Work Words

Work Words

Language matters. The way we talk, the words we use, the conversations we spark. It all matters. If our aim is to create and maintain a happy work culture (and it should be!), then it stands to reason that we have to speak differently. In fact, I define leadership with one simple question: “What conversations happen because you’re in the room?” You see, leaders move the conversation beyond the mundane, task-centric business-speak that is pervasive in most work cultures. They refuse to participate in, engage in or allow negativity, pessimism or cynicism. Instead, they elevate the dialogue, ignite thought and encourage participation. They speak (and listen) differently. They talk about success not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of fulfillment, meaning and the opportunity to fully utilize the talents of the team. And because the members of the team see and hear this different kind of language, they too, speak and think differently. The air in great work cultures is filled with words of appreciation and gratitude. Conversations about dreams and goals and giving abound. And this becomes the norm, the culture. And success of the more traditional kind (profits) follows. In fact, one study showed that more profitable organizations literally speak differently than those that are less profitable. The ratio of positive language to negative in successful companies is 3 to 1, while those companies deemed unsuccessful have a 1 to 1 ratio. So, take a few minutes this week to think about your language and your conversations. What do you say that inspires your team members to do more, achieve more and be...
The 20% Work For Me. I Make Sure Of It.

The 20% Work For Me. I Make Sure Of It.

When Gallup polled US workers last year, they found that 80% of people don’t like their jobs, and what’s worse, 67% say they plan to leave their jobs within the next 12 months. Anecdotally, I know this is true. I hear my friends talk about how much they hate their jobs all the time. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen – the language they use to describe their work is negative, negative, negative. In some cases, they seem to take pride in how awful it is. They brag about the stress, the hours, the conflicts; and they count the days and years until they can stop working. As a father, I’m worried that my children are hearing and believing these messages. I’m concerned that they believe that when they enter the workforce it’s all stress and misery, buffered occasionally by happy hours, TGIF and a desperate hope that “one day I can retire.” Who is out there telling our kids, my kids, that work is rewarding, fulfilling, meaningful and important on numerous levels? As a business owner, I know that if my team members are sitting at their desks thinking how much they hate their jobs and planning to leave soon, then clearly they aren’t helping us achieve our business goals. But I’m convinced that it doesn’t have to be this way, and I’m committed to changing the conversation about work by changing the culture at work. I want to make sure that every member of my team feels valued and that their work is valuable. I find opportunities for every single person to have a voice in what we’re doing. And,...
Be A Warrior. A Joyful Warrior.

Be A Warrior. A Joyful Warrior.

Earlier this year, before we knew that the Golden State Warriors were going to set the NBA record for most wins in a season, they just seemed different than the other teams in the league. And not just because no other team could beat them. Unlike most teams that spend the first few weeks and months of the season stumbling along, figuring out their chemistry, experimenting with line-ups and strategies, the Warriors came out of the gate playing at an entirely different level than everyone else. They were smooth, relaxed, confident, and in each game, whether they had a big lead or small, they simply never seemed worried. Moreover, unlike most teams, they looked like they were having fun. Yes, fun. You could see it on their faces. Not only of the players, but the coaches, too. And the fans, also. There was something different in the air during a Warriors game. No screaming coaches, no panicked players, no drama. This team was actually enjoying playing the game. On the day when the Warriors, the reigning NBA champions, won a record-setting 16th straight game, coach Steve Kerr, who, at the time, was actually taking time off due to recent surgery, addressed his team and reminded them of their “four core principles.” What were those principles? Shooting, passing, rebounding and defense? Nope. At the beginning of the season in which the pressure was on for the Warriors to defend their championship and prove to the world that it was no fluke that this undersized team was the best in the league, Kerr defined their core principles as joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. Let those four...
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...

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...