Here are some of our favourite stories collected in this edition, beginning with this story that eloquently makes the case for learning inside our organisations and provides this week’s headline theme…
W. Edwards Deming, American management visionary, understood that systemic factors account for most organizational problems, and changing these has more potential for improvement than changing any individual’s performance. Therefore the role of executives should be to manage the system, not individuals. But the real barrier to systemic change is hierarchical management, as it constrains the sharing of power, a necessary enabler of organizational learning. People have to trust each other to share knowledge, and power relationships can block these exchanges. Just listen to any boardroom meeting and see how power can kill a conversation. If learning is what organizations need to do well in order to survive and thrive, then structural barriers to learning must be removed.
A key factor in sustaining any enterprise is organizational learning. Knowledge gives us the ability to take effective action (know how) and this is the type of knowledge that really matters in both business and life. Value from this knowledge is created by groups and spreads through social networks.
First of all, learning is not something to get. In too many cases we view learning as something that is done to people. It’s almost as if we are goin’ to get some learnin’! We think we can get an education or get people trained. This is absurd.
The only knowledge that can be managed is our own, so organizational knowledge management should first support personal knowledge mastery. PKM is an individual discipline of seeking, sense-making, and sharing that helps each of us understand our world and work more effectively. In addition to PKM, groups should promote working out loud to ensure common understanding and to address exceptions to the norm, as this is where group learning happens. The organization can then ensure that important decisions are recorded, codified, and easily available for retrieval. Each of us is responsible for our own learning but our responsibility to our peers is to share this learning. If nobody shared what they have learned, there would be nothing like Wikipedia or other free learning resources on the web. The same pertains to sharing inside organizations.
In an open environment, learning will flourish, as it has on the Web. When we remove artificial boundaries to working and learning, we enable innovation. Andrew McAfee, at the MIT Center for Digital Business, wrote
“The central change with Enterprise 2.0 and ideas of managing knowledge [is] not managing knowledge anymore — get out of the way, let people do what they want to do, and harvest the stuff that emerges from it because good stuff will emerge. So, it’s been a fairly deep shift in thinking about how to capture and organize and manage knowledge in an organization.”
As Frederic Laloux notes in Reinventing Organizations, the key role of a CEO is in holding the space so that teams can self-manage (and learn for themselves).
If you are in a position of authority and you are not removing barriers to learning, then you are not serving your organization in the network era.
The ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures.
Organisations often appoint leaders for their IQ. Then, years later, sack them for their lack of EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Common Purpose argues that in the future they will promote for CQ – Cultural Intelligence.
Participants on Common Purpose programmes, as they learn to lead beyond their authority, need to be able to cross boundaries: between east and west, and north and south; between faiths and beliefs; between public, private and voluntary sectors; and between generations.
Founder and CEO of Common Purpose, Julia Middleton, speaks about Cultural Intelligence – the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures.
by Greg Satell
Legendary strategists have long been compared to master chess players, who know the positions and capabilities of each piece on the board and are capable of thinking several moves ahead.
It’s time to retire this metaphor. Strategy is no longer a game of chess because the board is no longer set out in orderly lines. Industries have become boundless. Competitive threats and transformative opportunities can come from anywhere. Strategy, therefore, is no longer a punctuated series of moves, but a process of deepening and widening connections.
So we find ourselves in an age of disruption, where agility trumps scale and strategy needs to take on a new meaning and a new role. We can no longer plan; we can only prepare. This requires what Columbia’s Rita Gunther McGrath calls a shift from “learning to plan” to “planning to learn”.
Identify and gain customers. “Build it and they will come,” only works in the movies. Dreams without customers are a waste of time.
Think like a dreamer. Talk like a doer. Dreamy-talk doesn’t inspire confidence in others.
Learn from detractors, rather than brushing them aside.
Develop people and grow teams. Dreams that don’t require others are too small.
Listen more. Everyone isn’t a complete idiot.
Dreamers set reasonable people on edge. But, every team needs at least one irritating dreamer.
Research shows that SME bosses could spend £476 per employee on social outings and training courses and see happiness increase by 35 per cent.
Spending less than £500 per employee each year on social outings and training courses could increase workforce happiness by over a third (35 per cent) in UK small business, new research has revealed.
The survey by Viking reveals that employees in small businesses believe training and development, benefits such as flexible working and social events and regular company updates from bosses are as important as a pay rise.
By investing £286 on training courses and £190 on staff outings per employee, levels of happiness at work would increase by 35 per cent, according to analysis of the key drivers of happiness.
These include one or two that are dear to our heart and central to our teaching…
4. Learn basic mindfulness meditation. It doesn’t have to be a major commitment, just 10 minutes in a day. All you need to do is pay attention to your breath as it goes out and comes back in. Remember, it’s not about clearing your head of thoughts. “Real Happiness at Work” author Sharon Salzberg says mindfulness means having a “balanced awareness” of what’s happening around you, so that you can understand your experience rather than just react to it. —James H. Kelly
Work hard, achieve your goals, become happy — that’s the happiness formula many believe to be universally true. But happiness researcher Shawn Achor says that this success-leads-to-happiness model is fundamentally flawed. In a sit-down with Oprah for “Super Soul Sunday,” Achor explains why.
“It’s scientifically broken for two reasons. The first reason is that because success is a moving target, even if you hit success, you immediately change what ‘success’ looks like for you,” Achor says…
“When we study it, we find that your happiness levels don’t really move very much as your success rates rise. But flip around the formula,” Achor says. “The research says that being successful doesn’t automatically make you happier, but being happier — being more positive — makes you more successful.”
It’s a leadership catch 22. While we can all agree that confidence is an essential tool for career success, a raft of research indicates that women are less likely to speak up in meetings, negotiate for raises or promotions, and generally underestimate their ability to perform.
When women are selected less often to lead than their male peers, even though they outperform the guys, it’s no wonder the gender gap persists.
A recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Strategy& found that in eight out of the last 10 years, there have been more women heading into the corner office than stepping out. Despite that encouraging trend, female CEOs comprised only 3% of leaders of public companies in 2013, a 1.3 percentage point drop from 2012. And they’re more likely to be forced out.
Books such as The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman,Find Your Courage by Margie Warrell, and even The Next Generation of Women Leaders by Selena Rezvani all suggest that the chasm is caused by the gap between competence and confidence.
There’s plenty of science to lend credence to their theory.
Support, even in the face of failure is one way to foster the female leader. As Susan Glasser writes at Politico:
“The leaders who succeed are the ones who are allowed to make mistakes, who have the time and space and breathing room and support from their bosses to push and prod, experiment and improvise until they get it right. Because all of journalism is in the midst of upheaval right now, and that Silicon Valley cliché about failing in order to succeed really does apply. It turned out I did not really have the support of my boss, and I believe that to be the actual—and much more prosaic—story of many of these contretemps over controversial editors and executives who happen to be women.”
…is over communication strictly a gender issue?
I don’t think so. I know any number of men who could talk for their countries. Women often make comments about the monosyllabic “report” style communication patterns of the men in their lives, thinking that the rapport we create via our own delivery is much better.
But Lynette Allen, Co-Founder Her Invitation suggests that over sharing (over communication) can indeed be a female characteristic which we use to our detriment seeing it as an “unconsciously displayed behaviour which actively holds women back. They have to learn to be more succinct in the workplace and not tell the whole story and even more.”
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggested what happened to a senior woman in a meeting ” was like a snowball going down a hill and picking up stuff in its path” and was a real barrier to being taken seriously.
What is your style? “mini- series” or “book cover blurb.”
So why does over communication cause mis-communication, isn’t it important that everyone has all the details?
- Your thinking appears cloudy and muddled if you are unable to be succinct and your message becomes blurred in verbiage. If you forget the point of why you’re telling something, you have gone seriously adrift. People stop listening and you fail to get your message across. You have become a snowball and snowballs melt. Ding!
- It seems that you don’t respect other people’s time if you over communicate in any situation, you run the risk of your listener shutting down and retreating, either physically or psychologically. At the far end of the spectrum they will avoid you totally. In all cases your message is not going through. Ding!
- It seems that you don’t respect your own time if every time a simple social question of “How are you?” produces a twenty-minute discourse on your health or what is going on for you, you give the impression of being a poor time manager. Ding!
- It suggests that you are not in touch with your audience as you don’t recognise social cues. So just as if you were going to France you would try to speak a bit of French, If you are delivering to a male audience then try to speak in a language they will understand. Mench?Ding
- It indicates a lack of empathy especially when you fail to pick up disconnected body language signs (loss of eye contact, fidgeting) If you are talking, you are not listening. Ding! Ding!
- If you need to talk to wear someone down with your voice, then they are agreeing under duress. That was not successful communication. It could even be considered a form of passive aggression if you don’t allow your listener the opportunity to participate. Ding!
- It suggests that you think what you have to say is more important than what others have to say and conveys arroganceDing! Ding!
- It confirms that you like the sound of your own voice, email etc. See point 7. Ditto Ding!
So does this mean that women and chatterboxes in general have to learn “Mench,” the abridged speak of a certain type of male? Lynette felt that while organisational culture is male dominated this is a necessary work- around to get our voices heard. Isn’t this another one of those fix women things? No apparently not, it can be completely gender neutral. Factor in a general reduction in people’s attention span, then anything prolonged is going to be ineffective for both men and women alike. We have already seen the one minute elevator pitch cut back into the 30 second commercial.
So perhaps the converse can also apply Maybe we should start saying “OK that was the book cover blurb – now give me the mini-series”
Dads who equally divided the drudgery of household chores with their wives tended to have daughters whose “when I grow up” aspirations were less gender-stereotypical, suggests an upcoming paper in Psychological Science.
Moms’ work-equality beliefs did also color their daughters’ attitudes toward gender roles, but this study found that a stronger predictor of girls’ career goals was the way their dads handled domestic duties. The daughters of parents who shared housework were more likely to tell the researchers they wanted to be a police officer, a doctor, an accountant, or a “scientist (who studies germs to help doctors find what medicine each patient needs),” lead author Alyssa Croft wrote via email, quoting one little girl in the study.
…It tends to be really easy to see when you’ve done “saying thank you at work” wrong (because the other person is uncomfortable, offended, or just doesn’t know how to react), but hard to know when you’re doing it right.
In this post, I want to create a guide for how to say thank you at work based on the best widely accepted rules and smart strategies for forming trust and stronger relationships with your peers and coworkers.
Why saying thank you matters
At work, it’s often easier to say nothing than to risk saying “thanks” in the wrong way. And as such, a lot of us go about our days feeling under-appreciated or not realizing the impact our work has on other people.
People thrive at work when they know their contributions have meaning. Letting people know the ways in which their work matters — to you, to the company, to their team — helps you to keep the people around you engaged and excited about their work. Especially if you are a manager, this is an important part of your job.
Saying thank you helps to build trust and stronger relationships with the people you work with too. When people know you value them, they are more likely to value you in return and want to work with you (since you make them feel great about their contributions).
Plus, expressing gratitude isn’t just good for the people you’re thanking — it’s actually good for you too! People who say thank you are happier (it makes sense right? It feels good to help other people feel good) and are more well-liked. It’s like a self-perpetuating cycle; the more positivity you spread, the more is out there to come back to you.
Holding brainstorming sessions is easy. It’s the actual brainstorming that’s tough — and often ineffective. As the boss, how do you get your team to come up with great ideas on the spot, and then actually follow through? Members from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share some ideas.
Ask Your Team to Think Fast!
Encourage thinking on your feet, so every meeting typically includes a spur of the moment prompt, where each person quickly throws out an idea that comes to mind. Crazy is OK.
In order to get the most out of my team for a brainstorming session, we ask everyone to reach out via phone to someone they are grateful towards prior to the session. When we start the meeting, everyone comes in with a positive and open mind. The results are spectacular.
Ask for the Worst Idea in the Room
When creativity is at a standstill or a project is particularly difficult, I like to challenge our team members to come up with the WORST idea possible. Sometimes we even make it a competition, trying to one-up each other with even more ridiculous and off-the-wall ideas.
Know Your Team
One thing that helps to spur creativity is to have your team take a personality trait test and share their test results amongst their peers at a meeting. It’s a fun and different way of helping to foster a deeper understanding about each team member that will incite new and more effective/creative ways to think collectively.
Make It a Team Effort
To spur creativity, we play “Yes… and….” For a given problem each team member provides a solution that is not to be judged by anyone. Instead, another team says, “Yes I like this idea because…. and we can also….”
Humor is brain juice. Dopamine and endorphins keeps tension low, morale high, and bring people toward a state of engagement. Everything in a brainstorm session should be fair game for making FUN of. Bring people into the room who can make people laugh.
Extra credit points for having Play-Doh and other fun tactile objects that stimulate various regions of the brain. Also make sure people are fed. Forming new ideas takes up a lot of chemical resources.
Know When to Stop
Sometimes there’s only one right answer to a creative conundrum, from how the trade show booth should look to the headline and font for the new campaign. The simple, elegant, smart choice wins, and often the best answer comes up early on because it didn’t require too much thinking.
Take a Walk
When I want to get the creative juices flowing on our team, we go for a walk. We call these “walkies,” where we go for 15 minutes and talk about life. Generally, the conversation always goes back to work.
There is something about nature that spurs a person to be more creative. It will help you see the world better. I find that being healthy and alert will always boost up the creative side in people as well.
Provide Special Incentives
We value the creativity of our employees in routine brainstorming sessions and always encourage them to think “outside the box.” To show our appreciation for their creativity and implementation of a successful project, we reward them with special incentives like a weekend getaway.
Showcase Your Ideas
Our office has a massive whiteboard that we use to brainstorm and stay focused. Being able to walk into the office everyday and see your ideas in front of you is a constant reminder of what needs to get done. It is definitely an accomplishment to be able to erase something when it has been completed.
In place of a brainstorming session, we break each task down into very specific areas and have each team or individual attack each idea with a purpose. This gives them not only a starting location, but also a direction, and produces great results when combined with other teams/individuals who are given different tasks and directions.
Bring Wine—And Demand Results
Every Friday my team gets together for what we call the “Eatin’ Meetin’.” This is our time to relax, throw around ideas and talk about our deliverables for the week. Everyone eats cheese, drinks wine and brainstorms.
When someone throws out an idea and it’s well received, we simply talk about how we can make it happen and who can lend a hand. And that becomes their deliverable to report on for the next Eatin’ Meetin’.
All of these rticl;es and many more are collected together in Happiness At Work edition #97, online from Friday 30th May 2014.
I hope you find things here to use and enjoy.