What Kind of “Footprint” are You Making at Work?


Deepak Chopra Text Image

This tweet by Deepak Chopra says it well. We all have an energetic signature that we share every time we come in contact with someone.

The question is…are you consciously choosing your own signature?  

Your energetic signature is evidenced by the metaphorical “footprint” you leave behind after each interaction. Here are two footprints that I often see to help you ponder your own energy signature.

Prison Yard Footprint™

This footprint is left by Chain Gang Members everywhere. The Chain Gang Member has sentenced him or herself to Professional Prison. He or she chooses to be unhappy most of the time, regardless of what is happening externally. These folks are just plain yucky to be around!

I often ask my audiences what a Prison Yard Footprint looks like at work. Here are the most common responses:

  • Complaining     Muddy Boot Print
  • Negativity
  • Focus on problems – not solutions
  • Victim mentality
  • Gossiping


Now that’s a depressing list of behaviors…do you agree? These Chain Gang Members need to clean up their Prison Yard Footprint!

Paradise Footprint

Footprint in Sand

This footprint is left by the Chief Paradise Officers (CPOs). A CPO is someone who regularly connects with things at work that make him or her feel satisfied, energized & productive. These CPOs aren’t immune to a little complaining or an occasional bad day. They do, however, work to control their response to the challenges they encounter.

Here’s what the Paradise Footprint looks like:

  • Smiling
  • Support for team members
  • Genuine appreciation for others
  • Gratitude
  • And as Deepak says in his tweet…”positive feelings”

As much as you might think that these footprints are caused by what’s happening at work, that’s just not true. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that two people can have two very different responses to the same external event (think technology upgrade). One person chooses a Paradise Footprint while another leaves their muddy, Prison Yard Footprint all over.

At work, are you choosing a Paradise Footprint or a Prison Yard one or are you just stumbling along without any thought at all?

Don’t clean up your Prison Yard Footprint for your boss, your coworkers or customers. They will all appreciate it, but the most important benefit will be the one you see for yourself. You will feel more satisfied, energized & productive. Your stress will go down and you’ll feel better. The great news is that you don’t need any special skills. You just need awareness, willingness and a little effort. To get a head start, visit www.ProfessionalParadise.com to download free tools.

See you in Professional Paradise!

Vicki Hess


© Vicki Hess ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – May be duplicated for internal use only with all contact information.

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Goldfish Attention Spans (Yes…Really!)

This is a guest blog post from the incomparable Sam Horn. I’ve worked with Sam in the past and she’s a great resource for creating intrigue (and in a good way of course). Enjoy this blog post about her newest book, Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with AnyoneRegardless of your job, this is potent information to have.

IntrigueQuote“A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  pioneer Steve Jobs

I agree with Steve Jobs.

That’s why, as soon as Intrigue Agency Project Manager Mo Sahoo discovered a startling statistic from Harvard Business School researcher Nancy F. Koehn, that goldfish YES GOLDFISH, have longer attention spans that we do (9 seconds to our 8), I knew it was, somehow, going to be featured on the cover my new book.

Why?  Because it illustrates the idea of the book.

Here’s what I mean.

Do you know the intriguing back-story behind the iconic cover of the book Jaws?

Read the rest…just click here.

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Forget about Generations at Work

Adelaide has spiffy Tom Ford glasses and a modern, cropped haircut. She’s known as a firebrand and prankster in the office. Her boss knows her favorite song is Pharrell’s “Happy”. Adelaide is turning 72 next month. Should her boss manage her using the stereotypes of the “veteran” generation?

“Generations at Work” is a popular topic at many conferences and leadership retreats. Most leaders are in search of the Holy Grail of Generational Knowledge to make their life easier and positively impact employee engagement and business results. It’s time for leaders to stop worrying about broad trends and start focusing on the individuals walking the halls or sitting in the cubicles right outside their offices.

Seriously, can you really manage others based on when they were born? Isn’t that what astrology is all about? For every decade-based trend you read about there’s an employee on the team who proves that it’s not true. Of course we are influenced by the generation in which we were born, but that doesn’t mean we can be managed based on these labels.

Beliefs & Mindsets

Individuals are a compilation of the beliefs and mindsets they learn sitting at their dinner table, in classrooms, religious halls and sports fields as they grow up. People are influenced to some degree by what’s happening in the world in the formative years; however, they’re much more influenced by the personal interactions in their own lives. Although Adelaide grew up in a generation that lacked technology, she readily embraces it in her day-to-day work. She loves a test of any sort because growing up on a farm; her dad taught her that challenges are character building.

The reason leaders need to better understand employee’s beliefs and mindsets is that beliefs and mindsets drive actions and outcomes. Striving to learn more about what specifically makes your direct reports tick, instead of dwelling on that generation’s conventions, will provide insights that have the potential to improve engagement.

In 6 Shortcuts to Employee Engagement: Lead & Succeed in a Do-More-With-Less World, I share several high impact, easy to implement ideas for creating this shared understanding. One of the shortcuts is to Create Positive Connections. The best way to get to know someone as an individual is to spend time with him or her one-on-one on a regular basis. I don’t mean stopping by the cubicle to check in – that’s great, but doesn’t go deep enough.

Create Positive Connections

Unfortunately, individual meetings with the boss have gotten a bad rap. They usually mean you are “in trouble” or it’s time for the once a year Performance Review. The kind of meeting I’m suggesting is 1) regularly scheduled; 2) on the calendar; 3) held in a private place; and, 4) lasts at least 20 minutes.

The frequency can be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. These one-on-one meetings have the potential to transform the leader/direct report relationship because they open the lines of communication. During the meetings, leaders get to know more about what makes employees feel satisfied, energized & productive (my definition of employee engagement). Employees also get to know their boss a little better and this can break down reverse generational stereotypes. This open communication creates a more positive workplace and ultimately a better experience for patients, their families and other stakeholders.

Conducting one-on-one meetings to open the lines of communication with each direct report is also a key component of improving employee engagement. And improving employee engagement is a key component to improving every metric you measure. Conducting one-on-one meetings provides an opportunity to talk about beliefs and mindsets, create shared accountability, and form a very positive connection between leaders and team members.

Since they’ve been having regular one-on-one meetings, Adelaide and her boss have a better understanding of each other. She likes being heard. She enjoys the informal discussions. She is more engaged. Her boss knows her as an individual – not a member of the veteran generation.

Plain and simple…if you want to improve employee engagement, work on getting to know what makes the folks who report to you feel satisfied, energized & productive and help them find ways to do more of those things. Focusing on generations means focusing on generalities. Focusing on individuals lets you focus on personal engagement.

To download a free copy of the One-on-One Meeting Grid™ (and many other free tools from the book), visit www.6ShortcutsToEngagement.com.

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Nursing Leaders: 3 Reasons to Swap Your Suit for Scrubs

buisinesssuitI was presenting a program for the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders and asked the question “What do you regularly do to create positive connections with employees?” Our topic was employee engagement, and we were looking at high-impact, easy-to-implement ideas for leaders to take at the tactical level to move the needle on engagement.

Read more…

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Is There Anything We Can Do to Get You to Stay?

70910_photoHas anyone ever said, “Is there anything we can do to get you to stay” when you’ve resigned from a position? If you’re a manager, have you ever said those words to someone else?

Here’s a cautionary tale to get you thinking about employee engagement and retention – whether you are the one who is thinking about leaving or the one trying to encourage someone to stay.

A friend of our family has been working in a company for about 18 months. This is her first job out of college. She’s a real go-getter and was recognized frequently for her excellent work. Her performance appraisal showed evidence of above average work – especially for someone new to the business world.

However, she was getting antsy. She wanted to learn more and she wanted to learn it faster. She has a vision for herself and she was feeling stuck in the current role. Fortunately for her, she heard about an opportunity with another company. She interviewed and got the job. When she told her manager, she said, “Is there anything we can do to get you to stay?”

And her situation is not unlike many in the U.S. labor market today. According to the Modern Survey’s Fall 2014 U.S. Workforce Study of Employee Engagement

Study, “28% of all employees across the country are currently looking for work at another organization. Six months ago, that number was 25% and 18 months ago it was 23%.”

Here are three ideas that our friend and her manager each could have used to avoid the situation:

The Employee

  1. Ask for time with your manager to talk about career goals and aspirations. Talk about internal and external growth and development opportunities.
  2. Look for opportunities inside your organization and ask the manager for an “informational interview” to learn more. That way you can see if you really would be a good fit for this role.
  3. Keep networking with others outside the organization because sometimes better opportunities do come along.


The Manager

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with the employee to talk about her career goals and aspirations. Talk about internal and external growth and development opportunities. Really listen for what is being said “between the lines”. What gets this person satisfied, energized & productive (my definition of employee engagement)?
  2. Once you understand the goals and aspirations, find opportunities for the employee to participate in meetings, calls or events outside your department to continue to challenge her skills. Find a mentor from another spot in the organization to act as another set of ears and a guide along the way.
  3. Share your stories about how you have moved around the within the organization and the benefits you’ve seen from working there long term. Talk about your commitment to the mission and vision. Keep working to connect the dots between the employee’s goals and her work.

Yes, sometimes the move to a new company is inevitable. But many times, some work on the front end (by both parties) can avoid the pain and expense of losing a star employee or having to begin again in a new company.

Happy New Year!

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5 Interviewing Techniques That Will Help You Hire a Great Nurse

There are close to 3 million skilled nurses in the United States and that number is expected to grow significantly over the next decade, according to all predictions. With so many nurses in and out of jobs—due to the high turnover rate of a demanding profession—it becomes very important to know how to interview a nurse in order to spot a keeper.

It’s critical for an organization to hire a nurse that is going to work out for the long haul, “because the cost of hiring a new nurse for most organizations is somewhere between 50-60K,” explains Vicki Hess, RN and the author of The Nurse Managers Guide to Hiring, Firing and Inspiring.

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