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PAUSE – 11.43 – Workplace Wishes

November 29, 2011

REFLECTION: What do you care most about in your workplace? And what are the chances it might be the same things that others care about?

This is a question endlessly researched by organizations everywhere as they do their best to keep their people happy.

Results from a survey released in October of this year by Mercer, one of the world’s leading HR consulting firms, tell a familiar story about what motivates Canadian and US workers and helps them feel more engaged at work.

Drum roll, please. In order of importance, employees are affected by:

  1. Being treated with respect
  2. Work-life balance
  3. Type of work they do
  4. Quality of people they work with
  5. Quality of leadership in the organization

Although the results may not be surprising, what is surprising is that measures of what’s most important continues to remain similar even in the face of economic downturns and challenges.

ACTION: So what do these results suggest about the way we treat each other in our organizations? (more…)

PAUSE – 11.38 – Making Progress?

October 25, 2011

REFLECTION: Over the years, I’ve developed a habit that helps me focus on what matters most. Each week, I sit down for ten minutes late Sunday or early Monday, and build my list of priorities in four areas: Work, Home&Family, Community, and Personal. This is not an exhaustive collection of calls, errands, and follow-ups. I leave those bits and pieces to an electronic calendar. It is a specific list of projects and major/minor tasks that I hope to focus on and advance over the next seven days.

Sometimes a landslide of unexpected issues come up and hijack what I’d planned. In those instances, the list from one week to another looks nearly identical. Other times, like this Monday, when I reviewed last week’s Priority List, I was amazed at how many things I’d accomplished. And, I was delighted by how good that felt.

In that instant, I was reminded in a very personal and experiential way of the powerful impact of progress.

On this point, two Harvard researchers have recently confirmed what we instinctively hold to be true. It feels good to move things forward.

In their research, Amabile and Kramer discovered that when people consistently take steps forward – even small steps – on meaningful projects, they are more creative, productive, and engaged. This, in turn, has a positive influence on their work performance.

A & K refer to this phenomenon as the progress loop. It’s a cycle that has self-reinforcing benefits. Make progress on tasks, and you feel better about yourself. Feel better about yourself, and you’re more likely to make positive progress on tasks. And so it goes.

 

ACTION: What does this mean for our lives at work and at home? (more…)

PAUSE – 11.37 – Voila!

October 18, 2011

REFLECTION:  Root vegetable soup, bison medallions, creme brulee, and a large serving of ‘Laurent’ on the side! That was the menu for a recent dinner in Montreal at a small restaurant made larger than life by the presence of the one man show that was Laurent.

Our server/chef was a tall, wiry character with an easy smile and a strong desire to please partnered with a clear love of food. Laurent moved back and forth through the restaurant orchestrating the experience for several small groups of diners. A smile of welcome here! An ‘I’ve not forgotten about you’ nod and tap to his forehead there. A hand resting lightly on a diner’s shoulder as he rounded the corners between the tables.

His eyeglasses flew repeatedly from their fold in his pocket to the end of his nose as needed. Warmth and energy emanated from the open kitchen – with the odd flambe thrown in for effect. The presentation of each dish at the tables was accompanied by a grand flourish of the arms along with a delighted, childlike clapping of the hands. The message? ‘Voila! Magic has just been performed before your very eyes.’

The food was good but the experience was delightful! How engaging to be in the company of someone so solidly in their element and so clearly in the zone!

We dined the next evening at a high end restaurant in Vermont where the food was superb, and the service was stellar. However, we both agreed our dinner was missing one key element – the joi de vivre of Laurent!

 

ACTION:  This experience made me wonder what others notice when they see me in action at work and at home. You might ask yourself the same question. (more…)

PAUSE -11.36- Psych Safety – The New Workplace Imperative

October 11, 2011

REFLECTION: I’ve just returned from the 15th Annual Health Work and Wellness Conference in Toronto. Over the years, I’ve attended five of these conferences; and it’s been interesting to watch the shift in focus over time. Initially the conversation was mostly about physical wellness – helping employees become more physically fit through increased exercise, healthier eating, and addressing risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

This year, much of the conference focused on initiatives in the area of psychological safety. This moves us firmly into the arenas of mental and emotional health. These areas are harder to measure (and tougher to talk about), but they are every bit as important to productive workplaces as an emphasis on healthy bodies.

What we’re talking about here is creating a workplace culture that is respectful and civil – one in which people are responsible not just for their contributions to profits or corporate goals, but equally accountable for the impact of their everyday behaviour on others. Metaphorical hard hats and flak vests are rarely required. Leaders don’t carelessly overload employees, burning them out in the pursuit of corporate success. Berating, browbeating and bullying are not tolerated.

 

ACTION: Researcher, Martin Shain, recommends organizations concentrate on three approaches to create more psychologically safe workplaces:

1. Set reasonable and clear demands. Don’t blindly delegate work and raise expectations without attending to the impact of those new directions.

2. Make it safe for employees to speak up. Develop skills throughout the organization in raising concerns, asking questions, and listening with care.

3. Be vigilant about challenging even minor acts of incivility. Create a culture of courage – one in which people stand up for themselves and defend each other in the face of disrespectful comments or actions.

How does your workplace measure up on each of these elements? How might you and your colleagues strengthen an area where your culture falls short of the ideal?

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization, 1948

Or  you might prefer a more succinct version from Author Unknown:  “Just because you’re not sick doesn’t mean you’re healthy.”

 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Looking for more specific tactics on setting the tone for a mentally healthy culture? Check out this section of the Great West Life Resource Centre for Mental Health.  You’ll find suggestions for building: credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie in the workplace.

 

READERS WRITE: In response to a recent e-zine message on ‘Energy Issues‘ Pause reader JM writes:  I work with people on low-income who lead highly emotionally stressful lives. Frequently they have developed a lifelong habit of being consumed by their barriers, and it keeps them in a chronically hopeless, lethargic state. I have often encouraged them to consider getting involved in a volunteer activity, a new hobby, or even a new habit like walking the kids to school or walking to the grocery store, just to take a break from their ‘lives’.  I know that once they get involved in something else, they will begin to see hope and find the courage to move beyond their current situation. But many cannot even see that this is possible. Your quote for this week reminds me that I should keep encouraging them to think about it. Thanks!! (“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” – Norman Vincent Peale )

PAUSE – 11.35 – Why Bother? Surveys Say…

October 4, 2011


REFLECTION: 
The evidence is in, and it’s decisive.

* When employees take part in corporate sponsored fitness programming absenteeism and turnover are reduced.

* Every dollar invested in wellness initiatives creates significant returns through reduced staff turnover, gains in productivity gains and a drop in medical claims.

* Informal breaks cut down on mental strain and increase feelings of well-being. Micro breaks maintain or increase productivity.

Integrating renewing, re-energizing breaks into busy workdays creates major returns on multiple fronts – not just for employee wellness and engagement but also for organizational productivity and profitability.

The business case has been well established over the last decade and continues to grow in strength. I’m attending the National Health Work and Wellness Conference this week in Toronto, and will be sharing more of the most recent findings with you in future messages.

ACTION: So what does this mean for you and your organization? (more…)

PAUSE -11.32- Flourishing

September 6, 2011

REFLECTION:  There’s no shortage of advice out there on how to live a more satisfying life. I’ve even been known to dispense a word or two myself! 🙂 Sometimes, though, the source gets lost along the way.

 

For example, there’s an echo of advice living somewhere deep in my mind that prescribes these three pre-requisites for happiness: something to do, something to look forward to, and someone (or something) to love.

 

There are elements of that buried wisdom in what was my most engaging read of the summer: Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being.

 

In his earlier work, Authentic Happiness, Seligman noted three essentials for happiness: Positive Emotion, Engagement, and Meaning. Positive emotion boils down to good feelings (pleasure, warmth, comfort, etc.) Engagement is about using your best strengths and talents to be in flow – deeply absorbed by the activity at hand. Meaning relates to being in the service of something larger than yourself.

 

Over the last decade, further research has extended Seligman’s thinking and theory. (more…)

PAUSE -11.23- Overwork: An Artful Life Perspective

April 5, 2011

REFLECTION:
An experienced artist recently shared a few thoughts about overworking in response to a question from a novice painter. Although, the conversation centered on the negative impact of overworking a piece of art, as the discussion unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between art and life.
The mentoring artist noted five causes of overwork:
– repeatedly going back over old ground rather than leaving well enough alone and moving on
– pushing for perfection – spending time and energy on final finishing touches that don’t add appreciable value
– forcing the work – letting impatience over-ride the flow of the paint, the brush or the pen
– overusing a well developed skill when it’s not even called for in the work of the moment
– getting caught up in the fine detail without stopping to step back for the long view and gaining perspective
ACTION:
It seems to me that we might take a page or two from the Old Masters and put them to work in our everyday work-lives.
When you find yourself challenged by overwork, take stock of these questions and see if they shift your behavior:
– Does the extra effort advance something important – or just cover old ground in another way?
– Is the task already done well enough to meet the basic needs? Would the extra 10% of effort be warranted in terms of the result?
– Mihgt you be pushing people and progress in ways that create unnecessary resistance?
– Could you be engaging in tasks just because you have polished the skill to do them – not because they’re the best use of your time at the moment, or required by the enterprise at hand?
– Have you stepped back to take a look at the big picture, or are you trapped by the minutiae of the moment?
It could be that in pausing for reflection you just might find that the extra effort isn’t necessary, or that you just hadn’t realized you were already there. Give it a whirl and see how it works.
_________________________
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” – Pablo Picasso.
_________________________
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK:
For a few additional thoughts on Overwork and Overwhelm, see this article on CanadaJobs.com at: http://www.canadajobs.com/articles/viewarticle.cfm?ArticleID=1253
_________________________
READERS WRITE:
In response to last week’s message, Game Changing Questions, Pause reader B writes:  “Another Pause meant just for me at this time!  I have just returned from celebrating the life of my sister – a life cut short in her prime by cancer.  She also was someone who engaged and challenged people.  The 700+ who attended the celebration of her life were a testament to that.  She was so different from me and had many characteristics that I admire and am trying to keep present and emulate, including engaging others with meaningful questions! Thanks – Pause is an integral part of my week.”

Palette-wREFLECTION: An experienced artist recently shared a few thoughts about overworking in response to a question from a novice painter. Although, the conversation centered on the negative impact of overworking a piece of art, as the discussion unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between art and life.

The mentoring artist noted five causes of overwork:

  • Repeatedly going back over old ground rather than leaving well enough alone and moving on
  • Striving for perfection – spending time and energy on final finishing touches that don’t add appreciable value
  • Forcing the work – letting impatience over-ride the flow of the paint, the brush or the pen
  • Overusing a well developed skill when it’s not even called for in the work of the moment
  • Getting caught up in the fine detail without stopping to step back for the long view and gaining perspective

ACTION: It seems to me that we might take a page or two from the Old Masters and put them to work in our everyday work-lives.

When you find yourself challenged by overwork, take stock of these questions and see if they shift your behavior: (more…)

PAUSE – 11.22 – Game Changing Questions

March 29, 2011

REFLECTION:
It seems that part of living is learning to say good bye. I bid farewell last week to a former colleague and mentor, Harold Baker, with whom I had worked at the U of S years ago, and with whom I had kept in touch over the years. Harold, as testimonials at his memorial service confirmed, was a kind man, a gentleman, a selfless giver, a mentor, a teacher, and, above all, a community builder.
When I was in my early 20’s, and Harold was already a couple of decades further down this road of life, he and I were teamed up as staff partners at a youth development event. While our assigned group of thirty teenagers chatted and milled around us, we settled into the front seats of our charter bus for a short road trip to an out-of-town venue. As the bus reached the highway and headed for the open road, Harold turned to me and inquired, “So, tell me, young lady, exactly what do you intend to do with your life?”
Now, I’d heard a variation or two on that question before. From the time we can talk, as children, we are quizzed by the adults in our lives. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” But this was not that kind of question. There was no condescension, no playfully poking fun, no making light conversation.
It was a simple, sincere, inquiry that carried a raft of implied messages – these amongst them. That even at this young age and early stage in my career, he saw me as capable of serious intentions and grand ambitions. That it was not too early – nor too late –  to lift up my eyes and set my sails. That my plans might include a contribution or two to the lives of others and not just focus on my own self interests.
For me, it was a game-changing question. It prompted a conversation that drilled to a much deeper level of thinking. The impact of that question stayed with me through the years. It was a question that popped to mind recently when I read several bits of new research describing the importance of meaningful work in developing a sense of engagement in people’s lives and workplaces.
ACTION:
So, when was the last time you asked yourself – no matter how many years you think might lie ahead – “Just what, exactly, do you intend to do with the rest of your life?” In the end, it’s up to each one of us to set our sights on a meaningful future – to chart the destination, map out the terrain, and gas up the vehicle for the road ahead.
We also share that road with others. Every day, we are in contact and conversation with colleagues, friends and family. Many times, you and I might have an opportunity to introduce a game changing question that will trigger others to think differently about their situations, their prospects, and life’s possibilities. How often do we take the chance, and how often do we miss the moment? (That’s just the kind of a question you could count on Harold to ask.)
_________________________
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Finding meaning can be more important than finding amusement.” – Marshall Goldsmith
_________________________
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK:
Marshall Goldsmith, whom I’ve mentioned in previous editions of Pause, coaches organizational leaders around the world. His recent work is focusing not on what organizations can do to engage their employees – but rather on how individuals can take responsibility for engaging themselves in their lives and their work. You can read a bit more about his latest thinking at: http://tinyurl.com/4ccafx7

Which WayREFLECTION: It seems that part of living is learning to say good bye. I bid farewell last week to a former colleague and mentor, Harold Baker, with whom I had worked at the U of S years ago, and with whom I had kept in touch over the years. Harold, as testimonials at his memorial service confirmed, was a kind man, a gentleman, a selfless giver, a mentor, a teacher, and, above all, a community builder.

When I was in my early 20’s, and Harold was already a couple of decades further down this road of life, he and I were teamed up as staff partners at a youth development event. While our assigned group of thirty teenagers chatted and milled around us, we settled into the front seats of our charter bus for a short road trip to an out-of-town venue. As the bus reached the highway and headed for the open road, Harold turned to me and inquired, “So, tell me, young lady, exactly what do you intend to do with your life?”

Now, I’d heard a variation or two on that question before. From the time we can talk, as children, we are quizzed by the adults in our lives. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” But this was not that kind of question. There was no condescension, no playfully poking fun, no making light conversation.

It was a simple, sincere, inquiry that carried a raft of implied messages – these amongst them. That even at this young age and early stage in my career, he saw me as capable of serious intentions and grand ambitions. That it was not too early – nor too late –  to lift up my eyes and set my sails. That my plans might include a contribution or two to the lives of others and not just focus on my own self interests.

For me, it was a game-changing question. (more…)

PAUSE – 11.16 – Easily Pleased

February 15, 2011

Caterpillar-wREFLECTION: Over the years, I’ve grown to enjoy the ‘one a day’ practice. I’m not talking about an apple a day keeping the doctor away, or a one-a-day vitamin to keep the body ticking along. I’m referring to what are often called Day Books.  They’re collections of short essays or readings – one for each day of the year. These reflections shine a light on ideas or offer new ways of thinking about or looking at things. The best of them spark new perspectives to carry through your day.

One of the first Day Books that I dipped into years ago was a gift from a fellow ‘balance-challenged’ friend – a volume by Anne Wilson Schaef titled Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. I’ve enjoyed many different Day Book types and topics over the years.

This year, I’m dipping into The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  The author’s struggle with cancer and his study of the human spirit have brought a laser like focus to his thinking about life. He’s an insightful observer and a skilled writer.

The sign of a good reflection is when its impact lingers beyond 24 hours and past the next reading in the book. It’s three weeks now since I read Mark’s January 20th treatise, and I keep coming back to his idea. (more…)

Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame Induction

December 9, 2010


What a great honor for me to be inducted into the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame. The announcement was made December 7, 2010, at the annual CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) Convention held in Montreal.

Katz HoF-Prsnttn-wThe Hall of Fame is a peer award for individuals who are recognized for their excellence on the platform, their longevity and success in the business, and their contributions to the speaking industry. That’s Warren Evans CSP, long time speaker colleague and friend (and HoF member himself) presenting me with the award. There are now 24 members from across the country who have been inducted into the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame.

Katz-HoF-wI am the fourth female speaker, and the second speaker working from Saskatchewan to be honored as a member of the Hall. Needless to say, I am delighted by the recognition. Even more than that, I so appreciate the support I have received over more than two decades in business from this great community of generous and talented colleagues.

Congratulations to Linda Edgecombe, CSP, a friend and colleague from British Columbia, who was also inducted on the same evening.

Thanks to Dov Friedman, CAPS Convention photographer, for so graciously gifting me with these images from the awards ceremony. This link will take you to Dov’s website, where you can learn more about his wonderful photography.