Category: Retention

                      Photo credit: Getty Images

Privacy is a concept very well confused in our culture today.  In an era where almost all of our electronic devices track our everyday move, our psychographics and socio-economic decisions give life to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to sell the next big thing, without our permission, and social media networks know where we go and what we do and with whom we do it with every minute of the day, other aspects of our lives, our trials and tribulations, and struggles which are simply part of the human condition such as unemployment, depression, disability and mental illness are considered private issues.  Well, are they a matter of privacy or are they more a matter of not wanting to deal with real agendas?

In an effort to respect employees’ privacy, many employers avoid employees’ mental health concerns.  However, like it or not, these issues have a tendency to make their way into the workplace. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 43.8 million adults in the United States experience mental illness in any given year.

Yes, there are Employment Laws and Fair Labor Standards, but in a world where yesterday’s hero is today’s villain and due to hopelessness and limited Emotional Intelligence, a majority fall in to co-dependant status, villains can easily pose as leaders and saviors.  So what is the real solution?

 

Even ignoring the lack of support and clear danger to the quality of life of the employee, purely calculating the costs it is clear that employers can’t afford to ignore mental health issues in the workplace.

 

Last Thursday, as the New York Times reported that Harvey Weinstein, the face of the entertainment company had been accused of sexually harassing women, both inside and outside of his company for over nearly three decades, it was yet another wake up call that mental disorder is not necessarily a silent killer. One might ask, how sexual harassment is a mental disorder. Well, according to the Wikipedia definitionSexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors”. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Finnish researchers have recently discovered that bullying could result in serious mental disorders. While victims of bullying are more likely to develop anxiety disorders, or already suffer from it, the bullies themselves were at higher risk for having or developing antisocial personality disorder. Therefore it is fair to say that sexual harassment has its roots in perceived power or lack thereof. And as opposed to popular belief, recognition of mental disorder in morally questionable individuals who we may not approve of such as Donald Trump, does not reinforce the negative stigmas associated mental illness, but rather adds to the negative stigmas.

 

The World Health Organization and the National Business Group on Health indicate that mental and behavioral health conditions have direct costs as much as $100 billion for employers. And when one factors in indirect costs, such as loss of productivity and the influx of disability claims, you are now faced with a major disaster.  

 

At first Weinstein had announced that he would take a leave of absence.  However, then he began fighting and contesting the allegations. It took three directors to resign, before the company board fired the founder on Sunday.

 

The trouble here is two-fold: Weinstein was a founder and top executive, and hence a decision-maker.    However what happens when we turn a blind eye to a culture gone wrong is that, as employees, the same infrastructure we hoped would be supported by our attempts at passivity, would turn around to disintegrate, but this time without notice.  

While as employers playing mental health professionals is not wise, providing clear boundary setting education to the entire employee population on mental health issues and the importance of clearly defined boundaries is expected.

An employer’s efforts to bring to light realities, helps destigmatize mental illness and allows others to come out of the shadows and seek treatment.   employees recognize its prevalence can help employees feel more comfortable acknowledging that they’re struggling in some way. 

 

While In addition to costs, employers have a legal obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to refrain from discriminating against individuals with mental illness, they are also obligated to abide by the same guidelines in treating employees vs. founders.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are two types of sexual harassment: a) quid pro quo and 2) hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can be physical and psychological in nature. It’s important to note that it is the aggregate of the incidents and not a single event that constitutes harassment and work hours and location don’t have a bearing on this definition.  

Langelan describes four different classes of harassers.

  • Predatory harasser This is a harasser who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. The goal of this harasser is to just to see how targets respond. No response could even lead to rape.
  • Dominance harasser is the most common type, and usually is for the purposes of an ego boost.  
  • Strategic or territorial harassers are those who harasss to remain dominant or keep privileges.
  • Street harasser: This is verbal and/or nonverbal behavior, with frequent appearance in public to embarrass.

 

 

Overall, the culture of an organization is defined by its leadership and if leadership does not walk the talk, then there is no atmosphere of trust or a moral code, and as a result, there are no boundaries or expectations that employees can rely on. In a 2012 study of male adolescent American football players, “the strongest predictor [of bullying] was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player’s life would approve of the bullying behavior”.

Courtesy of NBC Studios

Courtesy of NBC Studios

The most recent episode of America’s Got Talent was conducted in a different manner than usual and many attribute this difference to Howard Stern and his thinking out of the box mentality. In a nutshell and we will come back to this later, he referred to the delivery of results, but through engagement rather than the judgment. We all know them; the companies that thrive on the “threat factor”. This is when a highly beurocratic, top-down organization trains its executives and upper management to use the threat tactic in so called motivating their employees. Many such organization rely on a short-term satisfaction guarantee employee relations model. Which basically says, when it comes to front-line, Customer interface staff, be it sales, or customer service, the mantra of the company is not to keep its employees happy long-term. The company hopes to bank on short-term results. Getting the essence out of every employee in a short period of time, giving them the tools and training to do well but hit the ground running fast and furious, train others to do the same as fast as possible and then down the line, plan your exit. Some may believe, well how is this different than the old GE mentality. It may be at a glance that the two types of companies function under the same governance when it comes to talent development, except that in a very wicked, upside down way, the latter promises growth and success, while having no intentions on delivering it.

 

When Jack Welch introduced the concept of performance evaluations he would fire the bottom 10% of his managers, irrespective of absolute performance and rewarded those in the top 20% with bonuses and stock options. But At least we know with GE opportunities were ample. For example, Jack Welsh expanded the broadness of the stock options program at GE from just top executives to nearly one-third of all employees. His plan was never to have employees short-term but rather to create a clearly defined line for success. Understanding what criteria are necessary for success and creating trust for the employees to know that a certain applied behavior will get them the desired outcomes.

The companies aforementioned, have no interest in employee success. They are solely invested in the company’s success. The irony is that they don’t realize short-term success is the enemy of long-term success.   There is a great quote by Arthur Golden that says: “A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory”. The reason I love this quote is because it directly speaks to the power of psychology. Not only in a mind over matter way, but also from a spatial reasoning process. Our brain, by its make-up can only do one thing and one thing well at a given time. We can train ourselves to do more than one thing at a time, and we have done that. Nothing to be proud of because “multi-tasking” is actually not a good thing. But rather than a western concepts brought upon by our inability to respect the concept of here and now, and the quality of our achievements, rather than the quantity of our doings. The reason short-term success doesn’t work, is because people function based on virtues such as trust, loyalty, equity, and the internal need to achieve. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs precisely describes achievement as one of the higher needs, because security and our primary needs, need to be fulfilled first. Employees that are in constant defense mode, because they are constantly bombarded by negative feedback or more correctly names criticism, cannot be in a winning mindset, because they are too busy recovering their more basic needs, with the biggest being security. Insecurity, automatically pushes our brain in to fight or flight mode, and that is no place to be for achievement. From a spatial perspective also, for those that are more sensory thinkers, we cannot be in two places at the same time. If your mind is occupied by worry, it cannot be focused on your goal.

The concept of employee engagement goes much deeper than holding a red flag or bar over an employee and every time there is a little indiscretion or even a minor change in performance to dangle it and get a slap on the hand, followed by a verbal “score card” that basically yells, “you are doomed and can’t expect to get that raise, promotion, etc. that you had so dreamed of”. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, there was a specific large-scale study mentioned which discussed the concept of engagement . Bain & Company, in conjunction with Netsurvey, analyzed responses from 200,000 employees across 40 companies in 60 countries and found several troubling trends:

  • Engagement scores decline with employee tenure, meaning that employees with the deepest knowledge of the company typically are the least engaged.
  • Engagement scores decline as you go down the org chart, so highly engaged senior executives are likely to underestimate the discontent on the front lines.
  • Engagement levels are lowest among sales and service employees, who have the most interactions with customers.

Sometimes, it is encouragement, dialogue and problem solving that leads to the best results, rather than disciplinary action. I am not even referring to the concept of threat, because as discussed above, that is never a good strategy for success. As opposed to negative feedback, or judgment, employees sometimes are most receptive to a trusting, encouraging, and nurturing environment. I guess good old Howard Stern knows a bit more about business than we have given him credit for over the years. On America’s Got Talent he proclaimed that the judges didn’t have to be critics. They could be cheerleaders. How brilliant is that? Cheerleaders. Can you imagine the possibilities, if every organization could train its leaders and executives to lead with that voice and shape desired behaviors rather than trying to kill the spirit of employees who displayed performance troubles? There has to be a difference between intention of good performance and negligence and lack of motivation. What are we teaching our employees if we treat both the motivated and the unmotivated the same?

Management Monday: Managing and Motivating Introverts

Modern business is all about extroverts, teams and collaboration, which is great. However, history has proven that it’s important not to overlook the value of introverts. The world recognizes introverts such as Warren Buffet, Jo Rowling, Johnny Depp, Audrey Hepburn and Steven Spielberg as some of the most impactful leaders, artists and innovators. It would be a shame for the business world to burn-out or suppress a future Warren Buffet. Workplaces are much more attune to nurturing extrovert talent and often don’t understand how to help rather than stifle bright introverts.

Audrey_Hepburn_Tiffany's_Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

It is important to understand that introverts are an important asset to the business world. Healthy companies need both to survive. In fact, studies by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist reveal that often the most creative people in many fields are introverted (New York Times). Below are some tips to help introverts feel welcome and part of the team, without overwhelming them. Different tips are right for different scenarios.

Managing Introverts:

1)      Introverts can be vocal on topics of interest to them. During team meetings, find ways to incorporate their interests into the discussion, which will help get them to start talking.

2)      Naturally, introverts internalize a lot. Know that it will help motivate an introvert if they’re in an environment where they have time to process and think. To put this to use, practice having two weekly meetings, one in which problems, goals and ideas are laid out and a second where the team is invited to discussion. This gives the introverts time to mull over the topics.

3)      Introverts are likelier to share their ideas in writing than they are trying to win out over other people’s voices. Try having everyone turn in any ideas they have on paper during the week and then discuss them as a whole.

4)      Make the work space friendly to introverts. Provide areas in the office that are quiet and secluded where people can think.

5)      Avoid making the mistake of trying to make introverts into extroverts. At the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, gene specialist Dean Hamer conducted a study revealing that the D4DR gene on Chromosome 11 affects dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to excitement, motivation and physical activity. Extroverts have a long D4DR gene and as a result require more external input to maintain their level of drive. Introverts, on the other hand, have a shortened version of this gene, so too much external excitement can exhaust them and disrupt their thinking (Chron and Collaborate). Introversion is not a defect. It is thought to be genetic and is a positive trait when embraced.

6)      Don’t overload introverts with meetings and phone calls. If an introvert is hired for the purpose of coming up with big ideas, it is important to give them quiet and uninterrupted time to do just that. Too often, introverts are given goals and strategic projects, but then bombarded with unnecessary internal and external communication, which blocks their progress. Monitor this for introverts in the office to help them thrive. While it is important for them to be aware and part of the team, it should be done tactfully.

7)      Another tactic is to set up one-on-one meetings more regularly and group meetings less often. Contrary to popular belief, most introverts are vocal and enjoy discussion, but prefer to talk with one person at a time. So balancing the amount of small and large meetings gives both introverts and extroverts opportunity to flourish.

8)      Another idea would be to create an introvert/extrovert friendly environment. Talk to employees about the genetic differences between both introverts and extroverts. Talk to them about the strengths and value of each. Establish a system where each employee is given a sign that reads introvert on one side and extrovert on the other. This sign can be hung on their door during their working (non-meeting) hours and flipped to the status of their choosing. This way introverts gain their valued quiet time, but extroverts who need discussion and collaboration to reboot know which other employees are on the same page at that time.

 

There’s no doubt that incorporating introverts on teams and motivating them is worth the effort. They are creative and bring a different form of innovation than extroverts, which is equally and sometimes more valuable. They are the ones who are always thinking, always strategizing and often working in isolation to produce brilliant outcomes, like introvert Bill Gates working alone on his computer to eventually develop Microsoft. Nurturing introverts isn’t rocket science, but it can be done and is worth the results. In the words of a famous introvert, Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible!’”

 

Related Reads:

Hermione: Leadership or Management?

Leadership Programs and Assessments

Leadership Qualities of Sheryl Sandberg

Nine Signs You’re Really an Introvert (Psychology Today)

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal

Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.

Management Monday: Building Employee Engagement by Showing Appreciation

At first, building and engaging a team sounds ideal and simple. Winning sports teams like the Connecticut Huskies and America’s favorite superheroes, The Avengers, make it look so easy. The thought process typically starts with needing specific skills to help achieve goals. Unfortunately, the art of constructing and maintaining an effective team is anything but simple. From focusing too much on technical skills in the recruitment process, to under-investing in leadership and management, many teams are doomed before they really get started. Marvel’s hit television show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. highlights what a functional team can look like, and it all boils down to engaging each member of the group. Check out the employee engagement tips below, which are covered in the Five Languages for Engagement TM. Each individual often responds to different forms of communication in different ways, and being aware of different forms of communication can make a tremendous difference in their team’s engagement level.

Agents-of-Shield3-1024x576

The Five Languages for Engagement:

1. Verbal recognition – A great way to show appreciation is through verbal communication. This type of communication specifically looks to praise and verbal cues which indicate they are on the right track and have done well. You may not need this, but for them the lack of it, could mean disregard, and disapproval. Verbalize your gratitude and explain why that action was valuable to them, you and the business.

2. Sharing the load – This individual appreciates actual affirmation. This is an issue of showing not telling. Nothing has greater impact than the willingness of a leader or a coworker to lend a helping hand. While it is important to walk a fine line in the interest of your own work-life balance and job success, it is an absolute must to not be self-focused. Don’t wait for someone to ask, offer to lighten the load and show your concern for their needs and development in the organization.

3. Quality time – For this type of employee, days off and flex-time are very important. Occasionally offering days off, can really communicate your respect for work-life balance as well as your appreciation of the employee. Establishing a flex-time work schedule is a similar method. In fact, research has shown that many employees with family obligations work more effectively out of work. Furthermore, as the number of highly-educated women entering the workforce increases, there will be more demand for them to have flexibility in their hours (Wall Street Journal and WhiteHouse.gov).

4. Giving gifts – This type of individual enjoys gift receiving more than all others in feeling appreciated and valued. Taking the time to know whether your employee is interested in joining the gym and offering them a free gym membership, or getting a gift card to their favorite restaurant will speak to their needs.

5. Inviting input – For some individuals, recognition takes the form of achievement. A seat at the leadership table is no small thing. As a stake-holder in the company, this individual would like to know they are talented. Your willingness to both ask for their input and utilize their advice truly communicates their importance. In the same way, additional leadership responsibilities show trust in their capabilities, which walks hand in hand with their drive for achievement.

Anyone who watches episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that offering encouragement is an area of strength for team leader, Agent Coulson. He pushes for open communication and leads by example. He most certainly genuinely cares about his team, which is seen on multiple occasions. In particular, this is evident when he helps Skye by looking into high security files to help her find information about her mother. The point is that once a goal aligned team is recruited, understanding the communication and appreciation methods above is crucial to keeping the team operational. Engaged employees have the power to achieve great things, just like the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Photo Credit: Trend Wallpaper

Related Reads:
The Next Oprah Winfrey
Mad Employee Wildfire
Employee Engagement Test

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal

 

holiday-fun

The holidays can certainly be a time of stress for employees who struggle to balance the workload with added holiday responsibilities. However, the holidays also offer a time to rejuvenate employees by celebrating and empowering them (since their happiness and performance are crucial to the bottom line). “Companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than tripled that experienced by firms that don’t. When looking at Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for, stock prices roses an average of 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, compared to 6% for the overall market” explains Dr. Noelle Nelson, Author of Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy, when citing a Jackson Organization study. With that information in mind, here are some tips for showing appreciation to your employees this holiday season. From employee gift ideas to celebration possibilities, this list has it all.

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Holiday Employee Appreciation Guide:

  1. Throw a holiday party
  2. Be flexible with holiday time off
  3. Schedule a fun team building event
  4. Offer unexpected holiday pay
  5. Verbally express gratitude
  6. Coordinate a Secret Santa gift exchange
  7. Give a gift card
  8. Take your employees to lunch
  9. Have an office decorating party
  10. Surprise the staff with breakfast
  11. Provide movie passes on a whim
  12. Empower employees with motivational behavior
  13. Inquire how you can lighten loads and delegate
  14. Offer a work from home day
  15. Surprise staff with a casual dress day
  16. Hold a cubicle decoration contest (provide small budget)
  17. Holiday card exchange
  18. Remember gift giving is not one size fits all
  19. Consult with HR to see what complaints you can help resolve
  20. Bring a gift basket for the office

 

Caroline Kennedy once said “Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism” (Forbes). If you lose focus on the people in your life, at home and at work, holidays lose their special touch for you and the people around you. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking your human capital that propels your company’s voyage to success on a daily basis. You wouldn’t want to end up with an ugly sweater in your stocking, would you?

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Related Reads:

Can you hear me now?
Shrink Employee Turnover
Hermoine: Management or Leadership?

 

Photo Credit Office Photo: USFWS/Southeast
Photo Credit Ugly Sweater Grumpy: Pichado Photography

 

Center for Work Life of Orlando, Florida is an award-winning executive development firm providing leadership and management training to executives and organizations. Our main services include executive coachingleadership developmentexecutive succession planningemotional intelligence trainingcareer planningstaff development, and communication in the workplace.

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