The Secret To Controlling Your Emotions — Before They Control You

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

We’ve all felt how draining fear-based emotions can be. Nothing saps our team’s life force more than panic, overreaction, and upset that is unfounded.

Emotions Have Energy

Thanks to David Hawkins, MD, PhD, we have proof that emotions have measurable energy and can either foster or negate actual cell life. Dr. Hawkins’s groundbreaking work, as explained in his book Power vs. Force, shows how a person’s log level, the measurable energy level in his or her magnetic field, increases as that person experiences more positive emotions. Hawkins’s most interesting finding was that cells actually died when the log level was below 200, where the emotions of scorn, hate, anxiety, shame, regret, despair, blame, and humiliation reside. This evidence provides us with further reason for us to regulate and manage our emotional state, not just for our overall well-being (and that of those around us) but also for our physical health.

Identify The Emotion

To consent to our emotions, we first need to know what they are. But only a select few of us can accurately identify our emotions as they occur. According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0:

“Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.”

Wow.

 We see it in our training sessions and executive coaching sessions all the time. This is why the Emotion Wheel is so helpful.

You can use the Emotion Wheel from the inside out to identify your primary emotions first, and then move outward. Or you can move from the outside in, if your specific emotion seems clear and you want to identify the primary emotion beneath it. Or you can simply pop around as you explore and identify how you feel.

Generally, we’ve found that people experiencing intense emotion will first identify with the main emotions in the inner “pie” slices, while those experiencing less intensity will often identify emotions on the very outer rim. Either way, when we can name how we feel, we become more present to our current situation. And we must be present before we can shift it. There are, of course, many emotions not on the wheel. Use this tool as a way to “prime the pump,” so you can then identify the emotion you are currently experiencing.

Make A Choice

Here’s a quick exercise to help you experience the energy of both resistance and consent, using the Emotion Wheel. Let’s assume you’re learning something new, and you’re a little bit confused. You now have a choice:

Confusion → resistance and/or rejection → frustration → anger → dismissal → reject learning

or:

Confusion → consent → curiosity → inquiry → open-mindedness and/or new perspective → embrace learning

Which path do you default to?

Which path would you like to default to?

Make sure to keep the Emotion Wheel handy and share it with your team!

Why Is Resistance A Necessity For Growth?

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

You may be familiar with the Chinese finger trap. It’s a toy that traps the victim’s fingers (often the index fingers) in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. The initial reaction of the victim is to pull their fingers outward, but this only tightens the trap.

Resisting our experience has the same effect. We resist things, situations and people we perceive as hurtful, painful, or threatening to our safety, belonging, or mattering. Without these three key emotional experiences, we can’t shift to our Smart State and we can’t navigate our constantly changing landscape to reach self-actualization. Also, we are wired to resist what we believe will create a worse feeling for us.

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Resistance Is The First Step Towards Change

The origin and etymology of resist (Late Middle English) is from the Latin resisterere- (expressing opposition) + sistere (to stand). Aha! So resistance really means to stand in opposition. What are you taking a stand against?

Let’s also take a look at the word reject, which is what we’re doing when we are resisting our Present State. The origin and etymology of reject (Late Middle English) is from the Latin verb rejacerere- (back) + jacere (to throw). Reject means to throw back or throw against. This stance isn’t just in opposition, it is opposing by attack. Yikes, this is even worse than resisting.

Resistance isn’t necessarily bad. It’s often simply the first step of navigating change. The goal is to move forward rather than get stuck resisting. Resistance shows that someone is engaged to a degree, which is much better than being disengaged. Don’t be surprised if resistance turns to mockery, as some people express their upset that way. As leaders, it’s essential to move your team through this stage by asking what they are resisting.

To help them identify what’s being resisted, ask them to contemplate what’s:

  • Annoying about the particular change or initiative
  • Dumb about the particular change or initiative
  • Unreasonable about the particular change or initiative

Then we address what we can, with the agreement that they’ll try the new initiative or plan. Ultimately they’ll find some aspect of it to be useful. Over time this process will become habitual and eventually a new standard is established. Voilà! Enjoy the afterglow, until the next change comes along.

Embrace Change And Gain Energy

The trouble with resistance is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy in the form of pushing back and rejecting. When we direct energy toward what we don’t want, it actually helps draw it toward us. For example, the more you try to pull your fingers out of the Chinese finger trap, the tighter it becomes.

You’ve likely heard the expression “what we resist persists.” Look at what you’ve resisted. Did they stick around in your life longer than you would’ve liked?

Resistance merely stabilizes your Present State. Whatever we focus on, we fuel. When we resist the emotion, we make it stronger.

Once we embrace resistance, we are ready to transform resistance.

Five Ways To Get Optimal Outcomes From Your Team

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

What makes a team optimal?

Alignment, communication, collaboration, energy management, leverage, trust, and what else?

Google did some comprehensive multi-year research on this topic. I’ll refer to it below and map it to my work during the past 30 years in the areas of safety, belonging and mattering.

I’ve found it all comes back to safety, belonging and mattering, no matter what structure you want to wrap around the idea of optimal teaming. Let’s look at what Google learned in its extensive research on the topic.

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Over the course of two years (ending in November 2015), Google conducted more tahn 200 interviews where it assessed more than 250 attributes of what makes an optimal team. The findings from the 180 teams studied were surprising.

While they had hoped to find a recipe for an optimal team (for instance, take one Ivy League MBA, one extrovert, one expert engineer), Google actually found that who was on the team mattered far less than how team members interacted, structured their work, experienced their contributions. The answer was in behavior and emotional resilience. The results echoed some of what Carnegie Mellon researchers found back in 2010 with their collective intelligence work.

They learned that five key dynamics resulted in optimal teams:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Google found that psychological safety was by far the most important dynamic. Without this people don’t feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions, checking in. There’s too much risk of being labeled as “out of it” or “clueless.” All humans want to belong to a  group, and we’ll take tremendous risks (such as not speaking out even if we feel it’s very important) if we feel we may become an outcast, lose status in our tribe or be ostracized somehow.

Googlers now use a tool they call gTeams. It’s a 10-minute check-in on the five dynamics. A modified check-in is below, one that our clients find works very well. During the past year more than 3,000 Googlers across 300 teams have used gTeams and focused on the fie factors above. They often will kick off team meetings with each team member sharing a risk they took in the past week. The net is that they’ve seen psychological safety ratings increase by 6% and structure/clarity increase by 10%. But the best part is the increased connection in the team due to increased communication.

Rate Your Team Per Google’s Five Dynamics

Consider the five factors from Google:

  • Psychological Safety
  • Dependability
  • Structure & Clarity
  • Meaning of Work
  • Impact of Work

On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is excellent, rate your experience of each factor in your team. Now total up your score. Here’s our rating format. If your total score is:

Up to 10: High Risk. There’s a lot of work to do. Use the table below to map to safety, belonging, mattering. Get a neuroscience-based coach, and get to work healing your culture.

11-18: Risky. Your team is not performing nearly as well as it could. Let’s get everyone more connected and collaborative. Time for team training and coaching.

19-25: Solid. Congrats! You’re on a high-performing team. Time to raise the bar!

Below is a shortcut to help you figure out where to focus, how to get better, and a way to talk about this concept with your teammates in a structured way.

Let’s now map frameworks:

Easy, yes?

All other models simply help you implement programs to deliver these three core human needs.

See how this model helps your team!

Derailed By Distractions? How To Get And Stay Focused Now

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Where is your focus right now?

How present are you?

Do you have a little voice in your head listing all the things that you need to do today, tomorrow, and next week?

We’ve all experienced that nagging internal voice that keeps us from focusing on what is right in front of us. As leaders, this distraction can derail your day and your leadership effectiveness with your team.

Why To Be Here Now

To be present we have to know what we want to create in an interaction or meeting, and focus on what is actually happening right now so that we can course-correct if necessary. If we are repeatedly avoiding something or if we feel like a pattern keeps repeating, chances are there is an “intended positive outcome” to not be present. For example, if we repeatedly avoid confronting a direct report, it is probably because it feels better and safer not to.

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It feels better not only in that moment but also retroactively in all the other times that you avoided something and survived it. This is normal! Our brain is wired to keep us safe, and once it learns a specific way to do so, a survival pattern, it generalizes and continues to keep us safe in just that way. Unfortunately, this keeps us in our Critter State and not in our Smart State. Changing that pattern and learning to be present with discomfort and even conflict means that we have to understand the parts of us that want to run away. These parts are doing their job, they are keeping us safe. Instead of fighting them or making them wrong, we can accept them, learn to understand what they are telling us, and even honor them.

Surviving is a good thing, needless to say. But it’s super limited to just that. Basic surviving and not thriving. We’ve all experienced leaders that are just barely surviving. And they rarely can sustain periods of growth, deep employee engagement, and personal fulfillment. 

You Can Get There From Here

The goal is to retrain ourselves to have a choice. We could avoid things, but to lead effectively we have to have the choice and the preference to address most situations in the present.

One of the best ways to get and stay present is to focus on how you are increasing safety (and encouraging people to take risks), belonging (“We’re all in this together, we’re the same” experience), and mattering (“It matters that you, specifically, are here; I see your unique gifts”) in each interaction you have. With this focus, the discomfort won’t take you out of the game. The constant parade of bright shiny distractions will have less ability to pull your attention away. You will also avoid boredom (which pulls us away from being present) because you’ll be focusing on the fascinating person you’re interacting with. Everyone, I promise, is fascinating in some way. As I’ve said before: Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust.

What is the “cost” or risk of not being present to these things? When do you need to become present to them? What will the “reward” be if you become present?

Challenges Retaining Talent? Here’s What They Are Really Trying To Tell You

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Is there a correlation between the style in which someone quits and the organization itself? A study conducted by Anthony Klotz, Oregon State University College of Business and Mark Bolino, University of Oklahoma Price College of Business discovered the 7 ways that people quit and that a connection may exist.

Let’s take a look at the 7 ways that talent quits and what a leader can do to not only increase retention, but if a person must leave, how to keep them in the categories of 1, 2 and 3.

7 Ways People Quit

  1. By The Book: 31% quit by having face to face conversations, combined with a letter of resignation that states the exact reason they are leaving along with a notice period.
  2. Grateful: 9% were positive and willing to have their departure from the organization be painless for their leader and their team.
  3. In The Loop: 8% actually had the supervisor/leader ‘in the loop’ with the resignation.
  4. Perfunctory: 29% will have a face to face conversation, give a letter of resignation and a notice period but won’t elaborate on the specific reasons they are quitting.
  5. Avoidant: 9% kept contact with the leader to an absolute minimum and involved bringing in a third party like HR or ducked out by sending in their resignation over the weekend as opposed to face to face conversations.
  6. Impulsive: 4% will reach a breaking point without having a conversation at all, there is no notice, no letter or resignation and certainly no willingness to have the transition period be as painless as possible for everyone involved.
  7. Bridge Burning: 10% will quit not only without any notice, but they want to make sure that their leader and/or organization know that they are extremely upset and why. Emotions run high and both parties lose.

There are two key points that should be examined. First, your talent has made a decision to leave. Can they be retained? Second, your talent will make a decision regarding how they will leave. Can leadership impact how they will choose to leave?

Retain Your Talent

All too often leaders don’t create and foster an environment where talent feels comfortable or confident enough to stand out. It’s easier to blend in with the crowd versus stand out and be seen.

 These individuals will see and feel the benefits they bring to the company. Talent that thrives:

In previous blogs we have discussed how to foster and nurture an environment where your talent will get and stay engaged. These tools will help you form an action plan that you can start implementing today to retain these individuals:

Prevent Drama Filled Exits

If more drama filled exits are occurring, it may be time to examine the underlying issues. In the case of Impulsively Quits or Burns Bridges, it’s not surprising that research showed those individuals may be experiencing higher levels of abuse from their leaders or they may ‘feel’ that they were treated unfairly. For these individuals, leaving in any other manner except one that is high-emotion isn’t an option. By working on creating and sustaining a workplace culture where team members are invested in their role and the success of the business, if the time comes that they must exit, the probability of them staying within the categories of 1, 2 and 3 increases.

In some cases exiting is unavoidable. They may be moving, deciding to take a different direction in their career or they simply do not want to work for your organization anymore. In these cases, how can we make this process as seamless and positive as possible for both parties?

Compassion & Communication

If both parties add compassion and communication, a win-win is created. The person leaving may decide to stay. If the circumstances surrounding their exit are unavoidable they will do all that they can to make this transition process a positive experience for everyone. When the leader holds the person exiting in a place of compassion, they will have time to reflect on the culture they are helping create at the organization and they may find ways to improve. Both situations require a culture where it’s safe to communicate, where both parties feel they matter and they know what they say will be valued. Through compassion and communication, the entire process will be filled with ease, grace and dignity.

This Tool Works! Using Effective Sales Meetings to Create Massive Momentum

How’s your sales team performing? Are they generating the high-quality leads you need on a regular basis?

If you want your sales team to be engaged and intrinsically motivated to succeed, you need to provide the incentives and structure to support success – and those incentives and structures need to be communicated clearly and regularly.

That’s why when clients come to us for help with sales and marketing effectiveness, one of the first things we often do is to streamline the sales meeting.

Your sales meetings provide key opportunities for you to deeply connect with your team and make sure they’re on track with what you need. But these meetings are only effective if you’re running them the right way.

Here are three things you must have in place for sales meetings to be effective: 

  1. An easy, clear, and concise reporting structure. Reporting should be as easy as possible for the salesperson and not include anything unnecessary.
  2. Clear deadlines for when reports need to be filled out so that status can be covered in meetings.
  3. Exciting, personalized incentives for reaching goals!

When your meetings are more streamlined and effective, and your team members know clearly what’s expected of them and how they’ll be rewarded, they’ll feel more engaged, empowered, and motivated to succeed!

After that, the sky’s the limit! Here’s what one of our clients had to say after going through this process and the steps that followed:

“When my boss said he wanted me to increase our top line sales by 30% fast I was wondering how I’d do it. We’re a huge company, and growth like this doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been in sales for decades and increased quotas are nothing new to me. I thought I knew the ropes. Then I met the team at STI.  

STI helped us to use the latest neuroscience techniques to shift the state of our sales team to a more positive and empowered state, to streamline our sales process, to develop rapid rapport with our prospects and partners, to more deeply engage with our sales and service teams. They’re also helping us to propel innovation to new heights via an Innovation Incubator, Innovation contests, and an Innovation Advisory Board—all of which are getting our sales and engineering teams super excited. 

The result is that we now have massive momentum… we have a clear and rapid path to our increased sales, we’re getting more meetings, we’re closing faster, we’re having a lot more fun and lot less stress. I have new tools to develop my sales team faster and keep them on track. Sure wish I knew this stuff a decade ago. Thanks STI for helping us sell at the level I always knew we could.” 

~Tom Moore, Director of Sales and Marketing, Baxter Manufacturing

This tool works! Ready to put Effective Sales Meetings to work in your organization?

Start by downloading our done-for-you Effective Sales Meetings Guide to get our personal recommendations for reporting structures, meeting topics, meaningful incentives, and more. 

And then let us know how it goes! Comment on this post or send us an email. We love hearing your success stories!

Don’t Be Blindsided By Change

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Change blindness = when we miss a huge change because we were focused elsewhere.

Have you experienced change blindness?

Perhaps a key employee became disengaged and you could have prevented it. Or a high-potential employee kept asking for greater challenge, and before you noticed the flight risk, they left.

We’ve all experienced change blindness. It’s often a result of not being present because we are pulled in too many directions.

Heck, you likely would’ve really liked to see the change you missed, maybe you would have even benefited from it, but your brain deleted it. Why?

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Because while what you look at matters, what you see matters even more.

Let’s unpack change blindness. Here are the players:

  • Cortisol = a hormone released in response to stress
  • Dopamine = a neurotransmitter with many roles, including signaling cells when the anticipation of reward is present and driving reward-motivated behavior
  • Oxytocin = a hormone that contributes to feeling connected to others
  • Your Sensory Cortices (SCs) = the parts of your brain responsible for “bottom-up” attention: responding to things that grab your attention and cause you to react (alarms, email alerts, or other outside stimuli that you react to compulsively and often without choice). Generally Low-Value Activities and reactive or even menial brain work occur here.
  • Your Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) = the part of your brain responsible for “top-down” attention: decision-making, planning, envisioning outcomes, where you choose to focus, and how you choose to respond to things outside of you and inside of you. Generally High-Value Activities and strategic brain work occur here.

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Your Brain On Change

Why do we have so much trouble seeing change when it’s right before our eyes? Because we’re still trying to cope with the changes that happened yesterday, last week, or last month. Let’s take a look at our brain on change.

Whenever change happens, your brain releases stress hormones, like cortisol, which then fire up cell-signaling cytokines that alter your body. Suddenly your ability to regulate your behavior and emotions is compromised. Your ability to pay attention is compromised. Your memory, learning, peace, and happiness are all compromised.

When you’re overloaded on stress, you also tend to feel isolated, which decreases oxytocin. Then it’s all too easy to find yourself on a downward spiral of disconnection: from yourself, others, your world, your purpose, and even your place in the grand scheme of things. Today, we see increasing chaos, distrust, aggressiveness, and many other behavioral challenges in our world due to disconnection.

Being in a state of stress or fear also overstimulates our sensory cortices (SCs) and inhibits our prefrontal cortex (PFC). Increased sensory stimulation and decreased cognitive stimulation results in more irrational risk taking, obesity, aggression, addiction, and even schizophrenic behavior. It’s a big deal.

At the same time, we’re constantly checking email, texts, and other alerts to make sure we’re safe, creating excess dopamine. Remember, dopamine is the neurotransmitter fired when we anticipate reward or receive an unexpected reward, pleasure, or praise. But excess dopamine is a problem: it also inhibits our PFC, further affecting our ability to make good decisions, focus, and regulate our emotions and behavior.

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it often causes us to addictively check our messages, emails, and social media feeds. However, what’s beneath it is the desire to connect. The desire for warmth. The desire to be seen, to be safe, to belong, and to matter. Instead of dopamine, what we really want is oxytocin, the bonding hormone, to help us know we’re not alone.

It’s Time To Reconnect

When you feel blindsided by change, the solution is simple: it’s time to connect again. To trust again. When oxytocin levels are up, cortisol levels are down. When we feel connected, we know we’re safe, we belong, we matter.

So how do we connect in this stress-heavy era? First, remember that people are essentially good. We all just have a greater or lesser ability to connect with ourselves and others. When you meet people who are angry or distant, perhaps they simply haven’t learned or cultivated the ability to connect with others due to the past pain or hurt. At times like this, it’s essential for us to have compassion and do what we can on our side to reconnect with them.

There’s no point judging someone who can’t reach out to others. Better to reach out and give them as much of an experience of “same as” as possible to help them re-establish their ability to connect and give them a sense of safety, belonging, and mattering. It just might help them reconnect in every other area of their life.

Tribes are primal. Being together with other humans is how we have survived for centuries. And yet technology, in an attempt to bring us together, has actually brought us apart. We all want to be in the “in crowd,” yet we are seeing more and more separation. This makes change even harder, because when times are uncertain, we need one another more than ever.

So while change blindness may be prevalent, change presence can be, too.

Think about the change you’re going through right now. In the midst of it, how can you connect with your tribe today?

Three Keys To Effectively Managing Remote Workers [Infographic]

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

In a mere 3 years the mobile workforce is projected to comprise roughly three-quarters of U.S. employees.

Is your organization ready?

According to Gallup, remote working has been on the rise since 2012: from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016. The desire to work remotely is here to stay and it isn’t limited to a few select industries. Gallup found that the finance, insurance and real estate industries experienced the greatest surge in time spent working remotely, followed by transportation, manufacturing or construction, and retail industries.

We love this infographic from HR Magazine which shows the latest statistics and trends:

Society for Human Resource Management

While remote work may not make sense for all organizations or for all roles within an organization, it is important to take a closer look. Whether you have a remote workforce or are thinking it may be a good idea to implement in your organization, there are ways to make sure your team stays engaged. Let’s dive into the three keys to optimizing your remote workers’ experience.

Explicit Communication:  We want to ensure that we are giving someone Safety, Belonging, Mattering via our words and written communications. When we communicate often (results, requests, info updates) we include people—and we foster a sense of us all belonging together. We want to engage everyone during meetings and if possible, have those meetings via video conferencing. Remember, only 7% of communication is the actual content, so seeing each other is essential. When relying on other methods of communication, such as text or email, you can use my coding system to optimize email communication to get optimal results. This will save time, clear up confusion, manage feedback and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Effective Delegation:  There is effective delegation, and there is “rubber band” delegation: when we delegate something and it snaps back to us incomplete. Here’s our 5-Step Effective Delegation Process that our clients find helps them to end rubber band delegation, and increase ownership and accountability. With remote workers effective delegation is even more essential as the “walking by your cubicle” conversations are non-existent. This fosters ownership and reduces the likelihood of the “order giver-order taker” dynamic, which crushes the spirit of ownership, innovation, and a feeling of empowerment.

Perceptual Positions: These make the difference! Perceptual is your perception in relation to immediate sensory experience. Position is the physical location of your body. This is an exercise that my clients and their teams have found to be extremely helpful when conflict arises in their organizations—or prior to a potentially challenging conversation taking place. This tool is ideal for remote workers because if we can gain clarity into what the other person is experiencing, even when we aren’t in the same office space as they are, we can communicate more effectively as well as understand their potential struggles. The result? Productivity rises and outcomes are achieved faster. You can try out Perceptual Positions here. The key is to get on another person’s “map”—to get a feeling for what it means to be them. Taking the time to meet a person where they are the greatest way to establish rapport, connection, trust.

Remote workers are on the rise. Are you ready?

The Surprising Link Between Customer Experience And Employee Engagement

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

How would your customers describe their experience with your firm?

Please take a moment and rate the Customer Experience (CX) that you believe you deliver:

  • Better than all companies in any industry
  • The best in our industry
  • Considerably above average in our industry
  • Slightly above average in our industry
  • Average for our industry
  • Slightly below average in our industry
  • Considerably below average in our industry

Now, what CX would you like to deliver within 3 years?

Credit: Temkin Group Q1 2017 CX Management Survey

Data: Q1 2017 CX Management Survey of 180 organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenues

According to Aimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and VP at Temkin Group, 55% of all the companies surveyed want to be best in their industry or better than all companies in any industry when it comes to the level of CX they deliver they deliver within three years. That’s a big crowd wanting to get into a small, small slot.

As Aimee and I caught up at the recent North American Employee Engagement Awards it became crystal clear: it’s time to stress the connection between Employee Engagement (EE) and CX. Now.

Customers today have a louder voice (think Yelp and other rating sites), have access to more information on you and your competitors, and as a result expect an increasingly awesome experience. And they should.

Meanwhile your competitors are launching new products and services faster than ever before, and are consistently raising the bar on CX. And they should.

So what’s an organization to do?

Arm yourself with these 3 CX-Boosting Strategies!

3 CX-Boosting Strategies

1) Become A CX Leader — By Focusing First On Employees

CX leaders (companies whose CX is significantly better than their competitors) have more engaged employees. Here’s what Temkin Group found:

Credit: Temkin Group Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2017

Base:   5,552 U.S. consumers employed in for-profit organizations

How exactly does engagement work? What happens in the brain when we are engaged?

Engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from meaningful work, from attaching part of one’s identity with their job. And this comes down to some neurotransmitters and a hormone. As leaders when we intentionally help the brains of our employees to generate dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin we create good feelings for the organization. Dopamine (anticipation of reward) and serotonin (feeling good, well-being) and oxytocin (bonding, feeling connected to others) can be created via a number of programs in your Cultural GAME Plan.

So how do you become a CX leader and get engaged employees? This is where HR comes in…

2) Get HR To Connect EE And CX

HR owns the cultural programs, so it’s key that they are first looped into Employee Engagement (EE) so they can help support CX. First a strong mission, vision, values sets the tone for your tribal purpose and code of conduct (oxytocin). Next, acknowledging employees for being models of your values creates social validation (dopamine and serotonin). There are many more ways that you can read about in my many blogs on employee engagement and in #3 below.

Next, when HR runs regular SBM Indexes, you can easily diagnose and cure and engagement dis-eases so you can continuously raise your engagement bar.

 It matters, it’s a reflection of them and what they believe in, who they are, how they show up in the world.

According to Temkin Group’s research when HR is significantly involved in CX the organization is 50% more likely to be a CX leader. Wow.

Is HR involved in CX at your organization?

Credit: Temkin Group 2016 HR Professionals Survey

Which brings us to the next item to check on our list, specifics for creating EE and CX.

3) Clarify Exactly How/Where HR Can Support EE And CX

Here are some ways that HR can forge the EE-CX link…

All of the above examples and blogs will help you keep the brains of your employees in their Smart State, which will in turn help your customers spend more time there too! Smart State = Engaged, Aligned, Tribal, Together.

Competitive Advantage: The Power of Embracing Neurodiversity

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

“Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”

Harvey Blume, Journalist & Autism Advocate

We all know diverse teams perform better. It’s been well documented since Carnegie-Mellon’s Collective Intelligence work was released years ago.

And now a recent article in Harvard Business Review has explained how the next level of diversity–neurodiversity–provides competitive advantage.

Neurodiversity includes conditions such as autism (including Asperger’s syndrome), dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and ADHD. The goal of the term’s creation was to shift the focus from the negative connotation of these conditions toward the positive. Neurodiversity is an idea which: asserts that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological development is a normal human difference that is to be recognized and respected as any other human variation.

According to Robert D. Austin and Gary P. Pisano’s article in HBR, “Most managers are familiar with the advantages organizations can gain from diversity in the backgrounds, disciplinary training, gender, culture, and other individual qualities of employees. Benefits from neurodiversity are similar but more direct. Because neurodiverse people are wired differently from ‘neurotypical’ people, they may bring new perspectives to a company’s efforts to create or recognize value.” I agree.

Neurodiversity Talent Opportunities

A report by Drexel University found that 58% of young adults (early 20s) with autism are unemployed. This is a huge pool of Generation Zers! We’ve done a deep dive into what is compelling to Generation Z in the workplace. How can we adapt this to those that fall in the spectrum of neurodiversity?

First, let’s look at a few of the skill sets that can benefit your organization.

  • Autism Spectrum: gift for detail, enhanced perceptual functioning, high levels of concentration, reliability, technical ability
  • Dyslexia: often strong in spatial intelligence, many are 3-D thinkers, holistic thinkers, mechanical aptitude, and have entrepreneurial proclivities
  • ADHD: hyperfocused, creative, inventive, spontaneous, energetic

All of those skills are qualities and traits that we want within different divisions of our organizations.

An individual who falls in the neurodiversity spectrum often finds getting in the front door a challenge. How can we, as organizations, make this first step easier for this untapped workforce?

Keys To Hiring & Onboarding Success

The hiring and onboarding process for individuals on the spectrum isn’t that different from the status quo. A few simple adaptations in the following areas are needed.

  • Impact Descriptions: Include a space for applicants to highlight any support adjustments they may need at the interview.
  • Interview: While the interview is the rock star moment for the candidate, it can be challenging for those on the neurodiversity spectrum. They may have challenges making eye contact, starting or maintaining the conversation or thinking in abstract ways. You can adjust by asking closed questions, asking questions based on their real life experiences, and prompting the candidate in order to obtain all of the information that you need.
  • Successful onboarding follows a similar path to what we’ve discussed previously. One of the adaptations can be made during training. Northwestern University in Chicago found that when using virtual training, 8 out of the 15 people who received virtual training found a job or volunteer position within six months, compared with 2 of the 8 who were not trained. According to Paul Wehman, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, even people with severe autism who might not seem like good candidates for the workplace can do well if given enough initial support. Virtual training may be something that your organization wants to consider for your new team member.

After the onboarding period, the path to successful new employee engagement is:

  • Clear Communication: explicit communication about expectations (written and unwritten). Be concise, specific, supported and honored.
  • Performance Reviews: on a regular basis and keep them brief
  • Feedback: sensitive but direct and provide reassurance in stressful situations
  • Office Accommodations: These may include accommodating sensory needs, keeping office doors closed or moving their office to low traffic areas.

It’s amazing how when we explore our differences, we usually learn something about ourselves. When we can value and accept our own brain, we will more easily accept and value the unique brains of our team. Diversity is always achieved by inclusion.

Success Stories

Hewlett-Packard Australia, SAP, Microsoft all have initiatives to hire more people on the neurodiversity spectrum. One of the coolest stories I came across was that of ULTRA. ULTRA has roughly 32 employees and three-quarters of them have autism. They found that tapping into this overlooked talent pool is hugely successful. They have little turnover and they feel their testers outperform those at other companies.

EY (formally Ernst & Young) started a pilot program in 2016 with the goal of employing people with autism in order to explore the benefits of having workers of different cognitive abilities, such as greater productivity and building a more talented workforce. They recruited candidates and adjusted their training and onboarding processes. Then a really cool thing happened: the company’s managers started to reflect more deeply and stretch to make sure they were communicating in a more effective manner.