Tag Archives: psychology of work

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caring gracefully

Caring Gracefully Is In Short Supply

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Caring gracefully may be exactly what your organization is missing. Are you stuck between offerings and volume? Are the big box stores or eCommerce sites rattling your cage?

How will you compete?

The best way to get more is to bring it all to scale. Scaling your product and services is the best way to get bigger and often, yes, get better.

Where will you invest? Time, money, or people? Perhaps all of those?

Scaling not Failing

The small mom and pop restaurant will often fail when they try to expand. The small repair shop struggles to compete with the franchised option. And your product on shelves in Walmart, Best Buy, or available from Amazon may attain a different scale when compared with the small retail shop or static webpage.

The difference may come from the investment that many leaders overlook. The investment is in driving purpose which drives caring.

Many organizations and businesses insist that they are family-oriented. They insist that working in one of their shops, warehouses, or production facilities is just like being part of a big family.

Is it true?

Caring Gracefully

Talk is cheap and true caring comes with a price.

The price is the sacrifice that people make when they care more.

It starts with a well-defined purpose. Achieving the metric matters but it isn’t achieved in dollars and cents. It’s achieved when people care enough to push more, push harder, and pull it off.

A deeper level of caring means everyone understands why quality inspection seeks perfection and not just to be good enough. It’s why packaging matters and the brand is built from a reputation not the size of the facility or number of locations.

People who work together for a common cause, who are smart, value learning, and want to do the job right are far more likely to achieve more than the competing organization that cares less.

The small shop or the multimillion-dollar franchise. The retail store or the eCommerce site. Caring gracefully matters.

Buying state-of-the-art equipment is one price to pay. It will never be enough to beat a team that invests in purpose and caring first.

It’s often hard to find.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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job changes

Job Changes Always Mean Opportunity

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There is always change. No matter what the calendar illustrates as the current year, there are changes. Job changes are commonplace. Are they for the better?

Everyone’s job changes. Things shift, requirements transform, and the needs of the customer often get more demanding.

That means your job will change.

Habits are hard to break. Good or bad. Chances are great that what you’ll do today is connected to a habit.

A habit is something that you are familiar with. It is often a pattern, a collection of recurring choices which lead to pathways that lead to outcomes.

People have a morning habit, a dinner habit, and even a weekend habit. Get some coffee, have some left-overs, visit the recycle center.

Regardless of how loose or how fitting, you find your life is connected to a lot of habits.

Job Changes

Do you love your job? Do you get inspired by your work? Are you hoping for more opportunity, tougher challenges, and a chance to really show what you’ve got?

When you find a reason to commit to doing your best work your interest level changes. You develop more energy and appreciate the feeling of a job well done. It can happen with your chores at home or your daily grind at the workplace.

It is about what you do. It’s your habit.

This is true because when someone tries to change your flow, you’re probably not happy.

People often say, “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

Maybe they are doing it. Maybe you are doing it. Right now.

Every job change, every pivot, shift, or revamp is your opportunity.

When you commit to engagement, you’ll develop more satisfaction. When change is an opportunity, you’ll find reasons to embrace it.

It’s easy to love what you do.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace responsibility

Workplace Responsibility Starts with Owning the Work

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It’s the big aggravation, trying to figure out what went wrong. Does your team accept workplace responsibility?

When there is a fender bender (or worse) on the corner of 4th and Main onlookers want to know who is responsible. The same is true for delayed products or services, poor customer interactions, and why quality has declined.

Much of the acceptance begins with purpose, the why of what you do. It is also connected with the concept of ownership. Not necessarily formally, but the informal aspect. Who is engaged enough to be accountable for this outcome?

Most people care about something. Their family, the car, rent, or the house payment. Perhaps it is their own image or reputation.

The psychology of work is not really about the paycheck. Yet, that is always a part of it.

Should it be something more?

Workplace Responsibility

Responsibility is about the psychological connections to the work. Yes, it is about a feeling.

People often start off on the right foot. Something new, something exciting, or that big chance to make an impact or difference. Sadly, it often deteriorates to something less.

The feeling may become, the workplace doesn’t care about me, so I don’t care about the workplace. Translation, I don’t give a crap about what goes on here. Where is my paycheck?

It’s an easy trap for management. Easy because they sometimes lack interpersonal relationships. They measure accomplishment and success not by the effort of the people but by the results on the spreadsheet. The human side is off balance or missing completely.

One of the objectives of leadership should be connected to the people. Connected to building and nurturing relationships that create a united effort to accomplish the mission.

In the smallest company to the largest that is probably how it all started. A person or persons who cared enough to build a product or service worthy of being replicated.

It is easy to hide from responsibility.

Encourage ownership. Ownership is not a title or a matter of fact. It is about a feeling. Instead of removing all of the emotion, encourage it.

Responsibility comes from people who care.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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describing culture

Describing Culture Gets Easier Once You Understand

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What is the culture of your organization or team? Is it well defined and can you easily explain it to others? Describing culture may have its challenges, but if you can’t identify what it is no one else will understand either.

People often want the short version. The short story. Sum it up for us because we don’t have much time.

Yet we would seldom laugh at a joke told if we were only told the punchline.

Interests and Understanding

People seem to be most interested when they like something.

They’ll discuss their hobbies, their quest for a new or remodeled home, a new car, or an elaborate vacation. They’re interested because they like it.

Not everyone may like what they like. Someone may believe you buy a car and run it until it does, a different person may believe that you should always trade it in within a two-year window.

It’s true for hobbies, vacations, and the choices made for what you call home.

Not everyone agrees, yet most people can respect why it might be important to someone.

What about your workplace culture, can you describe it?

Describing Culture

It isn’t always about trying to make someone believe what you believe. Sometimes it is about making them see what you are seeing.

Once others see it, they have a new choice. A choice to believe. Even if it isn’t their thing, they may be able to feel it. That is where the belief begins.

Shaping a culture is visionary. It is often fluid; it twists and morphs across time. It’s probably not exactly what is written in the strategic plan, it is probably not exactly what is illustrated in the company video.

You can tell it to everyone. Tell them what it is and how it will be.

Yet, what they feel will become what they believe.

If you’re going to have the culture that you desire, you’re going to have to work on understanding what the people of that culture feel. What they feel begins with what they see.

It’s not about the formal description. It’s not some fancy words, some clever jargon, or the video on the website.

You can suggest a joke is funny. Telling someone to laugh at the punch line doesn’t mean that it is.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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leadership leverage

Leadership Leverage, Are You Using It Properly?

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When you need to move a big or heavy object, leverage will help. For the human side of your organization, leadership leverage may be the difference between movement or staying stuck.

Do you have leverage? Are you using it appropriately?

People often confuse a formal position or authority with leverage.

Do what I say, when and how I say it, and everything will be fine.

This is sort of like moving an egg across your yard or down the street with a bulldozer. This isn’t the kind of leverage you should use.

Leadership is not really about formal authority. Formal authority helps, yet the best leverage will come from being more artful and less commanding.

Decades ago, perhaps a half-century or more, formal authority made the biggest impact. Today, the formal authority should be the backup plan, not the primary method of operating.

Society has shaped and shifted to a different understanding of what it means to work. The psychology of work has changed. Understanding it matters now more than ever.

Leadership Leverage

Leadership leverage means that you can utilize the strengths of the individual or team to get more accomplished. Ideally, it means doing it more efficiently with fewer required resources.

Consider that strategy may be the biggest friend of leverage. Tactical approaches always matter and mission objectives are completed by the appropriate use of tactics. Yet, you shouldn’t confuse tactics with strategy.

Fighting metaphorical fires in the workplace is tactical, not strategic.

Leadership leverage develops through strategy, purpose, and persistence. It also happens through teamwork, relationships, and inspiration.

You probably wouldn’t bring a bulldozer to the Easter Egg hunt.

Much of the workforce won’t respond well to commands. They want to be part of something, respected and inspired.

Leverage is a gentle giant.

It gives more, and takes less.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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character depth

Character Depth Will Determine Leadership Decisions

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Life experiences matter, so does formal education, the deeper your knowledge and understanding the better decisions you can make as a leader. Character depth will matter, because it is part of who you are.

Character may be described as a sum of your values, beliefs, and knowledge. It is also connected to how you apply all of those. It shows itself through your words, behaviors, and responses.

Everyone’s path in life may be different. What people read, espoused values from family and friends, and formal education will have an impact. Today, beyond just reading we have other vast influences, such as video, television, and even virtual realities.

Your life choices and decisions will shape how you navigate the future.

This is why learning is so important.

Are You Learning?

People learn in different ways. Some argue that they don’t need a formal program of study. Perhaps, that is true. Yet, at the same time if their learning is limited to only their immediate surroundings or culture their depth is limited. Their frame may be too narrow.

There are also differences between reading, studying, watching videos, and listening to podcasts, when compared with learning directly from an expert.

In life, people drop out of high school, they drop out of college, or never finish other types of educational programs.

There are unexpected pregnancies, loss of loved ones, or loss of a job.

Many twists, turns, and surprising outcomes.

Does this matter? The easy answer is, yes.

It is not so much about what happened, but more about what you learned.

What you learned from any experience will drive what choices or actions you’ll take next.

Did you learn?

Character Depth

Nearly every day I hear stories about formal leaders making difficult choices.

Some stories are about bad choices and some are about not understanding options. Go a little deeper and it may be that so-called leaders don’t even have the understanding that they should be making a choice. They do nothing.

Doing nothing may be an option, yet if it is not a conscious choice it may be problematic.

Leadership often circles back to expertise. While much of the expertise may be technical in a given field, it also requires great depth in the human side of things.

In the workplace, great leaders understand the technical as well as the psychology of work. They understand people.

Those who lack formal expertise, those who lack education, are limited. When their frame is very narrow, of course, they lack depth.

Depth becomes part of your character and the decisions you’ll make are limited by the information (knowledge/expertise) that is within your reach.

Sometimes there isn’t a video to watch. Sometimes there isn’t a podcast to listen to or a book to read.

The best leaders build their character across time from a wide range of experiences and learning.

How deep are you?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace deadlines

Workplace Deadlines and the Need It Now Movement

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Excuses are problematic. So are urgent deadlines that aren’t real. How are you navigating workplace deadlines?

When do you need this?

I need it now.

Is it the top priority?

I need it before the meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Two things often happen in these scenarios. The first is that the diligent and caring employee drops everything to conform and make the deadline. And, the second is that the meeting is postponed, the boss doesn’t show up, or it never makes it to the final agenda.

Your work is about psychology. Employee commitment and engagement boil down to basic human needs. Everything from survival and providing for yourself and your family, to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and your career.

It all circles back to leadership.

Leaders who give urgent deadlines and then work produced gets wasted or deemed unnecessary is at a minimum discouraging the team.

At first glance you could definitely cite trust issues. Absolutely, they are likely present. Digging beneath the surface there are additional long-term consequences.

Employees may feel:

Is this deadline real?

Should I put in my best effort? They probably won’t even use the results of my work.

My work doesn’t matter.

He or she feels I’m not qualified or incompetent to produce the work.

I made one mistake, one time, now I’m treated like a little kid.

It is absolutely true that in our fast-paced world of work that what appears needed today, may not be needed tomorrow. Sometimes we work really hard on something only to not have the opportunity to call upon the outputs later.

Being proactive and prepared is a strategy. Carelessly suggesting that everything is a priority because it feels urgent to the boss at this moment is a downgrade in leadership.

Workplace Deadlines

High-efficiency systems are important. Due dates, ship dates, and customer expectations matter. Leadership is as much about accountability as it is about inspiration and engagement.

How leaders engage with the team, get buy-in, and build trusting relationships are all about the psychology of work today.

A system of fake deadlines won’t get you very far.

Sharing the why of any urgency will help with the distinction between strategy and carelessness.

Agreement to keep the promise of a deadline is a psychological contract.

Understand the difference between wasted effort and strategy.

Build better teams.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace robots

Workplace Robots and the Human Factor

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Hiring a robot may be a smart choice. Hiring humans to serve as workplace robots has some challenges.

What do you need from your workforce?

It seems that work always trickles down. An entrepreneur starts by doing it all, or at least, most of it. If she is successful, she starts to delegate the easier assignments.

Most organizations are structured in a similar manner. Labor intensive or low interest, repetitive tasks get shoved off to the lower levels.

Not that this doesn’t make sense, it does. However, what are employees or contractors expecting?

Gig Economy Workers

Many gig economy workers expect something for their thoughts or creative talents. Design and develop a website, create a new brand logo, or serve as a social media expert. Help us with marketing and sales, use your talents, and delight the customer.

What about part time or full-time employees? What are their expectations?

Many businesses face cultural challenges. The job opportunities that they have or require are often not attractive to job seekers.

When the organization needs someone to put something inside the box and seal it with tape and nothing more is required what do you get?

If you replace the word someone with a robot you have a solution.

Workplace Robots

Organizations sometimes wonder why they have a difficult time with on-boarding.

Society has suggested that people should do what they love.

Use your brain they said. Do something creative they said. Follow your heart they said.

One company won’t change society, yet one company can change its culture.

When the culture suggests that human beings should show up and do only the minimum requirements that are expected, then that is what they’ll get.

You’re not paid to think, you’re paid to put the product in the box and seal it with tape.

It often creates the feeling of, the company doesn’t care about me so I don’t care about the company.

Robots have a place, don’t expect humans to be robots.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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comparing-good

Comparing Good Outweighs Illustrating Bad

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Do you focus on what worked well or what needs improvement? There is a big difference. Comparing good performance is often more effective than pointing out shortcomings.

The psychology of work has never been more important. Worker engagement and performance need to be better than ever before and finding ways to build a high-performance team is more complicated that it seems.

The “do it or die” approach died long ago. While there may be still be pockets of this authoritarian approach it often only exists in the most remote rural areas where there are not many choices for employment.

Feedback on performance is critical to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the team. How feedback is delivered or experienced by the recipient will determine its effectiveness.

Is there a way to deliver feedback on what needs improvement without emphasizing the shortcoming? Some argue yes, some no, and some will say, “It depends.”

Novice feedback navigators will often suggest the sandwich method. It can work, but is only about as good as two-week-old pastrami.

This is where the psychology of work really comes into play. In simple terms, you’ll get more of what you focus on. For that very reason, it is more important to focus on good results instead of on poor or bad results.

Illustrating Bad

Here is a great example.

A call center manager suggests that to improve agent performance she works with each agent on an individual basis. An agent who receives poor feedback or gets a call elevated to the manager is subject to some individual performance review. The review begins with listening to the recorded call. Then corrective action on the poor performance is suggested.

This is illustrating, highlighting, and comparing performance against the bad.

A better way is comparing to good performance.

Comparing Good

A different call center manager decides morning huddles are an effective way to start the day. The huddles get everyone on the same page and positions the team to launch.

Appropriately preparing, this center manager listens periodically to some of the highest performers previously recorded calls and chooses one to highlight. In advance of the huddle she dissects the call looking for good moments of agent to customer interaction.

During the huddle she plays challenging parts of the previously recorded call, except she pauses the recording right before the agent interaction is delivered. During the pause she asks the team key questions, such as, “What would you do at this point? What would you say?”

This is a form of experiential learning, it invokes self-reflection. She asks openly for some reactions to her question and debriefs the whole group by highlighting the good, illustrating the good, and focusing on what went right.

In turn, her team delivers more and more of the good.

Higher Performing Teams

You get higher performing teams when you focus on positive performance instead comparing bad performance to good and asking for change.

That’s not all. When this performance management approach is used across time individual reflection starts to occur more often. It inspires learning and often employees start to self-identify short-comings on their own.

Consider that this a pull process, instead of push.

It is playing offense instead of defense. Both are important but be cautious of when, where, and how you place your emphasis.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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people centered

People Centered Approaches Build Better Culture

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What is the best leadership style? Will a people centered style will outshine other approaches?

The contrasting views of leading are enormous. I am sometimes amazed at the pockets of people and businesses that are struggling with organizational culture.

The struggle is often that so-called leaders, self-proclaimed leaders, inspire a culture focused more on self than the people within the workplace community.

Sometimes it is about the question connected with the golden rule. Do we treat others as we would like to be treated? That’s the rule, right?

A better question is, should we treat others as they would like to be treated?

It’s a rub, I know. Yet, how should workplace leaders navigate our socially challenging times? A time, when it often seems like argument is the only path for communication.

The answer not only connects to the psychology of work, it connects to the fundamentals of the leadership approach.

People Centered

Today, people centered approaches are building positive cultures. In contrast, self-centered leadership approaches build an environment of us against them.

The struggling organizational culture attempts to accomplish their goals through push. Push is a short run game.

The cultures that will survive the storm are more pull oriented. Create a compelling reason for why and we’ll follow.

People centered approaches create community. They create a belonging. People want to join and be a part of what is happening. Loyalty is easy. Retention numbers are favorable.

Don’t confuse bright lights and freshly painted break rooms as a shift in culture. Sure, a good environment matters, but environment is not the same as the culture. People will work in a dungeon if they feel that there is something there worth working for.

People centered is not self-centered.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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