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Got Purpose?

As I’ve started writing about what makes people happy at work, I’ve gotten into a lot of conversations around “Do what you love”, “Find Passion in the everyday”, and “Do what drives you.” During a lunch, someone asked me if my issue was capitalism (and it may be) but I do think it is a little more than that. (Although I am for sure trying out the Work Uniform, black pants everyday anyone?) As individuals, the work we do should give us some kind of greater satisfaction. One employee helping people get mortgages could say their role is helping people get money, but another person in the same position may say they’re helping people own the homes they’ll build memories in. Finding purpose can come from the work, and it can also come from how you interpret the work.

To hone in on the importance of purpose, today, I’m going to focus on an NPR article that reports that people with purpose live longer.

Patrick Hill and Nicholas Turiano reviewed the data of 6,000 people in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Study. They found that people who felt they had more purpose and direction in life outlived people who didn’t feel they had purpose or direction. A 15% lower risk of death in fact, no matter what age.

The article is sure to mention that the concept of purpose means different things to different people. Purpose could be defined as having a happy healthy family, making social changes, being pleased with your daily job or creating beautiful works of art for others to enjoy. Patrick Hill refers to purpose as a “compass or lighthouse that provides an overarching aim and direction in day-to-day lives.” Purpose is how you personally define it.

Of course, this is only one study and more research would help fine tune these findings, but it’s still really interesting to think about. I’m going to try to find more information around Purpose, but, at least we know that if we have a reason to get up each day, we’ll probably get up each day for longer!

 

Credits: Lighthouse, Designed by Nick Lacke from The Noun Project, @iconmonstr

Dear Coworker, Please Stop Emailing Me

Hi All! I had a really wonderful brunch this past weekend and we got into the topic of when/how we prefer emails/chats/etc in the workplace. (And in dating, but that’s for a different type of blog 😉 ). It also fell in line with a Monster article that was published last week on how we should communicate on our various platforms. Let me start off to just explain. I hate email. I’m a senior project manager for graphic design and branding firm and the number of emails I receive a day simply lends itself to items being lost in the shuffle of life. I worked out a system for myself, and have worked diligently with my teams as well on some of what I outline below. This way, as a team, we’re all greatly reducing our email overload and our jobs are moving past an email-only world. Now we even understand the value of gasp, getting up and just talking to each other! I wanted to share some of the rules I follow in order to maintain sanity in my day-to-day life.

Email is Good for:

  • Bulleted lists of questions or needs
  • Meeting recaps with next steps
  • Task-oriented emails (with people called out in bold)
  • Project recaps, or “What You Missed Last Week”
  • Consensus emails, i.e. “The team agreed on x, y, z”

Email is Bad for:

  • Long-winded emails filled with questions/concerns and lack of action
  • Cc’ing people just so they are “aware”
  • Back-and-forth call and responses
  • Multiple subjects in one email, or, multiple email chains for one subject

Chat is Good for:

  • Quick questions
  • Follow-up on specific needs
  • Finding consensus on a topic
  • Chatting about fun stuff

Chat is Bad for:

  • Bulleted lists of questions or needs
  • Task-oriented notes
  • Project recaps
  • Multiple subjects
  • Long-winded comments/notes
  • Trash-talking (but you knew that, right?)

Phone/In-Person is Good for:

  • Professional or quick check-ins
  • Finding people who work in “flow”mode and rarely check email or chat systems
  • Consensus building
  • Off-color conversations, aka mild trash talking
  • Emergencies
  • Pleasant conversations and rapport building

Phone/In-Person is Bad for:

  • Multiple needs
  • Confusing requests
  • Items that require more than one person to weigh in

Curious how other people make their lives a little less-email-heavy, but this is what I do!

 

Credits: Headache designed by Ed Harrison from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

the new manager conundrum

During Book Club this week, yes, I’m just that nerdy, we got into the conversation about the New Manager Conundrum. I wanted to share some of the conversation that occurred here, without any article back-up, just personal experiences. The members of my book club have all experienced some changeover in management (some of us up to five times at the same job!) and have some strong opinions as to what makes the process smoothest. In other news, we read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and it was great.

  1. Mean business – you were hired for a reason, so let the team know why, and come in hungry
  2. Listen 2.5x more – the team knows that you have done a lot of things, that’s why you got hired! However, when you join a new company and team, some of the people there have the historical knowledge that will help you not only fully understand the landscape, but also assist you in navigating to push your own agenda. Also, it gives people on the team an opportunity to speak with you, and explain more about their own background and current efforts towards change.
  3. Learn about your team – in periods of change, there can be mass exoduses. Use time with your team to reset and learn about their passions and what they want out of their career. It may assist you in deciding how you’d like the team to function overall.
  4. Prove it – a lot of talk, is just that. It’s talk. It’s best to come in hard, learn from everyone and then just DO. Showing your team that you mean business and you can back it up will show that they believe in you.
  5. Be honest – this is the best recommendation that came up. People are new, and need to be honest about where they’re coming from and what they’re planning for. If you don’t have an answer always, that’s ok, don’t make it up. If you do, tell the team. If your team understands your plan and needs fully, they’ll start to be able to push your agenda as well in their own ways.

Hope this helps.

 

Credits: @iconmonstr

 

 

 

company culture

Culture is a funny, funky thing. And a lot of articles speak about it as a nebulous force that could make (or break) your company.

Kathryn Jarrell from Xplane wrote a fun article for Medium on 3 Ways Your Organization May Be Misusing the Word Culture, which I’ll share here so we can level set.

To start, as a company, you need to define your organization’s purpose and mission statement. And clearly. This way, your employees know what you stand for as a company. They can begin to act as brand ambassadors, and consider situations through the eyes of your mission statement. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

1. The first impression culture fit:

The most successful organizations are made up of employees with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise untied by a strong foundation of similar values

So, just because everyone happens to be 20-years-old and wear hoodies, that’s not necessarily culture. People need time to explore the company and hear from all angles how employees view their mission and company.

2. After hours culture – beers on Thursdays doesn’t explain what your culture is like. It’s more important to know how people interact with each other, how they view success or how work gets done.

3. Can we have some more culture please? – Culture isn’t a packaged deal. In order to have more culture, you have to create it. By employees finding values in the company and sharing them with others, culture is being created. By deciding that as a company you’d like to affect culture, and having open discussions about how to obtain it, you’re already moving towards that.

And to continue: 5 Signs Your Company Culture May Actually Suck, by Chuck Longanecker for Entrepreneur.com covers some indicators as to what may really be happening in your company’s culture.  Here are some big to-don’ts:

  1. Your culture relies on perks – happy hours galore doesn’t make for a strong base where people share their own opinions, philosophies and collaborate with each other
  2. Your company has a generic mission statement – this comes back to people requiring a clear Purpose to what they do. In order to become brand ambassadors, we need to know what we’re bringing to the market.
  3. Your culture only exists at work – Not in the sense that you should be throwing back brewskis every night, more in the sense that your team brings the culture into their own community.
  4. You hire skills, not people – that’s a huge red flag. Jim Collins in Good to Great covered this when he wrote “leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
  5. You discourage risk – with low risk, low reward. Teams need to have the opportunity to try things, fail, and learn from failures in order to improve. If people are so fearful of making mistakes, they will avoid risk at all costs and they won’t take responsibility for mistakes.

This was lengthy today, but fun. Culture is everywhere right now in the news, so I’m sure I’ll have more to add, but this was a nice start.

 

Credits: The Noun Project

brag bag

If all goes well, and your company encourages check-ins, you just may have an annual or biannual review. These reviews can frequently feel informal, rushed or “not that important.” However, you can use this as an opportunity to not only get comfortable with tooting your own horn, but grab more responsibility along the way.

  1. Write down your “to-done’s” everyday – at the end of your day, write down what you accomplished. Not only will it encourage productivity, it will start to give focus to your daily work.
  2. Keep track of goals – when you see someone doing something you want to do, or work that you think would help advance your career, make a note of it, it will help make the review process helpful.
  3. Make a “Brag Bag” – you know when you want to high-five yourself for a job well done? Keep a folder on your desktop to keep track of it. Add emails, project details and other documents that help showcase your talents.
  4. Talk it out – you may be comfortable with your boss, but it’s still good to talk through your goals with other coworkers, family and friends. They’ll help you focus areas that you’re interested in, and may even add some you weren’t.
  5. Google it – the best managers say they’re preparing you for your next role. Take it to heart, and look at other roles and companies; how does your current skill set compare? What do you need to learn now to be better tomorrow?

By coming to this meeting prepared, not only will it help you talk about your own successes, but assist your path within the company. Also, a little hidden tip is to pay it forward: when someone you work with does a great job, be sure to tell their manager just how great they are. This not only will help an employee get recognized, but support a positive work culture.

 

Credits: Make a Friend designed by Matt Brooks from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

 

10 to don'ts

As we’re talking about things to worry about, or things to fix, there was a fun list of things we should stop doing at work. I’m adding some commentary, too.

  1. Don’t answer phone calls from people you don’t know – they’ll leave a message if it’s really important and you’ll avoid so many telemarketers.
  2. Don’t email first thing in the morning, or last thing at night –  you’re not awake enough to be communicating, and they can probably wait until you’ve slept or had coffee.
  3. Don’t agree to meetings or calls that don’t have a clear agenda – start meetings with “Why are we here?” and “What is the objective?” to ensure you actually get anything done.
  4. Don’t let people ramble – this includes you. Your mother always said to think before you speak! Before you want to share an idea, make sure you’re actively listening, that your comment is apt, concise and clear. It’s hard to maintain people’s interest (and ears) if you babble them through your entire thought process every time. Also, who doesn’t love a shorter meeting?
  5. Don’t check email constantly – Just because it’s instant, doesn’t mean you have to be instant.
  6. Don’t over communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance clients – Or other people you work with, too. Make sure you’re spending time on the parts of your role and people that are important.
  7. Don’t work more to fix being busy – Instead, prioritize, say no, and be clear with all parties about your actions. Being “busy” is a pain.
  8. Don’t carry a cellphone – This is rough, but sometimes you just can’t be bothered.
  9. Don’t expect work to fill-up all your needs – Friends outside of work are great, plans outside of work are great. Barriers with work are GREAT.
  10. Don’t ignore issues – If you see something, say something. Raising a red flag before there’s an issue, most of the time, will reduce the problem in the first place. Speak up.

Credits: Clipboard designed by Jerad Maplethorpe from the Noun Project, @iconmonstr

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