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Joy at Work(er) Blog

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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Creating a Data Culture

change Jan 29, 2022

Written by Roxanne Brown

I made the long flight from DC to San Francisco on a trip for work. I was going to a Data Governance conference in Japantown. Larry English would be speaking but that’s not why I came. Mr. English, who passed away in 2020,  was considered the data quality guru at the time. TIQM was his thing: Total Information Quality Management. He’d been advising our company for a few years, sometimes teaching long, slide-filled classes jam-packed with charts and graphs to help us learn the concepts beyond reading his book. We would listen to him and pour over his book trying to understand what he was advising and how to implement it at our company. It was daunting. It seemed like it was going to take forever to get traction. Our company had a patience limit of 18 months for a significant outcome. Our short attention span drove our culture.

A Change Practitioner in a Data Land

I wasn’t a data expert. Implementation was my work. I was a Change...

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Give People What They Want

change decision joy at work Sep 17, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

In times of crisis (and change), leaders need to give people something constructive to do that’s not throwaway work. That’s what people want right now. 

In normal times, the workforce has a much easier time deciding what they should focus on. A company’s values, mission, strategic objectives and historical track record are the guide rails employees use to judge what’s important and make decisions about their priorities. Today, companies are making frequent, unexpected pivots to both survive and take advantage of new opportunities. Among other things, shifts in supplier relationships and customer buying patterns are influencing adjustments to long-established business models. For employees, this means those guide rails for knowing what’s important are less clear.

On top of which, employees are overloaded with making decisions about their safety. Employees are asking themselves these questions:

  • (WFH policy) Will I be...
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Change: Learn Your Way Forward

change leadership Aug 22, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Change is an active learning process. Even when the destination is clear (most often it's not, even in the most stable times), the path there involves a lot of test-and-learn activity. We like the "learn your way forward" way of thinking about change, or "decide-change-learn-decide-change-learn".

Thinking about it this way…

  1. Removes the pressure of needing a clear future picture before acting –- let that go!
  2. Removes needing to have the answers to all the questions you anticipate getting –- that’s not realistic, ever.
  3. Removes feeling like you have to be ready for every doubter’s comment –- the doubters are worth listening to but with a healthy amount of detachment. Meaning, don’t get weighed down by what they say. Instead think of them as helping you see the fears people may have and what might be important to address.
  4. Removes the feeling that it’s hopeless, that any change is destined to fail and that...
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2018 Change & Innovation Summit

change leadership Jul 30, 2021

The founder and host of the Change & Innovation Summit, April Callis Birchmeier, interviews Roxanne Brown. Roxanne shares her thoughts about how to work with leaders and how to develop layers of change leadership.

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It may be a company ending mistake to “Go Back” to the office

Written by Ed Cook

The increasing frequency of calls to “go back” to the office is not surprising.  The past year-and-a-half has been anywhere from difficult to deadly for nearly everyone on the planet.  Who wouldn’t want to roll back the clock?  Sure, we had worries back then, but, for most of the world, it was not a trade-off between your livelihood and your life.  Now, with increasing vaccination rates (although there are important concerns about new variants and resurgent infection rates), it is possible to contemplate a return to normalcy.  So, of course, talk about going back to the office has been increasing in the last couple of months and will only increase through the summer and early fall.  But before pulling the trigger on the announcement that everyone in your organization should “go back” to the office consider the impact of the Great Resignation. 

The Great Resignation

Texas A&M Associate...

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What-if Scenarios: Risks Change Professionals navigate every day

change Jun 17, 2021

Part of the What-if Series: Risks Change Professionals navigate every day. What do you do as a Change Professional when you've just started on a project that's been in progress for a long time already?

Many Change Professionals believe that they're at a disadvantage when they don't start on a project right from the beginning. This may or may not be true, as Roxanne Brown explains. There's a lot you can do to be successful and create trust at the same time.

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Are You a Great Change Leader?

Written by Ed Cook

It’s a fascinating exercise to pose the question, “Are you a great Change Leader?”  The personae that tend to emerge break in one of two directions,  Lawyer or Scientist.

The Lawyer will begin with a recitation of presumably amazing evidence underlying their Change Leadership prowess -- the project that landed well and the difficult situation that got smoothed over;   the success in personal conflict resolution and the time something else “amazing” happened.  It is all true and valid, an airtight case!  

In contrast, the Scientist will pose a question: “How do I know if I am a great Change Leader?”  Evidence will be collected. But, even if done well, it’s not about proving a case but understanding the situation as informed by outside evidence, not inside justification.  That means asking others for assessments of your Change Leader skills.  The Scientist knows that...

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Rethinking What Work Means in Life

change joy at work Mar 01, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

Today, many people are asking themselves what it means to work. Most of us have to work to financially support ourselves and others, to be safe in this world, to create the life we want to have. Because that’s true it gets complicated. There are a lot of questions to consider:

How am I going to spend my time working?
How am I going to allow myself to be treated? How will I treat others no matter how I’m treated?
What choices do I feel I have to work to financially support myself and others?
What is a life worth living and how does work factor into that?

The impact of the pandemic has been felt deeply, uniquely among a huge number of us. Because this has been a prolonged experience, change has happened. It’s hard to see the implications but people are reevaluating what work means in a person’s life.

How have your thoughts about work evolved over this past year? What crazy ideas have you entertained? How have you created choices for...

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If You Think Change Will Be Hard, It Will Be

change leadership Feb 27, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

If you think change will be hard, it will be. We’ve seen it over and over again. If you believe your people can’t handle change or don’t like change then you are pretty much guaranteeing that it won’t go well. If you believe that your people can handle change and just need to be treated with respect in the process, you have a much better shot at the change going well.

Do your words and your actions demonstrate that you…

• Understand (or at least are trying to understand) how people are affected by the change you’re introducing?
• Believe people are basically reasonable and just need context and a little space/time to process?
• Recognize people will have a lot of questions, have reasonably prepared for that and are willing to be available for more questions as they make progress?
• Value their participation and contribution to make your vision come to life?

A little of this goes a long way!

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