Archive for month: December, 2011

The Time of Year

Categories: One on One CoachingAuthor:

In one of his workshops at Google, Marshall Goldsmith asked audience members to “close your eyes and imagine you are on your deathbed.” He continued, “now imagine looking around you while on your deathbed – how many of your current day coworkers are there?” People laugh at the insinuation.

When I first heard it, this story really resonated with me. What I took away was that we really should appreciate what we have. Others call this living in the moment.

I learned about this concept when I was in graduate school. Not through a meditation retreat, but by having the experience around every major deadline that, “after the deadline, things will be better.” The problem with this view is that it’s an illusion. How you behave during deadlines and crises is symptomatic of how you deal with things on an everyday basis (the same is true for people in organizations). The point of living in the moment is that you can’t put it on hold.

Two of my best friends right now have terrible cancers. Spending only 30% of your time feeling good has got to be a tough way to live. A good friend passed away on a moment’s notice this time last year. There are lots more stories like this, I’m sure we all have them. These sorts of things give one pause, and make you wonder if you’re using your time to the fullest.

In thinking about this topic, I jotted down some things you might consider:

Are you where you want to be, right now?

Are you on the right sigmoid curve, and at the right spot on the curve?

How much of what you are doing now is important to you? To your family and loved ones? To the company?

What do you have to be thankful for?

Does what you’re doing make you feel good?

This is the time of year for reflection.

You are in control of your life.

If you’re not happy, do something about it.

Where Does Motivation Come From?

Categories: Employee EngagementAuthor:

I am struck by how often I hear clients describe an employee as a lazy or unmotivated person, only to find out that the person they are talking about runs marathons, owns a successful side business, and has seven well-adjusted children.

In other words, many of these so-called lazy employees have demonstrated higher levels of motivation in some other part of their life.  We are not destined to a predetermined amount of motivation in all situations.  Our motivation is dependent on the situation and the activities involved – the local environment.

If you think about it, you can probably relate.

Most of us can think of some tasks or activities that we aren’t motivated to do and others that we are highly motivated to engage in.  Ask yourself, what was it about those tasks that make you feel motivated or unmotivated?  Often times, it is related to the amount of reinforcement we get while engaging in those tasks.  We tend to like tasks that provide a lot of feedback, allow us to spend time with people we enjoy, or produce a positive outcome.

Here are some examples of activities many people are motivated to engage in:

Playing a musical instrument – produces a lot of feedback in terms of the sound, is often difficult to produce a nice sound, and may allow us to spend time with friends or receive admiration

Checking and sending email – there are almost always new emails that appear when you check, you get responses to emails you have sent, it feels like you have accomplished something when you send an email

Building stuff – produces a useful outcome, we get lots of feedback on how well we are doing based on appearance and function, and we may receive admiration for our effort

Now translate that to work.  Is your lazy employee suffering from  poor colleague relationships, a lack of feedback on their work tasks, or just a bad boss?  Is there an aspect of their job they really enjoy that they could spend more time on? What does the employee want out of their job? Do you even know?  Have you had that conversation?

I could quite honestly write several more pages about this but that wouldn’t be appropriate for a blog post, so I will leave you with this:

The next time you observe an “unmotivated” employee, instead of blaming it on genetics, look at the local environment for both the cause and the solution.

Create a Feedback-Rich Environment

Categories: BMT CoursesAuthor:

by John Austin

I work with great people. I’m not bragging about it or trying to make you feel bad (I am aware of the fact that most of the world doesn’t feel this way!). I’m just stating a fact. One of the reasons I can confidently say this is because every day the people I work with make me feel great about what I am doing and what I have done. They support me when I need help, but more importantly, they correct me when I’m headed off the rails and reinforce my behavior when I’m headed in the right direction.

Here’s one example. At our recent BMT conferences in Kalamazoo and Chicago, immediately after my presentation, several of my colleagues gave me what I would call “high‐impact”, insightful, and highly useful feedback about what I had just done. I’m not saying it’s all rosy; there are always things I am working on improving. No, what I mean is that instead of the typical mainstream response (perhaps we could call it a little lazy?) of “great job”, or even saying nothing (we’ve all heard the adage, “if you don’t have something good to say…”), or saying something laced with underlying and unstated aggression (passive aggressive feedback and ‘jabs’ implying, “I actually wish you hadn’t done as well as you did”), my colleagues gave me lists of bullet‐pointed behaviors that they observed during my presentation. Others told me a series of insightful things verbally.

 “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

What if you don’t currently have a feedback‐rich environment? I suggest that you work to create one by giving others your insightful feedback and start to take responsibility for removing lazy feedback.

Creating an environment where we get useful and insightful feedback from our peers is how we improve, yes. But even more importantly, it’s how we thrive. It is reinforcing, yes, but reinforcement is so much more than changing behavior. When done right, it allows us to relive accomplishments, share successes, and well…feel great about it.