Categories for Workplace Culture

What Can You do When You Really Don’t Appreciate a Coworker?

Let’s be honest, sometimes we have a hard time appreciating some of our colleagues. The reality is: some people are more difficult to work with than others. There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; people with a lousy work ethic, and those that aren’t friendly (gruff would be a better descriptor). And there are others we just don’t understand or click with. What can you do? Here are a few tips: 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 for when others aren’t being... Continue reading...

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September 26, 2022 9:00 am
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7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever and How to Cope

Toxic achievers pose a serious dilemma for business owners, managers, and supervisors. On the one hand, they get the job done — quickly, and more successfully than their peers. So, their work production or sales numbers look great. On the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their condescending attitude, and their propensity to frequently want exceptions to company policies and procedures. 7 Signs of a Toxic Achiever How do you know if one of your team members is a toxic achiever, or just a pretty good producer who can be irritating to... Continue reading...

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September 19, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Have a Terrible, Awful, Very Bad Day (Guaranteed)

How to Have a Terrible, Awful, Very Bad Day (Guaranteed) Sometimes we focus on the positives in life – gratitude, appreciation, healthy relationships—and how to obtain (or maintain) them in our lives. But there are times when it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the habits and thought patterns that lead us down the path to having a bad day (or week, month or year!). Let’s take a brief look at the things that take us down the road to nowhere good, so we can acknowledge and avoid them in our lives. Our experience of life is directly related... Continue reading...

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September 12, 2022 9:00 am
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Introducing the New “Trades” Version of the MBA Inventory

Do you know someone who works in one of the professional trades? Carpentry, Construction, Electrical, HVAC, Insulation, Landscaping, Mechanic Painting, Plumbing, Remodeling, Roofing, Stone Mason / Bricklayer Just like every other industry, employees and supervisors in the trades need to know the work they do is valued by others. And, similar to many other work sectors, the ability to find (and keep) qualified team members is a tremendous challenge today. We have just completed the creation of the “Trades” version of our Motivating By Appreciation Inventory to help supervisors and employees learn how to communicate appreciation in ways that fit... Continue reading...

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September 6, 2022 8:45 am
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Overcoming the “Weirdness Factor” in Appreciation

Feeling awkward about communicating appreciation among team members is normal. This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the 5 languages of appreciation are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. It can feel particularly uncomfortable to speak words of affirmation to a colleague you aren’t used to talking to, or aren’t sure what kinds of words to use. What are common signs of people feeling “weird” about the appreciation process? Fear. Fear that others will think you are communicating appreciation “just because we are supposed to.” Fear that people will think your communication is not authentic or... Continue reading...

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August 22, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Deal with Condescending Colleagues

By Paul White and Natalie Hamrick Spend any time in the workforce, and there is a high possibility that you will be made to feel “small” by a colleague talking down to you or devaluing your input. Taking some time, however, to understand what motivates condescension, as well as learning some strategies to combat it, can help make working with colleagues who tend to be condescending much more tolerable.  What motivates condescension? A person who is condescending in their comments toward others often: 1) wants to “win” the discussion, usually by squelching any dissent 2) uses the situation to boost... Continue reading...

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August 8, 2022 9:00 am
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Should Appreciation Be Performance Based?

A question I often hear when I’m conducting training for a business is: Should you show appreciation to someone who isn’t performing well? The reply you receive may depend on who is answering the question. Friction exists in the world of recognition and rewards, employee engagement, and appreciation. Differences of opinion are prevalent 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 (and acknowledge... Continue reading...

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August 1, 2022 9:00 am
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Why We Do, What We Do, the Way We Do

Successful companies and organizations have certain core values and commitments that run throughout their corporate cultures and are often visible in the services they offer and products they produce. When you think about Hilton, Chick-Fil-A, Southwest Airlines and Mercedes Benz, you know what you will be getting as a customer. This is because they have worked hard to make certain priorities and behaviors a part of their DNA. (If you don’t like or have the same values they do, you choose an alternative provider.) Hilton and Mercedes Benz provide quality and luxury at a higher cost to the consumer. Southwest... Continue reading...

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July 18, 2022 9:00 am
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The Employees You Should Worry about Losing – The Average Ones

A disturbing long-term trend has been documented by research – that a vast majority (up to 87%) of the workforce is either not engaged (read: they are present physically but not mentally or emotionally), or are totally disengaged (they actually undermine the success of an organization).  This is in spite of the fact that over 85% of organizations have an employee recognition program (which obviously aren’t working). Don’t Focus So Much on Top & Low Performers A basic challenge in working together with others is that not everyone performs at the same level with regard to the quality and amount... Continue reading...

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July 11, 2022 9:00 am
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Creating Harmony and Positive Energy at Work

A vibrant workplace draws people to it — quality, talented employees want to work in a healthy context. A vibrant workplace is the antithesis of how many work environments are described: negative, energy-sapping, and toxic to growth. In healthy workplaces, employees bring their own gifts and unique personalities to add to the synergy of a dynamic work setting. This is particularly relevant right now. Recent research by the Sloan School of Business at MIT found that during the recent Great Resignation that employees cited workplace culture issues as the reason they were leaving by a factor of 10x in comparison... Continue reading...

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June 20, 2022 9:00 am
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The Challenge of Apathy

Recently, I was speaking to a group of organizational leaders about workplace culture, and I asked them about some of the more challenging issues they are seeing. One leader responded: “apathy” — to which numerous others nodded in affirmation. They went on to elaborate: “Younger leaders are more passive” “They seem willing to live with the status quo,” and “They lack passion — they don’t seem to have any ‘fire in their belly.’” The senior leaders I was training were asking: “What do I do?” “How can I motivate a developing leader who doesn’t seem interested?” Unfortunately, this is not... Continue reading...

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June 13, 2022 9:00 am
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The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Appreciation

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor was found to be one of the most influential factors in whether or not the employee enjoyed their job. So, when we first started applying the 5 languages to work-based relationships, our early focus was on training supervisors and managers in how to communicate appreciation effectively to their team members. While this was a good starting point, we quickly learned that to focus solely on managers and supervisors was too narrow and not all that was needed. Although most employees like to receive positive messages from their supervisor, hearing encouragement... Continue reading...

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June 6, 2022 9:00 am
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How Do I ‘Move On’ When Someone Has Offended Me?

Sometimes conflict at work arises when we feel we have been treated wrongly. This can result in our feeling hurt, embarrassed, let down by another, offended, angry, and disappointed. These responses are the result when someone’s actions (or lack of action) are in contrast to what we believe should have happened. That is, when our expectations aren’t met by others. Whatever the source of the conflict is, we cannot truly resolve it and move on unless we are able to let go of hurt, anger, fear, bitterness, and the other negative emotions we have. The process of letting go—that is,... Continue reading...

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May 16, 2022 9:00 am
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Appreciation Isn’t Just an American Concept

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. Fortunately, authentic appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. They exist on every inhabited continent. Our book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, has been translated into 23 languages. Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over... Continue reading...

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May 9, 2022 2:50 pm
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5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time

Many people assume that appreciation is always communicated verbally. While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time. In fact, Quality Time is the preferred appreciation language for 26% of employees in the U.S. (or, one of every four of your colleagues.) By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, working collaboratively with them, or (for some people) just “hanging out.” You are showing that you value them by giving them your most precious resource:... Continue reading...

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May 2, 2022 9:00 am
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How Much Evidence Do You Need?

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut — and breaking out of it is difficult. Sometimes we get busy and put things we want to do on the back burner. And sometimes we’re waiting for more evidence to convince us. Well, friends, the time to act has arrived. Here are the facts on the current state of employment in the United States: Finding and hiring new (and qualified) employees is incredibly challenging. Recent research has shown that employees who are quitting their jobs are 10 times more likely to be leaving because of toxic cultural issues than for better compensation.... Continue reading...

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April 25, 2022 8:18 am
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6 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Say Thank You Enough (or Ever)

Words of Affirmation is just one of the five ways employees like to be shown appreciation. And business and organizational leaders are constantly reminded how important it is to communicate appreciation to their staff — and it is. But sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t said often enough. When employees feel truly valued and appreciated, good things follow. Team members are less likely to leave for another job, complain and grumble, steal from the organization, or get hurt on the job. Conversely, they are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and... Continue reading...

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April 18, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service

“Don’t tell me you care; show me.” This is a phrase often heard from those whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service. For them, actions will always speak louder than words and they feel appreciated when others reach out to help. Over 1 in 5 employees (22%) have Acts of Service as their primary language of appreciation (with another 15% having it as their secondary language). So over one third of your coworkers value appreciation shown through practical actions that will help them do their work more effectively. How you help out a colleague really is situation specific.... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2022 9:00 am
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Battling Disconnectedness and Chaos: Practical Steps for Staying Connected with Your Team

Connectedness has become a huge issue within our culture. The disconnectedness and loneliness created by the COVID-19 pandemic created massive upheaval in our daily social structure (working remotely, reduced social interaction with friends and family, chaos related to children’s education and activities). Our work life has been equally disrupted. Not only with arrangements related to remote, working from home and hybrid working issues, but our normal patterns of relating and communicating have been affected. When we see our colleagues, where we see them, how often we interact, the mode of communication (email, phone, video conference, text, in person) and the... Continue reading...

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April 4, 2022 9:00 am
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Understanding Employee Retention: People Are Loyal to People, Not Organizations

The Great Resignation which has occurred over the past two years is not just an abstract concept – it impacts our everyday lives. Lack of service (calling the customer service department of any major company results in a minimum of twenty minutes on hold), restaurants closing due to lack of sufficient employees, delays in residential construction because there aren’t enough tradesmen to do the work, wait times of months when ordering appliances – the list seems endless. Whether the pattern of continued resignations will continue is not clear. But it appears we have moved from the Great Resignation to the... Continue reading...

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March 28, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Get Past the Most Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation

While creating a workplace culture of appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive. And the impact has been demonstrated in medical settings, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, multinational corporations, financial institutions and manufacturing firms. (Read the recent New York Times business section article* on the 5 languages of appreciation.) But, like trying to implement any change, obstacles can arise. After working with numerous organizations to implement the 5 languages of appreciation, we noticed some... Continue reading...

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March 14, 2022 5:35 pm
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Observations & Predictions about Workplaces for the Remainder of 2022

Since I have the opportunity to work and interact with a lot of different businesses, organizations, and government agencies, people often ask me: “What do you think about the future of work? What is it going to look like? Are remote and hybrid working arrangements here to stay?” As a result, I thought I would share my observations, beliefs and predictions. Observation #1: How organizations approach remote / working from home (WFH) and hybrid work will continue to largely be determined by the nature of work to be performed. From the beginning of the pandemic, the type of work to... Continue reading...

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March 7, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Rebuild Trust When a Relationship Has Been Damaged

For life to work, we have to trust. Trust is critical for any functional relationship—with our family, our friends, and even our work-based relationships. The issue of trust—and mistrust—is powerfully relevant in our culture today. We hear comments about trust all over the news and frequently in personal conversations: “I trust that guy about as far as I can throw him.” Trust is essential to work-based relationships for many reasons: effective teamwork, collaboration with suppliers, smooth functioning of the organization to produce goods and services, better customer relationships and, ultimately, to obtain optimal outcomes. MISTRUST IN WORK RELATIONSHIPS There are... Continue reading...

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February 21, 2022 9:00 am
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Making Things Right When You’ve Messed Up

We all make mistakes. Sometimes inadvertently. Sometimes we did what we thought was right (only to find out later, it wasn’t). And sometimes we just make a poor choice – for whatever reason. Making a mistake at work, to many of us, seems more serious than ones we commit in our personal lives. A misstep at work affects others, makes us look bad to our colleagues or boss, and may have serious ramifications on our work status. The Challenge of Acknowledging Our Errors For some of us, acknowledging to ourselves that we messed up is difficult. While admitting we made... Continue reading...

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February 14, 2022 9:00 am
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Does the Conflict at Your Workplace Give You a Headache?

Understanding where conflict comes from Conflict at work happens – a lot. And it is a major source of stress for both employees and supervisors.  It shouldn’t take you but a few seconds to recall a tense moment in your workplace — to remember the discomfort of watching a not-so-friendly disagreement in a meeting. Or to relive the sting of a critical comment made in front of your colleagues. One study found that, on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week (or one day per month) dealing with conflict in some way. Either being directly involved in a disagreement,... Continue reading...

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January 31, 2022 9:00 am
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Tips for Developing a Culture of Appreciation: How to Get Past Being ‘Stuck’

Many of us have good intentions. We want to help improve our workplace culture, become more positive and supportive, and less combative and stressful. And many of us have tried, but have gotten stuck in their endeavors. Our efforts in introducing the 5 languages of appreciation to leaders and colleagues have either been met with a lukewarm response or started out well, but fizzled before getting off the ground (partly due to all of the challenges the COVID pandemic has created). But I would encourage you: Take heart! Steps can be taken to get you ‘unstuck.’ Remember: People Have Limited... Continue reading...

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January 24, 2022 11:20 am
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Qualities of Highly Successful Teams

Working with a team of very talented, capable and successful professionals can be exciting and rewarding, these teams can also present challenges. But there are factors 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). Clear, designated leadership is critical; although it can... Continue reading...

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January 10, 2022 9:00 am
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We’ve Been Fact Checked (and We Were Right!)

HBR reports research demonstrating appreciation improves productivity The Harvard Business Review recently published an intriguing article, “5 Things High-Performing Teams Do Differently” based on research findings by Dr. Ron Friedman.   “New research suggests that the highest-performing teams have found subtle ways of leveraging social connections during the pandemic to fuel their success. The findings offer important clues on ways any organization can foster greater connectedness — even within a remote or hybrid work setting — to engineer higher-performing teams.” And (surprise!) three of the five key characteristic actions they cited are core principles we teach in our Appreciation at... Continue reading...

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November 1, 2021 9:00 am
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A Survival Guide for Managing Discussions about COVID at Work

Well, here we are, 18+ months into dealing with COVID-19 and, unfortunately, the challenges remain. And additional challenges have developed – not only dealing with the actual physical repercussions of the virus – but now having to manage a wide range (and varying intensities) of opinions about COVID-related issues: masks, the vaccine, mandates, safety of our children, new virus variants. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:  ... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2021 7:00 am
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Build a Positive Relationship, No Matter Who You Report To

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor was found to be one of the most influential factors on whether or not the employee enjoyed their job. However, this dynamic has changed somewhat. Jared Lindzon, in an article about change and work, spoke to analyst Josh Bersin who says, “Most companies, even big companies, are much less hierarchical and much less top-down in their execution than they used to be. Leaders are finding that they have to be more inspirational, they have to be more collaborative.” In recent years, both the structure of work teams and physical office... Continue reading...

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September 20, 2021 9:00 am
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