Archive for the "Books" Category

A Guidebook for Building a Human Workplace (A book review)

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – No workplace would exist without humans. Why don’t we build more workplaces for humans?

Cover of book The Human WorkkplaceWhat does it mean to truly work human? The answer is as complex as humanity itself, but centers on enabling our people to bring the fullness of their humanity into the workplace for the benefit of their colleagues, their customers, the company, and the community. (To learn much more, including practical tips, be sure to join us at the annual WorkHuman conference, April 2-5, in Austin, Texas.)

A key part of making work more human is, of course, creating a human workplace. And now friend and repeat WorkHuman speaker Andy Swann has written the book on it – “The Human Workplace.” As the founder of Simple Better Human, a specialist agency that helps major organizations and global brands thrive, Andy knows what he’s talking about, defining a human workplace this way: “The human workplace is one that adapts, innovates fast, involves everyone, communicates, understands and acts in perpetuity. It creates relationships rather than transactions.”

There is much to consider when creating a workplace fit for humans, and Andy tackles them all thoroughly. The thread running through every element, however, is connection. A truly human workplace has connection at its heart. The need to connect with others, to a purpose and through action is a basic human need. Andy elegantly outlines these and other critical elements of connection, which I highlight below along with key quotations from the book to illustrate.

  • Purpose – Humans are wired to want to contribute to something bigger than themselves, to know we are having an impact on something of importance.

“The organizations of the future are no longer machines or systems, they are movements. To make a successful human workplace, you need to start a movement.”

  • Values/behaviors – Humans are also willful creatures. Restraining that will results in also restraining creativity, passion, and influence. Yet some level of control is needed in workplaces to keep humans from running amok. Defining clear parameters, along with what matters to organization success, frees people while offering necessary guidance. Most organizations have these today in the form of core values or similar.

“When people are unleashed to be amazing on their terms (within the parameters of the organization), their potential is unlocked.”

  • People/community – Humans crave connection. We see it in our family structures and in our friendships. Why would we ignore that need in the workplace? Instead, we should facilitate and foster it.

“Families are based on human relationships, not transactions. In a family, it matters who someone is, not just what they do … Valuing people as people reinforces the connection. It’s a balance of thanking, trusting, listening, and rewarding. It’s about a wider connected contribution, rather than a two-way exchange.”

  • Ability to contribute – A good deal of frustration in the workplace arises when people don’t know or don’t fully understand how their day-to-day efforts contribute in a meaningful way. Making valuable contributions and knowing that your contributions are valuable (and those are two different things) are both critical in a human workplace.

“Valuing your people is about valuing their contribution as part of the community, not bowing down in thanks because they show up. It’s a two-way thing. Contribution is exactly that and a condition of membership in the community.”

  • Continuous feedback – To know our contributions are valuable, we need feedback on it. Receiving feedback (and giving it) across the spectrum from constructive to positive and up and down the hierarchical chain helps us grow and develop.

“Every individual is in perpetual beta, seeking to develop and do their best work … In the community of a human workplace, feedback … is part of recognition. Recognizing the contribution, successes, and developmental needs of each individual, in order for them to participate fully in the community. When everyone is able to do that, the community benefits.”

  • Authenticity – Humans can detect sincerity as well as inauthenticity quite easily in most cases. Building and strengthening connections requires authenticity, trust, and fairness.

“Connecting people with the organization … needs to be authentic. Human workplaces are built on real connections and anything not done for the right reason will be recognized for what it is, because the power is with the crowd.”

What other steps can you take to create a more human workplace? These three themes run through Andy’s book, which is filled with case studies from organizations and people around the world:

  1. Simplify – Reduce complexity. What’s the minimum viable solution that removes distractions and unleashes human creativity and talent? “There is absolutely no valid reason to make things more complicated than they need to be.”
  2. Offer freedom and flexibility – Give people the space they need, in work style and in work location, to bring their full creativity to the fore – as long as they act within established guidelines and parameters. “The challenge for traditional organizations is how to force people to do their best work. The challenge for a human organization is how to enable people to do their best work.”
  3. Measure success – Be sure people take responsibility for contributions and outcomes. As Lee Mallon, founder of Rarely Impossible, says in one case study, “An organization’s legacy is not defined by their performance, accolades or profits but for the collective human moments that they create – the welcoming smile; a supportive colleague; the customer call that starts at 4:59 pm.”

In the New Year, what can you do to create a more human workplace – for yourself, your team and your organization?

“The Seventh Sense” – A Book Review and Thoughts on Humanity in the Age of Networks

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover: The Seventh SenseRecognize This! – Our world is highly networked today and will become more so in a more secure fashion. Leaders must help ensure we retain our humanity as we become at once more connected and more secure.

I’ve just finished a book that’s possibly frightened me more than the Exorcist. (And that’s saying something. I didn’t sleep after dark for a week after reading that.) On the upside, the book also gave me my first sense of true hope for how humanity will navigate the coming decades in which we are all far more deeply connected and intertwined – networked – with each other than we likely realize or want to admit.

What’s the book? The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo. He’s a futurist who brings his global perspective, deep technical knowledge, and expansive interests to helping us understand not just the way in which the world works, but how and why, too. I picked up this book after seeing it listed by four CEOs in a McKinsey article on “What CEOs are reading.”

What is the Seventh Sense? “A feeling for how networks work that is joined to a sense of history and politics and philosophy.” What does that mean? Essentially this: We are living in a rapidly changing and ever more quickly evolving world due, largely, to the nature of the intense amount of networked connection now common in nearly every function of life – financial markets, food distribution, work/job distribution, biomedical research and development, even terrorism.

A key through line is the idea that connection changes the nature of an object. And by extension, “connection elevates those who control that connection to a level of rare power and influence.”

Another through line is the morphing of the manufacturing era adage of “You can have good, fast, and cheap, but only two out of three at any one time” into the networking age truism of “You can have secure, fast and open, but only two out of three.” In today’s world, we are largely operating in a “fast and open but not secure” environment. If we want more security in our networks and in our lives, then the likely option to give up is open.

How do we gain security in a networked age? By setting up “gatelands” where access is controlled through a clear set of rules and values. Remember, connectivity is power. With that reality, Ramo proposes new geopolitical structures based on “Hard Gatekeeping,” which he defines as “the construction and development of secure, carefully designed communities to manage everything from trade to cyber-information to scientific research.” Ramo points out that today we have very few gates and walls (and tremendous cyber-insecurity). Gatelands may be the answer – gated networks that are far more secure and run faster than open ones. And as an added benefit, gated networks “offer not merely security, but influence: The cost of being exclude from gatelands of finance or information will be nearly total.”

Gatelands are fast and secure, but definitely not open.

How do we retain our humanity in a networked age?

Two basics of what it means to be human are enhanced and even accelerated in this new age.

  • Connection to others (and our trust in them that makes deep connection possible). Trust is another through-line in the book. As Ramo says, “When you connect to a person or an object, you connect as well to its whole history of decisions about whom to trust…. If you are what you are connected to, you are also the sum of every trusting (or untrusting) choice someone or some machine has made.” We may become more cautious or circumspect in our connections overall, but the depth of trust we have in our connections will likely grow.
  • Inevitability of the passage of time and ultimately death. As biological creatures, our mortality is a constant. And yet, a basic human desire is to do more, be more, achieve more with the time we are allotted. Networks can help because they give us the means for tremendous efficiency. Ramo points out, “The compression of time offers the possibility to live more with less time.”

What won’t work? An attempt to return to an isolationist, disconnected structure. The networked age is our current reality. Let’s take as an example the call in the US to build a wall. Set aside for the moment whether the idea is right or wrong and ask instead why the idea seems to be so popular. The obvious answer is fear, but fear of what? Immigrants taking jobs and committing crimes? I don’t think so. The fear runs much deeper than that. It’s a fear of changing expectations and how life works. It’s a very real and reasonable fear based on the realities of the networked age where jobs are very fluid, both in structure and in where they can be done and by whom. Building a physical wall isn’t the solution. In fact, it’s the antithesis. If we want to help resolve the underlying concerns, we need to build stronger connections and more secure gatelands.

A message of hope and instruction from Ramo for those with the Seventh Sense:

“Possession of the Seventh Sense isn’t about just letting the tech do its thing. It is not about passivity in the face of so much power. Rather, it demands grasping the nature of a connected age and seeing how it might be used to further, not erode, the things we care most about.”

Just how networked is our world? Here’s a small, personal example. As I was drafting this post, I received an email from Tim Leberecht, a past WorkHuman speaker. In a brief email exchange, I mentioned I’d just finished this book. He replied with his intent to read it soon as Joshua’s wife is Tim’s friend. Our world has become very small, indeed.

How networked is your corner of the world? What gatelands do you work within today or see as being critically necessary in the near future?

5 Lessons for Values-Based Leadership from Harry Kraemer

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover: From Values to ActionRecognize This! – You don’t have to be manager of people to be a leader of people. To lead, relate to other’s needs and always remember where you came from.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Evanta Chicago CHRO summit. It was an honor to be a part of a tremendous roster of industry leaders and speakers. Case in point – Harry Kraemer who kicked off the event at the governing body dinner. Harry, former chairman and CEO of Baxter International and current professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management MBA program, shared insights on how to be a better leader from his new book From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership.

I took away 5 key lessons and reminders from both Harry’s talk and his book, summarized here.

1. Understand the Key Characteristics of Leaders

Leaders keep things simple, demonstrate common sense and start leading as soon as possible. To keep things simple, always ask two questions: “What’s the issue we’re trying to resolve?” or “What’s the opportunity we’re trying to take advantage of?” These questions help put things into perspective and expand thinking more globally outside of the narrow, immediate issue. Leaders also don’t wait until they have a team of direct reports to start leading. Leadership is all about the ability to influence people to do what they might not otherwise do. This requires honestly relating to people.

2. Identify and Avoid “Those Guys”

“Those guys” are the people in the organization we tend to point to when we say, “It’ll never work. ‘They’ already said no to a similar idea five years ago.” Leadership growth is slowed by spending too much time waiting on “those” guys or worrying too much about what “those guys” would say or do. To overcome “those guys” syndrome, ask people two questions: “Whatever your job is, are you one of ‘those guys’ who can actually do something?” and “Whatever your job is, are you watching the movie or are you in the movie?

3. Establish Rules of the Game

The rules of the game all leaders should share with their teams are simple. Every problem or issue you bring to my attention = +1 point. Every solution you bring to my attention = +1,000 points. Whoever has the most points wins

4. Think Globally

Ask yourself, do you want to be a truly phenomenal head of ____ group? Or do you want to be head of the company who happens to know a lot about _____? (The blank can be filled by any function – HR, marketing, finance, etc.) Real leaders have their functional role, but their real job is helping the head run the company. Always look across functions to identify the global need and solution.

5. Apply 4 Principles of Leadership to Get People to Change and Lead

If you want to be a leader of others, you must first understand yourself. Applying these for principles (daily, if possible) will prepare you.

  • Practice self-reflection – Don’t confuse activity and productivity. Take time to turn off noise and ask yourself:
    • What are my values?
    • What do I stand for?
    • What is my purpose?
    • What am I going to do about it?
    • What did I do right today to advance of all of those?
    • Where did I miss and what can I do better tomorrow?
  • Seek balance – Understand ALL sides of the story (there’s generally more than two).
  • Develop true self-confidence – Know what you do know and what you don’t know (and who knows what you don’t know) and learn every day. Ask yourself: Are you comfortable admitting “I don’t know” and “I was wrong.”
  • Internalize genuine humility – Understand why you are really successful. It’s likely a mix of luck, timing (right place, right time), your team (other people who’ve helped you succeed), and the talents you were given. Always remember people don’t relate well to egomaniacs. Remember the cubicle and never forget what it was like for you when you started out.

Harry ended with this reminder: To lead at any level, know what you are really at and the people who know what you don’t know.

What additional leadership lessons have guided you?

Recognition, from Culture to Practice!

By Traci Pesch

Photographic light spiralRecognize This! – A sustainable culture of recognition starts with “why” to inform positive spirals between culture and practices.

Why does employee recognition matter? What elements make social recognition a success? How do we even define “success?” What types of significant results are achievable through social recognition?

These are a few of the most common questions I hear about social recognition. Beyond the obvious, “Yes, it’s important to say ‘thank you’ – to notice, acknowledge, and appreciate the efforts of those around you,” social recognition does have significant impact on how our people experience work. (So why not make it a more WorkHuman environment?)

So, why is recognition important?  More importantly why is creating a culture or recognition vs just implementing another program so important?  A culture of recognition contributes to success by creating a positive spiral effective, encouraging greater alignment with core values, and reinforcing key behaviors that drive businesses forward.

In turn, connections between employees are strengthened, leading to greater engagement and satisfaction, as well as improved trust and collaboration.  Employees who are recognized for their contributions are more likely to bring their whole self to work, resulting in a range of outcomes and results.  Essentially, recognition done right, drives top priorities and business results.

Illustration of culture spiral text

We’ve thought about this a lot. It’s our passion. We’ve been refining this with our customers for years, codified in our book The Power of Thanks.

Recognition BlueprintThis blueprint for social recognition success involves the elements illustrated here, starting with securing executive sponsorship and defining your goals and metrics for success, then continuing though creation of a strong program designed to reach all employees for that engaging recognition experience, and then offering a great choice of rewards in order to ensure every recognition moment has the longest emotional tail possible.

These are the elements from which our best practices and benchmarks are derived.  These best practices and this approach, is proven with large, global companies across many verticals.

With these elements in mind, have a look at your employee recognition program and the current state against each key element of success.  Our vision for all of our clients is to truly build a culture of recognition and appreciation that lives, grows and is sustainable.  As a matter of fact, this year we’re celebrating 10 years of partnership with several clients, who transformed their thinking from “let’s have a recognition program” to “let’s build a sustainable culture of appreciation and recognition and have quantifiable results to back up the WHY.”

What are some of your company’s ambitions for establishing a culture of recognition?

Praise is an Essential Skill for New Managers

By Derek Irvine

Exchange of ideas and praiseRecognize This! – Praising conversations are a key tool for new managers across generations, improving their capacity for communication and relationship building.

There is no shortage of skills that new managers need to develop as they transition from individual contributors to leading people for the first time. One of the most overlooked yet essential skills is the ability to have a simple conversation, praising a direct report for behaviors aligned to goal achievement and core values.

The value of praise is immense. It can be frequent, timely, and encourage positive spirals of performance in real time, rather than waiting for the next goal setting cycle or project summary conversation. Praising conversations capture a spirit of ongoing feedback and communication between manager and direct report, establishing a foundation for many of the other leadership conversations that improve performance.

This idea of leadership conversations is one I remember from when I first became a manager (building from The One Minute Manager) and was reminded of in a recent whitepaper by Ken Blanchard and his colleagues. These leadership conversations can occur at the outset (Goal Setting) or completion (Wrapping Up) of a performance event, as well as recognizing good behavior (Praising) or correcting behavior (Redirecting) throughout. Ken and Scott have a great new workshop for first-time managers that provide training on these conversations and more: click here for details.

These four core conversations simultaneously build one’s capacity for communication and relationship building with direct reports. It also turns out that these leadership skills built through conversations stand the test of time. A study last year found that Millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) believe the most important leadership skills are communication and relationship building (58% and 55%, respectively). It is also worth mentioning that Millennials largely believe they already possess those skills (at 51% and 66%).

While I have no doubt that Millennials possess those skills, using communication and relationship building for accomplishing tasks (as an individual contributor) is likely a qualitatively different exercise than using those same skills to lead people.

This difference will be most acutely felt for those Millennials (and others) making the transition between these roles as first-time managers. Millennials now represent a majority of the workforce and 34% of them are already in leadership roles at work, numbers that are likely to only increase over the next few years. Addressing the developmental needs of this new generation of leaders is imperative.

The implication of these shifts are also far-reaching in the world of business, impacting expectations around what it means to WorkHuman, to work more flexibly, and especially lead other people. (As a side note, these changes to the workplace often reach far beyond the Millennial catalysts to improve the work experience for every generation!)

It may be that praising conversations are a perfect way to meet Millennial leaders where they are, develop their skills, and help them achieve their goals of empowering others throughout the organization.

What is your take on the value of praise for new managers, especially among Millennials?

Time Management: A Book Review

by Derek Irvine

Time for ChangeRecognize This! – Time is an irreplaceable resource. How we use our limited time is a choice.

It’s that time of year – New Year’s resolution time. How many of us set resolutions with every good intention to follow through, but after a few months bad habits creep back in? One resolution I’ve committed to in past years that has produced good results is time management. Over the years, I’ve become a fan of research and recommendations from the likes of Tony Schwartz and his Energy Project as well as studies showing multi-tasking makes us less productive rather than more.

This year my commitment to time management and its myriad benefits was renewed by Kevin Kruse’s latest book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know about Time Management. I’m sure many readers of this blog have also read blogs, articles and other insights on how to manage time, which is one reason I appreciate Kevin’s book. As the tagline says, Kevin has brought together in one place “the productivity habits of 7 billionaires, 13 Olympic athletes, 29 straight-A students, and 239 entrepreneurs.” Because Kevin is looking across so many sources, he’s able to observe trends of what works for time management – and it’s not the oft-advised to-do list. As he observes:

What I discovered is that highly successful people don’t prioritize tasks on a to-do list, or follow some complex five-step system, or refer to logic tree diagrams to make decisions. Actually, highly successful people don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities, and consistent habits.” (emphasis original)

Here are some of the top habits that stood out to me, many I already incorporate into my workday and some I will begin to in future.

1) Live by your calendar and not to-do lists. Kevin calls this “time-blocking” where you block off your calendar for work you need to do so you avoid shuttling your own priority assignments behind the requests of others. Our time is truly a precious resource. How we choose to spend it can indicate what we value and prioritize. Blocking off time in the calendar on those projects I deem most important helps to ensure the projects I value and prioritize get some of my best time and attention. Several quotes throughout the book rang true for me on this point:

  • “You can never lose time and get it back again.”
  • “There will always be more to do and always more that can be done.”

2) Lean to say “no.” We can only time-block successfully if we also learn to say “no” to the constant requests on our time. This is a skill difficult for many, not because we are push-overs but because there are so many tantalizing, interesting projects we can become involved in. Prioritizing requires saying “no,” even to something good. Kevin offers seven different ways to say no to many of the most common requests on our time at work. Again, a few good quotes:

  • “We routinely let people steal our time, even though it is our most valuable possession.”
  • “We mistakenly think we will be less busy in the future than we are in the present.”
  • “Every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to something in the future.”

3) Realize you aren’t the only one who can fulfill the request. It can become easier to say “no” when we can figure out ways to help others achieve the same end. How? “Instead of asking ‘How can I do this?’, ask ‘How can I get this done?” We are likely surrounded by smart, capable people who can help accomplish the goal, if we reach out and involve them.

Additional ideas and observations that struck me as I read the book:

  • To better enjoy your vacation (and for some of us that might mean taking a true vacation disconnected from work), schedule buffer days before and after your vacation during which you do nothing more than handing off work, and then catching up upon your return.
  • Follow the “touch it once and move on” rule, especially if it only takes five minutes to complete. Thinking, “I’ll deal with that later” simply means you’ll deal with it again.
  • Follow Kevin’s formula for success: E-3C. Energy, Capture (in a notebook), Calendar (instead of to-do lists), Concentrate (shut off distractions).

Aside from interesting insights, trend spotting, and good advice, Kevin also offers many extra give-aways including plans, tools, tips and tricks. The book can be read in one sitting and is well worth the investment of your time in order to gain back much more time through better time management approaches that work for you.

How do you manage your time?

This Is Why We Need More Romance in Business

Friends having coffeeby Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – Deep, personal connections with others is what makes us human.

How connected are you? No, I mean how really connected are you? To actual people, not Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

I ask because this is a growing and troubling illusion in our ever more hyper-connected state. We’re “always on” and sharing far more of our personal selves than seemingly ever before. I worry because I’m afraid the illusion of connection in this fashion is overriding the reality of true, deep interpersonal connections. And it’s those deep interpersonal connections – in both our personal and our work lives – that give us a far richer, more meaningful and more human experience in our everyday moments, both big and small.

This is the thrust of Tim Leberecht’s recent Harvard Business Review article, “In the Age of Loneliness, Connections at Work Matter.” Tim points out:

“There’s a difference between being surrounded by or linked to other people and having moments of genuine human connection with them. As the writer Richard Bach observed, ‘The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy.’”

One profound way to create intimacy is simply by noticing others and thanking them for what they do. I often say a universal translation of “thank you” is “I see you.” And that is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give to another human. To truly see them, their efforts, their contributions, their goals, their aspirations. To honor them with our words of praise and appreciation. To confirm and validate the value they bring to you and to the world.

I’m a personal fan of Tim’s, having also hosted a panel with him at Work Human this past June. Along with the nearly one million viewers of his TED talk, I can also attest to his power as a speaker to share important information in a way that inspires greater action.

What GE, Accenture, Adobe and Microsoft Have in Common

by Lynette Silva

Feedback is a conversationRecognize This! – More and more companies are turning a critical eye on the traditional annual performance review process as the primary means for employee feedback.

This month, Derek Irvine (our chief blogger here on Recognize This!) wrote a couple of posts on Compensation Café about decoupling pay from the performance review process. Drawing from the news about Accenture ending the traditional performance review process, Derek sparked a conversation among readers about why we seem to stick to what we know is a challenged process.

Readers chimed in, with comments seeming to focus on the fear factor as the primary reason for preserving the traditional annual performance review as the primary means for employee feedback. That fear appears to be driven largely by:

  • Legal concerns around how to defend performance terminations without the formal review as proof
  • Perceived inability to defend pay for performance decisions without the easy-to-point-to stack ranking of traditional reviews
  • Concern that managers won’t engage in any feedback exercise with employees without the review mechanism to force the issue

And then Quartz published this news story hit late last week that GE – originator of the “rank and yank” stacked performance review process – is ending the annual review, too. The article confirms these assumptions, pointing out:

“As much as researchers and many employees might applaud the decision, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. There’s a reason reviews have stuck around for so long, and it’s hard to overemphasize how entrenched the annual review has become. It’s the way most were raised as employees, a huge part of their workload, and a comfortable framework to administer and to defend pay, promotion, and firing decisions.”

So why is GE changing their performance management approach? Susan Peters, GE’s head of human resources, says:

“It existed in more or less the same form since I started at the company in 1979. But we think over many years it had become more a ritual than moving the company upwards and forwards… The world isn’t really on an annual cycle anymore for anything. I think some of it to be really honest is millennial based. It’s the way millennials are used to working and getting feedback, which is more frequent, faster, mobile-enabled, so there were multiple drivers that said it’s time to make this big change.”

How does this new approach work at GE? The Quartz story explains:

“The new app is called ‘PD@GE’ for ‘performance development at GE.’ … Employees can give or request feedback at any point through a feature called ‘insights,’ which isn’t limited to their immediate manager, or even their division. Normally, you never get that feedback unless you manage to track someone down the next day, which people rarely do, and only from a direct manager. If you wait for an annual review, any specifics are probably long forgotten… There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.”

This is very interesting. If we want to help our employees achieve their best work, we can no longer kowtow to the fear of lawsuits, pay discussions or poor managerial practices. We must not cater to the lowest common denominator. We must instead look to ways that people best receive and process feedback, both positive and constructive. That’s Eric Mosley’s message in his book The Crowdsourced Performance Review) — we need both the informal and formal, manager-driven and employee-empowered.

Achieving change and refining a deeply embedded if flawed process, is not easy of course. It’s going to take more and more companies not just replacing or revising the traditional review process, but also sharing publicly how they are avoiding or overcoming the perceived fears as GE is now doing.

How are reviews handled in your organization? What are the perceived benefits or detriments to the approach?

Rules of Enchantment to Bring More Romance to Work (the HR-Approved Way)

by Lynette Silva

Fall in Love with Your WorkRecognize This! – We all could use more romance at work, when we think of romance in terms of celebrating emotion, the individual, imagination, nature and spontaneity.

One of my personal career highs was the opportunity to lead a panel discussion at Work Human last month. The panelists were all authors of tremendous books on various elements of what it means to bring our humanity to work as well as how to notice and support our own human needs to bring our best selves to work every day.

Brigid Schulte, a journalist with the Washington Post and author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play When No One Has the Time (read my review here) was one of the panelists, along with Tim Leberecht, chief marketing officer for global architecture and design firm NBBJ and author of  The Business Romantic: Give Everything. Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself. (read my review here)

Following on their experience as fellow panelists, Brigid interviewed Tim for her regular Monday feature “Inspired Life.” In the article “Bored at work? Learn to love your job again with the ‘Rules of Enchantment’,” Tim shares more about the power of bringing our more “romantic” side to work (our emotions and creativity).

Please, read the full article and be inspired as I was again, but here a few of my favorite highlights (all quotations are Tim’s and emphasis in the quotations is original):

It’s time to think about romance at work in a new way.

“The way I see business is through the lens of a Romantic, which means I put a great emphasis on emotion over reason. I really embrace the beauty that comes with unexpected events, awe and wonder and unpredictability. The joy that comes from losing control and not being a master of the universe. The feeling that there’s something more meaningful and deeper in even the most mundane moments of business.”

Losing control at work is a good thing, too.

“There’s two aspects where losing control is really important. One is innovation… The other benefit of losing control is really in those macro moments of unexpected wonder and delight. So often, the most meaningful moments come from ones we didn’t expect – encounters with strangers, or something that violates our cognitive models, something happens that we didn’t expect, which makes it memorable.”

You can bring romance into your own workday.

“Do Good: We’ve seen a surge in purpose-driven businesses, the rise of conscious capitalism. That’s increasingly important for Millennials. So there’s a mainstream recognition of that.

“Feel Good: Find a much more conscious and mindful way to reconcile work and life.

“Feel More: Really opening up and expressing yourself with the full range of your intuition and emotion at work. That’s really what business romance allows you to do. Now, as an employee at a workplace, what does that mean? It means you start at a very, very small scale. Romance is a mindset, a choice. So, put on a romantic lens, and reframe the day to day encounters you have at work.”

Brigid tells me she was so inspired by the talks at Work Human that she’s reached out to several of the speakers to participate in “Inspired Life” columns. Be sure to check out her interview with Shawn Achor, head of Goodthink and author of The Happiness Advantage (and recent keynote speaker at Work Human) for five exercises – each taking just two minutes to complete –to immediately feel happier.

Do you need more romance in our workday? How can you do good, feel good or feel more? How has someone else helped you do better, feel better or feel more deeply?

3 Lessons on the Power of Thanks on Vacation

by Lynette Silva

Greetings from Cleveland OHRecognize This! – Appreciation and gratitude for others are powerful forces that are always at work, if we choose to notice them.

Last week I enjoyed my first “real” vacation in many years. Learning from the experts I’ve been studying in preparation for WorkHuman next month, I fully disconnected and focused on relaxing and refreshing my mind, body and spirit. It was wonderful!

However, I can’t just switch off my Power of Thanks gene. Once the Power of Thanks gets into how you process your interactions with the people around you every day, everywhere, it becomes second nature to notice great acts of appreciation and joy among others.

So, from my vacation, three object lessons on the power of appreciation I observed in others.

Phillies Baseball – “Jump Around”

My husband, Paul, is a huge baseball fan. We try to take in a baseball game wherever we happen to be on vacation. So, catching a Phillies game while in Philadelphia was a must. Between innings, snippets of popular, fan-energizing music would play. Halfway through the eighth inning, when energy began to flag, the classic “Jump Around” started to play. The usher, a gentleman in his 60s standing at the bottom of the aisle on the railing separating the fans from the field, began to dance and jump around. (I’d share the video, but I don’t have permission from the usher.) Clearly, he enjoys his work and engages with it more deeply than required. And clearly, the fans enjoy him! Technically, his role is to enforce the rules of the ballpark. And still the fans gave him a standing ovation for his dance skills.

The Lesson: When you love your work, it shows. And when it shows, people appreciate you and your efforts all the more.

Cleveland Museum of Art – “Teamwork”

On the recommendation of Brenda Pohlman, fellow blogger here on RecognizeThis!), Paul and I visited the truly outstanding art museum in Cleveland. (And no snide remarks about choosing Cleveland as a vacation destination – it’s a great city and we had a fabulous time!) The museum is huge and, despite spending five hours there, we still didn’t see it all. We needed a snack break halfway through our visit and so visited the museum café. While checking out, the cashier stopped in the middle of ringing up our items to call out to a coworker walking by, saying, “Hey, Todd! You’re the best person here to work with. You make the day more fun and the work easy.” To which Todd replied, “Teamwork makes the dream work! You let me know if you need anything!”

The Lesson: We all have capacity to make work better for those we work with every day. Our attitude and our approach is our own choice. Let’s choose to make work human.

Hotel Room TV – “The Profit”

Every vacation needs a little mindless TV watching in the hotel, right? Unwinding one night, we caught an episode of “The Profit” on CNBC. In this show, Marcus Lemonis invests in struggling businesses, giving both money and his time and expertise to turn it around. In this “Progress Report” episode (click here to watch, then skip ahead to 19:37), Marcus is visiting businesses he’s already invested in to see how they’re doing. One such business was Unique Salon & Spa in Long Island, NY. Though the spa is doing very well now, I was most touched by what Marcus had to say to spa owner Carolyn, telling her explicitly how impressed he is by her work ethic, commitment and dedication. Carolyn visibly tears up, moved by the appreciation that, as the owner and boss, she likely doesn’t often hear.

The Lesson: We never get promoted to a level where we no longer need to hear “thank you.” Even “the boss” needs to hear “I notice and appreciate what you do.”

Where do you see the power of thanks happening around you? How can you contribute to a greater experience of appreciation for others?