Home Leadership Turn Archives Me RampUp Solutions Option Sanity
 


  • Categories

  • Archives
 

Ryan’s Journal: Culture Is A Reward

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gotcredit/32943610593/

I attended an AA-ISP* event tonight and heard something that struck me, “culture is a reward.” What a profound statement.

I’ll back up and explain what transpired tonight. I am in B2B sales and I have found that I must constantly sharpen my mind.

Sales is, to some degree, a game, but one requiring confidence. There is a lot of rejection and stress. Add to that the fact that most folks view sales as a negative field and it makes for a combustible result. I attended an event tonight that focuses on improving sales and the profession.

With all the negativity that surrounds the role, I have found the absolute opposite when actually at work.

Yes there is rejection, but there is also a lot of positive outcomes. I meet with clients that are trying to solve massively complex problems and I get to somehow help. My clients are usually more knowledgeable than I am, so I also learn something new.

That said, let’s get back to the statement I made earlier regarding culture as a reward.

Have you ever started a job thinking it was one way when it the reality turned out much different?

You felt like you got the rug pulled out from under you? I have and I hated it. The culture was negative and nothing was as it seemed. From the outside it was fine; from inside terrible.

On occasion, though, we luck out.

We stumble across an opportunity that delivers as promised, whether Google or some local shop that has a great team.

Doesn’t it feel like it’s a reward to just go to work? That is it!

A good culture is its own reward. I could not add to it because it is so true.

Now I just need to surround myself with it and never let go. 

* American Association of Inside Sales Professionals
Image credit: GotCredit

Golden Oldies: Cope or Control (That is the Question)

Monday, August 28th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

We live in stressful times. Escalating political discord, both in the US and abroad, disappearing jobs due to technology and disruption of those that are left; bullying has reached new heights and FOMO is on the rise — and there is nothing you can do to control any of it. However, it is within your power to choose how you respond to the stress factors in your life.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eamoncurry/6072966411/Stress is bad, right?

Bad for your health, bad for your relationships, bad for your life.

Or is it?

Actually stress can be a positive motivator.

So perhaps it’s not stress, but how we handle it.

The article may be looking at kids, but kids grow up to be adults and genetic traits come along for the ride.

One particular gene, referred to as the COMT gene, could to a large degree explain why one child is more prone to be a worrier, while another may be unflappable, or in the memorable phrasing of David Goldman, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, more of a warrior.

Granted, the researchers were looking at short-term, i.e., competitive stress, but the solution was still the same as it is for stress that lasts longer. (The COMT gene also has a major impact on interviewing.)

They found a way to cope.

For many people stress is the result of losing control.

But if there is anything experience should have taught you by a very early age is that you can’t control your world; not even a tiny part of it.

I learned that lesson as a child of five when my father died and nothing ever happened after that to change my mind.

If you put your energy into controlling stuff to avoid stress you are bound to fail.

Energy spent on control is energy wasted.

Energy focused on coping provides exceptional ROI.

Image credit: Eamon Curry

If the Shoe Fits: VCs are People, Too

Friday, October 9th, 2015

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mAs you know I don’t follow Twitter, but I don’t really have to, since sooner or later, tweet threads that would interest me become the basis of something I read.

A few weeks ago an article in Business Insider cited a series of tweets from VCs moaning about their stressful existence and that saying they needed a support group.

Support group? Really? I haven’t heard of any VC suicides, which isn’t the case with a number of other demographics.

Ron Conway was quick to shoot the need down.

“I’m embarrassed that a VC would think their job is stressful when starting a company is the most stressful thing ever.”

(And while I agree that starting a company is extremely stressful, I don’t think it qualifies for the “most” slot, since doing so is voluntary.)

However, it did give me an idea as follows.

  1. Recruit two or more star shrinks and/or get Stanford involved.
  2. Create a private online community for VCs (using their company address and fully verified)
  3. The site should be heavy on security and use biometrics instead of passwords for logins.
  4. The community should be either SaaS or membership dues.
  5. Groups should be created for various problems, such as business-related stress, internal politics, family-related stress, etc.
  6. Each group session would be moderated by the appropriate shrink.
  7. Private sessions would be available by appointment.

Here is the most important part.

  1. Incorporate the entity as a non-profit.
  2. Pricing should be similar to an exclusive country club.

Here is my reasoning.

  • It needs to be expensive to prove its value to its market.
  • VCs are competitive and will join for bragging rights.
  • It should be non-profit so the money could go towards paying mental health costs for tech community members who can’t afford it and have no insurance.

So, if someone out there wants to take this and run with it as a non-profit, I’ll be happy to help. My contact information is on the right.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ducks in a Row: Are You in Touch with Your People?

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabioluiz/5419362401Ask most managers and they’ll tell you that they understand their team’s goals and concerns. They see themselves as in sync with their people.

But are they?

Based on a study about stress the difference in perception of cause between workers and managers is more a chasm than a rift.

But what was particularly striking about the findings was the disconnect between what employees and managers perceived: Inadequate staffing was cited by 53% of workers as the major reason for stress, while only 15% of senior managers thought this was so. A third of managers said that access to technology outside of working hours was a cause of stress, but workers disagreed, with only 8% citing it.

Disconnects between managers and workers are never good, but when the subject is something l like stress it can have a major impact on the bottom line.

Stress lowers productivity, hurts creativity and innovation, increase absenteeism, leads to health problems, thus raising health care costs

In short, stress causes and escalates disengagement.

Of those employees claiming high stress levels, 57% said they were disengaged. In contrast, just 10% with low stress levels said they were disengaged.

Obviously, being out of sync with your people costly to both your company and to you, personally.

Join me tomorrow for a look at getting back in sync and other useful information.

Flickr image credit: Fabio Luiz

Entrepreneurs: Ask KG Charles-Harris About the Dark Side

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

kg_charles-harrisKG sent me a link to a post in the WSJ by Jason Nazar, co-founder/CEO of Docstoc, which was just acquired by Intuit.

It should be mandatory reading for every budding entrepreneur.

Why?

Because it tells the other side of what’s involved building something with just a four million dollar investment.

The “other side” is about the long days (and nights), the stress and the negative effects on family and friends.

All the stuff that is rarely mentioned and when it is discussed it’s either glossed over and minimized or rationalize to the point that most entrepreneurs shrug it off.

KG understands this well, because he is traveling the same road.

And while you may not be able to ask Jason Nazar questions you can ask KG in the comments and he’ll respond.

Cope or Control (That is the Question)

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eamoncurry/6072966411/

Stress is bad, right?

Bad for your health, bad for your relationships, bad for your life.

Or is it?

Actually stress can be a positive motivator.

So perhaps it’s not stress, but how we handle it.

The article may be looking at kids, but kids grow up to be adults and genetic traits come along for the ride.

One particular gene, referred to as the COMT gene, could to a large degree explain why one child is more prone to be a worrier, while another may be unflappable, or in the memorable phrasing of David Goldman, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, more of a warrior.

Granted, the researchers were looking at short-term, i.e., competitive stress, but the solution was still the same as it is for stress that lasts longer. (The COMT gene also has a major impact on interviewing.)

They found a way to cope.

For many people stress is the result of losing control.

But if there is anything experience should have taught you by a very early age is that you can’t control your world; not even a tiny part of it.

I learned that lesson as a child of five when my father died and nothing ever happened after that to change my mind.

If you put your energy into controlling stuff to avoid stress you are bound to fail.

Energy spent on control is energy wasted.

Energy focused on coping provides exceptional ROI.

Flickr image credit: Eamon Curry

Ducks in a Row: Getting the Best from Interviews

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshgeephotography/3264548726/

How many times have you interviewed candidates who performed superbly in multiple interviews, but not once they were hired?

Conversely, have you taken a chance and hired candidates who didn’t interview well, but turned out to be some of your most productive and innovative performers?

Have you wondered why? More importantly, have you wondered how to avoid having this happen or at least have warning that it might?

An article details new brain research that explains what may be going on even though it is focused on kids and test-taking.

It comes down to the genes and brain chemistry that regulates an individual’s response to stress.

The researchers were interested in a single gene, the COMT gene. This gene carries the assembly code for an enzyme that clears dopamine from the prefrontal cortex. That part of the brain is where we plan, make decisions, anticipate future consequences and resolve conflicts. “Dopamine changes the firing rate of neurons, speeding up the brain like a turbocharger,” says Silvia Bunge, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. Our brains work best when dopamine is maintained at an optimal level. You don’t want too much, or too little. By removing dopamine, the COMT enzyme helps regulate neural activity and maintain mental function.

Here’s the thing: There are two variants of the gene. One variant builds enzymes that slowly remove dopamine. The other variant builds enzymes that rapidly clear dopamine. We all carry the genes for one or the other, or a combination of the two.

While you can’t condition the brains of your candidates to respond well to the stress of interviewing, you can provide an environment that allows the “worriers” to perform better and gives a clearer picture of the “warriors” true skills.

To some extent you can level the field by eliminating as much stress as possible for the entire interview process. For instance

  • take time to put them at ease;
  • avoid two and three-on-one interviews;
  • avoid interviewing actions that feel like judgments or tests;
  • make the process transparent;
  • inform them about the process; and
  • avoid surprises.

Lowering interview stress allows the “worriers” to perform better and removes the “warrior’s” edge.

Flickr image credit: Josh Gee Photography

DEmotivating Your People

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I received the following email from “Terry” who just started his first job.

“Hi Miki, Basically with my new job, they are really giving their employees the shaft.  Peoples’ contracts aren’t being renewed so they can bring in cheaper labor (like me). My manager often says “Hey man!  It’s cool!  You have a job!  The economy is crap!” as though the position with them is the only one that I could get.  It’s really infuriating sometimes because I know that when they use an attitude like that, it’s like they feel they can abuse their power.  It’s like saying “Hey, you’re worthless, you’re SO lucky you have us… right?  Do you feel fortunate that we take you under our roof?  Good, because no one else will – now get to work or we’ll kill you!”  I don’t feel they see it like that, but I am trying to decipher their motives.  What do you think is going on?”

Hi Terry,

There are several obvious things that come to mind; your manager

  • is nervous;
  • is trying a poor joke to reduce the stress of layoffs;
  • doesn’t think and has no idea of the effect of his words;
  • actually believes what he is saying.

However, there is a not so obvious thought for you to explore.

Perhaps your manager is projecting—voicing his own feelings based on the way he is being treated.

Rather than guessing there are things you can do over the next few months to achieve a much better handle on why he acts this way, mainly through close, objective observation.

I say objective because you need to suspend judgment, scrub the emotional side and dispassionately study what he says and does.

I can almost hear you say ‘why bother’ when it’s much easier to shrug and write it off to his being a jerk or a lousy culture.

The reason it’s worth the effort is that it will give you an edge when working with and for him. It will help you to understand where he’s really coming from and how best to interact with him.

And it will keep you from doing the same things when you become a manager.

I love when readers write or call, so feel free to contact me if you think I can help; contact information is in the right column. I hope to hear from you soon.

Image credit: HikingArtist.com on flickr

Thriving On Good Stress, Dying From Bad Stress

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Stress is like chlorestoral—there is good stress and bad stress.

A year ago I wrote a post about the problems of stress in the workplace. During the intervening months the economic situation has worsened and stress has increased exponentially.

Managers are under fire and being forced to do far more with far less—a situation that automatically raises stress in any workplace. And there are still those out there who prefer to manage by stress.

I decided to revisit that post, because I believe it’s very important.

Stress, Death and Obesity

Years ago I knew a manager who believed that high stress yielded the best productivity, he generated that environment by setting unrealistic deadlines and generating plenty of consequence-fear (I, and my fellow recruiters, considered his organization our happy hunting ground). The year his department’s turnover hit 99%, which was everyone except him, he was finally terminated.

There are still too many managers who run stress-filled organizations and too many companies that ignore, allow, and even support them—it’s called performance culture—but, as they say, these times they are a’changin’—even if it takes suicide as the wake-up call for some.

“Earlier this year, the French automaker, Renault, found itself doing some soul-searching following a rash of suicides at a design complex outside Paris. In the course of about five months, three engineers killed themselves. In suicide notes and conversations with their families before taking their lives, the three men voiced anxiety about unreasonable workloads, high-pressure management tactics, exhaustion, and humiliating criticism in front of colleagues during performance reviews.”

And companies are starting to get it, “Draper Laboratory, an R&D shop based in Cambridge, Mass., refuses to buy BlackBerrys for its engineers.”How can anyone be creative if they are on’ 24 hours a day?” asks HR Director Jeanne Benoit. “We want to keep them fresh and robust.””

Another recent finding adds another significant reason to reduce worker stress, touching on businesses’ greatest bogyman—obesity and its effect on worker health.

“Scientists reported yesterday that they have uncovered a biological switch by which stress can promote obesity, a discovery that could help explain the world’s growing weight problem…”

Now you have two negatives—death and obesity—and two positives—creativity and retention; separately or together they have an enormous impact on the bottom line.

Here are six ideas from Business Week that you can do to reduce stress in your organization.

  • Educate employees about stress types
    Good stress is about concentration and creativity. Bad stress is about panic and fear.
  • Never worry alone
    Sharing concerns can turn problems into brainstorming sessions. Teams are cemented through problem-solving.
  • Create a listening culture
    If you’re not hearing about problems, there’s a problem. A good gauge: How many e-mails do you get from staff?
  • Conduct autopsies without blame
    Make it safe to fail. Innovation languishes in blame-happy cultures.
  • Create a listening culture
    If you’re not hearing about problems, there’s a problem. A good gauge: How many e-mails do you get from staff?
  • Encourage workers to ask for help
    What is toxically stressful for one can be an exciting challenge for a team.

No, they won’t get it done in a day, but there aren’t any silver bullets for organizational changes (or anything else, for that matter)—especially those involving individual MAP—all you can do is start and then keep going.

Finally, if you run a company, or any organization, and you don’t heed this wake-up call to start reducing negative stress then, as a manager (and a person), you are heading for the same fate as the dodo bird.

Image credit: TenSafeFrogs on flickr

Wordless Wednesday: Guaranteed Stress

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

This stress is chronic, but this is a sign of our times.

Your comments—priceless

Don’t miss a post, subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

Image credit: wtsupchknbutt on YouTube

RSS2 Subscribe to
MAPping Company Success

Enter your Email
Powered by FeedBlitz

About Miki View Miki Saxon's profile on LinkedIn

About Ryan ryanrpew

About Marc marc-dorneles-cpcu-b8b43425

About KG View KG Charles-Harris' profile on LinkedIn

About Ajo View Ajo Fod's profile on LinkedIn

Clarify your exec summary, website, marketing collateral, etc.

Have a question or just want to chat @ no cost? Feel free to write or call me at 360.335.8054

Download useful assistance now.

Entrepreneurs face difficulties that are hard for most people to imagine, let alone understand. You can find anonymous help and connections that do understand at 7 cups of tea.

Give your mind a rest. Here are 2 quick ways to get rid of kinks, break a logjam or juice your creativity!

Crises never end.
$10 really does make a difference and you'll never miss it,
while $10 a month has exponential power.
Always donate what you can whenever you can.

The following accept cash and in-kind donations:

Web site development: NTR Lab
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.