Categories for Optimism

5 Misconceptions about Workplace Culture (And How You Can Make a Difference)

Workplace culture is both a “hot” and important topic in the world today.  Companies, organizations, and government agencies are all struggling with the reality that they have seriously unhealthy workplace cultures.  Yet many people (including leaders) have significant misconceptions about what creates “workplace culture” and whether or not (or how) it can be changed.  Frequent results of these misconceptions include: a) individuals within the organization giving up trying to improve the culture because they view the situation as hopeless; b) they want to do something to make a difference but don’t know where to start, or c) their attempts to... Continue reading...

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November 12, 2018 9:00 am
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Out of the Rut

Have you ever felt like you were in a rut or experiencing a particularly low point in your life? It’s times like these when we feel down, hopeless and stuck. This can run the spectrum of significance, such as being bored at work to grieving the death of a family member or friend, but the symptoms are the same. We become disengaged and cannot fully focus or show up with our best selves. The key to getting out of a rut is self-care, even when that feels like your lowest priority and the last thing you have time for. But... Continue reading...

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August 13, 2018 9:00 am
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Revisiting the Meaning of “Vacation”

In the summer months, I often reflect on the idea of “vacation” — what it is, what it means, and often what it has come to mean in our culture. First, vacation means “to vacate” — to leave, to get out of here, to get away from your daily setting and responsibilities.  As my wife has commented, she gets a different perspective on life when she gets away from the daily routine.  Even if you are in a tight financial situation, getting away for a few days to a cheap cabin close-by can be sufficient. Next, vacation implies that you aren’t working.  You... Continue reading...

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August 7, 2016 3:42 pm
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What We Can Learn From Rainy Days

July and August in the Midwest are usually the “dog days of summer” — hot, intense sun, and humid. It is uncomfortable and physically draining. But we have had some unusual weather lately — cloudy, cooler and rainy. So, as a result, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on rainy days, how they represent other aspects of our lives, and what we can learn from them. We are not in control of everything. There are obviously aspects of our lives that we do not control. Weather is one. Global economic forces is another. Random events of nature and the choices that... Continue reading...

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July 5, 2016 1:35 pm
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Reflections on the 4th of July: Our Freedoms and Rights

I love the 4th of July holiday largely because we have a legacy of wonderful family “get together’s” that are a lot of fun (and we have done so for several years, which evoke a large number of fond memories for me.) And our family celebrations have involved several traditions that I enjoy: being outside playing games, shooting fireworks, barbecuing with great grilled meat, swimming and boating, and watching a large fireworks show.  So, almost always, the Fourth is a fun time. Celebrating the anniversary of our country’s Independence Day is also a great time to reflect on the numerous freedoms... Continue reading...

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June 29, 2016 9:48 am
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The Battle between Positive and Toxic Workplaces

An interesting juxtaposition has developed — the simultaneous focus in the world of work on toxic workplaces and creating positive work environments. Our book on toxic workplaces and the subsequent training we created on how to avoid becoming a toxic workplace (or survive one you are currently in) are growing in popularity and interest.  And I am asked more and more to speak to professional associations and write on the topic. At the same time, there is a growing body of literature on how to create a positive workplace environment (sometimes labeled as workplace culture or climate). One might mistakenly... Continue reading...

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May 10, 2016 8:32 pm
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An Antidote For Disengagement: Being Appreciative For Your Job

Gallup reported on January 13 that only 32% of U.S. employees are actively engaged in their work from a mental, emotional and volitional (a choice of the will) point of view.  Conversely, 50.8% of employees were found to be “not engaged” and 17.2% are “actively disengaged”.  This latter group is a dangerous one — they are actually actively working at cross-purposes with their employer, doing things to make things worse in their workplace. Much of the blame for this sad state in our work environments is being placed fully and solely on the shoulders of supervisors, managers and employers, a position... Continue reading...

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January 28, 2016 9:48 am
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So You Want to Work at Google? How to Make Your Workplace “The” Place to Work

So you want to work at Google? Or Apple? Or one of the “cool” places where they have free food, flexible work hours, and an informal work environment?  But the challenge is – you don’t live near Silicon Valley or have the skill set they require. (The second issue is the real limitation, isn’t it?) So what can you do where you work currently?  Even though you may not be the owner of your company, or even a high level executive, you can help make your workplace become “the” place to work.  Really. It is all about influence. We all... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2014 8:39 pm
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Solution #2 for Finding Good Employees: Train Your Current Employees

In a prior post on the challenges employers are having in finding qualified applicants for the positions they need to fill, I shared that there are three strategies that, over time, can help employers and managers address this problem.  The first solution is to keep your valued employees by making sure they feel appreciated. The second way to fill empty slots in your organization is to train and mentor current employees who have potential but who need to grow. We often have employees who are “okay” but who have an area of deficiency or a character quality they need to... Continue reading...

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April 7, 2014 10:34 am
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Do 70 Million Workers Really Hate their Jobs?

     This past week headlines of newspapers, website posts, and the talking heads on TV screamed about how U.S. employees hate their jobs (and that it is the fault of their managers).  Here are some actual titles: Millions of Bad Managers Are Killing America’s Growth (The Chairman’s Blog) Workplace Morale Heads Down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs   (Subtitled: “Bosses from hell’ are giving U.S. Worker the Monday blues.)  (NY Daily News) Most Americans hate their jobs or have ‘checked out’ (LA Times) So the headlines and news reports went last week, about a recent report released by Gallup... Continue reading...

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January 2, 2014 8:19 am
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