Crack The Behavior Code


Love 'Em or Lose 'Em

Season 4, Ep. 20
What happens when a person leaves? Do you know it in advance? In aprior blogI wrote about the often unknown reasons that blindside employers when a rock star quits. Today, let’s look at taking a more proactive approach: checking in on what it’ll take to keep your stars at your organization.Great people are hard to find. And can be harder to keep. I recently came across a terrific book,Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans.I highly recommend it.As a leadership and culture coach I very often work through personnel matters. So when I witnessed the clear and concise thinking from Kaye and Jordan-Evans, I knew I had to share it.Why Employees StayKaye and Jordan-Evans surveyed over 17,000 employees to learn what conditions will keep an employee with an organization. They call these conditions “stay factors”. Note that these are neither industry-specific nor role-specific, they are universal.1. Exciting work and challenge2.Career growth, learning, and development3. Working with great people4. Fair pay6. Being recognized, valued, andrespected7. Benefits8. Meaningful work and making a difference9. Pride in the organization,its mission, and its product10. Greatwork environment and cultureInteresting tidbit: 91 percent of survey respondents listed at least one of the first two items among the top reasons they stay. I love that challenge and learning is at the top. This is one reason I harp onIndividual Development Plansto our clients!How To Do A Stay InterviewHow to do a Stay Interview? You simply ask the employee. Some leaders fear that discussing this topic will open a proverbial can of worms and get the employee thinking about leaving. I disagree heartily. The employee is already thinking of leaving at times, possibly on hard days, when they feel overwhelmed or discouraged, if they’re experiencing tremendous stress in their personal lives. It’s likely only a fantasy about leaving, but why not simply communicate directly about it? It’s refreshing, builds trust, and shows you care.There’s no ideal time to do a stay interview. The goal is to do it before an employee has one foot out the door. You can do it during a development conversation, when checking in on their development plan, you can do it at year end or at the new year, any time is fine. If you don’t know what their answers might be to the below questions, then it’s time to do now!Recommended “Stay Interview” Questions From Kaye and Jordan-Evans:·What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?·What makes you hit the snooze button?·If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most?·What one thing that if changed in your current role, would make you consider moving on?·If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department?·If you had to go back to a position in your past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?·What makes for a great day?·What can we do to make your job more satisfying?·What can we do to support your career goals?·Do you get enough recognition?·What will keep you here? What might entice you away?·What do you want to learn this year? How might you learn it?Be sure to ask “anything else I might have missed?” and useeffective listening(ask “what specifically?” and the other questions in the linked blog). And be careful with your responses: don’t dismiss their ideas/input/answers, be curious as to what it’s like to be them. You don’t know, so be an anthropologist studying a fascinating creature. If done this way the interview will deepen connection, loyalty, trust, and ultimately, boost retention.What You Can Do Now1.Implement Individual Development Plans –people need to know they are growing and learning. This helps us feel achievement and empowerment at work—which is key. Keep it simple: have the employee and their leader develop it together. If you make it too complex no one will do it!2.Do regular Employee Engagement surveysso you know how people are feeling.3.Create a Cultural GAME (Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, Engagement) Planbased on the results from your survey in #2 above.Here’s an infographic.4.Give Frequent Bi-Directional Feedbackso everyone is connected and clear on what’s working and what they’d like to see more of.Here’s an infographic.The Net-Net·Stay interviews help you understand how your team members are feeling about their work—it’s essential to stop guessing and start knowing what will keep your stars happy·Do stay interviews across your organization as needed, during development conversations is a good timePut the recommended programs place to maintain and grow the good feelings in your organization. Happy = will stay!Follow me onTwitterorLinkedIn.Check outmywebsiteorsome of my other workhere.

The Surprising Link Between Customer Experience And Employee Engagement

Season 4, Ep. 11
How would your customers describe their experience with your firm?Please take a moment and rate the Customer Experience (CX) that you believe you deliver:Better than all companies in any industryThe best in our industryConsiderably above average in our industrySlightly above average in our industryAverage for our industrySlightly below average in our industryConsiderably below average in our industryNow, what CX would you like to deliver within 3 years?[Credit: Temkin Group Q1 2017 CX Management Survey]Data: Q1 2017 CX Management Survey of 180 organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenuesAccording toAimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and VP atTemkin Group, 55% of all the companies surveyed want to be best in their industry or better than all companies in any industry when it comes to the level of CX they deliver they deliver within three years. That’s a big crowd wanting to get into a small, small slot.As Aimee and I caught up at the recentNorth American Employee Engagement Awardsit became crystal clear: it’s time to stress the connection between Employee Engagement (EE) and CX. Now.Customers today have a louder voice (think Yelp and other rating sites), have access to more information on you and your competitors, and as a result expect an increasingly awesome experience. And they should.Meanwhile your competitors are launching new products and services faster than ever before, and are consistently raising the bar on CX. And they should.So what’s an organization to do?Arm yourself with these 3 CX-Boosting Strategies!3 CX-Boosting Strategies1) Become A CX Leader—By Focusing First On EmployeesCX leaders (companies whose CX is significantly better than their competitors) have more engaged employees. Here’s whatTemkin Groupfound:[Credit: Temkin Group Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2017]Base:5,552 U.S. consumers employed in for-profit organizationsHow exactly does engagement work? What happens in the brain when we are engaged?Engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from meaningful work, from attaching part of one’s identity with their job. And this comes down to some neurotransmitters and a hormone. As leaders when we intentionally help the brains of our employees to generate dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin we create good feelings for the organization. Dopamine (anticipation of reward) and serotonin (feeling good, well-being) and oxytocin (bonding, feeling connected to others) can be created via a number of programs in yourCultural GAME Plan.So how do you become a CX leader and get engaged employees? This is where HR comes in…2) Get HR To Connect EE And CXHR owns the cultural programs, so it’s key that they are first looped into Employee Engagement (EE) so they can help support CX. First a strongmission, vision, valuessets the tone for your tribal purpose and code of conduct (oxytocin). Next,acknowledging employeesfor being models of your values creates social validation (dopamine and serotonin). There are many more ways that you can read about in my many blogs onemployee engagementand in #3 below.Next, when HR runs regularSBM Indexes, you can easily diagnose and cure and engagement dis-eases so you can continuously raise your engagement bar.It matters, it’s a reflection of them and what they believe in, who they are, how they show up in the world.According to Temkin Group’s research when HR is significantly involved in CX the organization is 50% more likely to be a CX leader. Wow.Is HR involved in CX at your organization?Credit: [Temkin Group 2016 HR Professionals Survey]Which brings us to the next item to check on our list, specifics for creating EE and CX.3) Clarify Exactly How/Where HR Can Support EE And CXHere are some ways that HR can forge the EE-CX link…Employeecommunications– rich in safety, belonging, mattering and boosting positive feelingsEmployee training & new hireonboarding– see my blog on how to ensure key emotional touchpoints in the onboarding processPerformance motivation– learn how to create intrinsic motivation in this blogAwards, celebrations, incentives– learn how to celebrate and incent in these blogsEmployee listening programs– learn how to be a better listener in this blogMiddle manager engagement efforts– learn how to engage leaders and the cost of low leader engagement in this blogRecruiting & hiring processes– learn the latest way to recruit with self-revealing questions hereAll of the above examples and blogs will help you keep the brains of your employees in theirSmart State, which will in turn help your customers spend more time there too! Smart State = Engaged, Aligned, Tribal, Together.

Right Person, Wrong Role?

Season 4, Ep. 10
People get into the wrong roles for a number of reasons.Perhaps there was a reorganization and the company didn’t want to lose them, so they were reallocated without consultation or training. Maybe they were promoted beyond their capability without a training plan. Or maybe they were hired to do a project that’s now irrelevant and they’ve not been redeployed to produce meaningful results elsewhere. And then there’s our all-time favorite, the Untouchables.Do you have Untouchables? Also, known as Sacred Cows? These are people who were hired because they are related to (or friends with) the CEO or other powerful team members. Even though their performance is sub-par, they get promoted or allowed to stay on for emotional reasons.[Shutterstock]Case Study: Company XCompany X was a tech consulting firm with a $37 million in annual revenue and approximately 270 employees, about two-thirds of whom were consultants. They were tracking at $137,000 in revenue per employee… ouch! The company was run by a married couple, John and Sarah, who initially contacted us about perfecting their sales process. They felt that their salespeople could be performing much better. What we found was amuchbigger issue.Assess: What We FoundThe findings were grim: a fear-driven culture with 53% employee turnover each year. Company X did an exceptional job of technical training for new hires, only to see them leave for higher pay within a year.The two owners of the company had virtually oppositeMeta Programs, and this was causing chaos. Sarah (Active, Toward, Options, Difference) would proactively start an initiative, rally the troops to move toward the new goal, then jump to the next option/project. John (Reflective, Away, Procedures, Sameness) would want to analyze before launching the new initiative, so he would kill it or block it, minimize exposure, and set up a procedure to handle the proposal through testing, no matter how much or little, the cost associated risk. The resulting chaos was confusing to the team and sending them deep into Critter State.The glaring gap in the consultant’s training curriculum was in sales. Even though their role was heavily client-facing, the consultants weren’t trained in the basic selling skills and had no incentive to do anything but fix technical problems. They also had no interaction with the sales team — which was sequestered in a different area of the building. The consultants were the right people in the right role — but with no support to perform their best.Harry, the new sales manager, had been with the firm for three months. Shortly after hiring Harry, the company had reorganized to close a failing business unit. Sarah and John had moved their niece, Toni, the VP of the failed unit, into a new role as the VP of sales and marketing —wait a sec! What? Did we read that right? Yep, the niece was given one of the most important roles in the firm after killing an entire business unit. Sounds like a sacred cow to me.There were three problems with this scenario:Harry (who now was sales manager) had no sales expertise — his entire background was in Internet marketing)Toni was an experienced sales manager but wasn’t strategic and had no marketing expertiseThe two disliked each other — Toni was threatened by Harry and Harry thought Toni should have been fired for her lackluster leadership of the failed business unitTo make matters even more fun, Toni’s boyfriend, Taylor, had been hired as director of client care. He had solid experience, but a perpetual mocking smirk when interacting with anyone but Toni.Act: What They DidThe first thing we had John and Sarah do was to create a clear and compelling mission, vision, and value statements. This would help everyone know why they were coming to work, and where they were going together, and how they agreed to behave. They posted these statements in the lobby, and the managers worked with smaller teams until everyone was on board.Next, we establishedNeedle Moverstogether (first for the executive team and later for everyone) in line with the new mission, vision, and values, and radically increased accountability using weekly reporting and theAccountability Equation. We created a reporting process for the sales pipeline and marketing effectiveness metrics and set up an incentive plan for the consultants to source future sales.We also redefined the roles and responsibilities throughout sales and marketing to get the right people in the right roles. Some people were reallocated, and one or two were let go respectfully. Since the company had a history of high employee turnover it was key to minimizeCritter Statevia thoughtful communication.John, Sarah, Toni, and Harry worked on their on key challenges. Toni got the tools to turn her department around. Harry was moved out of sales management and into the right role — marketing —where he is brilliant and a perpetual learner. He still reports to Toni, who now manages the sales team directly. Harry’s initiatives have made Company X top of mind in their target market. Now that John and Sarah communicate more explicitly, they are no longer creating chaos, and Toni and Harry have developed a mutual respect for each other. Taylor had to be let go. He didn’t want to uphold the company values and had burned too many bridges to be salvageable.ROI: What They GotAbout six months into the change process, things got pretty scary. The consultants became resistant and didn’t want to work on internal projects for which they had no billable hours, and John and Sarah almost pulled the plug and reverted to chaos. Instead, they appliedenergy managementtools, worked through their own resistance, recommitted, and held their team accountable to the direction they had chosen together. The results were not all immediate — patterns occasionally resurfaced and to be readdressed — but overall the results have been phenomenal. They zoomed through the $50 million inflection point and are preparing for $100 million. Their employee retention is now normal for their industry, and employee surveys show that engagement and satisfaction continue to improve.

Special Episode: Inside Leadership with Guest Cheryl Farr

Season 4, Ep. 9
Cheryl Farr, Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Signal.CSK, is our special guest for this insightful episode of the Crack the Behavior Code podcast where we discuss the importance of finding opportunity in times of crisis and much more.Who is Cheryl?Cheryl builds accessible, exciting, audience-engaging brands and brand-driven marketing programs that strengthen brand power and drive real marketplace results. She founded SIGNAL.csk in 2009 to help organizations of all kinds realize and exercise their true brand power. She empowers organizations that value fresh creative thinking, purpose, alignment, and the strategic pursuit of excellence to be strong stewards of their own brands — and their people to be passionate brand leaders and evangelists. Cheryl and her Denver-based team work side-by-side with their clients to expertly align visual and verbal identity, products and services, organizational decision making, and marketing initiatives to meet brand and business goals. Their proven True, Meaningful, DifferentTM and Brand SignalsTM methodologies build brand value by illuminating what their clients can uniquely own in the hearts and minds of their target audiences and reinforcing it across all touchpoints. Hundreds of successful client engagements include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, where Cheryl helped positon the then-fledgling brand for expansive worldwide growth; Taylor Morrison, the nation’s largest regional homebuilder, for whom she developed its first award-winning active adult brand; and PetSmart, where she led the sensory branding work that innovated the total in-store experience.Find Out More About Her Work Here:LinkedIn: Cheryl Farr | LinkedInWebsite: Home - SIGNAL.csk ( SIGNAL.csk Brand PartnersTwitter: SIGNAL.csk (@SIGNALcsk)

Why Smart People Make Stupid Decisions

Season 4, Ep. 8
We’ve all been there.We make what we think is a rational decision. And then seconds, minutes, or days later we wonder “What was I thinking?!” Was it a temporary lapse of sanity? Were we just distracted and decided anyway?We knew it wasn’t the right decision or the best decision, but in that moment, we made a decision anyway. And it ended up being a stupid one. Why?[Shutterstock]The Science Behind “Stupid”Does this mean that we are indeed stupid? Nope. It simply means that not every decision we make is actually rational. We see what we want to see filtered through our inherent biases, and then we make decisions based on those biases. These biases are called cognitive biases and we all have them.Acognitive biasrefers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. These biases cause conclusions, inferences, assumptions about people and situations to be drawn in a less than logical fashion. We all create our own “subjective social reality” from our perception of the input we receive— both from outside of us and inside of us.How can we stop making stupid decisions and start making smart ones? By spending time understanding our cognitive biases.Understanding and checking our biases leads to better decisions and more accurate cognition.When we understand, we make better decisions.Check out this graphic, then in a few minutes, I’ll walk you through how I used it to help a client make asmart hireinstead of a stupid one.What’s Your Bias? Or How Bias Impacts BusinessNeil Jacobstein, an expert in artificial intelligence, notes that we all use AI and algorithms to mitigate and compensate for many of the following heuristics in human cognition (thinking):Anchoring bias:Tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.Availability bias:Tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater “availability” in memory, which can be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.Bandwagon effect:Tendency to do (or believe) things because many people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.Hindsight bias:Sometimes called the “I knew it all along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened.Normalcy bias:Refusal to plan for, or react to, a disaster which has never happened before.Optimism bias:Tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.Planning fallacy bias:Tendency to overestimate benefits and underestimate costs and task-completion times.Sunk-cost or loss-aversion bias:Disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.Click herefor a complete list of all cognitive biases.Jacobstein is fond of pointing out that your neocortex has not had a major upgrade in 50,000 years. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a dinner napkin. “What if,” he asks, “it was the size of a table cloth? Or California?”The Benefits Of Bias—And How To Optimize YoursBiasescan be helpful. They filter through information overwhelm, they help make sense of the world, they allow us to make quick decisions in a fast-paced world. Check out this recent challenge an executive coaching client of mine had.My client needed to hire a VP of marketing to take the company to the next level. He had four candidates that had made it to the interview stage and one had even made it onsite to meet with four different key stakeholders in the organization. I asked him why he favored this one candidate by such a long shot. As I listened I heard the following biases. He was showing:• Planning fallacy bias:Underestimating how long the process would take and what a great hire would cost.• Anchoring bias:Focusing on one piece of information (the candidate’s current job accomplishments but not his entire career—his resume hadtwo decades of one to two-year roles).• Availability bias:Because the candidate was successful (in a huge company with tons of resources available) he assumed he’d be successful in a much smaller company (with about 1/6 of the resources the candidate was accustomed to).• Optimism bias:Some of this too…thinking we’d have a solid candidate identified, screened, hired within sixweeks.I expressed these concerns, and how cognitive biases can be busted when you:• Take Your Time:You will make better decisions when you aren’t hungry, tired, or stressed. Taking time before making a decision allows you to have to think about the future and the impact of your decision.• Get An Outside View:Ask a trusted advisor or peer for their opinion.• Consider Options:What else could you do?Then he asked me to interview the candidate. I deeply questioned the candidate in each of the bias areas our client had. The result? They’re not the right fit for the company. Not by a long shot. The excellent news is our client avoided a costly hiring mistake and the super excellent news is that he still has three candidates that mightfit the billonce they are interviewed by carefully avoiding cognitive bias.While we’ll all still make stupid decisions now and then (welcome to being human!), once you understand cognitive biases you’ll mitigate risk by implementing the tools above.

The Neuroscience of Recruiting

Season 4, Ep. 7
Why do we make hiring and recruiting mistakes? Or even role assignment/placement mistakes?Often it’s because we’re rushed, we don’t have a process that has been proven to be successful, or we don’t have a clear profile of who we truly need in a specific role.But also it’s because we don’t leverage neuroscience.The Proven 3 Step Process To Get The Right Person In The Right Role Every TimeSo how do you get the right person in the right role? It’s actually easier than you think. It requires a proven process, and that you don’t cut corners.Credit: Getty1.Figure out where you are on the Inflection Point chart.See the chart below so you know the main people, money, model challenges, and opportunities your organization is in the midst of—and are around the corner. Look 1-2 years out and sketch out the org chart you’ll need. Some of our coaching clients prefer a 1 year and 3-year org chart. We help them develop the plan for the immediate hires (so they can achieve the 1-year org chart with everyone at solid performance), then we help them create the organizational infrastructure to support their next inflection point of growth.2.Once you have clarified the roles you need, dive into who the right person truly is. For this you’ll need:a.The leadership level appropriate for the role (how much ownership do you want them to take?) What makes sense for this role? Check here:b.An impact description to ensure we know exactly what a great fit will be and what they’ll own.Here’s an example.c.If the role is senior, map out their decision space (what exactly will they have decision authority over).Here are some examples.All of the above will causeemotional engagementin the candidate’s brain: oxytocin (yes! These are my people! I’ve found them), serotonin (wow, does it feel good to know I’ve found my tribe), dopamine (I can’t wait to see what we create together!).3.Make sure that your recruiting process is working.The following makes all the difference (and see the proof below):a.Post the Impact Description I mentioned above – you’ll get fewer candidates, but they’ll be the right fit.“From May 9 through July 8 we ran an ad online. We had 14 applicants, two people were interviewed, and zero people were hired.Then we used STI‘s Impact Description format. Within *one week* we had 25 applicants, nine interviews, and seven very solid candidates. STI’s Impact Description format made all the difference!”~ Justin RodriguezTalent Acquisition Manager, Principle Autob.Screen for Value Alignment digitally – if they aren’t aligned with your values, they won’t fit in with your culture. You can simplyset up an auto-reply with 3-5 values questionsand direct candidates to send the answers to a 2ndemail address. When you read their answers to the values questions, you’ll know who’s aligned with you and who isn’t.“We integrated your strategy for recruiting forvalue alignmentandhigh accountabilityinto our process.It worked out very well.We had 70 applicants for the position.Each applicant received an email from us and requested that they answer some values questions. 25 out of 70 responded!7 were contacted and brought in for interviews.2 were brought back for more than 2 interviews and we just selected the candidate today.I think this approach took 30 or more days off the process plus we calculate that the process saved us 60 team member-hours per candidate.The process also gives you more insight into the individual and you feel you know them a lot better which takes the risk-off.”~Steve OstanekPresident, Neundorfer, Inc.c.Screen forsafety, belonging, mattering,andmeta programs. You’ll learn more by following the links I just mentioned, and here’s a quick summary:To discover the SBM Trigger of your candidate:Ask: What is most important to you at work—please list in order of importance:You’re in a team that has a plan, people have your back (this shows safety is important)You’re part of the team, you have an equal value to others (this shows belonging is important)You’re acknowledged and appreciated for your unique contributions; you are making a difference (this shows mattering is important)To discover the Meta Program profile of your candidate:There are many Meta Programs —about 60—per Leslie Cameron-Bandler. Think of each Meta Program as a color and each person a unique artwork formed by the combination of those colors.Here are the Meta Programs our clients find most impactful when recruiting:Direction: Toward-Away.Are you motivated to go toward a goal or away from pain? Think salesperson versus accountant: what criteria do they assess situations with?Reason: Options-Procedures.Do you like to have many options and choices, or prefer a proven step-by-step process? What feels right to you?Scope: General-Specific.Do you feel comfortable with a high-level overview, or do you want specific details? When describing something, do you start with the details or the summary?Orientation: Active-Reflective.Do you have short sentence structure and high action, or do you want to think about things first, using longer sentence structure with many clauses?Source: Internal-External.How do you know you’ve done a good job? Through external feedback or internal monitoring?So during the interview…Ask:What do you enjoy most at work/what makes work fulfilling? Why?Listen for achieving goals/accomplishment [Toward] OR solving problems/mitigating risk [Away]Ask:Think of a recent large purchase (like a car, home, etc.) or a big decision you made recently. Why did you choose the specific item you chose?Listen for having lots of options, choice, possibility [Options] OR having a proven process OR a story that had a number of steps that ended with the choice being made [Procedures]Ask:Tell me about your weekend.Listen for high level, net-net, executive summary [General] OR details and specificity [Specific]Ask:What’s your approach when solving problems? How do you decide what to do? How do you do it?Listen for take action, charge forward, do it now, high bias to action [Active] OR consider, ponder, understand, analyze, THEN take action [Reflective]Ask:How do you know you’ve done a good job?Listen for external proof: achieve quota, win the contest, get praise from boss [External] OR “it’s a feeling, I know I’ve done my best” [Internal]For more on all the above please see ourRecruiting Process.Here come more good feelings and firing of hormones and neurotransmitters in the candidates and even the hiring manager’s brains. Woo hoo!d.Use whatever tests you like best. Our clients like Caliper, Kolbe, Predictive Index, Achiever, Topgrading, More Than A Gut Feel among others.Tests are a good idea to check ourselves so we don’t get too excited—let the prefrontal cortex (the analytical part of the brain) take over here and ensure the data backs up all the good feelings.The Net-NetUsing some basic brain-based tools can help you screen candidates more effectivelyIt’s essential to move beyond the “rock star moment” of the interview and ask self-revealing questions to find out who the person truly isUsing these tools will save you time and heartacheHow’s your recruiting going?

Don't Make Your Brain Dumb

Season 4, Ep. 6
What makes a person successful?Having a growth mindset? Being a visionary? Being born into the ‘right’ family?These may help, but a healthy brain is foundational. Without it, success is going to be far harder to come by. So what is a healthy brain, a successful brain? It’s one that has high blood flow and high activity.TheAmen Clinicsperform brain imaging calledsingle-photon emission computed tomography(SPECT), which assesses at blood flow and activity patterns in the brain. Since 1991, they have performed over 135,000 brain SPECT scans on patients from 120 countries. The data from SPECT teaches us the four crucial aspects of a person’s brain-based success.Daniel AmenHere are the 4 crucial aspects of ensuring your brain stays strong and doesn’t ‘dumb down’:1) Protect your prefrontal cortex (PFC).You’ve heard me talk about this key region of the brain before. It’s behind your forehead and it governs the development of your personality as well as complex behaviors. In humans, it accounts for 30% of the brain’s volume. That’s a lot. Cats weigh in at 3%, dogs at 7%, chimpanzees at 11% of their brain’s volume. The PFC is involved with executive functions, such as strategy, visioning the future, planning, focus, judgment, impulse control, and empathy. It’s your internal CEO. Low PFC activity = bad decision making. That’s why protecting it is crucial. In astudy,Amen published they found that 91% of traumatic brain injuries involve the PFC.Preventing brain injuries is easy (phew!):Wear a helmet when doing any type of sport where a head injury could occur. Avoid tackle football, hitting soccer balls with your head, any sports that often result in your head being hit.Sleep 7+ hours a night. You’ll see in one of myblogsthat less than that decreases PFC function, which compromises a host of executive function behaviors from decision making even to thinking clearly.Reduce alcohol and marijuana use as they too decrease PFC function.Daniel Amen2) Protect your brain’s pleasure centers.The nucleus accumbens (NA), in both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, are involved in pleasure andmotivation. You’ll remember blogs I’ve written about theneurotransmitter dopamine. Well the NA is lit up by the dopamine your brain releases from sex, chocolate, video games, cocaine, stimulants like coffee, high fat and high sugar foods, and fame. Most of us are familiar with the connection between dopamine and addiction, which we’ve been seeing with excessive video gaming for many years now. Not to bum your high, but intense pleasure actually results in substantial drops in your levels of dopamine. When repeated over time (like with heroin addiction, for instance) the NA becomes less responsive, which leads to needing more of these behaviors. That’s how addiction happens, be it to chocolate or methamphetamines.Protect your pleasure centers by:Reduce or limit thrill-seeking activities like racing, excessive video games, pornography, scary movies, drugs that could wear your NA out.Increase the behaviors that protect your brain, such as exercise (ideally outdoors),meditation, listening to music you find pleasing, enjoying the company of friends, hobbies, doing things you are passionate about. All these and more help activate— and not overload—your pleasure centers in healthy ways.3) You can make your brain better.Amen Clinics is well-known for running the first and largest brain imaging and rehabilitationstudyon active and retired NFL players. Needless to say, they witnessed high levels of brain damage to players, many of which had been hit in the head thousands of times. They were thrilled—and surprised—to see that 80% of the players showed improvement in as little as two months on theirMemory Rescueprogram. Since most of us have (thankfully) not been repeatedly hit in the head, there is hope for all of us to have better brains—and better lives.The Net-NetProtect your prefrontal cortex by protecting your skull, getting 7+ hours of sleep each night, reducing alcohol and marijuana useProtect your nucleus accumbens—your pleasure centers—by dialing down addictions (we all have them—even to coffee or chocolate) and over-stimulating forms of entertainment (watch excessive video gaming)You can indeed make your brain better by getting help if you need it. Amen has helped pro football playersHow does a person become successful? That’s a long answer. For starters, you can stack the deck in your favor by having a healthy brain!

The Future of Work

Season 4, Ep. 5
I won’t start by saying 2020 was a rough year. We know that already.We know that 2020 brought many businesses to their knees, requiring profound pivots, workforce and workplace changes, policy changes, and how it significantly altered how humans work.As an executive coach for mid-sized to large organizations, I was in the thick of these changes every day (and still am). It wasn’t uncommon to receive texts after hours and on weekends as my clients scrambled to find their footing in a brave, new, uncertain and constantly changing world.Based on my work with over a dozen diverse organizations over the past year, below you’ll find my predictions for what I believe The Future Of Work will look like.#1 The Human Experience (HX) Will Replace The Employee Experience (EX)Net-Net: Seeing employees as humans and helping them grow in all areas of their livesFocus on: Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial healthInfographic:Learning together and how it benefits our brainsIt’s ok to be human at work now. We’ve seen the inside of one another’s homes, heard our colleagues’ children crying, dogs barking, and more. Thank goodness. Now we can connect to one another without the veneer of stilted professionalism.Employee Experience(EX) was a 2-dimensional way of looking at humans. Now we care about the entire Human Experience (HX) and support our people to have more fulfilling lives, which of course helps them bring a more productive version of themselves to their work. Thanks toGartner’s 2020 Reimagine HR Employee Survey,employers that support their peoples’ lives overall enjoy a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health, plus a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health. Additionally, employers benefit from a 21% increase in the number of high performers (compared to firms that don’t provide the same degree of support to their employees).#2 Personal And Corporate Value Alignment Will Support More Purpose-Driven WorkNet-Net: Truly living corporate values, not just hanging them on the wallFocus on: Being authentic, walking your walk, talking your talkInfographic:Employee engagement has a recipe… follow it!We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want to know we’re making a difference. We all want to work with (note I don’t say “for”) organizations whose values align with our own. According to some 2020Gartner research, 74% of employees expect their organization to become moreactively involvedin current cultural debates of the day.How did you feel about some of the more public displays of CEO support of their values, such as certain social media companies unplugging accounts of hate groups and other malevolent social forces?The more a CEO models the organization’svalues, invests in addressing challenging or even uncomfortable social issues, the more engaged their employees are.The same Gartner surveyfound a leap in employee engagement—from 40% to 60%— when their organization acted on today’s key social issues. Wow. If you need some help setting/refreshing your values,here’s a kitto help you.#3 Hybrid Work Will Be The Norm—So Build A Virtual CultureNet-Net: Release control over the work environmentFocus on: Where your people feel most productive and connected to their team/the organization overallInfographic:You need a GAME Plan to make this workHybrid workforces are already becoming common, with employees working in their home, a quiet coffee shop, or the office (or some variation). What I’m curious about is the varying interest in a hybrid that I’m seeing across my clients. Some employees are itching to get back to the physical office as much/as soon as possible. Others are ok coming in 1-3x per week, based on what’s needed. What do your employees want? Find out. Regardless, you’re going to need to have a GAME (Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, Engagement) plan to keep everyone “together” as a tribe. See the infographic above.A recent Gartner surveyfound that 64% of managers believe that employees working in the office arehigher performersthan remote workers. And they said they’d be more likely to give in-office workers a higher raise than remote workers. This isn’t the experience of my clients, though, who have found that remote workers are often higher performers. Gartner’sdatashowed the same: for full-time workers from both 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2020 (during the pandemic) remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than those who work from the office.And be aware of gender disparity here too: many of my clients are finding that men are more interested in returning to the office versus women. If some managers believe the in-office employees are more productive, this could affect salary increases and promotions, which again could reinforce salary disparity between genders. No Bueno.#4 Employee Monitoring Will Be Replaced By Performance Monitoring—And TrustNet-Net: If you don’t trust them, why do you employ them?Focus on: Monitor performance and results, not hours clockedInfographic:Motivation can be crushed by leadership—make sure you don’t mess this up!Did you know that as a result of the pandemic, more than 1 in 4 companies installed technology to passively track and monitor their employees? Wow. Imagine the privacy issues that come from this, as well as the trust issues. Now imagine if this happened to you—would you feel like your employer was looking over your shoulder all day? Spying on you? It’s a sticky topic, and according toGartner's research, less than 50% of employees trust their organization with their data. This is not surprising, since 44% didn’t receive any information regarding the data collected about them and how it would be used. Whoa. A little respect, please.Expect to see a bevy of state and local regulations this year that will establish limits on what employers can track about their employees. If you choose to monitor your employees digitally, be sure to over-communicate and be super transparent about the details. Regardless, you’ll get the best results (and highest morale) by simply establishing clear KPIs, success metrics, goals, OKRs, whatever you prefer to call them, andmonitor individual performanceinstead.#5 Flexible Working Hours Will Become The NormNet-Net: Ensure overlap that’s essential, let go of control for the restFocus on: Letting people bring their best self, according totheirwork rhythmInfographic:the Feedback Framewill help you give effective feedbackAre you a morning person? Or an evening person? What would it be like to work at your peak time each day? How much more productive and fulfilled could you be?My clients are becoming increasingly flexible re: when to let their employees work. Some are requiring availability (not continuous though) between 9-5 pm, meaning the employee can take gap time during this range as long as they check email at regular intervals and attend key meetings. Others are setting up split shifts (a mom for instance could work from 7-8 am, then once the kids are set, from 10 am-2 pm, and again a check-in on email/etc from 7-8 pm). Get creative with exploring what your people need and what serves the business. This will require us to become better atgiving feedback and often doing it digitally. See the infographic above.Gartner’s2020 Reimagine HR Employee Surveyrevealed that organizations offering employees flexibility over when, where, and how much they work saw 55% of their workforce as high performers. Yet at an organization with a standard 40-hour workweek, only 36% of employees were considered high performers. Again, it’s time to measure results, as I mentioned in #4 above, versus time clocked.#6 Freelance, Temporary Help Will Be Welcomed To Optimize Resource AllocationNet-Net: Stay lean and get extra help as neededFocus on: You’ll need better communication and more Standard Operating Procedures to ensure quality and consistency with temp helpInfographic:Be sure to includeyour temp help in your tribeWe all need more diverse capabilities and skills from our teams than ever before. And Gartner’sanalysisshows that organizations are now listing about 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 than they did in 2017. Why? Because the world is moving faster, technology is moving faster, we have more diversity in the work we do, so we all have to level up to meet ever-changing needs.Many of my clients are looking for temp help, using UpWork, Fiverr, and other sites to get the specific (often narrow) help them need at the moment. We’ll need greatcommunicationto make this work, to help onboard everyone faster, and ensure consistent quality work.#7 Neurodiversity And Mental Health Support Will Be Destigmatized.Net-Net: We all have our struggles, so let’s support instead of judgeKey Focus: Create a Neurodiversity [link to neurodiversity blog] policy (if you don’t have one yet) and internal support groupsInfographic:Stress, change, isolationare devastating to us all… learn what these do to the brain so you can sidestep this riskI was very happy to learn that even before the pandemic,Gartner's researchshowed that 45% of well-being budget increases were being allocated to mental and emotional well-being programs.And now in the midst of the pandemic (and let’s be realistic—for the ongoing future) we’ve seen mental and emotional well-being brought to the forefront for all organizations.Per Gartner, by late March 2020, 68% of organizations had introduced at least one new wellness benefit to help their employees navigate the pandemic. And in 2021, we’ll see organizations join my clients in widely offering “mental health days”,support groups, compassion around ADHD, OCD, Bipolar, GAD employees. Just like some of us have a bad back and can’t sit long in a given position, these mental and emotional challenges will be viewed the same way—with acceptance and non-judgment.We’ve still got a way to go to whatever the new normal is going to be. With the above tools you’ll be better positioned to capitalize on it, and with a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.

Three Fast, Easy, Neuroscience-Based Ways to Get Unstuck

Season 4, Ep. 4
As an executive coach, I invest a great deal of time in helping people get unstuck. And I repeatedly see 3 key areas where they are ensnared. We all want to be happy, to get along, to have great lives. The tricky part is we don’t live in a vacuum, so for better or worse,we must interact with others. This can be the best part of life, as well as the most challenging.Here are my top 3 neuroscience-based strategies to help youget unstuck fast:1. Catch Trouble Before You’re EntangledYou’re bopping along, having a great day, then you get blindsided by someone’s unpleasant behavior. Why? It’s their thing—not yours. Why take on their negativity, get fearful/avoid conflict/get angry/judgmental?It’s all about energy.Emotions have energy, and you have a choice as to whether you absorb that energy or not.Here’s how we absorb it and let it burn our high:Fear: you fear the person or fear they have power over you, your finances, your future, your happiness, or so on. You get the idea.Judgment: you judge the person or situationAttachment: you think something needs to be a certain way or must occur on a certain timeline, and you’re attached to getting what you want.All 3 reactions cause you to become emotionally entangled, and then you’re in trouble.Let’s be conscious of this as leaders, as solving problems is often a part of our job. The next time a buzz kill comes your way—stop, pause, and notice your response. Are you reacting with fear? Judging the person? Feeling attached to a certain outcome/how things should be? Stop. Feel it.Then choose differently. Choose to let them have their experience, but do not make it yours!2. Realize Your Ego-Mind Wants To Make You UnhappyHave you ever noticed that your mind is always talking? Blah blah blah – all the time. We know from both Wayne Dyer’s research and the NSA that a human has about 60,000 thought per day. 90% of them are repetitive. Whoa. That’s nuts!What would happen if you didn’t think so much? Have you ever had the experience of stopping the relentless dialog in your mind? Try it.Focus on your breath: inhale for a count of 7 through your nose, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 7 through your mouth. Do this at least 7 times in a row and you’ll start to get still. The mind needs a project. It’s ok to give it the task of counting to get still as you do a parasympathetic nervous system reset.Next, when you return to thinking, step back and witness what your mind says. Does it complain? Pout? Rage? Thoughts generate energy.You can always stop, or at least slow, down your thoughts. Be careful what energy you fill your life with.Mike Dooley of Tut says “A young soul learns to take responsibility for their actions, a mature soul learns to take responsibility for their thoughts, and a wise soul learns to take responsibility for their happiness.”Why not be a wise soul?3. Consciously Develop Your Emotional IntelligenceTo be aconscious leader, we eventually will embrace neuroscience-based strategies for emotional intelligence. Let’s talk about the two elements of doing so. There is personal competence, which is our self-awareness and ability to regulate our emotions, and social competence, which is our awareness of the emotional experience of others and our ability to navigate the emotions of others.How aware are you of your emotions? Do you know how you’re feeling at any given time? Our feelings are how we navigate our experiences. Grab ouremotion wheelto check in on yourself.Next, are you able to witness your emotions and not get swept up in them? This is where mindfulness and meditation really help. As we learn to slow our thoughts down, we gain the ability to be less wrapped up in our own emotional dramas.As we deepen our awareness of ourselves, we can then have more compassion for the emotional experiences of others, which enables us tonavigate conflict more easily, give others a break when they’re stuck, and help them get unstuck. We start to notice that we don’t take another person’s emotional outburst personally. We can witness it without being wrapped up in it.Net-NetHumans take on the emotions of others when they fear, judge or get attached to what the person is to them, or what that person represents. It’s essential to use neuroscience-based strategies to manage the relentless chatter of our ego mind in order tohave both inner peace and behavioral choice