Categories for Teamwork

Sync or Swim: A light read about working together during a crisis

Holidays are a great time to enjoy some light reading. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both these categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll read about various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” (And it is a great way to introduce friends, family and colleagues to the 5 languages of appreciation.) Humans are hard-wired for a story and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom.... Continue reading...

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November 30, 2020 9:00 am
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Resources for Building Healthy Teams

Dr. Paul White and the Appreciation at Work team have been creating and publishing some new resources to help create healthy workplaces, especially for use in the midst of this difficult time of having team members working remotely (and from home), some working on-site, and others working in a hybrid model (some from home, some at the workplace).  This creates challenges in developing and maintaining healthy work relationships. Dr. White recently completed research with a national sample of remote employees and the results were summarized in an interview with Psychology Today‘s Hope and Resilience writer, Dr. Jamie D. Aten. The... Continue reading...

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October 12, 2020 9:30 am
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Building a Strong Team Culture: Valuing & Appreciating Differences in the Workplace

To build a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who have a variety of skills and personality types, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. Many books on leadership provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who are... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2020 9:00 am
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Want an easy summer read that will help you understand the challenges of working together during a crisis?

It’s summer time – which means “light reading” time. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and business / financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll be exposed to various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Sync or Swim is... Continue reading...

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June 24, 2020 11:31 am
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Sync or Swim: A Fable about Workplace Communication and Coming Together in a Crisis

Since earliest times, fables have been passed on from generation to generation. Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Our book, Sync or Swim, helps us solve the frustrating contradiction of morale-building programs that end up hurting morale and of recognition programs resulting in cynicism. The story is written to be a fun, quick read, illustrating ways to communicate appreciation that generate productivity and effective teamwork. Each character responds in different ways to the same situation – as each... Continue reading...

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December 9, 2019 9:00 am
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The Power of Using Stories to Lead

How Effective Leaders Grab the Hearts of their Team Members Most leaders tend to focus on data and factual information. And accurate data is important for making good management decisions. But throughout history, communicating through facts has not been the most utilized method for sharing and developing leadership qualities. Rather, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression. For evidence, look to Greek philosophers, wisdom literature from Asia, and the wide range of stories from multiple cultures across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Confucius and Jesus all used stories grounded in daily... Continue reading...

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December 2, 2019 9:00 am
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Characteristics of Successful Teams

Although working with a team of very talented, capable and successful professionals can be fun and exciting, these teams can be challenging as well. But there are factors, when built into the team effort, that can make these “All-Star” teams incredibly impactful. Examples can be taken from many areas of life: music groups, sports teams, legal and political teams, strategic business partnerships. Unfortunately, many examples of “Super Teams” that failed also exist – which leads to the question: What are the necessary ingredients for success? Ingredients for Highly Successful Teams *Team members voluntarily submit to a selected leader (or leaders).... Continue reading...

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October 14, 2019 9:00 am
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Are You Too Busy To Learn How To Overcome Busyness?

A change in perspective can make a difference Are you tired – mentally, emotionally (& physically)? Do you have more to do than you have time & energy? Are you overwhelmed in trying to manage all of your emails, texts, & voicemails? I’d bet you also are behind in reading all of the blogs, articles, and books that you feel you should. You probably feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Or just worn out. Welcome to the Busyness Club. I feel that way too. Your team members do. And so do your clients. A Personal Story… I grew up in a conservative... Continue reading...

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October 1, 2018 9:47 am
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Building Your Best Team: Learn to Value and Appreciate Differences

To grow a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who are different than you, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. There are lots of great books on leadership that provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who... Continue reading...

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January 22, 2018 9:00 am
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Hurricane Harvey – 5 Potential Reasons Why We Don’t Respond (& How to Get Past Them)

The devastation of Hurricane Harvey is massive — and is evident in numerous ways: water damage to homes and businesses, loss of personal belongings, displaced individuals and families, 300,000+ cars left unusable, businesses not able to do business, schools shut down, nursing home residents moved… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the sheer size and impact of Harvey actually creates some dynamics that makes it more likely that people (including you and me) won’t respond to the vast needs created. How can that be? Why would we be less likely to give some form of aid (monetary aid, donations... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2017 1:15 pm
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100,000+ Employees Share How They Want to Be Appreciated

Employee engagement is a major goal for many leaders (and most HR professionals).  But employee recognition has provided disappointing results.  Authentic appreciation is the key missing component – and knowing how employees want to be shown appreciation is critical. A core concept foundational to demonstrating authentic appreciation is that not everyone wants to be shown appreciation in the same ways.  Some people like verbal praise, but others feel valued when you spend time with them.  A number of employees feel supported by receiving some help when they are overwhelmed, while others are encouraged if you bring in their favorite cup... Continue reading...

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June 27, 2017 5:07 pm
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How to Ask for Encouragement

How do you know (or find out) what is encouraging to the people with whom you work? The topic of “How do you feel appreciated?” is not a common workplace conversation and this type of question can make individuals feel somewhat uncomfortable. Often, they respond:  “I don’t know. Just tell me ‘thanks’.” But people do tend to think in terms of “encouragement” and “discouragement”. So, the question to ask is: “When you are discouraged, what is something that someone can do or say that would encourage you?” (or, “What has encouraged you in the past?”) But sometimes, we need encouragement. ... Continue reading...

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May 3, 2017 8:00 am
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The Importance of Peer to Peer Appreciation

Our work is growing in scope and impact (for example, medical practices and hospitals, large corporations, banks, government agencies, public schools, universities, manufacturing firms, insurance agencies, the military.) But we also have been getting some interesting feedback as we listen to those with whom we work. One repeated message we are hearing is: Supervisors are not necessarily the individuals most concerned about supporting and encouraging those with whom they work. While we don’t want to disparage managers, employers, supervisors or team leaders; as a group, they often are not the ones who communicate the most excitement in finding out their colleagues’ preferred languages of appreciation and the... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2017 8:00 am
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How Do You “Appreciate” Difficult People at Work?*

 Let’s be honest, some people are more difficult to work with than others.  There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; and people we just don’t understand.  And appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging. Let me share a few tips on how to communicate appreciation to a “difficult” colleague:      Don’t try to fake it.  Whatever you do, don’t try to “act like” you appreciate someone if you really don’t.  Most people have very sensitive “radar” when they believe others aren’t being genuine.  You risk undermining any trust you may have with your colleague if they don’t think... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2017 10:00 am
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5 Meeting Principles to Live By

What are the magic ingredients for a successful meeting? A meeting in which participants build relationships, exchange ideas, unearth insights, make decisions, and get the information they need to move work forward? We all know there’s no “magic” that comes without preparation and hard work. But there are five basic principles that underlie successful meetings. Principle #1. Every voice matters Different perspectives enrich a conversation, strengthen a team, and generally lead to better outcomes. Good meeting leaders establish a safe and open environment in which participants can voice their concerns. You don’t have to transform your entire organization’s meeting culture... Continue reading...

February 1, 2017 8:30 am
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4 Core Characteristics For Success – In Life and Work

In my role as psychologist, I have evaluated over 4,000 individuals – usually with regards to learning difficulties they are experiencing.   In my feedback sessions, I often share with parents the core characteristics that make individuals successful in life. (I define “life success” as becoming an independent functional adult, having healthy relationships, and experiencing a level of happiness and contentment in one’s life.) If parents of developmentally challenged students focus solely on academic success (which is emphasized by their school community), then they can become quite discouraged.  But when we understand “life success” in broader terms – the goals are... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2016 1:31 pm
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Engage Others by Helping Them Understand You

Recently, I had the privilege of conducting some communication training for a group.  We had done some previous communication training together on foundational issues of listening, so they were ready to work on some additional skills for building relationships with others. The skill set we worked on was the ways you can assist the person with whom you are talking to better understand you. Providing the context of your thoughts was the skill we focused on.  When we give each other the context of our thoughts — that is, the reason or purpose of our sharing — this greatly enhances others’ ability tounderstand us.  And... Continue reading...

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October 19, 2016 8:00 am
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Characteristics of Successful Teams

This is a follow-up to my previous post on characteristics of highly successful individuals. Although working with a team of very talented, capable and successful professionals can be challenging, there are ways that these “All-Star” teams can become incredibly impactful. There are many areas of life from which examples can be taken: music groups, sports teams, legal and political teams, strategic business partnerships. (And unfortunately, there are probably more examples of “Super Teams” that failed.) What seems to be necessary? *Team members voluntarily submit to a selected leader. There has to be a clear, designated leader. And the team members... Continue reading...

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September 20, 2016 9:00 am
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Characteristics of Highly Successful Individuals

I have had the opportunity to work closely with business teams comprised of highly talented and successful professionals. Some of these high-powered teams work together well and achieve amazing results, while some of the teams are struggling a bit in working together effectively. And one of the teams had to reorganize because the team members couldn’t figure out how to work together. I’ve made some observations as well as pulled some information from other sources, about what needs to happen for a team of All-Stars to be successful as a team. Characteristics of Successful Individuals First, let’s look at some... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2016 9:00 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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CONNECTION CULTURE: 3 Practices That Propel the Rock Band U2’s Success

The rock band U2 has had an extraordinary run, as evidenced by a remarkable 22 Grammy awards, more than any band in history, and album sales topping 170 million. Its worldwide 360 Degree Tour was the highest revenue producing tour ever. How has U2 been able to achieve sustainable superior performance for more than 40 years now? Examining U2 provides insight into the factors that make groups of all types and sizes thrive for sustained periods, from committees and teams to organizations as large as Fortune 500 companies. Several elements of U2’s culture are consistent with the elements that our research has... Continue reading...

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May 2, 2016 1:02 pm
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2 Concerns: Generational Work Ethic in the Workplace

As we explore the challenges that arise in businesses from perceived generational differences, two issues often arise. Concern #1: Not all differences cited as “generational” are actually based in the generation of the employees. In actuality, many of the issues are common challenges in workplace relationships (lack of trust, feeling treated disrespectfully, poor communication) but they have some generational veneer that makes them look differently.  For example, what is perceived as “disrespectful” often differs across generations.  Millennials often feel disrespected when they are not asked for their input, while older employees may not feel treated respectfully if their opinion (with... Continue reading...

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April 27, 2016 7:03 am
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Appreciation in an International Multi-Cultural Organization

Recently, I had the privilege to provide training in communicating authentic appreciation to the management and supervisors of an elite international organization.  Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over 40 countries and six continents. As I approached the training, I was interested to see and hear if the staff desired to be appreciated for their work.  Additionally, I wanted to find out whether communicating appreciation in the workplace was relevant across many cultures.  Finally, I was curious to learn various ways employees felt comfortable receiving appreciation and what the challenges might be... Continue reading...

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July 29, 2015 11:47 am
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“March Madness” – Can It Be Used to Build Staff Morale?

Every Spring a national “event” captures the attention of millions of employees: the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournaments (both men’s and women’s). Individuals who are die-hard basketball fans, those who may follow their local college team when they are doing well, and people who just like to pick teams according to their mascots – all become intrigued and involved in following the games. Understanding “March Madness” While “March Madness” is typically referred to as a singular event, those familiar with the tournaments know that they actually are a series of games and regional tournaments over a three week period. The... Continue reading...

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March 7, 2015 3:05 pm
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Should Appreciation Only Be Communicated When an Employee is Performing Well?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when I’m conducting a training for a business is:  Should you show appreciation for someone who isn’t performing well? A tension exists in the world of recognition, employee engagement, and appreciation.  There are differences of opinion on the relationship between an employee’s performance and recognizing them.  Should you recognize an employee if they aren’t doing well in all areas of performance?  Is appreciation independent of performance? To address the issue, I think we need to keep two foundational principles in mind: The purpose of work is to provide goods or services to... Continue reading...

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August 11, 2014 12:31 pm
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Appreciating Your Team When You’re a Perfectionist

I admit. I’m a perfectionist. There’s always one flaw.  Or, there’s one more thing to fix or finish. It’s a part of who I am. And, because I focus on it for me, I also bring that same laser and cutting focus to my team. Being appreciative to team members at the workplace The more you are appreciative of the little things in your life and make it habit, the more it transcends to your relationships with others at work. For a long time, appreciation was not viewed as important in the workplace. However, research has shown that appreciation, more... Continue reading...

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August 4, 2014 2:03 pm
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So You Are an Intern This Summer? What Should You Expect?

If you are one of the fortunate students who has landed an internship for the summer, congratulations. You have an opportunity to learn some practical skills in your field of study, add a valuable piece to your resume, and possibly make a little money (if it is a paid internship.) There is a good chance you have never been an intern before, so you are not exactly sure what to expect. So let us fill you in – with both the good and bad news. Understanding the Full Time Employees’ Perspective For most FTEs (full-time employees), interns are viewed either... Continue reading...

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July 8, 2014 8:16 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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