My favorite definition of an extrovert is “a person for whom heaven is a roomful of strangers.” For an extrovert, such a room is an opportunity to meet and engage with new people, learn interesting things, share observations or humor, and potentially make useful connections. We look forward to and draw energy from these occasions. For us extroverts, the pandemic has been a frustrating and lonely time.
Fortunately for us, the world is beginning to open up. I’m going out to meet today with a group of high-powered women. We’ll listen to an expert speaker, eat lunch together, and enjoy each other’s company. I will most likely sit at a table where I know no one. I can’t wait!
Of course, I’m well aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. I have plenty of friends, colleagues, and clients for whom networking is a nightmare. But love it or hate it, for the last two-plus years all of us have had to learn how to work virtually and how to network virtually. We’re still doing plenty of it. Here are some of the lessons I have gleaned from the wonderful world of virtual networking:
The reports are grim. On all sort of measures by all kinds of researchers, American workers are feeling more and more exhausted, burned out, and even depressed. Well, duh – there’s still a pandemic going on, our lives have been disrupted, climate change is scary, and now to top it all off, there’s the potential of nuclear annihilation. Have a nice day. 😊
We have little or no control over the big-picture challenges. But we do have some control over how we work — and how the people we lead are expected to work. One possible solution: “Slow Productivity.”
One of the fun things about having a diverse career is being able to pull techniques from my work as a clinical psychologist into my current work as a performance coach and leadership advisor.
“Resilience” is a great example. Today, everyone uses the word to describe how effective people cope with crisis and trauma — so much so it has become overused, as I wrote while discussing emotional endurance. Yet when I hear it, it brings to mind my clinical experience and the research that goes with it.
For smaller tech companies, attracting and retaining top talent has always been a challenge. They can’t match the salaries the big tech firms offer, so the smart ones compete by offering a terrific employee experience.
Table XI, a fast-growth digital consulting firm, had a remarkable work culture — with the office at the very center. Their space was cool and inclusive. The atmosphere was both focused and fun. They had a terrific chef who made wonderful, family-style lunches every day. Everyone liked spending time there — employees, clients, and friends.
Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, people haven’t been going into the office much lately. In fact, many companies, including Table XI, no longer have permanent office space. While some tech companies are pushing for a return to the office, at Table XI, all employees now work from home or in coworking spaces.
So, CEO Mark Rickmeier was faced with a challenge: how to recreate that special culture without an office?
I spent my first career trying to help people who most certainly did not love their jobs. As a psychologist, there was only so much I could do. Sure, I could give people techniques to cope, but I couldn’t change the fundamentals of how they spent their workdays.
When I became a leadership consultant and performance coach in 2003, my vision was simple. I wanted to work on the root of so many problems, helping leaders and organization create environments that enabled people to bring their best to work. When I wrote my book, Curating Your Life, in 2019, my goal was to help leaders maximize productivity and joy, both for themselves and for their employees. Learning to love your work — that’s what my work has been about.
So I was fascinated to hear a recent talk by Marcus Buckingham, a giant in the field of leadership excellence. His latest project is Love + Work, a book about how people can thrive at work and find their excellence. Right up my alley!
Early in the pandemic, the CEO of high-growth tech startup Cameo announced that the company had no need for permanent office space. The company became fully “distributed,” as did many other companies. What happened next?
Maybe, just maybe, after two years of varying degrees of misery, this @#$! pandemic is drawing to a close. I know I’m enjoying imagining what life will be like — full restaurants, a lively arts scene, relaxed big family gatherings, opportunities for travel. I’m definitely looking forward to a big burning of the masks in my backyard firepit.
There’s one thing I can’t picture quite as clearly though: The workplace, and people in it.
Recent research from McKinsey gives us new insight into how to retain top talent. The article lays out two top reasons why people stay in their jobs. First, they feel valued by their organizations and their managers.
Of course, one way to show that an employee is valuable is to give him/her a raise. But sometimes a raise just feels transactional, or worse, manipulative. Is my boss just trying to buy my loyalty? If I can get a raise now, why didn’t they give me one earlier?
How do you get to be a CEO? Recent research from the search firm Spencer Stuart identified the four most common “last-mile” experiences of first-time CEOs in S&P 500 companies: COO, divisional CEO, CFO, and “leapfrog” leaders promoted from lower in the organizations.
Perhaps not so surprising, the path to CEO is littered with “C”s.
The data gets more interesting, however, when you look at performance. Those unexpected “leapfrog” leaders, who enter the job from outside the C-Suite, were the most likely to outperform their peers.
Want to blend into a busy culture and show your boss you’re working hard? Don’t worry about results. Instead, follow George Costanza’s advice. The secret is to look irritated.
Most of the time, it’ll work.
Newsflash from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: In November 2021, 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs. That’s 3% of the nonfarm workforce, “an all-time high” and the key statistic proving The Great Resignation is real.
By now, most of us have already begun to slip away from those worthwhile New Year’s resolutions we made a couple of weeks ago. Many people I know don’t even bother to make resolutions because they don’t believe they’ll follow through. And yet, as my colleague Constance Dierickx points out, people do make significant changes all the time.
Does being rich make you happier? The answer seems obvious — of course it does! Anyone who has ever been poor knows that poverty is miserable. Financial comfort is much more fun. So surely, true wealth must be even better?