Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Curiosity: The Key to Improving Innovation, Engagement, Creativity, and Productivity

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein

Everyone is born curious. So, what happens? Why do some people become less curious than others? For individuals, leaders, and companies to be successful, they must determine the things that hold curiosity hostage. Think of the most innovative companies, and you will notice they employ people who do not accept the status quo, they are not reluctant to change, they evolve with the times, they look for problems to solve, and focus on asking questions.

Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates held a question and answer session at Columbia University. Just after the 5-minute mark, the moderator asked, “What is it that you two share?” They both answered with the same thing: curiosity. Buffett said, “Well, we both certainly share a curiosity about the world.” Gates said, “I think that curiosity that Warren mentioned, is an amazing thing.”

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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.

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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”

5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement

Whenever Gallup’s research comes out, it highlights the low levels of employee engagement that continue to burden organizations and cause leaders to scramble to do something about it. If only 33% of the workers are engaged, there are real problems with productivity, turnover, and a host of other factors that cost organizations more than $605 billion a year. As everyone seeks new ways to improve engagement, it may be helpful to look at what we already have learned through some of the best TED Talks. The following five talks give some great insight into what do to improve employee engagement. Continue reading “5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement”

How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work

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Job listings often describe the skills needed to perform in a position. However, many of the skills required for success fall under the category of soft skills.  Many employees may be hired for their knowledge and yet may end up being fired for their behavior or lack of social skills.  Forbes reported that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  Mitchell Communications Group found that companies lose $37 billion a year in the United States due to miscommunication.  Research from Adecco Staffing considered what the C-suite thinks about the type of skills employees lack. They found that the C-suite believed 44% lacked soft skills including communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  This has led to missed growth opportunity, low productivity, and reduced profits. Continue reading “How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

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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”

Expert Speaker and Trainer, Dr. Diane Hamilton, Available for Corporate Events

I have updated my speaker and training bio. Please click on the picture below to watch the video. To contact me for an event, please go to http://www.speakermatch.com/profile/drdianehamilton/

Millennial Student Entitlement Issues

 

The word Millennials is used to describe adults born between the years of 1980 and 2000.  They are also known as Generation Y.  Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me explained Millennials tend to be more self-focused and may expect to receive a lot of recognition. Sixty Minutes aired an interesting story titled The Millennials are Coming.  In this show, they explained how this younger generation expects good things and expects them with little effort. I have noticed that this sense of entitlement has carried into the online classroom setting.

Most of my students are very respectful. They follow directions.  They ask questions with the proper tone.  However, there are a few that are more demanding.  Although I have not formally studied the age group of the students who demonstrate issues with entitlement, I have noticed that my older Baby Boomer students seem to demonstrate more respect.

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A Professor’s Top 15 Book Recommendations

 

One of the hardest things I had to do when I moved was to get rid of some of my books.  My house was starting to look like a Barnes & Noble.  I kept the textbooks I use for my courses and a few others that I found especially useful or interesting.  The following list is in no particular order.  It contains some of my favorite books that I kept. I often recommend them to my students:

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman  – Goleman is one of the main thought-leaders in emotional intelligence.  This book is easy to read and explains the importance of emotional intelligence.
  2. The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of  Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by  Shaw Achor – This book included some interesting information about how to be happy.  I liked the author’s style.  It is entertaining and interesting.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  This book is required reading in many courses.  Although some students hesitate to pick up “self-help” books, this one is a classic for good reasons.
  4. Emotional Intelligence in Action by Marcia Hughes, Bonita Patterson, James Terrell, and Reuven Bar-On.  This book is a helpful tool to develop emotional intelligence in teams.
  5. The Pig That Wants to be Eaten:  100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini.  This strange little book was required reading for a course I taught about foresight.  My technology students love it.  It is filled with short stories. It is not for everyone. However, it is a book that will make you think.
  6. Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice by Howard Gardner. Gardner’s work in multiple intelligences is an important foundation for anyone studying personality assessments.
  7. The Effective Executive:  The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker. Drucker’s book is often required in management and leadership courses.
  8. The Bugaboo Review:  A Lighthearted Guide to Exterminating Confusion about Words, Spelling and Grammar by Sue Sommer.  This is a fun book to teach spelling and grammar.
  9. Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English by James Cochrane.  This is helpful book to teach grammar.
  10. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves:  The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.  This is another fun book to explain the importance of punctuation.
  11. It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:  Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Modern Workplace by Diane Hamilton and Toni Rothpletz.  This is a book written by my daughter and me.  It explains all of the top personality assessments and helps readers understand how to get along with other people at work.
  12. The Elements of Style by William Strunk.  This is a classic book on  how to write correctly. Most authors keep a copy of this.
  13. On Writing Well:  The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zessner. I like how Zessner teaches writers to write in a simple way.
  14. The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student by Diane Hamilton. This book will help new and continuing students to be successful in online classes.
  15. Entreleadership: 20 Years of Practical Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey.  This book contains a compilation of things that managers or entrepreneurs should know but may have never learned.

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Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive

Many good foresight or business courses teach students to be proactive vs. reactive to change.  Anyone who has read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People will tell you that the very first habit Covey lists is to be proactive. Covey explained that to be proactive “means more than merely taking initiative.  It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When a person is in control of an expected or anticipated occurrence, they have taken proactive measures.  When a person is reactive, they are responding to something that they had yet to have anticipated.

In leadership courses, they often give examples of a proactive vs. a reactive leader.  The following chart gives an example of the different mindset of these two styles of leaders. Click on the picture for more information.

Carol Shultz’s article Proactive vs. Reactive Approaches to Your Business and Talent explained two cases that demonstrated how reactive companies lost employees for different reasons, and the associated costs.

There are a number of theoretical models for change that include the importance of being proactive.  Some of these include:

To read more about these and other models for change, click here.

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