Incremental Dismantling of Communities

Working with and in communities in the capacity of economic development for over two  decades I’ve seen the subtle, incremental dismantling of good economic development practices.  Incremental dismantling of a community is created and fueled by poor public administration, misguided policy, and ego driven behaviors.

Economic development in many communities is taking place at the expense of the citizens and community resources.  In the past economic development was shaped by community development, which included planning, civic service, and a sense of the greater good.  Over the last decade or more it appears in many places to be morphing into a win at all cost, any project is a good project, ‘shoot at anything that flies, claim anything that falls’ charade.ThinkThrough

Does planning still take place in communities?  Often planning does take place, implementation however does not always follow.  I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone who makes a very nice living creating community plans. He voiced frustration and discouragement of repeatedly seeing his work completed, only to go sit on a shelf in an office never to be actually implemented.  So we know paying for a plan isn’t enough.  Staying focused and implementing policy to  support a plan is vital.

In the places that economic development has become a shell of the original intent you can see a direct correlation between the incremental dismantling, or even production of poor policy to feed the ‘beast’  as community resources are squandered. When economic development is more about headline and glory grabs community members will disengage and a downward cycle will develop.

True economic development is focused on community engagement, growth, planning, and development supported by well thought out and implemented policy.  When good policy is in place the public administration path is clear and the influence of politics and/or ego diminishes.  That is a formula that leads to community and  resource growth, as well as civic pride.

 

Lack of Concentration=Less Productivity

What is the cost of distraction within the workplace?  Do the math… if it takes approximately 20-ish minutes to return to the point of focus prior to a distraction, social media continues to increase our level of distraction, well you get the picture. Ongoing distractions impact our ability to concentrate. We live in a world that is fully aware of this problem, creating terms like continuous partial attention (CPA), and apps to deal with it. Continual distraction is bad for not just workplace productivity and profit, it is bad for employee health and wellness too.

“We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.” (Source: “The Lost Art of Concentration”)

Distracted

Dr. Wilson’s 2005 research shows a clear correlation between distraction and concentration.   Social media distractions have grown substantially since his study subsequently so have the impacts. So the question becomes, knowing their is a negative impact on employee health and wellness, as well as positive organizational outcomes, why do we fail to address the issue?  The more distracted we are, the harder it is to concentrate. This dynamic leads to higher anxiety and stress as employees try to do more in less time, rushed, and with less attention to details.  Again, the outcome for companies and employees is not a positive one.

Creating an environment that requires, and supports mindfulness is difficult as our culture continues to veer in the opposite direction; however, it is necessary unless management is ready to lean into and accept lower productivity and an ongoing reduction in quality.  Employers are in the midst of normalization of deviation due to social media which results in both short and long term losses.

 

 

 

Influencer vs Sales Professional

Last week I had a fantastic conversation with a professor who teaches sales and marketing on the university level.  We discussed perception vs. reality in sales within our world which is full of real and wishful “influencers.”  sales.png

Bottom line is influencers talk at their audience, as that is their deal, they influence.  In the world of sales however influencing isn’t a long term plan, especially in business to business sales which was the topic of our discussion.

Sales is relational, unless you are operating with a ‘one and done’ attitude-big, but temporary gains.  Building a business requires engaging with people and listening to their needs, challenges, etc.  Like the saying goes, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”  Sales is about listening and  shining the spotlight on the customer not yourself.  Most of us are already burned out on the barrage of social media showing us the greatness of others so hearing it from someone that wants you to give them money too isn’t an incentive to buy.

If you’ve ever networked you more often than not get the mini version of the difference between sales and attempted influencing.  It is the reason many of us dial our networking back to the level of infrequent.  Talking at me, pushing your product in my face and space while telling me your story doesn’t engage me, and rarely interests/engages others.  A sale via that approach isn’t relational, it is more in the realm of ‘I’ll buy it if you please go away,’ a one and done exchange.

The professor I spoke with summed it up nicely explaining introverts are often the best sales people due to being good listeners.  As an introvert I’m biased to believe his statement as gospel; however it does make sense as we reside in environments that often demand we focus outside of ourselves, as well as compare ourselves through media, social and otherwise.  Selling is optimized when engagement is the priority.  Selling is sustainable when the customer has an opportunity to feel accommodated.

Low Investment, Increased Employee Productivity

Decades ago, when I was a stressed out adult probation officer, someone gave me a book on meditation. I was hooked upon experiencing the positive outcomes of meditating. I occasionally taught meditation classes in groups and even to high school staff. Decades later I’m busy running a business, teaching in higher ed. and generally trying to have a balanced life to boot. Nevertheless I do still meditate every single day. Why? Because it reduces my stress and sharpens my focus in a world that is constantly throwing every possible distraction at us through a myriad of media.

focus.pngI’m not alone in the taming the beast of stress related distraction, and you don’t have to look very far to see institutions such as Harvard, the Mayo Clinic, Yale, etc. have explored, studied, and validated the positive outcomes. If you knew even 10 minutes of employee mindfulness/meditation would boost your company’s growth through more engaged employees, create a safer environment with more focused employees, and reduce your healthcare costs why wouldn’t you pursue it? If you’re thinking 10 – 20 minutes of employee time would result in lost productivity, I can guarantee you that same amount of time is currently being lost due to the almost 70% of employees nationwide who are actively disengaged in their jobs.

As far as employee engagement tools go meditation has scientifically proven positive outcomes, and the price tag to implement it is minimal, and maintaining it cost zero extra dollars. You’ll be hard pressed to find a stronger return on investment.

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Accountability Gets A Bad Rap

Oversight is very popular, and obviously necessary within the workplace.  Accountability seems to be less of a mandate, and that is a problem.  The only way to engage yourself, employees, and/or customers is to combine oversight and accountability. accountability

I’m not sure when accountability fell out of fashion, but a lack of accountability equates to lost employees, lost profits, lost vision.  I’m talking about accountability on every level. Are you being honest with employees about the job they are interviewing for and/or the culture of the company?  Are employees working within a dynamic that they operate knowing win or lose people at every level of a decision making, or production making process will be held accountable? Is the organization showing appreciation for those exceeding the bar? Are people being both rewarded and held responsible for both the good and the bad? You get the picture.

Accountability seems to surface during conversation that are wrapped within something that may or has gone wrong.  This is where it gets its bad rap.  Regardless of whether or not your organization is engaged in accountability, it is impacting you.  Best to stay ahead of the curve and implement it on a level that makes your brand, product, and workplace more attractive to both employees and customers.  Doing so will show a return on investment.  Not doing so will create a people, product, and paid loss.

 

 

 

Zone of Genius

zone of geniusWhat is your zone of genius?  A lot of us reside in a working world hanging out in either a zone of competence, or zone of excellence.  This may sound like a positive, but hanging out in a zone of competence or even excellence is why we have over 70% of employees disengaged.

How do you know what/where your zone of genius resides?  Easy.  It is whatever gives you the highest ratio of satisfaction and target income and makes you feel wonderful doing it, knowing you are really great at it.  It is earning a living doing something you really love, not just something you are good at.  A zone of genius feeds you, not just because of ego driven “I’m good at this”, but because you are good at it, and you find it deeply satisfying, which cycles into additional positive energy further feeding your pursuits.

In Demand Jobs Week Vs In Demand Employee

omjstencil-300x300This week is “In Demand Jobs Week” with all kinds of workforce activities going on.  What is an “in demand” job?  That probably depends on where you are located.  Regardless of the job, this week also merits reminding those who are looking for employment, as well as those hiring, that the employee is the one “in demand.”  

No matter how a job is marketed, it comes down to is the employee the right fit.  Recently while doing mock interviews at an area high school I was asked for what is the best advice I’d give to someone preparing to interview.  It is as follows, be authentic, be yourself.  The level of disengaged employees is over 70%, a number that should concern employers and job seekers.  That level of disengagement is a clear statement in our focus on jobs rather than the people we need to fill them.

Job seekers, be yourself and you’ll land in an organizational culture that fits you. Employers, is your organizational culture one that fits the employees you are trying to attract?

Leadership vs Ego

How do you know if you are a good leader?  Step one, lead without ego.  I just saw “ego is not your amigo” somewhere.  First I laughed, and then I thought how true, and how unfortunate more of us don’t realize that.

Ego can not only get in the way of your success, it can block your talent overall.  If you are more interested in if you are going to get or are getting the credit, than actually getting things done, you have an ego issue.  The problem with ego, is it spins into all kinds of unattractive behaviors which in turn will lift the veil on your “leadership” or more likely the lack there of.

Once people get a whiff of your ego, they’ll write you off as inauthentic.  Once people sense it is about “you” rather than “we” they’ll drop their level of engagement.  We operate in a very ego driven culture; subsequently, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that approximately 51 percent of employees are unengaged, and 17 percent are actively disengaged.  That is significant, and obviously a huge drag on productivity.

Einstein said it best, and I’ll leave it at that…

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