Posts Tagged ‘rethinking work’

What are you thinking?

February 7th, 2011

There is never a moment when we are not thinking — and our thoughts are either positive or negative. Unfortunately, we tend to have more negative than positive thoughts. In fact, we have at least 65,000 thoughts a day and sixty-five percent of them are negative.

Negative thoughts can eat at our confidence, our self esteem and our spirit. They can prevent us from doing what we really want to do. Moreover, “negative self talk” impacts the immune system. It takes a great toll on our bodies and sense of well-being.

On the other hand, the power of positive thoughts to affect our experience of life has long been recognized, embraced and promoted as a path to wellness. Several books have been written on the effect of positive thinking. Norman Vincent Peale is one of the best known for his book The Power of Positive Thinking.

More recently, scientists are proving that the power of positive thought impacts our health, well-being and motivation. A study at Northern Arizona University showed that a group of runners was able to achieve an overall twelve percent increase in the test group’s strength just by thinking and speaking positively about their muscle systems.

In another study about visualization in the mid-1990s, Stanford University took two groups of basketball players through an experiment. One group practiced shooting baskets. The second group didn’t step into the gym; instead, they only visualized taking shots. Amazingly, the group that used visualization improved their shooting skills by thirty percent over the group that physically practiced shooting hoops with a basketball. Both of these studies demonstrate the power of the mind-body connection.

This discovery is not limited to sports. Many successful people credit their success to their positive thoughts. When we think positively and visualize a positive future, we tend to have positive experiences.

It is no surprise that positive thoughts are associated with spirit at work. That which we give our attention to grows stronger. When we begin to think positive, we begin to see and act positive, and, as a result, we attract positive people and experiences to our lives. It is time to rethink our thoughts and our work.

So what are you thinking? And how are you thinking? Are your thoughts positive? Or are they negative? What will you do, starting right now, to increase your positive thoughts?

[Excerpt adapted from Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.]

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How are you going to foster your spirit at work this year?

January 25th, 2011

What is it about your work that moves your heart? Or does it? Are you satisfied with where you are at with your work and the contribution you are making? Or, are you like most people, looking for more?

Looking for an opportunity to make the world a better place. To do meaningful work and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Work gives us an opportunity to find meaning and fulfillment that we are so desperately seeking. It provides us a way to make a contribution; a difference in the lives of others. It gives us a chance to create a sense of community and to belong.

I have been researching and promoting what I call spirit at work for a decade. It is now, my life’s work. Spirit at work is about finding meaning and fulfillment through our work. About being fully engaged and energized by what we do. Understanding we make a contribution through our work and feeling good about it.

We have learned that when we get to the heart of what matters about our work, when we feel that the work we are doing is important and can see how we make a difference in the lives of others, and when we share a common purpose with our colleagues or clients everything changes. For us, our organization and the people we are serving.

The creation of spirit at work is a shared responsibility: shared between us and our employer. But, it begins with us. That is where the power lies.

How are you going to foster your spirit at work this year? Who can you call upon to act as your accountability partner?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Count Your Blessings: The Wonder of Gratitude

December 6th, 2010

The ability to notice, appreciate and savor the elements of life is an essential determinant of well-being. Research has shown that those of us who are grateful are happier, more hopeful and more helpful to others. We are less anxious, more spiritually inclined and report higher levels of well-being.

Gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, increase the amount we exercise, and increase generosity and cooperation. It is not surprising that people with spirit at work are more grateful than those employees with low spirit at work.

We are all familiar with the feeling of gratitude. Somebody does something nice for us or gives us a gift and we, in turn, feel thankful. We know that they didn’t have to make the gesture and that they did it for our benefit. We experience gratitude when we value the gift and the intent of the person who gave it to us.

Too often, others are benevolent towards us but we are unaware of it or fail to understand the value of their offering. We miss out on the feelings of gratitude and, of course, the benefits. The foundation of gratitude is knowing the gift or kind gesture was freely given, no strings attached. There is also awareness that one didn’t do anything to deserve the gift.

But gratitude is more than a grateful response. It is also a sense of awe and wonder for life and thankfulness for what we have.  Really, gratitude is an approach to life – a way of thinking – that can be chosen freely. It is not dependent on wealth, occupation, position or health.

We can choose gratitude even when we are unhappy with our work, colleagues or boss. We can choose gratitude when we feel stress. We can even choose gratitude when we are criticized and feel inadequate.

In my research, I have found that gratitude goes hand-in-hand with work related outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational culture and spirit at work. As our sense of gratitude increases, so too does our experience of these work-related outcomes.

What are you grateful for in your life? In your work? And who are you grateful to? Have you told them? I invite you to bring gratitude into your life and work.

Is your organization ready to create a comprehensive spirit at work strategy and bring gratitude into the workplace? Contact us today for a free consultation.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter. The focus of December’s newsletter is gratitude. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How do you deal with competing priorities in the workplace?

November 25th, 2010

How do you manage competing values? Competing priorities in the workplace? Or do you?

Most of us find it easy to name our values and priorities. But then what? Do you plan your work around them? Make conscious decisions with them in mind? Or do you simply react to the demands that come your way?

Sometimes competing values are called “shadow values” because they are more difficult to identify, yet they are powerful enough to influence our behaviour. Consider for example how our behaviour might be influenced if we are afraid to lose our job, or we want to be liked, or fear humiliation if we speak up.

Competing values or priorities in the workplace often result in conflict between your personal or professional values and your work. Alternatively, your values may be in conflict with those of your colleagues or your agency policy or goals.

Here are some examples of competing values in the workplace:

o A nurse or doctor is pro-life, but works in a health care setting that provides abortions.
o A lawyer knowingly defends a person who took the life of another.
o A social worker who values keeping children safe is directed by the courts to return a child to drug using and physically abusing parents.
o A hospital employee turns away a sick patient because he or she cannot pay.
o An employee in a manufacturing company knowingly uses materials known to cause cancer, but because they are less expensive.
o A druggist sells cigarettes because of the income it generates.
o A gas company turns off the gas to a family home because they are three months in arrears.
o A carpenter cuts corners in order to come in under budget.
o An employee works in a company whose goal is to make money, not serve its customers.
o An employee closes a deal by making promises he knows he cannot keep.

What are some examples of competing values and priorities in your workplace? How do they impact you, your relationships with others, and your work? How do they impact your spirit at work? How can you resolve them?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Is it possible to save the world and still be home for dinner?

July 12th, 2010

Author Will Marré says yes. In his book “Save the World and Still be Home for Dinner,” Marré explains how to work, live, and love in extraordinary ways by finding a work-life harmony rather than living life as a constant balancing act. I think you will enjoy the World Business Academy’s review of “Save the World and Still be Home for Dinner” that follows.

“The model is a tapestry, rather than a scale.” It is a mistake to attack one’s triple bottom line—relationships, lifestyle, and career—sequentially. Marré writes: “Our quest is nothing less than sustainable abundance … an abundance of everything that really matters in life, both material and spiritual.” 

He calls on people “to uncover your greatest gifts of talent, energy, and passion and to start using them so the rest of us can benefit. This is your authentic mission. This is how you were designed to ‘save the world’”. 

To create a life of sustainable abundance, we must begin “with understanding our Drive, Design, and Desires in the here and now.” When we do that, “we feel both deeply content and constantly energized. We are living our Promise.” 

Marré offers practical steps for defining our greatness and delivering it, as well as questions to determine whether we’re headed in the right direction. His book will help us all “integrate being a force for good and living our good life.”

Far too often, we accept that we must be consumed in order to make a contribution. Then we struggle with work-life balance.

I fully agree with Marré s advice to uncover our greatest gifts of talent, energy, and passion and use them so that others can benefit. We are all gifted. We all have something to contribute. And when we are offering our gifts and feeling good about our contribution, we start to experience spirit at work. Then everything changes. We can save the world and be home for dinner.

Are you living your promise?

Start rethinking your work today for a better tomorrow.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail.

Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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The Time Crunch and Wellbeing

July 2nd, 2010

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) research on how we use our time highlights the fact that more and more of us are caught in a time crunch. The trends suggest that we are increasingly sacrificing satisfying and meaningful relaxation and leisure time in order to attend to the more pressing demands of work, childcare and looking after dependent seniors. There is considerable research demonstrating the strong connection between time use, leisure and culture on the one hand, and wellbeing on the other.

Here are some questions to ponder before you read the research:

1. Are you spending excessive time at work?
2. Do you work standard or non-standard work hours?
3. Do you have permanent or precarious work?
4. How far do you commute to work? And how do you get there?
5. How much do you feel the pressure of time?

Now here are the research findings:

Working in the labour force is strongly and positively associated with individual and family wellbeing. But there is compelling evidence that excessive time spent in paid labour leads to poorer health. The risks are believed to come from having less time to recover from work, longer exposure to workplace hazards, and less time to attend to non-work responsibilities. Long hours have a significantly negative impact on life satisfaction and time-related stress, which in turn, have a negative effect on wellbeing.

Non-standard work hours are associated with lower self-reported health, higher levels of stress, psychological distress, greater depressive symptoms, greater relationship conflict for dual-earner couples, and lower life satisfaction. Evening work is particularly bad for the children of evening workers since the lessened contact reduces the parent’s ability to support the child’s development and to secure childcare.

Workers in precarious employment have poorer health and experience higher levels of stress, mental illness, and substance abuse. Precarious work also tends to have lower pay than permanent work and often does not offer access to training, paid vacations, paid sick leave, employment insurance, pension and other benefits.

Long commuting hours are associated with self and medically reported sickness and absences, sleep problems and elevated risk factors for heart disease. Long commutes also disrupt family life by reducing time together. Car travel is more detrimental to wellbeing than train travel, since in the latter case commuters tend to walk to and from the train station. There is consistent evidence that individuals who use cars more tend to have higher rates of obesity related illnesses, elevated heart rate, and reports of anxiety. Car travel also harms community wellbeing by contributing to air pollution and climate change. By contrast, time spent in active commuting (e.g., walking or biking) is associated with improved mental and physical health outcomes, such as reduced risk of stroke.

People experiencing time pressure have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of stress, lower self-reported physical and emotional wellbeing, and greater insomnia. Work-life conflict can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression; sleep disturbances; infectious disease and suppressed immune functioning; poor dietary habits, a lack of physical exercise and obesity; increased dependence on cigarettes, alcohol, medications and drugs; hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary, musculoskeletal and digestive problems; allergies and migraine headaches; burnout; and increased costs for medical consultations and prescription drugs.

It is difficult to experience spirit at work when we feel caught in a time crunch. What are some things that you might do to reduce the pressing demands of time and refill your cup?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How to Bridge the Multi-Generational Gap

June 9th, 2010

Many organizations are managing generational differences and conflict in the workplace by following what Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak, co-authors of Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace, call the ACORN Imperatives.

Successful companies use these five operating ideas to build organizations that accommodate differences, exhibit flexibility, emphasize respectful relations and focus on retaining talented and gifted employees. Here are some strategies to get you started:

Accommodate employees’ differences. Treat your employees as you treat your customers. Get to know your employees and what is important to them. Make an effort to accommodate their personal scheduling needs, work-life balance issues and non-traditional lifestyles.

Create workplace choices. Allow the workplace to be shaped around the work being done, the customers being served and the people who work there. Shorten the chain of command and reduce bureaucracy. Create a relaxed and informal work environment with lots of humor and playfulness.

Operate from a sophisticated management style. Give those who report to you the big picture, specific goals and measures, and then they turn them loose. Give them feedback, reward and recognition as appropriate, but don’t micro-manage. Be flexible: practice situational leadership, match individuals to a team and individuals and teams to an assignment. Strive to be perceived as fair, inclusive, and as a good communicator. Be competent.

Respect competence and initiative. Assume the best of your employees. Treat everyone, from the newest recruit to the most seasoned employee, as if they have great things to offer. Take time to hire the right people. Then motivate them to do their best.

Nourish retention. Improve employee retention. Make your workplace a magnet for excellence. Offer lots of training, from one-on-one coaching opportunities to interactive computer-based training to an extensive and varied menu of classroom courses. Encourage regular lateral movement within the organizations and broaden assignments.

The ACORN Imperatives are simple and straightforward. Yet managers and leaders find it difficult to incorporate in their daily work. Perhaps they get blinded by their own generational values. Implementing the ACORN principles takes work and a different way of looking at how to manage multiple generations. But the rewards are immense.

Read the complete newsletter where I examine the profiles of each generation, look at the similarities, comment about the relationship between spirit at work and the multi-generations, and focus on strategies to bridge the gap.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How is your organization managing the multi-generations at work?

June 1st, 2010

I recently completed a national study for an organization where, in addition to assessing member spirit at work and how to increase it, we considered the impact of the generations. While dissimilarities were noted, I was taken aback by the similarities.

Diversity at work has been a longstanding concern. Religion, ethnicity, gender. And now generations. Never before have we seen four generations working alongside with each other or employees of older generations reporting to employees of younger generations in such numbers.

Managing this mixture of ages, values, and views has become increasingly difficult. In their book Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace, Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak describe it as “diversity management at its most challenging.”

A quote from the Harvard Business School “Working Knowledge” Newsletter: “Can you manage generational differences?” describes the dilemma.

“Managing multigenerational workforces is an art in itself. Young workers want to make a quick impact, the middle generation needs to believe in the mission, and older employees don’t like ambivalence.”

Successful management of the multigenerational workforce demands a rethinking of work. Unfortunately, most attention is placed on the differences between the generations. Understanding these dissimilarities will go a long way to bringing out the best in all employees. By gaining such clarity we can appreciate how these differences influence our view of work, our preferred work environment, how we approach work and what we expect from work.

What we seldom hear about are the similarities or positive outcomes resulting from multiple generations in the workforce. One positive outcome of generational blending is creativity. Any time people with different perspectives are brought together, creativity is a possibility. Knowledge exchange occurs. History informs the project. The advantages of technology are tapped. New ideas are generated. Yet, we focus on the differences and conflict.

Read the complete newsletter where I examine the profiles of each generation, look at the similarities, comment about the relationship between spirit at work and the multi-generations, and focus on strategies to bridge the gap.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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How might we create stronger, more connected communities at work?

May 19th, 2010

How would our workplaces be impacted if we made it easier for employees to gather over a cup of tea? If we created an environment for colleagues to come together for conversation and a sense of community? Like the CommuniTea Infusion van is doing for community residents?

The City of Edmonton and the non-profit Edmonton Learning Community have just made it easier for residents to come together for a cup of tea. Residents are encouraged to invite the CommuniTea Infusion van – a mobile tea house – to their community. All they have to do is let their neighbours know when it is coming.

At the predetermined time, the CommuniTea Infusion van drives to the established location and creates a town square where neighbours can gather, listen to music and share a cup of tea and conversation.

Ben Weinlick, a director with the learning community says the van “is a catalyst for people to come together. It is the simple idea that conversations can sow the seeds of stronger, more connected neighbourhoods.”

The CommuniTea Infusion concept is based on Portland’s T-Horse and Jim Diers, a Seattle-based community engagement expert. What if we used a similar notion to engage the community at work?

My research has shown that belonging and feeling that we are part of a community is a key dimension of spirit at work – that sense that we are fully engaged and that our work is meaningful and fulfilling. It is a matter of rethinking our work.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work. Chapter two delves into the dimensions of spirit at work - a sense of community is one.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Pause and Pay Attention: A Mindfulness Strategy

March 1st, 2010

My last two blogs (Can mindfulness training protect us from high stress,challenging work situations?  The Art of Being Mindful) about being mindful were so well received that I decided to share another excerpt from my book: Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Pausing and paying attention is another simple way to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Here is the excerpt:

Pause and Pay Attention

Take a five-minute walk. Inside or outside. Your task is to observe. To be mindful. To notice. To pause and pay attention. Sights. Smells. Sounds. Touch. Taste. Feelings. As you walk around, see these things through the eyes of a child, as if you were seeing them for the first time. See with wonder, delight and absorption. This is mindfulness, or moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness. Come back and jot down what the experience was like and what you noticed.

I find that people are often very surprised at what they observe, especially if they apply the exercise in a familiar territory like their workplace. One group of employees was shocked to notice pictures on walls they had been walking past for years! Others were surprised to actually observe the route they took to work. They could not believe the scenery they had been missing. Rather than view the drive to work as drudgery, one person began to look forward to the changing fall colors. One woman had never before noticed a scent in her workplace. 

All this because they took the time to notice. To be mindful. 

Whenever you have a moment, pause and pay attention. Practice mindful eating. As you eat your meal, become fully conscious of the smell and taste of your food. Be aware of the color. Feel the texture. Notice what happens as you chew the food, feel it move from your mouth down through your throat to your stomach. 

Take time to pause and pay attention to everyday tasks like gardening, grocery shopping, washing dishes. Use the opportunity of being stuck in traffic to breathe and notice your surroundings. What is the scenery? What colors are new vehicles? What songs are playing on the radio? Think of it — you don’t have anything to do but be. Enjoy the moment. 

If you phone someone and are put on hold, close your eyes and become aware of your body. Notice any tension you might be holding and release it. Observe your breath. Choose to use the few minutes that on-hold status has given you. Give thanks for the opportunity to pause and pay attention.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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