Joy at Work(er) Blog

Nurturing Trust

joy research Oct 06, 2020

Trust shows up frequently as a corporate value, a desirable commodity.  It is inscribed on our money  (“In God We Trust”) and in our nation’s official motto.  But for something that is valued so highly, organizations struggle to explain what Trust is.  They seem unclear about how to get it,    how to nurture it, and how it erodes. They often make decisions that seem blind to the impact of Trust on their members.  

Organizations often expect their employees to think of Trust in terms of actions: 

“I can depend on you to do what you say.”

“They’ve got my back and I’ve got theirs”

“We are all in it together.”

Although these are fine statements and positive situations, they miss an important point,  an idea that has lived in the research literature about the individual but needs to expand to that of the organization --  psychological safety.    

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Do You Need a Leader or a Manager?

leadership management Sep 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

The words leader and manager often are used interchangeably,  and with that slipshod usage, their individual meanings can be lost.   Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis are often quoted as saying:

“Management is doing the things right and Leadership is doing the right thing”   

This points to deeper insights.  Management is about making things happen. It is literally about manipulation.  The words management and manipulation both come from the Latin word manus, meaning hand.  If done well, there are efficiencies gained and improvements made in every aspect of what the manager’s organization is doing,  but that success is circumscribed.  Great managers are still working under constraints that have been given to them.  They can be awesome but only with what is given to them.  Leadership is about seeing beyond the confines and setting a vision for something better.  The origin of...

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Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor

leadership Sep 07, 2020

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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The Leadership Bubble

leadership Sep 07, 2020

Leaders, who help to develop the skills and capabilities of their teammates, are giving a gift that returns again and again. Giving it, however, is not always so easy. These brave leaders are attempting a process that can be both difficult to do and even damaging if not carefully done. What makes this such a difficult undertaking is that the process of learning new capabilities does not always happen through instruction alone. Often, it happens best through experience. In order to truly grow, people need to try these new capabilities which means they will fail, certainly in the early attempts. Those brave enough to try may suffer a loss of credibility should they fail. They may lose confidence as they see the negative impact of their mistakes on others. Decline, not growth, is possible here.

Sage Advice from an Old Salt

To conceptualize their role leaders can use The Leadership Bubble. The Leadership Bubble is the concept of a leader placing a protective structure around each member...

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Virtual Meeting Joy

management virtual teams Jul 10, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Have meetings become friendlier? When a colleague’s child bursts on your screen to show you their toy, does that make people laugh? When a cat jumps up on the back of a colleague’s chair, does that bring smiles? Working from home is a lot of things. “Weird” certainly describes it. Sometimes, it can be unexpectedly joyous too. 

Of course, work is a serious thing that needs focus. collaboration and determination. Work also needs spontaneous, joyful moments. That momentary relief does a lot for mood, bonding, and energy.

Work-life balance seems like a passé phrase today. It’s more like work-life integration. That’s what we’re doing when we work from home all of the time. People used to have to hide those less-professional “life” parts of their lives before we quarantined. Now, not only do we seem to have the patience for it, many of us are enjoying getting to know work colleagues in these new...
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Measuring Belonging

joy research Jul 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

Part of our Joy Research from The Change Decision involves validating a Joy Assessment. That assessment has ten criteria against which we believe Joy at Work can be measured. You can hear more about that research and the specifics of the Joy Assessment in an upcoming free webinar. You can sign up for the free webinar here. In this post, we want to focus on one of the ten Joy Assessment criteria: Belonging.

In particular, we want to measure belonging. Although we believe there is much that humans can simply intuit about joy attributes, such as belonging, we have found there is power in using the tools of analytics to gain insights that might not otherwise readily reveal themselves. Here’s what we mean by belonging.

“My unique capabilities and contributions have value here. I know that because I can see for myself how my capabilities and contributions have value in delivering the organization’s purpose and others communicate my value back to me as...
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The Perils of Declaring: "I'm a Change Agent."

joy research Jun 18, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

Joy Research
Since the start of 2020, we have engaged in a fascinating project: Joy Research.  This plays into informing the mission of The Change Decision - to bring Joy at Work.  We have been interviewing CEOs and senior leaders about how leading teams, managing change, and group decision-making impact Joy at Work.  There are so many enlightening elements of this research that we are going to do a free Webinar.  If you’d like to hear the full story, please sign up here. This post is a taste of what we have found. One discovery is that the phrase,  “I’m a
Change Agent” is an indicator, a canary in the coal mine, for the organization’s culture.

Before describing why that is so, some background in what we have found through the Joy Research will be helpful.  First, there is some difference between managing change and managing a project.  In our Joy Research interviews, leaders tell us it is possible to...

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From Freak Out to Fill Out

development May 21, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

If ever there was a time for introspection, it has got to be now. A pandemic that is devastating the world economically and psychically. A lock-down that has driven so many of us to isolation both physically and emotionally. An uncertain future as to when this will ease up and what it will mean once it does. 

The first step is to handle this is to get past the freak out stage. Here are some very personal thoughts about how not to freak out in a global pandemic. The next step is to do something practical. Something that strengthens you for the future. If you are a leader of others, then something that strengthens your team and the humans themselves that make up your team. The trick is to fill out. Fill out yourself. Fill out your team. Look for the places where your energy or knowledge or skills are less than you would like and then work to fill out the ones that make the most sense to you.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin,...

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How not to freak out in a global pandemic

leadership May 03, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

As we go further into the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of low-level anxiety is increasing.  The end is uncertain.  We may have much further to go.  Although many have a low probability of danger from the virus, the very existence of a global pandemic coupled with consistent news stories and press conferences that describe terrible scenes of overwhelmed hospitals and exhausted medical staff all fuel the anxiety that seems to be within us all.  On top of all of this, the economy has slowed and tens of millions are out of work, furloughed, or dealing with reduced hours.  I’ve had two significant experiences with persistent low-level anxiety.  What I learned from those experiences is helping me now as I deal with my own anxiety as well as helping my loved one’s anxiety.

Finding Inner Calm
In 2018, I was diagnosed with oral cancer.  I did not smoke.  I exercised.  I was in good health.  It was a...

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A Thought Experiment for Today

leadership May 03, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

I'm struck by the more frequent, genuine kindness in language and actions today, especially at work. Checking on others. Showing real concern. Smiling wider at seeing someone appear on a video call. Space given on those calls to listen to what others are going through. Proactive reach-outs. Grace. People sharing real confessions and downfalls in how they’re coping. For most, this amount of generosity is not the typical experience of work. 

Maybe we are reconsidering what it means to be kind at work. Reconsidering boundaries. Still professional yet more authentic. We're all actively coping. We’re all immersed in this grand experiment.

This got me thinking: What if someone designed this thing we’re all going through as an experiment we agreed to enter into? Why might such an experiment be created? What would be its purpose? Why might you agree to be part of it?

Initial thoughts: Maybe to…

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