1. Quick ways to find your peace at the office

    July 14, 2016 by ahmed


    There are probably lots of things outside of the office that contribute to your employees stress levels. But what’s happening inside the office to create strain and tension? In all likelihood, the answer is yes. It might be workload, it might be coworkers, or it might be other factors as well.

    Those stressors at work can lead to a number of different things, including fatigue or under-motivated employees. None of those are traits that are healthy at work, but there are a number of different strategies to promote among employees that can help reduce stress and strain. Those may include at-their-desk activities such as yoga and meditation. Music is also helpful, as is limiting things like alcohol and caffeine. In addition, encourage your employees to take breaks—to disconnect and keep those work-life boundaries as distinct as possible.

    Looking for more ways to help your employees de-stress at the office? Use this helpful graphic to get started http://blog.surepayroll.com/find-peace-at-the-office

  2. Stay out of the performance grey zone

    July 8, 2016 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Linkedin by Jim Gilchrist

    What you do matters much more than what you know or who you know.

    Actual performance, whether at the organizational, leadership, managerial, team or individual levels, is the real key to success. If you want to experience greater profitability, higher productivity, greater personal recognition, internal promotions, or even a progressive career change, the solution is simple – focus on achieving actual performance results. And surround yourself with people who do the same.

    Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But ask yourself … is everyone getting what they really want? Are economies booming, organizations growing, and unemployment shrinking? Are leaders, managers, teams, and individuals moving their organizations, other people, and themselves forward as well as they could? Have we all reached an overall ‘state of perfection’? Of course not.

    The simple truth is that when anything … ANYTHING … is less than perfect it means that there is room for better performance. Think about your work and life experience. Everything that irritates, frustrates and angers you is generally the result of somebody’s lack of performance. And since poor performance rarely occurs in isolation, we need to go beyond simply focusing only on an individual’s poor performance, and to also be aware of the possible contributing lack of performance of their direct (and indirect) managers, their teammates, the person who hired them, and whomever trained them. When the surrounding people do not hold the poor performer accountable, nor are they themselves held accountable for their contributing role, we cannot expect anyone’s performance to change for the better.

    Performance results will only increase when we first acknowledge that we can do better. We need to ask ourselves whether we are truly achieving the levels of performance that we are capable of – or whether we are just accepting and justifying the performance levels that we are experiencing. Too often less than expected performance results are rationalized, excuses are made, and substandard performance is permitted to continue. But by first acknowledging that we are capable of performing better, we can then proceed to understand the inter-relatedness of current performance results and to identify the root causes of any performance issues.

    If you are not experiencing the results that you want – you have a performance issue.

    At the outset, it is essential to fully define what we want to experience and then what performance results will make that happen. Then we need to honestly assess and evaluate our current performance capability. Doing this will enable us to identify what we need to change in order to achieve our desired performance outcomes. Here is where a lot of people fall short. When they fail to set realistic performance objectives, that will be achieved within realistic time frames, they set themselves and others up for failure.

    A big part of the CAES capability assessment process involves ensuring that a person, at any level in the organizational hierarchy, has the cognitive capability to handle the complexity of information, and solve problems, that are specific to their role in order to perform effectively. If they don’t have the cognitive capability required they will simply not perform. Similarly, it is essential that the people who are defining desired performance objectives have the appropriate cognitive capability that will enable them to determine what these objectives should realistically be, and the skills and capabilities that are required to achieve them. If they cannot effectively define desired performance, and what is required to bring it about, their performance objectives are unlikely to be met.

    Assuming that desired performance results have been properly defined for ourselves and for others, we then need to stop justifying and accepting performance that is less than these desired performance expectations. We will only see significant progress when the ‘evaluators’ of performance do not settle for anything less than the achievement of identified goals. There should be no acceptable ‘grey zone’ found between desired performance and actual performance – either the desired results were achieved or they weren’t.

    If you justify and accept sub-standard performance you will be passed by better performers.

    Top performing organizations, leaders, and individuals never believe that they have achieved perfection – they always want to learn, grow, develop and see even better results. While satisfied with their accomplishments, they ALWAYS think that they can perform better. This forward-thinking motivational foundation is the reason why they are top performers in the first place, and is why they are always a step ahead of their competitors who struggle to ‘keep up’. Unaccountable people, who justify substandard performance results, will subsequently fail to commit to ongoing performance capability development and performance enhancement initiatives. As a result, their short-term perspective makes them vulnerable to their longer-term thinking, growth-oriented competitors. In the end, those who justify their less-than-desired performance rarely get what they really want – they end up having to settle for what they get.

    While top performers experience more successful, challenging and satisfying careers, the benefit of committing to increased performance results will be experienced at multiple levels. For example:

    • Employees will be more productive, job-satisfied and easier to retain
    • Leaders and managers will become more effective and upwardly mobile
    • Organizations will experience greater profitability and growth
    • Unemployment levels will be reduced
    • Economies will diversify, adapt and grow faster
    • Societies will evolve positively

    The list can be long, but you get my point.

    So how do we get there from here?

    Perhaps I can suggest a basic performance success formula:

    1. Identify the overall final experience (result)
    2. Set realistic yet challenging performance objectives (desired performance)
    3. Assess current technical and non-technical performance capabilities (actual performance)
    4. Take steps that reduce the gaps found between desired and the actual performance
    5. Evaluate the effectiveness of any gap reduction, performance enhancement initiatives
    6. LEARN from the evaluation
    7. When performance gaps remain, change your approach and develop additional relevant performance capabilities
    8. Continue to pursue the original performance objectives
    9. Repeat until the objectives are achieved

    I think that this is a pretty straightforward success formula. But I have purposely left out one key component. You will notice that I have left open section 6) within which I would, under certain circumstances, insert – Replace poor performers.

    Please don’t misunderstand, just because we miss performance targets does not necessarily mean that the people involved, or the processes, need to be immediately replaced. Suitably challenging performance objectives can be difficult to achieve, and we will often fall short of desired performance results. But when a continual improvement mentality becomes secondary to a ‘justify and accept’ mentality, desired performance objectives will NEVER be met. So, as soon as people, at whatever organization level or role (CEO’s right down to front-line staff), stop moving forward, start making excuses, justify substandard performance and become comfortable being in the ‘grey zone’ – REPLACE THEM! Their lack of commitment to continuous improvement will result in not only their never meeting their desired performance objectives, they will inhibit the ability of the people around them to do so as well.

    As you know it is difficult to meet challenging performance objectives with increasingly fewer available resources. So it is just as critical to work with performance-oriented people, either current top performers or people with high performance potential, as it is to continually develop your own personal performance capabilities. Consider surrounding yourself with individuals, managers and leaders who are committed to higher levels of performance, who have a continual improvement mentality, who commit to ongoing learning, and who are proactive toward change. Since these are the people who will help you to achieve performance success, I would suggest that you support, develop and retain them. And replace the others – because you cannot afford their keeping you in the ‘Performance Grey Zone’.

  3. Why Employees hide their knowledge and How to encourage sharing

    July 4, 2016 by ahmed

    Originally posted on Ideas For Leaders blog

    Key Concept

    Employees who refuse to share knowledge, either by playing dumb, being evasive, or saying that other factors are to blame, undermines the cooperation, efficiency and effectiveness of organizations. Understanding how perpetrators and targets view the damage from knowledge hiding is an important step in preventing this behaviour.

    Idea Summary

    While employees are supposed to share their knowledge with other employees for the benefit of the company, employees will often find a reason to keep that knowledge to themselves. Perhaps they believe that they will lose some status or power; sometimes employees who share knowledge will then be judged or evaluated based on that knowledge; and often employees who don’t trust their colleagues will be reluctant to share knowledge. Situational factors — the knowledge is complex, the knowledge is not task-related, or there is no culture of knowledge sharing in the organization — will also reduce knowledge sharing.

    Knowledge can be hidden in different ways, and the consequences vary for each. One type of knowledge hiding is simply playing dumb: professing ignorance when in fact employees have the answers. Another type of knowledge hiding is evasive hiding, in which the perpetrator promises to provide the knowledge but in fact has no intention of doing so. Finally, there is rationalized hiding, in which perpetrators feel that they are unable to provide the knowledge or blame a third party for preventing the sharing of knowledge.

    Although recognizing that knowledge hiding often damages relationships and can lead to retaliation (the target refuses to share knowledge in the future), perpetrators and targets have different views on exactly what damage occurs.

    From the perspective of the perpetrators:

    1. Evasive action will harm relationships with targets, and also induces them to refuse and avoid sharing knowledge with the perpetrators in the future.
    2. Rationalized hiding harms the relationship with the target but does not induce the target to withhold information in the future.
    3. Playing dumb does not damage relationships, because, perpetrators believe, the targets have no idea the perpetrators have the knowledge. At the same time, the perpetrators acknowledge that targets are likely to withhold knowledge from them in the future: why should targets go out of their way to help people who never help them?

    The targets’ reaction is somewhat different.

    1. While perpetrators believe rationalized hiding would harm relationships but not cause them to withhold information in the future, in fact targets respond positively to the explanations, and consider the relationship improved (and are indeed happy to share knowledge in the future).
    2. Conversely, while perpetrators believe playing dumb would not harm relationships but cause them to withhold information in the future, in fact targets respond negatively to the explanations, considering the relationship damaged. And while they don’t retaliate by deliberating not sharing information in the future, they are more likely to withdraw from the perpetrator.
    3. Both perpetrators and targets agree that the worst damage is caused by evasive action. The relationship is damaged, and targets will retaliate by not sharing knowledge in the future.

    In short, although the extent of the damage can vary, the unwillingness of employees to share knowledge, which research shows does exist, can damage relationships and seriously undermine the effectiveness of teams or even an entire organization. The fact that perpetrators and targets see the damage differently only compounds the negative impact.

    Business Application

    Organizations must take steps to limit the damage of knowledge hiding. Among these steps:

    1. Be aware. Many managers and executives may not be aware that knowledge hiding is even a problem. It might be assumed that employees, as no doubt instructed and encouraged, are working as teams and sharing knowledge as appropriate. The first step is monitoring for uncooperative behaviour.
    2. Increase perception of trustworthiness. One reason knowledge is not shared can be a lack of trust among colleagues. As with team building in general, you can increase the perceptions of the trustworthiness of colleagues by emphasizing a shared identity. We are all in this together.
    3. Enhance a sharing climate. Employees (and managers) are naturally influenced by the environment and culture of the organization. It’s important to enhance the sharing climate by emphasizing the vital importance of knowledge sharing and rewarding it. If, for example, employees find themselves under fire for knowledge they shared, that knowledge in the future is going to stay hidden.
    4. Open the lines of communication. As shown above, perpetrators are not fully aware of the consequences of different types of knowledge hiding on the other. Increasing the social action and communication between parties will help perpetrators understand the negative impact of their behaviour, and lessen the desire of targets to retaliate.

  4. Move over product design, UX is the future

    July 1, 2016 by ahmed


    Originally posted on FastCoDesign blog

    Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott, says experience innovation is the next design imperative. Here are five things you can do this year to make that happen.

    For decades, the most successful businesses thrived on product innovation as the natural strategy to increase revenues, market share, and loyalty. Fast forward to 2014: today’s product innovations, and the growth they create, are often incremental, narrow, and fleeting. Take TVs or PCs—every competitor quickly matches the latest features, speed, brightness. As a result, companies are finding that returns from product efforts are harder to rely on. Among the Global Innovation 1000, R&D spending rose 5.8% last year, yet revenue for those companies increased less than 1%. Global competition and technological diffusion mean that competitors quickly catch up with most improvements, while the transparency of digital and social media also prompts consumers to quickly switch allegiance with each new alluring offer.

    Today’s enlightened leaders are achieving success by crafting the entire customer experience—shaping, innovating, branding, and measuring it. They are mastering a new discipline we refer to as “experience innovation” by going beyond the discrete product or service to reimagine the customer journey. The result yields new, unexpected, signature moments that delight customers and create significant opportunities for new growth.

    We believe that experience innovation will be a crucial component for companies seeking to remain relevant and retain customer loyalty in 2014. But the process of designing a truly innovative experience cannot simply rest on the process excellence of classic customer experience-improvement efforts or the creative brilliance of the marketing team. Drawing on our recent work, here are a few key principles for success.

    Experience innovation isn’t driven by specific product features or design, but by reimagining the broader experience of how customers might use the product or service. By looking beyond the product to take a broader view of customer issues and activities around the product, companies can find new ways to address unmet needs, create talk-worthiness, and fuel differentiation.

    Take Uber, the car service. Uber didn’t change the vehicle or retrain drivers, but fundamentally changed how you order, meet, and pay for a car. By taking a broader view of what a car service could be, Uber was able to reimagine the entire experience—offering “relentless reliability,” and a seamless system that addresses many hassles such as long wait time, not having cash, losing recipients, etc. The company is growing like wildfire—adding almost 80,000 new customers a week and is able to charge a lot more than the typical cab. Looking beyond the product to the broader experiences surrounding it also creates new horizons for growth. At Nike, for instance, shifting from sneakers to enabling fitness has spurred clothing sales, the Fuel band, and other integrated digital solutions, and fitness-oriented social media sharing and gamification.


    Experience innovators recognize that consumers can’t tell you about the things they need or want but haven’t yet imagined. Nor can consumers articulate how they will do things differently in the future. For instance, customers will tell an airline they really want quick boarding and on-time departures.

    That’s fairly obvious. But Delta came up with an approach they call “delocation” as a way of taking services out of their typical location and improving the travel experience in unexpected ways. Delta brought the lounge directly to the gate, creating an enhanced experience among travelers who had never thought of the gate past its function as a waiting area and were often too rushed to visit the airline lounge. The Delta concourses at LaGuardia and Minneapolis have banquette seating, embedded iPads, gate side ordering, and specially curated shops and restaurants to create new levels of service and ambiance. The space takes advantage of Delta’s ability to partner and deliver on its essence of “making flying better” in a way consumers might never have articulated in a focus group—and provides an opportunity for a new revenue stream. Delta is an example of a brand that has committed to enhancing the experience on an ongoing basis and Delta’s stock price more than doubled in 2013

    Great experience innovation isn’t about a series of one-off moments, but a holistic vision for a transformed brand experience that evolves over time. A customer-experience map is, therefore, a bold, integrated vision for the future of your brand experience. Start with a broad and detailed exploration of the customer journey—and how it could be different. Don’t ask customers what they need, but observe how they behave and what makes them happy or sad. Then assess what people could do. Think about what they will notice, and what they will remember. Look for the big moves—can you take entire steps out of the process, change the sequence, add new value in unexpected places? Disney, for example, unexpectedly opens the park gates five minutes in advance fueling the “I’m about to be at Disney world!” thrill. In developing such a map, think in terms of a portfolio approach to execution, by balancing simple changes that build momentum with longer-term investments that require more radical changes and resourcing.


    Today’s dramatically expanding set of touch points, shorter attention spans, and shrinking lifecycles all heighten the need for an experience that breaks through with increased vitality and dimension. In that vein, a great brand experience often engages all the senses. It considers the environmental, physical, digital, and even behavioral expression of brand—the way employees interact with both customers and each other.


    Products are usually managed by one person, whereas an experience must be curated by several different owners with separate goals and metrics. Drawing on expertise across functions is essential to push thinking, discover what is possible, and forge connections across operational silos. And, before an experience will come across as real to the outside world, dozens, hundreds or thousands of employees need to be educated and empowered to deliver the vision.

    The concept of innovating the experience isn’t new. Virgin’s airport clubs, Nike’s flagship stores, Starbucks restaurants, and Disney’s Parks set the standard many years ago. These innovators show us that the experience isn’t just about the planes, the shoes, the coffee or the even the rides—it’s about how we feel when we use the product or service. The stakes for getting the experience right, and continually enhancing it, have never been higher.