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Joy at Work(er) Blog

Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

leadership Mar 25, 2022

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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Trust your team more and worry less with this 5-day exploration

joy at work leadership Feb 20, 2022

Written by Roxanne Brown

Imagine if you trusted everyone you work with to do everything you need them to do in the way you need them to do it. Imagine how freeing that would be. Imagine what your company could accomplish and how well it could fulfill its purpose. It’s all about Trust.

Trust is complicated. It feels like a moving target. It’s earned but can disappear. It’s intangible, yet you can detect when it’s there. When it’s strong, it can feel like a super-power.

Trust is an implicit agreement between people. Saying the words, “I trust you,” to someone can sometimes help but demonstrating trust through your actions supersedes what’s said. The inner voice responds to hearing the “I trust you” words in this way: “Noted. Now let me see what you do so I understand what your definition of trust is. Then I will decide whether or not your statement is true and how to reciprocate.” 

When something...

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Joy at Work Monday Message: Joining Forces

joy at work leadership Feb 07, 2022

Even in the worst situations you can spread joy by joining forces with others to shift the energy and atmosphere at work. And, what’s great about doing this with others is it can lift your spirits too!

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If You Want to Generate Smiles at Work Today

Written by Roxanne Brown

If you want to generate more smiles at work today, here are some ideas to help your team feel appreciated…

  • In conversations, hold space for your team members to gather their thoughts and share ideas: "In this conversation, please feel free to take a moment to pause and reflect and then tell us what you think.” 
  • Listen and take in a coworker's idea, then say, “Thank you, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.”
  • Confirm you’ve heard a coworker correctly by stating back what you’ve heard: “Before I respond, I want to make sure I heard you. You said [restate what they said]. Did I get that right?” 
  • Include colleagues in conversations because of their unique skills and expertise and tell them how valuable that is to solving the problem. 
  • Point out how the results of a colleague’s work has shifted the culture of the company for the better.
  • Tell someone how their work has...
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Joy at Work Monday Message: Personal Struggle & Helping


It's okay if you're struggling! There are healthy and constructive ways to talk about personal struggles in the workplace. Spread some Joy at Work by making it easy to discuss and help each other.

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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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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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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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Our Vision of Work Can Be

joy at work leadership Feb 18, 2021

Written by Roxanne Brown

The first time we created Joy at Work on a team (a huge group of 250 people located all over the country), everyone asked us how we did it…

Was it more…

• Team lunches?
• Ice cream socials?
• Scavenger hunts?
• Roleplay simulations?
• Game competitions?
• Office spa days?
• Juggling lessons?


Those were indications of Joy at Work that you might have seen if you visited us, but they happened because the team made them happen.

As leaders, we worked every day to build trust, belonging, cohesion, commitment, accountability, adaptability and respect on the team. We also demonstrated integrity and growth and encouraged that in others.

Little by little the team trusted us to give them the space and protection to be inspired, to be themselves, to help each other, to be creative, to take risks and to relentlessly solve hard problems every day.

It was awesome. We want this for everyone. It’s our vision of what work...

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