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Joy at Work(er) Blog

Measuring Belonging

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 Leader."

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 Leader” 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...

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From Freak Out to Fill Out

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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A Thought Experiment for Today

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…

  • Test how well you work with...
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How not to freak out in a global pandemic

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 Peace
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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What does empathy mean now?

Written by Roxanne Brown

Empathy became a popular word to use at work a few years ago. Have you thought about it lately? 

I admit I can be a bit jaded about words that become popular in the workplace because I’ve seen them enter the vernacular with good intention, then end up being meaningless or used to appear informed. Sadly, they can become another source for breeding employee cynicism and even weaponized. Adding to a kind of workplace blather. 

The word "vulnerable" has been through this cycle, ironically. And, so has the phrase “failing fast”. It sounds great but talking about it without examining the lack of safety (in the practices that a culture values) just grows more cognitive dissonance which subtracts time and energy from creating value, the purpose of the company.

So, have you thought about empathy lately?

Take a look at these synonyms for empathy:
What do these words mean to you now? Do you have more of this at work? Less? How do they show up...

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The 3 (and a half?) Types of Virtual Meetings

management virtual teams Apr 06, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

As we all scramble because of the COVID-19 outbreak of the coronavirus to move to virtual work that means virtual meetings.  Anything that has not gone well with our in-person meetings is going to go even more horribly with your virtual meetings.  Every distraction, every unfocused agenda item, every meandering conversation without conclusion or action, will be all the more so in a virtual environment.  So let’s use this time of COVID-19 driven separation to make our virtual meetings fantastic.  They can be a source of trust-building as discussed here.  They can even be a way to bring Joy at Work, even more so because so many are anxious about the future.  Now is the time for leaders to step up and be the voice that provides calm and guidance.  Meetings are the place we can do it!

Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings, the better. 
-Peter Drucker

There is significant risk in contradicting a...

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Building Trust...Virtually

Written by Ed Cook

With the coronavirus raging across the world and organizations asking people to stay home, we will all need to learn how to work better virtually. There are certainly practical tips for conducting a meeting virtually that you can review here.  Also important in a virtual work environment is building trust.

“One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.” -- E.M. Forster

But what is trust? And, why do we want to build it? These may not have easy answers to the simplicity the questions suggest.  Let’s start with trust. We place our trust “in” things and people, as in, “I’ll put my trust in this old car,” or “I’ll put my trust in Angela,” or even “I’ll put my trust in God.”  We talk about “my trusty pen,” or “umbrella,” or “screwdriver.” But how do we know we have trust?  The one key...

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Do you need a coach or a mentor?

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 is significant.  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 as the...

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3 questions that tell you when to lead (instead of manage)

Written by Ed Cook

The words leader and manager are often used interchangeably and with that, their individual meaning is lost.   Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis are often quoted as saying:

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

It’s pithy and 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 managers’ organization is doing but that success is circumscribed.  Great managers are still working inside the confines of 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 stimulating a vision for something better.  The origin of the word is very...

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