What drives the use of employee development programs? Are the funds used mostly around the time of an annual review as a result of an employee realizing they are eligible for a raise by obtaining an industry specific certification? Are the funds used primarily as a result of the criticism on a deliverable or a behavior being recognized as needing improvement? If so, it may not necessarily be the availability of the benefit itself causing the disinterest in the program. It may be that the program needs to go beyond that which develops employees. The program must be designed so that it strengthens employees.
Company demographics can be varied. Each company has employees who are both newer to their career and employees who are more established in their field. Both sides need to feel as though their work has a purpose and as though they are growing professionally in order to maintain motivation for success. Professional development traditionally comes in the form of a class offered through a local university, or a seminar on a topic that relates to their field. But it is the non-traditional approach to employee development that has employees feeling not only smarter and well-informed, but stronger and more confident in their knowledge, skills and abilities.
Look inside your organization. Consider utilizing team members with strengths in areas which could be shared with others through a mentoring relationship. Does your employee need to strengthen their presentation skills? Consider asking them to give a presentation to the team on a topic of their choice. Be sure to provide feedback as needed but keep in mind that you are looking for improvement, not perfection. Sometimes an employee simply needs the opportunity to shine. Their opportunity for improvement may be due to the fact that the employee has never recognized their own talent.
“Building a Culture of Intention”. This is a term that I’ve used for quite some time while working with executives to define their organizational culture. In fact, Helios even published a book with that very title where we interviewed visionary CEOs who lead intentional cultures. Each day we have to challenge ourselves to think about how our vision, values and behaviors are being perceived. As we give these intentions consideration, I want to share a story with you.
Last week I was fortunate to spend a week in Montego Bay, Jamaica and had the most relaxing vacation I have ever had in my life. My preference is to spend time on beaches in warm climates, so that was not what made it so exceptional. I discovered that all the locals I met had their own culture of intention. They were absolutely intentional about demonstrating caring. We were greeted with smiles upon arrival and warm, authentic hugs upon departure. People were kind and forgiving when we forgot and accidentally drove on the right side of the road instead of the left. They wanted to know about our families and shared stories about theirs. We saw so many pictures of kids and even met wives of the resort workers. Even the tourists were exceptionally friendly and warm in this place where the culture was all about ‘happiness’. To create such an experience, the Jamaicans ‘Operate with Intention’.
It was a stark contrast from my experience on Sunday at the Toyota dealer when I went to pick up my car that had been left to have some repairs. The manager behind the counter was not hiding his stress. His customers in line ahead of me were waiting much longer than they had anticipated. He was telling people that he was buried, he had too much going on, and he would get to them when he could. He even went so far as to thrust the shop door open and scream as he walked through it–checking on one of the technicians with a late vehicle. This guy made it all about HIM. When it was my turn he handed me my paperwork and a coupon for a free car wash attached–which I could use at the Exxon nearby.
I was shocked to see the car in such a state. It was covered in oak pollen, a huge mess. Going to the free car wash was not at all convenient given the construction on Route 7 in Tysons. It would have taken me 20 minutes just to get there. The bad part about it, is he didn’t even apologize. I was surprised to find that they really didn’t care about the customer experience.
Demonstrating Caring. It is one of the most important values I believe that can exist.
At Helios, we often talk about ‘building a culture of intention’. We coach our clients on being more intentional, we honor and award organizations who do (i.e. The Helios Apollo Awards), and we even wrote a book compiled of interviews we had with local leaders on how they build these ‘cultures of intention’. We were delighted to read a blog post by our friends at Inspirion today that shed light on giving feedback intentionally. Here’s CEO Misti Burmeister’s advice:
“If your intention in giving someone feedback is to judge or criticize, you’ll fail to inspire a shift in their behavior.” — Misti Burmeister
For many leaders, feedback is simply not an easy thing to give. Some worry about inflating egos, while others fear destroying self-esteem. There are many great articles and books about giving feedback (heck, I’ve even written an e-book on the topic). One of the most popular feedback techniques is the “Sandwich Technique” – in which you sandwich criticism between two compliments.
Yet, despite all the information out there about how to give feedback in a productive way, many leaders still struggle with this important responsibility.
Why do so many people despise providing feedback? And why do so many fail to achieve their desired result – a positive change in behavior?
The answer lies in our intentions. If your intention is to judge or criticize, to be right, or to show them how stupid they are, you’ll fail to inspire a shift in their behavior. This is true regardless of which technique you use.
Before giving feedback, consider your intentions. Is your intention to help them reach their goals, or is it to help them make you look good? Regardless of your technique, your employees will see straight through inauthentic efforts.
So, before you provide feedback, ask yourself: Why is this feedback valuable to this person’s professional/personal growth? If it’s not, you might want to keep your thoughts to yourself.
Keeping it simple,
Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, Hidden Heroes and Power Suck.
About the 100,000 Homes Campaign…
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 of the country’s most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families by July of 2014.
1. Why join the Campaign…
- Homelessness is an urgent problem in the Fairfax-Falls Church community.
- In 2008 Fairfax-Falls Church nonprofits, faith communities, businesses, individuals and local governments came together to adopt a 10 year plan and partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness.
- Already this community partnership has generated results, decreasing the homelessness rate by rapidly moving families and individuals into housing with services. However, those experiencing chronic homelessness have been harder to help.
- That’s why the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership on Ending Homelessness is joining the 100,000 Homes Campaign. The campaign provides concrete, innovative tools and infrastructure that will help us put a real face on homelessness.
- We can solve homelessness…with your help. We have nearly 1,700 homeless in Fairfax County…of these about 300 are chronically homeless. Through 100,000 Homes Fairfax, we anticipate housing 150 of the most vulnerable chronically homeless.
2. The Campaign Kick-off…
- 100,000 Homes Fairfax kicks off on February 23, 2013 with Registry Week, when volunteers create a name and photographic registry of everyone experiencing homelessness in our area. The personalized stories about these individuals will help us make important decisions about how to prioritize and allocate housing and support resources.
- This registry will be a first of its kind for Fairfax County, putting a real face on homelessness.
3. Get your Organization Involved…
- An immediate connection to permanent supportive housing can ensure that over 90% of homeless individuals remain housed. Your support during Registry Week could include sponsoring the training dinner or volunteering to do the registry outreach.
Once the most vulnerable are identified, partnering agencies are offering additional opportunities to help which will include mentoring or providing companionship, financial sponsorship of furniture, first-month’s rent, security deposits or helping with rental subsidy for those transitioning from homelessness to permanent homes.
To request more information or a presentation for your workplace, please click here.
Volunteer Opportunities for 100,000 Homes Fairfax
The project will take place over a seven-day period from Saturday, February 23, 2013, through Friday, March 1, 2013. During that week, we anticipate needing upwards of 150 volunteers county-wide, most of which will be needed to conduct the surveys with homeless individuals on the streets. However, there are other vital roles to support the efforts of the survey volunteers and to conduct the data entry. (Food and drink will be provided to you at the volunteer training and during every volunteer shift!)
1. SURVEY VOLUNTEERS: We need approximately 75 to 85 volunteers to work in teams of four to interview homeless individuals for the Registry. This is a four-day commitment
and, due to the manner in which the outreach is conducted, the same team of four must survey the assigned geographical area all three days. Each team will work together in a
designated predetermined geographical area the entire three days of the registry/survey gathering. To be part of a survey team, you will need to participate in a half-day training
session related to interviewing homeless people and completing the survey forms.
- Saturday, February 23 – Overview and Volunteer Training, 12 - 4 p.m.
- Monday, February 25 – Meet with Team/Survey, 4-7 a.m.
- Tuesday, February 26 – Meet with Team/Survey, 4-7 a.m.
- Wednesday, February 27 – Meet with Team/Survey, 4-7 a.m.
2. HEADQUARTERS VOLUNTEERS: We need 8-10 volunteers in each human service region (South County – Region 1/Alexandria; Region 2/Annandale, Falls Church; North
County - Region 3/Reston; Central County - Region 4/Fairfax/Centreville) during the week to staff Volunteer Headquarters. Headquarters volunteers will help set up for the initial
volunteer training on Saturday, February 23rd and/or assist at volunteer headquarters each survey morning (food/supplies setup, cleanup and help with survey volunteer questions). We also need help breaking down the headquarters location daily following the morning surveying.
- Saturday, February 23 – training event setup, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Saturday, February 23- training event break-down, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Monday, February 25 – 3:00-5:30 a.m. – food/supplies setup; volunteer assistance
- Monday, February 25 – 5:30-8:00 a.m. – cleanup, help download photos/collect surveys
- Tuesday, February 26 – 3:00-5:30 a.m. – food/supplies setup; volunteer assistance
- Tuesday, February 26 – 5:30-8:00 a.m. – cleanup, help download photos/collect surveys
- Wednesday, February 27 – 3:00-5:30 a.m. – food/supplies setup; volunteer assistance
- Wednesday, February 27 – 5:30-8:00 a.m. – cleanup, help download photos/collect surveys
Hear our final results of Fairfax County’s Registry Week on Monday, March 4th from 8:30 am - 10:00 am at the Jubilee Christian Center in Fairfax, VA.
What do Kind Wednesdays, George Mason and great leadership skills have in common? Steve Gladis! This month we interviewed the CEO of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners to learn about his top advice for CEOs, what lessons he’s learned from teaching over the past 20 years, and his research on happiness. Read the full interview below!
Helios: What makes you excited? What are you passionate about?
Steve Gladis: The main thing that I’m passionate about is good leadership. At this point in my life, I’ve been lucky to have mostly worked with good leaders at the FBI, the Marine Corp, UVA, and now in my own business. I’ve worked with not-so-good leaders and having been a leader myself, I appreciate good leadership. It’s a lot more fun to work for someone who is a really good leader than someone unskilled in leading others. Most of us spend more time with our colleagues at work than we do with family, and I wanted to protect people who work for bad leaders. I’ve dedicated my work now to coach leaders on how to become better. Leadership is a long range play , not a short term one, for all companies and that’s why you invest in education, because it’ll have an impact in the years to come.
Helios: What advice can you provide to CEOs that you wish someone told you years ago?
Steve Gladis: I wish someone had told me that questions are far more powerful than answers. When people come to you with a problem, you’re much better off asking questions to help you and them understand what the issue is, and asking them what do they think are the best opportunities to solve it. The first place you always start is by hearing what they think. By asking questions you can hear them discuss it and often come up with answer. Great leaders don’t give you the answers, they help you determine how to get to that ‘ah-ha moment’. In other words, you’re trying to teach them how to fish, not feed them the fish. Smart leaders engage you to think about the issue. They create a safe environment and provide what I call a “loving curiosity” about how best to help you by relaxing you and asking good questions. Until you relax it’s hard to solve problems—and the person closest to the problem is usually the best person to solve it.
You also never get any pushback because it was their idea. It doesn’t mean you won’t fail. What if they come up with the wrong answer? Stay open to the idea that they could at least try it. For instance, when Edison discovered the light bulb he tried hundreds of solutions that didn’t work first before he was successful. Let people experiment and learn something. You will learn what you didn’t know too.
Helios: I know that you teach at the George Mason University Office of Continuing Professional Education. How long have you been teaching, and what are some of the things that you’ve learned from the experience?
Steve Gladis: Yes, I do teach at Communications Department at GMU, but I’ve also been teaching at the FBI Academy and a number of different universities for over 20 years. First of all, I love to learn myself. That’s part of the whole idea – I just love to read, learn, and understand. I also have an urgency to teach whenever I learn something that I think might help someone else. All of us really stand on the shoulders of the people who went before us. I want to save people the time and energy it took me to figure it out. I want them to figure out new things that we don’t know. I get a chance to see generation after generation to come through and learn how to Twitter, Facebook and blog. I keep current because I don’t want to be irrelevant. Every time I learn something, there’s something new that can pass that on to other people. I tweet once or twice a day and maybe someone else will pass it along too.
Helios: What’s the most common challenge you see business leaders face? And how do you help them solve it?
Steve Gladis: One problem that people have is self-awareness. They really don’t know how they are coming across to other people. Others may well perceive you completely differently than you think you’re projecting. A lot of times it’s quite shocking for leaders to hear that. I coach them to start thinking about it—to become mores self aware (easier said than done!). I often ask, “Do you want to keep doing that or do you want to change?” Another problem is self-regulation. People sometimes have difficulty because of anxiety, depression or anger. If you’re a leader, neither of those three are good options. Sometimes you get leaders who aren’t very empathetic. Empathy is most important for leaders. The other challenge I see often is the ability to maintain multiple relationships with people of all levels and stripes within the organization. You have to have relationships with the guy who empties your trashcan, the chairman of the board…everyone. They are all different and you have to figure out how to adapt to those people. The really smart people are able to do all of these things. These are the core of emotional intelligence and I think it’s the core of leadership actually.
Helios: You often write book reviews on your blog, any other favorite recent read?
Steve Gladis: A book I really liked a like is called Your Brain at Work by David Rock. It basically talked about how your brain is always on survival and its two parts – fight or flight. Without getting all the way into, it’s a great read. You’ll be fascinated by it. [Click here to read Steve’s book review]
Helios: Will you tell us a little bit about ‘Kind Wednesday’ and your focus on happiness?
Steve Gladis: I just finished writing a book on happiness and did a ton of research on positive psychology. I came up with 3 big findings:
1) Get social in your life. The people who have a social network - good friends, strong families, great associates at work - are by far the happiest people in the world. Define this by people who truly care about you and people you truly care about.
2) Get strong at work. We found that people who get to use their strengths most of the day (80/20 % of the time), those are the happiest people. The most miserable are people who work in jobs that they hate what they do.
3) Get positive. I am talking about your physical health, go for walks, keep your body moving, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of sleep… all those kinds of things. Then the second part of being positive is spiritual, so believing in something that is beyond you. Being concerned about something that’s not all about you whether it’s a community, a god, whatever it is. You just can’t think about only you. The default is thinking about yourself. People who get physically fit and believe in something bigger than themselves, practice being grateful, kindness and optimism.
That’s why every week I celebrate ‘Kind Wednesday’. I write about it on Facebook and when I forget about it, people usually remind me, ‘where’s kind Wednesday?’ I am intentionally kind to 5 or so people that day. I also write three things that I am grateful that happened in that day every night before bed. There’s a study that showed if you write down three things that went well at the end of each day, for 15 days that even severely depressed people in the experiment were less depressed at the end of it. You inherit 50% of your happiness mindset from your parents, 10% from your life experiences, and 40% is wide open for you to determine. That’s why we say to work at being social, work at working harder, and to get positive. You can affect 40% and that’s a pretty big number.