Monday, July 6, 2020

A New Path to Employee Engagement


I was impressed to see statistics from Quantum Workplace that indicated Employee Engagement is actually UP in this time of isolation; impressed and somewhat bewildered. It seems a lot of the things we originally thought irreplaceable in formulating the Employee Experience can actually be replicated. Turns out, organizations have the tools to pivot in times of change, employees are really resilient and customer relationships can maintain their constructive viability without face-to-face contact.

Some might think that people are just happy to have a job in the parlance of our times. Others may look to the current state of things as a reckoning that many of the management objectives once assumed mandatory really are not that important. There seems to be an uptick in personal mental health for those who are able to balance work and life when they exist within the same four walls. The assumed perils of work from home structure (dogs barking, kids zoom bombing) are actually being celebrated. We're spending less time in traffic. Few are being called upon to board airplanes. Leaders are being lifted up in times of anguish by the very people they have been called upon to lead. Words like transparency, trust and vulnerability are working their way into professional values.

So, you are telling me, people when trusted to do their job actually do it?

Maybe it's time to take a hard look at workforce structure.... ?

What Really Motivates
People's motivation can be categorized by one of the following Intrinsic Motivators:
Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, Progress and/or Socialization

Six months ago, I would have told you that in-person interaction is necessary to tap into the aforementioned motivation characteristics. I would have been wrong.

Autonomy may not have been everyone's first choice for performance advancement but it has transitioned into a trait of necessity. Professional independence tends to come from experience. Companies would traditionally be more trusting of a 20 year workforce veteran to work from home more than they would a young person fresh out of college. Now, we're seeing a group of young people who are extremely proficient in e-learning making a simple transition to professional life in isolation.

Where mastery was once thought of as the ability to hone one's trade (see Gladwell's Outliers), now mastery and progress work hand-in-hand. As working from home becomes a new normal, employees will learn at a faster rate due to the proximity of information and learning opportunity.

Those who seek a social experience from work have found a way to navigate disappointment. Social feeds that drive ideation, collaboration and recognition are filling the dopamine fix many once found in company happy hours; these tools also help people get better at their job.     

There is a social justice movement in full swing across the world. In support, companies are opening employees to personal expression in the workplace in ways they never have. People are finding purpose-driven organizations to be desired places to work.

Give and Take
With savvy social media navigation comes a new approach to work. There is an #Unfollow culture emerging. In a time where every story has 75 angles, people have developed an acute awareness of propaganda. How does this relate to work? With Employee Empowerment comes the ability to stand for what you believe in and ignore what is not helpful. Busy work, micro-management, training for the sake of training and memorization to test out will take a back seat to meaningful advancement in the future of work.   

People We've Never Met
I've worked with people from all parts of the world, every day, for almost 10 years. Many of them I've never met face-to-face. There are "friends" that I have in social media circles who I have known for two decades and never seen in physical form. I consider many of these people dear friends. Why are we still of the impression that being within sneezing distance of someone is the only way to form a lifelong bond?

People are sheltering in place across the world. Office buildings are closed. Major conferences have been cancelled. Trips for achievement are on-hold. Training sessions at corporate HQ aren't likely to be happening any time soon......

..... and Employees are More Engaged than ever!

Remember the episode of The Office when the team finds themselves at their highest point of productivity without a boss?

Look for major shifts towards Holacracy in the future.... and be amazed by how incredibly great work can be when the water cooler is closed indefinitely.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The New Social Media


My father told me a long time ago that the best way to break up a good time was to bring religion or politics into a conversation. His intent was always respected but that was a long long time ago.

Enter Social Media. I was an early adopter of LinkedIn and Twitter, I use these avenues in a manner that seldom requires commentary. Not all social sites (or the networks we have built upon them) observe rules of engagement. This "sharing" world has become a battle ground.... and it seems to be getting worse. If we all stopped arguing with empty profiles think of how our individual mental health would improve. Imagine if our mood for the day wasn't predicated by what Ward from Oklahoma thinks of your shirt.... ???

Pandemic has robbed us of physical human interaction so our focus on social media has intensified; good for good and bad for bad. What if we embraced a new life devoid of negativity in the wonderland of social media?



Re-Establish Your Network
This may seem like a crazy concept, but how about this: If a person in your network makes participating difficult, unfollow them.

Assess the time, effort and anguish you put into being "friends" with your high school buddy or Aunt Karen. If you are giving more than you get back at the behest of positivity in your network.... unfollow them.

Sure, the virtual Thanksgiving dinner might be weird for a few years, but screw it. If you have a network in harmony, your life will become immediately better.

The reason people challenge thought is because you've allowed them to.

Take control and move into a positive direction.

Quit
At the onset of the Lenten season in 2019, I stopped participating in Facebook. Seems like a silly thing to sacrifice, but I was spending a couple hours a day in debate with my friends. Just seemed like a waste of time and energy.

If you are on a social network that in confrontation driven. Stop using that application. 

We all have our moments of responding with vitriol. Maybe it's a political or human rights matter.... Far less important social media arguments have ended friendships. 100% of the time when people release their feeling from cyber-space into reality, the conversation is far less heated.

What if you vowed to participate a whole day in social media submitting only positive information? What if that day turned into.... FOREVER!

The world is in it's most fragile state. People are losing their jobs, businesses and lives. Are we really still fretting over conversations had with a screen about things that aren't that important?

Do you really think you are going to change someones mind with your feedback to one of their posts? If you never brought it up would it make any difference?

Did calling out someone's ideology make your life better?

Our lives are consumed with screen time at the moment. Try to eliminate everything that takes a percentage more energy than the likelihood of achieving a positive result.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Employee Empowerment


Human Resources has often had to straddle the recognition of employee personal brands vs their organizational engagement. In this day-and-age many individuals have larger follower bases than those of the organization they represent. Still to this day, individuals have lost employment opportunities due to their social media behaviors. While we see many companies using employee advocacy to boost their brand and celebrate individuality. Take into account employees participating in large gatherings for social justice while navigating a pandemic and enforcing policy outside of work becomes ever-complicated.

The elusive permanence of work from home policy paired with the wave of social justice will no doubt have a lasting impact on workforce culture. As employee engagement gave way to employee experience, its now time to give awareness to Employee Empowerment!

Without proximity to look over employee shoulders, managers who rule by control have lost a major component of their entitlement. Simply put, trust is the only path forward. Managers who cannot lead through positive direction will soon render themselves irrelevant. Employees have had a taste of working at their own pace and will seek to continue self-motivation (and we'll have data to prove efficiency). As the world evolves to empower individual brands, expect to see HR playing a key role in helping managers develop as true people leaders.

With transparency in the ether the transformation of employee empowerment will put an end to workplace bullying.  

Attention to Mental Health
It's difficult to work from home for three months straight without having good days and bad. The personal isolation resulting from the virtual office has brought hyper-focus on employee mental health. It is a shame that it took a global pandemic to bring peoples mental conditioning to the forefront but this revelation will ultimately serve a higher purpose. Much in the way intolerance of workplace bullying will improve manager/employee relationships, we will also see a vast improvement in recognizing employee burnout.

With freedom to express one's mental fatigue comes a workplace collective that is based in support of all people toward social evolution.

Encouraged Activism
There was a time when seeing an employee fighting for social justice on the front page might have been frowned upon. That time is gone. Politics overlapping with professional purpose can create workplace unrest but freedom of expression can no longer be regulated. Allowing employees time off to vote, the license to serve social causes and levity in personal expression is an unwritten right.

Employees who have the ability to do work that matters in service of a cause that is making a difference will stay forever. Even if your company serves a more mundane purpose, recognizing individual's personal passion will help invigorate their professional purpose.

2020 may very well be noted as the most confusing year in human history. With uncertainty comes a lack of control but we are starting to discover that this can be an avenue to progress.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

MAPS

As we endure our 14th week in quarantine we are finding order without perfection. One thing is for sure:

Personal Strategy is as important as Collective Harmony.

Finding little wins helps and in every day we try to learn and evolve. We've gained hours once lost to commuting, we've learned to make silo-ed communication meaningful and it seems interpersonal disputes are no longer all-consuming.

Without in-person calamity, we are continually engaging with other human beings; some lift us up while others seek to project frustration. There are people who have always been better at working at their own pace where struggle has become commonplace in those who require more attention. Managers are losing the ability to look over employee shoulders so those who cannot trust will fail. Some things will never be fixed but we can focus on what we can control.



Mental Discipline
If you sit in your house for three months you are going to have good days and bad. The evolved attention to employee mental health will be amplified tenfold post-COVID. A lasting shift in how people are treated is coming like a tidal wave and employee empowerment will hit an all time high.

Is your company ready?

Are you ready?

Finding personal discipline will be the defining characteristic that separates highly successful people from those who struggle over the next 18 months. This will require an ability to take total personal accountability for your success while allowing others empathy. Individuals will be required to do twice as much with half the resources. Navigating fear of reduction will override any abundance of back patting. Those who are able to put the work in without expectation of reward will emerge with an enlightened approach to success.  

Activist Mindset
As we struggle through a time of unimaginable disappointment, compassion is the only vehicle for progress. Most humans possess an inherent desire to help others but support may be a passive exercise. Assembly and volume can put the boat into the water but part of acknowledging the strife of others means allowing them to drive.

You don't have to march to learn about other people. Make time every day to learn something about someone different from you.

Physical Commitment
As if evolving your personal ideology in isolation is not challenging enough, you'll also have to commit to your own physical health.

You will need to...

1. Exercise 7 days a week
2. Eat Right
3. Sleep (at least) 8 hours an evening
4. Lay off the booze
5. Manage your susceptibility to disease contraction

When you commit to physical health, EVERYTHING gets easier!
 
Spiritual Enhancement
Pray

Read



Interact with people who uplift you

Find sources of inspiration

Things will continue to be less than ideal for a great while. The discipline of navigating this segment of history will be something that stays with you forever.


Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave     

Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Shift in Behavioral Modeling

Dr. Michael Ahearne of the University of Houston shared research this week that pointed to a dynamic shift from transactional to trusting customer relationships through the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic. We've seen insight into how to work from home more efficiently. With theory becoming a sustained reality, it is now time for human beings to adapt and persevere.

Additionally, there has been a noticeable transition from quantitative to qualitative measurements of organizational success. This means keeping an acute focus on revenue while changing the measures by which to get there.

I've authored several articles on the importance of Behavioral Modeling in the past. Whether you create performance pillars based in intrinsic motivators or you subscribe to the SCARF methodology to guide manager/employee relationships, the time is now to shift focus.

To evolve workforce strategy, Total Rewards teams are presented an opportunity to marry compensation and benefit strategy. This new normal will be rooted in technology. With an already intense strain on HRIS teams, the deployment of Human Capital Management technology may be an additional unmet need. Here, the opportunity for field management to utilize existing platforms will bring historically fragmented parties together in partnership.

Work with What You've Got
With goals shifting from individual to team based, competition will give way to collaboration. This synergy will produce an avenue for engagement at higher levels than in the past. Collective achievement can have a more profound impact than individual employees taking all the credit. Those of greatest contribution can still be recognized while complemented by a grander strategy based in collaborative advancement.

We've seen this before. The retail banking scandal of last decade moved tellers from transaction-based selling goals to a more responsible customer support model. It may come as a surprise but customers added more products to their portfolio and the term of customer relationships were lengthened. 

Continued Leverage
So we are calling upon individuals to be a bigger part of the collective. How do we measure that?

1. Put qualitative performance pillars in place
a.     Teamwork
b.     System Population
c.     Training Completion

2. Measure the above systematically
a.     Manager Coaching
b.     Badging for Milestone Completion
c.     Leaderboards

You'll see how these formally assumed "fluff" programs become measurable and actionable.

With the carrot now affixed at the end of a longer stick, will employees continue to be motivated?

As budgets shift you'll have plenty of opportunity to reward employees for short term goal attainment through non-cash rewards and save compensation bonuses for overall measured production.  

The Jerry Maguire Rule      

"We are losing our battle with all that is personal and real about our business" - Jerry Maguire

The above excerpt is from Jerry Maguire's mission statement entitled "The Things We Think and Do Not Say". With the extraordinary financial strain of COVID19 related work adjustments, this mission statement is more relevant that ever. As Dr. Ahearne further exemplified in his research, bringing value to clients will be the only way to retain them. Similar to the unwritten agreement employers have with their employees, now more than ever, trust will drive client relationships.

What does this mean?

Robotic approaches to customer service will not sustain. Sales professionals will need to invest deeply in knowledge attainment of customer needs and how to solve business challenges. Organizational leaders will have to be realistic while creating inspiration at a level they may have shied away from in the past.

The road ahead will be rocky and no one can see the bridge to stability quite yet. It would be great to have simple answers but there are none.

Now is the time to invest in employee development and put customers first. Advocacy will win the day... One day at a time!

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave    

Friday, May 15, 2020

Note to My Younger Self

A #NextChat question posed earlier this week (along with some virtual commencement speeches) got me thinking about the lessons I've learned in 20 years of corporate life. As seniors navigate the disappointment of proms and graduations lost and young professionals seek entry into an economically compromised corporate world, I figured I would reflect.

Early in my career I was all effort and no theory. I worked tirelessly for 12 hours daily. I took on any project offered me. I was the first to show up and the last to leave. I succeeded and failed. I experienced glory and disappointment. I networked and learned how to utilize technology and played the political game of moving up the ladder. I was uncompromisingly determined and insanely annoying. I wanted everyone to know how smart I was and I would stop at nothing to mention it (directly) to everyone. My heart was in the right place, but my "motivation" looked more like nervous energy.

Do Your Fighting In The Ring

I see it every day in the workplace. Employees who are new to the company that are hell bent on announcing their arrival. This is done through asking multiple leading questions in team meetings (to show off how smart you are), sharing articles you've found on topics of interest (to show how resourceful you are) and reply to all emails across the organization (so everyone knows that you have keen insight). Almost 100% of the people who are loudest in their on-boarding training class are searching for a new job within a year.

Be Patient

I've been in sales my entire career. The skill set of the sales professional is not synonymous with patience. We are extroverted and action oriented. Some of us were even taught that hearing "no" was a way to advancing the conversation (side note: most sales training sucks).

At a certain point in my career my emotional intelligence started to override my ego. I learned to have conversations with people at the level of their peers. People hate sales people, they also love to share with people they trust.

The greatest compliment I can receive from anyone is: you're not like most sales people I've met.   

Question Your Motives     

It is difficult to do, but bringing self analysis to everything you do is of massive importance. With every action you take, you have to ask yourself, "am I doing this because there is an authentic intent or am I just trying to impress others?" Far too often the answer tends toward the latter but we program ourselves to ignore it. We can't imagine not being seen, especially when others around us are being recognized with pageantry. If you are working for a trophy, you are in it for the wrong reasons.

Self confidence is an act of personal security based in divine introversion. Listening is more important than talking. Leadership is an act of servitude. It is far more important to recognize than to be recognized. We must learn to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Little Wins


As we enter another week in quarantine we've all figured out how to use zoom and have adapted the ability to wear shorts with a sport coat. We're tired of hearing strategies of how to work from home and we certainly aren't delighted when receiving cold calls from vendors "just checking up on us".  Many people have lost jobs, others their businesses and some their lives. There simply is no silver lining.

As we traverse another day in the bunker, unsure if it's Saturday or Monday, little wins are the thing that get us through each day: a puzzle completed, a milestone on the peloton, our homemade sourdough afloat.

With the new normal now fully operational and a sensitivity for employee well-being, it's time for companies to help secure some little wins.

Learning
We've seen a transition in workforce directives as many quantitative measures have been altered or put on hold. A shift to behavioral modeling to enhance qualitative skills seems to be happening. This, in an effort to help employees build a sustainable skill set while core function may be temporarily altered.

These qualitative models are driven by learning. Formulated correctly, a path can be created to help employees learn every day through a variety of skill building exercises.

At the end of a trying day fraught with financial challenges and bad news, knowledge-based achievement provides a much needed boost of dopamine. 

Problem Solving
We all navigate the precept of "what keeps us up at night". Knowing there are things we cannot control leaves us feeling uncertain (and at times helpless). While there is little that can be done to solve the world's problems between you and the ceiling at 2am, when you get out of bed and jump into the issue, pressure dissipates.

Problems may pass but inaction doesn't benefit our self-control. So, if we can dig into a situation at work that poses difficulty, we may find that we are making progress. There is a great sense of achievement in creating solutions where once problems seemed insurmountable. It is the achievement of problem solving that brings us all a little closer to control in these uncertain times.

Relationship Building   
Even the worst micro-managers have adapted to act in the best interest of employee well-being. Customers who may have been over-demanding in the past have developed an ability to express forgiveness. Strangers we pass on the street seem to have a longing for connection that relays empathy where otherwise there may have been apathy.

People we work with are starting to tell stories. We are learning about one another. We'll look back on these times with a fair amount of dread but we'll emerge from them with a better appreciation of one another.

Little Wins.... that's what matters right now!

To learn something, to help solve a problem, to make a new friend.

The Next Chapter
As days fold into one another, we do our best to live in the moment, but gathering perspective is extraordinarily important. So where do we go from here?

I'd like to think that the jobs, businesses and lives lost to COVID19 will not permit the luxury of returning to "business as usual". With respect to the greater human population it is incumbent upon businesses worldwide to tackle the future of work with compassion.

"That but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'ld jump the life to come" - William Shakesphere

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave   

Friday, March 27, 2020

Moving Toward Certainty


We are 2 weeks into a 12 week (?) isolation. Times are uncertain but words like transparency and candor are becoming commonplace. It's been refreshing. When you dig into what is genuinely important, the difference between partnership and product transaction starts to emerge. When we stop pretending to be on opposite sides of the table, trust gets us closer to genuine human development.

In times when things are undetermined, leadership is of paramount importance. I don't mean this in terms of pulpit speeches from CEOs; Leadership right now comes from the trenches. The importance of transformation is being driven by those who do not have elevated titles.... these are the people who will save companies.

When bravado is no longer an option, learning becomes a priority. The question is whether we can adopt these practices into our long term strategy.

Candor
It is somewhat startling that it takes a tragedy to pull common sense into business relationships. Conversation over the last two weeks has been rooted in human compassion:

What are you using that you don't need?
What are we missing strategically that we may have overlooked in the past?
How can we help?

Seems simple to raise such questions, but we tend to forget what genuinely propels us forward. Strategy needs to be the sum of that which make people's jobs easier. We need to forget the concentration on line items to survey the larger picture.  

Adaptation 
Technology has never been more important than it is in this very moment.....

We are pulling together virtually to measure critical project milestones. We are sharing information to help others get past hurdles that have held us up in the past. Our intranets are landing pads for everything that is essential to our organizational function at this moment in time.

THANK YOU are now the two most important words that can be texted, tweeted, emailed or shared in social technology. People everywhere are sharing stories of Human Success without being able to shake hands or hug those who have helped them triumph.  

Certainty   
This too shall pass.... we'll be able to talk through business challenges in a room together at some point in the future. Until then, there is a need for quick fixes that will keep production moving forward.

And it sucks....

We wish we could see our work families. We wish we could gather in conference halls. We wish we could catch a plane to a sunny island to celebrate our hard work. That time will come but until then we need to document, track, visualize, create, expand and reward ourselves in a place where avatars replace faces and high fives look more like badges.

Inventory every piece of technology available to your employees and find a way to maximize purpose. I'll bet the practical process of applied intelligence will outlast the pain of isolation.....

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave    

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Right Now Won't Last Forever


We are concluding day 3 of mandated social distancing here in Northern California but it seems like it's been 3 months. Its been made apparent that this new style of existence may last for 3 months.... thus feeling as though we've been in the bunker for 90 years (don't check my math on that).

Our staff in the incubator exists of a sixth grader and an eight grader (adapting to virtual learning), my wife, my dog, my mother-in-law and I.... so if you are alone and feeling lonely in this time, you might want to reconsider your good fortune.

With virtual work we're (almost forced) to consume a greater degree of Social Media and Television transmission. I'd suggest implementing some personal controls to limit interaction with the aforementioned channels of (mis)information.

It might be 3 weeks or 3 months (hopefully not longer than that) but we'll emerge from this with some new habits. I'd bet we'll appreciate our families more. We'll find a new appreciation for our ability to solve business problems without having to drive hours to crowded offices. We'll also miss going to offices and the hugs from co-workers that provide some levity between meetings about meetings to talk about meetings. We may get better about limiting unnecessary communication. There may come an ability to consider the circumstance of each decision we make and to prioritize our time accordingly. We might stop caring so much about things that are out of our control. Maybe we'll stop allowing hatred to guide our ego and give in to Love. But mostly, we'll miss the hugs.




I'd assume most reading this live in a capitalist society that allows you to control your own destiny should you be willing to put the work in. So naturally, frustration will wash over us multiple times a day while shut away in our bunkers. This might prompt one to go onto social media and condemn others for trying to make a living (albeit amid a lack of sensitivity for the moment at hand). We may want to curse politicians (in-office or awaiting election). We'll get into our cars and yell at other drivers. Maybe we'll find a bottle to release our frustration that will only fuel our anxiety. We might forget about our elderly parents while locked in debate with @bootyshaker2006. This too, I would advise against.

Indeed, our desire to control what we cannot may give way to a need to revisit that which we know to be universally true....     

In his remarkable 2013 South By Southwest keynote, Dave Grohl reflected on a time of sleeping on floors and on stages and on floors underneath stages. Recalling this venture through a slumdog existence with complete joy. He was dirty and uncomfortable and the future was uncertain but he was free.

Mr Bruce Springsteen recalled his family fleeing to the west coast leaving him a teenager alone in his home town. The page was completely blank, everything was uncertain, there was nothing but opportunity in front of him...... It was his to explore.

David Foster Wallace explained to Kenyon College's class of 1995 that the most important choice they had in-front of them was the choice of that which they chose to worship. Advice without entitlement left to ponder before he left the world.

The unlikely Icon, Rodney Mullen spent his life hell-bent in the pursuit of perfection (only to achieve it twice).

Coach Jim Valvano reminded us to laugh, think and cry.... every day.

Then there was the guy who climbed a 3,000 vertical surface without a rope.

We've heard world leaders make bold statements with promises of action in times like these that helped us pull up our boot straps. There are pre-game speeches from coaches leading their teams into what seemed certain defeat only to propel them to victory. There are scenes from movies that inspire our spirits to tears. There are songs that fill the air and set time into complete neutrality.

.... and you can access it all without having to leave the bunker.



Turn off the news. Shut down the lap top. Go find what really matters.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave    

Monday, March 16, 2020

Some Inspirational Educational Material

It's day one of social distancing and we're still getting used to tribal isolation. My children will be e-learning their curriculum over the next two weeks so to break up the monotony I advised my son to take a look at the video content below. You might like to check them out as well......... 



Greta Thunberg - TED talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAmmUIEsN9A

Dave Grohl - SXSW Keynote - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efv0Y5Fs7m4

David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

Laird Hamilton - Greatest Ride Ever - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKRh9U59zSk

Inconoclasts - Sean Penn and John Krakaur - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9tjqblawHA

Everybody's free to wear sunscreen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQlJ3vOp6nI

Kate Tempest - Peoples Faces - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSMffdtyOwI

 
 
 
Until next time...
 
 
Don't Forget to Remember, 
 
Dave