Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Letting Your Employees Review You Can Lead to Personal and Professional Growth

As a leader, inviting feedback can be difficult. It can also be intimidating for employees to review their bosses. However, receiving that evaluation is crucial to becoming a better leader and boss, and being able to provide feedback is important for employees.

Furthermore, receiving feedback shows employees that leaders are committed to the success of the company and willing to make changes in order to see that success. So as a leader, the next time performance reviews come up, make sure to ask for feedback from employees. Here’s why:



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Art of Not Working at Work

Two years ago a civil servant in the German town of Menden wrote a farewell message to his colleagues on the day of his retirement stating that he had not done anything for 14 years. “Since 1998,” he wrote, “I was present but not really there. So I’m going to be well prepared for retirement—Adieu.” The e-mail was leaked to Germany's Westfalen-Post and quickly became world news. The public work ethic had been wounded and in the days that followed the mayor of Menden lamented the incident, saying he “felt a good dose of rage.”

The municipality of Menden sent out a press
release regretting that the employee never informed his superiors of his inactivity. In a lesser-known interview with the German newspaper Bild a month later, the former employee responded that his e-mail had been misconstrued. He had not been avoiding work for 14 years; as his department grew, his assignments were simply handed over to others. “There never was any frustration on my part, and I would have written the e-mail even today. I have always offered my services, but it’s not my problem if they don’t want them,” he said.

The story of this German bureaucrat raised some questions about modern-day slacking. Does having a job necessarily entail work? If not, how and why does a job lose its substance? And what can be done to make employees less lazy—or is that even the right question to ask in a system that’s set up in the way that ours is? After talking to 40 dedicated loafers, I think I can take a stab at some answers. Read full article on The Atlantic

Monday, November 24, 2014

Company Outings: Waste of Time or Great Investment?

You spend a solid 40 (or more) hours at work each week — would you really want to spend any more time than you already have to with your co-workers?

Statistics show that you should — strong relationships with co-workers foster happiness and productivity. A report from RedBalloon/AltusQ found that companies with high employee engagement levels were up to 10 times more likely to see an increase in sales and profit than those with lower engagement. What's more: Coaching, buddy programs, company lunches and nights out had the greatest effect on employee engagement levels. In other words, employees want to feel nurtured and belong to a community.

Company culture is important, and brands have found it worth the investment to spend a little money on cultivating a team dynamic. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once said, “If we get the culture right, then great service and building a long-term, enduring brand or business will just be a natural byproduct.”  Read more on Mashable

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Signs You're a Bad Boss

When the number of employees Matt Kaplan managed at a lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson mushroomed from six to 30, the school called in a management coach to make sure he was prepared. What he learned surprised him–his employees thought he was distant and didn't trust their work.

"The biggest challenge for me was realizing I couldn't do everything myself," he says. "I had to learn to trust my team, which was a gradual process."

Experts say many bosses are similarly clueless about their appearance to employees. Here are five signals you may be one of them. Read them on WSJ

The FedEx driver who sued and won

Reggie Gray thought working for FedEx was his ticket to a better life.

It turned out to be anything but: His years as a driver for FedEx Ground ended with him filing for bankruptcy and taking the company to court.

Gray is one of the thousands of FedEx (FDX) drivers who have sued the company for classifying them as contractors, rather than employees. Many, including Gray, have won.
"We all signed up for what we thought was the American dream," said Gray. "We received the exact opposite. It was a really bad deal."

The FedEx Ground division, created in 2000, delivers small packages to homes and businesses nationwide. But its army of 32,500 uniformed drivers, managers and affiliated workers are classified as contractors, a controversial policy that allows FedEx to save on health benefits, unemployment insurance, retirement accounts and overtime pay, among other things.

"This is an intentional policy on the part of FedEx Ground to deny drivers their rights as employees," said Erin Johansson, research director at Jobs with Justice, a labor rights group. Read more on CNN Money

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can Money Buy You Happiness?

It’s True to Some Extent. But Chances Are You’re not Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck.

It’s an age-old question: Can money buy happiness?

Over the past few years, new research has given us a much deeper understanding of the relationship between what we earn and how we feel. Economists have been scrutinizing the links between income and happiness across nations, and psychologists have probed individuals to find out what really makes us tick when it comes to cash.

The results, at first glance, may seem a bit obvious: Yes, people with higher incomes are, broadly speaking, happier than those who struggle to get by.

But dig a little deeper into the findings, and they get a lot more surprising—and a lot more useful. Read more in WSJ

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bad Bosses Are Hard on the Heart

Burdened by an overbearing boss? Your heart may pay the price, according to new research.

The Swedish study found that workers' risks for angina, heart attack and death rose along with the reported incompetence of their bosses.

"This study is the first to provide evidence of a prospective, dose-response relationship between concrete managerial behaviors and objectively assessed heart disease among employees," said lead researcher Anna Nyberg, from the department of public health sciences at the Karolinska Institute, and Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University.

"Enhancing managers' skills -- regarding providing employees with information, support, power in relation to responsibilities, clarity in expectations, and feedback -- could have important stress-reducing effects on employees and enhance the health at workplaces," Nyberg said.

The report was published in the Nov. 25 online edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Read more on Washington Post

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Fitbit for Your Employees' Emotional Health?

If you find you're constantly in a bad mood or feeling depressed, it can affect everything – your personal relationships, your health and your ability to focus and get things done at work.

And you are certainly not alone. Depression affects one in eight workers, resulting in nearly 68 million workdays lost each year, according to the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Those missing days cost businesses more than $23 billion in lost productivity.

To that end, health technology company Orcas is aiming to improve the well-being of U.S. workplaces with a mobile app and online behavior monitoring program called MoodHacker. Read more on Yahoo News

Monday, November 17, 2014

7 habits of highly INeffective people

In 1989 Steven R Covey wrote a business and self-help book titled, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." It became a chartbuster that influenced millions to believe that those seven habits would make them better leaders. In fact, these would make them highly effective leaders.


However, great leadership isn't only about what you are doing right. It is also about what you're not doing wrong. Just as there are habits that make leaders effective, there are habits that cripple them.


From the first day we published our research on strengths-based leadership, we have also stressed the importance of fixing the terrible habits we refer to as "fatal flaws."

We found that when a manager possessed just one of these fatal flaws they had an extremely slim chance of making it into the top tier of leadership in their organization. Possessing two or more virtually guaranteed that they would not be in the top echelon of leaders. Read more on CNN

Friday, November 14, 2014



By the late 1990s, the number of people diagnosed with depression in the U.S. had increased by nearly 1,000% in just a half-century according to the World Health Organization.

Believing that psychological research had been too narrowly focused on finding new treatments for human despair—and not on a cure—University of Pennsylvania professor, Martin Seligman, reframed the problem entirely, and challenged academics across the country to begin exploring the causes of human well-being.

“What are the enabling conditions of life that help people achieve greater happiness and thrive in their lives,” he pushed his colleagues to discover. “What makes people flourish?”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Everybody's Quitting Their Jobs Now

Quit your job, help the economy.

More than 2.7 million Americans, or 2 percent of all workers, quit their jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday. That's the highest "quit rate" since April 2008, when the Great Recession was still a toddler:

This is usually a good sign for the economy. People usually don't tend to tell their bosses to kiss off unless they either a) are trapped in an hypnotic state, Office-Space-style, b) have another job lined up, or c) at least feel pretty confident they can get another job. See the numbers on Huffington Post

To Motivate Employees, Help Them Do Their Jobs Better

Forward-thinking companies pay a great deal of attention to employee engagement. But should they?

Over the past decades, scientific research has provided compelling evidence for the idea that engaged employees perform better, are less likely to leave or burn out, and more likely to display organizational citizenship. Employee engagement has also been found to correlate positively with business level performance and other measures of organizational effectiveness.

At the same time, the true value of engagement would come not from correlation, but from causation: if employee engagement can be shown to predict and cause future organizational outcomes, there would be a clear justification for enhancing employee engagement.

So, does engagement actually cause higher performance, or are high-performing employees just more engaged? Read more on HBR

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Here's the No. 1 reason you're bored with your job

Whistle while you work? Not exactly. Most of us aren’t so “hi-ho” about our jobs.

In fact, just 13% of the global workforce actually feels fully engaged in their jobs, according to a Gallup study in late 2013. What’s more, 63% of workers feel completely disengaged. Essentially, a significant number of workers are doing their best impression of corporate zombies, going through the motions to collect a paycheck.

Are employees to blame for this sorry state of affairs? No. The fault lies with management — or rather, the lack of it. Managers clearly are not leading and engaging employees effectively. Read more on MarketWatch

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Not HR's Job to Be Strategic

Human-capital issues are top-of-mind for CEOs around the world — but their regard for the HR function remains perilously low: In a PwC study, only 34% said that HR is well prepared to capitalize on transformational trends (compared with 56% for finance).

Sadly, chief executives aren’t the only ones with this negative perception. It’s pervasive in organizations — and to make matters worse, HR practitioners have inadvertently played into it. In its “State of Human Capital” report, McKinsey found that people in HR still largely have “a support-function mindset, a low tolerance for risk, and a limited sense of strategic ‘authorship’” — all of which has led to “low status among executive peers, no budget for innovation, and a ‘zero-defects’ mentality.”

Though many HR managers would take exception to those findings, they do, overwhelmingly, want more of a strategic voice than they have now. Look at any HR discussion forum, and you’ll find some version of this question: How can HR get a “seat at the table” and become a strategic business partner?  Read more on HBR

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Reason to Keep Working: Cheap Healthcare

The majority of U.S. workers say they would delay retirement just to keep their employer-provided health insurance, according to new research.

The study, released Thursday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found that 53% of workers aged 21 and over planned to retire later than they originally hoped in order to continue receiving health insurance at work.

The figure may reflect a recognition that older workers who are too young to apply for Medicare—especially those between ages 55 and 64—often have a difficult time finding insurance on the private market, says Paul Fronstin, director of the health research program at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

If health benefits were guaranteed upon retirement, 27% said they would retire earlier than planned, up from 15% in 2003, the study found.

The bottom line, says Fronstin, is that “if they have health insurance, they’ll probably retire earlier, and if they don’t, they probably won’t.”  Full article on

What Makes Someone an Engaging Leader

 “How can we have the highest profitability in five years and still have gaps in employee engagement?” asks an executive at a large industrial products company. The reality is that the two don’t necessarily go together. This management team, like many others, has fought to increase profitability through business transformation, restructuring, and cost-cutting, without devoting much thought to keeping employees engaged and connected. As a result, the company may find it hard to sustain the gains, much less drive future growth. Organizational agility, innovation, and growth are really difficult without engaged employees.

The research team at AON Hewitt has made it a priority to understand what is going on in enterprises where both financial performance and employee engagement levels are soaring. Our ongoing study of the companies we’ve labeled Aon Hewitt Best Employers – firms that achieve both top quartile engagement levels and better business results than their peers – finds that they do have something in common. It’s the prevalence of a certain kind of leader, not just at the top, but throughout the ranks of the organization. These individuals – we call them engaging leaders – are distinguished by a certain set of characteristics. Read more on

Friday, November 7, 2014

Taking a Culture-First Mentality With Workplace Wellness

Wellness. A term loosely tossed around these days by the media, insurance providers and within the four walls of many companies – or at least by HR departments. By now, many of us have read the studies exploring traditional corporate wellness programs and understand the highs and lows associated with rolling them out to employees.

It’s easy for employers to be overly prescriptive with their wellness programs, telling employees to “complete this health risk assessment (HRA),” “take that biometric screening” or “participate in this specific program.” But it’s unclear how these tactics benefit both employees and employers – outside of maybe achieving a handful of short-term gains.  Read the full article on

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Why IBM Gives Top Employees a Month to Do Service Abroad

“Eight out of 10 participants in the Corporate Service Corps program say it significantly increases the likelihood of them completing their career at IBM,” Stanley Litow, VP of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, told us.

Recognizing that corporate responsibility can offer a company a competitive advantage today, we became interested in IBM as a pioneer in establishing a skills-based volunteerism initiative that also influences its talent and professional development strategies. Several executives at the company offered to talk with us to figure out why the program has been so successful—not just as a philanthropic gesture, but as a talent development system. As Litow put it, “If participation in these programs increases our retention rate, recruits top talent, and builds skills in our workforce, then it’s addressing the critical issue of competitiveness.”

The IBM Corporate Service Corps, a hybrid of professional development and service, deploys 500 young leaders a year on team assignments in more than 30 countries in the developing world. Employees engage in two months of training while working full time, spend one month on the ground on a 6- to 12-member team tackling a social issue, and then mentor the next group for two months. So far, IBMers have completed over 1,000 projects. Read more on Harvard Business Review


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

6 Reasons Your Colleagues Don't Like You Anymore

Today’s workplace is fueled with political maneuvering, envy, and greed – with only an occasional touch of class. The days of doing the right thing have transitioned into survival of the fittest as employees have become more fearful for their future and thus are looking out for themselves, more than for the organization they serve. For many, the workplace has become a domain of frustration where very few have one another’s backs. Tired of the distrust and their toxic work environments, employees are eager for a fresh start.


Rather than finding ways to build camaraderie through teambuilding and collaborative efforts, employees have become more focused on their own personal gain.   They are no longer hesitant to spend corporate budgets and create third party relationships – in hopes of opening new doors of opportunity that will benefit them much more.  This emerging attitude stems from disgruntled employees and the lack of trustworthy employee relations and engagement, not just with their boss but more so amongst colleagues themselves. Read more on

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Do Employees Trust the Boss? More Than Half Surveyed Say: Not So Much!

Interaction Associates has released its annual workplace trust research, Building Workplace Trust 2014/15, and it has a shot across the bow for business leaders – with more than half of the people surveyed giving their organization low marks for trust and effective leadership. What’s more, a quarter of those surveyed say they trust their boss less this year than in 2013.

This is the 6th annual Building Workplace Trust survey from Interaction Associates, a leading global workplace performance improvement firm. This year’s research polled more than 500 people employed at companies worldwide in a range of job functions and industries.

Interaction Associates commissioned the international research company, IDG Research Services, to implement this year’s Building Workplace Trust survey.

Building Workplace Trust specifically examines the impact of leadership, trust, and collaboration on business performance and results. Read more on Yahoo Finance

Monday, November 3, 2014



The business world has a strange habit of speaking about social media as if it were a mystical land where the nature of human conversations, relationships, and emotions radically change. But they don’t.

Asking the question, “Why would employees talk about our brand on social media?” is a bit like asking, “Why do people talk to each other?”

People have always talked about their employers, and they always will. Social media is just a new medium for the same old dialogue. Your employees, particularly if they are millennials, are already talking about your company on social media. You could ignore this conversation. Or you can guide it in ways that will improve employee engagement, transform your marketing strategy, generate leads, and attract top talent. More on

Today's employers tout workplace culture and nontraditional perks

Instead of blowing off steam with coworkers at the water cooler, employees at tech firm Noregon Systems in Greensboro challenge one another to ping-pong tournaments.

At Winston-Salem marketing agency Wildfire, the office occasionally hosts movie screenings to allow employees to take a break.

What about your workplace? Does your boss take you out on field trips? Bring a nutritionist into the kitchen? Offer flexible hours? If not, it may be only a matter of time.

Today’s employers are looking a bit differently at benefits than in the past. Sometimes the changes are driven — at least in part, by financial realities. Through the course of the recession and even since, many employers limited pay raises and curtailed or cost-shifted some of the traditional benefits that used to be staples of the workplace.  Read more on