Want a Healthier Workplace? Sing!

The power of singing became apparent to me in Nepal. My friend Clare and I got lost hiking in the Kathmandu Valley. We stumbled upon a Nepali army outpost and were surrounded by soldiers who aimed their machine guns at us. Long—true—story short, we sang our way out of it. Thinking back, I still cringe at our stupidity, our illiteracy. I marvel at the kindness, and the singing, of Nepal's soliders. They even taught us a Nepalese marching song. It involves stomping one’s feet and yelling something like “Denah, denah, denah haah.” Tramping around Nepal alone isn’t recommended (in fact, I believe it may be illegal). The key thing I learned is that you can, indeed, sing your way out of trouble. “If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy they’d be.”— Lauren Myracle, Shine We have abysmal employee engagement rates in the U.S. according to Gallup research. In a 2013 Monster.com study, more Americans said they hate their jobs than other developed nations’ workers. We need—pun intended—concerted action: we need to sing. I’m not talking about the irritating guy on the other side of the mouse-maze of florescent-lit cubicles, the one who won’t stop humming “What … [Read more...]

Want to Be an Engaging Leader? Learn Employees’ Love Languages

I love you. You’re fired. Only once in my working life have I heard "I love you" from a CEO. It was during a retreat for a leadership team of about 50 highly mission-driven people. Together, we led tens of thousands of employees and were accountable for tens of billions of dollars. “I love you” from the leader felt remarkable in the moment. It felt disconcerting too. My family doesn't often say I love you. We focus more on showing one another love by little and sometimes super-sized things we do for one another. While I’m a huge hugger and adore both gift-giving and figuring out what I can do to serve others, my family-of-origin legacy carries with me:  I have to remind myself to actually speak the words “I love you” out loud. Within a week of the I-love-you retreat several leadership team colleagues were fired. The irony was not lost on me; a leader’s love, it seemed, could be short-lived. Perhaps its doubly ironic, given the retreat story and my family-of-origin context, that today I’m advising you to learn—and use—love language with employees to become a more engaging leader. Stick with me for a few more minutes, I'll explain. Employee Engagement It’s no secret … [Read more...]

Hit-and-Run Kindness Game

A dimly-lit, labyrinth of a workplace taught me that being riskily ridiculous may not be such a bad thing, especially if it involves countercultural hit-and-run kindness. Inside along the building’s walls, single-colored stripes are painted about chest high. The stripes serve as a guide to finding the right hallway, the right office, and if you’re directionally astute, to outside air. As a newbie to the building, I look expectantly at people’s faces in the halls, hoping against hope that someone will offer an unsolicited tip about when the blue stripe actually hits the fuchsia stripe, leading to the cafeteria. Invariably, folks I pass would look down and quicken their pace away. Early on in my required (and luckily short) stint in the building, I discover the colors that eventually lead to the organization’s gift shop. There, one can purchase lots of products heralding how the work in the building is special, superior, and unique. (I still have a couple of coffee mugs to prove it.) Clearly not "engaged" When Gallup releases its annual report on employee engagement, proclaiming that the vast majority of workers worldwide are “disengaged,” I self-absorbedly see a picture … [Read more...]

Work Friends, Life Benefits

I’m feeling particularly grateful this week after getting to spend six days, mostly on Route 66 (with a few roads less traveled thrown in), with my dear friend Maureen.  We met nearly three decades ago when I got to interview her for a role at a non-profit. It was the first time I’d been involved with hiring someone. Maureen and I worked together for about a year before we both moved on to other jobs.  What started as a work relationship continues to be one of the most important friendships of my life, one for which I’m eternally grateful. Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement instrument contains a question:  “Do you have a best friend at work?” I used to dismiss this question as too soft, too mushy to tell me anything as a leader.  Now, I’m changing my tune. This 2000+ miles drive gave me time to reflect about work and friendship, and how many of my adult friendships are people with whom I’ve worked:  for, with, around, or met because of work. Between California and Nebraska, where I dropped Maureen off: Passing through the Sierra Nevadas-Lake Tahoe region, Maria rang for our regular ‘celebration’ calls, our mutual sharing and support time. I met Maria because she put … [Read more...]

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