Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eh Hem - Employee Engagement Begins With The Employee

There are times when industry buzz words swarm around so much that every time you hear them, they begin to sting. For me, one of those is "employee engagement."

Most of what I see and hear relates to the employer's role in nurturing and maintaining it.  I see little if any commentary about the employee's role and effort.

As someone who works on both sides of talent management -- with companies and individuals the issue of employee engagement in my mind and experience, in general, is equally weighted.

However, ultimately I believe it is the responsibility of the employee to manage their own engagement! And...if your company is not communicating that message, you are enabling the very behavior and dependency you don't want!

Newsflash -- employees are grownups!  Now I know some of you think that's debatable, but really they are and need to be treated as such.  Grownups are and do take full responsibility for their own behavior, which includes the quality and contribution of their work -- engagement.

Did you know...
1. Managing personal motivation (e.i. engagement) is an element of emotional intelligence.
2. Engagement is a component of skill development.
3. Those committed to and invested in their own career development will be engaged.
4. Emotionally mature adults produce good work product in spite of not necessarily because of their boss, company environment, etc.
5. If someone genuinely enjoys their work, engagement is usually not an issue. (If enjoyment is weak, they may not be the best fit).

Please know the theme of this post does not in anyway release employers of their part in engagement by providing healthy cultures, competent managers, and more creative job design (3 significant contributors).  So how do you communicate this theme without appearing as if you're shunning your piece?

Well, one way is to provide employee training that empowers and encourages employee ownership. A theme by which to do that is personal branding. That theme is one of the seminars included our Individual Employee Core Competency series.  The very nature of the Brand Me! - The Power of Personal Branding in Career Success workshop is to convey the message that each employee is responsible for his/her work -- not only in what they do, but how they do it.

Additionally, personal branding takes a holistic view of one's career journey. It's not just about employment at any one single company, but rather, the collective choices made, the work done, accomplishments-achievements, skills acquired and skills yet to be developed.  It also incorporates branding themes of intentional perception and experiential impact.

When employees are encouraged to consider the way in which they do their work and how it will be perceived and received, it nurtures a deeper connection and more purposeful ownership to the work experience.

If you are an individual contributor, consider personal branding as you go through-out your workday and in your career management strategy.  If you are a decision-maker whose responsibility it is to influence company culture, then you'll want to include this philosophy and determine ways to effectively communicate it.

To learn more about the origins of personal branding being introduced into the career marketplace - read Tom Peter's article that first appeared in INC magazine - click here  |  Click here for his book

To learn more about the Individual Core Competencies Series which includes personal branding  - click here.

This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Do Your Co-Workers Consider You A Digital Downer?

Ever heard of the song, "Don't Drag Me Down?" It does exist though you may not have heard it and I guarantee you that's how some colleagues feel about their fellow co-workers in the area of digital competency!

Do you negatively impact other's time because of your lack of digital proficiency?  I know there are many that could answer yes to that question.  With technology, (i.e. working digitally) being front and center in our work lives, it's now an imperative to be skilled in the use of certain key components.

I am what you consider a "non-tech" techie. I'm not a coder. I am though, someone enjoys technology, who thinks there is cool factor to it and someone who wants to embrace anything that can impact people's lives for the better.

I am also someone who is an adopter in the sense that I am not in denial about the role it plays in business and more specifically in the lives of the everyday worker. So I expect myself to learn and become competent in the use of key digital tools and functions. In my view you're either an adopter or a resister and resistance impacts time and productivity for yourself and others!

Do you resist assimilating technology (digital tools) into your life?  If so, you will be left behind as some of the things I am about to share with you, grade school kids know how to use with great skill!

So what should you consider as being the fundamentals of digitally competency?  Well there's a list, but I'll start with 3 that have the most impact:

1. Email -- Whatever program (email client as they say in the tech world) you use, know all it's capabilities.  I say in my time and organizational management seminar most of us know only how our email functions based on when we first started using it.  So if you use Outlook for example, do you know all it's capabilities and how you can utilize them to be more efficient in it's use?

Additionally, have you created a customized system by which you manage your email? I say customized because it's going to be different for everyone. News flash... there is not "one way" that everyone should handle email. We all have different thinking and decision-making styles, which I address in my book Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed.

2. Using a Browser -- I know for some this may sound ridiculous, but trust me, I know folks who don't know how to use a browser and know little of it's full capabilities.  So let's start with something as simple as when you download a document, where does it go and how do you retrieve it?  Do you know what browser applications and extensions are and which ones can help you in the work you do?

3. Information Management -- Once the world wide web was born, we entered the information age and when mobile capabilities were introduced, we moved into the age of information explosion.  Many of us search, access and manage information (or try to) on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. If you're like me, in the beginning, my most common phrase was, "Now where did I put that?" Then the search began as I tried to find it. Two minutes went by...five minutes went by -- "oh yeah, there it is!," I'd proclaim in the heat of frustration.

One of many helpful information management functions now available is tagging (this is the new word for the old school word "indexing"). You simply attribute certain key words to anything so that you can find it quicker.  I use a Mac and tagging is now an integrated element of it's operating system.

Additionally there are ways you save information through your browser with a simple right click and then be able to access it from all your devices. Also from a browser, you can send an email, share it on social media, save it to an information management application like Evernote, and even send it to Kindle. 

By the way, I see a browser as an essential digital partner. It's capabilities go way beyond, "this is how I get on the web." The one you choose to use and the capabilities it offers can make all the difference in your digital efficiency. And yep, different browsers have different capabilities.

For some reading just this list, it might feel a bit overwhelming. My suggestion is to start with one thing or one area using our 1% edge approach and then make it a goal to learn and apply one new element each month. 

And here is the exceptionally good news, just about anything you need to learn in this regards can be found on YouTube...and it's free!!!   So there!  Now, no excuses for increasing your digital competency to save time and increase your productivity for yourself and others! Commit to no longer being a digital downer!
I consider time and organizational management 1 of 5 individual employee as well as management core competencies  -- learn more here

If you haven't yet gotten your copy, you'll want to pick one up: Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - how to manage your time, space, & priorities, to work smart, get results & be happy -  Kindle - The Book - Nook - Audio Book -  The Seminar
This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Is It Time To Surrender?

A lot of people don't like that word.  They see it as an element of defeat or weakness like in the context of battle or war or when they are trying to achieve a desired goal that they've been laboring and struggling towards for quite some time. And yet for many, surrendering is exactly what they need to do.

In the context of stress, this word, action and strategy can be your best friend! As we attempt (that is if you do) to turn down the dial on the periodic pressure cooker of stress in any part of your life, you need "go-to" practices and strategies to do so. When offering help in any situation I like to have a toolkit of options. One practice I recommend you have in your toolkit is the ability to surrender.

So, how am I defining surrender? I see it as letting go. I see it not as a defeat, but a victory.  A victory of what?  A victory over resisting reality and the need or desire to control it. You're giving up an unwinnable fight over circumstances you can't control! This is when surrender is smart!

In many ways the opposite of surrender is resisting reality in that moment. It's like throwing an internal, perhaps subconscious temper tantrum, in which you're saying, "I don't want this to happen, I therefore refuse to accept it and to show you how much I don't like it, I'm going to react in all sorts of ways that can hurt myself and others."

Judith Orloff, who's article is the inspiration for this post describes it like this, "Surrender is a state of living in the flow, trusting what is, and being open to serendipity and surprises." She suggests that surrendering can be a learned habit and offers perspective on this view in her article 7 Habits of Surrendered People. I'd like to share 6 of the seven.

1. They recognize they can’t control everything.
Being a control freak makes us tense, stressed out, and unpleasant to be with. Surrendered people understand that they can’t always change a situation, especially when the door is shut. They don’t try to force it open. Instead, they pay attention to their own behavior, look at the situation at hand, and find a new, different, and creative way to get beyond the obstacles.
2. They are comfortable with uncertainty.
Fixating on the outcome or needing to know all the details of an upcoming event, such as a trip, causes people to be upset when things don’t go their way, overly focused on the future, and unable to bounce back easily. Inflexible people are susceptible to anger, distress, and depression. Surrendered people go with the flow, shrug it off when an unplanned situation happens, and tend to be happier, more lighthearted, and resilient.
3. They remember to exhale during stress.
We have two choices when things pile up at work or we’re surrounded by energy vampires who leave us feeling depleted. We can get frantic, hyperventilate, shut down, and become reactive. Needless to say, these responses to stress just make us more stressed. Surrendered people have the ability to pause, take a deep breath, and observe. Sustaining silence and circumspection are two behaviors that lead to better, healthier outcomes.
4. They are powerful without dominating.
The most influential person in the room isn’t the one who is being a bully, talking loudly, and imposing him- or herself on others. Surrendered people understand that true power comes from being respectful and listening. Surrendered people know themselves and are empathetic toward others. They don’t measure themselves by how much they are liked, nor do they compete for attention. When they sit quietly in a room, others always seem to come to them.
5. They feel successful apart from their job or net worth.
Surrendered people enjoy life, relish their personal development, and value their friends. They may have an exceptionally good career and be wealthy, but they are more concerned with meaning and fulfillment. The drive to acquire money and power is a behavior that drains people of their passion and emotional connection to others.
6. They can admit when they’re wrong.
People who hold on to grudges, insist on being right, and try to change other’s minds have a difficult time maintaining healthy, happy relationships. Surrendered people easily forgive. They are open to new ideas, and aren’t attached to being “right.” As a result, people love working and collaborating with them. Others seek them out as mediators and advisors. They are more laid back and relaxed than their rigid counterparts, which makes them highly valued by others.

I love this list. It gives insight into the fact that the ability to surrender has a lot to do with a person's sense of self worth, self esteem and where they realistically see themselves in the context of the world and universal laws.  Consider how skilled you are at surrendering. It may be something you'll want to add to your life strategies toolkit!

Coaching tip today: Practice surrendering!

Thanks to Judith Orloff for this fantastic article! You can read the 7th and the full article at the link provided: article link here -

2 Reminders: Brand Me - The 1% Edge has gone audio. You can listen via iTunes or subscribe to the rss feed at the top right.  You can also listen via The 1% Edge Portable coach app, just look for the 1% Audio tab.
This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness