What Is the First Step in Engaging Employees?

It is a bit shocking to read that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. According toGallup, in their 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace, the United States and Canada were only slightly better than world-wide being 29% engaged. This is astonishingly bad.What is the First Step in Engaging Employees

The costs of this situation are staggering – especially in terms of lost productivity and the costs of employee turnover. Certainly, engaging and mobilizing employees is a top frustration. So what are some things you, as a leader can do about it?

There is no single solution, but the first place to start is with you. Are you inspired? Do you love your work? Because if what you do in the world does not inspire you, how can you inspire your employees? Are you committed to being inspiring every day?

Lance Secretan, author of The Spark, The Flame and The Torch, says with all we know about leadership today, there is still something missing. He believes the missing element is inspiration. Before you can inspire others, you first must inspire yourself. He refers to that as the spark.

Where’s your spark?

When you know why you are here, your passion fills you, and you come alive.

If you need help finding your spark, join us for a telecall to write your Destiny, Character and Calling, this Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 pm Eastern. Click here to register.

Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling Part 3 of 3

I invite you to read part 3 of 3 in my guest blog on www.unite4women.com entitled “Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling.  In part 1 and part 2 of thiCallings series, we walked through writing yourDestiny statement (why you are here on Earth) and your Character statement (how you will be while you are here).

In the final blog of this 3-part series, I will walk you through writing your Callingstatement – which is what you will do while you are here. It is how you will use your strengths, talents and gifts to serve in the world. Dr. Secretan says, “A Calling is the pursuit of a vocation that inspires; it is living a dream; it is the experience of radiant relevance.”

Do you want to find your spark?  Join us in a complimentary teleclass to walk you through writing your Destiny, Character and Calling statements this Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 PM EasternClick here to register.

Where’s Your Spark? Your Character, Destiny and Calling Part 2 of 3

In part one of this 3-part series, we talked about how before we can inspire others, we first have to inspire ourselves. In order to inspire ourselves, we need to know why we are here on Earth. When you know why you are here, your passion fills you, and you come alive, creating “the spark.”

I now invite you to read part two of this series, where we write our character statement. Character is about how you will be while you are here on earth. I am guest blogging “Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling, Part 2 of 3″ at  http://www.unite4women.com.

Do you need to find your spark?   Join us in a telecall to be facilitated through the process of writing your own Destiny, Character and Calling statements.  The Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling telecall is Thursday, August 21st, at 4:30 pm Pacific/5:30 pm Mountain/6:30 pm Central/7:30 pm Eastern.  Click here to register (there is no cost to attend).  All you need is a phone, paper and a pencil!

Let’s find your spark!

Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling Part 1 of 3

If you have ever pondered the question, “why am I here,” you may be interested in walking with me through the Lance Secretan’s process of writing your Destiny, Character and Calling.  When we align with our purpose in the world, we feel inspired.  This is the spark that Dr. Secretan refers to in his book, “The Spark, The Flame and The Torch.”

I am sharing this process in a three part series as a guest blogger for www.unite4women.com.  Unite4Women.com is a women owned organization that focuses on empowering women through retreats, online workshops, radio, and community.

I invite you to read the series starting with Part 1 of 3 and join me to walk through the process of writing your own Destiny, Character and Calling statements to find your spark. If you want to experience the process with a group, please join us in a telecall to be facilitated through the process.

The Where’s Your Spark? Your Destiny, Character and Calling telecall is Thursday, August 21st, at 4:30 pm Pacific/5:30 pm Mountain/6:30 pm Central/7:30 pm Eastern.  Click here to register (there is no cost to attend).

Let’s find your spark!

Boston, Resilience and the Paradoxical Commandments

Yesterday a colleague asked, “Did you hear about the bombings in Boston?”  I had not.  I don’t watch the news very often.  I have renamed the news “The Bad News” because 90% of the news talks about 1% of the good and 99% of bad things that happen in the world.  I was afraid it was skewing my view of the world to be exposed to so much bad news.

Some people might interpret it as a lack of empathy. Unfortunately, it is just the opposite.  It is so painful for me to see this stuff, that as an act of self-care to protect myself, I purposefully limit my viewing.

I choose not to watch the news arbitrarily.  I prefer to filter and select what I ingest with my eyes and ears.  Just like you feel better when you ingest fresh foods, you also feel better when you ingest good news with your eyes and ears.

One of my frameworks is what you focus on grows.  Instead of focusing on what I don’twant, I try to focus on what I DO want.  I want to focus on being a force for good in the world.  I want the world to be a great and inspiring place.  So, while my heart goes out to the people of Boston, I will not focus on what happened.  I will focus on what is possible. I will focus on their resilience.

When horrible things happen, to lift myself out of the fear and the grief, I like to read The Paradoxical Commandments written by Kent M. Keith.  It inspires me each time I read it.  These ten principles were first written by Kent Keith as a student at Harvard in the 1960s.  I have seen them mis-attributed to other people (even Mother Theresa),  although I am sure she was inspired by them!

The Paradoxical Commandments
From the book Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World by Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

These principles alone are inspiring, and his book goes into them in more depth.  For me, they describe ways in which people who demonstrate resilience think.

Dictionary.com states that resilience is:

1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Boston, my heart goes out to you.  I know you are resilient.  You hold a great event that inspires thousands of people to want to be a part of it. Yes, a horrible thing happened, and it is possible that it could happen again.  But I know it won’t stop you from continuing to  hold the great Boston Marathon again anyway. What’s possible now is to show the world your

and your community.

Our hearts are with you.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that. Need a career reboot?  Mia joins forces with Coach Flo Mauri to help careerists in a special pilot called Dynamic Career Group Coaching.  Need some laser coaching?  Sign up for the twice monthly Dynamic Duo Coaches on Call telecall with Coach Flo Mauri and Coach Mia Turpel for a chance for a free brief laser coaching session.  Need coaching training?  Contact Coach Mia Turpel.

When You Say You Need Training, You Really Mean Performance

When You Say You Need Training, You Really Mean Performance

I used to think that when managers asked me to design a training program, they wanted a good training program.  Based on my experience, what managers are REALLY asking for isperformance.  Since there are so many more pieces to performance than just training, I have to be very clear with them on the limited scope of training, and educate them on what all has to be considered for performance.   That is a MUCH bigger scope.  And, dear manager, you also have some responsibility in improving performance.

Training is generally needed when something is new, or when there is a gap in knowledge or skill.  I can design an awesome training program based on measurable performance objectives, and ensure that in class I can see the attendees performing the skills listed in the objectives.  I can give them job aids to help them repeat it back at their desks (or wherever they need to perform the skill).  If I have observed them performing the skill, but, they don’t perform the skill at their desk, is this a training problem?  No, it is not.  More training won’t solve the performance problem.

Performance Support Partners - need right tools

Performance is more than training.   It is dependent on many things beyond knowledge and skill.  For example, in the book Analyzing Performance Problems by Robert F. Mager and Peter Pipe several pieces to the performance pie beyond training are:

  • Measurement:  How do you know the staff member is performing the task correctly? How is performance being measured?
  • Feedback: Are staff members getting feedback on what they are doing well and what needs done to accomplish the desired result?
  • Conditions: Do they have the tools, resources, time, and authority to do their job?  If they don’t have the right tools, it is like peeling an apple with a fork.  Yes, you can do it, but it is frustrating and inefficient.   Do they need expert resources that aren’t available?  Do they have the time available?
  • Incentive/motivation: Are we rewarding the correct behavior?  Is the reward for good work more work (incorrect reward)?
  • Capacity: Do they have the latent ability, strength or talent?   Do they have the right mix of strengths to be successful in the job?
  • Standards: What does required performance look like?  Are expectations clear?

Now, there is more I would add to this list.  But, the point here is that training is a solution to a performance problem only when there is a gap in knowledge or skill.  The litmus test to find out if it is a training issue or whether it is another issue like motivation, ask this question:

If their life depended on it, could they do it?   If the answer is yes, then it might be amotivation problem, or another piece of the performance pie, but it isn’t a training problem.

How can you tell what kind of problem it is?  An excellent tool to help you is theperformance analysis flowchart by Robert Mager that I have used for years.  You can find more tools at Robert Mager’s organization, The Center for Effective Performance‘s web site.

For example, I was hired to design and deliver training in how to use a new software system to support a business process.  In class the attendees practiced and were observed completing the performance objectives agreed upon prior to class with my client successfully.  They were provided a job aid to help them through the steps and procedures back at their desk.  I considered the training successful.

Performance Support Partners - Software TrainingThe only problem was they weren’t even logging in to the software back at their desks.  My client felt the training was not successful.  Jumping to that conclusion is my personal pet peeve.  They knew what to do, they just weren’t doing it.

My observations were that expectationsweren’t clear.

  • Prior to training, managers should inform staff why they are to attend the training andwhat’s in it for them. In this case, it did not occur.
  • Managers should set clear expectations as to what the staff members should do immediately after the training.  In this case, employees were still waiting to be told when it was okay to begin.

If you think your staff isn’t performing well, don’t just conclude that “they need more training.”  Take a look at the big picture of what performance encompasses.  Training is only a small part.  In future articles, I will also talk about coaching,  implementation and how they affect performance.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to know more about performance analysis and improving performance? Need coaching training? Contact Coach Mia.

What’s Next after a Layoff

A layoff just happened. A number of my friends and colleagues became corporate refugees.  Becoming a corporate refugee is tough.  I feel for them.  I have been through the unexpected loss of a job.  I have a running joke that I have a talent for picking companies that merge, move or go under.

While I can now joke about this “talent” of mine, the perfection of these experiences was that I learned I would live through them.  I learned that ‘job security’ was an illusion.  The only job security that exists is understanding your own strengths and talents and how to articulate that value so that you could provide it to a company that needs what you have to offer.  It also means becoming aware of or understanding what type of work environment allows you to do your best work, and going out and finding it or creating it.

Before finding or creating your best work, you have to shore up your rattled self-confidence.  A job loss throws you right out of your comfort zone and it can feel like a crisis.  You are smack in the middle of the ever-changing job search game.  There are new rules to learn, like using LinkedIn and other social media. Sitting alone at your computer submitting resumes makes you wonder if they actually go somewhere. You have to reconnect with your network of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances for emotional support, job leads, and finding job hunting resources.

The great thing about losing your job is that it is your golden opportunity to really take a hard look at your values and what is important to you, and determine what is next for you.  Do you just want a jobthat you step into and out of or do you want to use your strengths and talents to make a uniquecontribution to the world?   In today’s economy you aren’t just a cog in the wheel of an organization, you are a creative individual serving a purpose in your own life.  Organizations need your unique qualities, your vision, and your energy to survive and thrive.  You need to think about what makes you tick – what inspires and fascinates you and makes you come alive – and then go do that.  I took that inspiration from this quote by Dr. Howard Thurman:

Performance Support Partners - What Makes You Come Alive

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I whole heartedly agree! What the world needs is people who have:

  • come alive
  • explored what makes them tick
  • found what excites them
  • discovered what they are they good at
  • figured out what is fun for them
  • discovered what makes time fly for them
  • found out where they do their best work
  • discovered who they want to work with
  • found work that allows them to change the world

Although it is really tough to see it at the time it occurs, when you are right-sized, outsourced, or down-sized into becoming a corporate refugee, it is the perfect time to explore these things and take your next best step to finding your best work.  Work that makes you come alive.  If you need some help with that, the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse is for you.  It might be just the support you need to help you not just survive, but thrive in today’s job market.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that. Are you in a career transition? Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse. Need a coach?  Are you a manager or leader that needs coaching training?  Contact Coach Mia Turpel.

A Coaching Approach – Champion Your Staff to Better Performance

One way to improve the performance of your team or staff is to pursue mastery in using coaching skills. Managers that do this skillfully will improve the performance of their team. There are many proficiencies and deliverables to master as a coach, and one of these proficiencies is championing. You should champion your staff early and often.

What exactly is championing?  Championing is a form of support that can be comprised of many things including the following:

  • acknowledgement of an achievement
  • acknowledgement of a breakthrough
  • acknowledgement of a success
  • encouragement
  • support
  • inspiration

You can champion actions, progress, dreams, traits, commitments, talents, gifts and qualities. When you champion someone, you are championing something that has already occurred. A memory aid is that championing requires a champion. A champion is someone who has already excelled, accomplished something or succeeded at something.

Championing is Not Cheer Leading

Performance Support Partners - Cheerleading is not championing

Championing is distinctly different from cheer leading. Understanding the difference can help you become a more masterful coach. There is nothing wrong with cheer leading; it is just that championing supports someone at a much higher level than cheer leading.  Cheer leading implies firing someone upwhen their energy or capacity is low.  When you are cheer leading, the emphasis is on leading. Leading means taking someone who isn’t there yet to someplace different. Masterful coaching is not about leading.

Thomas Leonard, the father of coaching, stated “the more often and deeply the coach champions their client at all levels (including their actions, progress, dreams, traits, commitments, gifts and qualities), the more encouraged the client feels and the more likely they are to succeed. For the coach to merely be encouraging is not enough; there is a much higher level of support generated when the coach operates at the championing level…”

When you can help the person see for themselves and acknowledge their own achievements as they define them, you are championing. The coach is the catalyst that helps the person internally reference for themselves what they have accomplished. By championing someone you get them to connect to the strength inside of them that allowed them to get to where they are. The coach can point out the shifts they have made and help them to make the connection to how it has evolved them.   Coaching, as a whole, always has an eye toward personal evolution.

Let’s take a look at some examples of championing.

Scenario 1: Accomplishment of a Certification

Employee:  “I just completed my certification in XYZ. It has been a long hard journey because I have had a lot of interruptions in completing my education especially with the death of my father. Also, along the way I was married and my first two children were born.”

Coach/Manager: “I am curious, is it the certification itself that you are most proud of?  Or is it more the tenacity to stick with it despite all of the events and obstacles along the way that could have stopped you?”

Note the Coach/Manager didn’t just congratulate him on the certification. This is where most people start and stop. When the employee mentioned the ‘long hard journey’ and ‘lot of interruptions’ and other challenges, the  Coach/Manager digs deeper to get what the employee is really most proud of as she defines it.

Employee:  “I am really proud of sticking with it. Not everyone would be able to keep coming back after all the things I have experienced that might have stopped me. But I did it. I finished!”

Coach/Manager: “I admire your courage and your tenacity. Not everyone would be able to keep moving forward despite all of the hurdles that appeared in your path.  It is inspiring. Congratulations.”

The coach champions more the person and less the accomplishment of the certification. The path of development to get to the accomplishment itself is more important. In this case the coach is championing the character traits that the employee is most proud of – the tenacity or “stick with it-ness.”

Scenario 2: Championing a Profound ‘Ah-ha’ Moment

Employee:  “I had been delivering training classes once a week for about 8 months.  For one particular student, I was having trouble getting what it was that she wasn’t understanding, but I kept listening. It is so challenging with so many learning styles. I finally ‘got it’ – what the puzzle pieces were that were missing and why she wasn’t connecting them together causing her gap in understanding. I observed how other more experienced teachers did this naturally. It was in that moment, I finally felt like I was successful in truly developing my teaching skills.”

Coach/Manager: “What does it mean to you to have that gift of understanding the learning gap?”

She listed. She diagnosed. She was excited that she could do something and figure it out on her own. The coach is paraphrasing in her own words what she heard and wants to run it by her to see if there is a better way to phrase it.

Employee: “It means that I really can teach and I can help my students really progress forward!”

Coach/Manager:  “There seems to be a moment in every teacher’s experience where they realize that all they have been trained to do, all the experience they have had, is finally coming together. They get it. Teaching is happening at the level you have always wanted it to happen. Is that what is happening for you?”

Employee:  “Yes, it finally is!  I really feel like a professional now!”

Coach/Manager:  “Congratulations!”

A coach looks for the greater truth or a reference point that the client goes through; it is the greater scheme of life. The coach doesn’t just say, “I see this.”  There is a point in every client’s development where the light bulb turns on and they see they can really do it and feel how powerful it is. This point is the total understanding or ‘ah ha’ moment where they now fit in the evolution of themselves as a person pursuing mastery. The masterful coach tells the client WHY it was evolutionary for them.


  • Performance Support Partners - Champion Early and Often

    Be curious. Ask them. Your goal is to get them to champion for themselves, so before you tell them how great you think they are, ask them what they are proud of about XYZ or how it represents a significant shift to them. People need a lot of room to articulate why they are so proud of themselves. It may be the first time they have ever articulated this. Not because you have to know, but because you want themto know.

  • Be sincere. Anyone can tell when you don’t really mean something, or if it just puffery. Championing can be very quiet, especially compared to cheer leading.
  • Be excited about their progress. It is disappointing when the client is really excited, and you say something under-whelming like ‘that is nice.’ Match their tone.
  • Point to the underlying shifts or growth. Lock it into place by pointing out the fundamental improvements they have made, the long term meaning, and the evolution that occurred.
  • Be awed by their willingness. That we are willing to try at all shows courage.
  • Champion at all levels.  Don’t just focus on what they actually did or did not do. Include their dreams, traits, commitments, follow-through, qualities, service to others, feelings, insights, and profound moments, as well as their actions and progress.

Almost all of the work in championing is done by the coachee. We want them to figure it out for themselves. If they can’t, you can help them figure it out. Value is still being generated even if you do nothing – if you set it up properly.


  • Don’t self reference. “That is great; I earned that certification last year.”  Self referencing diminishes any accomplishment.
  • Don’t champion, and then immediately tell them to do more or ask what is next. It diminishes their accomplishment. Let them revel in it awhile.

Another way to understand championing is to look at the results (got certified, got nominated, won an award, etc.) as the layered bricks. Championing is the mortar around the bricks that locks in place and reinforces the results turning it into an accomplishment. So, rather than being a pile of bricks on the ground, it becomes a well-built pedestal for them to stand on.

Benefits of Championing

Why champion?  Championing someone causes a shift from doubting, and feeling disconnected, to feeling energized, integrated and confident. You create a greater awareness in the person of their own strengths, talents and capabilities. Greater awareness leads to better decisions and performance. The more you use championing, the more your staff will use it too.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that. Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse. Want to know more about championing? Need coaching training?  Contact Coach Mia Turpel.

Hate Managing People? Manage Work Instead.

I was reading the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) blog (which I highly recommend) and they referenced some old ways of thinking as being “stuck in aMad Men time warp.”  I found the reference hilarious having actually worked in a company that was stuck in a Mad Men time warp.

Given the memes of our times, it is hard to not get stuck in a TTWWADI (That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It) rut about how work happens.  Sometimes we don’t even know we are in one.  Our beliefs about how work happens are even in songs likeDolly Parton’s”9 to 5″  and Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money.”  The idea that work only happens between 9 and 5 is based on a more industrial age mindset that your body must be present for a certain number of hours for work to happen.  This mindset is based on having none of the following technology:

  • internet
  • e-mail
  • web meetings
  • laptops
  • smart phones
  • iPads
  • laptops
  • social media

For work to happen, you had to be there.

Today we are in more of what Dave Buck refers to as an “inspiration economy.” Here you are not just a worker, but a player in the games of life – and one of those games is the great game of business.  You are no longer just a cog in the wheel serving a purpose for the organization but a creative individual serving a purpose in your own life. It is a more knowledge and inspiration based economy.  In this environment, work could sometimes look like this:  “nothing, nothing, nothing, FLASH OF BRILLIANCE, nothing, nothing, nothing...”  And in that one flash of brilliance you could create something that saves the company thousands of dollars or innovate something that earns the company thousands.

Performance Support Partners-Managing Time Instead of Results?

Even though times and technology have changed, our cultural mindsets about work are slow to follow.  Let’s start with the mindset that work only happens between 9am and 5pm.  Just because you are at work, doesn’t mean you are working.   I’ll use myself as an example. The earlier I have to get up, the less activity I can force out of my brain.  Coffee helps, but not that much.  My brain really doesn’t start swing into gear until around 10:00 am.  This is not something I control. Like Lady Gaga said, “I was born this way.”  When not on a strict schedule, I lean toward staying up late, and sleeping in late.  That seems to be my natural circadian rhythm.  I reach my highest level of productivity that way.

Employers that punish staff for arriving at 8:05 am rather than 8:00 am when there is no specific reason for them to be there at that time (i.e. a client meeting) are nurturing what Jodi Thompson and Cali Ressler calls “presenteeism.” You are present, but not working.  I have also heard it referred to as “retired on the job” and “dead people walking.”   Presenteeism is nurtured by managing people instead of work.  Or, you could say you are managing time instead of results.

In a Results Only Work Environment, the outcomes drive the activity.  ROWE employees are in complete control of their time as long as they are getting the results they have been hired to achieve.  Leaving at 2:00 pm is not leaving early, and arriving at 2:00 pm is not arriving late.  Because you are focused on results and not time, it doesn’t matter what hours or how many hours you work.  If you are like me, you might be in your most brilliant mode at midnight riding a wave of inspiration.

Think about it for a minute.  What if your business were performance and results focused instead of time focused?  How would your business change if you no longer monitored time, because time didn’t matter?   Heretical, isn’t it?  But Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler at CultureRx are helping companies lead the way to do just that.

Intrigued about ROWE?  As a business coach, I am always reading business books.  It is something I love to do.  If you think that ROWE could help your business, I highly recommend Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It: A Results-Only Guide to Taking Control of Work, Not People by Jody Thompson, and Cali Ressler.  It will knock you in the head and make you say “I could’ve had a V-8.”  It is the follow-up to Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution.

As a career coach, one of the questions I explore with my clients is “what kind of work environment do you do your best work?”  For example:

  • What is your most productive work space? Is it in a Starbucks coffee shop? Is it on your bean bag chair in your living room?
  • What work cultures have you thrived in?
  • What about the culture did you find helpful, reasonable, supportive, optimistic, trusting and energizing?
  • What workplace processes support you in doing your best work?
  • What processes, when improved will increase your efficiency and productivity?
  • Do you work best in a group?  Alone?  Some combination?

A ROWE provides the opportunity to design the environment that you do your best work.  Click here to read Brook Mitchell tell about her experience of working in a ROWE.

A ROWE doesn’t care that you need to take your kids to the doctor at 8:00 am, or leave at 1:00 pm to watch your kid’s school play.  You can take in an afternoon matinee if you want, and you can have four weeks of vacation.  You are an adult that makes the best decisions about how to use your time.  As long as you are getting the work done, and achieving the results you have agreed to, you can do what you want with your time.

Performance Support Partners - Managing Time Instead of Results?

In a ROWE, they want to remove sludgewhich is a judgment and beliefs around time.  Examples of sludge might be something like this:

John: “It is 10:00 am and you are just getting in?”
Judy: “I had to take my kids to preschool, and then I got stuck in traffic.” 

Jane: (thinking to herself) “I think I will head home, finish a few errands and work from home the rest of the day.”  (Prepares to leave.)
John: “It’s 2:00 pm.  Where are you going”?
Jane: “Uh…I have a doctor’s appointment.  See you later!”

Kathy: “Did you see how many times Sally went out to smoke today?  She isn’t putting in 40 hours.  Yesterday, she took a 2-hour lunch”.
John: “I think I will start smoking so I can take off time from work.”

People respond to sludging by coming up with an excuse that makes sure other people know why they aren’t working.  They come up with a socially acceptable excuse so people don’t think they are slacking off.  In a ROWE, hours are not the currency. As long as you are getting the work done, it doesn’t matter what time you come in the office, or if you even come in. Sludge is considered toxic and a waste of time. In a ROWE, you are focused on results not time.

From a business perspective there are other benefits. You stop wasting time on tracking time.  Presenteeism disappears because people start finding more efficient ways of doing things so they can get their work done faster.  If you find a way to get your work done faster, you aren’t penalized with more work.  Customer service improves.  ROWE is a beacon that attracts talented people, reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and can reduce brick and mortar costs.

We are moving out of an industrial age economy and brick and mortar work places to a more knowledge based work that uses technology tools to communicate and get the work done.  You don’t have to be in the brick and mortar building to communicate, because you can meet via web meeting, teleconference, chat and more.  You can leave messages via voice mail, chat, e-mail and more.

If you are doing any of the following things you are managing people or time:

  • watching when people come in and leave
  • watching when people leave for lunch and return
  • counting sick days
  • counting vacation days
  • hi fiving people that come in early and leave late

Start managing work and results instead.

Some people say that a ROWE wouldn’t work in all environments.  But, doesn’t every work environment need to achieve results?

For me, this is a pretty darn exciting idea, and I will be talking more about it in future articles. A ROWE environment is a win-win for careerists and businesses alike.  Many times I have had colleagues say, I don’t want to manage people any more.   Who could blame them?  Now, you can manage the work instead.  And let people manage themselves.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to chat with Coach Mia?  Contact Coach Mia.

Is Your Office a Monkey-Free Zone?

Is your office a monkey-free zone?

Performance Support Partners - Monkey Free Zone

“What?” you say.  Let me explain.  If I didn’t laugh, I would cry over some of the stories I have heard about experiences in the corporate world.  It amazes me that so many managers go down the wrong path in trying to motivate their employees to behave differently.

My friend relayed a story about how his office decided that there was too much negativity in the work place and they needed to do something about it.  Negativity can be contagious, and eliminating workplace negativity would be a positive thing.

Their strategy was to create a rule that if an employee said something negative, they would have to keep a monkey (a children’s stuffed animal) at your desk at all times.  The only way you could get rid of the monkey was to wait to hear someone else saying something negative and then give the monkey to them.

I am sure that the intent was to motivate people to be more positive and create more awareness around when employees were being perceived as speaking negatively. And, I am sure this was meant to be funny.  However, treating adults like children never brings out the best in them.  And making them keep a monkey at their desk is akin to making them wear a dunce hat and sit in a corner. It is bully-like behavior and its purpose is to shame.  Shame creates bad feelings. Bad feelings shut down creativity, dampen morale and it shuts down higher order thinking skills (HOTS) which is possibly a much worse consequence than ‘negative’ talk.

One consequence at his workplace was it created what can be facetiously called themonkey effectIt caused a lack of trust and a hesitation to speak openly about issues that could be perceived as negative.  When prodded for more information, they began to ask “is this a monkey-free zone?” before being willing to provide input. In meetings to solve problems where it is important to discuss challenges that need addressed, staff were hesitant to discuss their thoughts and opinions for fear of it being perceived as ‘negative’ talk.  They didn’t want to be shamed with the monkey.

So, I ask, is your office a monkey-free zone?

What can you do about negativity in the workplace? While there is a long list of things we could talk about, let’s start with the most easily identifiable form which is a complaint.  Instead of putting up a sign with a red circle around the word complaints, here are some tips to turn a negative into something more positive, by making someone feel heard, feel empowered and possibly even create positive change.

Listen to complaints with a mindset that there is valuable information in the complaint.

Victim language is a pattern in language which usually indicates that the person feelspowerless to make a change.  Complaints are a form of victim language. (Now that you know this, you are going to complain less, now aren’t you?!) This sounds like a bad thing, but there are a lot of benefits and valuable information that can be obtained from listening to complaints.

What are some of the benefits and valuable information you gain from complaints?

 Complaints shine a light on something that can be fixed or streamlined to be made better, improving the work environment and possibly morale.

  • If one person complains, chances are that there are 10 other people that have the same complaint that won’t speak up.  Instead, they will silently withdraw or leave.  Listening to the one person that is willing to speak up gives you the opportunity to take action early.
  • A complaint tells you what the person is committed to or what the person values.  For example, if they are complaining about something that is inefficient and ineffective, you know that they are committed to or value something that is most likely opposite of their complaint – a work environment that is efficient and effective.  They may not even be aware that they have these values.  It may be unconscious. It gives you an opportunity to understand them better and to acknowledge the values that you are observing to build a better relationship.  The more awareness someone has about themselves, the better decisions they tend to make.

Guideposts for listening to complaints

Here are a few guideposts to using your advanced communication skills to make the person feel heard and understood, find the value in the complaint, and give them a path to feeling empowered again.

  1. Listen to the complaint with non judgmental awareness.  What is non judgmental awareness? This means that your tone remains charge-neutral, you do not judge, you do not try to ‘fix’ anything but stay curious and explore further if you want more details. The ability of the mind to observe without adding layers of bias, criticism and unnecessary analysis make the awareness non-judgmental.  An example might be watching a leaf drop from a tree in the autumn season. You don’t know where it is going to float to next and you just observe its motion floating and swirling naturally in the air.  There are no projections of what will happen in the future because you are only observing what is happening now and nothing else.
  2. Confirm your understanding. If they said, “I should have gotten a better raise.”  Confirm your understanding of what they said.  For example, you might say “I hear your frustration.  You feel you should have gotten a better raise.”
  3. Ask if they are just venting, or do they want your help? This is a clarifying question that helps bring awareness to both of you as to whether they just needed an understanding ear to hear them out, or if they really want some help from you.  Because if they are just venting, the worst thing you can do is to try to fix or solve the problem.  They are not engaging you to solve the problem, they just want to vent.  They may not even be aware of this themselves.  If they confirm that they are just venting, you might say, “Okay, I want you to vent another two minutes to get it out of your system, but then we move on to happier and fun things. Agreed?”  This brings awareness to them that you want to be there for them to vent, but not forever.
  4. If they aren’t venting and want help, ask yourself, “What are they committed to?” or “What do they value?” This is usually something opposite of what the complaint is about.  Once you understand what they are committed to or value, acknowledge that by stating it to them. This is a powerful technique to make a person feel heard and understood. It also helps you to uncover the positive intent of a complaint.  For example, you might say, “It sounds like you are committed to good wages” or “It sounds like you value good wages.”  They may not even be consciously aware that this is a value they hold in themselves, until you state it.  Hearing it from you may be very eye opening.
  5. Ask an open ended question that empowers and challenges them to make a change. This must be asked with non judgmental awareness as described above in a charge-neutral tone.  Avoid yes or no closed ended questions.  You might ask, “What do you think is your next best step to earning more money?”  Or, “What do you think you would like to do about it?” This step helps move the person out of powerlessness into a sense of empowerment into the possibility of taking an action to initiate a change.


How do you listen to complaints - Performance Support Partners

Employee: “We have too many meetings.”
You: “You feel we have too many meetings.”
Employee: “Yes. They are a waste of time.”
You: “Can I clarify – are you just venting?  Or do you want me to brainstorm about it with you?”
Employee: “Good question.  I hadn’t thought about that.  I think I really want to brainstorm ways to improve it.  For one, thing I think they could be made so much more productive if we had an agenda.”
You: “I know you are committed to making productive use of meeting time”.
Employee: “Yes, it would be beneficial to everyone.”
You: “What do you think are some things you could do to make them more productive in addition to an agenda?”

Employee: “My boss micromanages me.”
You: “You feel that you are micromanaged”
Employee: “Yes. It drives me crazy, and I can’t do my best work that way.”
You: “I can tell that is frustrates you.  Can I clarify – are you just venting?  Or do you want to talk about how you might address it with your boss?”
Employee: “I have no idea how to address it.”
You: “I know you are committed to doing your best work and you need more autonomy to do it.  What do you think would help you most in addressing it with your boss?”
Employee: “I just don’t know how to bring it up or what to say.”
You: “Would you like to set aside some time to brainstorm things to say and ways to bring it up in a way that is productive?”
Employee: Yes, that would be great.  I would like that very much.

There are many things to look at when addressing negativity in the workplace.  However, please do make it a monkey-free zone. By shifting your mindset from a complaint is something negative to a complaint is an opportunity to streamline your work environment, gain valuable information and encourage action or change is an excellent start.  Using these techniques will make a person feel heard, model a way to communicate when listening to a complaint, as well as support them in moving out of feeling powerless and into feeling empowered to make a change.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to chat with Coach Mia?  Contact Coach Mia.