Saturday, January 31, 2009

Engaging Voices - Michael Lee Stallard

Continuing the Engaging Voices series begun with David Zinger and Tim Wright, I am pleased to add Michael Lee Stallard, with an entry he calls "Weathering the Storm." The author of the Connection Culture manifesto and the book Fired Up or Burned Out, Michael is the president of E Pluribus Partners, a consulting firm that focuses on helping leaders increase employee and customer engagement.

Weathering the Storm by Michael Lee Stallard

I was an enthusiastic 21-year old recent college graduate when I arrived for my first day of work at Texas Instruments in 1981. Ready to take on the business world, what I encountered was an office of stressed-out co-workers. The day before, the company had announced its largest layoff in history. The mood at the firm made me wonder if I had just bought myself a seat on the Titanic. Since then I’ve lived through many a restructuring and downsizing and learned how to cope with the normal feelings that arise in times of uncertainty.

When colleagues lose their jobs, it is natural for us to fear for our own. Triggered are a range of emotions, including anxiety, anger, sadness and even grief. These emotions are grounded in our needs for respect, recognition and a sense of belonging at work. Meeting these needs is critical to restoring normal emotions.

If office morale is low due to job cutbacks, I recommend people concentrate on two areas. First, focus on what you control, that is, your efforts in carrying out your own job responsibilities. When you do this, your colleagues will see you in a more favorable light. If you mope around and complain, however, it looks immature and selfish. Now is not the time to drop the ball. If the team has been weakened, everyone needs to step up during this time of adjustment.

The worst thing for people going through a time of uncertainty is to feel alone. When we feel alone, we tend to become more pessimistic and may over-react out of that pessimism. The office mood will sink even further if everyone tries to “suck it up” on their own. When people worry about losing their jobs or get stuck in their grief over the loss of their former colleagues, the level of the stress-related hormone cortisol soars in their bodies. A whole host of negative physical and mental effects arise when cortisol remains high. When people feel connected relationally, however, and receive encouragement from others, their cortisol levels fall. The connection helps them feel better and the clouds of gloom will begin to clear. The second response I recommend, then, is to intentionally reach out to “connect and encourage” your colleagues.

Connecting with a co-worker may include taking him out for a meal or coffee, or out for a walk. As important as the time and attention is the opportunity to get him to talk about how he’s feeling. Listen closely to him and try hard to empathize. Encourage him by complimenting him on his strengths and assuring him that he will be fine. Because your co-worker will feel respected by you and recognized for what he does well, it will boost his sense of belonging to the group. And when you connect with and encourage others, you will find that you feel better too.

You can make a difference and lift the spirits of your co-workers by taking the initiative to connect and encourage the people around you. Stay on task. Your team will weather this storm and the support and encouragement you show one another will make you better equipped for the future.

[Copyright 2009 by Michael Lee Stallard. All rights reserved]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 31, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity

How do you turn crisis into opportunity?

This is a highly relevant question to thousands upon thousands who are losing their jobs in the economic downturn.

Blogger Jeff Ogden at CEO Ideas gives us a little preview of an interview with Jim Collins that will be coming out soon in Fortune magazine, where Collins addresses this question.

Here are a couple of the points Ogden selected:

- You must make change and not panic.
- More important than a plan is the people you have with you.
- You have to believe you will prevail.

Collins' advice for business leaders can be applied to job hunters quite well. And his last point has a special resonance for me.

Yesterday, at the "speed coaching" event sponsored by at the NY Public Library, I was coaching a young job hunter when a radio reporter from News Radio 88 approached us to interview us. After asking the job seeker a battery of questions, she turned to me and asked me, "What's the 'number one nugget of advice' that you give as a coach to people who have been downsized?"

I said, "You have to believe in yourself."

Added Note Feb 14: An expanded take on this is now a guest blog entry on Slacker Manager.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today we celebrate the first birthday of the Employee Engagement Network started a year ago by consultant David Zinger.

It was a meteoric year for the fledgeling social network, attracting practitioners in the blossoming field of employee engagement, from around the world.

Some of the milestones:

- Grew from an idea to 750 members. That means an average of two people joined every day last year!

- Created 230 forums; formed 14 specials groups; wrote 140 blog posts on the site.

- Created two free e-books. One book offered over 300 ideas on Employee Engagement from A to Z and the other offered 52 sentences of advice on Employee Engagement.

- And 35 members (including yours truly) made contributions to our first book, Top 10 Ideas in Employee Engagement, which will be published in the next few months.

It was especially synchronistic for me, as I was working with Dr. Judith Bardwick to develop the first-ever seminar for managers on employee engagement, "Igniting Commitment."

The EE Network came at the right moment in the zeitgeist. As I have said before, we are living through a sea-change in how we view leadership, management, business, and organizations. The EE Network is about that movement, a movement some characterize as "awakening joy, meaning, and commitment in the workplace."

It has been a great community to be a part of: open, positive, searching, and generous. I look forward to continuing my participation.

Way to go, David! Happy Birthday to you and to all of us!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 26, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speed Coaching

As the marching bands and other parade units go by President Obama's reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., we rejoice in the peaceful transition of power in the U.S., but we remember that many are still suffering and need our help.

One way that I'll be helping is coming up next Tuesday January 27 when the New York Public Library and are sponsoring a day of free job search help at the City University of New York. Called “Back to Work: Jumpstart Your Job Search,” the free event is designed to provide career information, advice and resources to help unemployed New York professionals land their next jobs. The day-long event will include workshops, interactive discussions with job search experts and demonstrations of the Library’s online job search tools.

And speed coaching!

Think of it as fast-paced personalized career coaching and resume review. As one of the speed coaches, I'll be meeting with job hunters in twenty minute sessions, to review their job search campaign strategies as well as their resumes, making sure that they are accomplishments-focused.

And maybe, just maybe, doing my small part to instill some hope during this dismal economy.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear President Obama

At the ODNet listserv, Matt Minihan asked, What would you want to hear from President Obama in his inaugural address on Tuesday?

I'd like to hear him address the reasons why I voted for him:

Peace - We have tried war. As Tevye the milkman said (in Fiddler on the Roof), "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ? Soon the world will be blind and toothless." Clearly, it hasn't gotten us anywhere. Instead, let's try peace. Do we even know where to begin?

The Economy - Greed has taken us all over a cliff. We need much more than bailouts. We need a deep search in our souls. What will it take for all people to prosper?

Our Future - For the past eight years, we have been headed down a negative spiral. Where are we going as a nation? Where are we going as a global community of nations?

For me, the key values going forward are community, love, service, justice and stewardship. The great Dr. Martin Luther King, whose memory we celebrate this day, stood for these values.

America has always been a beacon of hope to people the world over. Our motto, e Pluribus Unum, means "out of many, One." We stand for a place of welcome, where anyone, no matter where they come from, can find a haven and be united with others.

Let us reclaim that dream.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Movie to Beat

Although I haven't seen all the top-rated films of 2008 yet, I just saw Slumdog Millionaire, and I will venture to say that it is the movie to beat at the Academy Awards.

What a wonderful movie!

Though I will express a very strong caution to the feint of heart, this is an epic tale, a Dickensian love story, set in modern day India, about two young lovers, separated by poverty, hate, and violence, but finally reunited through undying love.

And while I'm devoting this entry to the arts, let me add that I am celebrating the life of Irish actor Patrick McGoohan who passed away a few days ago. Here is the opening to his enigmatic and now-legendary late 1960's TV series The Prisoner.

"Be seeing you."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 18, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Engaging Voices: Tim Wright

Tim Wright, President and CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of Wright Results, Inc., helps organizations that want to improve performance through employee engagement.

Tim recently offered a series of blog posts at his blog, Culture to Engage, intended to help "when the going gets tough." Here's a selection of a few of his wise points for managers.

Don't Hide. As manager and leader you cannot hide from the infinite number of questions your employees have. We've all been conditioned by life in the business world to avoid admitting, "I don't know." But not having answers to all (or even very many) of those questions cannot send you into hiding. "Behind closed doors" behavior will only intensify uncertainty -- and so disengagement among your people.

Get smart. The more information you can actively acquire (about economic conditions, their effect on your industry, your market, your company, your company's credit, and your employees) the better.

You can sit and wait for the information to come to you, or you can pro-actively begin to gather the info. You may even invite your people to help gather the information. (That's engagement, right? And that action can help alleviate some of the anxiousness.)

Promote learning. Now is not the time to cut your training budget. Employees see that as an early sign that things are looking bad. And when you take away your commitment to their development, their improved ability to perform and to perform better, they are likely to see it as lack of caring.

Every employee satisfaction and employee engagement survey I've seen has emphasized the direct correlation between level of perceived caring by management and level of employee engagement. Consider specific training relevant to the current economic situation and that will benefit employees and your company now, especially.

Book 'em. Give everyone a book. Gifting the book demonstrates that you still believe in them and in what they can do for the company. And it's probably a minimum expense related to the engagement ROI it will produce.

Get spirited. I say "spirited" and I may mean "spiritual." I won't go so far as to recommend daily prayer services at your company, unless that's already part of your culture. I am suggesting now may be the perfect time to allow energy, spirit, spirituality into your workplace. If it provides your employees firmer footing, greater calm, better ability to stay focused, it's plenty worth it.

[Copyright 2009 by Tim Wright. All rights reserved]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leading in the Crisis

In this difficult economy, many are wondering if we have the right leadership guiding our organizations.

Some in the workforce have never experienced this kind of economic upheaval before. Younger workers, for instance, have no idea how to weather this type of economic storm.

With a very gloomy forecast ahead, what do we need leaders to demonstrate? Here are six attributes that I think are essential.

~ Courage - to face the facts and make the personal sacrifices necessary

~ Steadfastness - to hold to core values in the face of adversity and not take the easy road (i.e., downsizing)

~ Wisdom - to keep your eyes open, recognize what's happening, and distinguish the baby from the bath water

~ Engagement - to get others involved in figuring out creative ways to weather the storm

~ Vision - that things will be better in the future, and a path to get there

~ Caring - especially for your employees

Added Note: UK trainer and blogger Eric Garner has an interesting entryat his blog, Manage, Train, Learn, where he muses on the leadership demonstrated by Joseph son of Jacob in the Bible.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 15, 2009

Engaging Voices: David Zinger

Over the past two years, I have connected with a bunch of very cool people who are passionate about employee engagement. So, one of my goals for the Here We Are. Now What? blog in 2009, is to feature several of these "engaging voices."

First up is consultant, coach, and blogger David Zinger, M .Ed., a leading expert on both employee engagement and strength based leadership. His blog, Employee Engagement Zingers, as well as the Employee Engagement Network, which he founded and moderates, are leading online spaces for ideas and conversation on employee engagement.

Here is David on how we (organizations and individuals) can thrive in this most challenging economy.

First off, we must move more from me to WE. As organizations, if you say people are your greatest resource, do you back that up or do you chop them off as soon as economic challenges begin to loom on the horizon? As individuals, do we fully contribute to our organizations to help them become as viable as we are valuable?

Don't get swayed by fear. As organizations, our decisions must not be fear-based. Ensure we have the facts and take our time. This is the most important time to be care-full. Full of caring, but also deliberate and cautious. As individuals, we need to infuse love into our work. Not mushy love but the discipline, concentration, and patience to develop our work and our career. Love (discipline, concentration, patience) is the pathway to overcome or dissipate away fear.

Lighten up. We don't lighten up by throwing people overboard. We don't lighten up as individuals by not thinking deeply about our own career. We lighten up by realizing if we can laugh, we can last. Charlie Chaplin said it so very well: Life is a tragedy in close-up and a comedy in long-shot. Don't take too long to get a long shot. If you laugh, you last.

If we are not thriving at least make sure we are surviving. I don't mean laying people off and working with the survivors. I mean making sure you make it safe and you approach all human decisions with the utmost humanity. This means honesty, integrity, trust, and respect. As individuals, we should have a plan B...not to bail out, but if the organization is sinking, knowing where we would like to go next.

Finally, become brand new. As organizations, ensure that you live your brand, not just to your customers but to your employees. As an individual, work on your own personal brand. This does not mean you wear logos like a race car driver; it means that you know both your strengths and the value you add, create, and offer to others. Remember your brand isn't what you say it is, it is what others say about you. Ensure that you are worthy of people saying good things about you.

We are in this together. Individuals and organizations. Let's ensure that we work towards mutual purpose while always treating each other with mutual respect. We thrive by fully remaining alive to all our many dimensions as organizations and individuals.

[Copyright 2009 by David Zinger. All rights reserved.]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Engaging Voices

I started this blog back in 2004. Each year, I try to think of something that will freshen it up a bit.

Last year, I started to entertain the notion of inviting guest bloggers to appear from time to time. Due to circumstances, the idea didn't get off the ground.

Until now.

Starting soon, the Engaging Voices series will debut.

Engaging Voices will feature some of the intriguing people I have met in the past few years, people who are working in such fields as employee engagement, positive workplaces, strengths-based leadership, change management, organization development, leadership development, and more.

Though the line-up is still forming, I am already looking forward to entries by:

~ David Zinger
~ Tim Wright
~ Judy Bardwick
~ Phil Gerbyshak
~ Judy McLeish
~ Michael Lee Stallard

And hopefully several others yet to be enlisted.

It's my hope that this sterling array of engaging voices will engage you, my blog readers, and give you some helpful food-for-thought in this year of change.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Managing in 2009

Recently, at the Employee Engagement Network, David Zinger and I decided to start off the new year with a series of focused forum questions, beginning with this one:

~ What will the main work of a manager be for 2009?

So far, a number of network members have weighed in with their thoughts on the main work of a manager for 2009, including:

Paul Herr: "Ken Iverson, the visionary leader of Nucor Steel, coined the term “pain sharing” (the inverse of profit sharing) in 1982, when the steel industry fell into a deep slump, and 200,000 steel workers were laid off. Iverson didn’t lay off a single soul. Instead, he took a 75% pay cut, general managers took a 60% pay cut, department heads took a 40% pay cut and the rank and file took a 20% pay cut. Nucor weathered the downturn and came roaring back to dominate the US steel industry."

Sharing the pain. How’s that for leadership?

Phil Gerbyshak: "Constant communication with your team will be critical, to help prevent associates from filling in the blanks for what they don't know. You'll need to make more time to communicate early and often with your team."

Rosa Say: "Like every other person in a company, managers must fulfill the biggest need, and they must lead the way in doing so, AND supporting those they manage in doing the same thing."

David Zinger: "We need to work from a place of strength. We need to be strong and to find the strength of others. This is not done merely by taking some inventory or strength test. It is making it the core of what we do. It creates resilience for us as managers and offers our best value to the organization and customer."

And there is more. Check out the conversation at the Employee Engagement Network. Or better yet, join in.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 12, 2008

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Management 3.0

A few months back into 2008, Australia-based freelance writer Sue Bushell published an article about the need for a new type of management in today's web 2.0 business world.

As one of the voices that Sue included in this piece, I said, Forget Management 2.0. We are actually on the precipice of Management 3.0.

Management 1.0 was Taylorism Management, which focused on efficiency. It was about increasing productivity.

Management 2.0 was Participative Management which accompanied the quality movement and focused on process improvement. It was about satisfying customers.

Now we are entering a new era of management, Management 3.0.

Management 3.0 is about engaging and unleashing people.

As I have said before, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in organizations worldwide:

~ from focus on weaknesses to focus on strengths

~ from appraisal to appreciation

~ from “our way or the highway” to flexibility

~ from “one size fits all” to customization

~ from “command and control” to coach and engage

Management 3.0 recognizes that the aims of the earlier eras --increasing productivity and satisfying customers-- are still relevant, but are achieved by hiring the best and trusting that they will do what the organization needs to have done.

Call it the talent management movement, or the positive workplace movement, or the employee engagement movement, or the strengths-based movement, or the appreciative inquiry movement, or whatever. It is happening.

And it is a very good thing, destined to awaken joy, meaning and commitment in the workplace.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Refreshing Advice for the Job Hunt

The latest news on our downturning economy is dismal: more job losses and a spiking unemployment rate, the worst in sixteen years.

Hawaii-based coach and blogger Rosa Say has some refreshing advice for job hunters in this very bad economy: Figure out how You can solve the Biggest Need that an employer has, and then pitch your solution.

Rosa writes:

~ "Put yourself in the shoes of someone with the ability to hire you and keep paying you: What are they looking for, and why should they hire you, unless they are sure you’ll deliver what they need?

There are two things business owners are focused on right now, and they go together:

a) Boosting cash flow quickly
b) Making customers deliriously happy

What Rosa is saying is that the exceptional job hunter is the one that can fulfill this need for an employer. And the way to do that is to rethink what the job hunt is about:

~ "You have to be the one who creates a new role, a highly necessary and desirable one, and then pitches it to the employer in the best position to hire you, and give you the opportunity to test your creation and earn your keep."

This shift that Rosa is talking about is a real transformation, one that may be difficult to pull off. Most job hunters don't think of themselves as selling, let alone selling a solution.

Rosa offers a script to ease this transition:

~ "I have a proposal I’d like to discuss with you. My proposal has two deliverables: Increased cash flow, and happy customers. I am a big fan of your product and services, and I have been one of your customers: I’m very interested in helping you succeed. Do you have some time this week to meet with me?”

So what is the first step for those who want to try this approach? Ask yourself: What solution do I have to offer?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy to Hear That!

I'm happy to tell you that the podcast I recorded with Alexander Kjerulf, the Chief Happiness Officer, has finally been released.

Talking about how happiness at work contributes to real business outcomes, Alex offers a number of key points, including:

- Happy workplaces make more money

- Results (feeling like you are making a difference) & Relationships (feeling like you are liked and viewed as a valued part of a team) are the two keys to happiness at work

- The importance in saying "Good morning!" at the workplace

Check it out. You'll be happy you did!

PS - A big "thank you" to Dave Summers and Kevin Lee for birthing this podcast.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, January 7, 2009