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Five Questions to a happier workforce

1 Jun


I will keep this short. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman have a great book “First break all the rules’ Both Marcus and Curt have worked for Gallup in numerous roles . Gallup has for more than 60 years  led as world leaders in the measurement and analysis of human attitudes, opinions and behaviour.

Keeping it brief and without explanation here are 5 questions that every employee within an organisation should be able to answer yes to. If not there is work to be done in reaching that goal of workplace satisfaction and more. Here they are.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment to do my work right?
  3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?

Get five Yes’s from your employees and its Happy days. If not.. talk to your employers and  find out what you need to do to change the result. The answers will give you clearer idea on what you need to do to achieve this. Simple

Kill triangles, draw pictures and share emotions.

15 Jun

At The Happy Workplace conference 2015 organised by Henry Stewart of Happy Ltd  I was lucky enough to see Dom Monkhouse(Peer 1) speak.

I love the way Dom talks about the interview process where he provides candidates with colouring pens and paper and asks them to draw a picture. What ends up within that picture says a lot about the interviewee and a conversation begins to unfold that allows the candidate to open up unlike in a conventional interview. Dark clouds and dead bodies or bright sun and smiling faces on paper might open up conversations that would never have surfaced in an everyday interview or meeting.

Further on in his talk not shown in the video above Dom spoke about killing triangulation. Triangulation can be seen as gossip within organisations. Managers can be sieged with staff coming to them and complaining about other colleagues habits. Talking about a co-workers limitations behind their back serves no one. So Dom informs the aggrieved employee that they have 72 hours to confront the colleague that they have just criticised … or else he will inform them about what you have said. It simply cuts out the backbiting and encourages difficult conversations that all business should be prepared to facilitate. It also allows a more immediate ability to clear the air learn from what was said and move on….or move out!

Further examples of simple actions that can transform the way an organisation is run, is sending out Emotive faces by mail on a chosen day each week to employees. Employees who click on the sad face receive a phone call to see what can be done to help the stress, workload or issue that they might be experiencing.

smiley sad

3 simple examples of how to change the way you and your organisation starts thinking.

What are the benefits of a shorter working week?

8 Apr

If you could work a shorter working week than you do would you? What benefits might you, the organisation you work for and your general community experience if the shorter working week became a reality.

  1. Lower stress and anxiety levels
  2. More rest time and sleep.
  3. Increased productivity.
  4. Greater creativity.Stress kills creativity.
  5. Less money spent on commuting.
  6. Lower carbon emissions from less time travelling.
  7. Reduced traffic congestion for communities.
  8. A decreased energy usage for your organisation.
  9. Child care costs would decrease. Your children will feel the benefit of spending more time with you. You will feel it too. Childhood is short enough as it is.
  10. Greater time to spend with your loved ones. Bonnie Ware was a palliative care nurse. During her time taking care of terminally ill patients she encountered “5 regrets that the dying” constantly made. Every Male patient said that they “wished they had worked less and spent more time with the people they loved doing what they love”
  11. More times to do the activities that make you feel best about yourself. Learn a new skill, Go back to college part-time. Learn a new language. Hola Amiga! When we learn something new the dopamine rewards in our brain get heightened. We feel happier and those around us feel the benefits too.
  12. A greater chance to exercise and partake in healthy activities like exercise that benefit your health and lower stress.
  13. Time to give back to communities Volunteering your time to help the wider community.
  14. Decreased health problems from stress and overwork would allow people to work for longer.
  15. Find ways to work more efficiently in work rather than filling your day by immediately replying to Emails. Prioritize what is important, shorten meetings and leave the social media to the marketing department. Fill your day with 90 minute focused slots that have all your attention.
  16. We create more equal societies by sharing paid and unpaid labour.
  17. More employment for everyone.
  18. Lower mental and physical ill health.

Does your company treat work like work!

25 Mar

What would happen if you decided to run your business with less rules and in the process changed the mindset of what your employees think work should be.,,,forever.

Listen to Ricardo Semler tell you why Life is far more important than work ever will be. Thinking different can provide surprising answers.

What good has your company done for others today?

19 Mar
Think of others

Think of others

Is your company profitable? Have you proudly grown your company from a fledgling idea into a profitable organisation with Employees and maybe Shareholders all benefitting from it’s growth. Well done if you have.

Who or what has contributed to your success? Your drive and ambition? A loyal workforce? Investors and shareholders? A committed invisible group of poorly paid employees on the other side of the world, working in miserable conditions with long hours that would never be accepted in your developed country? A polluted river, landscape or townland that you will never see? Drinking water filled with toxins that contributed to the production of your product? A lost forest or landscape ravaged by mining or displacement to provide the minerals necessary for your products success? The indebted customer who has experienced foreclosure on a loan you provided knowing they would eventually default on?

If your companies success is attained through hurt caused to your fellow man and the destruction of the environment so many call home then maybe it’s time to rethink what you can do to create greater good on this Earth.

Once again the two questions you need to ask yourself each day

  1. What has my organisation done today to better your fellow man and this world?
  2. What has my organisation done today to hurt your fellow man and this world?

We are all just trying to put food on the table. How sweet and nourishing our food must taste knowing it has come from our contribution to the greater good of others, or is our mouth filled with a bitter taste knowing  it has been paid for by the pain of others.

I thought this Ted Talk from Simon Anholt summed up our need to create not just profitable companies or happy organisations but workplaces that contribute ( like Ireland and Finland) to becoming Good companies.

Creating a mindful environment works!

2 Jan

We generally have between 70,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts can range from
“I’m hungry”
“Why did Joanne not reply to my text..Did I do something wrong?”
“Why do I get so much homework from Miss Breen”
“The sky is a funny colour”…etc
When we analyze these thoughts we find that many of them are negative.
Simply because the brain is hardwired to remember negatives as a coping mechanism.
“Don’t put my hand on the lit cooker hob… it’s hot and causes pain”.
“Don’t walk through the dangerous part of town as something bad will happen because I have heard stories about it”.
It’s almost like our brains are like velcro that allows negative thoughts to stick. It helps us to avoid burning our hand or passing through the wrong side of town at night.

For some reason we fail to hold onto the positive thoughts so easily.
“That is a beautiful sunset”
“I love being around this person”
“The colours of the sky are breathtaking.”
it is almost like our brain turns into a non stick frying pan when where positive thoughts are concerned and they are not as remembered.

Take for example a soldier on duty in the Iraqi war. What are his memories
“Death and destruction”
“The smell of dead corpses”
“Wanting to go home..etc
Mindfulness allows us to pause the thinking and concentrate on sensing. What am I feeling in this present moment. It stops the thoughts that we outlined above and brings us to the present moment.
So in the midst of all the fear, death and destruction etc that the soldier experiences while on duty he can create a window that can allow him experience the beauty of the sunrise or sunset or the presence of the now.I am not saying it eradicates the reality and pain of war. But in the madness there can be moments of clarity,connectedness and a sense of beauty. For someone else witnessing that sunset, it is a beautiful gift at the end of the day, the difference is the thought patterns that both parties are experiencing.
If we spend our time thinking “What’s for dinner”(Future Based) or “Why did Jenny not talk with me at Lunch time”(past based) we lose the present moment and we can not be engaged in the Maths,Language learning, Project meeting or whatever we are engaging in. The benefits of being present are huge. Companies Like Google and other corporations now incorporate a short 2-3 minute mindfulness mediation before the start of their meetings to bring them fully present to what is being discussed and far more likely to gain the results the meeting hoped for.

Remember when we are stressed we cannot grow. High levels of Cortisol produced during long periods of stress inhibit growth and cause illness and worse. We are made up of trillions of cells and we, like our cells, react to our environment. Experiments have been done by Dr Bruce Lipton with cells in a petri dish. The cells are contaminated with a toxic environment that stresses the cell and ultimately kills it.

Stress does then same to us.We are those cells. It kills creativity and prevents growth. That is why it is important to develop environments that create creativity and growth, that is what mindfulness allows.

That is the vision our schools,workplaces and societies should have for our future. How can we create environments that people can flourish,create and grow. Well it starts with you and that start comes with being present to the moment and that presence comes from Mindfulness.

Bucket list business planning

16 Dec

On the road a lot with talks and workshops the past few months. I am energised about a couple of new ventures into Business. I think the time to look at business differently and with an honesty is here. The old business model that concentrate on 5 year business plans and shareholder profits above all else is dying.
I thought This video from Jack Hubbard of Propellernet was refreshing and uplifting. It was taken from The Happy Start up Summercamp last Summer. Take a look for yourself.

Where do we do our best work?

29 Sep

Organisations in the 21st century

8 May


Lessons for living-Think small

13 Feb


We have spent the past week talking about the reasons for living that Gerontologist  Dr Karl Pillimer compiled from talking to 1200 elderly people. People who have lived their lives and looked back and realized what contributes to a happy, fulfilling existence. Some of us may realize that the path we are taking through our lives does not correlate with what those that have experienced life and might have a greater panorama about how life works. We have talked about the importance of connections with others in relation to our wellbeing, we also talked about how travel is a wonderful way to open us up to situations and worlds that we might never have experienced if we had not left our couches. The first day we talked about the importance of looking after our health at a young age it will matter a lot once we get older and how worrying

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