: Chris, can you share a case study of an organizational culture iOpener has helped transform?

Cinema Box Office Sign MarqueeChris: Shortly after receiving my coaching training and accreditation by iOpener, I met with John Schweiger, Executive Chairman and CEO of Coming Attraction Theatres. We were friends and business associates, and when I told him of my new accreditation and affiliation with iOpener, he became very interested. The success of his organization was hugely dependent on the performance of its employees—from the internal operations to the external customer service teams. John shared with me that “something just wasn’t right,” and he was not able to put his finger on it.

We decided to assess the situation by having all of the management team take the iPPQ. We looked at the team report and saw a few areas that could be strengthened. John agreed to have me coach individuals (including himself) to help them strengthen elements that were detracting from their happiness (a direct correlation to their performance) and to conduct a series of team workshops specifically related to organizational issues around pride, trust, and recognition.

Of course, the team was a bit skeptical as none of them had ever been coached before (other than on a sports team), but they kept an open mind. About midway through our work together, the movie industry made a push to convert all theatres from “real” 35mm film to digital content. This meant installing new equipment and revamping operations at all of the company’s locations (for approximately 149 screens). The real kicker was it had to be done in less than 90 days to meet the timeline to premiere Thanksgiving/holiday releases—the biggest money-making season for the movie industry!

The good news is Coming Attractions Theatres did not miss a beat. All conversions were completed—successfully and ahead of schedule. John credits our work together for improving communication, accountability, teamwork, and turning an onerous change into a challenge all were prepared to dig in and meet.

John Schweiger

Chris 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, Chris 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.John C. Schweiger, Executive Chairman & CEO, Coming Attractions Theatres, Inc.

Q: Why should a company worried about the bottom line care about happiness at work?

Oriana: Over time, what we see from our data is that when we compare the least happy with the happiest people, there are significant differences. The least happy think they will stay in their job for another 18 months. During that time, they will be less focused on task, take more days off, and dedicate less energy to their work. Not only are they less productive, but they plan on doing this for an extended period of time, which is costly for a company.

Now Hiring Banner

Q: Now more than ever, employers are paying close attention to their employees because there’s such a scarcity of good staff. There are Help Wanted signs everywhere; simultaneously, there are few management positions and opportunities for advancement. How does an organization find and then keep high-performing employees?

Oriana: A lot of people will stay with a company even if they’re unhappy. It’s better to have a job than not, but the minute they find something better, they’re out the door. Just because someone’s hanging in there doesn’t mean they’re happy and going to stay—especially high-performing people. They’ll still be high-performing but also highly motivated to look for a new job or company.

When you look at an individual iPPQ report, it is often clear what would need to change for the person to reclaim their well-being and productivity. And action can be taken. One client looked at his iPPQ and realized exactly what he felt was holding him back at work. He told us he had been planning to hand in his resignation that day and accept a job offer he’d received. With the insights he got from the report, he made the decision to stay. Within a couple of months, he’d made significant changes and subsequently became managing partner of the organization.

Especially now, as we emerge into what may be a radically different world at work, companies that pay attention to the well-being of their employees are well-positioned to retain their talent. Interestingly, what we have seen in our recent research is people really want to have opportunities to learn at work. When we compare the happiest at work and the least happy at work, people who say they have sufficient opportunity to learn at work are 29% happier and 17% more focused on task than their least happy counterparts. They also want to stay 27 months in their job. When we translate this to financials, the people who are both happy and feel they are learning at work will be generating nearly $10,000 more in productivity per year. These are the employees everyone wants to keep! They are happy, intrinsically motivated, and on a path of constant self-development, which will up their levels of contribution and productivity.

Capiche Conversations: Interview with Tracy Kaiser, Marketing & Education Manager of Ashland Food Co-op

With Contributions from General Manager Emile Amarotico & Store Manager Barry Haynes

Interview conducted by Melissa L. Michaels, Capiche Contributor/Strategic Partner, Michaels & Michaels Creative, LLC

Ask any local what the heartbeat of Ashland is, and they’ll probably say the Ashland Food Co-op. It’s not only a place to find healthy, sustainably sourced groceries, but it’s also a social hub where you can meet with friends and colleagues while enjoying selections from the Co-op Kitchen’s 200+ menu options. The Co-op team truly puts “people, the planet, and principles before profit.”

The vibrant, joyful culture visible in the Co-op workplace reflects the fruit of labors undertaken by Capiche in collaboration with the Co-op’s leadership and staff as part of a Happiness@Work project in 2013 and 2015. General Manager Emile Amarotico and the board members fully embraced the process and eagerly sought to implement recommendations gathered from employees through Capiche’s appreciative inquiry process. Nearly a decade later, the investment is still paying dividends in both employee satisfaction and the bottom line.

Following is an interview with the Co-op’s new marketing and education manager, Tracy Kaiser, along with GM Emile and Store Manager Barry Haynes.


Tracy Kaiser with Daughter

Q: Tracy, you’ve been in the Rogue Valley since 1998—one year before I arrived, incidentally. Where did you move from, and what did you think of Southern Oregon by comparison?

Tracy: I moved from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, my college town. I was raised in Wisconsin and was the bakery buyer for a mail-order company when I was recruited by Harry & David in 1998.

My father was an outdoor nut, and I was raised with a deep love for nature and wildlife. My dad always wanted to live in the mountains, and he spoke of their beauty and strength often. I can remember flying in for my interview with Harry & David. My flight arrived after dark. I was staying at the Morical House, an Ashland B&B, and I drove directly there to rest for the evening. The next morning, I pulled back the drapes and had this warm feeling that I was home. Since that moment, I cannot imagine living anywhere else but the Pacific Northwest.

Q: Prior to becoming marketing and education manager at the Ashland Food Co-op, you were senior director of product development and innovative merchandising at Harry & David. How did this prepare you to excel in your role at the Co-op?

Tracy: Harry & David is a full circle business model. We had to excel at process procedure, product development, creativity, finances, and tight timelines as well as having or learning a deep understanding for operations and orchard management. My senior VP was my mentor for several years, and I often recall the management practices she instilled within me.

Ashland Food Co-op Kitchen Employee Prepping Food

Q: As a newcomer to the Ashland Food Co-op team, what was your initial impression of the workplace culture, and do you feel the Co-op’s mission is aligned with its brand?

Tracy: Before I started my career at AFC, I felt deeply connected with the team because I shopped there almost daily. The Co-op was my social hub! After I was hired for my position, I felt the connection deepen even more within the team. Do I feel the Co-op’s mission is aligned with our brand? Oh, yes! Spend five minutes with Lynn Scionti, one of our product managers who has been with the Co-op for 40 years! She is the embodiment of Co-op values and strives to bring our community the best products at the best price. Lynne truly inspires me on many levels, including the fact she stocks shelves like she is 25.

Ashland Food Co-op Logo

Q: You are actually witnessing the long-term impact of the Happiness@Work project conducted in 2013 and 2015 in collaboration with Capiche. Chris Cook wrote an article about this innovative work for Cooperative Grocer magazine in which she details the approach taken. This involved conducting a Happiness Works organizational assessment followed by an appreciative inquiry process. Three volunteer teams were formed to implement solutions based on the data collected: Communication & Cooperation, Renewal & Stress Management, and Learning & Development. Is this work still paying dividends today, both in terms of employee satisfaction and Co-op profits?

Emile: The Happiness@Work initiative inspired a number of communication enhancements that continue today. Until COVID precluded group get-togethers, we have produced twice yearly All Store Assemblies chock-full of updates and trainings. We routinely conduct Team Huddles to keep members informed and provide space for dialogue. A weekly Huddle News email provides storewide messaging to team leaders and desk workers. We have just launched BeeKeeper, a mobile communication platform accessible to frontline employees via mobile device as well as desktop. In time, this may replace decades-old all store and department paper logbooks. It will integrate a number of other Happiness@Work-inspired programs, including our weekly employee surveys and our shoutout board used to recognize peer successes and gratitude.

The most tangible enhancements to renewal and stress management are the outdoor break area, which has literally blossomed, and a complete renovation of the indoor break/food prep area, including new fixtures, counters, seating, and computer “non”-workstations!

We have integrated volumes of training for all employees as well as curriculums relevant to specific workers. Examples include implicit bias and cultural agility awareness, harassment, and active shooter training.
Emile Amarotico

The twinkle in Chris’s eye belies keen insights into what makes people tick, be it in the workplace or the marketplace. Perhaps it’s a twinkle of magic!Emile Amarotico

Q: What was it like working with Chris?

Emile: The twinkle in Chris’s eye belies keen insights into what makes people tick, be it in the workplace or the marketplace. Perhaps it’s a twinkle of magic!

EXCERPTS FROM CO-OPERATIVE GROCER ARTICLE

The Happiness@Work project was born out of tension created around whether or not to unionize. As the issue was resolved and the employees created their own union, the Co-op’s leadership felt it was time to realign with the Co-op’s mission and vision: “joyfully working together, providing a workplace that fosters opportunities for participation, empowerment and growth in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.”

The Ashland Food Co-op created a Happiness@Work Team comprising board members, the general manager, and representatives from the newly formed employee alliance. After reviewing several proposals from consultants, the Co-op selected Capiche for the project.…

General Manager Amarotico says, “This work has had a positive impact on employee engagement. By implementing solutions they’ve designed, employees enliven the entire organization. It’s great that we’re making strides toward a happy workplace and have solutions being designed and implemented. The key take-away is that the results will include more productivity, happier customers, and an atmosphere with a vibe that more people want to participate in.”

Amarotico adds, “I would recommend Capiche to any organization that is truly committed to engaging with the nerve system of their organization with the intention of creating positive change.”

What Would Increased Happiness Do for Your Business? Ashland Food Co-op Aligns Mission with Culture, Boosts Financial Success, by Chris Cook for Cooperative Grocer magazine

Barry Haynes

Q: Recently, Barry Haynes was promoted from produce manager to store manager. He was part of this exploratory process and is a real-life example of Happiness@Work in action. What sets the experience of a Co-op employee apart from a typical job?

Barry: Working at the Co-op provides the opportunity to be a part of a community and family that is not usually found in the typical work environment. Management believes in Servant Leadership and approaches every day with the intent of making everyone’s workday experience a positive one.

Ashland Food Co-op Kitchen Employee Cooking Food

Q: How has your team pulled together in the face of COVID challenges? What measures has the Co-op taken to help keep the staff and community safe, and how has the shopping experience changed as a result—including the addition of curbside pickup and an online store?

Barry: The challenges of the pandemic have taken a toll on essential workers everywhere. All employees have been receiving a Hero Pay differential since the early stages of the pandemic. Additionally, we have been providing a meal to employees for every shift worked as well as numerous gift certificates and other benefits intended to maintain positive morale.

We have implemented numerous protocols and protective measures ahead of and beyond state requirements. Shopping patterns have drastically changed. Average basket size has increased, and customers are visiting us less frequently to limit their exposure.

The creation of online shopping with curbside pickup was a priority, and the team moved quickly to successfully execute this project.

Almeda Fire Rubble

Q: How did the Co-op respond in the aftermath of the Almeda Fire as community members found themselves in dire need of resources?

Tracy: From day one of the Almeda Fires, the Co-op team wanted to help the community. They reached out to vendors across the region and country to ask for their help with products, supplies, and food to get to the fire victims.

And that help came through in big ways, getting nutritious food to displaced families, home supplies in high demand, and wellness and food for first responders and firefighters. These donations and distributions wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated and well-connected Co-op team.

The other way we were able to help get resources back to the fire victims was through our new Round Up Program called Change for Good. We quickly communicated to our community about the need to support displaced families and how they could easily help the community by rounding up their change when they were at the cash register checking out. In very little time, we had over $75,000 donated from our community, and the donations were distributed throughout local organizations supporting our displaced community members.

Ashland Food Co-op Kitchen Cheese, Fruit, Baguette

Q: A lot of people are surprised to learn the Co-op Kitchen is the largest restaurant in the City of Ashland—a town acclaimed for its plethora of restaurants. The Co-op Kitchen employs 45 to 50 people and pays more restaurant taxes than any other business in the city. It offers 200+ products and a highly customizable menu suitable for any diet—from vegan to Paleo to keto. What makes the Co-op Kitchen such an attractive option for those seeking dining options in Ashland?

Tracy: As you stated, we offer a robust assortment of products that support a broad range of dietary needs. We take great pride in the quality of our ingredients. Not only are our meal offerings nutritious, they are incredibly delicious! I often express to community members that since I started working for the Co-op, I feel so much healthier, especially when I make an effort to eat at the Hot Bar. We have stepped up our culinary and production game over the last year, and even with all of the shifts in our business practices during COVID, our Prepared Foods Team and executive chef were still able to curate new products for our community.

Ashland Food Co-op Joyfully Working Together

Q: I love the Co-op’s Vision: “Joyfully working together …  Delighting shoppers … Enhancing health … Enriching community.” Often, a vision is aspirational, but the Co-op seems to be living this already. What do you envision for the future of the Ashland Food Co-op?

Tracy: Finding new ways to reach more community members with nutrient-rich food and making it approachable to all, even if you are food-insecure. We have a lot of amazing managers and board members who are visionaries and strategic thinkers, and we look forward to potential opportunities to grow our current store footprint or find other locations in Southern Oregon that support our drive to bring nutritious food to all who live in our region.

SERVICES CAPICHE HAS PROVIDED FOR THE ASHLAND FOOD CO-OP
  • Happiness@Work Project
  • Organizational Development
  • Surveys
  • Organizational Assessment
  • Research
  • Meeting Facilitation
The twinkle in Chris’s eye belies keen insights into what makes people tick, be it in the workplace or the marketplace. Perhaps it’s a twinkle of magic! —Emile Amarotico Click To Tweet

Business Not As Usual: The Most Important Thing to Do Now to Prepare for an Uncertain Future

Now’s the time to plan for the new normal when we’re back in business. Things are different now and will be different then. Expectations are different. And your modus operandi had better be different if you want to retain, recapture, and attract customers.

Do it now. Create—or update—your strategic plan.

Now’s the time to look around and get in touch with the new competitive landscape. So much has changed and is still changing. Especially customer expectations. Like it or not, it’s true—a privilege once granted becomes a right that’s expected.

Even if you have a strategic plan in place, there’s no doubt it will need a massive re-imagination as the competitive landscape has experienced an earthquake with numerous aftershocks (many still to come) resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a nutshell, strategic planning identifies the purpose of an organization (vision and mission), what it will do, how it will perform (goals and measurable objectives), and under what terms it will operate (values).

It specifies baseline capabilities as well as real or potential constraints that may exist or be placed on an organization, delivering a set of goals and requirements to achieve desired outcomes. A strategic plan enables an organization to establish direction and priorities while focusing on the critical actions necessary to implement and achieve the mission. A strategic plan improves resource utilization, reduces redundancy, and allows an organization to both create stability and seek opportunity.

What are your competitors offering? What are consumers expecting? For grocery stores, delivery and curbside pickup are the new normal. For wineries, free shipping is the new normal. How will you stand out from the competition and stay true to your brand?

Start with SWOT

Revisit that SWOT analysis you did or create one now. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in this new business landscape? Are there strengths in your customer base, market position, products, sales channels, or profitability? Are there weaknesses in your financial resources, staffing, or competitive vulnerability? Are there opportunities to enter new markets, form alliances, pursue M&As, and launch new products? And how are the threats surrounding the economy, lack of financial resources, loss of key staff, and more aggressive competition affecting you?

With this information at hand, you can answer these four key questions.

1) Why does this organization exist?

This can be answered in the refinement of the organizational vision, mission, and values, which define the purpose and function of the organization.

2) What should be the major work of the organization?

This is answered in the development of strategic goals, which are based on the critical issues and needs facing the organization.

3) How will the work of the organization be completed?

Here’s where we drill down to department-level objectives. Your strategies and tactics will be developed with specific details of implementation written in an action-planning format with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timebound).

4) What are your staffing, budget, and financing needs?

With all the departmental needs defined and quantified, we round them up to a centralized plan with an organizational structure and budget. If your financing is not at the required level, there are two solutions: either decrease the plan to a level you can afford or raise the capital required to achieve the full plan.

Together Yet Apart

You may be thinking, “But we can’t all get together to do this, and I can’t imagine a daylong ‘meeting’ online.” Well, true. Capiche is working with a model that uses the Zoom platform in shorter sessions—I’ll outline below.

Using breakout ‘rooms’ and collaboration tools, this format has the potential for even better outcomes than a daylong marathon session.

For example, at the first session, you can complete the SWOT analysis and set the stage for what’s to come. Each of the following sessions could focus on answering one of the four questions outlined above.

These shorter sessions are easier for your team to schedule since they can participate from their own home. You’ll find that you can keep things moving, interesting, and completely interactive with skillful use of the many online communication tools available. I’ve found a comprehensive review of these items in a recent blog post by Lucid, and I selectively use these tools to enhance processes and outcomes. They include:

  • collaborative document editors
  • simple sticky-note applications
  • dedicated group brainstorming and decision-support software
  • virtual design spaces and visual management tools

These tools make the process easy and FUN! Actually, it’s way better than spending a day or two cooped up together in a room slogging through the typical process.

For each of the Zoom planning sessions, I like to use this format—and it works both in-person and online:

  1. Discuss topic context and background.
  2. Engaging in individual brainstorming during which each person writes their ideas on separate notes.
  3. Share ideas with the whole group—posting to the group space.
  4. Group or cluster underlying concepts.
  5. Enable voting on priorities.
  6. Create a working draft.
  7. Determine next steps.

Get Started Today

Capiche is currently working with organizations remotely with great success, and we can do the same for you. Let’s get started on your organization’s new strategies for success as we all find our way toward the future. Call 541.601.0114email, or use our contact form today.
Now’s the time to plan for the new normal. Click To Tweet

Management and Intuition

How will you manage in 2020? Is it time to shift your usual protocols? Here are some thoughts you may find useful. Thank you to my friend and colleague John Lamy for this post.


Why Intuition in the Age of Management Science?

Starry Night by Vincent van GoghTwo reasons: First, intuition is a prerequisite for real insight, meaning a fresh understanding of the situation, seeing a reality that you hadn’t noticed before. “Wow, our company is overlooking a major market!” Insights like that are pure gold.

Second, intuition is the primary ingredient of creativity. If you want your organization to truly thrive, you need a continuous stream of innovation in your products, marketing, operations, hiring, and on and on. Otherwise, you’ll be lumped with the lackluster has-beens on the closeout rack.

What Is Intuition?

Intuition usually starts as a subtle feeling in your body, followed by a preverbal stirring, and then you notice a very quiet voice in your head. The whole process is ethereal, way below the radar.

Example: You finish your cup of coffee, and your mind feels quietly present. You stroll out onto the factory floor. You see the latest run of product—50 instruments lined up and ready for packaging and shipping. Then, you feel a little quiver in your gut … you notice that quiver … hmmm. Suddenly: “We could promote our product in the industrial refrigerant industry! It’s huge, we’ve never played there, and we would help reduce climate change!” For you and your company, that’s an intuitive breakthrough! Now go check it out.

How Can You Develop Intuition?

Employee Working with Gantt ChartRational thought is not the enemy of intuition. They are actually vital allies. In fact, intuition’s mortal enemy is our prevailing compulsion to fill every moment with physical or mental activity. We often do that under the banner of efficiency and productivity.

To cultivate your intuition, begin by setting aside a few moments, several times a day, to do nothing at all! Truly feel your body, drop your preoccupations, and let your thoughts go. Open a welcoming space for that quiet little voice to speak up; and when it speaks, listen gratefully. And … just know that intuitive insights aren’t always sweetness and light!

Three caveats here: first and foremost, learn to distinguish your biases and old hurts and angers from something authentically new. Just let the old stuff go, without judgment or feeling bad about it. Second, after your intuitive leap, go back to your old friend rational thought. Is this insight really right? Doable? Risky? Think about it.… Third, studies consistently show that real intuition works best when you have solid knowledge of the underlying field. Even though it can feel good, don’t just opinionate in a vacuum and attribute it to intuition.

All this takes a while. Don’t expect instant results. Enjoy the ride!

Note: This post was originally published at our sister site, Capiche.wine.
Rational thought is not the enemy of intuition. They are actually vital allies. Click To Tweet

The 3 Dimensions of “The Big Goal”

Below is the next in a series of guest articles by Capiche friend and colleague John Lamy.

The research is conclusive: teams perform better when they’re shooting for a Big Goal. Jim Collins (of Built to Last fame) called it the BHAG for Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

But then what? Here’s a handy way of thinking about goals for your group. Consider three interlocking scales:

  1. Push the Envelope or Hold the Fort. You’ll want one big goal that will carry your organization to a new place: “Introduce the new gigulator to the market by October 1.” Excellent. But in the meantime, you’ll also need a few goals just to keep the lights on. “Meet Production Commitment of 750 current model units shipped by the end of the year.” You’ll want to track that Hold the Fort goal as well. The idea is to balance the two kinds.
  2. Stretch Goals. I personally don’t like them. The definition is that we’re only 70% likely to achieve them. I think stretch goals can burn people out and be demoralizing when the team falls short. But the research finds that organizations perform at a higher level with stretch goals than with easier goals that everyone is 100% committed to. Go figure. I still vote for Committed rather than Stretch.
  3. Distributed throughout the Organization or Focused on just one or two departments. In my Silicon Valley experience, I found goals shared by the whole company were much more fun and effective. In the mid-80s, Hewlett-Packard focused the entire international company on improving the reliability of our electronic instruments by a factor of 10. Yes! A big, big goal. But we did it, and it truly brought out the best in the whole corporation.

I think setting out a Big Goal is one of the best, most energizing things you can do to move your company forward. If you decide to do it, keep these three dimensions in mind. That will be one more factor that will help you succeed.

The Transformative Power of “The Big Goal”

Below is a guest article by John Lamy, a friend and colleague who will be writing a series of guest blogs for Capiche in the coming months.

The Big Goal

Here’s a common situation:

  • The management team puts in 10-hour days, running around like crazy, fixing mistakes, putting out fires;
  • most of the non-management folks are less than fully engaged, seem a little lackadaisical, and don’t really understand the operation’s strategy or goals; and
  • you have the gut feeling that the organization is underperforming. Everyone could be doing much better!

You can fix that! It’s not insurmountable, but it takes real focus and effort to get it right.

One proven approach is to establish a robust process for setting and achieving a Big Goal. I call that process the Execution Framework. This involves three steps.

The Big Goal Diagram

The Goal

Start with your:

  • Core Values
  • Strategy
  • Current Issues

Then concoct a single Big Goal that aligns with these three key drivers and spans throughout the organization. Creating and articulating that Big Goal is not easy. It’s as much art as science. In fact, I think it actually requires a little bit of magic!

The Tactics

Step Two can be a little tedious. Figure out the specific set of Tactics (or tasks) that must be executed to realize the Big Goal—department by department, person by person. Write them down; assign them to people; and put measures, targets, and due dates on each Tactic.

The Tracking

Step Three: Meet with your entire team on a cadence (maybe once a month) to make sure you’re on track. What are the problems? Who can help whom? Do you need to pivot? Let team members speak, especially the more junior ones—this is a great opportunity for their personal development.

If you set up your Execution Framework correctly, three amazing things will happen:

  • You’ll hit your Big Goal, and your financial performance will show it.
  • You’ll build a culture that hits your Big Goals, year after year.
  • Your folks will love it, word will spread, and it’ll be easier to hire outstanding people.

The process works. You really can achieve awesome results. Give it a try!

If you are interested in learning more about John, please contact him—and let him know I sent you! If it’s marketing consulting you are interested in, please reach out to me, Chris Cook. I would love to talk with you about your ideas!

Remember Silent Spring? Here’s Today’s Clarion Call—and It’s for Civility.

How is it that we as a society seem to be slipping into a scary model of disrespect, incivility, and creation of a culture of separateness and fear? I rue the day we lost our humanity, but when did that happen? Do we still have a chance to regain it?

Talking with residents on a recent visit to Spain and Portugal confirmed my feelings and further cemented my personal goal of encouraging civility—specifically in the workplace, as that is my professional focus. However, my wish is to see civility return throughout our culture.

Below is a reprint of a post I wrote in 2013 with some compelling statistics on the financial benefits of encouraging a civil workplace. So much of it applies today, and we know the benefits are far more than simply financial.

Please do comment—I love to hear and learn from you! What have you found? What is working at your organization?

Civility Costs Nothing—and Buys Everything

It Really Does Pay to Be the “Nice Guy”

With the science of happiness at work as a cornerstone of my business model, I am always interested in new research that illustrates how happy employees are more productive and creative, provide better customer service, are better team players, are sick less, and stay longer. These days, there is a LOT of that research, and the findings continue to be consistent with these positive outcomes.

It amazes me that I still find people who resist the idea of happiness at work—or those who believe the statistics but think they don’t have the time or resources to invest in creating a workplace where happiness is part of the culture.

“Happiness at work? I’m not happy—why should anyone else be?” or “They should be happy to have a job” or “We’re not here to be happy; we’re here to make a profit.” Then I remind them happiness at work boosts the bottom line, and their interest is piqued.

This month a new piece of research was published in the Harvard Business Review about civility and rudeness: “The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line.” Guess what? Civility at work creates results similar to happiness at work, and rudeness at work creates results that correlate to unhappiness at work.

Did you know rudeness at work is raging and is on the rise? According to researchers, 98 percent of workers polled said they experienced rudeness at work—with half of them experiencing it at least once a week, up from 25 percent in 1998.

Like unhappiness at work, rudeness at work undermines the bottom line. In a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, the researchers found the following statistics:

Among employees who have experienced incivility at work:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time they spent at work
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
  • 66% said their performance declined
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
  • 24% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Other studies have found that creativity suffers; performance and team spirit decline; and customers who witness the rude behaviors turn away. Sounds a lot like what happens with unhappiness at work.

It also sounds like a recipe for disaster—not a way to increase an organization’s profits or become known as an employer of choice. And it’s expensive! According to a study conducted by Accountemps and reported in Fortune, managers and executives at Fortune 1,000 firms spend 13 percent of their time—the equivalent of seven weeks per year—mending employee relationships and dealing with the aftermath of incivility. And just think of the costs should consultants and attorneys be brought in to help settle a situation.

So What’s a Leader to Do?

In managing yourself, model good behavior. After all, the leader sets the tone of the organization. You are on stage, and your supporting cast is taking cues from you. Ask for feedback—what do your employees like and dislike about your leadership style? How does that relate to civility (or happiness) at work? What can you do to shift behaviors that are perceived poorly?

And keep a pulse on the organization. What’s really going on, and how are people treated and treating others? You need to be connected to your workforce and constantly striving to create a culture where people feel as though they have what’s needed to succeed.

In managing the organization, hire for and reward civility. If civility is a key attribute your culture values, put it above all else. For example, at Zappos, people are hired based on fit within the culture, and the most skilled person will be passed over if their values don’t match the values Zappos has deemed essential to its core. Share those values (and make sure civility is one of them) and demonstrate what it looks like to live those values. Be specific. Tie those to individual performance assessments and rewards, and celebrate circumstances in which the values of civility and respect shine brightly.

Rude or civil? Unhappy or happy? The choice is clear. Civil, respectful cultures enjoy the same benefits as cultures where people are encouraged and given a climate where they can succeed at work—that’s when they can reach their potential.

Today’s data show creating a culture of civility and happiness is not simply the morally right thing to do, it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Contact me for more specifics or for a culture check of your organization. Let’s see how your company can become an employer of choice—a place where people feel as though their contributions matter, a place that resonates with their values, vision, passion, and sense of purpose. It is possible!

Cheers! I look forward to hearing from you!

Eureka! Why Relaxation May Be the Key to Optimal Performance, Creativity, and Flow

There’s a reason Eureka moments tend to strike in the shower—or in the case of Archimedes, the bath. Performing mindless activities gives our brain an opportunity to relax, kicking the prefrontal cortex (a.k.a. the brain’s command center) into autopilot mode. That daydreamy state is when creativity emerges.

In this Business Insider article on why 72% of people get their best ideas in the shower, Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explains, “The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.”

Whether we’re scrubbing dishes or practicing meditation, letting our brain idle increases alpha brain wave activity, known to boost creativity and reduce depression.

How does this translate to the workplace? No, we’re not saying you should install showers or offer transcendental meditation classes (although that may not be such a bad idea). Rather, you may wish to cultivate an organizational culture that encourages play, humor, quiet, and relaxation—all ingredients to heightened productivity and creative flow, most famously studied by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

No number of hacky sacks and hammocks will counteract the toxic miasma of a stressful, high-anxiety workplace, however, and that cortisol-spiking atmosphere often starts at the top.

If an organization’s leaders exhibit stress, fear, rigidity, and panic under pressure, those emotions quickly spread to the employees.

How many times have you entered a meeting in a good mood only to leave feeling anxious and tense? This article by Psychologist Daniel Goleman discusses a study that revealed the contagious nature of moods in work groups and calls on leaders to practice the emotional intelligence necessary to prevent their own stress from infecting the group.

It’s no surprise that people want calm, assertive leaders as this Psychology Today piece explains. If you are wheeled into the hospital for emergency surgery, do you want the head surgeon to fly into hysterics, or do you want her to calmly assess the situation, lay out a clear plan of action, and set to work?

How people respond to crises reveals a lot about them, and demonstrating resilience, resourcefulness, and ingenuity in the face of obstacles instills employees with confidence and trust in their leadership.

That’s one reason this Harvard Business Review article encourages first-time leaders to relax. Employees sense insecurity and anxiety in their leaders, and that lack of confidence derails productivity.

As the Tao Te Ching states:

“When your body is not aligned,
The inner power will not come.
When you are not tranquil within,
Your mind will not be well ordered.
Align your body, assist the inner power,
Then it will gradually come on its own.”

If you want your employees to achieve the optimal performance, relaxed alertness, and creativity possible in a serene, inspiring environment, you need to cultivate your own inner balance, emotional intelligence, and mental well-being.

To get expert guidance from an empathetic yet challenging co-active coach, contact Chris Cook about her leadership coaching services. If your organizational culture could use an injection of positivity and transformative authenticity, Capiche can help with that, too.

It’s Time to Disrupt Our Leadership Culture

Which of these statements can you relate to? Check the boxes.

  • I don’t love my current job.
  • I often feel alone.
  • I often feel like an impostor.
  • There’s something new I want to try, but fear is holding me back.
  • I’m in a new season filled with uncertainty.
  • I know I have what it takes, but I’m tired and sometimes I want to quit.

Guess what? You’re not alone.

Last week, I was fortunate to participate in the 2019 Women’s Leadership Conference and attended a session called “The Value of Disrupting Leadership Culture.” I didn’t expect the session to begin with all of us women checking boxes on a half-sheet of paper with these six statements. It made me feel a little (or maybe a lot) vulnerable.

We each folded our sheets and passed them over two to the right. Then one back. Then three more to the right. We were now all holding someone else’s sheet, but we weren’t sure whose.

That’s when the magic happened. One by one, the presenter read each statement. All whose sheet had that box checked stood. Six times. We heard each statement, and each time, a large group of our peers—all successful women in their own right—were standing up for us.

We weren’t alone.

We then listened as the presenters debunked the concept that we should follow others on the paths they once blazed to success—which were now safe and proven. What if our truest path to groundbreaking success lies in who we already are—foibles and all? What if our perceived “weaknesses” are what will set us apart and propel our respective industries forward?

Every day, we’re seeing examples of how purposeful disruption of our traditional leadership culture is the key to our individual success. You can own who you are and know you are not alone.

Thanks to session presenters Lindsay McPhail and Kristy Laschober for their insights.

Ready?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above or you’re ready to launch your own disruption of leadership culture, call 541.601.0114 or email Chris to get going on the next chapter of your life! Whether you’re interested in leadership coaching or reshaping your organization’s culture, Capiche has you covered.