Five Minutes That Will Change Your Workplace Forever

2017 is up and running at organizations small and large, and the pace is already staggering. How about in your organization? Can you feel it?

Does this describe your organization?

There is a lot of buzz and an accelerating pace in the air. Kick-offs, planning meetings, lunch chit-chat, goal-setting, water-cooler chat … I can imagine the energy and sense of urgency within your organization as you press ahead on your plans for the year … the pace is fast and already getting faster … heck, my head is spinning just writing this post!

<deep breath>

With all of this speed and acceleration, I took a moment early this morning and carved out a few minutes to simply think and reflect, Given how fast organizations rally around their year (meeting after meeting after meeting ….), it can be hard to find these peaceful moments, but I did … and you should too.

How can you use “Five Minutes” each day to improve yourself and your organization?

During this valuable “think-time”, I focused specifically on the state of global workplaces and the little things I feel each and every one of us can do to make organizations better. As I searched for some serious inspiration, it led me to this 13-minute TED Talk entitled: Are you a giver or a taker?

I played the audio-version of this talk during one of my morning commutes into “work”. Just me, my car, and some enlightening inspiration. Wow – I was definitely inspired. For me, it was profound. It REALLY made me think about the reality of our largest global enterprises – on a lot of levels. I listened to it a couple of times, and I was still listening when I parked my car. In fact, I sat in silence for Five Minutes and thought about writing this post, so I could share it with others.

In the TED Talk, organizational psychologist Adam Grant shared a workplace practice called the “Five Minute Favor”, and I’m already convinced that this one small thing could make a HUGE impact in many companies…right now…and at all levels.

This incredibly-simple technique is to leverage Five Minutes of your workday to find *small* ways to add *enormous* value to other people in your organization — every single day.

For example …. (lightly-adapted guidance shared from the TED Talk):

It could be as simple as making an introduction between two employees who could benefit from knowing each other.

It could be sharing your knowledge or giving a bit of “tough” and compassionate feedback to a fellow teammate, so you can help that person learn and grow in the moment.

It might be something as basic as saying, ‘You know, I’m going to try and figure out if I can recognize a fellow employee whose hard work has gone unnoticed.’

Perhaps it could be something like … <insert your “Five Minute Favor” here>

I believe that most workplace professionals give “Five Minute Favors” all the time. I’ve experienced these favors countless times during my career, and I try to return the favor every chance I get. I need to get better at it…

However, you might be shrugging your shoulders at the “Five Minute Favor”. If so, then perhaps one of these discouraging patterns describes you or your organization:

  • The “Organizational Politics” epidemic.
  • The “I want to feel more important and have more power in the hierarchy.” organizational design challenge.
  • The “I care about making more money than I do about helping my fellow employees.” greed syndrome.
  • The “I will use this technique to manipulate others into getting what I want.” self-serving belief system.
  • The “I can’t implement this practice because it will threaten my job” paranoid attitude.
  • And more…

Watch out for those patterns, because they can block the value of a “Five Minute Favor” on a moment’s notice.

In Closing

I’d love to hear what you think of the “Five Minute Favor”. Does this happen in your organization now? Should you be doing this more? Are you an executive leader who needs to promote this behavior in your company? What other wisdom from the TED Talk do you feel would help foster an awesome workplace in your organization?

Here’s to an awesome 2017 and making the most of our “Five Minute Favors”!

 

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If my writings resonate with you, please consider spreading this message so we can energize and inspire the entire professional world together. I invite you to ‘Follow’ my professional journey through LinkedIn. I am also on Twitter.

Three Reasons Driving The Performance Management Revolution

Last year on my lightly-viewed LinkedIn blog, I wrote a short post proclaiming 2015 as the year of performance management reform – this was after several years coaching in organizations that had an urgent need to evolve into an Agile environment, but continued to drive traditional (and conflicted) performance management & reward/punish appraisal programs through their respective HR departments.

Fast-forward over a year later. We are witnessing the growing momentum for a revolutionary overhaul – especially in knowledge-work organizations. The most recent treatment of this subject is in the October 2016 Harvard Business Review piece entitled The Performance Management Revolution. Consider setting aside some focused time to dig deep into this article, as I found it quite valuable — especially as it directly references the Agile Manifesto within the context of coaching & feedback, the need for frequent learning & growth, and other aspects that optimize for business outcomes in a complex world.

Why Drop Traditional Performance Appraisals?

Three explicit business reasons are shared in the article:

  • The return of people development – With talent now in short supply, optimizing hiring practices and attracting “growth mindset” oriented professionals is key. These are people who have a strong desire for continuous learning, candid feedback and mentorship. Companies must offer strong development opportunities to attract this type of talent.
  • The need for Agility – In today’s world, annual (or bi-annual) performance appraisal “reviews” are not frequent enough to adapt and optimize an organization based on changing business conditions.
  • The centrality of teamwork – Shifting away from appraisals and emphasizing accountability helps foster a team-based behaviors. The article shares experiences from Sears and Gap — two companies that are surprising innovators in performance management.

The case seems strong enough, but there are implications to an overhaul – including goal alignment, rewards, how to identify ‘poor performers’, and the potential for subjective and biased performance assessments. The article discusses these issues, the research, and how some companies are dealing with it.

In Closing

What is the performance management system like in your company? Do you need an overhaul to optimize for people growth, agility and teamwork? What experiences can you share?

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If my writings resonate with you, please consider spreading this message so we can energize and inspire the entire professional world together. I invite you to ‘Follow’ my professional journey through LinkedIn. I am also on Twitter.

The Most Powerful Word in the Workplace

As we approach the mid-year point in our jobs, I often find that knowledge workplaces have a tendency to slow down a bit and lose some steam. Early-year milestones have been met (sometimes at an unsustainable pace), Teams are in ‘recovery mode’, and forecasts for the rest of the year are taking shape for a second-half push.

However, this is an ideal time of year to avoid momentum loss by aggressively reflecting and implementing improvements in ourselves, our Teams and our organizations. How can we influence this behavior in others? In last year’s LinkedIn Pulse post entitled The Most Dangerous Word in the Workplace, I shared my own insights on the word “why” and its potential for driving negative toxicity in an organization’s culture.

However, this very same word can foster positive dialogue that leads to significant organizational improvements.

Asking “Why” About … Everything

I recently witnessed this mindset on display in my own company – it was inspiring to watch. It involved a number of software Product Development Teams who had just completed the launch of a highly successful new Product. Fresh off a big win, it would be easy to relax and let this success carry the organization forward on cruise control.

Instead, these teams were aggressively seeking new learnings and challenging the status quo – with thoughtful retrospection and purpose – simply by asking “Why?” about everything. Some questions that emerged for the Teams and Leaders included:

“Why” do we exist?

“Why” are we working on these particular Features? What makes it essential for our Customers?

“Why” do we use Scrum to optimize business outcomes? How can we make it better and more focused?

 “Why” do we have to follow this operational procedure in this way? How can we change it to improve our organization’s Agility?

This powerful collaboration resulted in a reinvigorated improvement backlog for the teams and the larger organization. And despite their recent success, there was zero complacency – teams immediately started implementing improvements that will lead them to even greater success for the rest of the year and beyond. This is relentless improvement in action!

As you enter your workplace this week, consider challenging the status quo – politely and respectfully – using “why”. Discover “why” your work matters to the larger organization. Seek out a wasteful process and ask “why” do we do it this way.

“Why” wait? What improvements will this drive into your organization? Consider sharing your experience and views in the comments section below.

 

__________________

If my writings resonate with you, please consider spreading this message so we can energize and inspire the entire professional world together. I invite you to ‘Follow’ my professional journey through LinkedIn. I am also on Twitter.