Three Sure Signs You’re Surrounded by Blame-Gamers

Blame is the number one toxic behavior inside of organizations – at least according to a 2018 research study completed by People Acuity’s psychometrics team. Over 1,800 employees and leaders across the globe participated, and surprisingly 50% of them scored their organization with the highest possible blame score.  Conversely, only 17% scored their organization as low-blame.  When blame is high there are some telling patterns that you may (or may not) be aware of, including three sure-fire signs that will leave you running for the nearest exit sign, hoping for a better job, if they are present.

The first thing that won’t surprise you is that you can kiss your Work Joy goodbye if you’re in a high-blame environment.  In fact, if blame-gamers surround you, you can expect less than a 4% chance of experiencing high Work Joy. This means you won’t feel ignited by your work and will likely dread it most days.  It also translates to high stress, low employee engagement, and a strong likelihood that you feel disempowered and unfulfilled.

As if that is not enough, the pain of low Work Joy is compounded by the absence of any real authentic relationships at work.  When blame is high the chances that you will have strong feelings of belonging and a feeling of connection to your team are less than 3%. You’ll feel alone.  Your work experience will be characterized by emptiness, frustration, and often sadness – and your team performance will be severely compromised.  Given that 75% of all organizational work happens in teams, and the fact that you were born to belong and connect, this one factor might hurt most of all.

The final sure-fire sign that you live and work in a blame-gaming environment is the nearly-complete absence of proactivity.  Just imagine what happens when every single day is filled with fire-fighting reactivity.  You get caught up dealing with one crisis, only to have another creep in even before you’ve solved the first one.  You realize that if you are in a blame-gaming system that the chances you would have high proactivity are only 5%?  Stephen Covey would be quick to tell you that if you’re not proactive you have no hope of being effective, given that the choice to Be Proactive is the foundational habit of all effective people.

While these signs are as sure as the sunrise, you can’t blame the blame-gamers.  That only puts you right smack in the middle of the Blamers Anonymous Club, and it reduces your power to change the very things you want to change.  Check out our brief video today about blame (found here) – and consider what you can do to take yourself out of the very behaviors that rob you of Work Joy, authentic Team Connection, and the Proactivity you need to become the creator of your life – rather than just surviving it.

Your mother may have told you to not be a quitter, but this is one time when quitting is just the right thing to do. 

Written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, who lead the People Acuity Thought Leader team and are the authors of the book Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living.  They are also the creators of a validated measurement tool evaluating Work Joy, Team Connection, Confident Vulnerability™ and Proactivity. Between them they have worked in nearly 60% of the Fortune 500 and Global1000 firms and collectively hold over one hundred certifications and international and national recognitions.  To book one of them as a speaker at your next event, contact info@peopleacuity.com.

 

 

Revolutionizing Engagement: The Case for Measuring Work Joy

If you’ve grown weary of all the employee engagement rhetoric and the pressure to measure and move the needle there, join the ranks!  This topic has been hot for a long time, yet with very little to show for it – except frustrated employees who hate annual surveys, and who stopped being honest a long time ago about it.  Maybe it’s time for a change!

Most employees don’t give a rip about employee engagement, even though it is so critical to the success of their teams and organizations.  You know what they do care about, though?  Their own Work Joy.  After all, who doesn’t want to experience joyful fulfillment, meaning, purpose, and belonging at work?  Now, that is something worth measuring and working toward!  Especially given that Work Joy is statistically significantly correlated (at the 0.01 level) with measures like Engagement, Connection, Trust, and Productivity.

If you’ve been looking for a new way to measure growth toward outcomes that really matter, and which employees can get excited about, you might be interested in joining the People Acuity thought leader team as they unveil their brand-new assessment tool in a webinar on February 1.  It measures Work Joy, Team Connection, Confident Vulnerability, and Proactivity, and designed for the front-line employee to get behind – not for his/her boss!  It has been created to ignite employees to be excited about shifting up their own outcomes and relationships, and to take responsibility for them in ways that are good for them (and for their boss and team!).

If you attend you will:

  • Discover how shifting your measurement focus can dramatically impact behavior and outcomes
  • Identify an under-utilized lever to igniting energy and performance in yourself and others
  • Learn a 4-step process to growing Work Joy, Team Connection, Proactivity, and Confident Vulnerability in yourself and others
  • Receive a discount code to experience People Acuity’s newest assessment (to be given at the webinar).

Join us for these and other exciting outcomes on February 1, at 7 a.m. CST, or 11 a.m. CST – register here: http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/events/.

NOTE: this was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

When Performance Falls Flat: The Surprise Missing Ingredient

Increased performance! Improved performance! Better performance! Faster, better, bigger, best.  If you’re like most people, that’s what you want for the performance of everything from your car’s engine to your employees at work. For good reason, particularly inside your organization. Especially given that increased performance directly affects corporate bottom lines, innovation, and opportunities. This awareness has led organizations for decades to focus on measuring and improving performance, even though this attention on measurement has not necessarily led to the desired outcomes. There is a good reason for this, which you may never have considered before: You may unknowingly be quantifying only half of the inputs to the performance equation, and missing critical key indicators.

Your partial success reflects that you have some things right, but there may be so much more that you’ve never considered before, even though your company may have amazing competency frameworks for every job, which are quantifiable.  You may have even defined KPI’s and implemented entire Performance Management Systems to measure performance, to clarify task and work expectations and ensure people have the resources they need to be top performers.  Still, performance may fall short of predictions and potential, and you might lay awake at night wondering, “What’s missing?”

Let’s ask two crucial questions to get outside the box, and see if it can prompt some new answers, places to look you may not have considered before.  First, “Where does performance break down most often in your organization?”  As you think about your answer, let it lead you to this question: “How much of it is the result of people’s interactions, communication or the inability to work fluidly together to solve complex challenges?”  As you look at these two things, what do you notice?  If you are like most people, you would say that a large percentage of performance breakdown is due to relational factors.  As you draw that conclusion, you realize that you have also just revealed the missing half of the performance equation!  It is all about the impact individuals have on each other and the organization, and the way their choices influence energy and performance.

This is a sometimes a difficult place to look because relational-oriented factors are hard to quantify.  Sometimes, they are not valued.  Yet, ignoring them is like driving through a construction site, and picking up a nail in not one tire, but two.  Imagine having one tire deflate, quickly followed by the second one, and ending up with two flat tires at the same time. Of course, when that happens you can’t get up to and maintain high speed. This is like having task and relational factors both breaking down at the same time, which almost always begins to happen if the relational elements are not attended to.  However, when task and relational oriented key predictive indicators are both given “air” in a balanced way, organizations, teams and individuals increase in momentum and velocity. Performance exponentially increases.

What relational KPIs increase the likelihood of high performance?  Our seven years of research with over 4,000 people across the globe suggests that a successful solution includes individuals having these three components:

  1. Clearly defined task and relational purposes
  2. Leveraging Strengths Strategy® to energize self and others, and to mitigate the experience of weakness
  3. Adding to synergy through serving “us/others” (as opposed to merely driving for one’s own individual gain)

What if you could replace the traditional scarcity-oriented, low-trust approach to performance management with excellence and energy management through Interdependence?  What if you could give feedforward, rather than feedback, and replace deficit-oriented performance management with excellence management?  You may not realize that smart organizations are already moving in that direction!

In this emerging Human Economy, can you really afford to minimize the magnitude of the relational impact on the performance equation?  If you don’t want your performance to fall flat, you may want to join the companies who know how to engage the hearts of their people, help them connect to one another and manage the relational side of the performance equation with wisdom and clarity.[1]  After all, those who get it are surging forward, and killing the competition. Those who don’t, will fall farther and farther behind.  Which way will it go for your organization?


You can request more information about how to create a performance strategy using a formula that includes both task and relational measures by emailing info@peopleacuity.com and having a conversation with one of our Strategists.  Watch for future blogs to learn more about each of the three relational KPIs.

NOTE: this blog was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.


[1] See: https://hbr.org/2014/11/from-the-knowledge-economy-to-the-human-economy.

 

5 Signs You Manage a World-Class Interdependent Team

Interdependence may be the truest hallmark of interpersonally competent people, and the most distinguishing characteristic of high-performing teams.  In fact, you can guarantee that any business consistently performing at the top of their game is made up of world-class interdependent teams.[1]

This begs a question:  Is your team among the power-house teams that are setting the world on fire? 

Just in case you really wanted to know the answer, here are five sure-fire signs that would tell you if they are.  Check and see if these things describe your team:

  1. Team members serve the “we” over the “me”. There is a fulfilling spirit of service to one another, and to others beyond the team, that makes way for individual ego to be set aside.  There is also an awareness that every interaction and task contributes to something bigger than self, that there are no less-important puzzle pieces in the team equation.  Every piece matters!
  2. There is a spirit of unconditional curiosity. This applies to both relationship experiences, as well as the differences that emerge in approaching tasks, projects, and assignments.  It is most reflected in the nonjudgment occurring between individuals, particularly during moments of expected frustration, when openness to possibilities, perspectives, and oppositeness creates fertile ground for better outcomes.
  3. There is excitement around a shared purpose that gives meaning to the team’s work. Team members are very adept at translating the work of the team to a specific difference being made in the lives of others or the world.  This difference-making becomes a burn that fuels passion, takes the team confidently into the unknown, and provides both an anchor and a compass to steer by.
  4. Team members are coach-like with one another. Because there is no need to prove your value, or that you are worthy of belonging in an interdependent team, advise-giving and expert-mind give way to give-and-take exploration where coach-likeness draws out the best from the team.  There is room to be stuck.  There is room to not know, and to lean in to others whose views may seem strange or unusual.  You can be coach-like with yourself, which helps you to also be coach-like with others.
  5. Each person leads themselves, so they can partner effectively with others. In an interdependent team, there is no waiting for others to take care of you or meet your needs (dependence), nor siloism or steam-rolling inadvertently over those around you (independence).  Neither is there alliance-forming, gossiping, or the assumption of reciprocity (codependence).  There is, however, awareness of impact, with each person equally sharing the responsibility for their own performance and energy, and contributing to the conditions so others’ performance and energy can also be high.

When you examine these sure-fire signs of high interdependence, how does your team stack up?  And more importantly, what might be different for you if these things were part of the teams you are on?

To learn more about Interdependence, you might be interested in the free online Foundations of People Acuity program, which includes a great overview of Interdependence.  See: http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/product/foundations-of-people-acuity/.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.


[1] Barrick, M. R., Bradley, B. H., Colbert, A. E. (2007). The moderating role of top management team interdependence: Implications for real teams and working groups. Academy of Management Journal, 50(3), 544-557.

3 Things Leading-Edge Leaders See Differently

Think of the best leader you know, a person who really knows how to intelligently influence others to be more effective, and to move toward meaningful purposes and goals.  Who would you choose, and what makes them a leading-edge leader?

Here are a few things I’d bet that your chosen influential leader is not.

I bet you did not identify someone who operates like a general on a hill.  You know, the kind of person who loves telling others where to go and what to do.  Leading-edge leaders see people as inherently capable, and they use unconditional curiosity to partner with others and call forth their potential to help accomplish important objectives.  The days of command-and-control leadership are over, and today’s influential leader knows the importance of Interdependence as the highest ROI approach to accelerating human performance – including their own.

I’d be surprised if your chosen leader passes him/herself as “practically perfect in every way” – just like Mary Poppins, if you’re familiar with that children’s story.  In fact, I’d bet that there is something downright authentic about your leading-edge leader, in that there is a willingness to own both strengths and weaknesses, mistakes, as well as successes with the same grace and absence of judgment.  My guess is that your chosen influencer is Confidently Vulnerable®, in that they are okay with being “human”, and they give you the same courtesy and permission.  Today’s most impactful leaders, and intelligent influencers of others see through this lens.

Finally, I’d put money on the fact that your leading-edge leader is not just interested in tasks and their outcomes.  If they are like other leaders on the cutting edge, they are very aware of the fact that all performance swims in the water of relationship, and they take care of the relationships at hand.  This includes partnering with others to co-create an environment of safety, where all can flourish, and feel confident to contribute and bring their best to the team and its outcomes.

So, what do these three ways of seeing have in common?  Look at the list one more time, and see if you can spot the pattern:

  1. Interdependence over command-and-control leadership.
  2. Confident Vulnerability™ and nonjudgment of themselves and others – rather than trying to maintain the façade of perfection, or expecting others to operate similarly.
  3. Equally valuing both task and relationship as key to optimal outcomes, instead of only focusing on task-oriented results.

You may not have called it this, but all leading-edge leaders have high People Acuity™.  That is, they see themselves and others with clarity, keenness, or accuracy, and they know how to optimize the value, capability, and untapped potential that they see.  This means that they hold the inherent value of people separate from what they do.  It means that they know how to spot strengths and call forth unseen and untapped potential, and leverage both to maximize outcomes.

They recognize that, “the focus on seeing and being differently changes behavior more than the focus on behaviour ever will” (quote from People Acuity: Revolutionizing Results and Relationships – download Chapter 1 at www.peopleacuity.com).  The willingness to come to the root of all results and relationships – seeing with accuracy – puts them on the edge of the cutting edge, and able to intelligently influence others in a larger-than-life way.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

Engaged Staff, Satisfied Customers, Financial Growth: That’s the bottom-line for People Acuity/Strengths Strategy and now for C&M Ford

In our most recent Engagement blogs, we’ve outlined the challenge and opportunity to improve engagement of employees within organizations. We’ve highlighted the common organizational engagement solutions and their limited success. We’ve also outlined the People Acuity approach, how it differs from traditional approaches and the results it generates. Let us now share a case in point. This is an example of an organization that took the principles of People Acuity, applied them to their company, leaders and employees, and the increased engagement they created (amongst other great results).

The story begins at C&M Ford in Hallock, Minnesota. C&M Ford is a full service dealership led by owner Paul Blomquist.

Paul knew he had a good team working for him. Sales were reasonable and the dealership was mostly a pleasant place to work. But after a meeting with a group of People Acuity Strategists and evaluating his organization, he began to wonder if there could be more: more collaboration between divisions and among individuals, and more engagement for staff. In the end, he had learned that attending to these foundations would also lead to more satisfaction for customers and to increased sales, service and overall growth.

Paul turned to People Acuity for help and he received it. In the hands-on, participatory experiences, his staff learned about interdependence, energizing through strengths, and engaging through purpose. Blomquist also gained from the experience. He knew that he had taken on too much of the leadership of C&M, and that his over-responsibility was disempowering others and preventing their growth. He wanted to identify more leaders in his organization and to trust them with responsibilities. This would enrich the lives of everyone and would help assure continuity at C & M through leadership changes.

Success Profile: C & M Ford, Hallock, Minnesota1

After their first year using a People Acuity/ Strengths Strategy approach, the team created these impressive results:

  • Sales: Tripled at one store, up 20 percent at another.
  • Employee Engagement: Increased by 14 percent.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Increased to 96 percent.
  • Ford Company Status: Moved to top 5 percent of similar-sized dealerships.

Time Share/Team Share

One of the challenges for C & M was that staff members tended to work as individuals rather than as teams. The prevailing feeling was that if you wanted to save time, you did it yourself. While the jobs did get done, the human cost was in energy and burnout. Josh Whitlock, Finance and Insurance Manager said that People Acuity allowed him to experience the growth of trust with his co-workers. This led to a new understanding about the way he approached his work: he found that seeing his own potential and the potential of others more accurately actually improved his use of time—and that when he relied on others, both the energy and the performance of the entire organization improved. His engagement and that of those around him increased.

Evolution

The C & M leadership team evolved dramatically through the Discovery process. As staff learned to trust each other more, they became more open to each other’s ideas. This allowed them to align roles based on strengths, and to lean into each other when they felt vulnerable or weak. And it significantly contributed to their ability to find solutions to some of their most difficult challenges, including time allocation, perpetual relationship challenges, and collaborative project management. As individuals working next to each other became engaged in sophisticated team work, the sense of C & M as a community increased. “We always cared about each other,” said Mona Dietrich, Business Manager, “but this experience deepened our ability to work together in new and different ways.” She learned the many ways that people backed her up, both in her work and in her relationships with them.

That sense of community and cooperation internally has significantly impacted the external customer experience, which, says Whitlock, begins when customers are treated like family, whether they are new customers or old-timers. “Anyone walking in the door is greeted and welcomed; everyone is respected as a neighbor.”  The harmonious working relationships internally have freed up the staff’s energy and attention to creating a stronger experience for the customers who come through the door.

Quantifiable Bottom-line Results

People Acuity is not a quick-fix/one-workshop program, but it is a process of creating steady, lasting transformation which leads to sustainable results.  The message is simple, clear and concrete: staff learn about their own and other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are given the tools to handle the realities of both. The direction for change does not come from People Acuity, but from within the organization, and is thus closely connected to the insights and goals of individuals and of the business. In addition, changes are experienced and quantified along the way, leading to integrated and sustained discovery that is both successful and long-term. After working with People Acuity, C&M sales tripled at one store and rose by 20 percent at the other. Overall, employee engagement grew by 14 percent and customer satisfaction numbers grew to 96 percent, placing C&M in the top five percent of similar-sized Ford dealerships.

Blomquist is, of course, happy with these bottom-line results, but he has also realized that “success is sometimes defined by how engaged people are in the process.” He knows that figuring out a situation together brings a team closer together. Individuals become more engaged and it shows.

1 – from a case study written by Susan Hauser, PhD

For more detail and additional results at C&M Ford, download the full case study at http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/organization-development-path/ Scroll to the bottom of the page and request the full case study. You can also request our Sunrise Banks Case Study from the same page.

For a free consultation with one of our strategists to discuss creating these great results in your organization, email us at info@peopleacuity.com.

NOTE: this blog was edited by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

Engagement – Isn’t It Time to Lift Our Sights a Little Higher?

Study after study shows that engagement in life and work benefits you, your team and your organization. Yet, the engagement problem remains, the sorry result of too many organizations wanting their employees to be engaged, but not finding success through programs, leadership, and initiatives. One reason it may remain near the top of the list every year is that organizations and leaders may be focused on the wrong solution and often, mis-diagnose the root of the problem altogether. After all, engagement may not be only due to the factors most often considered, and it cannot, thus be sustainably improved only through programs, incentives, or any other organization-only solution. If the root causes of employee engagement are not addressed by the solution, and if all parts of the engagement equation are not included in the solution, the problem will remain.

This begs a question:  How could it be that so many organizations, with so much data to back their diagnosis, could be missing part of the story?  Luckily, there is a very simple answer: the data is right. It’s just not complete. It’s only telling half of what is true, and too often, it leads organizational leaders down the wrong trail, sniffing out misaligned solutions, or creating costly strategies that don’t involve the employees themselves, when they are key stakeholders in the employee engagement equation.

Times have changed, and the factors that impact engagement have changed with it, and maybe it’s time to lift our sights a little higher, so we can see a little farther – maybe even to see what we have not been able to see before. Like, for example, the idea that first and foremost, engagement is an inside-out choice that cannot be “fixed” alone through outside-in solutions. It requires both an inside-out, and an outside-in paired response to create lasting change.

Here’s how this might translate to practical reality. Engagement requires that each individual person be taught that they have the choice to engage, and why it matters to them, and others, that they do. Engagement, after all, is a choice – it’s not just something that happens to you, with you acting as a helpless victim of circumstances. To believe this is to disempower the human spirit, and to suggest that you are only as engaged and enthusiastically committed as the environment you are part of. And, there are too many evidences to the contrary, that suggests that this is not entirely true.

This means that you, in partnership with your organization, can share co-responsibility for creating both the internal and external conditions needed to act from high energy, extra-mile effort, and with full commitment. You have more power in this equation than you may now realize.

Although most organizations tend to look almost exclusively at the external factors that are supposed to create conditions for engagement, the truth is that the more impactful factors tend to be internal ones. For example, the way you choose to perceive your co-workers, or the degree to which you choose to create connection with others, or look to collaborate with, and through others on worthy projects. You might be someone who simply chooses to see yourself as powerless, and wait for others to make things rosy (maybe even blaming others when they don’t). Or you may know some employees who steamroll over others, and establish a self-created silo. These are likely the very same employees who may be the first to feel disengaged, never fully recognizing that they are part of the disengagement equation, both adding to it, and taking from it for themselves and others.

After all, as Mary Parker Follett, hailed by Peter Drucker as the Prophet of Management, said: “Various factors are continually influencing each other… I never react to you, but to you-plus-me; or to be more accurate, it is ‘I-plus-you’ reacting to ‘you-plus-me’…”  Employees are equally culpable, and part of the interwoven engagement (or disengagement) challenges facing organizations.

If you understand this, and recognize the factors that drive your own engagement, you can create high energy and performance for both yourself and others. Engagement is first, and will always be, a personal responsibility; and secondarily, it is a shared/team responsibility. Notice we didn’t say “it’s a shared organizational responsibility.” After all, organizations are not engaged or disengaged. People are. And, if you are like most people, those who matter most are yourself, the “me” in the equation, and the people you might claim as your “we”.

So how do you, as an individual influence your engagement? Equally important, what can leaders teach their team members about engagement, so they can choose to live and work with more energy, passion, commitment and joy?

Our seven years of research, involving over 13,000 individuals around the globe, suggests that high engagement is best achieved through three things:

  1. Living and working from Interdependence
  2. Having a clear and strong connection to three levels of purpose (relational, work/role, and situational)
  3. Effectively using Strengths Strategy® to energize self and others.

What do we mean by these three solutions? Let’s look at each of them in turn.

Interdependence

First, Interdependence is a way of seeing self and others with greater clarity (acuity), characterized by these ways of being:

  • Operating from a belief that “I serve us, so we can serve others” (choosing “we” over “me”)
  • Taking responsibility for co-creating conditions, so that high energy and performance can be experienced and maintained by all
  • A shared commitment to meaningful purposes
  • Balance between the contributions and needs of those involved
  • Unconditional curiosity – nonjudgmental celebration of strengths and weaknesses
  • Transparency

At Interdependence, there is alignment around the why, what, and how of your work with others. There is clarity. You know how to be together with your team, because you’ve intentionally co-created conditions for mutual benefit. You know what you’re up to, and what your objectives are. And most importantly, you know why you’re doing it.

Purpose

The purpose that is defined and shared in Interdependence engages and energizes you and others. It’s not always easy to work Interdependently. You don’t always agree. But, when there is a clear, shared purpose, even when it seems like you are light years apart, you find a hidden strength to forgo ego, refuse to cave in to frustration, and you can find new ways of synergizing that lift everyone involved to high energy and performance. You can have shared situational purposes with others and an understanding of the various work/role purposes you and others hold.

For you to be fully engaged, you must also have internal purpose alignment within yourself. This means being clear about how you will make a difference in others’ lives, and how that difference can be expressed through your work/role and situational purposes. In the end, being connected to purpose simply leaves you feeling happier and more fulfilled at work.

Strengths Strategy®

Strengths Strategies are needed to help you bring your best contributions, stay in Interdependence, as well as staying connected to Purpose. If, for example, you cannot see clearly the conditions under which you flourish and contribute your piece of the puzzle, you can’t create those conditions and you can’t contribute as effectively as you might. If you are like a lot of people, you might even blame HR (or your supervisor) for their absence, thinking that they should know what you need and give it to you. Never mind, that aside from shared universal needs, your individual needs are as unique as your fingerprint. And, based on Gallup’s data, the chances that someone would have the same needs as you individually have, with the same priority, would be 1 in 476 trillion.

It’s no wonder organizational strategies don’t work! How can a universal program possibly meet the unique needs of diverse individuals?

The truth is, that it can’t. Only when each person, individually, learns to understand and communicate their needs, and use their own resources to effectively meet those needs, can engagement happen. Interestingly, when you do this well, the most natural thing is to help others do this also. Thus, engagement spreads, in an organic, inside-out way, with each person taking personal responsibility for their piece of the engagement equation. Again, engagement is best defined, developed, and refined from inside-out.  Not from the outside-in.

While there is a time to be “in the trenches”, digging for solutions and new ways of working, the solution to the engagement problem today is new vision, a new way of seeing what engagement is, and maybe what it isn’t. We don’t need more digging in the same trenches.

As you individually, and with others on your team, lift your sights, empower yourselves as individuals, and unite in interdependence for a shared purpose (while managing your contributions and strengths), you will soar! Engagement issues will become old news and the new conversation will be centered on how much higher, faster and better we can fly. And that is a conversation worth pursuing! 

For more information about how to create an engagement strategy with the individual at the core or to change your own vision, request a consultation with one of our strategists by emailing info@peopleacuity.com.

NOTE: this blog was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

What is the English equivalent of Arbejdsglaede?

U.S. workers don’t love work and struggle to love life. And it shows.

70% of U.S. Workers are not engaged at work and of those, 18% are actively disengaged, meaning they are “emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive.” (1)

As we have all heard and probably seen, employee engagement affects employee turnover, absenteeism, productivity, customer loyalty and more. This is why employee engagement has been part of the business conversation for a very long time. It is good for the bottom line, but organizations struggle to crack the code on how to significantly increase employee engagement and keep the numbers high.

While America’s track record with engagement would suggest the problem is universal and unsolvable, it seems the Danes have figured it out. They even have a word for it – “Arbejdsglaede.”

“’Arbejde’ means work and ‘glæde’ means happiness, so ‘arbejdsglæde’ translates roughly to ‘work glad’ or ‘work joy’. The only equivalent phrase in English would be ‘job satisfaction’, or ‘workplace happiness’. Neither seems to fully embrace the spirit of the arbejdsglæde.” (2)

One key difference between our poor English equivalents and the Danish word for work joy is ownership. In the U.S., employee engagement has been the work of HR teams, leadership and the boardroom, and they have owned the solution. In Scandinavia, work joy is up to the individual employee. In a country that seems to have embraced William Ernest Henley’s famous stanza, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”, Americans curiously seem to abdicate their helm when the ship is their own joy at work.

Perhaps we have been lulled into believing that it is an organizational problem and we have no power to change it. But, that isn’t true. In spite of the complexity of the typical attempted solutions to employee engagement by organizational leaders, the key to joy at work is simple and it is held in the hands of you and me.

Alexander Kjerulf, a Danish author and employee engagement expert explains that the formula for workplace happiness comes down to two essential ingredients: results and relationships.  Results mean that employees know they’re making a difference at work, know their job is important, are proud of their work and are getting appreciation for it.  Relationships mean liking the people you work with, having a good manager and feeling like you belong.  “In short, we are happy at work when we do great work together with great people,” Kjerulf writes. (2, 3)

That is the very solution that People Acuity is focused on bringing to the world and we’ve found a fellow-thinker in Kjerulf.

We are about revolutionizing results and relationships. The dramatic improvements we help people make in both relationship and results affects not only Arbejdsglaede (or engagement) but also productivity, well-being, leadership, teamwork, performance for organizations.  And, the three things people care about – love, life and happiness.

So, let’s bring our own version of ‘Arbejdsglaede’ into our language, our work and our lives! How do you think we should translate Arbejdsglaede into English?

(1) State of the American Workplace by Gallup, Released February 2017

(2) Want Real Workplace Happiness? Practice ‘Arbejdsglaede’! Posted on https://www.gthankyou.com/blog/arbejdsglaede April 8, 2016 by Liz King

(3) http://www.whattheheckisarbejdsglaede.com/

For more information about how to create an engagement strategy for your own life, team or group, request a consultation with one of our strategists by emailing info@peopleacuity.com.


NOTE: this blog was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

 

The One Little Thing that Gives You the Biggest Competitive Advantage

Your biggest competitive advantage is a little thing, one you may overlook way too often. It can destroy your business. Or, it can elevate it to heights that may astound you.

Nick Greer, a self-made millionaire and highly successful entrepreneur, shared the secret with a group gathered in Prague to hear his keynote at last year’s global entrepreneurism conference. When it was time for him to deliver his one-two punch, his “don’t-forget-this” statement, he offered that the most important key to building a thriving business is not what you might expect. It’s not great innovation. It’s not amazing strategy. His bottom line was simply this: it’s all about creating and building effective relationships with others. [1]

Nick is right! His research, validated by others, repeatedly demonstrates that relationship encounters can make, or break your business. They can change the trajectory of others’ lives for good, or they can cause people to run for cover. Maybe even to leave. And, sometimes, they are your best, hardest working employees who leave, costing you, on average about 1½ times their salary to replace them. More disconcerting, sometimes, it’s your customers who leave.

The word “relationship” is a contranym, in so many ways. You know, a word that it is an antonym of itself. Like “out,” for example. As in, “our business is out of this world,” meaning that it is remarkable in every way. But, you could also say, “we’re going out of business,” which, of course, implies its opposite.

When you apply this pattern to “relationship”, on one hand you could say, “That relationship experience changed my whole life.” And, you would mean that you would be forever better because of the relationship experience you had. Or, it could mean exactly the opposite.

For example, I had a 2-minute relationship exchange, which shifted my entire life trajectory in ways that are utterly astounding, and have led to the successful creation of an explosive international business, operating in 31 countries, with a network of amazing relationships with over 300 consultants. As an anxious, young, new FranklinCovey facilitator, I remember Stephen Covey listening to the words I wasn’t saying, and noticing both a strength I had, and a purpose that mattered deeply to me, neither of which I was aware of before that moment. That two-minute relationship experience, one of being truly seen and heard, has inspired me over, and over again, to be a better person and to stretch into my own infinite possibilities. It still calls me forth to higher places, every day – to be what he saw in me.

I also could attest to the use of the word relationship, to mean a de-motivating, discouraging factor in the demise of an important work experience – one that ultimately broke down because I would not continue to “volunteer” my talents and time in the context of constant negative relationship interaction. My supervisor’s boss somehow found it important to criticize my approach to the most meaningful and important part of my work, and did so, without having the bigger picture of why I was doing what I was doing. She didn’t do it just once, but repeatedly. Over time, my eager, enthusiastic heart, mind, hands, and back became increasingly withdrawn until the flames of passion for my work had dwindled and died. It seemed that the easiest thing to do was to leave.

Every day, you have relationship encounters. Do they change the trajectory of others’ lives for the good? Or, do others wither and leave (emotionally or physically) because of negative relationship experiences you create? The answer to these questions will determine how big (or small) your competitive advantage is in the end.

[1] Nick Greer, Relationships: The Key to Business Success. Keynote delivered July 2016. Prague.

To learn more about how to revolutionize results and relationships, and inspire others to greatness, you might be interested in joining our free webinar on 8/22 at 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CST: Unlocking the Passion, Purpose, and Potential of Others. You can register at this link: http://bit.ly/2vlDObw. If you are more interested in Discovering YOUR Passion, Purpose, and Potential, you may prefer to join us on 8/15 at 11:30 a.m. CST. Register here: http://bit.ly/2vsPzw6

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

Engagement – It’s Not Impossible, If You Look in the Right Direction

Engagement vies for the top spot each year amongst leaders’ worries and concerns. And, for good reason! In spite of twenty-plus years of research, and millions of dollars of too-often-failed solutions, employee engagement remains the elusive problem to fix, nut to crack, and silver bullet to find. While some organizations have made improvements, overall engagement remains frightening low, even though there has been a concerted focus on this troubling challenge for the past two decades.

Most people generally agree on the definition of engagement being something like, “the degree to which individuals are motivated, committed, and energized by their work.” And, if you’ve done any reading on the subject, you are also likely aware that much of the current research attends to environmental factors that increase the likelihood of engagement across organizations when they are present.[1] Factors such as leadership/management involvement, having a best friend at work, employee recognition, or balancing the demands of the job with available resources.

Of all the environmental factors, engagement is believed to be mostly influenced by management and consequently is often assigned to HR to fix. The typical HR solutions include such things as periodic, regular engagement surveys to measure success at shifting organizational culture, implementing work-flex solutions, creating a compelling employee value proposition, and holding managers accountable for engagement, to name a few. As you can see from this list, and from your own experience, engagement is most often focused on organizational-oriented solutions, particularly those that are influenced by and focused on leaders.

Rarely, if ever, does a question arise around the responsibility of the individual employee to create purposeful energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to his/her own work. In fact, in one interesting survey of a random sample of 1,000 U.S. workers, only 17% of respondents felt that the employee was most responsible for his/her own engagement.[2] However, given that you spend most of your waking hours at work, then shouldn’t the degree to which you feel energized, engaged and motivated matter to you as an employee? Wouldn’t your engagement in your work have some effect on your life? Of course it would, and it does! Which is one reason solving the engagement challenge matters to everyone, not just leaders or organizations.

Engagement at work does benefit the team and organization, but it also benefits the individual in his/her personal life as well as on the job. This is particularly true given that engagement is about living and working in ways that feel joyful. Engagement requires that individuals make the choice to engage and to live and work in ways that feel joyful. It doesn’t just happen by accident. And it doesn’t happen without individual input.

Thinking this way suggests that it is highly likely that we may have been looking too much in the wrong direction for the solution to low engagement. It suggests that organizations cannot fix it alone and that the individual needs to be more involved if we are to crack the code for creating and sustaining high levels of engagement. Indeed, individuals and organizations have co-responsibility for creating the conditions needed for individuals to act from high energy, extra-mile effort, and with full commitment.

When individuals understand and take responsibility for their own unique internal factors, and organizations work with individuals to take shared responsibility for the external factors, the engagement equation is primed to shift dramatically. At People Acuity, we firmly believe that engagement is first, a personal responsibility, and secondarily, a shared/team responsibility. High engagement is best achieved through Interdependence, connection to three levels of purpose (Relational, Work/Role, Situational) and through the effective use of Strengths Strategy® to energize self and others. Until individuals and organizations recognize and accept this joint responsibility and the necessary inputs for high engagement, the “engagement problem” will continue to plague organizations and leaders.

For more information about how to create an engagement strategy with the individual at the core, request a consultation with one of our strategists by emailing info@peopleacuity.com.

NOTE: this blog was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

[1] John Vogelsang, Maya Townsend, Matt Minahan, David Jamieson, Judy Vogel, Annie Viets, Cathy Royal, Lynne Valek.  Handbook for Strategic HR. Employee Engagement. The Organizational Development Network. 2013.

[2] Paul Thoresen.  Employee Engagement: Yours, Mind, and Ours.  LinkedIn. April 30, 2014.