How to Deepen the Workplace Bond

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports. Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Another, more sustainable approach to bonding with employees is to actively connect with them on a regular basis. Hewlett Packard (HP) founders William Hewlett and David Packard used a strategy that has become known as MBWA, or Management By Wandering Around. As its name implies, MBWA requires regular walking throughout the workplace. It offers many benefits to leaders and their employees

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When to Keep Pushing or Pull Back?

Recently, I needed to have a service performed on my car, so I reached out to some providers. I had used one of them, who I’ll call Jake, in the past and was leaning towards doing so again. At the end, however, I decided to go with someone else and communicated my decision to Jake.

Unfortunately, Jake was not all too happy and would not leave me alone afterwards. Instead of accepting my decision, he continued to text and call me to try to discuss. I made clear that my decision had been made, but it took some time until the “harassment” ended.

Suffice it to say that Jake did not earn any credit towards future work with his choice of response.

After thinking about it, I started to realize that I have more Jake in me than I may care to admit.

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5 Tips to Increase Workplace Engagement

The statistics about worker disengagement are staggering. We read all the time about how workplace engagement levels are low here in the U.S. and even lower around the world. Loss of productivity is estimated to cost employers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, if not billions. And it all stems from how disconnected folks feel from the people working around them, the work that they do each day, and the purpose that it serves to them and to others.

Workplace connection results in many benefits, including stronger communication, greater synergy, enhanced anticipation of others’ needs and worries / concerns, and, last but certainly not least, increased worker engagement. When we feel connected, we operate with a sense of purpose and utilize our many talents and abilities to advance that purpose, consciously as well as subconsciously.  

The need for connection at work is perhaps stronger today than ever before. It has become an expectation, especially amongst younger workers, that the workplace be a source of meaning and intention, not just a place at which to collect a paycheck.

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How NOT to show appreciation

Do your people feel valued and appreciated at work?

If you're a leader, one of the most important things you need to be doing is thinking about how can you demonstrate appreciation – that's right – appreciation for your people and what they are doing for you.

We cannot assume that just because we pay people – and often pay them really well – that that alone constitutes appreciation.

Nor can we assume that just because we don't need appreciation, which may or may not be the case, but even if we don't, that others don't as well.

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Make What’s Most Important Most Important

One morning last week, I made myself my favorite breakfast – fruit-filled pancakes – before heading downstairs to my home office to get my day started.

Shortly before I finished, I used some of the batter to prepare a plain pancake for my teenage daughter (she doesn’t seem to feel that pancakes and fruit go together), and she decided to sit down to eat it. This is a girl that almost never eats breakfast, certainly not in the kitchen.

So, instead of making my way downstairs, I sat down right there in the kitchen and ate with her.

We chatted about breakfast, school, and other stuff.

It was short but pleasant and a great way for both if us to start our days.

Sometimes, in our rush to get to work and (officially) start our days, we jump in, power up and plow ahead, leaving our lives behind for the time being.

At least, that’s what usually happens to me.

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How to Help Yourself When You’re Helping Others

A colleague of mine recently attended an educational conference. She met a teacher during a session about working with students who have experienced trauma. The teacher said that she knew how to help traumatized students but asked wonderingly, “How do I help me? You have to get into their lives in order to teach them. And their trauma is deep. It stays with you. So, here’s my question: After I go over the line to help them, who pulls me back?”

Sadly, traumatic situations do not only affect students and their teachers. Many working professionals have also experienced workplace trauma, which can be categorized as follows: (1) stressful events (death, grief, suicide, accident or injury), (2) organizational stressors (bullying, threats, harassment, betrayal, maliciousness, extreme isolation, chronic pressure, toxic work environment, uncertainty, fear for the future, downsizing or fear of unemployment), (3) physical stressors (noise, chaotic environment, sense of no control over space, fear for physical safety, harsh or flashing lights, extremes of heat or cold, working amid construction) and (4) external threats (evacuation, lockdown, fire or robbery).

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The Risk of Staying in the Safe Lane

For our recent family road trip, my wife and I went with our children for two days of sightseeing in nearby cities. In total, we spent around ten hours in the car, mostly on 3 lane highways and predominantly at night, with little roadside scenery to take in. This gave me, the sole driver, plenty of time to observe my road-mates.

For the most part, the other drivers on the road followed the standard script. Those in the right lane were the slowest, with lots of folks occupying that lane temporarily to enter or exit the road. Drivers in the center lane were the majority. They maintained a healthy, predictable speed and were largely content to keep their place in line. Then there were the left-laners. These folks were the most aggressive, clocking in at the highest speeds. They would also weave in and out of lanes in order to improve their position and arrival times.

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Negotiating Tips from a Parent's Perspective

Probably the hardest morning for me is Monday.

It's the day that my wife drives carpool and I am responsible to get our little one out the door.

As you can imagine, it's not always so simple.

He's got his own agenda, isn't the quickest to get up in the morning, certainly doesn't love to get dressed.

Giving him breakfast is a challenge.

Helping them decide on what he wants for lunch is a challenge. In general, it's a challenge.

Actually, a lot of the key things that we do when we want to negotiate with our kids, we also need to be thinking about what we want to negotiate with adults too.

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Are our phones to blame, or are we?

I used to think that our phones were making us antisocial. Go on a train or walk into a room with lots of folks and you'll see almost everyone trained on their screens. This is so disheartening. And so common. But then I see pics of folks 50-100 years ago going off to work or waiting in line, each with a newspaper open before them. No conversation. No connection. Times, they really haven't been a 'changin.

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