How to Steer Clear of Toxic Environments

toxicToxicity can happen anywhere at any given workplace no matter how small or large, or what industry. Where there is human interaction, there is potential for disappointment that can add up to unhappy employees. Unhappy employees tend to want to spread their misery to others, even if unknowingly doing so. The disengagement of such employees is off the charts. What becomes toxic is the spread of that unhappiness and others’ reaction to it.

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Become a Master at What You Do in Order to Find Your Passion

moneyWith so many careers to choose from how do you select just the right one that will drive you to be successful and fulfilled?

In my early college days, I already knew that I wanted to be in the commercial arts. In fact, I knew early on that I was going to be a creative in some capacity. In order to make steady income, many of us artists went the commercial route. Yes, this was B.C. (before computers)

After being employed and learning the trade while attending college classes, I learned that an art director could make up to at least $65k/year back in the early 1980s. So, I tried to achieve that goal but for some reason, while my work was good, the opportunity never presented itself to me for a variety of reasons, and so I settled for lower wages as just another staff artist.

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Employee Engagement Survey Used as Best Communication Tool

86089312_4When you think about conducting an employee survey, consider the benefits of it being one of the best and most significant communication tools you can use at your company.

Employee engagement surveys are not used strictly for collecting feedback. Pre-survey communications; advertising that the survey is coming, should relay survey goals, anonymity and post-survey findings. These communications should come from the organizations top leadership.

  • The first message should be that the organization’s leadership is genuinely interested in what employees have to say.
  • Each question on a survey should be examined thoughtfully to ensure they are consistent with the company goals.
  • Show where there are areas of strengths and weaknesses and communicate to employees how the company intends to change them.
  • On the survey, remember to ask about employee benefits. This may be the only time you can elicit feedback about them.
  • Employees should be able to share their thoughts without retribution when they voice their opinions – whether on an employee survey or in person. Does your company have a culture of trust? If employees do not trust the organization, they may not answer survey questions honestly if they fear retribution.
    Some employees think that online surveys are much less anonymous than paper, because they think their IP addresses will link survey responses to individuals. They must be assured by management that the data and feedback collected will never be singled out or individuals identified. TNS ensures that privacy and anonymity is lock-tight when using our online survey technology.

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Can One be Overly Engaged at Work?

sucking-up-to-boss3What is just the right amount of engagement or is there just no such thing? Either one is engaged or not. There are no shades of gray. However, I wonder how others may view this thought.

I don’t ever want to be that person who is always “sucking up” to the boss, and yet, there are some who might misinterpret a good working relationship between a boss and a subordinate. I don’t think you should ever have to make excuses or explain to anyone why you have that good working relationship unless it’s just to say that you have good karma, while still being very much engaged.

“Sucking up” to the boss also doesn’t mean you’re engaged. In fact, in many cases it can mean the opposite because a person’s motives for buddying up to their boss could mean they want a promotion, more money, or special favors. Who knows? Brown-nosing does not equate to employee engagement. Brown-nosing or “sucking up” is all about the person doing it. They have the “me syndrome.” It may seem like they are engaged, but their motives are very deceptive.

An employee who is truly engaged, does great work and is recognized with a pat on the back by their boss, deserves accolades – not favors. Anyone witnessing the pat on the back may just be envious, while at the same time, happy for that person who deserves the merit. Envy of someone’s situation is not jealousy. Jealously harbors resentment. Envying someone for doing a good job with recognition should only inspire others to achieve success at work.

I believe that the notion of someone being “overly” engaged is only in the mind of the observer. Either one is engaged or one is not. Anyone who believes that any of their coworkers are overly engaged is perhaps mistaking them for being enthusiastic or passionate about their work.

 

Good Parenting Skills Essential for Employee Engagement

parentingHow do good parenting skills affect employee engagement? What does parenting have to do with their son or daughter being engaged or disengaged at work?

If one is still lucky enough as I am to have their parents around to offer advice once in a while, consider how their influence can affect your work. My parents—my good parents—have always supported my goals in life, especially my talents. They are the wind beneath my wings, so to speak. I have always taken into account their honest feedback, good or bad, at several of the jobs I had in my life. That being said, sometimes when I felt I was not being treated fairly, they gave me open and honest feedback. If I was wrong, as hard as it was to take, I realized they were telling me for my own good in order to grow in the working world. So, there it is; growing up in the working world could use some parenting.

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Squirrels Strike at Squirrely Co in Squirrelville

A nutty case study

Squirrelville

Letter-O-60pt-Castellarnce upon a time, there was a little village known as Squirrelville, USA. The inhabitants were real squirrels and they were quite efficient as hunters, but mostly gatherers in their community.

For years, the squirrels worked in harmony with each other because they were very well-organized and everyone had a role to play. Each role was described in great detail so that there would be no mistake as to what each squirrel had to do. Life was good.

There was a company called Squirrely Co, which was quite popular and only the brightest and smartest of the squirrel community could work there. At Squirrely Co, the squirrels produced nut jam, nut butter, nut soup, and nut meg. These were specialty items that only the hoidiest of toidiest of squirrels could afford. Squirrel Co operated efficiently and as a result, was very prosperous.

Squirrely Co was successful because the work environment was well-structured. There was a CEO, managers, administrators, and various departments of workers. The CEO told the administrators what to do, the administrators told the managers what to do, and the managers told the workers what to do.

Squirrel Co had great benefits too, which included medical, dental and accidental road kill. Not all squirrel companies could afford accidental road kill as they considered it too risky of a health hazard. The company also allowed their associates to buy stock in nuts. The only risk here would be a rise and fall in market value on a daily basis and it was also a seasonal risk.

Everyone at Squirrel Co was very happy… or so it seemed.

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TNS Brings Exciting Ideas to LeadingAge Annual Conference and Expo

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TNS has done a great deal of research and thought leadership when it comes to the essence of employee engagement and what it’s all about. We research employee engagement by industry which in our clients’ minds, shows how engaged we are with them!

We strongly feel that engagement entails a sense of belonging, loyalty, or an emotional attachment to the organization or a particular job. TNS believes the essence of employee engagement is energy; more specifically, PRODUCTIVE ENERGY. Engaged employees go above and beyond the call of duty. “The call of duty” is defined as their job description and goals the organization has outlined for their position. Provided employees’ basic duties are satisfactory and they can afford the time to involve themselves with other company business, then these employees are truly engaged.

Personally, I maintain that engaged employees THINK differently about their work. First, they consider their job as a CAREER. Second, they think as though they have ownership with the company. And if they are allowed to have stock in the company, then they literally have ownership. Continue Reading →

Acquiring Broad Shoulders to Tough Criticism

TakingCriticismSo, you have a great idea and you draft up the best conceptual design you’ve done in years and really believe you’re on the cutting edge of something so unique that you already can hear the thunder of applause from your supervisors and coworkers.

Instead of the great Wow factor you were expecting, your idea was kicked to the curb like an old dish towel. Now you’re devastated and you could be thinking one of the following:

  1. Dang it. Are these people ignorant or what? Nobody ever likes my ideas. I’m going to quit this job and go where my ideas will be appreciated.
  2. I put so much thought and research into this idea that I never dreamed it would be so easily rejected. What is it they don’t like, or won’t work? It’s too frustrating to work here!
  3. Well, I guess it’s back to the drawing board! First, I want to get more input from my critics as to what exactly they didn’t like about my first idea, and how I can improve so that we’re all happy with the results.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who really feel like #1, above, especially if their ideas have been kicked to the curb once too often. It can be very discouraging and frustrating because they think, “Wow.  Am I still in the game here or what?”

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Got Chops? Open up at Meetings!

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After reading a great blog from Roz Usher, a leadership, image and branding specialist, entitled, “Silence is NOT Golden or When and How to Speak Up During A Meeting,” I naturally want to embellish even more into the heart of employee engagement.

Roz touches on employee engagement by noting how the silent people at meetings may appear to be disengaged by not participating. However, in my experience it is more the case of very much engaged employees afraid to speak out or interrupt a filibuster conducted by a chatty manager or a bloviated bulldozer.

We know that communication is 80% listening. The listener decides if communication is to take place. However at meetings, participation is mandatory in order to accomplish the meeting objectives. You were invited to the meeting for a reason. If you were in doubt that you should attend, ask the meeting coordinator what your purpose is at the meeting so you can prepare for it as Roz suggests in her blog.

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Employee Survey Scores and How They Differ Among the Genders

female-malesHere’s an interesting stat for you. If you are reviewing the results of your employee surveys and notice scores that vary between female and males, maybe you should dig deeper into the possibility there may be issues affecting either one.

I just received this from our Norms and Advanced Statistics Director:

Here are the items with at least a 5-point gap between males and females. I used only US-based employees for this data.

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