How to Subtly Piss off Your Employees and Make’em Skedaddle

What does it take to get employee engagement down, turnover up, and your Glassdoor reputation score down in the pits? The answer is simple. Make your culture stink. Here’s how.

All Work and No Play? Jack and Jill Become Dull – no, make that EX – employees.

Step One: Don’t Let Anyone Have a Sense of Play in their jobs. I’m not suggesting that a lack of ping pong tables and Nerf guns is going to sink your company. Far from it. That’s not the kind of play I’m talking about. (Although group recreation can have a positive effect on employee morale and performance – and many convicted murderers have never played!).

I’m talking about the idea that if your team members really enjoy what they’re doing – it can be as fun as play. So, what does that take? At highly innovative companies (think Southwest Airlines, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon), employees are free to put their ideas and their personality into their jobs. If you’ve ever had SWA flight attendants sing the safety instructions to you, you’ve experienced one way in which play can be effective in business.

Play is the way we learn: It’s tied to curiosity, experimentation, and exploring challenging problems. All of those are things that make businesses grow.

Leaders can maximize this motivation first by matching the right people with the right positions. Once matched, give team members the freedom to apply their passion, their ideas, and their curiosity to solving the challenges that lead to success for them and for the company.

Does it matter? If they don’t care, they’re not going to stick with it.

Step 2: Hire people that don’t value what the company does, or their role in it. One of the first jobs I had out of college was working for a book publisher, managing the back list…all those books that need to be reprinted. A huge part of why I loved that job was because we published books that helped people grow. Every time I reprinted another 5000 books – that was 5,000 people I was helping with their relationships, their parenting, their spiritual life or their finances. On the other hand, marketing software that helped the telephone company make more money? Meh. Not so fulfilling.

Not that helping companies make more money is bad. For me, it just wasn’t a match to what I valued most in life.

“Behind every winning organization is a unique identity,” writes Lee Williams of Success.com, “one that sets it apart from others and gives employees a strong sense of belonging, ownership, value, and meaning.”  Who wouldn’t prefer to work where he or she felt part of a greater purpose?

When leaders maximize the match between corporate mission and individual purpose during the hiring process, they maximize the likelihood that employees will stay and thrive in their jobs. Every day, keeping the intrinsic purpose of the company front and center brings satisfaction to employees. If you want them to leave, make it all about margins, accounts won, market share, and them being darn lucky to be employed.

All Take and No Give? If they don’t grow, they’ll go.

Step 3: Avoid giving your employees opportunities for personal growth. I worked at a small startup where the founder-owner cast a vision of the company as a place where each of us could work long-term, with a huge payoff for those who loyally did. A key part of his strategy for keeping employees was to invest in their personal growth. It was marvelous! I needed to create a marketing database that couldn’t be bought off the shelf. I was given permission to learn SQL and use that knowledge to develop customized reporting. I needed to learn how to be a better manager and team player. I was sent to the Dale Carnegie Course. Three to four times a year, we all took part in management training and consultant workshops that not only developed our workplace skills, but also our character and relational skills. Many, but not all those original two dozen employees stayed with the company for a decade and longer.

When the outcome of work benefits the individual’s identity, the work enhances his or her potential. By giving employees the opportunity to develop new skill sets, receive training, or try new things, leaders can harness their natural self-interest to create a win-win scenario.

So there you have it. The formula for sick culture: (Stifle Play.)+ (Obscure any connection between company purpose and individual Purpose.) x (Neglect developing an employee’s Potential.) = High Turnover & Poor Performance.

Now, on the chance that you might really want to build a great company culture, just flip those around. Focus on why people work, and connect that why with every prospective employee and teach every manager the leadership skills to guide your current employees. Behavioral screening such as that done by ZeroRisk HR and other companies is a great way to ensure that you’re interviewing people who will find personal growth and fulfillment at work. And leadership training and coaching from certified members of The John Maxwell Team will guide your leaders into the habits and mindset that nurture the culture you really want.

Think about this:What kind of culture do you really want? Do you promote or stifle play (curiosity, fun, innovation) at work? Is there a match or a disconnect between your purpose and the company mission? Do you grow at work? Do you help others grow? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3 Reasons We Have to “Put Down the Duckie”

Letting go is a good thing if you want to play something new

Put down the duckie

One of my all-time favorite Sesame Street songs is “Put Down the Duckie.” Never heard of it?

Perhaps a little background is required to remind you (or bring you up to speed) of the history of the Rubber Duckie in Sesame Street. “Rubber Duckie” was, after all, Ernie’s signature song, debuting on the very first episode of Sesame Street. A few years later, in 1970, it actually hit #16 in the Billboard top 100. Fifteen years later, Ernie was still singing this tribute to his bath-time pal.

You’d think that after all that time, Ernie would have outgrown his self-indulgent obsession with Rubber Duckie. Obviously, someone on Sesame Street DID think so, and in 1986, Hoots the owl tries to help Ernie with the difficult and painful challenge of growing up – and growing beyond his Rubber Duckie. Ernie’s trouble is that he wants to do something new (play the saxophone), but finds that impossible to do with Rubber Duckie in his hand. The song explains it all. (Go ahead and take a few minutes to listen to it if you can’t remember it!)

Amazingly, you and I have a whole plastic bucket load of Rubber Duckies – relationships, ideas, places, hurts, and hang-ups. Habits that gave us security in the past, but don’t serve us well now. As Hoots says, “you’ll never find the skill you seek till you pay your dues.” Putting down these duckies is essential to developing a meaningful and rewarding life.

Letting go lets us reframe our experience

Part of the security of things we know, of our habits, of our familiar hurts comes from the stories we tell ourselves and others. Have you ever noticed how just about every story you tell about yourself puts you in a good light? Even if I am relating a story about a tragedy, usually I am the innocent victim…the unwilling recipient of forces and actions being done TO me. I’ve often commented that I’ve never heard someone who got fired from a job tell how it was all their own fault. No, the reasons for the firing are usually about the character and actions of co-workers, a manager, or even the evil corporation in total.

We tell stories that way because we have a Rubber Duckie (or two or three) that shames us, embarrasses us, or in some way endangers our being accepted by others (if it were to be exposed). When we can let go of the fear of rejection, we can accept our shortcomings and take responsibility for our failures. Only then can we tell ourselves (and others) stories that frame our experience authentically.

You’ll never find the skill you seek until you pay your dues. Hoots the Owl, Sesame Street

Letting go helps us focus on the present

Even if we start to reframe our experience with more authentic stories, we can still have another lingering Rubber Duckie: we can be stuck in the past. The collective wisdom of sages, songwriters and psychologists is pretty unanimous on this: “Let bygones be bygones.” The past is useful in our stories, but we need to make sure we don’t continue to live in those stories. Letting go, and even forgetting, actually helps us meet the challenges of today more creatively.

Letting go gives us the capacity to receive

This is obvious, but for some reason I certainly need to be reminded. Nothing can get into a closed fist. I have only so much emotional bandwidth. If I’m consuming that nursing grudges, harboring hurts, or keeping the sting of rejection alive – I have no capacity to take in the next experience (whether it is pleasant or painful). I can’t start my dream job if I stay at the current “gets-the-bills-paid-but-I-hate-it-job.” I can’t build new, good habits without knocking down old, unproductive ones.

One notable sage put it this way: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, there won’t be any new wheat growing.” It’s a pattern of life in nature, and it’s a pattern in our lives too: Letting go – letting something die – is usually necessary for something new to come into our life.

So, go ahead. Put down the Duckie. Start by making an honest inventory of ideas, attitudes, fears and triggers that are rooted in the past. Then, begin to replace those with the best things from your present. Start to play something new.

What Duckie should you put down?

Take a few minutes and jot down some of the things that come to mind when you answer ‘What’s my Duckie?’ You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Four Ways Leading Virtual Teams Is Different

And How You Should Adapt

It wasn’t that long ago that the “workplace of the future” was a Jetsons image:  commuters going to work in flying cars. At the turn of the century, I worked with team members a few thousand miles away — most of the time via video conferencing, but still using once-a-month face to face meetings after 3 hour flights (in a plane, not in my flying car!). But, technology has taken us a different direction…enabling us to work together without physically being together with video conferencing from our phones, co-work and collaboration tools on our computers, and real-time work tracking.

For the past decade, I’ve worked with team members whom I see face to face perhaps only once or twice per year. Sure, virtual teams have advantages. The commute time can be turned into work time. But the effects of computer-mediated communication are not always great, and it’s certainly not true that virtual teams are always effective and productive.  A 2012 study from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) found that brainstorming and generating ideas was the most successful task for virtual teams to accomplish, and that actually going through the processes of implementation was a bit harder.  The difference may be that team leads and executives haven’t adapted their leadership style to the unique challenges of virtual teams.

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Three Reasons You Should Wander Around

Sometimes it's not aimless

To wander is defined, by Meriam-Webster and by most of us, as “characterised by  aimless, slow or pointless movement.”  We think of wandering as lonely poverty (think of “wandering minstrels” and itinerant preachers, or the activity of men in the mall who are waiting on others who shop.)  If we’re describing more purposeful movement, we use words like “migration” (because ducks and geese and human migrants have a purpose in their movement) or “exploring” (because Cousteau and Hillary and Lewis and Clark had destinations to conquer). Is it always pointless to wander?

How I Learned I Needed to Wander

I’m the kind of person who thinks a lot.  About everything. Constantly.

When friends tell me (as they often do) “Don’t think so much…”,  my reply is usually something like: “Don’t assume it took very much of my time to come up with that…”  (as if “a lot of thinking” really equals “a lot of time spent thinking”.  The truth is, a tremendous amount of brain activity goes on in just a few microseconds.

I doubt that time spent is the point of those making the comment.  Instead, I think they were referring to my “monkey mind” — incessant brain activity that jumps from branch to branch, constantly chattering away with internal (and sometimes external) commentary about how things are, how they should be, what they could be, what they aren’t.

It wasn’t until I was invited to participate in a “Day of Wandering” that I realized just how incessant my thinking activity is, and just how much that keeps me from actually experiencing people and situations around me. That day I spent about 6 hours by myself walking the Mogollon Rim.

During the first five hours, my mind was actively plotting, planning, evaluating, deciding — which way to go, what process to use to quiet my mind, how to measure my success…and on, and on, and on.  Finally, in the sixth hour, I sat and closed my eyes and just listened, and increasingly found myself not evaluating.

After that, I was able to walk in a way that I can confidently call wandering:  I did not choose a path or a destination; I simply walked.  The result?  I experienced the world around me with a new appreciation, a new depth and a new connection that felt vaguely familiar to me.

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. –Anatole France

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Superstitions are hard to shake: The power of magical thinking

Do people really believe a jersey is lucky?

I admit that I often take the side of the underdog in when watching sports events, no matter how many fans of the opposite side are in the room. That sometimes gets me blamed for bad mojo, bad plays…

Sports fans are superstitious…When fans wear their lucky shirts on game day, they know it is irrational to think clothing can influence a team’s performance… But they do it anyway.

Researchers finds that even when people recognize that their belief does not make sense, they can still allow that irrational belief to influence how they think, feel and behave. The rest of the story

 

Obese kids young as age eight show signs of heart disease

Imaging tests of obese children’s hearts showed signs of heart disease, including kids as young as 8 years old. Obese children had 27 percent more muscle mass in the left ventricle of their hearts and 12 percent thicker heart muscles — both signs of heart disease — compared to normal weight children. Forty percent of the obese children were considered ‘high-risk’ because of problems with thickened muscle in the heart as well as impaired pumping ability.
The rest of the story