As recounted in the fabulous book The Best Place to Work, by Ron Friedman: Dutch researchers conducted a series of experiments to determine whether it’s better to think long and hard about a challenge that requires a difficult decision, or better to distract yourself by doing something else. The results overwhelmingly showed that when faced with less complex decisions conscious thinking about the alternatives and options produced the best results. But when faced with a more complex choice (say choosing between models of cars when presented with 12 features per car), distraction definitely led to better decisions – three times better! The reason: Unconscious thinking is thought to be better at seeing the big picture and processing large pieces of information simultaneously.
Is everyone fully present in your workplace? April is Stress Awareness month, so it might pay to be aware of absenteeism’s ugly cousin, presenteeism: employees not working at top performance because they are either stressed out or sick. According to one study commissioned by Desjardins Financial Services, 83% of workers show up at work sick or exhausted! Ouch! That seems outrageously high to me, but even if those numbers are out of whack, a Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found that presenteeism is a bigger and more costly problem than absenteeism! (Is this stressing you out?)
My favorite, er, watering hole, is the Iron Goat pub and restaurant, located just a tad too close to my home office. They have the best mountain views in Canmore, great food and consistently stellar customer service. When dealing with a service issue, one of their mottoes is, “Catch it on the inside.”
In the CIA Book of Secret Humor, author Ed Mickolus shares insights into humor, CIA-style, including their motto: “It could have been worse.”
Steve Cody, the co-founder and managing partner of Peppercomm, a communications agency based in New York, understands the power of humor and storytelling to help package his clients’ messages. But as a part time stand-up comedian, he’s also a huge believer in the power of humor to change the way people interact and communicate with one another, and in the process transform an entire workplace culture. I had a fascinating conversation with Cody last week, where he explained how humor has completely become embedded in Peppercomm’s DNA.
Job descriptions are rapidly becoming so yesterday. More and more organizations are eschewing formal job descriptions, opting instead for, well, nothing. Companies that shun job descriptions tend to be highly innovative and they believe that job descriptions pigeonhole people into a box. Some feel job descriptions are a subtle way of telling people what they can’t do and only serve to foster the archaic, silo-creating, productivity-sapping, mind-numbingly annoying, “It’s not in my job description” mentality so prevalent during the Jurassic period (it’s the real reason dinosaurs died out).
Okay, so as someone who is considered a “funny motivational speaker” maybe I’m a tad biased on this topic. But having seen (and coached) dozens upon dozens of speakers over the years, I can definitely attest to the fact that funny motivational speakers are far more effective at getting their message across, for a number of reasons:
October 16 is official “Boss’s Day,” which I’ve discovered (courtesy of my wife) does NOT mean that I get to boss everyone around for one day. It’s of course to honor and celebrate the great work of bosses everywhere. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that being the Big Cheese is often a thankless, and at times, lonely position. Remember, it’s not just front line employees that need to feel appreciated and valued. (Mildly interesting fact: Hallmark increased its line of “Happy Boss Day” cards by 28% in 2007.)