Work-Life Balance & Results Only Work Environments (ROWE): Myth or Reality?

I feel there is a resurgence to strive for work-life balance… with work as the evil twin in the relationship. But to find something you have to first know what you’re looking for… so…. ‘What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is very personal. It’s different among co-workers doing the same or similar work; it’s different for each partner in a relationship; it’s different for each of your friends. Even your definition of work life balance will change over time… especially if you:

  • Have / adopt a child
  • Get a promotion / change jobs
  • Move
  • Inherit money
  • etc. etc.

Work-Life Balance Is More Achievable Than Ever

While we’ve been striving for balance for decades, I think it’s more achievable than ever for a few reasons:

  • Awareness / Desire
  • Technology (Assists collaboration, information sharing and much more)
  • More work is thought based
  • Millennial expectations and influence
  • Organizations are realizing it’s cost effective

I do a fair amount of Productivity & Time Management Training and I hear over and over how many of us do a few hours of quality work after dinner before we hit the sack. Is that wrong – or is that the new way of working? I’m certain that work-life balance is showing us flexibility is possible and integration is the new norm.

Older Productivity & Time Management Training Studies Are Right… But…

There are tons of studies that demonstrate we are at our strategic – creative best in the morning. That’s why traditional best practices suggest avoiding mundane, low-strategy work until the afternoon and to protect evenings as valuable family time (and give your brain a rest).

But what about parents who don’t go to bed at 10PM and wake refreshed at 6AM… or the typical Millennial who is used to integrating all parts of their life (which now means work), throughout their day and evening? More and more people follow a nontraditional schedule where free time might be ‘when they can schedule a spare hour’.

I’m not saying this older model is wrong, I just think it needs to become more flexible. I believe that after a good rest everyone is more creative and more strategic… and as we become tired it makes sense that we become less creative and strategic (throughout an 8 or 10 hour marathon work day).

So, what if we changed the rules? What if we began taking mental breaks throughout the day? We all experience feeling refreshed and bright again after a break (even if our ‘break’ was going to the gym).Results Only Work Environment

Enter ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).

With a ROWE, it doesn’t matter when an employee does their work or where they do it, as long as they meet agreed-upon project goals on time and on budget. Employees get to decide where and when they work – and what they work on.

If employees are required to get to an office they are punching a time clock – even if there isn’t a time clock in sight.

ROWE’s are a BIG opportunity for organizations to reduce costs while increasing productivity, creativity, employee morale and employee loyalty… especially in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, New York or LA where the average commute is at least an hour.”

How You Can Build a ROWE Performance-Driven Work Culture

Critical to your success is to have measurable results and hold employees accountable for their work. It’s also important to cut the connection between salary and goals because $$ can actually demotivate your employees (see previous blog: Link).

Make sure your employees work stands for something. I believe some of the key responsibilities of leaders is to help employees take pride in their work, reflect on what they have learned, and to see how their efforts make a difference for the company and/or their customers. That’s the kind of leader I want to be.

Take companies like Influitive in Toronto that develop Marketing solutions for Corporate clients – or Fireman & Company an international management consulting firm that specializes in the legal industry. Both of these organizations operate with a ROWE and benefit from having employees in different time zones and / or countries.

The added beauty of a ROWE is that organizations are able to hire the best talent from anywhere in the world – not being limited to geography… like within an hours drive.

Do Flexible Work Hours Count?

Flexible work hours count but are not a ROWE. A flexible schedule that allows an employee to come in at 6AM and leave at 3PM is still all about organizational control and making sure people put their bum in a seat; flexible work hours just provide a few more options. So it’s important to ask – do you want to make sure people show up… or are you more concerned about what they accomplish and the quality of their work?

If you are interested in what your employees accomplish (not where or when they do it), you have already making the mental transition to a Results Only Work Environment.

Autonomy at work is one of the greatest motivators emerging in today’s workforce. Autonomy is about setting your own work schedule with your teammates to ensure the people responsible do the work on time, on budget, and exceed expectations. This approach of ‘anonymity’, ‘team work’ and ‘self improvement’ is high – and I mean really high for Millennials.

ROWE Will Attract Loyal Millennials… And Other Generations

Millennials are known to have a more entrepreneurial spirit, wanting more anonymity along with mentoring. ROWE and anonymity helps employees feel like they are their own boss – even when working for a large organization. It helps employees design their own work-life balance. This can be a perfect solution for the organization trying to integrate Millennials into their work environments but having challenges with loyalty.

ROWE allows all employees (Millennials and other generations), to choose… to be in control of how, when, where and often what they are working on. For ROWE to exist it has to be supported by reliable metrics goals, objectives. It also means that reward has to reach beyond extrinsic motivators like $$… and must be supported by intrinsic motivators like C.A.P.S. (see previous blog: Link).

As time goes on I believe it will be an employees job-market… and employee flexibility will be key. With this new generation coming in, conversations are going to change between employers and labor unions about employees wants / needs and their productivity.

  1. Many Millennials don’t separate work and life or work and family / community.
  2. Millennials see work-life balance is whatever they are doing (volunteer, work, cooking, relaxation etc). I recently spoke with a Millennial and they said, “Work is in my life – my life doesn’t act outside of paid time – it happens all the time and this way I don’t have to miss out on any part of my life.”

It’s Critical To Measure Deliverables

When you measure deliverables and quality you can measure an employees real performance… and, over time a pattern always forms. As leaders, we all know the employee we can count on and the employee we can not count on… even though they both spend valuable time each day commuting to your office… IE: punching a time clock.

The anonymity employees want becomes their responsibility. They are ultimately responsible for their deliverables and therefore, their impact on everything else including their personal and professional reputation.

Involve your employees in all aspects of a project. Get their ideas on how to track the work – not the hours. ROWE has to be a corporate culture – and you have to hire the right people. You have to hire people based on values, ambition AND talent. Far too often we hire people on talent or who we like…. Therefore… people most like ourselves. EEEK.

This Blog is getting far too long, so in my next Blog I will further explore questions like:

  • Won’t employees abuse their freedom?
  • How to integrate ROWE into my work structure?

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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How To Motivate & Mentor Employees: Reward Is More Than Salary And Bonus

‘Work’ in general is becoming more interesting and less repetitive. We are living and working in a Digital Age and many of today’s jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago, and how we accomplish the jobs that do still exist has been rewritten. If this isn’t exciting enough, our workforce is also changing:

  • Boomers want to stay relevant and current – and also want more flexibility to enjoy their families and everything they’ve worked hard for.
  • Gen Xers want to make their mark and drive change while also keeping focused on their families and work/life balance.
  • Millennials (Generation Y) have entered the workforce and four of the many things they value are continuous learning, wanting work that’s meaningful, wanting to feel a sense of accomplishment and they want autonomy.

So in general, it’s fair to say that employees (even Boomers and Gen Xers), want to do work they feel passionate about. And this is a good thing… but requires us to learn how to manage and motivate employees (and ourselves), differently. And yet, many Boomers (still the largest group of Business Owners / Executives / Managers), have a challenge managing and motivating their employees – especially Millennials at work. For example, they give Millennials a job AND pay them… and wonder why they quickly become bored, want more and/or leave.

Times Have Changed: Motivate and mentor employees differently

Times have changed and Millennials and the emerging Gen Z are going to keep us moving forward. Millennials at work do want more… and so do most employees of all ages. The one thing to remember is that we all excel when we do work we are interested in. That’s the key.

We all excel when we do work we are interested in.

It’s like when we start a new job – we are excited – we are learning new things and meeting new people – we are creative – we ask questions – we even innovate… and then we get bored. The same happens with Millennials except their timeline is usually in months not years. So, how to do managers keep ALL employees of different generations excited? They have to motivate and mentor employees differently – and more specifically, they need to reward differently.

Here’s the thing… traditional reward and recognition systems are salary based with (hopefully), a raise and/or bonus every 12 months. Unfortunately money doesn’t motivate today’s employees for long.Reward As Money

Reward Is More Than Salary And Bonus

Traditional reward systems (salary / bonuses), assume that work is not inherently enjoyable; and 30 years ago most work wasn’t. But our work has changed in the Digital Age and we’ve all changed… we want to enjoy our work.

As Leaders, if we want a motivated workforce who produce at a high-level, more and more money is not an effective strategy (and is the most expensive approach). There are many intrinsic motivators that are rarely used that are proven to increase creativity, productivity and loyalty… and have little/low-cost, like C.A.R.P. motivators:

  • C – Competence / Mastery… learning new things – gaining experience and/or using an expertise.
  • A – Autonomy / Choice… like what to work on, when and how
  • R – Relevance / Purpose… why the work is meaningful – important
  • P – Progress… what they are doing is adding to the greater good (the what to the why answer)

Studies have proven that external rewards like traditional salary / bonuses, can have negative impact on problem solving and creativity (as two examples). Why? Because employees soon learn to expect the ‘reward’ and often become unmotivated if/when they don’t receive the ‘reward’ when they expect it.

Alternatively, employees who feel passionate about their work and who feel supported by the low/no-cost C.A.R.P. motivation and reward systems will almost always become creative, higher-than-average performers. In addition, when employees feel proud and excited about their accomplishments they demonstrate greater organizational loyalty and think twice before leaving. And, feeling proud and excited happens all the time – not once every 12 months.

Want Proof? Here’s An Example – Daniel H. Pink writes in his book ‘Drive’

“In a 2009 study MIT study led by MIT Sloan School of Management’s Pierre Azoulay and his colleagues compared two different ways to incentivize creativity in the sciences. They examined scientists who received grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which emphasis external controls such as “short review cycles, pre-defined deliverables, and renewal policies unforgiving of failure.” Then they looked at scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), whose funding process “tolerates early failure, rewards long-term success and gives its appointees great freedom to experiment.” The result? HHMI investigators produced high-impact papers at a much higher rate than their similarly accomplished NIH counterparts.” Daniel H. Pink

Conclusion

In this busy, fast-paced work environment it’s important employers have confidence in their employees talent and give them enough autonomy to do their work and be proud of what they accomplish. Watching every move – double-checking every task is an ‘old-school’ way to motivate and mentor employees and will only slow down progress / productivity and make talented employees feel less professional and personal influence.

In addition, traditional motivation and mentoring systems will cost more both in money (salaries / bonuses), as well as the cost to replace unmotivated employees who quit after only a few months – or years.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Organizations Are Finding Stability

Organizations are finding stability – but not stability that rests on lack of change; that stability often leads to organizational distress.

I’m talking about stability that includes a responsibility to your business, your employees, customers, environment and the economy. Stability that is foundational; guiding principals that influence daily activities and encourage employees to collaborate and explore future opportunities with shared purpose. The kind of security that is critical when organizations are changing and the economy is in flux (everyday). Stability that understands that pushing boundaries sometimes means taking one step forward and two steps back… and those steps are all learning opportunities to be celebrated… not failures that compromise job security, trust and therefore creativity / progress.beach stones

Organizational stability is a savior when it’s rooted in values that are honored, celebrated and respected by all employees. Values and guiding principals that drive:

People repeat behaviour that is rewarded. You can’t positively affect the organization’s cultural core without bringing your team along. There has to be trust, communication and fairness.

Some of the hardest work is to address a top performer who isn’t a team player. Why? Because they do undermine corporate values and organizational stability… which is why they can’t be allowed to continue. It’s easy to measure their individual success – but difficult to measure the negative impact / loss they cause throughout your organization by lowering others engagement, productivity and loyalty. They may seem to be star earners, but what about the harm they do undermining everyone else’s progress? They may be costing more than they bring in as they create a work environment that causes talented employees to walk away.

Good employees leave bad cultures and / or bad bosses. Losing strong, dependable, collaborative talent [for whatever reason] disrupts organizational stability and increases hard-costs, as you have to hire and retrain new talent. I see it far too often how lone-wolf employees erode organizational success and the potential within team dynamics.

How your treat your whole team is your culture.

Holding people accountable does not mean you have to be mean or cruel, it means you have to be confident and fair. You have to hold people accountable to the corporate values, success of the business, its customers, any individual you are speaking with AND all of the other employees. Holding people accountable provides organizational stability everyone can trust… during slow times, busy times and even during times of great change.

Organizational stability expands productivity and creative engines exponentially.

Your team is the energy that drives your organization forward. Stability requires dialogue that may not be easy at first (difficult conversations), and often requires training and practice to learn how to move forward – consistently.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

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Should Young Grads Be Tested On 3R’s?

This post summarizes many of my thoughts in response to a Toronto Star article by Louise Brown identifying HEQCO (Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario) is calling for literacy and numeracy [3 R’s], testing for post secondary grads. Click here for that article.

Millennials will soon account for over half of the employment pool so we have to figure this out quickly – and I don’t think University testing is the right solution. I believe organizations can fix most of this problem themselves – and they can do it more quickly, more accurately and economically while building employee loyalty. Do Universities have a role to play? Yes, I suggest their reputation should be based on the soft skills and communication skills of their graduates – just like their reputation is based on their learning programs.

Sure many Millennials have challenges around soft skills and communication skills when they leave University. Sometimes their language styles resemble Snap Chat, Texting and other social media styles. But lets face it, Millennials don’t stand alone, many Gen Xers and Boomers also have sub-optimal communication skills.

Millennials don’t have a problem with teamwork or problem solving as the Toronto Star article suggests; they don’t do it the same way as some Boomers and Gen Xers, and often are better at it.

A Real Challenge

Millennials are only 20 – 30 years old so of course they want different things from their work experience. So when a 28 year old Millennial that recently graduated isn’t motivated the same way a 50+ Boomer is don’t be surprised. And if they don’t want a family until their mid 30’s… we shouldn’t be surprised about that either. Millennials are taking charge of living their life just like Boomers took charge of how they were going to live their life in the 1960’s.

I suggest one of the biggest challenges today is that organizations don’t try to measure soft skills, communication skills and cultural compatibility in a meaningful way when they are interviewing potential hires. Then, they are disappointed when Millennials don’t have the skills they want.

How can a standardized government-lead test evaluate the needs of a corporate position and culture?

Many organizations are already relying far too much on academic grades. How is another ‘grade’ going to help an organization find the right person? It doesn’t seem the HEQCO exam will measure cultural compatibility and soft skills like values, empathy, compassion, managing difficult situations, work ethic, commitment, drive and responsibility. As a corporate trainer and executive coach, these are the gaps I hear cause most of the frustration.

Companies Are Not Really Mentoring Or Training Employees

Many organizations no longer invest in their new employees to teach them writing / office communication skills. With little to no previous work experience, it’s understandable Millennials haven’t learned how to ‘operate’ in an corporate environment… and they never will from school. The next sentence isn’t a criticism – it is an observation. Managers are so busy running around punching messages into their smartphones and running to meetings they don’t have time to mentor new staff well.

I remember my first corporate job 25 years ago (yes, I’m a Boomer). I was deficient in how to navigate a corporate structure. Even though many of my electives were in English literature I also had a poor grasp of how to ‘write’ for a business audience. I do however remember being mentored by my boss and some of my coworkers. The company also supported corporate training and professional development.

Unless you are hiring C-suite level people, I believe organizations need to be prepared to consciously shape their future employees.

Millennials Aren’t Loyal’ Is A Bad Excuse

Lets be clear – loyalty means different things today than it did 40 years ago. Employee loyalty has changed – AND employers are far less loyal to their employees.

If we train them they will leave,” is a poor reason to not invest in your employees. Millennials are going to leave; the question is… when?Millennial Survey Results

If Millennials don’t feel they are contributing, learning something and doing meaningful work, most will leave within 2 years. However, a recent study I conducted demonstrated that most Millennials want to work for one company for a minimum of 5 years but want at least two jobs during that time. That same study confirmed most Millennials expect to change jobs in 2 years. This demonstrates organizations can more than double their employees tenure IF they offer what employees want most… which is little mentoring, training and recognition.

Summary / Solution

I agree with what David Lindsay, president of the Council of Ontario Universities says in the same Toronto Star article. He is quoted as saying, “assessing soft skills could be useful but warned against using one test as a be-all and end-all.

Organizations need to hire people with values, soft skills and communication skills that match their customers needs and the needs of the job… and few are doing this.

Academia needs to take responsibility. I do believe higher education has allowed students to get more relaxed about the 3 R’s. So, fix that! Universities have to pull their standards back up.

Sure – exit and entrance exams could have value, but they should be representative of the quality of student the University is putting out – not the individual student. Make the 3R’s all about the University reputation – the University reputation can be like wine – 2015 was a good year for XYZ University. Lets be careful university exams don’t begin discriminating applicants by basing acceptance on the 3R’s test.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

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Hillary And Bernie For President

Hillary and Bernie (I feel we are on first name terms), you both have an opportunity to set an example – a really profound example for the world.

What if you began to collaborate and stopped trying to beat each other out of the big chair? You are two highly talented people with great supporters, contacts, education and experience. What if you became a beacon and example for citizens and corporate America… And The World to work together.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.51.56 PM

Hillary And Bernie For President

Be An Example For Businesses And Individuals. 

Collaboration is identified by the best leaders, scholars, consultants and spiritual figures as a powerful way for great companies to be competitive and deliver value to clients, shareholders and the economy. Collaboration also unites individuals and helps them focus on their… and each others strength and passions.

Great leaders focus on:

  • Communication – Hillary… Bernie you both are great at this
  • Inspiration – again, you are both great.
  • A focus on critical values – I like that you have both complementary values… and each seem to have a few of your own
  • Vision – yup. You both have that. Imagine what you could accomplish when you support the same vision?
  • Promote cooperation – come on… you can do this.
  • Trust – I know you are politicians, but I think this is possible. Many trust you now, and if you work together I imagine your trust ratings will go even higher. Just don’t screw it up.
  • Business knowledge, skill. Between the two of you, you have more knowledge and experience that almost anyone. Imagine what you can do when you combine your super powers instead of use them to fight against each other?

I can go on but do I really need to?

Embrace Change – Do What Is Right… Not What Is Expected.

The people we remember most in history have done great things. They have turned ‘What Is’ into ‘What Can Be Better’. Consider Steve Jobs and what he did with Apple. Consider what Gandhi accomplished by doing things differently and leading change and collaboration of his people.

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You. Eleanor Roosevelt.

Same Old – Same Old No Longer Works

I suggest Hillary and Bernie for president. The greatest opportunities are the ones nobody has done. Change is now a constant – which means the ‘same old – same old’ no longer works. Organizations / institutions that are not changing are being left behind. If you mined for gold would you mine in the same place others had been for years, or would you embrace a new opportunity to dig deeper?

The world is a different place than it was 20, 50, 100 years ago.

Set an example. Instead of fighting together at the cost of jobs and our environment – show businesses what you can accomplish when they work together.

Slowly, the business world is embracing that leadership is about adaptability, loyalty and engagement. Help businesses pick up the pace as they work towards sustainability. And, help businesses show their employees the loyalty they want from their employees.

Be A Team Like Never Before: Hillary And Bernie For President

You both can show everyday people and business leaders that collaboration supports an environment and help others. Show the world how people with varying abilities / experience can put differences aside and embrace a common goal. Be an example of flexibility and respect as you share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.

Hillary, Bernie; if you truly want to make the USA and the world a better place and to create a legacy, I believe your decision is to decide to work together. Now!

Conclusion: Become An Unstoppable Team Hillary And Bernie

Hillary, Bernie… ignite your passion so that together you both inspire innovation. Take pride in creating wonderful adaptable solutions. Your passion can change the world and move it forward like never before.

One of the largest barriers to collaboration is siloes and politics. So, break down silos – don’t play by the same rules everyone else has – it is time to play a new game… together.

Happy communicating… and Hillary And Bernie For President.

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Loyal Millennials And Intergenerational Workspaces

Millennials in our intergenerational workspaces are accused of being narcissist, hard to manage, lazy, entitled and not loyal to their employer. And whether these behaviour traits are true or not (and I don’t think they always are), Millennials are changing how we all work and how employees are hired, motivated and rewarded.

There are real generational differences and conflict… as well as opportunities for everyone to step-up and change their behaviour.

When motivated, Millennials are loyal, hard-working and want to have purpose. It’s been drilled into them that if they go to post secondary education they will get a fantastic job with lots of money and ability to make a difference (they want purpose). But that’s not happening. The jobs are not there waiting for them and there are hundreds of other highly educated Millennials applying for the few jobs there are. Let’s face it – people of any generation would be disheartened.

When Millennials Do Get A Job – Expect Change

I believe Millennials bring more +’s to the table than –‘s. That said, I am the fist to say Millennials have to clean up some behaviours – like their writing skills. Sadly, one of the big intergenerational challenges many Millennials face (and the easiest way to ruin their reputation and sideline their success), is sloppy spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.Millennial Survey Results

Millennials are comfortable with quick moving, flat organizations – while Boomers are used to hierarchy. When Millennials were kids, they went to their coach or teacher when they had a question. At work, if their boss isn’t available they will innocently move up the ladder (or sideways), to ask the next best person. In addition, they’ll also likely go to Google, so will already have a second opinion that they’ll want to include in a discussion about their question.

When their supervisor says to do XYZ, Millennials immediately think “Why?” This is not confrontation or questioning authority, experience or leadership skills… it is one of value-add. They simply want to do what is best and learn from the experience. The challenge is that Boomers are not used to explaining every decision (and may see requests as confrontation).

One of the generational differences Boomers and GenXers have to accept is that Millennials are less interested in title and competition and much more interested sharing expertise, responsibilities and success. They were brought up in a collaborative environment and thankfully – they want to keep this structure going.

Boomers and GenXers have to accept Millennials want flexibility. They work to live, not live to work. Since they were children Millennials were learning and engaging from morning to night… that is how they were raised. Most organizations expect (although not formally documented), employees to check and answer email throughout the evenings and on weekends. So, what is the big deal if your employees get to the office at 9:30AM? Chances are, they were answering email all night – and all morning. So, business leaders have to put aside seeing everyone in the office at 8AM and be OK with a 9:30AM… or 10… as long as their work is getting done.

How To Manage Millennials

The one thing that Millennials are good at is change. They come with all of the new age technology and many lived social experience that employers want. They are hard workers, as long as senior management stop being ‘the boss’ and enjoy demonstrating their leadership skills and being their mentor. Leaders and mentors give guidance and direction – they open doors and coach – and that is what Millennials want.

Millennials want to be social at work. This means being friendly with co-workers and checking social media at work.

Leaders have to get used to a smartphone on their desk where they check their social media accounts from time to time. That flexibility helps leaders retain engaged, smart and committed employees. But flexibility and respect go both ways – with the ‘give’ from their leaders, Millennials will be happy to ‘give back’. Your request to turn off their smartphone during meetings and conference calls will be met and respected.

Conclusion

Millennials are loyal, hard-working employees when they are treated well. A recent ‘Millennials in the Workspace’ study we conducted at BMC identified that 65.38% of our Millennial participants would prefer to stay with one company for at least 5 years. Their top needs to be satisfied at work were (after salary):

  • Doing interesting work
  • Being respected and value
  • Their efforts being recognized by their peers and superiors
  • Feeling they were making a difference

Unfortunately, 50% of the participants in that same study expected to change jobs in the next 2 years or less. That tells me leadership skills have to change. Leaders in intergenerational organizations have work to do when it comes to hiring, motivating and retaining hard-working Millennial employees.

Happy communicating.

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Is Communication Bias Holding You Back?

Why is it that when you are speaking with people you know well, (like your partner, your best friend or a co-worker), they often misunderstand part of your message?

You are not alone. Studies show that our understanding often decreases when we share with people we know. The working theory is called ‘communication bias’ and it suggests we often pay less attention when we are speaking to and listening to people we know. When we are:

  • Speaking or writing, we don’t share all the details because we believe the details are obvious to the people we know.
  • Listening or reading, we don’t pay close attention because we believe we know what they mean.

Yup, communication bias is a 2-way street. The impact of communication bias is that even during difficult conversations, errors and assumptions are made by everyone – the senders of the message and the receivers of the message.

The alternative is that when we communicate with people we don’t know, we often pay closer attention. As a result, when we communicate with strangers, we may also show them more empathy and compassion.

Simple Communication Flow

I wrote a blog post a while ago that maps out the encoding and decoding process involved in communication between two or more people. The communication bias theory fits into that process nicely.

Truth is, employee training should include how to successfully communicate between two or more people. Productive workspaces depend on each person recognizing that their knowledge, experiences and expectations will be different and that these differences have the potential to bias communication. To overcome this bias takes effort, patience and understanding.

This Can’t Be True, My Dad Only Needed “The Look”

You may challenge this by pointing out that all your parent ever needed was a certain look, and that from that look you knew instantly if:

  • They were thrilled
  • They were annoyed
  • You should keep up the good work
  • You should run!

I am sure this is true, but it’s not the same. In a highly structured environment where individuals have lots of experience with each other, it is natural that a simple glance might express what is needed. This is especially true in the military where routine and predictable behaviour/needs are critical. But, in a flexible and/or new environment, careful attention to a message is imperative.

Our Expectations Want To Rule Our Business Etiquette

All of this ties into our emotional expectations as well. For example, if you expect me to be an impatient jerk and I close off my email by writing, “If there is anything else you need, let me know.” When you read my email, your assumption will likely confirm that I am a condescending jerk. However, you will hear a very different message if you expect me to be:

  • Kind
  • Helpful
  • Concerned
  • Sympathetic

In each of these cases our emotional expectations impact our business etiquette and our relationships. One short, innocent sentence can have a very different meaning depending on… the listener/reader.

Communication Bias Conclusion

People generally relax their effort and communication skills with people they know well or when they are in familiar situations. The impact is that they are more likely to interpret messages incorrectly… and this can lead to frustration and / or costly mistakes.

The solution is during employee training; help everyone to be aware of the potential of communication bias. It’s important employees recognize behaviours that will unknowingly compromise their business etiquette. Help them be aware of their surroundings and ensure they consider their audiences’ knowledge, experiences, perceptions and expectations.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Why Millennials Struggle With Work.

I’m both envious of and thrilled I’m not a Millennial.

Millennials (in developed countries), have so much potential. They are the most educated, well-traveled, technologically savvy, multicultural population to ever participate in an intergenerational workspace. And yet, they struggle to find success and balance. While they know what they don’t want, many are searching for what they do want.

Workspace Balance

Finding Equilibrium

Millennial Success or Failure?

Career choices for Millennials are far greater and the job market is changing all the time. Jobs that existed yesterday don’t exist anymore – jobs that don’t exist today will tomorrow. I think that choosing a job for Millennials is like looking through a Kaleidoscope that somehow keeps adding new colours; they are paralyzed by choice.

And, Millennials are expected to eventually navigate their way through 3, 4 even 5 careers (not jobs). Exhausting!

Let’s face it, being a Boomers was easier when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. We rode the wave of almost constant economic expansion from 1982-2001, so when we did decide to go job hunting – jobs existed. Choices were also predictable; the jobs we were applying for were mostly the same type of jobs that had existed for many years. Back then, it was not uncommon to join a company and expect to work there for most if not all of your career – climbing the corporate ladder until you ambition, your family and the companies need found equilibrium.

Millennials struggle not only because the exciting, fulfilling, well-paid jobs they expected are not out there. I believe they also struggle because making the wrong choice will count as a failure. When we consider generational differences, while Boomers saw / perhaps see an unplanned or imperfect job as an opportunity to gain experience – Millennials are concerned that anything other than the perfect choice will be seen as a failure that will leave a stain on their success for years… perhaps forever. Intergenerationally, Millennials have great fear that success will leave them behind and they will not live up to their potential.

Millennial Goals

Millennial SurveyIf / when they do ‘choose’ to compromise and take a job to “pay the bills”, they fear they are turning their back on their how hard they worked for their education as well as their dreams and ambitions. A recent ‘Millennials in the Workspace’ study we conducted at BMC identified that the first professional job 69.23% of our participants accepted was NOT in their chosen profession.

For those that do choose to compromise and apply for jobs to just pay the bills, they still experience disappointment. With one of the highest youth unemployment levels on record – Millennials are still feeling rejection as they don’t get a job they feel overqualified for.

No matter what generation you are from or your generational differences, that is hard to take – again and again.

Conclusion

Millennials see themselves as having lots of potential and want others to see that potential. They want others to know they are legit – that they are smart and have skills.

A Millennials ultimate goal is to get paid doing something they love. That’s why making the perfect choice is important for them. Their work is a place of meaning and pride – it’s far more than a paycheck, stability and the potential for a two-car garage. In many ways they don’t even want the two-car garage. They want their job to be fulfilling and an opportunity to learn.

Yup, they want individuality, uniqueness and success. They also want collaboration and to have access to mentors to ask for advice.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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Our Expectations Frame Our Experiences

Our expectations frame our experiences – no matter if we believe we:

  • Prefer summer over winter
  • Like light paint colours vs dark
  • Dislike vegetables
  • Expect Millennials to live up to the common negative stereotype

But what if we put aside biases, assumptions and judgements?

What if we approached an experience as new – looking forward to the experience vs. looking forward to a long list of disappointments.  Glass half full vs glass half empty?
Two

It’s important to be aware of our expectations as our workspaces become more diverse, filled with people with many generational differences, social differences and cultural differences. It’s also important as the work we do becomes more complicated. More and more the work we do requires us to and trust specialists. If we don’t stay open to innovation and new approaches to traditional ‘structures’ we get left behind quickly (example: Blackberry/Research In Motion).

Studies demonstrate our expectations frame our experiences and the behaviour of others. Studies with parents and children show that “Parents who believe they are simply being realistic might actually contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Buchanan discovered that when mothers expected their children to behave badly more often than not… they did. Christy Buchanan, is a psychology professor at Wake Forest University and an author of a study that examined children and their mothers.

We Share Our Expectations In Many Ways

We share our expectations to others in many ways. It may be through our body language, facial expressions, words we use, vocal inflections, or of course even the opportunities we present. We might not realize we are expressing our expectations – and others may not realize they are picking up our expectations… but it does happen all the time.

Studies show that by changing our approach and our expectations we can change our audience’s expectations as well as their behaviour, their creativity, their success… ect.  You get the idea.

Change Your Expectations

There is so much opportunity out there. One of my training specialties is generational differences in the workspace, so, no surprise that is one of the strongest points I’d like to make.

When Boomers expect Millennials to be lazy, self-absorbed and entitled I believe this Millennial stereotyping is hurting corporate culture and success.

Generational differences are an opportunity. I believe Millennials are helping Boomers and Gen Xers see it. Millennials are collaborative and they want to both learn from people with more experience AND add value… and Millennials have lots of value to contribute.

Eliminate any doubts you have about others and replace them with an air of curiosity and opportunity. Change your expectations of others and see how your relationships and business approaches change.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Values, Morals and Ethics.

What is the relationship between and/or differences of Values, Morals and Ethics?

Values Morals EthicsThe differences are slight – but they are real and important. Understanding the definition of values, morals and ethics and the difference between them helps us avoid using one term when we should be using the other.

Values

Values are a system of personal beliefs that comes from within for deciding good or bad, right and wrong or should and shouldn’t. Values are the fundamental principles that guide a persons decisions. Values do not have to be shared by a persons ‘society/community’ because they are depend on the individual’s choices.

Morals

Morals do not determine values but are formed because of values. Morals are a system of personal beliefs that are used for deciding good or bad / right or wrong (what is and is not acceptable for the person to do). An individuals ‘moral’ action may be contradictory to what is legal, but in the end the individual believes it is the right behaviour. Morals are personal to the individual although often shared by their ‘society/community’, at least in part.

Ethics

Ethics are moral values in action. A person follows certain ethical ‘rules’ because their ‘society/community’ says it is the right thing to do. Ethics are usually dependent on others to create and support the definition – like a governing body of doctors or a religion.

Happy communicating everyone.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

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