Saturday, May 26, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I went to see Marissa Mayer at 92Y last night the other night.
It was a good event. I left feeling somewhat inspired, and a bit curious if the picture perfect childhood and range of ideal opportunities truly did unfold in front of her as she indicates. I'm sure she is brilliant and I'm sure she works hard ... so ... ok ...sure.
She has lots of good tales, quotes and take aways - "It's not what you think, but how you think." But what stuck with me most, as did it with others, was her nod to dealing with burnout.
Marissa claims people don't get burnt out from working too much. Rather, they get resentful. They resent not exercising, or missing a family dinner, or insert your *thing* here.
Thinking it over and talking with friends, this resonates loudly. If you are missing aspects of what is important to you in your life, you lose sight of why you do what you do. When work prevents employees from doing those important things, they resent, they detach, they want to
To counter this, know your people and listen keenly to what they need out of life - and address it. Marissa found that 1:00 am phone calls to China were absolutely fine with a working Mom on her team - what the Mom needed however was to arrive at her kid's recitals on time. Maybe one of your star performers is in a sports league and is bummed that he misses the early games.
Find the *thing* in the lives of your employees that might cause resentment, that make employees question their priorities - and help them to address it. It will lead to more fulfilled and focused work ... and less burnout.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I recently say a TED Talk by Shawn Achor, a Harvard grad and lecturer. He talks about Positive Psychology - and uses a bit of science to illustrate how being happy can create a better workplace and more success. Oh, and happiness.
Our surroundings create our reality. Achor claims external conditions we bring with us to a situation (like our family conditions or bank account status, etc...) only determine 10% of what we perceive as happiness. The majority 90% of our 'happiness' comes from how we process things - and this is not predetermined. We can control this.
We can see this translated into the workplace. Shawn's research shows that only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ. 75% of job successes are determined by optimism levels, social support, and ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.
When we are positive, dopamine flows into our brain causing a feeling of happiness, but also turning on learning centers - helping us to perform better. We are more intelligent, creative, and energetic.
Achor pointed to studies that asked people to report their condition, either 'positive', 'negative', 'neutral' or 'stressed'. He noted that when we are 'positive' our brain is 31% more productive than when we are negative, neutral or stressed. When in a positive state, sales achievement is increased by 37% and the accuracy of doctor's diagnosis increased by 19%. Every business outcome measured increases with people reporting a positive state. Productivity is superior, people are more resilient, there is less burnout and less turnover.
What can we do to get there? How can we be more positive in the present? Achor posits it takes only 2 minutes a day, for 21 days, in order for our brain to recognize and focus on the positive benefits from this behavior, and retain and use it going forward. Here are some suggestions to get started;
- Journal. Write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day. Write 1 positive experience in the last day.
- Exercise. When the body matters, the mind matters.
- Meditate. It can help us focus and be aware of single tasks.
- Do Acts of Kindess. Write one positive email praising someone in your professional/personal network.
It all sounds a bit simple (and perhaps corny?). Say something nice and get 30% better sales? Well, it seems worth a try. Just for the dopamine rush it's worth it. Worse case scenario you are nice and someone is a bit happier. It's also about being happy yourself. We tend to be very good at delaying gratification and moving our marker for success a bit further away. Enjoy the moment. Be positive.