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Joy at Work(er) Blog

The Crisis of Emotional Capital

The last couple of years forced two global experiments, one in remote education and the other in remote work. Much of these two experiments are about human interaction. They explore what it means to communicate, to lead, to teach. The final and full understanding of those two experiments is yet to come. It may take years. But there is an opportunity now to gain insight into human interaction, specifically at work, and use that insight to create better workplaces that grow Joy at Work.

Much of the coronavirus-driven pandemic analysis has been about the loss of Financial Capital. Rightly so, given the estimated impact, according to an International Monetary Fund Report, is a lingering 3% even another two years out. With global GDP at about $90 Trillion that means more than $2.5 Trillion lost every year until we recover!  

In talking with clients across a range of industries and sizes, we have learned of another hidden loss: Emotional Capital. In conversation after...

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Is It Safe to Participate?

change leadership Apr 24, 2022

Written by Ed Cook

The amount of each team member’s participation is a meaningful predictor of the success or failure of the team and the company culture. Participation means being part of the team, not just showing up. The same root word for “part” (as in being part of) is at the heart of “participation.” Putting on a name tag (or a team jersey) does not equal participation. Active engagement is participation. The much-derided "Participation Trophies” are not awarded in the working world because they have nothing to do with Participation. They are “showing up” trophies. 

Participation is active

For a team to have success each member must contribute something to the team. Otherwise, they are a drain on the energy and resources of the team. Even if they are silent, the drain, however subtle and slow, is there. Team members will wonder if they have offended the silent team member. They will spend time trying to connect with...

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Repairing the Disconnect: Building Your Manager's Trust

Written by Roxanne Brown

For good reason, managing up gets a bad rap. When the concept was first introduced to me it was in the context of working for a difficult boss. Later it became a recommended strategy for getting promoted or keeping senior management happy. Applied in these situations it can feel like a manipulation tactic for getting something you want. Similar to the cynical reasons for developing a personal brand, it feels self-serving. The tendency is to see it as the game of workplace politics. Given the common emphasis of its use this way, I strongly believe this is at least part of why many employees crave authenticity in their leaders, the company they work for and in themselves.

But there really is a positive way to apply managing up and it’s about building trust.

Frustration grows with misunderstanding

Employees become frustrated with their boss when they’re not allowed to make decisions they feel they should have the authority to make and...

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What's a Trust Fall?

Written by Roxanne Brown

What's a Trust Fall? Or rather, what’s the point of it? The trust fall is an exercise meant to increase confidence between people: “I can rely on you for my safety and success when I’m at risk personally. And you can rely on me in the same way.” The hazards of the exercise are well documented (endlessly on YouTube) and there are lots of people who say it doesn’t work. Still, it’s useful here in the virtual world to ask how the intention can be achieved. We have some ideas.

First some basics. 

You can grow confidence in each other by…

Getting to know each other. [inside voice] “We each know something about what matters to the other person and that ‘knowing’ comes from communication beyond what’s said.”

Finding things in common. [inside voice]: “We share some things in common personally. As a result, we each assume the other person can understand how those things...

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Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

leadership Mar 25, 2022

Written by Ed Cook

The words coach and mentor are often used interchangeably making distinctions between them murky.  This is unfortunate because the value of each can be tremendous for a person’s career, but where and how that value shows up can be significantly different.  Furthering the confusion, people call themselves a coach or a mentor without even defining what they mean.  Some clarity is needed here.

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”
--John Wooden

As the coach of UCLA’s incredibly successful basketball team, John Wooden certainly knew something about coaching.  But is his coaching the same kind of coaching that we would want to see in business?  The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  Coaches honor the client...

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Competency Fallacy

management Mar 11, 2022

Written by Ed Cook

In corporations around the globe, managers are engaging in a process to develop their associates. At least they are trying to do it. These well-meaning attempts typically include some sort of a model of competencies. The manager is supposed to “ground” an assessment of the employee’s competencies with behavioral examples when they exhibited higher or lower levels of these competencies, then finally give the employee a score against each competency. There are a few core questions to examine in this system of thought. 

First, what is a competency? So many companies talk about these. Rate their people on these. Determine promotions, bonuses, and raises on these. Companies define competencies like “strategic thinking” and “builds relationships.” These certainly seem useful. Who wouldn’t want an employee to be great at these two competencies and others? Typically, competencies are the more intangible traits that a...

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Trust your team more and worry less with this 5-day exploration

joy at work leadership Feb 20, 2022

Written by Roxanne Brown

Imagine if you trusted everyone you work with to do everything you need them to do in the way you need them to do it. Imagine how freeing that would be. Imagine what your company could accomplish and how well it could fulfill its purpose. It’s all about Trust.

Trust is complicated. It feels like a moving target. It’s earned but can disappear. It’s intangible, yet you can detect when it’s there. When it’s strong, it can feel like a super-power.

Trust is an implicit agreement between people. Saying the words, “I trust you,” to someone can sometimes help but demonstrating trust through your actions supersedes what’s said. The inner voice responds to hearing the “I trust you” words in this way: “Noted. Now let me see what you do so I understand what your definition of trust is. Then I will decide whether or not your statement is true and how to reciprocate.” 

When something...

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Joy at Work Monday Message: Joining Forces

joy at work leadership Feb 07, 2022

Even in the worst situations you can spread joy by joining forces with others to shift the energy and atmosphere at work. And, what’s great about doing this with others is it can lift your spirits too!

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Employee Engagement Hinges on a Handful of Influencers

Written by Ed Cook

With the Great Resignation causing distressing amounts of employee turnover and dismal employee retention numbers, Employee Engagement is front of mind for many leaders. What employee engagement is, however, can be elusive.  Some see it as activities associated with team building.  Some see it as an application of Positive Psychology.  Some as employee wellness.  All of these are part of Employee Engagement but not enough to fully describe it.  Seminars and workshops on Positive Psychology abound, yet surveys and research on employee morale and mental health show continued declines.  Many have experienced team-building activities like ropes courses. There can be a certain thrill to hanging upside down in a harness held by your teammates but mostly these activities provide engagement for the day, but, like a candy bar, the sugar rush rapidly fades and they are left empty.  Mental and physical health have declined in the...

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If You Want to Generate Smiles at Work Today

Written by Roxanne Brown

If you want to generate more smiles at work today, here are some ideas to help your team feel appreciated…

  • In conversations, hold space for your team members to gather their thoughts and share ideas: "In this conversation, please feel free to take a moment to pause and reflect and then tell us what you think.” 
  • Listen and take in a coworker's idea, then say, “Thank you, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.”
  • Confirm you’ve heard a coworker correctly by stating back what you’ve heard: “Before I respond, I want to make sure I heard you. You said [restate what they said]. Did I get that right?” 
  • Include colleagues in conversations because of their unique skills and expertise and tell them how valuable that is to solving the problem. 
  • Point out how the results of a colleague’s work has shifted the culture of the company for the better.
  • Tell someone how their work has...
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