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
When most people hear the word engagement, they picture a young couple who just made a commitment. They love and trust each other and promise to help make each other the best version of themselves. Employee engagement is the same – well close, anyways.
Employee engagement is mutual commitment between the company and the employee. It’s the “we’re all in the same boat” attitude. Unfortunately, the reality is that if we are all in the same boat, we aren’t going very far very fast. Bob Kelleher of the Employee Engagement Group reports that for every 10 employees, only three of them are paddling. Five are simply passengers in the boat and two are actively trying to sink it!
This is a serious issue for leaders. 35% of U.S. workers said that they would willingly forgo a pay raise to see their direct supervisor fired. Can you imagine? In essence, they would pay to have their boss fired. On the opposite end of the spectrum, highly engaged employees are 480% more committed to helping their companies succeed.
So, how can leaders put paddles in the hands of their passengers? In a word; TRUST. Employees say that they feel more engaged when they have leaders who:
Care about their employees
Are people of integrity
Are competent and qualified for their job
Are you ready to create a work environment where employees feel engaged? Be sure to watch this short video created by Employee Engagement for helpful tips about how to make everyone on board productive, whether you’re the boss or an employee who “wants to paddle more vigorously.”
Tom is a new supervisor who wants to do the right thing for his direct reports. When he began his leadership journey, he thought his job was to have or find the right answers. He’s beginning to understand that his real job is enabling others to learn and grow, and being the answer guy doesn’t achieve that goal.
How can Tom (or anyone) replace the habit of providing solutions with something more apt to develop his people?
Start with authenticity and respect. Be direct, honest and respectful with others. Make it clear that that the goal is the greater good for the organization, its employees and its customers.
Listen carefully. Not only will you gain an accurate and insightful understanding of what is going on, you’ll show respect for your direct reports at the same time.
Summarize what you hear. If you listened well, you’ll be able to summarize what you’ve heard in your own words, ensuring alignment and mutual understanding.
Ask powerful questions. Potent questions are open and don’t lead to any particular answer. These inquiries focus on results and impact, not simply procedure or process. Asking questions needs to be a daily commitment, with daily journaling of what works for you and others. Jot down questions that prompted expanded thinking, and refine your set of questions over time. Some might be “If you could change one thing, what would it be?” or “What seeds do we need to plant today for success in the future?” or “What do we still need to learn about this situation?” For more ideas, read this great article on the art of powerful questions.
Substituting a new habit for an enduring one is not easy. The payoff will be your people expanding their own capabilities and achieving results they didn’t realize were possible. Plus, one day you’ll overhear one of your direct reports emulating your behavior by asking a coworker an amazing question. That’s when you’ll know your leadership has made a lasting impact.
Have an amazing question that prompts new thinking and action? Share it below or message us.
We’d like to welcome guest blogger Jim Coyle, CEO of Nexus Business Solutions. Nexus Business Solutions helps small to mid-sized businesses implement practical solutions, utilizing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). This was originally posted on the EOS Worldwide blog.
No one cares what you do. I know this seems a bit harsh but it is a reality all the same. There are many other companies that can fulfill the need your company currently fills or what you do. But there are probably none that can fill that need in the way or HOW you do it. It is not the “What” that your customers care about, it is the “How you do what you do” that makes you special. So, why is it that so few companies truly have their HOW documented?
There are a few of you right now that are saying, “Well, that isn’t a problem at our company. We have very detailed standard operating processes.” Then there are a few others that are thinking, “So what, my team generally understands our approach.” We find most of the businesses we work with are in one of these two camps, overly detailed processes or really nothing documented. Or worse, they have both.
We find that the right approach is in the middle. Documenting the 20% that gets you 80% of the results. That 20% would be high level steps for your 6 to 10 core processes. Not the 100 steps for each of your 20 “core” processes. This high level approach is what ends up dialing in your “special sauce.” This is how you do what you do. Taking this simplified approach is how you get the most return on your buck. If you are too detailed when documenting your processes, they will be too difficult or onerous to follow.
Once you get your core processes down, then you need to start the hard part and get them followed-by-all. I will get into the details of followed-by-all next month but understand that it is impossible to take this step if you haven’t taken the time and documented your special sauce. So, get your 6 to 10 core processes down and start truly taking advantage of your HOW.
Does your organization fall into one of those two camps? Not sure where to start? Contact us for information about how we can help.
Today’s guest blogger is Spencer Westley, former Humanergy intern and current thriving young professional.
As I go to work each day, I’m continually reminded that I am no longer in college. In college, I could wake up on the wrong side of the bed, throw on a groutfit (a groutfit refers to an all-grey outfit consisting of sweatshirt material—not cute), not bother with my hair and walk to class with a rain cloud over my head. In college, it was good to look like that; the more disheveled you looked and acted, the more people could relate to your stress and feel sorry for you. For example, “Have you seen Jennifer over there? She hasn’t blinked once and is wearing what looks to be her boyfriend’s dress shirt inside out. Poor thing – she must be so busy.”
I’ve learned quickly that in Corporate America EVERYBODY is busy, EVERYBODY is tired, EVERYBODY has things in their personal life bothering them and EVERYBODY wishes they were in their jammies watching Game of Thrones. The question is, do you take that mentality into work with you, or do you leave it at the door? SPOILER: You should leave it at the door. Let me give you an example.
August 1, 2017. 7:43 AM. I was on my morning commute to work in my brand new car. I had owned the car for less than a month, and the first-adult-purchase, new-wheels high was going strong. Out of nowhere, the same exact meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs crashed into my windshield. It left the gnarliest crack you’ve ever seen right in my line of vision. I. Was. LIVID. Have you ever gone through the seven stages of grief in 45 seconds? Regardless of my angst, I had to gather myself in the next seven minutes before I stepped out of my car. I was going to work, and not only does nobody have time to join my pity party, but I also didn’t want to be known as the new guy who cries on the escalators.
Can you always keep it in? No, we’re not statues. My point is to consider saving your emotional reactions for your friends and family. That may mean, as bad as it sounds, putting a mask on at the office. Can you talk to your friends at work? Of course, but just know when, where and how much. At the end of the day, you know your environment better than anyone else, and you get to determine your level of transparency. Just remember it may impact how you’re perceived in the workplace.
(Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own. I do, in no way, shape, or form, speak for the Kellogg Company regarding their values, stances, etc.)
Need help calibrating your emotions at work? Or have a fool-proof tip for keeping it together? Comment below or leave us a message.
Today’s blogger is Tiffany Funk, Humanergy’s Marketing Manager.
Time. Where does it go? Do you ever walk into the office thinking about how much you need to get done and the long day that lies ahead? Then, before you can even cross off half of the items on your to-do list, the entire day has slipped away and you have no idea where it went.
If that sounds familiar, you’re in good company. Most people say that time management is an ongoing challenge they face every day at work. It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the biggest distractors, technology, can also help us stay on track.
This article has a comprehensive list of apps used as tools with the goal of helping you create new habits to better manage your time. One Big Thing is an app that can help you stay focused on a single task instead of jumping around, and Escape produces a daily report that will help you pinpoint interruptions that are repeat offenders, like social networking or opening email in the middle of a project.
Do you have a go-to app that you use for time management? Or are you looking for guidance on how to become more efficient at work? Comment below or send us a message.
Thinking about your resolutions for 2018? What new habits do you want to develop? Alternatively, what do you wish you could stop doing?
How do you create a game plan and keep those resolutions? My usual strategy: Write down a list of resolutions and hope that willpower will do the trick. I’m often able to make a good effort until late January, when the wheels fall off the bus.
What’s a better way to make a new behavior stick? Try a disciplined strategy to convert a new practice into second nature.
FACET is Humanergy’s 5-step tool that enables the discipline-challenged.
Focus: Choose one thing you want to change; keep it simple.
Accountability: Make your change a team effort; tell people of your plans develop a plan and get regular feedback.
Compelling motivation: Understand and create the pain of the status quo and/or the benefits of improving.
Easier to do: Proactively eliminate barriers and set up for action.
Tracking: Monitor your actions and progress.
Consider Jack’s example. Jack asked his employees for feedback on his performance. They consistently responded, “You interrupt us when we talk with you.” Here’s how Jack used FACET to break this habit.
Focus: Jack added a reminder to his phone whenever he had a meeting – “Listen first, don’t interrupt.”
Accountability: He told everyone about his behavior goal and asked all his employees to give him feedback on interrupting.
Consequences: Jack took $40 in dimes from his savings account. Each time he interrupted an employee, he paid that person a dime. When he went a week without giving away a single dime, he rewarded himself with a round of golf.
Easier to do: Dimes were convenient to carry and count, and his co-workers were consistently around to hold him accountable.
Tracking: Jack counted his remaining dimes daily to track progress.
Seth and Sami consistently butt heads over how to move their work forward. Sami knows they need to talk, and that the conversation will be emotional and contentious. This discussion needs to happen, so that she and Seth get past their issues to make progress on their project. What’s the best way forward? How do you prepare for a tough discussion?
Prepare, don’t stew. Over-rehearsing, rehashing grievances in your mind or airing your frustrations with other people will not prepare you for civil discourse. Instead, focus on how you’ll stay open-minded. Make a plan for managing your emotions, listening and choosing positive behaviors (even if the other person does not).
Plan the location. Make sure the spot is safe, neutral and private.
Own your own stuff. Every situation involving humans is complicated. Only in the movies is one party clearly wrong and another completely right. Figure out your biases and ways you’ve contributed to the conflict. Admit those openly and early in the discussion.
Stay focused on the future. You have mutual goals to accomplish, and those should be the driving force behind resolving the issues at hand. The past is only a useful topic if it is impacting your ability to work together.
Susan believed that allowing her team to work flexible hours was good for the company and helped people balance work and life. When corporate decreed that employees had to work a more set schedule, Susan struggled with supporting her people and falling in line with the organization’s dictates.
Delivering bad news to your employees is never fun. How do you do that when you are ambivalent about the issue yourself?
Amy Gallo in HBR’s How to Deliver Bad News to your Employees recommends gaining a complete understanding of the decision before communicating it to others. Ask the right questions to gain knowledge about the context and reasons for the company’s position. There may be an opportunity to weigh in or even appeal a decision that you believe to be unwise.
If the die is cast, and you can do nothing about the outcome but accept it, do that, and don’t hesitate to employ Gallo’s next step – communicate directly and honestly with your people. Allow them to vent, if they need to do so, recognizing that it is a waste of time to debate a decision that has already been made. Don’t share your own misgivings with your team. After all, their job now is to implement the decision, not second-guess it.
One of the most difficult things to do is to communicate a decision with which you don’t agree. Be sure to come to terms with your own issues, so when you communicate the news to your staff, the non-verbal messages are managed.
Have a foolproof way to communicate the bad news? Comment below or message us.
Mrs. Knote, who stood about 4 feet 10 inches (6 feet if you included her beehive hairdo), was my fourth grade teacher. Her short stature did not equate with the force of nature that was Mrs. Knote. When asked recently to list the characteristics of someone I admire, Mrs. Knote was first on my list. Many years later, her influence on my life continues.
What did she do to make such a lasting impression, and how have I tried to emulate her?
Be present. My other teachers were physically in the classroom. Mrs. Knote was both tangibly and emotionally present. When she looked at you, she SAW you. As a person. There is something powerful and affirming about being truly seen by another human being.
Weigh in. Although she let us work out our issues, Mrs. Knote knew when to intervene or offer an observation. She enforced the classroom rules of kindness and helpfulness with direct feedback.
Be willing to work as hard as anyone. Though she never complained, all of Mrs. Knote’s students knew that she worked tirelessly for our benefit, made sure everyone had lunch money (probably from her own pocket) and spent most after-school hours working one-on-one with a kid who needed extra help. She expected us to push ourselves, and she served us as though teaching were her calling, not her job.
Servant leadership doesn’t get the press it did when Robert Greenleaf wrote about it in 1970. Yet there is great power in the leader who does not seek power for herself, but works steadfastly to build others’ capabilities and success.
Mrs. Knote taught me that true leadership isn’t about me. “The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.” -J. Carla Nortcutt
Want to be more like Mrs. Knote? Have an exemplary leader story? Comment below or message us.