Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Curiosity: The Inspiration for Innovation, Resilience, and Sustainability

In an age of distraction, with market volatility, and constant uncertainty, organizations face challenges to their ability to maintain a resilient workforce. Issues that impact sustainability in innovation include the environment, society, and economics. In constantly changing times, taking the ground most traveled and embracing the status quo is no longer a viable option. Truly resilient organizations must embrace robust transformation. Lengnick-Hall described organizational resilience as, “the capacity to act robustly in the face of environmental turbulence and to adapt to the ongoing environmental changes.” Organizations must look to ideas never considered when developing innovation that is resilient and sustainable.   That is where curiosity can play an important role.

Continue reading “Curiosity: The Inspiration for Innovation, Resilience, and Sustainability”

Top 10 TED Talks for Insight on Curiosity

Curiosity has been linked in engagement, emotional intelligence, communication, motivation, creativity, innovation, productivity and more.  As part of research for Cracking the Curiosity Code, combing through TED talks was a fascinating way to review some important research into the area of curiosity.  The following includes some highlights from some of the most insightful talks that inspire and educate regarding the importance of curiosity.

Continue reading “Top 10 TED Talks for Insight on Curiosity”

What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage

We are often told to follow our passion.  Even if we determine our passion, some things hold us back from pursuing our natural sense of curiosity.  Curiosity has been called a sort of mental itch.  There are surprisingly few studies about curiosity because it is difficult to study.  Some people are more naturally curious than others. It can be important to have curiosity hardwired into us because it helps us grow and develop.  There are factors like stress, aging, drugs, genetics, etc. that could impact our level of curiosity.  Outside of medical issues or lack of financial capabilities, I have found four major things that hold people’s curiosity hostage including fear, the way things have always been done, parental/family/peer influence, and technology.

Continue reading “What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage”

To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity

It might be surprising, but many leaders fear being discovered for not being as smart as they appear.  Realistic or not, people often look to leaders as if they should know everything. This external pressure often leads to internal pressure.  Leaders fear criticism, failure, making hard decisions, taking responsibility, or being unable to reach an important goal.  Because of this, leaders often surround themselves with experts in areas with which they have less experience or knowledge, which can be a very crucial to their success.  However, this can also keep them from developing some of these skills on their own.  There are other things leaders can do to be truly effective, including developing their sense of curiosity in areas with which they might not normally be comfortable. Continue reading “To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity”

Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values

f_istock_000007431474_web

Millennials are one of the most misunderstood generations, which has led to frustration in the workplace.  With so many generations working together, it is not unusual that there would be some conflict. The biggest issues have revolved around the clash between Boomers and Millennials.  With varying views on political and leadership issues, as well as differences in the frequency at which they embrace technology, conflict management has become a top concern for many leaders.  Part of learning to manage this unique generation includes understanding and embracing their values. Continue reading “Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

engagement

Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

shutterstock_66590788

Attend any leadership conference, and someone likely will bring up startling statistics regarding how employees and leaders lack something they refer to as soft skills. This term is used to describe many qualities that include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other personality-based issues. The problem that many organizations have experienced is that people are hired for their hard skills, or in other words, for what they know (knowledge). Then later, are often fired for their lack of soft skills, or what they do (behaviors). If employers recognize the importance of soft skills, they can avoid costly hiring and training mistakes, improve turnover, and boost productivity. Continue reading “Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success”

Famous Entrepreneurs Provide Inspiration

There are plenty of examples of entrepreneurs who failed before they became successful.  Some of them even explain that failure has taught them their most valuable lessons.  While this may be true, many prospective entrepreneurs fear failure.  One way to avoid problems is to learn from those who have experienced negative issues and still managed to succeed.

Entrepreneur.com recently published the article 10 Inspirational Leaders Who Turned Around Their Companies.  In this article, author Stephanie Vozza explained, “From Apple’s Steve Jobs’ demanding personality to Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter’s frugal methods, these sometimes-controversial CEOs weren’t always popular with employees, but they earned the respect of shareholders.”

For some unusual entrepreneurial examples, check out the VentureVillage article The Top Ten Startup Founder Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Follow.  These entrepreneurs offer a different perspective and update their blogs on a regular basis.

For more information for how to be a successful entrepreneur check out:

Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas

 

Gone are the old days of having a suggestion box at work.  Today’s modern company has set up some much more sophisticated ways of obtaining knowledge and creative ideas from their employees.  The following list contains some useful tools that employers have utilized that have even replaced their need to go to outside consulting firms:

  • Innovative Management Programs – Sites like Brainbank, InnoCentive and Spigit are just a few of the popular sites that companies use to allow employees to submit and vote on ideas.
  • Idea-Management Websites –  PriceWaterhouseCoopers created a company site to gather employees’ input about cost cutting, improving customer service and other ways to improve revenue.  These sites can be very successful.  IdeasAmerica, an association for suggestion administration, surveyed customers and found that ideas submitted by employees saved over $110 million or an average of $1256 per idea.
  • Set up KiosksBruce Power is one of many companies who have set up idea kiosks.  Resembling ATMs, these kiosks are easily accessible and allow employees to vote on ideas.
  • Create Financial IncentivesCompanies may give rewards for employees’ ideas that result in cost savings.  They may receive financial incentives or points to use toward rewards.
  • Set Up Idea ChallengesAllstate created an online challenge for its employees to come up with some good ideas about how to create their company app.

Related Articles

Top 20 TED Talks Not To Be Missed

 

TED.com contains some of the most inspirational, educational and entertaining videos on the Internet.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  The site shares video-recorded talks given by some of the most intelligent and interesting people in the world.  There are plenty of top TED presentation lists on the Internet, that are created based on people’s interests.  One of the most recent subject-specific lists I’ve seen is 20 Essential Ted Talks for Entrepreneurial Students.  This is an excellent list for potential entrepreneurs.

However, TED has far more than just entrepreneur-related topics to offer.  If you plan on getting lost on any site on the Internet, do it on TED. I try to view to as many TED talks as I can possibly fit into my schedule.  Of the ones I have watched recently, I have created my own top 20 list of TED talks that I feel should not be missed:

  1. Arthur Benjamin on Doing Mathemagic
  2. Alain de Botton on A Kinder Gentler Philosophy of Success
  3. Ted Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation
  4. Deb Roy on the Birth of a Word
  5. Dennis Hong on Making a Car for Blind Drivers
  6. Oliver Sacks on What Hallucination Reveals About Our Minds
  7. David Bolinksy on Animating a Cell
  8. Anthony Atala on Printing a Human Kidney
  9. Stewart Brand on Does the World Need Nuclear Energy
  10. Adam Astrow on After Your Final Status Update
  11. Jeff Hawkins on How Brain Science Will Change Computing
  12. John Hodgman on Aliens, Love and Where Are They?
  13. Cameron Herald on Let’s Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs
  14. Edward Tenner on Unintended Consequences
  15. Misha Glenny on Hire the Hackers!
  16. Gregory Petsko on The Coming Neurological Epidemic
  17. Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
  18. Joshua Walters on Being Just Crazy Enough
  19. Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice
  20. Steve Jobs on How to Live Before You Die Speech at Stanford

Related Articles:

Famous People Capitalizing on Manic Depression

Manic depression or bipolar disorder is a mood disorder where people experience abnormal levels of high energy or depressive states. While generally thought of as a disorder, there are many examples of people who have this disorder and used it to their advantage.

In the article Manic Depression: The CEO’s Disease, the author points out that many leaders can be successful due to the mania involved.  They also may not even realize they have the disorder.  “On average, it takes 10 years from the onset of the illness for a manic depressive to receive a correct diagnosis. In the interim, some of them do very well in business. And as more and more such sufferers come forward, many psychiatrists are convinced that their good fortune is at least partly a result of their illness. Dr. Sagar Parikh, head of the Bipolar Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, says 10% of those who have manic depression actually perform better in their jobs than a “healthy” individual. “[Manic depression] gives them that extra bit of panache to do the big deal,” says Parikh.”

In Joshua Walters’ Ted.com video, he points out the importance of being just crazy enough. He explains that as a performer, the crazier he is on stage, the more entertaining the audience finds his act.   He decided to embrace his illness and now walks the line between what he calls mental illness and mental skillness.  He points out that there is a movement to reframe the hypomanic part of the illness and to look at it is a positive.  He refers to John Gartner’s book The Hypomanic Edge where Gartner writes about how this edge allows people to compete.  Walters explains that being this way maybe doesn’t mean you are crazy, but that you are more sensitive to what others can’t see or feel. 

In the New York Times article Just Manic Enough:  Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs, author David Segal explained how people could take advantage of being in the bipolar spectrum.  Segal noted, “The attributes that make great entrepreneurs, the experts say, are common in certain manias, though in milder forms and harnessed in ways that are hugely productive. Instead of recklessness, the entrepreneur loves risk. Instead of delusions, the entrepreneur imagines a product that sounds so compelling that it inspires people to bet their careers, or a lot of money, on something that doesn’t exist and may never sell.”

Tom Wooten, author founder of the Bipolar Advantage, has made it his “mission to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives.” He sees it as being bipolar without requiring the word disorder.

The following is a list of famous successful people who have been labeled as having manic depression:

Ted Turner Manic Depression

Jim Carey Manic Depression

Abraham Lincoln Manic Depression

Vincent Van Gogh Manic Depression

Christopher Columbus Manic Depression

Edgar Allen Poe Manic Depression

Steve Jobs Manic Depression

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Manic Depression

Ludwig van Beethoven Manic Depression

Robin Williams Manic Depression

For a more complete list of famous people with manic depression, click here.

Related Articles

Increasing Motivation, Right vs. Left Brain, MBTI and Who Will Rule the World

Dan Pink, author of several books about motivation and left vs. right brain thinking, presented a very entertaining and informative talk at a TED.com conference called Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation. The premise of his presentation was that there is a mismatch between what science knows about, and what business does, in terms of motivating people.

He made a strong argument for the importance of how having autonomy may help creativity.  A famous example he used is how Google allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on any project they want.  He noted how ½ of all products developed at Google are created during this time.  He argued for something he called ROWE which stands for Results Only Work Environment.  This is when people don’t have to have schedules, attend meetings or do anything specific other than to be sure that they get their work done.  By following these guidelines studies have shown it will increase productivity and reduce turnover.

Two of Pink’s books include:  Drive . . . The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; and A Whole New Mind . . .Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World.  After looking through his book on “right-brainers”, I found a lot of what he had to say to be quite interesting.  He pointed out the importance of empathy which is a big part of emotional intelligence.  For my dissertation, I studied quite a bit about empathy and the part it plays in one’s emotional intelligence.  Researchers like Daniel Goleman, Ruevan Bar-On and others have shown that emotional intelligence can be developed.  In this respect, what Pink had to say is good news for everyone because we can all work on becoming more empathetic.

The part of Pink’s information that may not be such good news for me and others like me is that he thinks that, as you can see from the title of his book, right-brainers will rule the world.  Before reading any further, you might want to take this right or left brain quiz to find out your type.  I’ll let you know that I received a 2 which means I am strongly left-brained.  Not much right-brained thinking going on here!

 

To define the difference between left and right-brained, think of it this way:  Left-brainers are sequential, logical and analytical.  Right-brainers are non-linear, intuitive and holistic.

His theory supports that those with a high N or Intuitive personality type in the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) may be the ones who rule the world.  The N is the opposite of the S or Sensing personality who uses their senses rather than intuition in their processing of information.  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, I learned quite a bit about the differences between the personality types assigned by the MBTI. One of the main things researchers have found is that your MBTI results don’t change much over time.  It’s about preferences . . . .like whether you prefer to write with your right or your left hand. Think of the MBTI results as your preferences for how you obtain information and this won’t change.  So if you are an intuitive or an “N”, you will always be an intuitive and if you are a sensor or “S”, you will always be a sensor.  Some people may be very close to the middle of the scale between S and N and so their results won’t be as cut and dry as they may find their type changes slightly when they take the MBTI.

Dichotomies
Extraversion (E) – (I) Introversion
Sensing (S) – (N) Intuition
Thinking (T) – (F) Feeling
Judgment (J) – (P) Perception

In our book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I gave several examples of famous people with different MBTI results.  The qualities of the right-brainer, as described by Pink, fall very much into the category of the “N” or intuitive personality portion of the 4 letter type given by MBTI. What is interesting to me is that less than half of people have an “N” or intuitive personality type according to Myers-Briggs MBTI which is close to the about 50% figure experts say are right-brained.

If our type is pretty much set in stone, then 50% of us aren’t going to rule the world!  I guess I am OK with that.  However, I do take solace in knowing that my MBTI personality type, ESTJ, accounts for l0-12% of the population and of that population some very big names also share that type including Sam Walton, creator of WalMart.  He may not have ruled the world, but he came pretty darn close.

You Are Only as Good as Your Last Deal: Top 5 Ways to Avoid Being Expendable at Work

There is an expression that is often used in sales:  “You are only as good as your last deal.” What is meant by that is that management has a short-term memory and no matter how good you were in the past, they are focusing on what you can do for them right now.  It may seem unfair to those who have worked very hard throughout the years to find out that their jobs may be on the line due to one poor month of performance.  However, this is a reality in this market.

The new movie, Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, is about Hanks’ character, a top performing employee who has won the employee of the month something like 8 times.  He is self-confident that management has requested his presence in their office to tell him that he has just won for the 9th time.  Instead, he finds out that they are letting him go due to his lack of a college education.

This is a pretty common situation that happens in today’s workplace.  Employees are becoming concerned about keeping their positions.  There are a lot of people with strong work histories out there that are in the market for a job…your job.   There are some important tips to keep in mind when trying to avoid being expendable at work.  These include:

  1. Work harder than your coworkers.  That may seem to be common sense, but it is surprising how many people overlook the fact that they may not be number one in the office.  There is an old expression:  I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to outrun you.  Think of being laid off as the bear and you have to be better than your coworkers to survive.
  2. Multitask.  One way to be more efficient at your job is to multitask.  Some may argue that there is no such thing as true multitasking but there is such a thing as combining small jobs together so that you get more done in less time.  I often share an example with my students of how I would type my call notes while “dialing for dollars” so that I could make twice as many phone calls as my coworkers who waited until the call was completed to type up their notes.  Find ways to combine things like this to be more efficient.
  3. Add value through education.  The Tom Hanks example is a good reason why you should consider furthering your education to compete. You might find that a certification is enough.  You might find that an MBA would add value.  Find the thing that makes you stand out from your fellow coworkers.
  4. Put in the time.  If you are the last one to get to work and the first one to leave, you may find that management has noticed.  Look around your office and pay attention to who gets there late, who lollygags around and doesn’t work hard.  Put in the hours but also be sure that management sees how hard you are working.  There is no shame in copying them on things that show you have done well.
  5. Work smarter vs. harder.  Some people think that just putting in more work hours means they are working hard.  If you are the guy/gal who plans the plan to plan the plan, then you are not efficient.  A plan is important to keep you on track. Just be sure you don’t spend all of your time planning and none of your time doing.

If you do these 5 things, you’ll be well on your way to outrunning your coworkers and avoiding the bear (loss of employment).

Book Review: Get it Done Time Management Tips

I sometimes like to review books that I feel are helpful and fit into my goal of helping people reach their lifetime potential.  A book that I feel fits into that category is by Stever Robbins and is titled Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.  I am a fan of the quickanddirtytips.com site where Stever’s work can be found.  Also on that site is the Grammar Girl, Girlfriend MD and House Call Doctor.  I often send my students to the Grammar Girl site as I think it has a ton of helpful grammar tips, written in a fun and more entertaining style.

Robbins book, 9 Steps to Work Less and do More, is also written in a very informative style.  He writes about many of the things that I also write about in my books (The Online Student User’s Manual and How to Reinvent Your Career) including time management, goal setting and more.

How to Reinvent Your Career by Dr. Diane Hamilton

 

I thought I’d point out some important things that he writes about in his 9 steps.

Step 1:  Live on Purpose

In his book, Stever stated, “If you’re anything like me, a lot of what you call work has very little to do with getting anything important done in life.”  I think this is a very important statement because I see a lot of my students and people I work with who seem busy but don’t really accomplish anything.  One thing that Stever writes about in this section that I feel is extremely important is that your actions should match your goals.  We all see the busy person who works the 80 hour week and yet are they really working smart or are they just working hard?  It is very important to have goals and to be sure that you are doing the appropriate actions to meet those goals. What is nice about Stever’s book is that he gives nice examples and step by step explanations of “how” to get to where you are going.

Step 2:  Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination can be a big problem for a lot of people.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, that I co-wrote with Toni Rothpletz,  I mentioned that I am a qualified Myers-Briggs instructor.  One of the most interesting things I found out about personalities is that about the people who like to wait until the last minute.  Some people actually naturally do better work at the last minute if they have a “P” personality as assigned by the MBTI personality assessment instrument.  While I agree with Stever that it is important to turn tasks into habits to stop procrastinating, there are some people who have a high “P” personality who actually work better when they are under pressure and have deadlines.  The only thing I would add to what Stever writes about here, is for those of you who have taken a personality assessment similar to the MBTI and found that you are a “P”.  If you are a high “P”, you should set time managed goals for when your project or activity should be completed.  “P” personalities seem like they are procrastinators because they wait to do things, but if they have a goal to do things that they know they must meet, they are more apt to do that thing by that timeframe.

Another thing I like about Stever’s book is he writes about breaking things into baby chunks to make goals seem more manageable.  I often write about this in my blogs and my books.  It is like the movie with Bill Murray “What About Bob” where they talk about doing baby steps.  In my book The Online Student’s User Manual, I wrote, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  It is a goofy saying but it is also very true.  If you are a procrastinator, it may help you to think of a big project as smaller more manageable pieces.  I find this helps my doctoral students quite a bit as writing a dissertation can be overwhelming.  By thinking of it chapter by chapter, instead of an entire project, it can be less intimidating.

Step 3:  Conquer Technology

In Stever’s book he mentions he used a PDA for a year and then reviewed whether the promised benefits were actually beneficial.  I personally like to use iGoogle to keep track of a lot of my information.  I often recommend this to my students and have written about it here on my blog.  I think technology can be frightening for many but sites like iGoogle are very user friendly and can be accessed from many locations.  You can keep your Calendar, Address Book, etc. there as well as your RSS feeds and many other things to keep you organized.

Step 4:  Beat Distractions to Cultivate Focus

I liked Stever’s suggestion of keeping an interruptions list.  I tend to do that a lot as well.  I am the type of person that has things pop into my head often.  This is not so great when it happens at 2 am!  However, I like to write down any ideas I have on a piece of paper and get back to them later.  The trick is to write them down and then get right back to what you were doing so that you don’t jump around and be all over the place.  Instead you keep your focus.

Step 5:  Stay Organized

In this chapter, Stever covers the all important area of having organization skills.  I happen to be pretty good in this area naturally but I see a lot of people really need help with this.  I have taught time management skills to organizations where we discuss keeping track of emails, only looking at mail once and prioritizing.  This is the type of thing he gets into in this chapter.  He does a nice job including examples of checklists, etc. to get his point across.

Step 6:  Stop Wasting Time

This chapter is a very important one as far as I am concerned.  I have seen so many people who plan the plan to plan the plan and never get anything done.  People are not aware of how much time they waste.  I often have my first year college students map out a 24 hour period of time to write down exactly what they do every hour.  It can be enlightening for them to see how much time they really waste.  Stevers mentioned to be sure that what you are doing is actually work.  I was surprised by how many people I have worked with that thought they were doing work but were actually doing things that were wasting their time.  I am a huge fan of multi-tasking.  Many people over-look the importance of this skill.  When I was cold-calling in a sales job, I could type my notes while I talked to the people on the phone.  Other sales people would talk on the phone and then type their notes.  I could make twice as many calls because I could multi-task.  Are you multi-tasking whenever possible?  You could free up a lot of time by doing so.

Step 7:  Optimize

Are you doing things more than once?  Are you efficient or just effective?  I see a lot of perfectionists who are very effective but lack in efficiency.  There needs to be a balance.  Stever mentions the importance of knowing when to get expert help.  Sometimes you can do it all and you have to learn when to delegate or ask others for help.  He recommends creating resource books as your learn new tasks to refer to later for help on things you have learned.

Step 8:  Build Stronger Relationships

I like how Stever mentions you can’t there alone.  I completely agree.  There are so many people and resources out there to help you.  I know I personally have found Linkedin helpful to meet people who have given me some excellent advice and direction.  I highly recommend checking out their Q&A area as well as joining some of their groups.  Don’t just join though; you must participate in order to the most out of it.

Step 9:  Leverage

In Stever’s final chapter he writes about making sure to leverage in order to get results.  He explains using automation to get leverage.  There has never been a better time to use technology and automation to your advantage.  He mentions combining rather than multitasking to get things done.  I think there is a time for both.  Many people get confused as when to combine and when to multitask.  In this final chapter, Stever gives some excellent suggestions for ways to obtain the results you desire.

I highly recommend that you check out Stever’s book.  In it, he covers each of these topics in much more detail and gives great examples and specifics about how master these steps.