Joy at Work(er) Blog

Joy Research Interview

joy research Sep 30, 2020

In every Joy Research interview with a CEO or senior leader, we always ask this question at the end…

“If we’re successful in our research, what questions would you wish we could answer?”

Here are a few they’ve given:
• Is joy the word?
• Is that the metric that will help us get the most out of our people?
• How do we help people reach this state?
• How do we know it’s happening?
• How is joy unique for our line of work?
• How do people define it?
• How is it different from happiness?
• Why are leaders afraid to talk about joy at work?
• Why does joy matter so much?

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What's the story behind that name?

change Sep 23, 2020

When Ed presented his decision analytics PhD research at INFORMS (Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences) conferences, no one asked about the math. What they asked was, “How did you get the organization to implement the decision?”

Before joining ACMP’s (Association of Change Management Professionals) Board of Directors, Roxanne noticed that at the annual conferences the attendees talked about their role in implementing what seemed like poor decisions. They wondered out loud, “How can we have a bigger influence on the change decisions?”

We realized decisions and change are two sides of the same coin.

Sometimes decisions don’t get implemented because the change seems too daunting.


Sometimes change implementations stop because a barrier is discovered that is too big to overcome.

It’s better to think of a change decision as a learning process because new information will be learned as the implementation begins. The original...

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Joy at Work for...

joy at work Sep 18, 2020

Joy at Work for…

  • Career path planning: How do you want work to feel? What work cultures do you thrive in? What companies, industries or types of work have these cultures?
  • Job interviewing: What tells you the company, team or job role will be a place you can thrive? What are the signs that joy at work is present?
  • Onboarding: How would you describe joy at work to a new team member? How is joy at work part of the culture? What does the culture value? What is the company working on? What does the company struggle with? What is expected of the new employee? How can the employee contribute to joy at work?
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Grateful versus Superior

joy at work Sep 10, 2020

There’s a fine line between gratitude and superiority. The subtext of “I am grateful for all I have” versus “I am superior because of all I have.” It’s all about the intent. It’s why sometimes the offer of help is seen as a threat rather than genuine support.

Gratitude is thought to lead to joy.

Think of a time when you were offered help and it felt like genuine support. You felt mentally, physically and emotionally strengthened by the offer.

Think of a time when you were offered help and it felt vaguely like a threat, condescension or somehow took away your power.

Gratitude gives you strength. Joy gives you strength. Joy at work allows you to focus on the work rather than manage the vague threats around you.

What are you grateful for that gives you a feeling of strength that you never need to tell another soul? The next time you offer help to someone at work, try remembering this thought first and with that energy extend the offer. They may...

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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 the word is...

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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

Written by Ed Cook

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...

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When Leaders Introduce Change

change joy at work Sep 06, 2020

When leaders introduce change employees pay more attention to the words and actions of the leaders and influencers in the company. That’s because they’re trying to make sense of what’s happening and understand how they can be successful in this new situation.

They’re evaluating these things…

  • Are we really changing or is this a temporary focus?
  • Are all of the leaders on board with this?
  • What does my manager expect of me now? Does that match what their boss wants?
  • Do I have more or less value with this change?
  • How much work is this going to be for me? For my team?
  • What choices do I have?

As a leader you can think this through before you introduce change. Even if you spend 10 minutes on this you’ll get a more empathetic mindset so you can adjust your message.

Joy at Work is about trust, respect, belonging, cohesion, integrity, accountability, adaptability, growth, participation and commitment. It’s about helping employees focus on the work...

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Leader as a Calming Force

leadership Sep 04, 2020

As a leader, sometimes you need to be a calming force for your people when change is happening. Sometimes you need to inspire and motivate but sometimes being a calming force is what people need.

This applies to the Change Professional too. Leaders and Change Professionals illuminate what’s happening as a change progresses helping others make sense of it. This has a calming effect on the culture, clearing space to focus on the work.

You bring calm when you acknowledge things that aren’t known yet, when you acknowledge decisions that seem inconsistent with the company’s values, when you acknowledge things may feel a little chaotic.

Just communicating that this is pretty typical when a company goes through significant change conveys your confidence in the process and in the company’s ability to successfully adapt.

How do you know when it’s time to bring calm to your organization? A few signs:

  • When people say that they don’t know what they should...
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Thank You for Showing Up

leadership Sep 02, 2020

As a leader you learn things about yourself you may not like. It’s part of the deal and it’s also incredibly personal. This is one of the many reasons why leadership is hard on the leader. You can be misinterpreted and mischaracterized in a moment. That’s also part of the deal. You have to have thick skin and sensitivity at the same time. It’s a privilege to lead others because your impact is great. It’s also important to pay attention to your well being because the nuanced and subtle pain of leadership accumulates and can damage you in ways that are not apparent.

Thank you for showing up every day, even though leading change takes its toll on you.

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