Posts Tagged "Work Human’

“I don’t see color.” (Maybe you should.)

By Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – Inclusion welcomes all that makes another person fully themselves.

mohamed-nohassi-175530I am deeply proud of my company and our leaders for the stand we have taken for greater diversity, inclusion and belonging – both in our own organization and through the WorkHuman movement. This isn’t about political correctness. This is about creating safe workspaces for people to bring their whole human selves to work, in all of their passionate, creative and sometimes messy human glory.

That said, in the interest of being inclusive, I acknowledge tone deafness at times. How often have you heard the phrases “I don’t see race.” or “I don’t see gender.” This misses the point of inclusion and belonging. In saying “I don’t see an essential part of you” – whether that be your gender, your relationship preference, or the color of your skin – we are also choosing to deny a large part of what makes the other person essentially them.

Each of us is, yes, more than the color of our skin, or who we choose to love, or our gender, or our religion, or our ethnic background. Yet all of those elements are what make me unequivocally me.

See me for who I am and all that I am.

That’s what makes social recognition perceived through the WorkHuman lens so powerful – it’s about recognizing the person for what they do and for who they are. It’s acknowledging that you – uniquely, specifically, beautifully you – and your talents, skills and perspectives that arise from all that it means to be fully you – are what enable you to make important contributions and achieve results for organization success. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the whole human. It’s about truly seeing the entire person in all their humanity.

As Verna Myers said beautifully, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” But how do you do that? She’s also explained, embracing inclusion requires “the institution’s ability to fully integrate its understanding of and appreciation for the diverse cultures and backgrounds of its employees.”

True inclusion sees, welcomes and respects everything that makes each of us, well, us. And when I’m seen for who I am, in all my facets, and welcomed anyway, that’s how I know I belong.

What makes you uniquely you? How do you seek to understand others in their fully unique humanity?

(Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash)

You Are Not Chopped Liver * The Role of Technology in the People Business

by Lynette Silva

The universe in the palm of your handRecognize This! – Technology, especially HR technology, enables our better human instincts to help us create more human workplaces.

Technology and HR. How does that compute? (Sorry – couldn’t help the pun) Isn’t HR about humans? If the obvious answer is yes, then why is so much effort expended on HR technology? These aren’t trivial questions in terms of investment – in business and in people.

I like a perspective recently cited by CIPD:

“[With technology,] we can really get down to what human resources should have been all along – the job of humanising the rest of the business. There’s never been a better time to be an HR professional because tech is dissolving the supposedly critical routine that kept your vision capped to date.”

That’s the role of tech in the human space – as an enabler of a better, more human workplace and a more positive employee experience overall. Especially in our increasingly distributed workplaces where my closest work colleagues might be physically located half a world away, systems like social recognition facilitate the strengthening of connections and relationships between people through the power of thanks.

Another area where technology can help facilitate our very humanness lies in helping us overcome some of our human nature tendencies that hamper our own success. Case in point (as shared in a Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University article) is squandered work time – time lost to “dysfunctional workplace dynamics—more commonly known as ‘people problems.’”

The researcher/authors of the article describe a study in which rival groups within the same R&D department were given the option of investing budget in the idea of their internal rival or in the idea of an outside competitor. We’d rather a completely external third benefit than the rival we know and feel threatened by.

These very human – if dysfunctional – behaviors cost companies on average $15.5 million.

Are we stuck with the consequences of the more negative tendencies of our humanness? No – in fact, the path forward is by switching on our more positive tendencies. In the example described above, the “shortest path to valuable insights” – and success for the team and company – is often in selecting the rival’s idea. So how do you get people to overcome their human nature and select a rival’s idea? Study co-author Leigh Thompson provides the answer:

“List one or two things you’re particularly proud of. Perhaps you just published a book or a well-received case study; perhaps you had an above-average performance review last quarter. Now all of a sudden, when I hear about the accomplishments or ideas of a colleague, I am more receptive to it—because I have just reminded myself that I am not chopped liver.”

And that brings us full circle to the roll of technology in enabling the employee experience – the human experience. With a social recognition system, it’s even easier to log-in and remind yourself of the tremendous contributions you’ve made (and been praised for by your colleagues).

What are you particularly proud of? What memories or accomplishments remind you of just how valuable you are?

Doing Gymnastics at Work

by Traci Pesch

US Women's 2016 Olympics ChampionsRecognize This! – The sport of gymnastics offers several lessons we can apply to make work more human.

My daughter did gymnastics for 6 years. It’s an intense sport for which, unless you’re deeply in it, it is hard to understand the level of commitment necessary. To be a top-level gymnast requires dedication of your entire mind and body, relentless practice of 30-40 hours a week, and mental discipline to engage in 6+ hour meets where you must focus completely for less than 2 minutes of competition on one element and then wait an hour or more for another less than 2 minutes of complete focus on another element.

Gymnastics is a unique sport, but some elements are the same for all sports that offer us lessons for the workplace, too.

“Superstar” is relative.

Yesterday’s superstar is today’s team player. Look at Gabby Douglas. In the 2012 Olympics, she won the gold medal in the individual all-around competition. By 2016, she missed competing for the all-around final despite having the third-highest score. (Two of her teammates took the top spots, and only two competitors from each country are permitted to compete.)

Is Gabby any less of a superstar? Certainly not! Her talent and skill still place her in the highest ranks in the world. And yet the rulebook lessens her. For those still clinging to a forced ranking model of performance valuation, think  about your superstars who are being labeled as less than stellar for no other reason than strict rules on how many “5s” you’re allowed to have.

False valuation models can break the spirit of even your best employees. Working more human requires us to consider how we can equip and encourage all of our people to do the best work of their lives.

Failure is inevitable.

Simone Biles, by every measure, was the standout hit of the Olympics. The strength, power and grace she packs into her tiny frame is astounding. She set a new American record for the most gold medals in women’s gymnastics in a single Olympics (4 medals) and joined an elite global group with a total of 5 medals in a single games. And yet, she wasn’t perfect. In the balance beam final, she wobbled badly enough she had to grab the beam. On this world stage, that’s failure. She missed the mark.

But she still took the bronze. How? Why was her wobbly performance better than other wobbly performances that didn’t medal? First, she incorporated harder elements in her routine. She intentionally set a higher bar. And when she did wobble, she put it behind her quickly and went on to finish strong.

Failure itself is not bad and can often be a sign of trying to shoot high. But we will never know what we can achieve if we don’t try. How much more innovative would our teams be if we lifted the fear of failure, gave them the room to try, support them as the make the attempt, then help them recover quickly, learn and move forward?

The team is only as good as the team.

I get annoyed by the phrase, “A team is only as good as the individuals on it.” It implies that the individual is solely responsible for themselves. Gymnastics teaches something different. The team is only as good as the team performance overall. Gymnasts must find ways to improve their own skills, yes, while also helping their teammates continually improve too.

How can we all train like gymnasts to support each other and make each other better? How can we build more human teams at work designed to elevate the team to success while simultaneously improving the individual?

With the 2016 Paralympics beginning, new inspiration is all around us. What lessons from the Olympics do you see that can be applied as well strive to make work more human?

Assume Your Inner Super Hero to Achieve Your Best Self

by Lynette Silva

Wonder WomanRecognize This! – Our physical presence communicates far more about our humanness than we realize.

Do you hear it? That little voice constantly in your ear? Not your conscience, but your inner nag? Whose voice do you hear? For me, that inner nag is my grandmother, Bubba. (Yes, we call Bubba. We’re Texan.) And most often that inner nag, Bubba voice is repeating the same thing: “Stand up straight! Do you want people to respect you? Posture!”

Turns out, Bubba was onto something. Yesterday, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and listened to social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy explain the research behind her new book “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.” This is the main idea from the episode:

“Her studies show that if you stand like a superhero privately before going into a stressful situation, there will actually be hormonal changes in your body chemistry that cause you to be more confident and in-command. ‘Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes try doing this in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk, behind closed doors — that’s what you want to do,’ she said.”

Watch the clip (email subscribers, click through), and then my thoughts after the jump:

We communicate far more than we realize without ever saying a word. How we physically hold ourselves not only tells others what they should think about us, but it also tells us how we should think about our own selves. But this isn’t a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach.

In this clip from the weekday CBS This Morning show, Amy makes the several important points about posture relative to our own success (quoting):

  • The body leads the mind – what we do with our body shapes what we do with our minds. Posture makes us more assertive, if we open up, expand, and take up more space.
  • “Fake it till you become it’ means you fool yourself into being your best self.


What does your posture say about you? Are you always your most confident self?

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Day

by Derek Irvine

Coworkers walking outsideRecognize This! – Regulating your energy, rather than clocking extra hours, enables you to get more work done and done well.

Through his Energy Project Tony Schwartz has long been an innovator and instigator in the realm of how we can bring our best selves to work and sustain that level of great effort throughout the days, weeks, months and years. In light of our discussions around creating more WorkHuman cultures, it’s important to me to highlight his work.

For example, this article is powerful for framing how you can produce more and get better results at work by focusing on your “energy renewal.” Humans work on 90 minute cycles of energy, after which our energy and productivity drops. Schwartz explains that time is a finite resource, but energy can be renewed and expanded through specific rituals. We can’t get more time in the day, but we actually don’t need it.  By renewing our energy through specific techniques, we can remain at our highest level of both productivity and happiness.

Here are five techniques that will keep you at your peak productivity:

1. Take effective breaks

60% of Americans don’t take time in their day to recharge.  Taking a break every 90 minutes sounds unproductive, but even a few minutes of effective rest can elevate energy levels.  Cyberloafing, (such as checking social media or personal email) does not relax and recharge you as much as 6 to 10-minute power naps, breathing exercises, or walking outside.  When your brain is not focused on a particular task and you change your environment, you can solve problems and get your most innovative ideas.

2. Sleep more at night

A Harvard study revealed US companies are losing $63.2 billion on lost productivity due to workers’ sleep deprivation. 61% of Americans often get less than 7-8 hours of sleep at night and wake up feeling tired.  Sleep affects irritability. One study included a story of Gary Faro, a VP at Wachovia, who saw his “energy levels soar” (and weight drop 50 pounds) when he started sleeping more and taking regular breaks away from his desk. Another Schwartz study showed the same results for Steve Wanner, a partner at Ernst & Young, who changed his habits and was able to enjoy more time with his family andhavehigher productivity in his job.

3. Identify your priorities

Sit down and map out your goals. Then track how much time you spend doing each activity. At the end of the day look at how much of your time you spent on meaningful tasks that worked towards meeting your goals.  How can you modify your work flow to focus on your work habits?

4. Spend your most productive hours working on your priorities

Spend your most productive hours of your day working on priority goals rather than administrative or reactive activities. Take a rest or social break during the mid-afternoon when humans are least energetic.

5. Stop multitasking 

Multitasking is the activity of switching, not being productive.  “Switching time” increases the time it takes to complete your primary task by 25%.  See if any of the distractions are avoidable for all or a few hours of your day (such as switching off the notifications for new emails or logging out of personal social media).

When you are happy and passionate about something, you are more driven and creative. Schwartz explains, “Without intermittent recovery, we’re not physiologically capable of sustaining highly positive emotions for long periods [and] most people perform best when they’re feeling positive energy.”  So, take time for breaks and come back happier and energized.

Energy is the catalyst for creativity and the fuel powering hard work.  When was the last time you worked extra hours?  When was the last time you took a break to reenergize?  When was the last time you were at your peak performance?

Why Tracking Employee Recognition Patterns Matters

by Traci Pesch

graphic display of informationRecognize This! – We can learn much about the culture of our workplaces, departments and teams just by deliberately observing and interpreting the pattern of positivity.

We have a new joiner on our team (Welcome, Jessica!) who shared with me this terrific article on how one elementary school teacher is tackling the horror of school bullying one child at a time. As a mother, I was of course interested in this article at face value. But as I read deeper into how this teacher battles bullying, I saw so many parallels to the workplace.

Here’s the method:

“Every Friday afternoon, she [the teacher] asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an 
exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

“And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

“Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

“Who can’t think of anyone to 

“Who never gets noticed enough 
to be nominated?

“Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

“You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed 
by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.”

I read this and hoped for such teachers for my own children. But then, as I read the patterns the teacher is looking for, it reminded me of the similar patterns we also look for through social recognition programs. It’s the same idea, applied to the workforce. It’s the heart of what it means to “Work Human.”

Social recognition, when monitored and tracked appropriately, reveals similar patterns – both positive and potentially negative. Once those patterns are identified, then deeper investigation and possible corrective actions can be more easily taken.

Who is not getting recognized much at all?

  • Do these people work in very independent roles with little interaction with others? If so, what can I do as a manager to recognize their efforts more myself or look for projects in which they can join in with a team?
  • Is there a potential underlying performance issue resulting in little to no recognition? How can those issues be addressed with additional training or development opportunities?

Who is getting recognized but not by members of their own team?

  • Is there a personality conflict going on amongst team members that needs to be addressed?
  • Is the person getting recognized by those outside the team because he is doing a lot of work to help others on their projects? If so, is this a potential career development path as it’s clearly an area of interest?

Who is not recognizing others?

  • Does this person not have the visibility into the work and contributions of others in order to recognize them? How can we broaden their interaction, perspective or (perhaps) sense of ownership and responsibility for recognizing the valuable contributions of others?
  • Do we need to reeducate some on the importance and value of recognition, even for making progress?
  • Is there a culture of fear or an expectation that recognition is for managers only? Do we need to intervene in some departments directly?

Recognition and appreciation are very human needs. We need to know that what we do is noticed, valued and appreciated. Depriving people of the opportunity to either give or receive recognition and gratitude are features of a bully culture. Understanding and overcoming impediments to the free-flow of positivity through recognition are critical to success.

What kind of culture do you work in?

What’s the Opposite of Saying “Thanks?”

by Derek Irvine

WorkHuman ConnectionsRecognize This! – Deep, meaningful connections are created when we become vulnerable to express our appreciation to others and humbly receive it, too.

We are returned from WorkHuman inspired, invigorated, and energized for developing this movement to create and support workplaces where we can bring our whole selves to work, support each other in achieving our best work, and honor our very humanity in how we approach work and life together.

As I shared in the kick-off of WorkHuman, we’ve spent the last several millennia trying to beat the humanity out of work. And that reality is born out in less than 50% of attendees believing they are in a human-focused work culture today. Now is our opportunity to change that. Now is the time to instill pride, meaning and ownership in what we do. We cannot wait any longer to address these real, human needs.

The modern workplace is ready for this. Indeed, the modern workforce is impatiently waiting for this. We moved from the “muscle” needed in the industrial era to the “mind” needed during the knowledge worker era. But that leaves out the heart – the engine that makes us human. It’s time to address the heart.

Part of the needs of the heart are in forming deep, meaningful connections with others. To me, this was one of the most beneficial outcomes of WorkHuman – the connections made and deepened with others equally passionate about creating more human workplaces.

In discussions with attendees during breaks and meals, we chatted about the Power of Thanks and how important it is to both hear and say those words. Eric Mosley, Globoforce’s CEO, spoke at length about the emotional commitment to giving thanks and appreciation to someone, as well as receiving it. But what’s the opposite of “thanks?”

The Opposite of “Thanks”

The opposite of saying “thanks” is not “No, thanks.” The opposite of “thanks” is also not “constructive criticism.” The opposite of saying “thanks” is saying nothing at all. It’s having the opportunity to communicate to someone how much they and their efforts are appreciated and valued, but choosing not to. Good intentions for saying thanks (“Susie did a great job on that project. I need to remember to thank her for that later.”) are also dangerous. Planning to recognize others means the action just falls down the to-do list.

Saying nothing when thanks are deserved is like carbon monoxide seeping through your home. What’s unseen and unheard can be deadly to your culture.

Thank you to all of the planners, creators, presenters, contributors and participants at WorkHuman. Your choice to, together, create something new, something special, something unique has resulted in something truly transformative for us all.

“Thanks” are necessary. “Thanks” are deserved. “Thanks” are powerful.

What is the most powerful “Thanks” you’ve received? Who do you need to thank today?