Is Your Boss a Mind Reader?

Happy New Year! To start out 2017, I’d like you to think about the answer to the question in the subject line above…

Most likely, your response is a resounding “no”.

I’ve never met a real mind reader (that I know of) so I’m assuming that they are few and far between. To save you from having to try and read my mind, I’ll get right to the point. If your boss can’t read your mind, then why would you expect him or her to know what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive (AKA engaged) at work?

I think lots of folks wish their manager would spend more time getting to know them to better understand what makes them tick. I see others who wish their boss would take charge of their engagement by fixing all the external broken things and solving all the day-to-day problems.

Here’s the news for 2017.

Engagement is an inside job. You are the boss of your own engagement.

Here are a couple of ideas for how to avoid the mind-reading trap and create your own Professional Paradise right now.

1. Get really clear about what puts a skip in your step at work. What are those things that make time fly? Common responses that I hear are “getting work done”, “positive connections with coworkers” and “learning new things”. Of course your answers might be different – there are no right or wrong responses. When you know what makes you feel engaged, then you are more likely to notice it when it happens.

2. Sit down one-on-one with your supervisor and share what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive at work. You don’t need to wait until he or she schedules the meeting – just ask for the time and share your agenda. Sure it would be nice if your boss initiated this conversation, but you don’t have to wait. No need to point fingers or lay blame, just professionally discuss those things that up your engagement factor. Be sure to include ways that you could more regularly connect with these things (ie, if you like learning new things – offer to be on a project team). When you are engaged at work, it benefits you, your customers and the organization as a whole so your boss should be happy you asked for this meeting.

Engagement is a shared responsibility. Sometimes managers get it right and sometimes they don’t. There’s no reason why you can’t be the catalyst for the conversation if your boss hasn’t stepped up to do it.

No fancy mind reading…just good old fashioned face-to-face conversation.


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Will You Be the ONE?

Today I’m sharing a guest post from my son Brian Hess who lives and works in Manhattan (that’s him in the picture between my husband and me).   This is an encore post from 2 years ago when I received this email from Brian. It’s one of my all time favorites and I hope you enjoy it (again) too!

So today I was riding the subway, it was a cold cold Monday morning in NYC in the holiday season (which means the trains are PACKED and delayed – a lot of cranky people). 

This morning was no different, as I show up and on the sign that tells when the train comes it says “delayed.” You can see the negativity and frustration in the air, and then as the train finally arrives, it only gets worse. The train is absolutely mobbed, people are fighting tooth and nail to get in, and yelling at each other. It was very negative.

Then, during the ride, the train conductor comes on the intercom and says “Tis the season to be packed into the train like a bunch of sardines. Even though the bills are too high, the pay is too low, still realize you have it better then 95% of the people world wide. Smile, enjoy life, and have a great Monday.”

Just like that everyone started smiling and giggling etc, the vibes were great. It was a great example of turning POWs into WOWs, and was wild how one person did it for hundreds of people.

I hope it gets you in the holiday spirit – whatever that means to you. 

See you in 2017!

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3 Must-Have Strategies to Permanently Improve Engagement

Every executive leader in healthcare has a vested interest in improving employee engagement – whether he or she acknowledges it or not. Unfortunately, many senior leaders think HR should manage engagement or they are looking for a magic formula when it comes to sustained improvement. Of course one doesn’t exist.

First, the problem. Here’s what I typically hear in my conversations with hospitals and health systems across the country. Employee engagement survey results come in and senior leaders talk about how important engagement is with their manager group. They share their desire for front line leaders to create department level action plans to transform engagement.

Click HERE to discover 3 must-do strategies that will permanently improve engagement in my most recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review.

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The Secret to Engaging Millennials is Revealed!

Many leaders are looking for the secret to engaging millennial employees (those born early 1980’s to early 2000’s). By 2020, nearly half of all employees will be from this generation so I guess it’s fair that Baby Boomer and Gen X managers are interested.

Guess what…there is no “secret”. But you knew that already didn’t you. Millennial employees, just like all other generations before them, are individuals. There is no one right way to engage with these team members.

You might remember in the summer I sent out a short survey – thanks to all who participated – asking about what motivates you at work. I asked those who responded to include their generation so I could sort the answers. I’m excited to reveal some of the things I learned.

First the facts. Five hundred and ten people responded to the survey – with a majority (56%) being Baby Boomers. Of the remaining 44%, 24% are Gen X and 18% are Millennials. For those of you adding up those 3 numbers, there were a few outliers to make up the additional 2%.three-generations

So here’s the news…drumroll please…the #1 internal motivator for ALL THREE GENERATIONS is “The feeling of accomplishment after completing a task or project.”

It’s not so amazing that we are all alike in this important way. Our beliefs and mindsets about work are formed at an early age sitting around the dinner table listening to adult conversations. The “good” parts of those conversations almost always revolve around positive feelings versus positive actions.

So what if more leaders helped the people on their team connect with that feeling of accomplishment after completing a task or project?

That’s my suggestion for today. If you are a leader, ask the folks who report to you what makes them feel satisfied, energized & productive (my definition of engaged). Then, when you see them, help to connect the dots to the positive feelings they get each day when those things happen. It’s all about personal connections coming from a sense of caring. There’s no secret… it’s called a positive work relationship.

If you would like your boss to better understand your internal motivators, then ask about his or hers. That will start the conversation and who knows where it will lead.

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In Dawn’s Words…

I’m excited to introduce you to Dawn Osterling, a Director at Hanover Hospital. I received a big envelope with a real typed letter from Dawn recently (I love the old school touch!). I was blown away by what she shared and that she had taken the time to write. I think you will appreciate the letter as well and learn some good ideas when you read it. Don’t worry if you don’t work in healthcare – the ideas are transferable to any business. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Thanks Dawn!!

In Dawn’s Words…

julie-swartzI had the pleasure of participating in Hanover Hospital’s nursing symposium last fall and I was so inspired by your message that I decided to start a Chief Paradise Officer (CPO) program on my unit. During one staff meeting I had the nurses decide what would need to be present on our unit to make our environment a paradise and we came up with the criteria. I created a commitment statement that they signed and we hung a copy in our locker room as a reminder (Thanks to Dawn…this is attached). My leadership group decides each month which staff member exhibits CPO characteristics based on their commitment to our unit. We want people to be owner-minded, accountable, problem solvers, respectful and team builders.

To date we have celebrated 8 staff members consisting of nurses and OB scrub techs. The leadership team sends very specific attributes that they feel are present in each person and we promote these things in the celebration. The winner receives a flower lei, a CPO button, a certificate and a few little prizes. It is so much fun! It is the most exciting thing that I do with the staff and it has become a wonderful time of anticipation during our staff meeting. After the winner is announced, other staff members clap, cheer and celebrate that person. We take their picture in front of a beach mural that I had put up in our lounge and we post it on our unit. I have enclosed a picture for you to enjoy.

Another very special change that I made after your symposium was changing our lounge into paradise. I had the lounge painted a beautiful blue and had a beach window mural put on the wall. We took down all the flyers and stressful clutter to create a nice tranquil place that the staff could escape to. I hung signs of paradise and peace and put a sound machine in there to simulate waves. It is so great to hear people say that they are going to eat lunch in paradise.

I just want to thank you for the inspiration and helping me see how to turn my “POWS” into “WOWS.” Nursing can be exhausting and leadership can be downright draining so it is so important to have resources such as yours to remind us of how to keep positive and motivated.

Continually moving forward positively,

Dawn Osterling MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM
Director, Maternal/ Child Health, IV therapy and Outpatient Infusion Services, Hanover Hospital

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I Could Do It In My Sleep

When I travel, I have routines that help me stay organized. I carry the same suitcase and backpack, and my passport and boarding pass go in the same pocket. All my power cords are neatly stored in their respective spots…you get the idea. This helps me pack quickly, remember important must-haves and comfortably travel.

We all have routines we’re so used to, that we could do them in our sleep.

suitcaseSome of these routines are helpful and some not so much. How about the plop on the sofa to watch the same old show on TV with the bowl of ice cream routine? Not so helpful is it?

What routines do you have at work that positively (or negatively) impact your ability to be satisfied, energized & productive?

When your boss calls or emails you, do you routinely worry or feel put-out by the interruption?

When surrounded by coworkers, does your routine include gossiping or complaining?

If you’re a manager, do you routinely jump in to fix problems that someone on the team could take care of so that you can “save the day”?

If you want to create your own Professional Paradise – or positively impact other’s ability to create theirs – then you’ve got to wake up and consciously create your routines. Stop the knee jerk reactions that are your old habits.

Here are three ideas for new – more positive – routines.

  1. Create Gratitude Triggers™ – pick something that you routinely do and add a gratitude component to it. Here’s an example to get you started. As you pull into your parking space at work and park your car, think of things you are grateful for about your job.
  2. Step up and get involved – next time something happens that you aren’t happy about, instead of routinely complaining and pointing fingers at others, step up and offer to help solve the problem.
  3. Disengage from the drama – when others start to tell stories of gloom and doom or talk about coworkers behind their back, just politely walk away. No big speeches about taking the moral high ground. Just disengage.

Routines save us a lot of time and make extra space in our brains for thinking about other things. They can be incredibly helpful when they are positive and well executed. Start to notice your routines and beef up the ones that help you become more satisfied, energized & productive at work.

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