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One of the best and most satisfying aspects of our work at Humanergy is when a person reflects on what they’ve learned in their leadership journey. A recent coaching client remarked, “You know, I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. What I’ve learned is, until this year, my goals were about me. Yes, I put an organizational spin on it, but everyone knew that what mattered was what I was going to achieve. Now my goals are fully about the organization and its people. What will be the lasting impact for the greater good?”

Are your goals about you, about the broader organization or something outside of your personal success? That’s one of the keys to being a transformational leader.

Need help with setting the right goals? Or have a foolproof idea for goal setting? Comment below or message us privately.

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash.

The post Goals are great, and… appeared first on Humanergy.

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You may have heard the phrase, “eat the frog first.” We blogged about it years ago. Essentially, the advice is to tackle the big, difficult, unappetizing or complicated project first, before you fritter time away on the easier, quicker tasks. That’s because we often allow this minutiae to take up an entire day. And still the frog sits there.

But sometimes a frog isn’t really a frog. Take one of Humanergy’s giant, complicated, pain-in-the-butt projects – putting together experiential kits for all of our folks that do training. We had one set of everything, and we spent too much time trying to figure out, “Who has the tent poles?” Our solution was to get everyone a set containing all elements, so that they were always prepared for whatever activity they were heading.

In hindsight, it seems pretty easy. But it took a new employee (thanks, Udhav!) with fresh perspective to rethink some of the kit’s contents, making the whole set super portable and multi-functioning.

Here’s the entire kit for one person, super compact and easy to carry:

Sometimes a project that seems big, hairy and nasty is actually small and sort of adorable. You’ll never know unless you apply some clear thinking. If you can’t do that, find someone fresh who can approach it from a new direction.

Have you ever wrestled a frog, only to discover it was a bite-sized treat? Tell us about it or comment below so the whole world (or our corner of it) knows!

Kit photo by Christi Barrett.

Frog photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash.

The post Sometimes a frog is not a frog appeared first on Humanergy.

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Few things are more frustrating than speaking with someone who isn’t listening. Distracted by their phone a noisy room or busy mind, bad listeners seem to be multiplying in modern society.

What’s a communicator to do?

Rebecca Knight on HBR has some great ideas like tell the person upfront that what you’re about to say is important. And create accountability about what the conversation needs to accomplish (like a decision on X).

Knight recommends following up important communication with, “Does this make sense?” However, a distracted listener could say, “What? Oh! Yes. Sure!” which doesn’t give you any clue about what they’ve actually heard.

Instead, we’d suggest asking the listener to summarize what was said in their own words. Frame it up as a great way to know if the idea was communicated well, not meant to see if they were listening. With the objective of mutual understanding, you’ll know if it was effectively communicated…and if not, you’ll have the opportunity for a do-over.

Have a whiz bang strategy for transforming bad listening? Comment away! Or send us a message.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes on Unsplash.

The post Effective communication with a bad listener appeared first on Humanergy.

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This week’s guest blogger is Spencer Westley, Humanergy’s former intern and current thriving young professional.

Let’s face it; sometimes you don’t get along with your coworkers. That’s fine, but you need to make sure that despite whatever you have against them, you’re acting in a cooperative, professional manner. I know, I know – that may be hard some days. How can you maintain a professional relationship with someone you don’t really like? Here are a few ways to do just that:

Offer a helping hand. You might know someone who dislikes a coworker and chooses to completely avoid them, even if they’re working on the same project. 1 – That’s not aiding in the betterment of your team and your company because you both have a specific skillset that, when you collaborate successfully, will result in the desired outcome. And 2 – Offering your help is only going to get YOU more recognition for the successful outcome.

Go beyond the surface. I don’t mean that you have to get super deep with them, but find out which sports they watch, their favorite food, the names of their kids, etc. It may be difficult at first, but in the long run, it will make your interactions much more genuine. That way, when you do engage in a work-related conversation, you’ve already built a more natural rapport that could help ease the tension.

Don’t exclude them. Oftentimes, it may be easy to sneak past their desk when you’re going to lunch with the rest of the team, forget to invite them to an after-hours gathering or skip their cubicle when you’re passing out a batch of home baked goodies. Maybe you have bottled-up, negative feelings about them but that doesn’t necessarily mean the feeling is mutual. Don’t give them a petty reason to hold a grudge against you.

Offer recognition. Offering recognition is simply stating a fact. If your coworker finishes a project and did well on it, take a few seconds to share that at the next team meeting. Or if you see them in the hallway, a simple “Hey, good job!” is not going to kill you. We all appreciate a pat on the back every now and then and showing that you’re willing to give credit where credit is due attests to your ability to be a team player.

Think of your coworkers like your little brother. You don’t have to like him, but you have to get along or else mom and dad will get upset. In this case, your “little brother” is your coworker, and “mom and dad” is an HR representative, so the stakes are a little higher, but you know what I mean!

How do you manage your relationships at work? Tell us about it below or send us a message.

(Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own. In no way, shape, or form, do I speak for the Kellogg Company regarding their values, stances, etc.)

Photo from Adobe Stock

The post Difficult relationships in the workplace appeared first on Humanergy.

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Today’s blogger is David Wheatley, principal and co-founder of Humanergy.

I work with many leaders who get stressed about the idea of a succession plan. Too often they invest large amounts of time to come up with an extensive plan that never gets implemented.

So I have a quick and dirty – and effective – succession planning process I call the two-names exercise.

Ask each of your direct reports for two names:

  1. If they were incapacitated (hit by a bus, attacked by ninjas, etc) in the short to medium term (up to six months), who could they hand the keys for their department to?  In other words, who could keep things afloat while they were gone? They don’t have to be capable of taking over full time, just able to keep things moving forward.
  2. If they win the lottery and head out for an around-the-world adventure, who could take over their role on a permanent basis? For this second question there are three options:
    1. A name of someone who is ready. If so, the leader needs to figure out what is being done to keep this person engaged, to broaden their scope and keep them interested.
    2. A name of someone who is nearly ready. The leader’s job in this situation is to define the development needs and create a plan to fill any gaps.
    3. No name. If there is no potential successor, create a plan to recruit someone.

In many cases two of your direct reports may give you the same name. These are your high potentials and key people. If you don’t have many names, it’s time to get serious about developing those with some potential and possibly recruiting from outside.

Once your direct reports complete this exercise, ask them to do the same thing with their direct reports. This cascades a process throughout the organization to develop a picture of the organizational bench strength.

Have a quick way to do succession planning? Or a cautionary tale? Comment below or message us.

Photo from Pexels

The post Quick succession planning appeared first on Humanergy.

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Dorothy Parker said, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” In the United States, we tend to value beauty. We create pleasing buildings and beautiful workspaces. But it is often the ugly that builds successful teams and companies.

Growth cannot occur without ugly. To be ugly is to be honest, brave and authentic. It is to speak the actual, sometimes ugly truth. What are the obstacles you are facing that are prohibiting better performance? Write them down. Pin them up. Make them visible so they can be addressed.

A Silicon Valley speaker, Tim Leberecht, said that the ugliest part of our body is our brain. It tends to cause us to question things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Things can get uncomfortable when employees are given answers but not permitted to ask questions. Successful teams and organizations continue to ask questions. They embrace the ugly truth and, because leaders cannot be everywhere at once, they seek and appreciate when it is brought to their attention.

One company sat down with their employees and wrote down all the barriers they could think of that were prohibiting success. They put them on boards and put all the boards in a room they called The Ugly Room. Another did something similar but called them elephant boards, referencing the elephant in the room that we all see but of which we don’t speak. Same concept – we must shine a light on the ugly truth making sure everyone can see it and giving everyone permission to talk about it.

As leaders, the goal is to minimize the occurrence of problems which means we must be courageous enough to tackle them head-on before circumstances force our hand. After all, how can solutions be generated for issues we don’t even talk about?

Remember, organizations that value the ugly are beautiful places to work.

Do you work for an organization that values the ugly truth in search of true beauty? We would love to hear about it. Comment below or share with us privately. If you are ready to embrace the ugly, contact us to help you get started.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

The post Dare to be ugly appeared first on Humanergy.

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Today’s guest blogger is Spencer Westley, former Humanergy intern and current thriving young professional.

A one-on-one – or a 1:1 if you’re trying to stay hip with the kids – is exactly what it sounds like. Meeting with a mentor, working on a project with another individual, or just having a quick five-minute debrief with a colleague – all 1:1s; got it?

I don’t know about you, but in my world, 1:1s are a part of everyday life, and lately, I’ve been noticing how they’re a great opportunity  to make yourself stand out! No, I’m not talking about using your half-hour of dedicated 1:1 time to bring the fancy project you just completed so you can impress your boss (even though that’s very appropriate in certain circumstances). I’m talking about the give and take relationship that you can foster during those interactions. Think beyond the obvious and realize just how much depth there is to a 1:1.

The give: In this time, you have the opportunity to give your boss, manager, coworker, mentor, etc. the affirmation that you’re not only a good member of the team, but you take your job seriously and wear your employee badge with pride. Did you just nail your project? Sweet! Go beyond the simple exchange of the assignment and talk about how grateful you are for the learning opportunity, showing how serious you take your professional development. Maybe talk about the challenges of the project and how you overcame them, proving your dedication to your work, team and the company. Perhaps bring up how much you enjoyed the project and how you can’t wait for the opportunity to do something similar in the future, demonstrating your enthusiasm for your work. Remember that you give so much more than the tangible in the workplace, and much can be translated from the attitude you have, the conversations you partake in, etc.

The take: Take advice. Take knowledge. Take the time to get to know the person in your 1:1 and form a relationship. This is opportunity to grow and learn from your peers and leaders. Remember that everybody has insights and advice to give. If you like what they have to say, implement it. If you’re not a fan of what they say, ask yourself why and grow from that experience too. People seem to forget than an opposing view can be just as beneficial as an affirming view from someone who agrees with you.

If you’re not finding yourself in as many 1:1 situations as you’d like, initiate them! Whether it’s your coworker or your VP, find out who wants and is willing to talk with you, and go from there. It will take a bit of courage to get the ball rolling, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Do you make the most out of your one-on-one meetings? How do you prepare for them? We’d love to hear about it below or send us a message.

(Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own. In no way, shape, or form, do I speak for the Kellogg Company regarding their values, stances, etc.)

Photo from Dollar Photo Club

The post Making the most of your one-on-one appeared first on Humanergy.

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You are a dedicated supervisor, and you take the time to engage in conversation with your people on a regular basis. Great job! Yet you may not be having the right kind of discussions – the ones that build employee engagement.

Kristi Hedges, who wrote Four Conversations That Boost Employee Engagement for Forbes.com, says you should focus on the right repartee that builds connections, encourages positive behaviors and boosts enthusiasm. These four types are:

Open conversation. Expansive, perspective-widening talks that aren’t directed by you will unleash creativity, generate bold ideas and show that you’re keenly interested in what the other person is saying.

Potential conversation. Be specific about the strengths you see and how you believe the direct report can contribute in the future. People will rise to the occasion and even outmatch your expectations.

Energy conversation. Energy is a limited resource for everyone. Note the person’s energy level, acknowledging when it’s high and discussing ways to build energy when it’s flagging. This will help your direct report keep an even keel and do the right type of self-care required for ongoing commitment.

Purpose conversation. These interchanges focus on connecting their work to something that is meaningful to them. Hedges says that this type of dialogue helps the employee gain perspective on their work and honors them as human beings who want to do something that matters.

Transform your “how’s it going?” into engaging conversation by setting a goal to have one of these types of conversations with a different person each week.

Want to amp up your conversations? Or have a tried-and-true method for engaging with your people? Comment below or message us.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash.

The post The right conversations with your people appeared first on Humanergy.

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We’d like to welcome guest blogger Spencer Westley, Humanergy’s former intern and current young professional.

I am very picky about my jeans…some might say too picky, if we’re being honest. They can’t be too loose or too tight. They have to be tapered near the ankle, a solid color with a little fading, the back pocket can’t be too extravagant and they have to lend themselves to a nice cuff at the bottom.

However, I learned that not everybody else has the same opinion. Here’s how the story goes…My sister worked just two floors below me at the time, and as we get along very well, I’d pay her a couple visits a week when my workload wasn’t too busy. Keep in mind that her team only knew me as their coworker’s brother.

Yeah, we got along great and it was always a treat to bump into them in the cafeteria, but they knew nothing of my work ethic, my drive or my passion for our company. Well, it turns out that my jeans didn’t sit well with some of her coworkers. Some thought they were too tight, some didn’t like that I cuffed them, etc. I thought it was RIDICULOUS that people took time out of their day to talk about my jeans just because they didn’t look like theirs. (What do you expect? I’m a 21 year-old working in a corporate office of people in their mid-40s+. I don’t rock a boot cut. I’m sorry.)

I took this situation up with a mentor of mine, who, interestingly enough, was on my hiring panel. I wanted to know what to do because if people are going to talk about me, I want them to talk about how great of an employee I am or how I just killed it on a project. Did I need to be more conscious of what I wore? What else were people saying about me? My mind was flooded with questions. What she said has stuck the most out of any advice/mentorship/guidance I’ve received. She said, “Spencer, I didn’t hire you to conform.”

She didn’t hire me to conform. She didn’t hire me so I could throw away every pair of jeans I own and buy the typical “dad jeans” everyone else wears. What was made clear to me that day was that I was hired for several reasons, but also because as a 21 year-old in a relatively older company, I had something to teach the more senior people.

If you take anything from this story, I hope you take the fact that it’s okay to push the envelope a little. Of course, how much you push will vary depending on where you work. Heck, my jeans were a hot button issue for a bit, so maybe leave your clown costume at home. Know that you may be in your role for more than what is in the job description. Take your originality and positively influence the people around you, offering your own unique perspective and flair to impact the company.

Have a story to share about a time you didn’t conform? Comment below or send us a message!

(Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own. In no way, shape, or form, do I speak for the Kellogg Company regarding their values, stances, etc.)

Photo from Pexels

The post “I didn’t hire you to conform” appeared first on Humanergy.

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Where it all began…

The seeds of Humanergy’s beginnings were planted in 1987 and 1989, on two separate continents, as the organization’s founders began their respective careers.

In 1987, John Barrett was leading management teams through the Australian outback as part of Outward Bound. In 1989, David Wheatley was facilitating experiential teambuilding at Wray Castle, England. Each one with a passion for working with people and helping them personally develop.

Fast-forward to early 2000. John and David, who had worked together previously at Starr Commonwealth, decided to launch a new organization. With the support of the Battle Creek Chamber’s “incubator” program, just four days later, David and John moved into their first office in the Chamber’s basement. Humanergy, Inc. was born on March 1, 2000.

Some have asked, “Did you ever imagine that Humanergy would 1. Still be around; 2. Be the burgeoning organization it is today, with 10 staff members and leadership development partnerships with companies all over the world?

Yes and no. Humanergy was built to last, and we strive (imperfectly) to “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” We are so thrilled to make our corner of the world a better place, through touching people’s work (and often home) lives in positive ways. We don’t take it all for granted. We want to stay nimble and evolving, so we’ll take our “adult” status with a grain of salt. Humanergy intends to remain vibrant and grow so that we can continue making a difference.

Thank you to all of our friends and associates who’ve walked with us on this journey. Won’t it be fun to see what comes next?

Karen, David, Pat, Michelle, Lance, Tiffany, Corey, Udhav, John and Christi

The post It’s time to celebrate…Humanergy is 18! appeared first on Humanergy.

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