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Gratitude Has No Statute of Limitations

Gratitude Has No Statute of Limitations

Gratitude Can Lead to Better Work-Life Satisfaction

There is no statute of limitations on gratitude and as we look back on our careers, we realize that we did not do it alone. Recognizing gratitude takes deep reflection because we must think about who we are grateful for, who helped us to get to where we are today, and if we are fortunate, who were the people that provided that in the moment advice, mentoring, training or that coaching that turned out to be a turning point. As I wrapped up a presentation, In French, to executives in Paris, I thought back to the days when I could not make a presentation without being totally nervous, dry mouth and flustered. It was my third boss who recognized that was an issue with me and relentlessly pushed me to make every presentation I could for 12 months. I must say, I wasn’t too happy with him at the time but 15 years later, I called him to say “thank you.” It was a terrific moment for both of us. Gratitude has no statute of limitations.

Here at Shields Meneley Partners, we work with the C-Suite and that means when we coach our clients they are typically reflecting upon at least 30 years of work. Considering the amount of time, we are looking at, there are always peaks and valleys for work and life happiness. As we look at our careers, one of the things we can do is to create a graph and to use that as a tool to measure key inflection points that have occurred during our careers. This is something we do with our clients and even if you are not at the leadership level yet, you can still use this to monitor your career. If you are in mid-career, or towards the beginning of your career, you can draw what you think you would like that trajectory to be. It is never too late to take stock of your career and make important changes. The Y axis, being happiness and success, and the X axis, being time. This is a wonderful exercise because it inspires that deep insight and self-reflection.

An important and exciting effect of this exercise is the executives we coach are able to make deep reflection that is more than a trip down memory lane, rather, their eyes are opened to all of the influential relationships in their lives and gratefulness emerges.

I think the most important part of the graphing exercise is to continually ask “why” there were dramatic ups and/or downs within the mapping. What patterns and parallels emerge? Be honest with yourself and be honest with your coach, even when it is difficult.

When I looked back at my career a few years ago, I found that the peaks related to something I had not really thought of. I would not have been able to make this important self-discovery if not for the training I received while earning my coaching certification from the Hudson Institute of Coaching in Santa Barbara. One of my trainers, who was also a pet minister, pushed me to answer why every three years I had ups and downs on my career chart. (Yes, “pet minister.” Only in California would you see anything like that.) When I really reflected on this question, it had nothing to do with the job I was doing. It had nothing to do with the location or the money I was earning. It had everything to do with the people I was working with. As so often happens with my clients, I reflected further about the people that had an impact on my life and I am so thankful to her for helping me to work through this exercise and for recognizing how fortunate I was to have so many influential people positively impact my career.

If you are mid-career, one of the things I suggest is that you make yourself open to feedback and input for things that are going to help you for the rest of your career. This includes, and perhaps is most important, to be accepting of constructive criticism. This is especially important for high-potential employees. Ask yourself: “Who are the people that can help me?” Once you have identified those people, start to network with them and make sure that you are talking to other people along the way. An exciting and fun exercise is to look up the people on LinkedIn that have the careers and are living the lives you would like to be living in 10 years and learn about them. Maybe even contact them and have a conversation. In this world of social media, that is a permissible thing to do. Just send them an email and have a conversation and learn what you can, as you look at your career ahead of you.

The last point I would like to make is to encourage readers to look at themselves and ask, “What am I doing in my career that is enabling others in their careers?” Part of gratitude is returning the favor and paying it forward. After all, studies have shown that one of the ways to be most happy in your life is to help other people. Take that knowledge that has been bestowed upon you and share it with other people who will benefit. Look for opportunities to share your gratitude with others and you will feel even happier.

Gratitude has no statute of limitations. Pause and take a moment to reflect on someone who helped you along the way . . . and, in today’s world of social media, find him or her, or their family, and thank them. Guaranteed worth the effort!

Gratitude Has No Statute of Limitations

Company Identity

Looking to refresh your identity as a company? Here is why it is important and the five keys to making it real (and meaningful!)

What is a company’s identity exactly? It should not be mistaken for just a purpose statement. There is a lot of talk about the need for companies to have a “purpose” – which answers the question of why a company exists. But having purpose without connecting it to the company’s culture and business strategy can be meaningless, and there is danger in thinking about any of these pieces in a vacuum. Similar to individual identity, the identity of a company is what defines it and represents beliefs about the kind of entity the business is. A meaningful identity is formed when a company is able to connect the dots between its purpose in the world to a culture that supports that purpose, and alignsto business strategy and performace.

For this edition of our newsletter, we talked with Anika Latif, a principal at global change consultancy Daggerwing Group, to illuminate the key steps needed to effectively refresh a company’s identity. I had the pleasure of witnessing Anika and the Daggerwing team in action as they helped develop the “Identity Blueprint” at one of my coaching client’s company.
A company’s identity is at the intersection of a couple of important areas. The first is the workforce. From factory line workers through to the C-Suite. As employees move from place-to-place, they really want to find purpose in their places of work that extend beyond earning a paycheck.

The other part is that employees, as a cohort, are placing more trust in their chief executive officers and company leaders. In fact, this trust in company leadership is even stronger than trust they have for media and elected officials. This places company managers on an important pedestal, however, this trust can be eroded or diminished if workers do not feel like the company’s identity is meaningful and connected to how the business operates.

“Company identity is important because it’s lasting,” says Latif. “It lives long after a good or bad quarter, beyond profits and losses, beyond any changes that a company might make to their products or core services.”

Latif points out that companies with well-established senses of identity – that rightfully connect their purpose, strategy and culture – by-and-large perform better than businesses without this self awareness.

This has never been more evident than during the pandemic and social justice movement. Last year, we saw personal care and alcohol companies retooling their manufacturing plants to produce hand sanitizer, and car companies, like Ford, use their plants to produce masks and respirators. Recently, we’ve seen big tech companies, like Salesforce and Microsoft, leverage their capabilities to support vaccine distribution and management. The common thread among companies weathering the storm effectively is an authentic commitment to living their larger purpose and identity.

To be sure, there are a multitude of positives that can come about as a result of articulating a well thought and purposeful company identity; however, there are very real pitfalls to consider.
“There are many examples of brands that tried to reposition their purpose to be ‘good for the world’, but they were clearly jumping on the coattails of a social movement to cash in on the cause,” says Latif “These companies failed to focus on how the new ‘purpose’ tied to the holistic direction of the business and the culture.”

So, how can you make sure your company truly lives up to its identity? Here are five lessons learned:

1. Clarify how purpose connects identity and strategy: Many companies are rushing to define their purpose. Butit’s important to explain why you are making the change, why it matters, and how you’re setting up your culture to support that purpose and your business to align with it.
2. Invest in your purpose and identity: We recently worked with a company that refreshed their purpose and values to include diversity, but they didn’t stop at just asking people to embrace diversity. They led efforts to develop a DE&I strategy, activated a taskforce and set goals for their DE&I agenda.
3. Equip leaders to role model the new identity: If leaders and managers aren’t engaged, aligned and accountable, no change can ever happen. A programmatic approach is needed to ensure this group is modeling and communicating how to live the identity for the teams that they manage.
4. Engage and empower employees: Enable your people to fully engage and adopt the identity consistently. Make sure they understand what it means for their individual role and what they need to do differently.
5. Sustain the “new normal”: Integrate identity into people and business processes in a real way, so it is not superficial, can be scaled and continuously improved.

Latif says what really matters is answering how companies are truly living their stated purpose and identity, and what actions follow the words. Take Lego for example. The world’s largest toy company’s purpose is to inspire and develop children’s creativity. They supported this through their core company values, which were backed by defined behaviors that employees live by. They also aligned their strategy accordingly. LEGO does not just make toys, they welcome children to their workplace to help them innovate.

3 Steps to Build a More Inclusive Team While Working Remotely

3 Steps to Build a More Inclusive Team While Working Remotely

…And why you need to do this even before diversity.

Based on personal experiences and hearing from clients and colleagues in leadership and Human Resources, just about every company, no matter what size, has been impacted by what happened last summer with respect to social justice. If these companies didn’t already have a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) plan, they should have one in place by now. The classic way of doing that is to appoint somebody in your organization to be the D&I chairperson, and then to express how important this is to the company.

But my thinking is that, while diversity is paramount, it is more difficult than inclusion and it takes time to develop the talent at every level. It requires a plan, it requires a vision, and it is going to take some time and patience. On the other hand, inclusion is something that companies can—and should—adopt immediately.

Inclusion is something that can be enacted right now. Some best-in-class companies already have recognized that an inclusive culture will positively impact diversity and help with employee retention and productivity.

Creating an Inclusive Culture—Quickly
So how do you create an inclusive culture, and how do you do it quickly? The first step starts at the top because that is the most visible place, up and down the chain of command, within the entire organization. The CHRO and CEO should think deeply if it exists at the top two or three levels in the organization. If it is not there or requires some work, these two leaders need to consider how to build this out. After that happens, consider developing a code of team behavior because that will cascade right down through the organization.

The second component focuses on employees because every single one, right down to the person who is farthest away from headquarters, needs to feel he or she is part of something. I am working with a $3 billion company that has dedicated itself to doing just that by bringing in an outside firm to help create an identity. Interestingly, that identity also helps inform the code of team behavior because it also translates into addressing the question of how employees work together.

The third tactic focuses on training employees at the points of leverage within the organization—for instance, the front-line supervisor in a factory where, all of a sudden, he or she has dozens, if not, hundreds, of direct reports from only a handful higher up in the organization. This is the pressure point at which it is vital to create an inclusive atmosphere that engenders teamwork. In some cases, this is simple as listening and walking around. It isn’t just in a factory-type environment, either. This should be executed within an office atmosphere, too. Any kind of organization, really.

Recognition Is Key
Given the current landscape of remote working, clients often ask how to do the “walkabout.” Believe it or not, this is simple. It can be as easy as a surprise phone call or text saying, “Good job,” or “Thanks for what you did on that account yesterday.” This point is to recognize direct reports even when you are not physically near each other without having to set up a short virtual meeting. What I suggest to the senior managers I’m coaching and training is that they keep a pad of paper—yes, paper—and a pen right beside their phone and write down a list of things they’re grateful for, and make sure that by the end of the day, they’ve made at least a couple of calls to their employees. Consider it a mini-coaching call and be sure to take the opportunity to listen.

To be sure, training your employees to create a more inclusive environment in a remote landscape requires creativity. As you coach, think of this as an opportunity to connect with your direct reports and to quickly build a wonderful new work culture that includes the entire team.

Global business leader Robert J. (Bob) Ryan is an executive advisor at Shields Meneley Partners, where he focuses on building strategic business partnerships and expanding service offerings to top leadership teams around the world. His career has included key leadership roles with companies including Procter & Gamble, Tate and Lyle, Bombardier Recreation Products, Kimball Hill Homes, and Griffith Laboratories. Born in Montreal, Canada, Ryan began his career as a manufacturing engineer after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa, and McGill University in Montreal with a degree in mechanical/aeronautical engineering. He has served on the Boards of the British American Business Council, the Northwest Cultural Council, and the Human Resource Management Association of Chicago, plus boards representing economic development, education, and the arts. Ryan is also a graduate of the Hudson Institute Coaching Program and a member of the International Coach Federation.

Link(s) to Article:

3 Steps to Build a More Inclusive Team While Working Remotely