Showing posts from July, 2007

Human Work?

A couple months ago, I wrote about forgiveness at work.

This morning on my train ride to New York, I started reading John Scherer's book Work and the Human Spirit, where he has a great line:

"...the quality of work we do cannot be separated from the quality of 'self' we manage to create in our lives."

What is this "quality of self?" And how do we find it?

That's what John's work has been about for over thirty years. His book (which I strongly recommend) is a wonderfully uplifting and moving description of how he has worked with many people on these questions.

It's a process of growing self-awareness, of shifting some things around at a deep level within the self, and an acceptance of who we are meant to be and what we are meant to do.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 27, 2007

Listening to the 95 Year-Old You

Do you ever wish you had your own Yoda or Gandalf to give you wise advice and guide you through life?

Leadership and coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith says that you already have such a guide. Your wise old coach is right there, inside of your imagination.

Goldsmith has a column in Business Week, called "The Best Coaching You Will Ever Get," where he suggests a way to find the secret to success and happiness:

"...imagine that you are 95 years old and you are just about to die. But before you take your last breath, you are being given a wonderful, beautiful gift: the ability to travel back in time and talk with the person who is reading this column. The 95-year-old you has been given the chance to help the you of today to have a great career and, much more important, to have a great life."

Wow, what a great exercise. What would the 95 year old You say to you right now?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 25, 2007

Consultants as Detectives

At Gautam Ghosh's blog, his guest blogger R. Karthik has an interesting piece about consultants as detectives, where he says:

Ever wondered what (competencies) on earth could a consulting practice be built around if it were to deal with crime detection? Arthur Conan Doyle-the creator of Sherlock Holmes describes his profession as one of a 'Consultant Detective.'

When people stood amazed at his success in solving mysterious crimes, he would state in a matter-of-fact tone: "It is my business to know what others do not."

Reminds me of something that Fritz Steele wrote about many years ago (in Consulting for Organizational Change, 1981), where he mused that, if a consultant is like a detective, then the client is like a suspect.

Hmmm...Does that mean that a consultant's job is suspection? Is that even a word?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 23, 2007

Stop Making Your Employees So Happy!

Analyst to CEO of Costco: "Your results to date are very impressive. They would be even better if you weren't so generous to your employees."

Sounds crazy, right? Never happen?

Apparently it has, as Alexander Kjerulf points out.

How nutty is it to say to a company "Stop making your employees so happy" when that very strategy is paying off for the organization and its customers?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 17, 2007

Story Walking

At my church, each Spring when the Pastoral Council is commissioned, the group goes on retreat for a few days to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

One of my favorite memories of the Council retreat is the Emmaus Walk where, in pairs, the Council members walk the grounds of the retreat center for over an hour. The only guideline we are given for the Emmaus Walk is to walk together in peace.

Everyone who has ever been on a Pastoral Council retreat mentions the Emmaus Walk as one of the standouts of the experience. What makes it work so well? Since it is almost totally free of structure, the lives of the walkers can emerge and flourish in the walking. The walk becomes a sharing of each person's story.

(For those interested, the Emmaus Walk concept is derived from scripture. Luke 24:13-35 where it says: "Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.")

Can you envision ap…

Friday Blogosphere Roundup...

Spiritual OD Guy Kenny Moore (co-author of the Ceo and the Monk) has a new blog to further spread his wonderful workplace wisdom.

IT blogger Mike Schaffner's latest, Take the Test, may become a classic. If you are in IT, read it.

And, in the category of Very Exciting for Me Personally: I am a guest blogger at McArthur's Rant. Thanks, Scott, for the invitation to write about Karl Weick's concept of sensemaking.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 13, 2007

Engaging Brand, Engaged Employees

David Taylor, at Where's the Sausage? (great blog title), has an attention-grabbing entry called Employee Engagement is DEAD, where he says:

"...the biggest driver of pride in the company was working on "products and services are seen as the best", and that in turn, proud employees were more loyal, put in extra effort and recommend the company's products and services."

Bottom Line: The key to engaging your employees is to have an engaging brand.

Some other recent blog postings on engagement:

- Systematic HR on a Harvard Business study that includes employee engagement in a list of five human capital drivers

- Anna Farmery, of The Engaging Brand, on how to boost profits by engaging employees

- Some of theoutcomes of the 12th Annual ORC Employee Research Conference in London

- Ann Bares, of Compensation Force, on Towers Perrin study of how "work environment" affects employee engagement.

Added Note: And here is a podcast series from Ireland on employee enga…

The Future of Coaching

A recent article about coaching, by Marlene Prost in HR Executive Online, titled HR Using Less Executive Coaching, is causing a bit of a stir.

Prost writes: "Is the heyday of corporate executive coaching over? Apparently so, according to a recent survey that found companies are cutting back on using coaches.

"In its 2007 annual survey, Novations Group Inc., the Boston-based consulting and training organization, asked 322 HR professionals how much they rely on executive coaches. Of those who use coaches, one-third said that they rely less on them than in the past."

One third. That's big. Is the coaching wave starting to ebb?

Maybe companies are cutting back on some of the high-priced executive coaches, but I think a shift is taking place in favor of internal coaching.

Companies are gradually coming around to some important realizations about coaching:

1. that it's not just for the C-level (for example see Charan and Hunt & Weintraub)

2. that is can make a measura…

Sharing Bread Together

OD Guy Kenny Moore once pointed out that the word "company" comes from "sharing bread together."

He wrote: "At its core, company is about meaning, purpose and mutual support. Many of today’s businesses had their origins around like-minded individuals coming
together to support and nurture each other in starting a labor of love."

That gave me one of those "Whoa!" moments. How many companies have an awareness of this? How many have lost this sense of company...and lost their way as a result?

What are the implications for managers?

Moore points out a connection to employee engagement: "It is when people feel a sense of belonging and purpose that they more willingly contribute not only their hands but also their heads and hearts to bring about business success."

What are the implications for Organization Development practitioners?

Moore suggests that long-term organizational success is "less about the bottom line and more about establ…

Desire Motivates Everything.

Following up my recent entry on engagement, I came across some additional items on ways that managers can motivate employees more effectively.

Blogger Cheri Baker, at The Enlightened Manager, wonders why engagement works and concludes that "Desire motivates everything." I could not agree more! Reminds me of my Pop Warner football coach who used to yell at us, "You gotta have desire. Without desire, you won't win." As a kid, I was clueless as to what he meant. Now, over forty years later, I get it!

Blogger David Zinger, at David Zinger on Employee Engagement, says that disengagement can be a good thing! Good point.

Finally, Caribbean blogger Francis Wade's latest newsletter is all about employee engagement and how managers can intervene more effectively.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 3, 2007

Satir on Change

A few months back, consultant Stuart Scott of consulting firm Guinnen MacRath, told me about a change model developed by family therapy pioneer Virginia Satir. Today I came across a blog entry by Sandy Kristin Piderit on this topic, where she provides a link to a nice article by Dale Emeryon how Satir's thinking can be applied to organizational change.

What I like about the Satir model is that it rings right to me, especially:

~ The Foreign Element. The thing that disturbs the equilibrium and triggers chaos. It can be almost anything. A takeover or a downsizing. A birth or a death.

~ The Transforming Idea. The gem of a notion that occurs during the chaos which provides the pathway forward to new learning, reintegration, and beyond.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 2, 2007

Mapping Your Future

At LinkedIn Answers, futurist Rohit Talwar asked what questions should organizations be asking to map their futures. I offered the following:

~ Why are we here?

~ What are we called to be?

~ What are the possibilities for what we could become?

~ What do we want to be when we grow up?

So...what questions would you ask?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 2, 2007