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The Let’s Fix Work podcast is a fun project and has opened up new relationships in my life. We recently published episode 22, and, after nearly two-dozen conversations about fixing work, I’m more convinced than ever that the modern world of work is broken.

Some people disagree with me, which makes for interesting discussions. Sometimes, people decline to be on my show because the word “broken” feels a little too strong.

Other times, potential guests object to the word “fix.” One person told me that it’s not the right word. Work is “too complex” and “fix is the wrong word” to use for such a nuanced topic.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I thanked him for his time and wrote, “I believe winners fix things.”

(Have to thank my new buddy Jesse Itzler for those inspired words.)

I don’t mind it when people say no. I decline many things. It’s all about tone and intention. When you say no with good intent, it means the world. Be kind and polite. Those are the new rules of work. But if you say no and act like a fool, you deserve to be told.

A few months ago, I invited an esteemed professor and author to be on my podcast. He has a new book out, and it’s pretty good. Wanted him on Let’s Fix Work as a guest and then feature his book in the HR Book Club. So, I reached out on LinkedIn and he invited me to move the conversation over to email.

I followed up via email, and here is his reply.

Whoa, okay, whiplash.

It’s not the worst response, but it’s not the best. And I love how he thinks my audience isn’t big enough for his time commitment — as if we’re measuring reach and resonance in inches.

I laughed at out loud and the response, but then thought about why he chose to respond so negatively.

1. Maybe he’s crusty, clueless and harmless.

2. It’s possible that he enjoys turning the screws and gives feedback to feel superior over people.

3. He is grieving in some way, and the 180-degree response has nothing to do with me.

I’m not in the business of disparaging anybody’s character, so I’ll keep his name private. But it’s curious how older white men in power still feel that it’s okay to talk to women like this. Haven’t we just had a global discussion on #MeToo and power?

Also, it’s even more interesting how someone who “knows business” doesn’t know how to write a more appropriate response. Someone needs to teach this dude some manners. Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t need manners when you’re old and esteemed. I wouldn’t know.

Here’s what I do know: People will ping you for your time for all kinds of ridiculous reasons. Not every request warrants a response, but how you respond is your responsibility. At a bare minimum, be respectful. Also, check your assumptions about the incoming request. Maybe it’s not as ridiculous as it seems?

I also believe that, in a world that’s so cruel and thoughtless, it’s easy to be kind. I’m going to use my blog and podcast to fix work. Part of my mission is to make sure you never respond to people like the esteemed professor responded to me.

Want to fix work? Have some manners. It starts right there.

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Don MacPherson is an entrepreneur who built a company called Modern Survey, which he successfully sold without laying people off or taking on debt. That’s the American Dream. But Don’s not resting on his laurels. Growing up in a mining community, Don learned the value of work early and isn’t interested in status symbols like cars and clothes. He’s soon launching a new venture called 12 Geniuses focused on fixing the future of work for everybody. He’s here to talk about his journey in tech, how to be ruthlessly pragmatic with your finances, and how you can set yourself up financially for success. Ultimately, it’s about enjoying your work. Don has a unique view of the world that you need to hear, especially if you want to retire early.

  • First things first: Don isn’t a Millennial tech bro. He’s close to 50 with a wealth of experience in customer service, technology, healthcare, employee engagement, and even truck driving. Don will tell you he isn’t a natural entrepreneur, but he is a risk taker. So much so he decided to move to Germany and only bought a one-way ticket. Don shares the story of living in an attic.
  • When he returned from Germany, he took a job with American Express, and that was when Don met his future business partner, a contractor who was living the dream. Don wanted that dream life, so together, he and his partner founded an online survey company, Modern Survey, in 1999. Their startup money was $1,000 each. He took this company through to a successful exit, the American dream.
  • Don could easily rest on his laurels now, but he’s starting another company instead. There’s a driving force that keeps him moving: yes, he’s a risk taker and he loves his work, but deep down, he loves helping people reach their potential. Don believes that EVERYONE can perform at extraordinary levels, and he explains how.
  • One of Don’s guiding principles is that he pays himself first. It’s enabled him to do everything that he’s wanted. Interestingly, the thought was planted by a commercial he saw as a teenager. It was a simple commercial and the gist of it was to get started and begin saving early. Don reveals how he applied this to his life from a young age, and what “you pay you first” really means.
  • For Don, money is freedom. He doesn’t come from a family of savers, though, and what he understood from his younger years was that you took the job that paid the most money. It was essential to have an incredible work ethic, too. But taking a job that pays the most cash is how you survived. Don realized, though, that work could be so much more. It can be fulfilling, and having money allowed him to experiment and do things he couldn’t have otherwise.
  • There came a time when Don’s business almost failed, and he tells the story of how he had to abandon his “you pay you first” philosophy for a time. He and his partners had to each put in a hundred grand to save the company, and it was only because he had been so disciplined in his savings that he was able to do it. And that was how the company pulled through the tough time.
  • We’ve hinted at how Don’s success hasn’t encouraged him to be spendy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Don never invested in a brand new car, and the duplex he lived in for 15 years was partly financed by the renters he had living in the second apartment. Don shares some of his other money hacks he used to amass his wealth. He even delayed parenthood until he was nearly 50.
  • If you take Don’s advice, he believes you will never have to work at a job you don’t like. And that is powerful, especially in this era of work being broken. He talks about how we can do our best work when we have a sense of security and freedom that being financially responsible brings. You might be wondering if it’s too late for you. The answer is no, and Don explains why.
  • Have you heard the concept of being a prisoner in a workplace? You’re stuck in a job you can’t leave because you have so many bills to pay. Don says that as many as 1 in 12 workers are prisoners. They’re financially stuck, and they don’t believe they can make more money elsewhere. Most of us agree that work is broken, so you can imagine what happens with work prisoners and how they contribute to that. Equally as important, their home life is also negatively affected.
  • Laurie points out that it’s often more expensive for women in the workplace than men – they have to buy a lot of things men don’t, and as they age, they’re expected to do everything they can to look younger. Clothing, makeup, surgery… and then there’s the issue of maternity and childcare. Given that women don’t make as much as men, can you imagine what it’s like for a single mom? Don shares his thoughts on the workplace for women.
  • Don’s new company is called 12 Geniuses (coming soon). He shares exactly what it is and what he does, and you might be surprised by his belief that the world is a better place, despite what the news might have you believe. But did you realize that most people aren’t ready for positive change?

Don MacPherson

LinkedIn

12 Geniuses — COMING SOON

The DIY HR Handbook

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There is nothing less American than a northern California shower.

The hotels all have low-flow shower heads — even the luxury hotels — and you can’t get yourself clean or wash the shampoo out of your hair. You walk around the Bay Area half-clean, half-soaped and half-bathed.

Also, while long and decadent showers aren’t good for the environment, I don’t like people telling me what to do. Part of what’s wrong with America is that we design and regulate our lives to the lowest common denominator instead of forcing the lowest common denominator to level-up.

So, okay, enough about America. I’m here in Half Moon Bay and had to take a northern California shower before my conference, this morning. But I’m sick of being half-clean. That’s when I looked over at the bathtub and decided to try the hand-held sprayer. Guess what? It’s super fast and aggressive. The water pressure is so strong that you could strip paint off the side of a house.

I’m like, “I’ll take a jerry-rigged-tub-shower! America is great, again!”

But here’s the deal: I wasn’t fully awake, and my mind was focused on a hundred things that had nothing to do with the bath. I hung up my conference dress on a hook, and, as I stepped into the tub, my mind wandered.

What should I wear to my event, today? Jim Knight and Scott Stratten wear jeans. Can I wear jeans instead of my dress? Should I put on mascara? My eyes are still sensitive, but I like to look nice on stage. And I haven’t heard from my friend Sarah in a few days. What’s up with that? Hope she’s okay. Also, she would tell me to wear jeans.

That’s when I accidentally dropped tub sprayer at my feet, and it went crazy like a garden hose — snaking all over the bathroom and spraying my face, the mirror, my dress, the walls, and the ceiling. The room was soaked before I could finally turn off the water.

Needless to say, I’m not wearing a dress on stage at today’s event. And it was a pain to wipe down the bathroom because all of my spare towels were soaked. But, more importantly, this could’ve been avoided if I did one thing: mono-tasking.

Mono-tasking is the act of doing the thing you’re doing with intentionality and integrity. You’ve heard the saying before: do one thing and do it well. Eat breakfast and keep your mind on eating breakfast. Drive your car and focus on driving. Take a jerry-rigged-tub-shower and take the goddamn shower.

Although mono-tasking is an extension of mindfulness, you don’t have to be Buddhist or even a northern California wellness guru to practice monotasking. You just need to be someone who’s sick of frenetic energy, wants to improve the quality of your work, and hates feeling spaced out during important moments where you should be present.

Like the shower.

I’m a big fan of mono-tasking, although I’m really bad at it. Today’s shower debacle is a gentle reminder to try again. So, here’s my thought for the day: Be where you are. Do what you’re doing. Focus on one thing at a time.

Mono-tasking will improve the quality of your work and life if you let it. For me, it will definitely improve the quality of my showers.

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According to JT O’Donnell, we’re pretty bad at job searching. After all, we aren’t in the business of finding jobs; our skills sets are DOING them. So, if and when you need to change employers, outside advice is invaluable. Today, Laurie and JT talk about why the old way of job searching is obsolete and how you can compete with other job seekers in a very crowded environment.

  • Have you seen the George Clooney movie, Up in the Air, where his job was to lay people off? That was JT’s last corporate career. She laid off hundreds of people before leaving corporate America to start her own career coaching practice. JT saw the recession coming, so she was proactive and started a blog in 2008. When the recession hit, people needed an edge in finding jobs, and JT was there to deliver.
  • Laurie has seen a lot of discrimination when it comes to landing jobs: ageism, sexism, racism. While it’s a common belief that work is broken, JT also believes that the job search is broken. People are going about it the wrong way because the rules changed and they didn’t catch on. It’s all related to a branding problem for both those hiring and those looking for jobs.
  • Do you really need to work through recruiters to find a job? JT has a fresh take on what has happened in the land of recruitment. It’s all become very regimented, and often, recruiters get pushed around by their employers to make certain numbers that are next to impossible. And here’s the result of that: if you’re a job seeker who is doing your part right, you don’t NEED a recruiter to land your dream job. In fact, you might want to AVOID recruiters altogether and JT explains why.
  • How do you get past the gatekeepers and talk to the hiring managers? It’s not really sneaky, but it IS easy. JT shares two of her favorite resources. The first is net. It’s a simple search engine for LinkedIn that allows you to search for hiring managers and other titles. The other is Hunter.io, which allows you to search for up to 100 email addresses every month so you can connect.
  • As you listen, you might feel like everything has changed. It has, fundamentally. Step one to getting YOUR ‘bucket list’ job is to forget everything you think you know about job searching. JT shares the story of someone who reached out to her – they thought what she said about cover letters was the ‘hokiest’ thing ever… until it worked.
  • Like many things on the internet, we have erected walls that are supposed to filter out the unnecessary and irrelevant, but often, these walls also filter out the things we want and need. JT shares how this has happened with job boards online. It goes back to what she said about branding and the lack of marketing between employer and employee. You’re one of the thousands of people applying. It shouldn’t be a surprise you don’t get a call if you haven’t marketed yourself directly to a potential employer.
  • Finding a dream job shouldn’t be like shopping a used car lot for your dream car. JT shares a great strategy for how to begin your search. Start with 20 companies you’d love to work for and figure out WHY you want to work for them. We aren’t talking benefits – what about what they do is so compelling to you? That’s how you target your job search. She shares the next few steps on your path to getting a bucket list job.
  • Community is incredibly important. It’s how you network, find new opportunities and help others do the same. But it’s not always easy to ask for help, especially when free communities tend to be negative. JT shares why her Work it Daily community is so very different – it’s an uplifting place for career coaching, even with generational divides. Coaching isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s the path to greatness.
  • If robots and AI are the future of work, where does that leave job seekers? Make no mistake: there is yet another shift coming in the workforce and you need to be prepared for it. And with all the discrimination that exists now, more is on the way in the form of globalization. JT and Laurie discuss what this future looks like for job seekers and what you can do to be ready for the next set of fundamental shifts.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

JT O’Donnell

LinkedIn

Work it Daily Website

Work it Daily YouTube

Job Search Tools

RecruitIn.net

Hunter.io

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Hi, everybody.

There’s one thing that is true about the HR community: When one of us hurts, all of us hurt.

That’s why I’m very sad to share the news that Elle Taylor Seiden, the beloved daughter of our friend Jason Seiden, lost her life on July 22nd after bravely battling a debilitating disease called CRPS.

Jason Seiden was an early and active organizer in the HR tech community. He blogged, wrote a book, keynoted conferences, and singlehandedly made “failing in public” an art form. If you work in human resources/recruiting and have a social media account of any kind, it’s because Jason was an ambassador for early technology adoption.

Many of you have asked how you can support Jason and his family, and I’m pleased to share several options.

1. Reach out to Jason directly. He wants to hear from you. If you don’t have his information, you can use this form.

2. Don’t stop reaching out to Jason or his family. Expressing your condolences can be awkward, so talk to Jason about the things that matter. Share what’s in your heart, and offer to be helpful. No gesture of kindness is too small. If you lack the words, you can donate to one of Elle’s favorite charities and show your support for the Seiden family.

3. Participate in the Day of Giving. Please join the HR community in supporting the Seiden family and honoring Elle’s memory by participating in a Day of Giving on August 10, 2018. It also happens to be Jason Seiden’s birthday. Let’s use that day to support Jason and his family during this difficult time.

• Write a blog post about your support for the Seiden family and ask for donations to one of Elle’s favorite charities.

• Ask your friends and colleagues to donate to one of Elle’s favorite charities on your Facebook page.

• Even if you don’t know Jason personally, please join us on August 10th and honor his daughter’s memory. Take a photo of something beautiful and post it on Instagram and use the hashtag #ATributeToElle.

• Follow the hashtag #ATributeToElle on Twitter and re-tweet fundraising messages and blog posts.

Jason and his family have expressed their thanks and appreciation for all the love and support during the past week. Let’s pay tribute to Elle and honor her memory by showing love and support to her parents, sister, and all members of her family on August 10th.

Love,
Laurie

PS – If you’d like to talk about how to honor Elle’s memory in other ways, please feel free to reach out to Mark Stelzner or Susan LaMotte with any questions.

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Cy Wakeman is an international keynote speaker, business consultant, New York Times best-selling author, and psychologist. She helps people around the world ditch the drama and turn excuses into results. Naturally, Laurie is a total fangirl. Today, Cy and Laurie talk about how to get the best out of people, whether or not you really NEED leaders, and what the future of work looks like for all of us.

  • Cy has a great strategy for getting clients in the door and to help them take all the negative energy at work and turn it around to positive results based on new actions: she gives her stuff away for free. The individuals who learn from her content then turn around and put the pressure on their leaders to bring her in to do work, and she gets great results.
  • Cy has an interesting take on work NOT being broken. Work, she says, is our reality, and whether or not we succeed in it is up to us. Cy explains the parts of work that are lacking, from leadership to HR, and it all has to do with the people, not the construct.
  • If you’re keen on learning about leadership, you’ve probably noticed there are a million different people speaking and teaching about it. But have you stopped to actually listen to their messages? Sounds a lot like pop psychology, feel-good stuff that, unfortunately, doesn’t really address the problems. Cy shares her take on the current trend of ‘best practices’ and why understanding the human condition is the most important thing you can do, leader or not.
  • You’ve probably heard people talking about the ability to bring your ‘whole self’ to work. Cy disagrees; instead, she urges you to bring your ‘most evolved’ self to work. In fact, Cy doesn’t think you should bring your whole self anywhere, and she explains why you need to be fit for duty beyond the tasks you undertake.
  • Leadership has evolved over the years. In modern times, we’re more concerned with purpose and engagement. Cy shares a surprising insight: engagement without accountability creates entitlement. And more importantly, happiness at work isn’t up to leaders. Cy’s years as a therapist come to bear when she says that a relationship like that is co-dependency and isn’t healthy, and you end up losing the best employees.
  • You need to be willing to pick favorites when it comes to your employees: there are the high and low accountables. High and low performers, and according to Cy, too much attention has been given to low accountables to try to keep them engaged. Cy explains why this is the opposite of what it should be.
  • Can low accountables become high accountables? Sometimes. But is it the responsibility of the organization to make it happen? No. It might seem like a tough choice to make, but Cy believes that a business should instead focus on making themselves a place where high accountables want to work. In fact, there isn’t a shortage of talent, and Cy explains why.
  • You don’t have to harm people and harm the environment to make a profit. That’s a load of bologna according to Cy. Instead, we need to focus on ‘pure profit.’ It’s not what you think. Cy reveals exactly what that means and how businesses can be sustainable without hurting the world.
  • Community has been a buzzword for a while now, whether you’re talking about regionality or groups online. How healthy are the communities in which you find yourself? As a psychologist, Cy has a great message about what makes a healthy community and what makes hers thrive, even with millennials.
  • Cy has a vision for the future of work and what you need to remember is this: it’s not something that’s going to happen TO us. It’s something we need to do for ourselves. It’s where we go beyond ego, salary, title, and all the other things that seem so important to us now. How and why should we do it? Cy shares what drives her to do the work she does.
  • With the future of work being AI and automation, we’re left wondering if the future holds any place for heart and for love. Laurie poses the question to Cy, and she’s got a very heart-centered answer for you. And it all comes back to people and the concept of ego.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Cy Wakeman

Find her @cywakeman everywhere on the Internet!
Reality-Based Leadership: www.realitybasedleadership.com/
Life’s Messy Live Happy Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/LifesMessyLiveHappy/
No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results amzn.to/2uqfPGc
Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results amzn.to/2ul0tTg

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HR TribeI got a call from a friend this week who asked me if I needed money. He saw my new Patreon account and wondered if I had fallen on hard times.

I’ll always take money, thank you, but it made me step back and think about how I speak to the world about the business of podcasting and creating content.

My previous blogs — Punk Rock HR and The Cynical Girl — tried to democratize HR and share corporate secrets with the masses. And it worked for a while, but a blog has limited reach. That’s why I’m working on three new things: my podcast, a book, and my keynote speaking schedule for 2019.

My podcast and book, both called “Let’s Fix Work,” won’t make me wealthy or famous, but they might solve some work-related problems for an audience who is sick and tired of hearing sententious advice from self-help gurus and soulless Silicon Valley CEOs.

Want a better employee experience? Want to earn more money and have better options for retirement? Want to overcome the burden of debt, avoid hostile work environments and be happier at work? Real people with real problems deserve more than sound bites. They deserve solutions. That’s what this is all about.

But “Let’s Fix Work” is an endeavor that needs to be run like a business. I’ve spent some time working on an LFR revenue model, and the podcast and community will never be successful if it doesn’t have audience support.

That’s where you can help. If you enjoy the show and you’d like to see “Let’s Fix Work” grow, please support it at any level on Patreon. Like many other podcasters who have Patreon pages, your money will go towards the production and distribution of the show. There’s no LFR slush fund. This is a real business.

But capitalism is fairly cut-and-dry. If you don’t like it, you won’t support it. And I’ll move onto something else. That’s how the market works.

I’m bullish on the future, and I’m invested in fixing work. Hope you can invest a little and fix work for yourself and others, too.

Thanks!

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We’re in a bubble. 

Far too many senior-level HR professionals are quitting their jobs and becoming business consultants and executives coaches. These men and women give up PTO, step outside of their company’s headquarters for the first time in a decade, and say things like “performance reviews are lame” and “compensation policies are unfair” as if they just invented that hot take on HR.

Where have they been for the past decade? Who knows? But these leaders are here, now, operating as business advisors and pretending like they invented a new way of HR — including flexible work policies and micro-learning. 

And it’s weird because none of this is new.

Just yesterday, I chatted with a senior HR leader who left her job. She’s looking for the cool kids in HR and can’t find them. Clearly, they must not exist. So, instead of digging deeper and finding kindred spirits, she’s trying to get on the speaker circuit to share her vision of human resources with the earnest but slow-witted HR professionals in the trenches who need her most. 

Did I have any advice for her?

I was like, yeah, lady, go check out your competition. They’ve been here for over a decade. While you were working in your cushy job and reporting to the CEO, there were men and women in the trenches of HR who held progressive opinions on work when it was unpopular and wrote blog posts that got them fired. 

This lady didn’t believe me. Who are these individuals? Why hasn’t she heard of them? And she wanted names, which seemed odd because I had never heard of this woman until yesterday and she’s got my name. With a little more googling, she could find a whole community of like-minded HR professionals who fixed work for their companies.

But, no, she will fix HR by speaking at conferences.

I said, “There are cool kids in HR. There’s a tribe of folks out there who’d love to hear from you. Wouldn’t take much effort for you to find them. And they’d have great advice for you on the speaking circuit and, also, the history of HR.”

As much as I’m not a fan of the word tribe, there are people who are kicking butt and taking names in human resources. I hope this lady will be curious enough to follow through and meet the people in HR who eliminated performance reviews and adopted flexible work policies before it was featured on Forbes. 

But I’m not sure she’s humble enough to chat with those individuals and ask, “How did you do it?”

The HR Tribe is here for you — or any other HR professional — who wants to improve human resources. They’d love to learn more about your work, and they will share their wins and losses in a frank and candid manner. And they’ll support your efforts to tackle the HR speaking circuit.

All you have to do is ask. But, first, believe they exist.

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My friend Melissa Fairman has a three-part series on time management that is in week two, but I didn’t want to wait to tell you about it.

Read and watch part one and part two. It’s good.

Melissa is trying to help you figure out how to manage your time better so you can do important work. What’s important work? Well, it’s work that moves an organization forward. Or, in my opinion, it’s work that moves the business of you forward.

Time management is not my friend. Well, more accurately, details are not my friend. Years ago, I was organized and walked around with a day planner in my hands. Then I saw how influential people outsourced their details, and I followed suit. Stopped paying attention to details and relied on others. Pretty stupid because I started missing meetings, flights, and important appointments.

But here’s one weird thing about life: I might miss a phone call, but I always make it to pilates and my hair appointments. It’s the other stuff — meetings, answering your email, remembering to pay my cell phone bill on time — that pose a challenge for me.

There’s always time to read or watch TV, but there are never enough hours in the day to answer LinkedIn requests for my time. There’s plenty of time for surfing on the internet and reading Melissa’s blog, but there’s not enough time to take that e-learning course on blockchain so I can finally understand it a little better.

So, I’m not sure if time management is a challenge or a choice. No, wait, I’m totally sure it’s a choice. The real question is why I’m avoiding important work that matters and, instead, focusing on stupid shit.

Is it because I’m a flawed and lazy human being? Yes.

Am I self-sabotaging? Probably.

My time management skills are an ongoing theme in my life, and no corporate initiative or program will make me — as an employee or a business owner — focus on work that matters until I choose to focus on work that matters.

I suspect that many employees are like me, deliberately distracted to avoid doing work that makes us uncomfortable for reasons that don’t make sense in the conscious world. Maybe employers can encourage people like me to explore why we make counterintuitive choices with our time and attention. After all, if we’re not doing work that matters, we’re not doing anything at all.

The good news is that Melissa will talk about individual accountability in the final video. I can’t wait. If anything, that video has an audience of one and it’s me.

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My friend Paul Hebert is writing all across the internet about why employee engagement might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

First of all, let’s define employee engagement. Employees are engaged when they give their best each day through intrinsic effort, are committed to organizational goals and values, demonstrate extrinsic efforts beyond their immediate job, and have pride in their work.

Or something like that. I think there’s an element of loyalty that I’m missing in the definition, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done a webinar on the topic.

So here’s what Paul has written about employee engagement, lately.

Why Employee Engagement Needs to Be Re-Thought (Warning: It’s a Rant) wphebert.com/07/02/2018/why-employee-engagement-needs-to-be-re-thought-warning-its-a-rant/

IS EMPLOYER BRANDING KILLING CORPORATE CULTURE AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT? (ALL CAPS.) fistfuloftalent.com/2018/06/employer-branding-killing-corporate-culture-employee-engagement.html

Employee Engagement Isn’t an Employee Engagement Problem wphebert.com/04/24/2018/employee-engagement-isnt-an-employee-engagement-problem/

Why I can’t write another post about the importance of employee engagement. wphebert.com/02/27/2018/why-i-cant-write-another-post-about-the-importance-of-employee-engagement/

(Note, he wrote like five more posts and about a thousand tweets after that last one.)

One of Paul’s most significant ideas, IMHO, is that if we want to impact employee engagement we need to influence the manager. I’ll butcher the concept, but it goes something like this: Managers are in charge of an employee’s individual experience at work. Want better engagement scores? Help managers create a better experience at work.

I love it.

Paul goes further. What if employee engagement doesn’t matter like we think it matters? What if a disengaged worker isn’t as dangerous as we believe? What if engagement can only optimally follow a bell curve? Or what if it only matters if our top workers are engaged? And what if that doesn’t even matter?

The thriving contrarian in me loves the way his brain works, which is why Paul and I are friends. Let’s take this a step further and ask a fundamental question: What if none of this matters?

• Can you give your best each day but not really give a rip about goals and values? Yes.
• Is it possible to go above and beyond in your job without being loyal to the company? Sure you can.
• Are you able to have pride in your work without loving what you do, where you do it, or who you do it for? Absolutely.

You can do good work but have emotional distance from your job if you’re a healthy adult who is the CEO of your life. You can be a great employee on paper who doesn’t really care about being an employee if you have a work ethic and have your eyes on a bigger prize. And you can be engaged if you’re a craftsperson who takes pride in results but doesn’t get caught up in corporate interests.

But many of us struggle to be the CEOs of our lives, which is why I think we have low engagement scores.

Most jobs barely provide for food and housing. We’re always told that the gig economy is here, which means that — if we are FTEs — we’re one step away from losing the safety and security of our healthcare and retirement benefits. Or we have those benefits, but they’re so expensive that they threaten other basic needs.

Also, most jobs are done in isolation. Whether it’s the social isolation of an open office environment where everybody is wearing headphones and communicating via Slack — or the isolation from not having a union, guild or even an HR department that has your back — we’re all teams of one that are pitted against one another and forced ranked into a system that rewards the wrong types of social behaviors.

Work is broken. But I’m at the place in my life where I don’t give a shit if work is broken, or, more accurately, I think you can fix yourself and work won’t be so bad.

If you bet on yourself and invest in skills, you’ll always have options because you’ll never stop learning and growing. Prioritize your happiness — which means doing the work and acquiring life skills to overcome some of the sadness in your life — and be more resilient and have a better response when times are tough at work.

I also believe you can’t walk away from a crappy job unless you fix your money. Fix your money, fix your life. And get the life you want by creating a community — building a better personal brand based on kindness, networking with the right people, being helpful to others — and you’ll be much more engaged in real life.

Finally, prioritize your physical and emotional wellbeing so that your body isn’t a victim of the emotional firestorm in your brain. Nobody can treat you better than you treat you. While you can be healthy at any size, you can’t be emotionally or physically healthy if your wellbeing comes second to everything else in this world.

We fix work by fixing ourselves, and, also, by fixing ourselves, we render constructs like “employee engagement” worthless. If we’re going to measure something, let’s stop measuring employee engagement and start measuring how much we love and cherish our lives. All of it, by the way, not just the part that delivers a paycheck.

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