Joy at Work(er) Blog

Your Positive Ripple Effect

leadership Oct 30, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Leaders often want more change than their team can handle. That’s because they have a vision they want to see come to life. They can see it! They also know it cannot happen without their people. They regularly wrestle with patience, openness to how change unfolds and the determination to reach the destination.

It can wear you out! Especially if you dare to wonder if it’s worth it. Especially if you lose touch with why you decided to lead in the first place. Especially if all you’re reminded of is what’s wrong and you don’t see what’s right.

What have you done lately, however small, that’s good for the world? How have you had a positive ripple effect? Why not hang out there for a while? It’s good for you.

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When Someone Leaves the Company

change joy at work Oct 28, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

When someone leaves the company, it’s not just about that person. It’s about that person and all of the people that are impacted by their departure.

Even if the person’s departure is a relief, it’s still a loss. Even if a person’s departure isn’t voluntary, there’s at least a small amount of envy felt by others.

We often talk about the people that remain with the company as the people left behind, which is a way to put it that sounds a little strange. We say that because it can feel that way to the people that remain.

Naturally, people feel relief because it’s not them leaving. It’s a lot of work to leave a job and find/transition to another. It’s stressful. But there’s also excitement, adventure and possibility attached to the person leaving. So it partly feels like being left behind.

When someone leaves the company, everyone impacted needs to be cared for because it’s a loss. Even...

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How would describe the best team you've ever led or been part of?

team engagement Oct 15, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

When we ask people to describe the best team they’ve ever led or been part of, they usually say things like:

• We had each other’s back
• We had a hard goal to overcome and we were clear on the destination
• It was hard but we all focused
• People helped each other
• We laughed and did silly things to keep ourselves going
• We debated and tried things
• We took risks and sometimes we failed but we mostly had confidence that we could recover

It’s remarkably consistent!

When people are preoccupied with self-protecting and surviving at work they’re not focused on their work and the contribution they were hired to make so that the company achieves its purpose. Joy at work is about cultivating what supports people to thrive the most at work, together and individually, through good times and hard times. Joy at Work is about a way of being so the focus can be on the work itself.

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Nurturing Trust

joy research Oct 06, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

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...

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Measuring Change

change Oct 04, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

When you’re leading change, how do you know you’re getting anywhere? How do you measure progress?

Measuring change progress does not need to be exact. It only needs to be directionally correct to lead to useful and actionable insights. The best place to start is by asking the question, what are the signs of progress? From there you can decide what data matters and what’s worth measuring.

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Change Can Grow Joy

change joy at work Oct 02, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Change can grow joy. An executive we spoke with recently referred to change as the destroyer of joy. It’s such a fascinating statement when you consider some of the phrases we use in business:

  • Disruptive innovation
  • Failing fast
  • Digital transformation

These are catchy phrases but also inspire inertia, disbelief, fear and a lot of cognitive dissonance when the words and actions of the company, leaders and managers don’t match, when that’s not acknowledged.

Another executive we spoke with said they don’t use the word “change” in their company, they say “evolution” because change is too scary.

Clearly there’s fear attached to change, but there’s another way. A company can change and grow joy. It’s all about how!

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Joy Research Interview

joy research Sep 30, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

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

Written by Roxanne Brown

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...

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Joy at Work for...

joy at work Sep 18, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

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

Written by Roxanne Brown

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...

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