FireworksWe start each new year vowing this is the year we’re going to make improvements: our health, our looks, our productivity, and even cleaning up after our dog at the park more often!  Of all of the things we could improve upon, one of the most important improvement we can make is our relationships with others.  Think about it; most of us spend more time at work with our coworkers than we do with our families and friends – AND MANY PEOPLE ARE DISSATISFIED WITH THEIR JOBS.

The odds are pretty good that you work with some dissatisfied people.  According to Gallup, 51% of Americans are dissatisfied and disengaged.  James Harter, chief scientist for workplace management at Gallup, stated, “They feel negative about work and the workplace, and are doing more harm than good when they come to work.” [1]

Attitudes are contagious!  It’s harder to be satisfied yourself when you work with other dissatisfied people

So it only makes sense, if we improve our work relationships and get our teams more engaged, we will improve our lives.

We all know the dismal success rate of new years’ resolutions – 92% FAIL[2].  But, looking on the good side, 8% success is better than the 100% failure of those things you never even try to improve!

To improve your odds of success it helps to have a plan because we know that HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY!  To get you started, here are some tips that have helped 100% of my clients that actually applied them[3]

REALITY CHECK: 100% success excludes those clients that went through the cynical exercise of saying they wanted to make a difference but spent their time making excuses, blaming their teams and others instead of thoughtful and honest team efforts – those clients actually made things worse – so if you aren’t going to try because you’re too busy, etc. – don’t raise expectations and fail to deliver – it’ll just make things worse).

Step 1: Conduct a team checkup – this doesn’t have to be super complex, it can be as simple as a conversation.  Ask questions:

  1. Do you feel that our goals are aligned?
  2. Do we appropriately prioritize our resources – or do we spread our resources too thin?
  3. Are leaders appropriately engaged and accountable?
  4. Do we have a climate of trust?
  5. Do you feel like our communications are effective?
  6. Are our meetings productive?
  7. Are our systems effective and actually make work easier?

Step 2: Make a plan

  1. Select one of the items the team wants to tackle
  2. Try to define in observable terms what’s happening that shouldn’t be or isn’t happening but should be
  3. Drill down into the problem – what’s causing the situation – remember – all behaviors are rewarding on some level so think about what’s reinforcing the situation and what’s preventing the situation from improving
  4. Determine the one or two things that would have the biggest impact
  5. List action steps – be specific – decide how, who, what, and when

Step 3: Work the plan

  1. Mutually commit to working together
  2. Assume positive intent – even if you have some lingering feelings from the past agree to set aside previous baggage and start again
  3. Set some ground rules – agree on ways to provide feedback
  4. Make your action steps part of the team’s routine.

Step 4: Check your progress

  1. Schedule a team follow up – discuss what’s going well and what’s not
  2. Diagnose setbacks and make course corrections along the way
  3. Don’t let setbacks derail you – it takes time to affect change

REPEAT: Build on your successes – after you’ve successfully navigated to a higher level of performance, tackle your next team challenge together.  Keep building on your success and MAKE 2018 THE YEAR YOU MADE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE!

If you’d like to try a more in depth team assessment with reports and tracking, check out The Workforce Engagement Equation at www.TheWEQ.com.

If you found this article useful let me know at Jamison.Manion@YourWES.com

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-so-many-americans-hate-their-jobs/

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-years-resolutions-psychology_us_5862d599e4b0d9a59459654c

[3] References

Baseball wasn’t made great by preventing Jackie Robinson from playing!

Baseball wasn’t made great by preventing Jackie Robinson from playing!

Valuing Diversity: It’s not just Politely Avoiding Topics

When people discuss valuing diversity they tend to be referring to race though it has been expanded to gender, sexual preference, and religious beliefs to some degree.

In my experience, this focus is actually counterproductive and has very little impact changing someone’s prejudices. Highlighting differences accentuates those differences – we see what we’re looking for.

Focusing on our differences actually limits our ability to find common ground; it’s not conducive to building collaborative functioning teams. Mankind could not have made any progress if we weren’t able to look beyond our differences and capitalize on each other’s differing strengths to accomplish a greater good.

Truly valuing diversity focuses on our similarities and our strengths – what each of us brings to the table. When we all begin to understand and optimize the differences in temperament and working approach we see that, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, we all have something we bring that strengthens our organization and helps each of us achieve our overall goals.

When you truly understand what strengths another has you value what they can do to help achieve success – however it is defined. If I am very creative and you are very pragmatic together there is strong potential for conflict. However, if you value my ideas and I value your ability to implement, together we can accomplish great things that neither alone could have.

Only when we focus on another’s strengths do we overlook the physical, and even ideological differences, and bond together in mutual support towards mutual success; only then will we ever achieve Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s dream.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (August 28, 1963)

Let’s reaffirm Dr. King’s excellent vision and add, “We have a dream that we join together despite our differences to build a prosperous and sustainable planet where every person is free to unlock the potential for greatness that lies within every human heart.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jamison J. Manion, MBA
Author, Speaker, Executive Coach

You can read more in The Workforce Engagement Equation: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating and Sustaining High Performance

You can measure your teams engagement using TheWEQ