11 Top Examples of Integrity in the Workplace To Exhibit [Infographic]

Having integrity in the workplace is an unspoken requirement for most employers and HR teams. However, being honest, compassionate, and dependable are all qualities we should strive for in general.

Maintaining workplace integrity falls on everyone’s shoulders—from C-suite executives to human resources teams and everyone in between. We all have a duty to uphold our own ethical principles and standards, both in our everyday lives and places of work.

Despite this, we can only be responsible for our own actions and behavior. So, try your best to exhibit these eleven examples of integrity in the workplace and contribute toward a positive working environment for everyone:

  1. Be there for other team members
  2. Try to improve your work ethic and productivity
  3. Help create a positive work environment
  4. Be able to be trusted and trust others with confidential information
  5. Strive for respectful, open communication
  6. Be accountable for your mistakes
  7. Always display trustworthiness and dependability
  8. Align with company values at all times
  9. Set a good example (be a role model for everyone)
  10. Be willing to work hard and bring your true self every day
  11. Share opinions but keep them respectful

11 Top Examples of Integrity in the Workplace To Exhibit

What Does Integrity Mean in the Workplace?

Having integrity generally means you uphold high moral standards in everyday life. If a cashier gives you too much change and they don’t realize, you let them know so they can correct the mistake. 

In the workplace, integrity relates to your behavior and actions in the office, store, or factory. These can range from simple things, like showing up at the time you’re supposed to, to more important traits—like keeping confidential information to yourself.

Integrity Traits

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Having workplace integrity can also mean following your company’s ethical standards; the set of principles that outline its underlying values. 95% of businesses in a recent survey said, “integrity is one of their organizational values.” So, while companies may not ask if you have the trait in interviews, you know it’s important.

Here’s how you can become a person of integrity in your workplace with a strong moral compass.

1. Be There for Other Team Members

Not being a team player is one of the fastest ways to show a lack of integrity. Sure, it’s important to be able to manage your time and get through your own workload, but being a reliable colleague should be a priority too.

If you notice someone in your workplace looks anxious or stressed, ask if they’re alright. They may not want to talk about the issue, but you’ve given them the opportunity to unload.

Work relationships and friendships can make the experience more enjoyable for some. However, the number one reason 78% of employees give for loving their workplace is feeling valued and respected. You don’t have to form strong bonds with anyone in particular but try to treat everyone respectfully.

value-and-respect

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Even on busy days, it only takes a few minutes to lend an ear to a colleague who’s having a problem you can potentially help with. Otherwise, you can direct them to someone better fitted to the task. It’s a cliché but, quite simply, treat others how you’d like to be treated (because you may need it too someday.)

2. Try To Improve Your Work Ethic and Productivity

No one is born with a strong work ethic instilled. It develops due to a combination of:

  • Parenting
  • Schooling
  • Work experience
  • Social interaction

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve our current baseline. Having integrity also means constantly trying to better yourself; for your own personal growth and the benefit of your company.

Here are a few ways to improve your work ethic and productivity:

  1. Practice being present (meaningful participation, listening, and concentration)
  2. Follow through on your promises and meet deadlines
  3. Focus on the quality of your work
  4. Volunteer for extra tasks

Your morning routine before you get to work can also have an impact. So, make sure you get enough sleep, eat breakfast, and perhaps try meditating or exercising to get you in the right mindset.

From a leadership perspective, you should provide resources to help your employees achieve their goals in their current roles, as well as support for future development. It’s all about growing in tandem as an individual and a company.

3. Help Create a Positive Work Environment

Many people believe it is leadership’s role to create and enforce your company’s culture. While this is partly true, it’s down to each individual to get involved and grow it.

ways to create a positive work environment

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Everyone at every level can contribute to company culture. Here are three easy ways to get more involved in yours:

 

  1. Be willing to offer cover to those who need it (you will too)
  2. Celebrate the achievements of others
  3. Get to know your co-workers on a personal level

We’re humans, not robots, and everyone has off days—but you should still strive to be a dependable, friendly member of the team. So, try and bring your everyday moral principles to work with you, even when you don’t feel like it. 

Creating a positive work environment is a job for everyone in the company, so work together to make it enjoyable. Suggest ideas for team-building days or ways to brighten up the office; you never know what might be implemented. Even if not, it still shows you’re a team player who isn’t afraid to share suggestions to improve daily working life for all.

(Part of HR or leadership? Learn how to become a certified Most Loved Workplace today.)

4. Be Able To Be Trusted and Trust Others With Confidential Information

Being privy to confidential company information is a big responsibility, so a high level of integrity is expected. The importance is also heightened due to the potential legal ramifications of not following through.

Certain information is protected by law in many countries, including financial data or private information that identifies an individual. Sharing this with an unauthorized third party may not only jeopardize your reputation; it could be breaking the law. The importance of integrity, in this case, is so you comply with both legal and ethical guidelines around confidential company information.

On a more personal level, we all want to be the type of person our friends and family feel they can confide in. So, if a colleague tells you something in confidence, keep it to yourself. Effective teamwork is based on trust, and there’s no faster way to lose it than gossiping. If you wouldn’t say something you’ve heard to the person’s face, don’t say it behind their back.

5. Strive for Respectful, Open Communication

Whatever your role in your company, you can be part of creating a culture of open communication. It’s one of the easiest ways to inspire improved performance, boost employee morale, and create a warmer, more enjoyable place for everyone to work.

Teams with an open work style are 60% more likely to achieve more (faster) and 80% more likely to report high emotional well-being.

Open Work Style

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Here are a few tips to encourage open communication as a leader:

  • Ask for continuous prompt feedback
  • Arrange regular one-to-one meetings with those you are managing
  • Have employees fill in anonymous surveys
  • Hold employee exit interviews

You should always aim to respect others in the workplace and avoid getting involved in negative conversations about co-workers or employees. Be prepared to give honest feedback but share it in a kind, diplomatic manner. Furthermore, allow your team to speak freely and share ideas without reacting condescendingly.

6. Be Accountable for Your Mistakes

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes, but there’s nothing worse than someone who won’t admit when they are wrong—or even worse, blames others for their shortcomings. The way you handle and rectify any mistakes you make says a lot about your character. By owning up, you maintain your ethics.

It may hurt your ego, but one of the top examples of integrity in the workplace is taking responsibility for your own mishaps. If you can blame someone else and get away with it, you will lose the respect of others quickly. Owning up to your mistakes allows you to learn from them and ensure you don’t make the same ones in future.

Everyone has certain abilities, and while we can add to and improve these, there will always be certain skills we’ll never get the hang of. In this case, we shouldn’t be ashamed of what we can’t do; it’s better to ask for help rather than suffer in silence. 

Having integrity is being able to admit you’re struggling with a task without fear of embarrassment. It’s about letting go of our sense of self and working as a team for the greater company goal.

7. Always Display Trustworthiness and Dependability

Trustworthiness and dependability in the workplace mean that you can be counted on to get things done. Without trust, there is no teamwork or efficient collaboration, and lack of both of these will prevent your company from growing.

Everyone at every level should strive to be honest, open, and respectful.

integrity in the workplace

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Sure, you may not get on with everyone, but it’s important to give all those you work with the same level of respect. So, how can you display these important traits in the workplace?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. You can be counted on to meet deadlines
  2. You communicate honestly and transparently
  3. You go above and beyond to help others
  4. You keep your promises

You don’t need to be a perfect employee or leader; no one is asking for that. However, you should always be someone people can trust and count on.

8. Align With Company Values at All Times

Company policy guides everyone’s behavior and actions to create a safe, pleasant working environment. You may think that banning phone calls for personal use may make your employees more productive. However, it could have the opposite effect. On the other hand, the right company values can help keep employees engaged and motivated.

So, how do you align your values with employee engagement?

  1. Consult all levels of employees when creating company values
  2. Encourage purpose rather than process
  3. Prioritize community in your organization
  4. Encourage collaboration wherever possible with a common purpose

You want to share your thoughts and goals with your staff at all levels. If they feel involved in the process, it’s more likely you’ll have a seamless flow. Your frontline workers set the tone for the entire company, so make sure everyone is on board with your core values and brand mission. 

In the case of others, if you know that a colleague isn’t following these values (especially by engaging in something serious like theft or bullying), you have a duty to report this unethical behavior.

9. Set a Good Example (Be a Role Model for Everyone)

It doesn’t take much to be a positive example in your workplace, but it’s sometimes just as easy to become lazy. Everyone in the company should live the culture, from the CEO to the most junior roles on the team. If you’ve been part of a company for several years, remember, you represent that business best.

You don’t need to walk around the office constantly smiling (unless you work at Disneyland), but you can still be a role model for others. Say a junior employee comes to you for career advice, be friendly, and set aside some time for them—even if you’re too busy to do it right when they ask. 

Here are some more examples of setting both good and bad examples in the workplace:

Good example

Bad example

Shows up a little early every day to start the shift on time.

Turns up late regularly without an apology.

Answers any questions in a friendly manner or politely arranges to set aside time later if busy.

Tells colleague you’re too busy without bothering to look at them.

Listens to feedback/constructive criticism and makes positive changes based on it.

Ignores any feedback, even if members of the team are clearly unhappy.

Being a Role Model at Work

These are little things we can all work on to ensure we’re someone that others can look to when they’re struggling.

10. Be Willing To Work Hard and Bring Your True Self Every Day

Hard work can be stressful, sometimes dull, and tiring. However, having integrity means you always bring your true self to the workplace every day. This doesn’t mean always performing at your optimum level (that’s pretty much impossible), but it does mean being yourself and trying daily.

Integrity means putting in the effort, even if you can get away with doing the bare minimum—because that isn’t being true to yourself and your moral principles. 

hardwork-quotes

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If you need some motivation, here are some tips that can inspire you to work harder:

  1. Remember your reasons for being there (money to fund your lifestyle, aspiring for promotion, etc.)
  2. Surround yourself with other motivated, hard-working people
  3. Prioritize your health outside of work so you can bring your best self every day
  4. Break down big goals into lots of little ones and reward yourself along the way
  5. Find a mentor to help train or guide you

Working hard doesn’t just benefit your work life; it’ll also help you accomplish your goals and grow as a person.

11. Share Opinions but Keep Them Respectful

If you’re involved in decision-making or feel strongly about an incorrect one, then being honest about it is another example of integrity. However, using unprofessional language or raising your voice are not the ways to get your feelings across—this is also important if you are on the receiving end of feedback.

HowDoIRespectfullyDisagree

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There are four key ways to respectfully disagree with people:

  1. Listen carefully and don’t put down other people’s opinion
  2. Don’t make it personal
  3. Stay calm
  4. Use facts over opinion

It can also help to pick out something you agree with in the other person’s argument. For example, you might say, “I definitely agree with you that we need to look at improving our shipping times. However, what if we looked at it from this angle instead?” This way, you’re turning your idea into something collaborative and moving away from disagreement.

Final Word

These eleven top examples of integrity in the workplace aren’t difficult to integrate into your routine. Although it may help to focus on one at a time, you may be doing several of them already without realizing.

Workplace integrity involves trying your best and being honest, trustworthy, and dependable. Yes, it means sharing your honest opinion but also doing it in a way that doesn’t escalate the conflict. Strive to be true to yourself and your ethical principles in your personal life too. This way, you’ll probably find these traits organically seep into your workplace routine. 

Now, which of these examples are you going to start working on first?

3 Things to Avoid After Surveying Your Employees

3 Things to Avoid After Surveying Your Employees

Employee surveys are a valuable tool for gaining insight into the attitudes and concerns of employees, particularly during these trying times. When conducted properly, surveys can provide vital information that can enhance workplace culture while also assisting firms in identifying the problems that affect engagement and productivity. However, conducting surveys wrong will lose you the respect and willingness to perform for you and could increase attrition. 

Why is it important? Doing all the right things after you have surveyed your employees is more important than asking the right questions in the survey. According to Most Loved Workplace research, workers who feel employers value their opinions at work are four times more likely to perform at their peak level and stay longer. 

The only way you can ensure this is by avoiding the following three things post-survey that prevent organizations from realizing the actual value of employee surveys.

Not following up

Not following up

Employees whose bosses follow up with them after a survey are much more likely to be engaged; therefore, following up on surveys is just as crucial as sending the survey in the first place.

Employees will likely give you one shot to provide honest feedback and then put it on the company to prove they are doing something with it. If you don’t do anything with it, whether conscious or not, you are ignoring your employees, and they will never be honest with you again and likely won’t even participate in future surveys.

The findings still require action even if a company conducts weekly or monthly surveys. Even if you conduct internal employee surveys regularly but take no action based on the feedback you get, your organization will likely have decreased levels of involvement post-survey. Even worse than doing nothing at all is surveying without any follow-up. 

Employees feel that their leadership is listening to them and values their opinions when the company shares improvement efforts with them as a follow-up to the survey. Additionally, follow-up is a sign of commitment to ongoing improvement and aids in influencing how your employees handle change. 

If you ask your employees for feedback, you better show them you are appreciative and open to it. Employees want employers to hear them; and will be more honest and likely to perform better.

Ignoring Critical Issues

Ignoring Critical Issues

Surveys can assess the severity, pinpoint the areas of concern, and build trust by acknowledging the issue you heard from the employees.

For example, send a second survey with a few questions explicitly geared toward communication if your results show that your company has poor communication. 

Another opportunity to go deeper into the findings is focused follow-up surveys, which discover the critical issues raised in the original survey. Additionally, invite a group of willing volunteers from your team to discuss some organizational matters highlighted in the survey and how to solve them. It will contribute to the feedback’s context, draw on various strengths and perspectives, and increase employee buy-in. 

Trying To Make Everyone Happy

Trying To Make Everyone Happy

It is impossible to make everyone happy. Browsing employee survey results will likely cause you to miss the key themes and likely cause you to quit trying. A proper thematic analysis is required to identify the feedback, rank it by occurrence, and then address those which have the most significant impact on performance and productivity.

Avoid forming a plan of action or drawing conclusions too quickly. Instead, concentrate on combining your data and finding a few significant trends in the results. 

We recommend grouping the feedback into 2-3 core themes (or stories) that address the weaknesses and the strengths using these data points. Your strengths will help you understand what can be replicated and repeated in other parts of your firm, while your pain points will highlight the areas on which you should focus your action plans. They might also highlight opportunities for employee recognition and connection to succession planning and performance management.

Another piece of advice would be not hoarding the results. If you present your findings to a peer or a stakeholder, the new set of eyes may spot trends in the feedback you missed. 

 

Your Next Step

Follow-up! And, do the things you promised. If you do not, you will lose the trust of your employees and boss and likely lose your job. Even worse, your company will fall off the radar screen and become obsolete in this increasingly competitive and challenging landscape. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

If you would like to get certified for free to become one of the Top UK Most Loved Workplaces®, start the process here now. 

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, founder of Most Loved Workplace and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide. He is the host of the Leader Show on Newsweek. 

The State Of Employment in the U.K.

The State Of Employment in the U.K.

As we complete our first annual Most Loved Workplaces certifications and top 100 list in the U.K., we wanted to get more thoughtful about what is happening across the pond. To this end, we did some research. We found a few possible macro differences in satisfaction, employment rates, workplace practices, and work cultures among our world’s best companies in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

According to official statistics released at the beginning of 2022, employment in the U.K. is at an all-time high, despite sluggish economic growth since the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 75.7 percent of the working class people engaged in paid work at the beginning of 2022, the employment rate in the U.K. hit one of its most extraordinary levels ever. As a result, U.K. employment rose to roughly 32.5 million people as of March 2022.

Part-time work and self-employment remained below pre-pandemic levels, with full-time employment as the primary driver of growth. Here, we discuss some key statistics and trends that show the state of jobs in the U.K.

The Current Employment Rate in the U.K. and the Reasons behind It

The Current Employment Rate in the U.K. and the Reasons behind It

The unemployment rate fell over the quarter, while employment and inactivity rates rose, according to the most recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for January to March 2022.

The employment rate in the U.K. grew by 0.1 percentage points over the quarter to 75.7%, but it is still lower than before the COVID-19 outbreak. People between the ages of 16 and 64 who had previously been unemployed moved into employment, which increased the employment rate.

The U.K.’s labor market improved even though economic development slowed in 2015, and Brexit brought economic instability to the country.

Even though the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 reversed these favorable tendencies, the damage appears to have only been transitory; according to U.K. government forecasts, unemployment will continue to be low, at approximately 4.6 percent until at least 2027.

The Satisfaction Levels of Employees in the UK

The Satisfaction Levels of Employees in the UK

With satisfaction levels declining, workplace happiness is a hot topic in the U.K. Just over half of U.K. employees, according to recent data, are content with their jobs, leaving many unhappy employees.

Due to an economic decline after the 2008 financial crisis, just 54% of workers reported being content with their jobs in the decade leading up to 2019. This contentment rate was slightly lower than 59% in the early 1990s.

However, other indicators of well-being at work have increased over the same period. In 2015, four out of five workers said their jobs were “useful to others,” and a rising number of workers said they were “proud” to work for their company and upheld its values.

Compared to workers who rarely engage with the management, those who enjoy solid working relationships with their employers and senior staff are far less likely to quit their positions within a year.

Trends in Workforce Practices

Trends in Workforce Practices

Given the significant changes that have occurred in the workplace over the preceding years, it is remarkable that people’s attitudes toward their jobs have remained consistent.

Graduates, women, and those born outside the U.K. make up an increasing portion of the workforce; unionization has decreased, and many workers are now working on more risky contracts.

On the plus side, employees nowadays seem to have a greater feeling of pride and purpose in their work. An indicator of this is that as of 2018, only 7% of the employees in the U.K. considered themselves underemployed, while 77% said they were working reasonable hours.

As defined by the U.K. government, Good Hours refer to a scenario where employees work 48 or fewer hours per week and do not want to take on extra responsibilities in their existing position or search for additional or other employment that would require working more hours. 

In every age group, it was likelier for men to spend unsatisfactory hours at work than women workers. The disparity becomes notably larger when looking at people between the ages of 25 and 64, typically around 11 percentage points.

When broken down by age, men between the ages of 16 and 64 continue to have a consistent percentage of people working satisfactory hours, but men 65 and over oversee an increase. The proportion of women who work adequate hours also rose with age.

Differences in Work Culture of the U.K. and the U.S. 

Differences in Work Culture of the U.K. and the U.S.

Work culture in the U.K. is very different from the rest of the world. While no two companies in the U.K. are alike, they all share some characteristics that differentiate them from those in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

While there are many parallels between how the U.S. and U.K. companies work, there are also many glaring differences in workplace culture.

As per the data from research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Americans are more committed and devoted to their employers compared to British workers. Compared to 1,780 in the U.S., the average number of hours worked each year in the U.K. is 1,681. 

Additionally, Americans usually eat their lunch at their desks, but in the U.K., employees take an hour for lunch as well as other breaks throughout the day. 

The rights granted to workers also differ significantly in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.K., full-time workers have a legal right to up to 28 weeks of sick leave. In the U.S., unless your firm explicitly offers a competitive benefits package, there is no guarantee of sick time. Also, the U.K. provides 28 days of paid vacation time, while there are no such guarantees in the U.S.

According to a YouGov study, British workers aren’t hesitant about using the paid vacation time to which they are entitled. British citizens are the most likely to use all their vacation days out of 22 major nations, including the U.S.

In the U.S., Federal law does not mandate lunch or short breaks, which the U.S. government, interestingly, alludes to as “coffee breaks,” as per the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, as we already know, Americans typically take minimal breaks away from their workstations.

On the other hand, if a worker in the U.K. works more than six hours per day, they are entitled to one undisturbed 20-minute rest period during the workday. U.K. employees also work fewer hours per week than in the U.S. An estimate recently shows that full-time workers in the U.K. put in an average of 42.7 hours a week, which is still less than the 47 hours put in by Americans.

Lastly, workers in the U.K. are more likely to socialize with their colleagues outside the workplace than their American counterparts. To provide some perspective, according to a YouGov poll conducted for the TUC, one in five people in the U.K. (22%) met their spouse or partner at work, and one-third have dated a coworker at some point. So, the number of colleagues socializing outside of work is likely high.

Final Word

Overall, the numbers indicate that the labor market in the U.K. continues to be hot despite all the challenges facing the country’s economy. The number of satisfied workers in the U.K. also appears to be higher. And the work culture in the U.K. seems to be significantly different from that of the U.S., owing mainly to the work provisions afforded by the U.K. government to employees.

If you would like to get certified for free to become one of the Top UK Most Loved Workplaces®, start the process here now. 

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, founder of Most Loved Workplace and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide. He is the host of the Leader Show on Newsweek. 

Employees Love Kaplan Because They Get Opportunities to Succeed Like Their CEO and Students

This fall Newsweek, in collaboration with my company, the Best Practice Institute (BPI), will unveil the second annual Most Loved Workplaces list. The concept is simple: we feature the top 100 companies where employees feel respected and cared for—and have numerous opportunities for advancement. 

But before the new list appears, we’ll spotlight a few of the companies on the inaugural rankings. We last featured Chris Chen, CEO of Miami-based ChenMed which ranked Number 36 in 2021.

Now we put the focus on Kaplan and its CEO Gregory Marino. Kaplan, ranked Number 96 on the 2021 chart, has provided educational services to millions of students and professionals across 28 countries since 1938.

Kaplan’s commitment to educating others includes not only its customers but also its employees. This focus on internal development has made the organization a leader in academic innovation and a Most Loved workplace.

Marino, who started his career at Kaplan as an intern almost 30 years ago, is the perfect example of an employee who flourished because of the organization’s supportive culture.

“I’ve worked in many of the different parts of the organization, and I personally know the functions and moved up through the ranks, but it is what we do, I think, and how we do it, that drives this attraction to the workplace,” he said. “We love our students, we love our partners, and there’s a true partnership, an investment in ensuring that our students and partners are successful.”

Driven by Learning

  • Driven by Learning

Every example of how Kaplan has operated and evolved has one consistent theme: learning and development. That’s why 14-year-old Stanley Kaplan started tutoring his classmates in the basement of his family’s home in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, and why the company he founded now prepares high school students for their SATs, helps professionals such as doctors and lawyers study for their licensing exams, and assists colleges with teaching courses in a virtual format.

That focus on learning and development extends to Kaplan’s employees, who are encouraged to pursue their professional goals in three major ways: Individual Development Plans, DevelopU, and Leadership Forums.

Individual Development Plans

Individual Development Plans

Kaplan asks each employee to create an Individual Development Plan to identify their developmental strengths and areas where they want to improve.

These IDPs are the foundation of the company’s performance review process. Team leaders review their direct reports’ IDP with them to establish objectives that support both the organization’s and the employees’ needs and goals. 

IDPs allow employees and their team leaders to discuss growth opportunities that can lead to promotions, and in some cases brand-new Kaplan programs.

For example, in his IDP the senior manager of the Learning and Development team focused on building relationships with internal business partners, his presentation skills, creating networking opportunities, gaining exposure, and elevating his strategic thinking. 

He was promoted to director within a two-year span as the result of IDP, according to Rosa Finelli, executive director of learning and development at Kaplan. 

“One of his big wins was being able to pave the way for the strategy for this company- wide virtual conference, which is the DevelopU virtual conference,” she said.

Another example is in 2020, Kaplan’s executive director of student finance completed an IDP that included a leadership tour in which he switched roles with a peer to understand another department unit better.

After working on his IDP, he was able to outline a plan to reorganize several teams within the student finance division.

The goal was to set up teams by function instead of by location.

Employees in Kaplan’s back office began working remotely in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual environment allowed for greater flexibility than they ever had in the past, according to Rosa Finelli, executive director of learning and development at Kaplan.

“This new functional team ensured that all students received the same level of service regardless of staff location,” she said.

The skills and experience the executive director of student finance gained through his IDP led to his promotion to vice president of that department.

DevelopU

DevelopU

Kaplan launched DevelopU last year as a way for all employees to enhance their personal and career development.  They offered 65 sessions in business essentials, health and wellness, leadership, and technology. Topics included time management, team-building, and strategic thinking. There was even a portrait drawing session to help participants unleash their creativity and create a better work-life balance.

One employee who benefitted from DevelopU was Kaplan’s military relations coordinator. She not only participated as a presenter and a producer, but also took some sessions herself. During the sessions she learned how to enhance her video editing skills and how to facilitate in a remote environment. She then created a strategy to enhance an onboarding process for students. 

DevelopU gave her the opportunity to network and collaborate with Kaplan colleagues and leaders from all over North America. One of her new connections even told her about an open onboarding manager position with the company and encouraged her to apply. She ended up getting the job.

Leadership Forums

DevelopU

Kaplan also holds annual talent assessments to select 12 to 20 mid-senior leaders from throughout the organization based on their skills and their potential to elevate into a higher position. These employees participate in a six-month Leadership Forum involving real-world projects to enhance their skills.

One of the participants in the July-December 2021 Leadership Forum was a director with strong leadership and people skills who was leading Kaplan’s multi-brand strategy for one of its business units.

She was part of a cohort team in the Leadership Forum that identified opportunities to build communities for students to keep them connected and engaged in between Kaplan program.

Of the five proposals presented during the Leadership Forum, the student community project was selected to become a reality within the company. In addition, the multi-brand strategy leader was promoted to an executive director position within a span of one year.

Love All Around from Employees to Students

  • Love All Around from Employees to Students

Kaplan’s focus on helping its employees achieve their dreams and goals echoes what it does for its students. In turn, the success of Kaplan students inspires the employees to continue their own improvement efforts and succeed in their careers at Kaplan – just like their CEO did.  

Marino said Kaplan’s impactful work resonates with employees because when they go home at night, they know they “made a difference in somebody’s life, and possibly for generations to come.”

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of the Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and author of more than 10 leadership/management books, including In Great Company (McGraw Hill, 2019). See Lou’s interview with Marino click Here.

Best Practices in Building Your Company Surveying Participation Rates

Getting a sense of your company’s employee’s satisfaction, engagement, or sentiment levels can be challenging without communicating with them clearly and addressing their concerns. What happens if your staff doesn’t support the survey process? You lose time, money, and, worse, confidence in your ability to obtain reliable employee input. Because of this, it’s critical that your staff understand the survey process, take part in it, and trust it.

Below are a few practices you should focus on to improve survey participation rates by planning, conducting, and following up on surveys. 

Build Up Trust

Build Up Trust

Trust in management and the survey process is among the most critical practices for employee survey participation. If this trust is lacking, your staff will be less likely to fill out future surveys and even less likely to take the time to provide honest and open feedback.

One of the best ways to build employee trust in your company surveys is by acting on the responses. If employees don’t believe their responses will impact how the company runs, they won’t have any motivation to respond honestly.

You must promise to implement some form of change, no matter how small, based on the results to demonstrate that taking part in company surveys is valuable. Once results are in, analyze the results and develop a plan to implement changes that must be addressed and has the most positive impact.

If staff indicates there isn’t enough follow-up, have your management schedule post-review 1-on-1 meetings with every team member and provide them coaching on how to give better feedback and guidance.

Report the Response AccuratelyReport the Response Accurately

 You may naturally feel compelled to share only the positive survey results with employees, but it will do more harm than good to your survey process. Companies frequently solicit employee feedback and encourage participation but fail to report the results accurately. 

Nothing demoralizes employees more than disclosing internal problems only to find no resolution. It would be better not to ask the question than fail to address or provide solutions to problems. For the most significant issues, address them immediately and follow up voraciously to ensure proper execution.

To build your company’s surveying participation rates, you must disclose both the “Good” and the “Bad” survey results. Suppose your employees have reported negatively about company policies, work processes, or damaging behaviors. Don’t hide or misreport them in your survey results. Instead, address these issues right away.

You need to know that employees talk to each other, and sooner or later, they will find that you misreported some of the things in your results. They will be reluctant to take future company surveys, and their honest answers will decline substantially.

Explain the “Why” for All Decisions

Explain the

After you’ve gathered all the information, do a cost/benefit analysis with senior advisors to decide what improvements and changes must happen.

Communicate to employees that their responses matter by explaining your decision-making process for the changes.

Being honest about your decisions and transparent in your cost/benefit analysis will pay off. Explain what you will and won’t do based on the results. Give proper reasoning when explaining your proposed actions, including showing them the possible secondary and tertiary consequences of making changes to specific requests. Telling people why you won’t pay for that new slide in the cafeteria will bring you closer to meeting minds and communicating that you genuinely care about them.

Communicate the survey response action plan with the rest of your company after you and your team have co-created the new improvement plan. Inform everyone of upcoming changes and how they will improve company policies, processes, or the overall work environment.

Final Word

 

Respecting your respondents in all stages of the survey process is the best way to increase participation rates. When employees are involved in all phases of the survey process, they are more likely.

Become the Next Most Loved Workplace® on the List.

The list of Newsweek’s Most Loved Workplaces honors firms that prioritize respect, compassion, and admiration for their employees in their business model, earning the love and commitment of their employees in the process. If you find that your company may fit this description, get certified for free and considered for the Newsweek Top Most Loved Workplaces list.

6 Signs That Your Company Is a Most Loved Workplace®

We published our first Most Loved Workplaces® list in Newsweek last October. The list features 100 companies—of different sizes and from various sectors—that employees love working for – but what makes these companies so lovable to employees?
 
This article will outline the six key factors that have helped the 100 companies on Newsweek’s list become a Most Loved Workplace®.

1. Career Development is a focus.

Career Development is a focus.

One of the things that make a company a Most Loved Workplace—is leadership focuses on the career development of employees; it includes identifying and providing the most appropriate resources for it. 

Box

A company that epitomizes this is Box—it is big on employee career development, which has helped it rank as high as #21 on the Most Loved Workplace list. It makes employees feel loved and valued and motivates them to go above and beyond the call of duty, ultimately benefiting Box. The Internet Service Provider organizes a three-times-a-year Learn Fest program where workers are encouraged to develop career skills. There are also awards for going above and beyond and company-wide mental health days off. Focusing on employees’ career development is just part of what makes a company a Most Loved Workplace. There are five more that are equally important. 

2. People Value And Understand The Craziest Ideas In Your Company—And Use It As A Way To Make Even Better Ideas. 2. People Value And Understand The Craziest Ideas In Your Company—And Use It As A Way To Make Even Better Ideas.

The need for creativity and innovation is not limited to fields like R&D, marketing, or graphic designing. Instead, they are critical in all professions because business challenges often necessitate coming up with novel solutions.
A company encourages creativity in the workplace to develop workable solutions or create more happy and collaborative work cultures. A Most Loved Workplace looks to accomplish both.
When your company values creativity and accepts even the craziest of ideas from people at all levels of the organizational hierarchy, employees are more likely to think differently and try new things. During meetings, viewpoints and opinions of all kinds are openly understood and respected—no matter how “stupid” they may sound. Invite ideas that are crazy and acknowledge them by stating back what you heard. These ideas sometimes create an entirely new idea because they stimulate others’ creativity.
Besides experimentation, the creative process encourages employees to ask questions and evaluate challenges from several angles. These characteristics can aid in more productive thinking and teamwork, leading to the best ideas.

Deckers

A company that is the perfect example of this is the Apparel manufacturer Deckers; the company encourages employees to share ideas—no matter how crazy they sound—but it also directly funds some of them.
Employees at all company levels can join teams that propose their ideas to top executives, including the CEO.

3. Feedback Is Continuous and Not Just Once or Four Times A Year in Performance Reviews

Article 10-3a

In the not-so-distant past, managers met with their staff once a year for performance reviews. Alternatively, employees would meet with their supervisors once a year or half-yearly. However, this did not affect employee performance.
As a leader, you’re more likely to forget what your employee did during the year, and your performance reports may skew by recency bias. Furthermore, your employees will not know what they did right and wrong. Fortunately, companies are now moving away from traditional performance assessments and starting continuous feedback to avoid this.

Fanduel

A Most Loved Workplace that believes in continuous feedback and practices it across the organization is the Online Sports Betting Giant FanDuel. Despite being a company known for hiring young professionals, FanDuel emphasizes succession planning. It is working towards this objective by offering employees continuous feedback and promoting from within.

4. The Values That On The Wall ARE Lived By Employees. And, It Shows.

4. The Values That On The Wall ARE Lived By Employees. And, It Shows.

A company that lacks core values isn’t truly a company. If you haven’t identified and created your company’s values with your staff, you cannot expect to build great teams, provide outstanding customer service, or foster innovation.
Your core values communicate what your company stands for, define your priorities, and direct your present and future activities. Your company’s values establish the framework for what the organization values most. It creates a shared goal for all employees to understand, strive for, by which to live.
Ensuring that your employees know and understand the company’s core values is a powerful mechanism for HR to put them to work. You’re more likely to have a Most Loved Workplace if your core values inspire and influence how your employees act.

Spotify

Spotify is a Most Loved Workplace that embodies this. The company expresses its mission and values regularly while soliciting feedback from employees. The company’s Passion Tour, which helps it build loyalty, focuses on communicating the organizational goals and values to employees. It allows Spotify to create a company culture where employer values align with the value of employees.

5. Leaders Value the Careers of Their Employees—and Give Resources to Help Them Achieve Their Goals Together

5. Leaders Value the Careers of Their Employees—and Give Resources to Help Them Achieve Their Goals Together

It is no secret that employee morale and productivity boosts with career growth. Paying attention to career development can help you attract and keep the best talent.
A growing number of studies uncover the key factors that make employees happy and engaged at work. It includes having opportunities for growth and development and empowerment to do your job. The best places to work for have leaders who value employees’ career growth and progress and provide them with the resources to accomplish their goals.
Despite the apparent benefits of career development initiatives for boosting employee confidence and participation, many organizations’ people development or talent management strategies focus entirely or primarily on aligning employees’ abilities to the organization’s needs or tasks. It does not work.
A “people’s policy” that integrates this approach with organized career development practices will better place your company to win the hearts and minds of your employees.
In the introduction, we already discussed one company that is big on employee career development.

Liveperson
Another Most Loved Workplace that wants employees to progress and get out of dead-end jobs is the Global Technology Company LivePerson.
At LivePerson, Employees do not get stuck in one job or career. Instead, they can switch roles and join different teams if they feel “stuck in their jobs.” Ideas flow freely at the company, and employees are not at risk of losing their job or having their ideas stolen.

6. People Work Together To Create New Products and Solve Business Problems

6. People Work Together To Create New Products and Solve Business Problems

One of the essential variables in a company’s success is whether or not its employees can work well together as a team. With rising competition, it’s become critical to promote teamwork across the organization to foster creativity in the workplace, boost productivity and build positive employee relationships. The Most Loved Workplaces are doing just that.
Compared to individuals performing tasks on their own, employees at Most Loved Workplaces who work in groups are more efficient and effective. Employees become more responsible due to collaboration, which helps boost motivation, especially when teams work remotely or virtually.
Employees on a team believe they are working for the greater good, which can motivate them to perform efficiently. They also recognize they can always rely on a colleague for assistance, and they are ready to repay the favor in the future if the need arises.

Sweetgreen

A Most Loved Workplace that genuinely believes in this is the American Fast Casual Restaurant Chain Sweetgreen. Virtual happy hours involving the organization’s founders, executives, and even outside guests, such as academics, aid in collaboration and developing a solution-driven culture.

Canon

Canon is another company that prioritizes and encourages collaboration and communication. The company’s corporate philosophy emphasizes working together for a common goal, which shows how vital communication and collaboration amongst employees are to the company. It is also a significant reason behind Canon USA’s success and why employees love working for the company.

Become the Next Most Loved Workplace® on the List.

The list of Newsweek’s Most Loved Workplaces honors firms that prioritize respect, compassion, and admiration for their employees in their business model, earning the love and commitment of their employees in the process. If you find that your company may fit this description, get certified for free and considered for the Newsweek Top Most Loved Workplaces list.

The Most Loved Workplace Leaders Show with Amy Errett CEO of Madison Reed.

About Amy Errett

Amy Errett is an American entrepreneur, venture capitalist and social-mission visionary. In 2014, Amy co-founded Madison Reed, a San Francisco-based at-home hair color company with co-founder Sabrina Riddle. A former Manhattan investment banker, Amy is considered to be on the leading edge of disrupting and successfully re-inventing existing business models.

Madison Reed is loved because...

Welcome to the club: The chief executive meets all new employees and top prospects. Early on, pandemic friendly, too: “Nobody…right now should worry about a paycheck” was the message.

View Video

Amy Erret Serves as a Model of Madison Reed's Values because…t

Leading by example. David Walker is always genuine, forward-thinking and transparent, never asking his team to do anything he wouldn’t do himself, which allows him to be empathetic and understanding of his employees and agents.

 

Align Your Company’s Future with the Power of Neurodiversity

Article 9-1a

It ain’t easy to talk about diversity. We sometimes walk on eggshells to avoid offense. But amid the talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), we must examine the power of neurodiversity. The COVID pandemic and “The Great Resignation” have presented opportunities to employ and optimize the power of neurodiversity.

Affirmative Action once ruled an organization’s population, assuming that numbers would level the social playing field. Organizations asked employees to admit their gender at birth, age, and racial/ethnic origin. Then, federal audits drove the organization to balance its workforce numerically. The mandate put historically divergent cultures in the same group topping off categories to please political constituents.

Affirmative Action’s statistical focus remains in place. However, many organizations have developed a new self-conscious awareness that diversity, equity, and inclusion can drive improved outcomes. Executive Leaders and Boards of Directors encourage DEI partly because it puts them on a moral high road. But too many of them task Human Resources with execution and walk away.

People of different backgrounds present challenges when an organization depends on values alignment and co-collaboration. But alignment and collaboration also can provide methods and experiences to navigate those same challenges. For instance, when we pursue DEI as avenues to differentiated inputs, just compensation, and collective intelligence, DEI cuts across barriers. We need to consider how the power of neurodiversity can drive organizations.

Understanding Neurodiversity

Article 9-2a

Temple Grandin is the noted Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and an outspoken advocate for autism awareness causes stemming from her personal experiences with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She has been giving roughly the same TED Talk to audiences across the country since 2010. Others with ASD disagree with Grandin on some points, but she delivers memorable lines.

We must focus on recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and managing neurodiverse minds as part of DEI efforts. For this, we need a definition:

  • Genetics and environment have altered the development of brains in those diagnosed as “neurodivergent” or “atypical.”
  • Researchers have not identified a prototypically “normal” brain. However, atypical brain formations occur in neurodiverse brains when viewed alongside control studies of same-age/same-sex brains.
  • Diagnosed mental illness may require reasonable accommodation under ADA guidelines and coincide with neurodiverse conditions. However, the focus here does not include mental illness.
  • Depending on what we read, the neurodivergent class includes Autism, Dyslexia, Epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, Down’s Syndrome, Migraine Headaches, etc. This broad categorization comes from what Jason Tougaw called “cerebral pluralism” in Psychology Today, a movement seeking political momentum.

We understand neurodiversity as a continuum, a still ill-defined spectrum of atypical cognitive traits and behaviors. The severity of many cases has caused indifferent but often cruel differentiation and bullying. With some misgivings, this consideration of the power of neurodiversity excludes those with profoundly disabling degrees of brain wiring. 

  • According to the CDC’s most recent report, 1 in 44 or 2-plus percent of U.S. people have identified as on the ASD spectrum. A new definition of the class and more aggressive testing may account for the increase.
  • The data covers reports through 2018, so it does not reflect the influences of the COVID pandemic. 
  • The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity reports that 5 to 15 percent or 14.5M to 43.5M Americans have dyslexia, making reading, writing, and spelling difficult.
  • Dyscalculia affects 3 to 6 percent of the population, making calculation, measurement, and computation difficult.

Several implications may go unnoticed in these statistics:

  • We lack precise numbers on the prevalence of neurodiverse conditions among age groups. However, based on available statistics, we find atypical neurology occurs in more Millennials than in GenX or Boomers. Millennials may self-identify more readily, but with more than 15 percent reporting some disorder, it marks a significant workforce segment.
  • Eight hundred thousand children living with ASD in the U.S. will become adults in the next ten years. They will enter a workforce where, according to MarketWatch, “a whopping 85% of college grads affected by autism are unemployed, compared to the national unemployment rate of 4.5%.” 
  • Most individuals with one atypical cognitive condition also have another. This comorbidity complicates the management of when, for instance, an employee manifests as autistic, dyslexic, or ADHD.

Nonetheless, organizations should not recruit out of fear of what the workforce holds. They must recognize the potential and talent of workers, oddly reconfigured in behavior and functioning. Leadership must embrace reasonable accommodation in organizational behavior and functioning to provide a respectful and dignified work environment for all the people who can make a difference.

The Power of Neurodiversity

Article 9-3a

Professor Grandin loves to point out that we would still be playing shadow games in caves if it were not for the atypical brains that created levers, wheels, and fire. 

Without referencing ASD “celebrities” like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs, Grandin notes that tech centers thrive on autism genetics. She encourages employers to recruit and manage the unique traits characteristic of neurodiverse brains. For example:

  •  Autistic adults approach tasks with a logic-based, laser focus. They appreciate rules and routines. They think in pictures, but the sensory overload from sound and visual distractions may rattle them.
  • Dyslexic adults think holistically. Struggling with spelling, they have learned to work outside the box. They excel in peripheral vision and enjoy participating in the Big Picture. Having wrestled with learning systems that do not understand, dyslexic adults show great empathy.
  • Dyscalculia makes computation difficult, but it relieves brains to focus inwards and creatively. They prove artistic and intuitive. 

We could go on, but we must dismiss labels like “high” or “low” functioning. Grandin calls ASD a “continuum.” Cassandra Crosman goes further, affirming, “The autism spectrum is not linear or binary [author’s bold text] or a sliding scale from low to high functioning, but is a range of needs and ability in executive functioning, verbal and nonverbal communication, motor skills, sensory sensitivity, perception, and social interaction.” And organization leadership must begin with this understanding.

Launching neurodiversity employment initiatives

Article 9-4a

Organizational leadership must examine its goals and core values to ensure their alignment. Leaders across the C-suite and functional silos must clearly understand the desired outcomes and impacts of the organization’s work. Then, they can enable and empower HR to recruit, develop, engage, and sustain a workforce capable of killer achievements.

For some time, the best organizations have recognized the direct and indirect contribution of an integrated workforce. Strong organizations have profited from the talents otherwise differentiated by race, ethnicity, gender identification, age, and other protected statuses. However, they have only recently accepted the challenge of aggressively funding, recruiting, employing, and managing neurodiverse people.

SAP, Microsoft, Ernst & Young, JPMorgan Chase, Ford, Hewlett Packard, and Freddie Mac, among others, have launched initiatives to attract neurodiverse talents. Not surprisingly, they have secured support and advice to get it right. 

  •  Microsoft’s Neurodiversity Hiring Program urges neurodiverse candidates to submit resumes to a focused email address. They have a chance to demonstrate their value in non-conventional interview settings during an invitation-only four-day assessment.
  • Outside recruiters specializing in the preparation and placement of candidates include Potentia, Zavikon, and NeuroTalent Works. They use similar frameworks to find, place, and mentor workers.
  • Ameritrade, Key Bank, and Dell Technologies join dozens of other firms on the Neurodiversity Network. 
  • Goldman Sachs holds that “we believe who you are – including everything that makes you unique – contributes to how you add value to what you do.” Supporting that claim, the company offers a robust, paid, eight-week internship program in conjunction with Specialisterne, “harnessing the talents of people on the autism spectrum and other neurodivergent people.”

Amherst, Stanford, Yale, Cal State Chico, and Brown have launched neurodiverse initiatives. The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University offers majors with customized curricula. It has also dedicated a dormitory for neurodiverse residents and launched a minor “in managing neurodiversity at work to equip students to be future employers and future management professionals with the skills necessary to navigate the unique needs of a neurodiverse workforce.”

Managing Neurodiversity

Article 9-5a

Managing neurodiverse employees on teams, in unique environments, or among the rank-and-file comes with challenges and costs. If, for example, the organization wants to meet a diversity quota, it will not succeed if it does not also build constructive and empathic environments.

For instance, ASD workers may perform rote tasks on a factory floor with few errors. But managers and line supervisors must train the employees they interact with to respect their personhood and individuality. Usually, co-workers will become mentors and protectors.

Other contexts may present more complexity:

  • Attitude: Owners and senior stakeholders must give more than lip service to neurodiverse employment initiatives. Their language, communications, and actions must model the commitment. And they must require the same of managers everywhere.
  • Versatility: Organizations vary in size, purpose, and industry sector. They have no one-size-fits-all model, framework, or strategy. They may have trouble designing programs because neurodiversity has no finite definition or symptomatology. Because employees must self-identify as neurodiverse, many choose not to, preferring anonymity.
  • Support: Organizations should create Employee Resource Groups to support the needs of the neurodivergent community. Individuals may seek emotional, practical, and physical accommodation with the ERG’s help.
  • Scale: Planners should scale related initiatives. It helps everyone when the strategy for implementation and evaluation has a timeline and metrics. Only then can organizations push programs broadly and deeply.
  • Mentor: Organizations must promote practical and emotional mentoring. They offer psychologically safe ecosystems for neurodiverse workers. They may benefit from a conscientious manager or may need a “buddy.” Mentors must pair their interests and targets with their mentees, but they must also report successes and failures.
  • Outreach: Employers cannot sit back and wait for neurodiverse minds to apply. They must partner with specialized agencies, connect with college placement offices, and solicit employee referrals.
  • Train: Managers, supervisors, and co-workers need a break. Employers must provide training on the theory behind neurodiverse conditions. But they must also train in the practical handling of random and disruptive behaviors.
  • Assessment: Neurodiverse workers must have a chance to succeed. They respond better to clearly defined and modeled metrics. They see through a lack of transparency, so objective measures work best.

In general, neurodiverse people take great satisfaction in accomplishing tasks that make a real difference and accepting recognition for a well-done job. And that really is not all that different!

If you would like to get certified for free, start the process here now. 

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, founder of Most Loved Workplace and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide. He is the host of the Leader Show on Newsweek. 

Leader Resilience Strategies and Interventions During Times of Crisis

Whether it is the Pandemic, War, or throughout any crisis in the history of the industrial world, there have been profound changes in how organizations conduct business. One of the significant changes is in leaders’ inability to be physically present in the workplace, with many employers switching to virtual workspaces where employees perform their job duties at home. This switch has enabled many organizations to survive the Pandemic by providing services that allow for financial viability.

There are considerable benefits of remote working during times of crisis. However, despite this survival, this presents challenges for employees who work from home because of decreased emotional connectedness through face-to-face interactions. Further, the paper argues that remote working can lead to a loss of emotional connection to others, with remote employees experiencing grief, using the Kübler-Ross (1970) Model of grief. Failure to connect emotionally can be easily remedied through specific interventions to create a working environment that includes positive group dynamics, co-creation, psychological safety, and a positive vision for what one must accomplish. In addition, by leveraging the theory of the Zeigarnik effect, we can help remote workers better understand the benefits of completing more tasks and goals as a method of stress reduction. And at the same time, it is essential for every organization to co-create its strategies and practices around the best working environments that produce the most positive working relationships and business outcomes. 

A great deal of research supports both a blended, remote, and on-site working culture. This paper contends that companies must deeply analyze employee desires to remain in remote working environments vs. on-site, and thus create either a blended or fully remote. For both working conditions, it is reasonable to assume that creating a positive emotional connection as defined in this paper is the best methodology to assist employees with the acceptance of the new working environment. The emotional connection intervention requires that employees and leaders engage in specific exercises to co-create their own desired future for their ideal working environment.

Emotional Connection and Working Differently

Research on remote working has shown that many leaders desire to work from home because it increases their flexibility in balancing work-family obligations (Grant, Wallace, & Spurgeon, 2013). However, a study by Lautsch and colleagues found that remote leaders still need social connections with their supervisors and colleagues (Lautsch, Kossek & Eaton, 2009). Remote leaders need frequent contact with supervisors to stay engaged and motivated (Lautsch et al., 2009). Mann and Holdsworth (2003) demonstrated the psychological impact of remote working in a qualitative study among 12 journalists. The journalists experienced a stress reduction yet reported feeling lonely and more irritable due to social isolation and the inability to discuss work issues with colleagues (Mann & Holdsworth, 2003). In the qualitative study by Grant and colleagues among remote leaders from different industries, they found that social interaction was a significant predictor of psychological well-being (Grant et la., 2003). The remote leaders strove to maintain communication with colleagues outside of work. Many of the leaders stated they would prefer to be in the office, as shown in a comment, “I’m probably a person who would enjoy coming more into the office rather than staying at home.” The participants also stated that it was challenging to have rich social interactions because many of the nonverbal cues became lost due to communication through social media (Grant et al., 2013). In their research on remote leaders, Dery and Hafermalz (2016) found that many remote leaders struggle with staying connected with colleagues to build a sense of belonging. Many of these leaders rose above this sense of isolation by using technology to maintain social connections with those within the organization (Dery & Hafermalz, 2016).

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Remote Working, Connectedness, and Grief

The Kübler-Ross Model of Grief helps us understand people’s emotional reactions when dealing with any change, whether the loss of a loved one or sudden changes in social and occupational life, such as the impact of the Pandemic. Kübler-Ross argued that people experience several stages of grief that are not necessarily linear and include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kübler-Ross, 1970). Organizational scientists have utilized the Kübler-Ross Model in understanding organizational change. Deone Zell (2003) conducted a study within an academic setting among college professors. Professionals typically run universities in a bureaucratic environment, making them difficult to change. Zell (2003) interviewed professors in a physics department of a large public university and found that the changes and emotions felt within the department resembled many of the stages in the Kübler-Ross Model. The physics department was in decline with less federal funding and decreased student enrollment. This backdrop was the basis for the interviews. Professors experienced emotional reactions such as denial, with most physics professors refusing to acknowledge the decline in student applications to the physics program (Zell, 2003) shown in this comment “physics is still the most powerful education.” (p.79, Zell, 2003). There was anger against the decline in funding, with professors stating they were trying to push novel research but could not do so because of the lack of money. Once the realization set in, many professors resorted to bargaining through writing more proposals to get more funds. Still, once these efforts did not pay off, many professors became depressed, with one senior professor commenting, “Let’s face it. The era of big science is over.” Once the department accepted the changes, there was a shift to focus on new branches of physics, “with other physics branches fading out, we had to find something that was growing.” (p.84, Zell, 2003), and so the department shifted to biophysics.

The other challenge with dealing with a crisis such as COVID19 is that many employees experience job insecurity, particularly as businesses have furloughed or dismissed staff because of the economic downtown. Research on job insecurity, whereby people fear losing their job, is also related to several stages in the grieving process. In the beginning of a change that threatens job security, employees might feel threatened and deny it is happening, increasing anger (Noer, 2009). Additional research also suggests that when individuals experience organizational changes, this leads to emotional changes similar to grieving (Castillo, Fernandez & Sallan, 2018). In the study by Castillo and colleagues, they found that denial and anger appear together, with individuals also bargaining and experiencing depression. Individuals move between these stages, so the stages are not linear (Castillo et al., 2018).

Moreover, they added two new stages to how dealing with change is similar to grief, consisting of revising and deserting, and these two stages always last. When individuals experienced denial and anger, their relationships with colleagues and family members improved. However, during the depression stage, the relationships with family members deteriorated, but the ties with colleagues became more important to them, so these relationships improved (Castillo et al., 2018). 

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Specific Interventions

The research illustrates how it is essential to implement interventions that foster connectedness so that remote workers can sustain interactions with their colleagues. Organizations can implement interventions to create a culture of belonging, such as virtual group meetings that foster connection. These virtual team projects focus on innovation and developing new products, practices, and processes, and enacting leadership strategies that focus on having a positive vision for the present and future. 

The Zeigarnik effect suggests one way to help remote workers feel connected and be productive. The Zeigarnik effect demonstrates that individuals and organizations tend to recall incomplete tasks and wish to finish them to get closure (Burke, 2011). Consequently, organizations can empower remote workers better by setting goals that aim to complete unfinished tasks. In his article on the history of organizational development and change, Burke (2011) argues that a revolution needs to address four specific areas: loosely coupled systems, culture change, resistance, and leadership development. By specifying the four areas for improvement, Burke utilizes the Zeigarnik effect to persuade OD practitioners and researchers that there is a need to finish ‘unfinished’ business. We argue that the same requirements are present in remote working, especially during a crisis such as the Pandemic: positive group dynamics, co-creation, psychological safety, and having a positive vision for achievement.

Figure 1.1 Carter Resilience Strategy

Figure 1.1 Carter Resilience Strategy

Figure 1 shows the Leader Resilience Intervention model and the relationships between co-creation, positive group dynamics, psychological safety, and a positive view of the future. 

In terms of positive group dynamics, organizations can provide developmental sessions for remote workers to equip them with team member skills such as effective communication. Effective communication will ensure that virtual meetings create social interactions and discourse that empowers virtual teams. Organizations can set objectives that focus on innovation and creativity and build coalitions that engage in co-creation. To boost social connectedness, organizations can ensure and build policies and practices that foster psychological safety. Our research on emotional sentiment suggests that leader sensitivity impacts employee work behavior (Carter & Towler, 2020). Organizations must ensure that leaders are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to foster strong relationships in the workplace, especially when workers are remote and lack connectivity. Leaders can also play an essential role in sharing a positive vision with remote workers. Transformational leaders create a vision for their followers and guide changes through inspiration and motivation (Avolio & Bass, 1994). Organizations can equip managers with transformational leadership behaviors to be prepared to deal with remote working due to a crisis such as COVID19. The recent leadership models focus on embracing complexity through ensuring that leadership is “multi-level, processual, contextual, and interactive.” (Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2009, p631). Complexity theory focuses on social interactions within a network. For organizations to remain robust, it is important they leverage social connectedness by increasing social ties between workers at all levels, both remote and traditional. 

Conclusion

This review shows that a crisis such as COVID19 leads to employees feeling a lack of connection with their organization and can be likened to experience a loss such as during a bereavement. It is important to consider employees’ emotional reactions to change and sudden events such as the Pandemic in designing and implementing interventions to enable organizations to weather the storm. The involvement of leaders and employees in the process and creation of practices for remote working and the movement back to work is critical.

 

References

Avolio, B., & Bass, B. (Eds.). (1994). Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Transformational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. 

Burke, W. W. (2011) . “A Perspective on the Field of Organization Development and Change: The Zeigarnik Effect.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 47.2 (2011): 143-67

Carter, Louis, Towler, A. J. (2020). The importance of organizational emotional sentiment: Development of a measure. Under review. 

Dery K., & Hafermalz E. (2016) Seeing Is Belonging: Remote Working, Identity and Staying Connected. In: Lee J. (eds) The Impact of ICT on Work. Springer: Singapore.

Grant, C., Wallace, L., & Spurgeon, P. (2013). An exploration of the psychological factors affecting remote eworker’s job effectiveness, well being and work life balance. Employee Relations, 35, 5, 527-546

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. (1970, c1969) On death and dying. New York: Collier Books/Macmillan

Lautsch, B.A., Kossek, E.E. & Eaton, S.C. (2009). Supervisory approaches and paradoxes in managing telecommunication implementation. Human Relations, 62, 6, 79, 827.

Mann, S. & Holdsworth, L. (2003). The psychological impact of teleworking: stress, emotions and health, New Technology, Work and Employment, 18, 3, 196-211.

Noer, D. M. (2009). Healing the wounds: Overcoming the trauma of layoffs and revitalizing downsized organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey‐Bass.

Uhl-Bien, M., & Marion, R. (2009). Complexity leadership in bureaucratic forms of organizing: A meso model. The Leadership Quarterly, 20, 631–650.

Zell, D. (2003). Organizational Change as a Process of Death, Dying, and Rebirth. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 39, 1, 73-96.

If you would like to get certified for free, start the process here now. 

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide

Have Genuine, Not Controlling Conversations

Every leader can establish an abundance mindset that allows for innovative thinking, advancement, and constant self-improvement through genuine conversations. Unfortunately, today, most leaders—or managers—are not built that way. In this blog, you will learn how to use the power of conversation to listen to, support, understand, challenge, and inspire your followers.

Since the beginning of time, it has been deeply ingrained into our minds that we need to control others to get our way—or an entire group of people—through controlling questions.  

Instead of using leading and controlling questions, have a conversation where you ask genuinely curious questions to team members. Controlling Conversations prevent you from listening to what others have to say. A Controlling Conversation can be detrimental to both the development of your team and the growth of your company.

When company leaders cannot hear their team members’ voices, serious strategic failures are likely to occur.  Be genuinely curious in your questions rather than leading and manipulating people with your questions to get the very best outcome. 

Do you remember the last time a controlling team member said, “Yeah, that’s not going to work here” after hearing a new idea in a team? That person tends to ask a controlling follow-up question, “What ways can we do it my way?”  Ring a bell? It is one of the most destructive things a team member or leader can do. 

The functional way to do this is: 

1. Let me understand your idea better. It sounds like it has some merit to me. I just need a little more context because that is how I think. 

2. How does it really work? What should we do? (These are clarifying or challenge questions). 

3. So, is this what you mean? Let me explain what I’ve heard (These are mirroring questions). 

4. The group can better come to a conclusion on what is right. 

Why Having Genuine Conversations with Employees Is No Longer an Option but a Necessity

why moving

In recent times, the command-and-control management approach has become increasingly unviable. Globalization, technological advances, and shifts in how businesses create value and engage with customers have all reduced the effectiveness of a top-down, authoritative leadership style.

What will fill the void left by that model? The way leaders manage conversation within their organizations—how they control the dissemination of information to, from, and among their employees—is part of the solution. 

Conventional workplace interaction must give way to a livelier, refined process. Most importantly, it must be a process focused on enabling genuine conversations with your team and the organization as a whole. That is what is lacking amongst many organizational leaders today.

A significant reason for this is that their conversations have an element of control, even if your intentions are good. According to my friend and renowned Executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith, “Yes, but,” or “however,” at the start of response is like saying, “you’re wrong, and I’m right.”

No matter how many nice appeasing phrases you throw in to affirm the other person’s feelings, when you begin a conversation with ‘no,’ ‘but,’ ‘however,’ or any variation of the same, you are telling the other person that they are wrong. It is how all-controlling conversations with employees or subordinates begin.

It is not only a matter of self-improvement in communication skills; every leader should manage a genuine conversation. Leadership is ineffective unless it generates positive energy capable of producing new leaders.

True leaders can harness the transformative potential of face-to-face and virtual conversations in their daily work to deepen relationships and influence, inspire, and learn from others. 

The goal of a leader using genuine conversations to communicate with employees is to involve the entire group in an autonomous liberating process rather than to establish themselves as the pinnacle of a hierarchical pyramid. 

It is a process where everyone accepts complete responsibility for the team/organizational success, as exemplified by the MathWorks case study in my book, Best Practices in Leadership Development. MathWorks, a leading software developer and provider of technical computing technology, sent out an informal survey to all employees, asking them to name the company’s biggest internal headache. The Operations department came out on top by a long shot. 

Elizabeth Haight, Vice President of Operations, and her team assessed the situation. The procedure was disjointed. Each staff member functioned as a self-contained unit, responsible only for their territory. Nobody asked for assistance or felt obligated to cooperate. 

Haight and her bosses agreed that the situation had deteriorated where small changes were no longer effective. They wanted to try something different and were encouraged by the executive group’s support. 

They considered the 4-player team roles: Mover, Supporter, Challenger, and Mover to assess the current structure and where it lacked. The MathWorks had started to show increasing signs of a hierarchy-based, compartmentalized, or closed culture, typical of a dynamic company.

Companies either become more bureaucratic at this point, or they develop facets of open culture to bridge the gap between random and closed. However, “Change is good,” the company’s motto, showed that MathWorks had an entrepreneurship culture.

Luckily, the values of innovation and risk-taking prevailed. Operations management decided to create a cross-functional team structure with the backing of the executive group, an excellent example of the open system. 

The new random-open system was a hit with the department. It was a joy for people to bring their “issues” to the managers’ attention. The triage unit worked tirelessly to remove all barriers and justifications for change and reinforce the new way of working that encourages and facilitates genuine conversations between managers and their teams. The results of this change were evident within 30 days.

How to Have Genuine Conversations with Your Team

genuine conversations

Genuine Conversations focuses on self-awareness, openness, ethics, and a healthy relationship. With that as a foundation, the leader’s envisaged conversations can focus on the following areas of empowerment: 

Inspire
Discover
Lead
Support

These are the critical areas where a conversation can genuinely make a difference because they reflect the needs that we all expect our leaders to meet. With this in mind, you need to approach conversations with employees/subordinates in the following way to ensure these conversations are genuine-enough to inspire, lead, discover, or support your followers.

Question/Challenge With Genuine Curiosity (And Not For Power or Control)

Question/Challenge With Genuine Curiosity (And Not For Power or Control)

Active/Action questions/questioning was very popular in the 90s and 2000s and lost their way because they became abusive. Abused by people who thought they could control people and dialogue with questions. Have you ever known a colleague to ask a question that directly leads you to the very thing they are trying to tell you to do? “What would happen if you did it this way?” “Yes. Go ahead, do that. If you did <xzy> that would be great.”. How about when a colleague passively-aggressively tells you that something will never work because they don’t have the time to do something innovative. You found the controller. 

The CORRECT way to question is through genuine curiosity. Genuine curiosity is when you genuinely want to understand more. You genuinely want to learn more about something. It does not have anything to do with leading you toward your question. “Tell me more about what you mean when you say…”  What does that mean for <xyz>?” “Where there be a potential impact?” ‘If so, let me understand more about it.” Or, “The way I may see it rolling out the way you are proposing is <xyz>. Is it possible that <xy>z may happen?”

Mirror Back People Genuinely

Mirror Back People Genuinely

Explain what you heard the other person or group or an individual is saying on your team. Take the time to truly understand the other person’s point of view and wisdom. If they have experience and knowledge, give yourself and the other person the respect to understand before being understood.

You will likely look like a total jerk if you do not do this. The opposite/disabled form of mirroring is showing you understand just for the sake of giving lip service to that person. You are doing it for effect rather than genuine care for the idea.  “We are both concerned with…” I see that your point is…” are example mirror statements. 

Support

Support

You don’t have to be in control of the idea all the time. Show the areas you support the vision and offer more guidance and ideas to make it tremendous and potentially move to a result. 

There are often better ideas out there that deserve merit. If everyone controlled and “led” all the time, we would never conclude with honor and dignity. You would be an oligarch or dictator. This kind of leadership does find its way into companies. Don’t be that person.  Use acknowledgement to show you are receptive to an idea in a genuine manner.  “I see your thinking.” “I understand your point” are all potential supporter statements. 

Mover

Mover

Moving has a role in every meeting and conversation. You are dictating the move without first 1, asking with genuine curiosity, 2, expressing some possible challenges you may perceive for others’ consideration, 3. Supporting, and 4, mirroring for understanding. Just because you are the project manager does not mean you have to control the entire group. It’s quite the opposite – you must facilitate understanding – not control the group for your political gain.  “It would be so wonderful if…” “I think it would be great if we…” and “Let’s start right away. What dates are good for you?” are wll mover statements

Final Word

A leader who focuses on having Genuine Conversations empowers their teams and sets off a chain reaction: they take the first step when leading, motivating, discovering, or facilitating others, and the impacts of their actions don’t end there. The counterpart who is a part of an effective genuine conversation learns from it, embraces the values passed down, and spreads them to the rest of the team. In the absence of any of these roles, you are officially in a dysfunctional team or relationship. If you continue this conflict, bring in a trained mediator or facilitator.

If you would like to get certified for free, start the process here now. 

Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide