Tag Archives: workplace

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work environment

Work Environment Can Sometimes Be An Illusion

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What is the work environment where you work? Does the environment match the culture or is the environment only a symbol disguising what is really going on? Is the environment only an illusion?

Low unemployment rates make hiring practices more challenging. Depending on your sector, you may have decided that getting people on board can be tough. Keeping them on board is often equally challenging.

When the economy is strong and the unemployment rates are low, people are often able to work at the best organizations. In other words, if your organization is not shiny, glamorous, and exciting, it makes getting and keeping talent tougher.

Environment and Culture

People often confuse the work environment with workplace culture. They tend to go hand-in-hand, yet they are not the same thing.

Work environment has more to do with the physical facility. Is it modern, trendy, and inviting? Does it encourage motivation? Is it reflective of the values and beliefs shared within the organization culture?

Certainly, much of this depends on the type of organization. Heavy industrial is going to be different from healthcare and the financial sector is different from retail commerce or academia.

Mike Rowe starred in a hit TV series known as Dirty Jobs. A show that often highlighted tough, sometimes disgusting work assignments that most people would not choose to do.

One of Mike’s more popular quotes, “Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.” connects with the difference between environment and culture.

The most successful workplace cultures today do an excellent job of connecting values and beliefs with the work environment.

Work Environment

Building an environment is materialistic. It may involve capital, sometimes lots of it. Perhaps it connects with the location or history of the physical site. It is represented in the buildings, the furniture and fixtures, and other amenities.

One of the best ways to move towards an organization culture that you desire is to have an environment that supports it. It is always easier to flow with the environment instead of against it.

On the other hand, building the environment and assuming you’ve done the work required for culture is only an illusion.

-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 race

Can You Imagine The Workplace Race

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People often mention the daily grind. Are you prepared for the daily grind? Are you enthused for your workplace race?

It seems that there are two types of job deliveries. You can deliver by being present, nothing more, just showing up. The other option is to really arrive, ready, motivated, and about to slay the day.

Which one represents you?

Race Pace

In some workplace cultures the enthusiastic employee has to cut back, slow down, and take a breath. This is unfortunate because the department, team, or organization is missing out on the best work.

Navigating organizational politics can be draining. Do too much and you’re slapped back into submission. Do too little and there isn’t any real engagement, excitement, or reason to be motivated.

One of the worst parts about this scenario is that across time, the most motivated will leave for a better opportunity. The slower movers stay. They only want the paycheck, and they don’t mind hanging out while waiting.

Workplace Race

How you work is a personal choice you make. It is often conditioned by both the environment and culture. Leadership matters.

When you are having trouble navigating the culture remember the reason that you are there. Are you there to collect a paycheck? Perhaps, for now. Are you there as a career stepping stone? Perhaps for now.

Are you there to make a difference and work towards building something better? Sometimes you have to pace yourself.

Two completely different people can approach eight hours in two completely different ways. They may also do it differently depending on the culture.

Keep your eye on the prize. Remember the workplace race is sometimes a sprint and sometimes a marathon.

-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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realistic workplace expectations

Realistic Workplace Expectations and Your Work

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Are the expectations realistic? Realistic workplace expectations may start with your own personal outlook.

Sure, the boss may have some expectations that are a stretch. Customers may have some high expectations. Yet beyond the boss or your customers, often the expectations you place on yourself are even higher.

When you commit to the project what are your expectations?

High Expectations and Time

If the customer says, “That will work.” Do you stop there, or do you insist there is still more perfection required? More that can be done, more that should be done?

Many people are watchful for the critic. They have to get things just right because they know the critic is waiting right around the corner.

A critical eye ruins your masterpiece, so you spend the extra time to make it just right. In the absence of praise, you feel deflated and defeated. It must not have been good enough.

Your afterthought, “I could have done better with a little more time.”

Realistic Workplace Expectations

It is true for the school paper that is due, the academic thesis, or the project that will be presented to the board of directors.

It is only true sometimes though. The other option is to assume your work is superior to all other works. Anyone questioning the quality or accuracy is only envious or jealous.

Certainly, we may experience some or all of these scenarios. Have you asked yourself about the reality of your work? What is realistic?

Often realistic expectations start with yourself. You decide exactly how far you’ll go within the parameter of a specific amount of time.

At some point, we say, “Good enough.”

The best question then becomes, “Are you being realistic?”

-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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Tested competence

Tested Competence Means More Growth

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You never really know until you’ve been tested. Tested competence may be the difference between just rolling along and achieving something great.

It is easy to eat an extra piece of cake, have the milkshake, or eat an entire bag of potato chips, if you never measure your weight or health.

Your car may be getting great gas mileage, your lawn doesn’t need mowed, and your carpets are just fine, if there isn’t a measurement or test.

It is easy to label your work, your department, or your organization as best-in-class, when there isn’t any measurement or test to prove it.

Professional Growth

Many workplace professionals claim that they want more. They claim they are ready for the supervisory position, the director of a business unit, or to become the CEO, yet they haven’t been tested.

“Often in school we are taught the lesson, and then given the test. In life, we are often tested and then receive the lesson.”

Unknown

Part of my business is professional coaching. It is interesting sometimes to watch really good people struggle, claw, and fight their way for the next professional opportunity, while others just roll along and seemingly achieve more.

I don’t believe everyone is winning in these scenarios, and the true winners may surprise you.

Tested Competence

Be without your utilities in your home for a day or two, you’ll quickly realize how much you take for granted.

Lose a good paying job, where you held a good position, and discover how valuable it really was.

Be forced to compete against other candidates for the promotion or new opportunity, and you may discover the test.

You never really know how good you are, or how well you will hold up under pressure if there is never any test.

Always assume that there will be a test.

-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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cultural words

Cultural Words May Matter More

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When you say, “soda,” someone else may say, “pop.” Do cultural words matter in your workplace?

When someone says, “Things don’t add up.” We assume that to be a universal truth. The saying, “Two plus two isn’t equaling four,” makes us believe something is off.

It is hard to dispute math.

Words Matter

Words always matter. They matter much more than most people realize. A simple change in our sentences, a word here, or a word there, often make a difference.

In workplace cultures belief is powerfully connected to words.

We have exceptional customer service.

We ship fast.

Patience is one of our core values.

Of course, the truth in each statement is subjective. Belief in these statements will matter for sales, operations, and brand.

Belief is part of your culture. The words used to describe how things happen, what will happen, and when, create images that form the culture.

Do you believe it?

Cultural Words

Everyone should get the same result when they add ten and five together. If you don’t believe it, check it on a calculator.

A twelve-inch ruler is a universal truth. It’s one foot.

When you suggest your workplace culture is diverse, committed, and engaged it is not a universal truth. It is a belief.

A great culture doesn’t come to life because of the technology, infrastructure, or a fancy conference room. You may have 80,000 square feet, but not much of that tells us the truth about your culture.

Words help create the image. After that, it is up to everyone in the community to believe, or not.

-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 environment

Workplace Environment and Culture are Different

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What is the culture of your organization? How would employees describe the workplace environment? An appealing environment doesn’t always signal an appealing culture.

Sometimes one or both are toxic.

When I speak with workplace leaders about culture, they often describe the environment.

We have an open floor plan, no one has an office.

Our break room has been remodeled, it is more friendly and more like a lounge, with televisions and Xbox.

We have loosened our dress code; people feel more relaxed that way.

In a general sense, these statements are more about environment than they are about culture. Culture can grow from an environment, but suggesting a remodeled break room is a description of your culture is a stretch.

Image of Culture

A remodeled break room that is more like a college recreation room or a hotel lobby doesn’t matter much when the rules (formal or informal) are so tight that the room isn’t used.

Sure, those who have successfully made it to the job interview can see the room and feel good, but the culture will decide how, when, and if the room meets the picture it paints.

Culture does have something to do with image. However, image is more about branding, culture is more about a feeling, a community.

Workplace Environment

Workplace pods instead of conference rooms sound inviting. Couch type furniture with coffee table style work space look appealing.

Only no one is there because it is presumed that you are goofing off when looking relaxed in that area.

The assumptions we make are, or can become, the culture. The furniture and fixtures are part of the environment.

Building a culture is about people, trust, and respect.

Building an environment is what you imagine based on what you see.

-DEG

CASE IN POINT: The Fremont Star Lily is beautiful, the root looks like a garlic or an onion bulb, but you can’t eat it.

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 patience

The Short Supply of Workplace Patience

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Most workplace teams are driven by time. As individuals many people express a need for improving their time management skills. Do your employee teams illustrate workplace patience?

Often when the conversation of patience emerges there is a contradictory feeling connected with speed, pace, or customer expectations. It is true, time does tend to directly connect with money.

Should patience be a core value?

I often suggest to groups and teams that it should.

Patience is a learned skill. Patience should be practiced to be improved. A lack of patience costs.

Cost of Workplace Patience

There are at least two forms of cost connected with a lack of patience.

One cost is the work completed in a hurry or through haste that is inferior. The idea is, the more quantity across time, the better. Of course, the quality needs to be a recognized factor.

The other cost is more intangible. It is the cost of a lack of engagement, lower morale, bad attitudes, employee absenteeism and turnover.

When employee teams see a team assignment slacking, they may jump in to pick up the pieces. In many cases, this is important and a sign of good teamwork.

The other side of this is that an employee who doesn’t fully participate often lacks buy-in. As a result of not being bought-in they become more disengaged. They may take a back seat, the easy road, all the while knowing that whatever they don’t accomplish, someone else will do.

Time Factor

The mindset and performance of people is hard to measure with time.

Give ten different employees an individual assignment and not all ten will finish at the same time.

Easy enough to understand. Yet if we monitor the performance of the fastest seven or eight and then pull the plug on the assignment, we know the unfinished two or three are somewhat disconnected.

Simple enough.

Is there an adequate supply of patience in your teams? How do you balance quality and quantity? Have you measured the impact of a shortage of patience?

Sometimes everybody needs a little patience. Just trying to get it right.

-DEG

H/T (Patience, is a 1989 song released by the band Guns-n-Roses. It included the lyric, “Just trying to get it right.”)

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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trust

Whatever You Do, We Trust You.

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Workplace trust seems like a reasonable component of any flourishing organization. What are the signs of trust? Does your team have it?

A small entrepreneurial effort may not require a lot of rules. A few people working together to add value and build a growing business, they have each other’s back. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

Workplace Trust

As organizations grow a little bigger, things often start to change. Trust often changes.

Do supervisors micromanage because they lack trust? You bet.

Are there rules of engagement, rules for decisions, and rules to track effort? You bet.

Are there rules about keeping the rules? Yes, often.

Organizations of all sizes can be wildly successful and exciting. The difference between small and large often requires more management of the organizational dynamics.

Mistakes sometimes pile up and can become a new rule.

When accountability seems to fall short, there is a new rule. There are rules to protect the bottom line, rules to protect the organization from legal actions, and likely some rules to protect the customer.

Rules Pile Up

As the rules pile up, the pace of the organization slows.

I don’t know if we can do that, check back next week.

That isn’t my job, I’ll have to get someone who can help.

Next week is our meeting, we’ll discuss it then.

Rules slow the pace.

The business owner who is a plumber and actively works in the field doesn’t need to check with the boss. The same is true for the print shop, the landscaper, and the garage builder.

Do you have a growing business enterprise? Do you trust your employees? How do you show it? What does the customer feel?

A lack of trust becomes costly in many ways.

-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 opinions

Workplace Opinions Determine Fit

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Opinions, we all have them, right? Do your workplace opinions fit, or are they out of place?

For clarity, there is a difference between opinion and fact.

That’s a Fact

Suggesting that the pizza shop on the west side of town has the best pizza is an opinion. Unless, of course, the statement is, “Antonio’s Pizza won the best pizza in Clifton contest for the third year in a row.”

When we suggest that getting to work early is better than staying late, it is an opinion. The same is true for taking breaks, having background music in the office, and whether or not to have Hawaiian shirt Friday’s.

Opinions help form the culture. They help form what is symbolic about the organization, what stands out, and how outsiders remember or connect.

When you want to join the Facebook group, or when you choose to join an organized club or association, there is an expectation of conduct and fit.

Individual attitudes and perceptions help shape the image. They’re often based on opinions, not facts.

Workplace Opinions

There is more than a statement in, “This is the template for all corporate slide decks.” It is true for how visitors are treated, response times for customers and vendors, and how the pecking order of the parking lot works.

Organizations often promote the idea of change. Yet, largely, their opinions and beliefs about whether the clock pendulum ticks left before right, or right before left, is deeply rooted in the culture.

Opinions often determine fit. Opinions also tend to steer the direction of culture.

The next time you give a presentation to the C-Suite, request a lunch appointment with the CEO, or decide to wear flip-flops on Friday, you may want to check the culture for fit.

If it is important that you fit, it is best to develop an understanding of the cultural opinions first.

-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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pessimistic design

Pessimistic Design Leads To Higher Workplace Costs

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Are you focused on process or product? Do you classify your work as a project? In the workplace pessimistic design often creates higher costs of doing business.

Recently, I received an email with a somewhat interesting tag line.

“Projects cost you money. Process makes you money.”

It was a spam sort of thing, trying to entice me to hire some outsourced assistance with lead generation.

The Concept of Systems

When you think about systems what is your first thought?

People often quickly associate systems with efficiency, perhaps quality, or a foolproof method of effectively accomplishing work.

Do systems cost money or save money?

Initially, it seems that setting up the system costs a little. It takes time, energy, and other resources to get things setup. After that, we often make the assumption that the system will improve quality or efficiency.

What happens if we are pessimistic in our approach to system design?

Pessimistic Design

Imagine for a moment that we assess the likelihood of failure as much more common than the likelihood of success. Imagine that we suspect a far greater chance of cracks, breaks, or derail opportunities than what is truly likely?

Do you backup the data in your cell phone? What about your personal computing device? Is one backup sufficient? Should you have a backup to the backup? What have you designed for redundancy?

Does your car have a spare tire? Do you know how to use it? Should you carry an additional spare? Will your battery work to start the car, do you carry an additional battery?

Going too far with system design can cost more money than what the design was initially intended to do.

The costs associated with a poor design or over-engineering will surely outweigh the cost benefits of the process.

-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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