eMusings Newsletter

MARCH 2012

         VOLUME FOUR, ISSUE 3         


3 Human Elements





    "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." Alvin Toffler


I stopped in to see a friend of mine who works in management at a well-known national grocery store company. On our way back to her office, we passed a room with a sign on it: Training. I peeked in and saw a few tables pushed against the walls, a couple of video playback units and a large, dated desktop computer that was chained down. The rest of the room was taken up by smaller tables and chairs, a fridge, microwave, soda machine, snack machine and a bottled water stand. I looked at my friend, who seemed embarrassed. "It doubles as a break room," she offered as explanation. From the looks of things, there was much more noshing going on there than learning.

This is certainly not the first exposure I've had to the sorry state of continued learning in many companies. I'm reminded of the office of the HR manager of a major building supplies company that houses the DVDs that employees can check out and watch on their own time in order to improve their performance - and they have 7 whole DVDs to choose from.  

Or the Writers Guild of America which started a show runner's training program a few years ago. It's a good program as far as it goes - but it focuses exclusively on the "nuts and bolts" of running a show and ignores the human aspect. And having been a writer for almost 20 years, I can tell you from experience that most show runners know little to nothing about managing or leading human beings.  

And just last week I was talking to a colleague who works for a state government. When I asked her what kind of professional development was available to her and her co-workers, she said that in a division of 80 employees, 3 are chosen each year to undergo some kind of succession training. What?!? She knows the activities that are being offered have nothing to do with establishing a valid, effective succession plan. She realizes that choosing only 3 employees yearly out of a staff of 80 is absurd and she's well aware of the message this sends to all workers, which is "You are not valued." She's trying to change things and having no success thus far. To her credit, she isn't giving up. But stories like these and many others make me furious!

According to an October 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal, companies simply aren't developing workers. The average training that a new hire gets in the first year can be measured in hours and often involves instruction on how to use new equipment.

Today, if you want to remain viable and have an opportunity to move up the ladder of success, you need to monitor your occupation and identify what skills are going to be needed in the future and then seek training opportunities to develop those skills. If you're lucky, you work for a company that still values professional development. If not, you'll need to pony up for the development on your own...or you could find yourself laid off, replaced by someone who's taken personal responsibility for being a continuous learner.

Our peek into a book shelf this month takes us to  the shelves of Emmy winning television writer Russ Woody, who offers us a look at his eclectic reading habits. 


 Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner, BoldWork  
In This Issue
Six Tips to Build Resilient Teams
A Peek into Emmy Winning Writer Russ Woody's Bookshelves
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Join us on TalkShoe
Join us for our next  session of "Continuing Conversations"  on TalkShoe on Tuesday, March 27th at noon CST. We'll talk about "The Power of Resiliency at Work" with managing partner Kris Campbell and senior partner Jennie Ayers. Why is resiliency so important to success? How can we build our resilience reserves?  How does resilience make WorkClimate more energized? Click here for more information.
"Building Team Resiliency" by Jennie Ayers                                       

(677 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)



Last month's emusings focused on resilience, our ability to respond successfully to adversity. Luckily, resilience is a process that we can learn and develop. And, more than any other factor, it's our way of thinking that most determines how resilient we are. We gave you 6 tips to help reframe your individual thinking style and help you become more resilient. As we promised, March's emusings looks at what it takes for a team or work group to reframe its thinking in order to become more resilient.  


Building Team Resiliencywall climbing

I recently read a blog that said in times of crises, leaders must create organizational resiliency. Frankly, if a leader waits until an organization is in crisis to build resiliency, it's too late. The same goes for teams. Teams can't postpone building resiliency until they reach a point where they're under performing. Teams can create the kind of healthy WorkClimate that builds in a reserve of resilience which can be drawn upon in times of adversity. This "resilience reserve" is like having an extra can of gas to put in your car when it's running on empty.


Six Tips for Teams to Build Resilience

  1. Clarify your purpose: Teams and work groups work best when they have clearly defined goals that every member of the team embraces. Purpose puts current challenges in perspective. Clarity about one's role in realizing these goals makes it easier to take appropriate action. Don't wait until a team's in crisis to clarify purpose. Take the time to revisit a shared sense and understanding of purpose.
  2. Articulate learning opportunities: Past and present challenges offer up opportunities for learning. In the heat of high stress, people may be too stressed or distracted to identify the benefits. Team leaders and other team members can take the lead and identify their key learning moments. People learn new coping skills when they experience difficulties (as long as the problems are not totally overwhelming). Applying learned skills to the current situation can boost confidence, generate creative solutions and result in higher-quality solutions. Leaders can remind team members to tap into their learning reserves.
  3. Call it what it is: Adversity doesn't go away simply because you ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist. Team members sense when things aren't going well, which only drives feelings of anxiety higher. Team leaders need to speak up, surface those feelings and acknowledge challenges. Giving teams false confidence or "hiding the truth" only undermines performance and undercuts trust.
  4. Guard against premature action: Even though we know the best solutions can often come from people who think completely differently than we do, challenging times can propel us to premature action. It takes time and effort to explore differing perspectives and it's best if every member of the team contributes. Teams need to guard against taking action for action's sake, simply because it may feel better to do something rather than do nothing.
  5. Shift focus: Ambiguity and adversity generates anxiety in people and can pull them offman looking into magnifying glass track, resulting in counterproductive behaviors. When teams get bogged down, they need to take a break. This can mean shifting topics or...literally...taking a break, even walking outside to get a breath of fresh air. It often helps to redirect our energies for awhile and then come back to our original task.
  6. Double down on communication: Even when teams are running at high efficiency, communication glitches occur. In adverse times, people under stress may not listen effectively or might mistrust the information they do hear. Team members need to communicate clearly - and often - with one another. Even if you think you've clearly communicated to your team the current state of affairs and next steps to be taken, go over it all again.

Resilience is about dealing effectively with - and making the most of - what we experience in life and at work every day. There will never be a time when we don't need to be resilient - and by building our ability to bounce back from whatever adversity we face, we help ensure our long-term success. 


"What Books Say About You" by  Russ Woody & Jennie Ayers  


Bookshelves are more than a just place to park books. They provide a place to collect ideas. Even if you have books on your shelf you haven't read yet, the fact that you've brought them home gives testimony to your curiosity and your intent to be a continuous learner. Bookshelves are also a little like fingerprints - while some of us may have shelves that are similar, no two collections of books are exactly alike.  


In this month's emusings, Emmy winning writer Russ Woody shares a look into his bookshelves. (I note that The Wheel of Nuldoid is conspicuously absent - maybe Russ is too humble to put his own book there. But I have it - and it's wonderful.) 


russ woody bookshelf 

"My most favorite books in the world are shelved herein. Catch 22. The Princess Bride, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. The Tender Bar, a wonderful book. The Russian literature I've read, I love because it delves into the darker recesses of the human experience. The Castle - Kafka...a being trying to deal with a complex and enigmatic labyrinth. Life. Camus...the futility of living. Sylvia Plath - plenty of depressing thoughts. Other sections of my "read" books (each has a red felt tip mark across the top) include comedy, Woody Allen's books, Steve Allen, Steve Martin. Dad is in this section. A beautiful book about a man and his dad. Team of Rivals about Lincoln's cabinet...an incredible book about Lincoln that makes you think about the endurance of goodness, of kind thought. A light romp through the Bible by Ken Davis...always good to know what the Bible has to say about things that its writers had no way of knowing anything about. McCulloch's book about John Adams. There's no way to say what my selection of books says about me, I think, except that I want to know how people who think like me think, and people who don't think like me think."


What do your bookshelves say about you?


Send us a picture, along with a description of what your books say about you, and we'll feature them in emusings.  





boldworklogoAt BoldWork, we specialize in helping businesses and organizations optimize the performance of the people who work for them.

Typically, our clients come to us when they are seeking to change, to solve problems or to challenge a status quo that no longer works. Most importantly, they call us when they want to create a WorkClimate that increases motivation and strengthens employee engagement.

Please take a moment and visit our website at www.doboldwork.com to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at info@doboldwork.com