What if. What next. What about now?

What if. What next. What about now?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a company’s responsibility to its team members. Here in the US, most employers understand the importance of helping employees maintain their health, providing health insurance plans and more often these days, wellness programs. I call this the “What if?” What if my employee, her spouse or kids gets sick? How can I help them stay healthy or pay for costly medical expenses? Most employers also help their employees prepare for retirement, providing pensions and programs that often include an employer match. I call this the “What next?” What will my team members do next? How will they support themselves when they retire? How can I help? But “What about now?” Sure, I want to alleviate some of life’s worries from my team members, but I also want to inspire them to be fully realized, fully engaged human beings today. And every day! I want them to come to work happy, fulfilled, engaged and inspired. I want this because I care about them. And I want this because if we’re going to ask our team members to help us grow our businesses and commit themselves fully to our goals, then I think we owe some consideration to the “what about now?” In my company, we do this by encouraging team members to set personal goals and assisting them in achieving those goals. We do this by hiring people who are passionate about life outside the walls of work. And we do this more formally through a new program called the “40 Hour Sabbatical.” Look, I’m willing to pay for my employees’ health insurance...
Make Your Mother Happy. Be Happy.

Make Your Mother Happy. Be Happy.

If I were to ask what your goals are, you would likely give me some quantifiable answer, like earning a certain salary, attaining some specific position within your company, or being in a position to retire by a certain age. We are obsessed with milestones and measurement. And I get it. In business, we like to say, “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be mastered.” We conduct strategic planning sessions and discuss SMART goals, the ‘M,’ of course, standing for “measurable.” However, if I were to ask what your goals are for your children, what would you say? Nearly everyone I ask gives me a one-word answer without even a second to consider it. We want our kids to be happy. I certainly do. I want them to find joy and meaning in life. I want them to be thoughtful, kind, creative, confident and proud adults. None of these things can be measured. So, I’m wondering why do we think so differently about ourselves as adults than we do about our children? We seek specific and measurable goals for ourselves and desire beautiful, meaningful and yet nebulous things for our kids. Why the disconnect? Why don’t we allow ourselves to have aspirations that are more difficult to pinpoint when they are achieved? Why are we unable or unwilling to articulate these more meaningful, yet less measurable goals? One answer is in the way we think about happiness in our culture. For us, happiness is the reward for achieving a goal rather than being the goal itself. It’s true. When we say that our goal is to retire by...
How You Are You At Work?

How You Are You At Work?

There was a great quote in a Harvard Business Review article last year that said: “Most people at work… divert considerable energy every day to a second job that no one has hired them to do.” What they’re referring to is that most people come to the office each day feeling like they have to be a completely different person than who they really are. In other words, that director of marketing or systems analyst or chief operating officer sitting over there is really just an actor playing that role. Many of us have had this experience or have it every day, where we pull into the parking lot at work, turn off the car, look in the mirror, take a deep breath and leave our real selves in the car – our personality, hopes, dreams, passions, opinions – and slip into the role of who we think we’re supposed to be for the next 8 – 12 hours of the day. How exhausting! In fact, HBR goes on to say that this role-playing vs. being a real person is one of the biggest obstacles to productivity in the US workplace. And no wonder, how can we be 100% focused on doing our jobs at a high level and helping our organizations pursue their business strategies when we’re busy trying to be someone we’re not? But as leaders, there’s something we can do about this. We can consciously create a business environment or organizational culture that allows people to be who they are. We can encourage our team members to be themselves and to pursue the things they’re interested...

Happiness at Work: If Only It Were Easy

It’s a fact, happy people are more productive, more engaged and quite simply better at just about everything they do. And organizations that cultivate and sustain a positive culture are more innovative, creative, productive and, yes, successful by just about any metric, including profits. So the question is, why don’t business leaders invest in happiness? Why don’t they make it a priority and a goal? The answer is simple. It’s hard. You see, if we believe we can strengthen our teams by giving employees more money, then that’s easy, just write bigger checks. If we think our team members will be more committed if they have more time off, simply change the vacation or PTO policy. Or, if we believe that people will be happier if we give them more rewards for their hard work, well, yep, that’s not very hard either, just schedule more happy hours, put a foosball table in the office or stock better snacks in the break room. The problem is, none of these is a sustainable solution. Research shows that money and other rewards don’t motivate people, yet this is how we think. That’s why employers regularly implement ideas such as these, brag about them and even win awards for “Greatest Place to Work” because of things like big bonuses, free beer, unlimited vacation policies and break rooms with ten different types of cereal. But these things aren’t the answer to creating a great place to work for the long term, a place where team members are loyal, engaged, proud and passionate. Instead, the real answer is both much simpler and much more difficult....
Great Teams Change the World

Great Teams Change the World

Great teams think less about the competition and more about what’s possible with the talent and resources sitting at the table and available through their network of friends and fans. Great teams come to the table with courage, confidence and enthusiasm. Great teams say things like “Let’s do this because it’s possible and it will change the world!” (And great leaders reply simply, “yes.”) In my company, we are big fans of Little Bets (thanks Peter Sims!). That means that we are willing to try big ideas on a small scale and to explore ideas that can be done with the incredible talents and resources immediately available to us. Little Bets are easy to say yes to. We create these opportunities with big upside and little downside. They give team members a voice, ownership and the opportunity to stretch their wings. And if they don’t work, it’s no big loss, it was a little bet and we just move on to the next one. And if it does work, well, then we’re one step closer to changing the world. Great teams change the...