The Total Disconnect In Business That Tanks Productivity

The Total Disconnect In Business That Tanks Productivity

This is funny, even though it is so very sad.


Is this just a man thing, or what? I don’t mean to be sexist, but there is definitely a theme with many men – some women, too, but the vast majority are men – that explains why there is so much stress, anxiety and depression in workplaces that inhibits productivity. Business = Money…period. The conversation ends when human feeling, emotion, or value is brought up.

Why is this funny? Obviously, there would be no business or work without people. Money is part of the definition of business. Everybody knows that. Human beings start businesses as a means to make money. Business is a human endeavour by humans to provide goods and services to other humans, employing more humans to make it all work. Humans aren’t money. You would not be able to be in business without other people. Your business depends upon their well-being. Hello!

Why is it sad? There is no humanity in the equation. Everyone wants to be valued, to be heard, to use their innate strengths, and to feel good about who they are and what they contribute…masters of their own domains. No one knows this more than entrepreneurs who start businesses because they were undervalued and dehumanized in previous workplaces. Can you see the sad and destructive pattern that continues with this equation?


Business and work are part of life, not separate from it.


The old, traditional model is slipping into the past.


Yes, that parochial view of work and productivity is shifting gears to a different, more human approach. To reiterate a point made earlier, there is a sad and destructive pattern to entrepreneurship that can be broken, by treating employees the way you would like to be treated. Google Spent 2 Years Studying 180 Teams. The Most Successful Ones Shared These 5 Traits.

It doesn’t matter if you have a team of one, five, twenty or one hundred, point number 5 from the above article stood out.


5. Psychological Safety.

We’ve all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It’s unnerving to feel like you’re in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.

But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard. That’s psychological safety.

The cost of dehumanizing the workplace


Depression and anxiety cost the Canadian economy almost $50 Billion a year, according to this CBC article. That is up from $33 Billion in 2007. Consider, if you will, how the workplace can have an effect on depression and anxiety.


Imagine – or remember – what it is like to be in a stressful workplace. What caused the stress for you? The Hidden Costs of Doing Nothing to Promote Workplace Health includes bullying, fatigue, lack of attention to work-life balance and job strain, to name a few. Is it the work itself, or the environment that has the greatest impact on elevating stress?


Making the transition


You are busy. You have a lot of responsibility. You are growing your business. You are the visionary, bringing your ideas into tangible reality. You are always moving forward, jumping on the next opportunity. You are a go-getter. Do you ever slow down long enough to find out from your employees what this is doing to them? Do you ever ask them if the systems are working, if they have the resources they need, or if they have any ideas to contribute?

Your team is your greatest asset. They aren’t you. They don’t have ownership. They have a job to earn money to have a good life. Talk to them. Listen to them. Be open to what they have to say. Don’t be ‘that’ boss, or you’ll lose them.

It doesn’t take a kumbaya session around a campfire to connect with your team and the inner workings of your work environment. They are there to work and they know what is important to the smooth functioning of their jobs and their workplace. Working with you rather than for you goes a long way towards higher productivity and lower stress.



Leading From Profit or Leading From Purpose?

Leading From Profit or Leading From Purpose?

The Case for Leading From Purpose


Below is a real-life example of leading from profit (names and source excluded for obvious reasons). In this situation, everyone is operating from fear and there is no realistic accountability. Behind the scenes, every job is in jeopardy, the company is floundering and the owner can’t see beyond the dollar signs.

The second example reframes the same situation from a purposeful, proactive point of view. The company may be in a financially risky place, but that isn’t the focus.


Example: Leading From Profit

Boss: Sales Manager, I need five million in sales this year. Judging from where we stand today, you are not doing your job. What do you plan to do about it?

Sales: When product improvements are finished and the new marketing plan is finalized, we can easily meet and exceed that goal.

Boss: I didn’t ask them, I asked you. Why are sales down and what are you doing about it? Is the sales staff twiddling their thumbs? Talk to them. Hire people who can do the job.

Sales: How can we do our job effectively when….

Boss: Marketing Manager, you are supposed to be attracting new customers for Sales. I don’t see that happening. How do you expect this company to make money without new customers?

Marketing: We are working on a new, more modern approach and honing our target market in preparation to launch a campaign as soon as product improvements are finished.

Boss: Our market is business owners, period. The product is fine. What’s with you people? Passing the buck doesn’t bring in the bucks. You aren’t working hard enough!


Example: Leading From Purpose

Leader: As you are aware, we have hit a stall in sales progress. What can we do to improve value and engage more customers? Sales Manager, what kind of feedback are you getting from your team?

Sales: Some components of the product are still not functioning as desired, our online presence is not clear as to the problems we solve, and we could use an updated sales funnel process.

Leader: Thank you. Product Manager, do you know what you need to make improvements?

Production: Yes, we have feedback from sales. I have a report from my team on budget and timeframe for you to review.

Leader: Great. Bring your team together this afternoon at 2 pm and we’ll make a plan. No point pushing sales on a substandard product offering, right? Marketing Manager, what are your thoughts on moving forward with a new strategy?

Marketing: We have outlined new sales funnels, how to utilize social media for engagement by reframing existing material and streamlining our website content. Our research and experience has honed our target market to make this new approach far more effective. We would like to do a run-through with the sales team and ensure that we are in line with product improvements, then show you our proposal next Tuesday with timelines and budget.

Leader: Great work, everyone! If all goes well, we should be able to come up with some realistic sales projections by month’s end. Set up your meetings and let me know if there are any obstacles to moving forward.


Which approach has the best chance of success?


Rewards: What’s In It For Me?

Rewards: What’s In It For Me?

“It’s a good job.”


This seems to be the standard response when it comes to well-paid union jobs with pensions and benefits, no matter how you frame a question about working in one.

Q: How is it going at Union Job?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: Do you like working at Union Job?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: Do you like what you do?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: How about your co-workers?

A: It’s a good job.


“It’s a great place to work!”


The union wages, benefits and pensions are great, and provide much needed financial security to workers  – no doubt about that – so yes, these things do contribute to a Workplace That Works. But do they make it a great place to work?

As a small business owner, you have a great deal of flexibility that unionized workplaces do not have. Rewards for your team can be just about anything, and can involve trading goods or services with other small businesses as well. Paying at least a living wage goes a long way, as does anything that saves your team members money on things they want and need.

Aside from the financials, there are so many options for rewarding your team and making them feel appreciated and valued. Why not find out what that is and see what you can realistically do about it?


If you would like to start a conversation with your team on what is rewarding to you and to them, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series:  A Workplace That Works.

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Systems: How Do I Do That?

Systems: How Do I Do That?

Motivation to make systems?…meh.


Why do so many independent businesses struggle with effective systems?

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of an aversion to the word, “system”, possibly because of The System. The words we use to create and document methods of saving time and energy seem to have a bureaucratic connotation…procedure, process, controls, plan, structure, organization, rule, fixed order, etc. It’s boring. But then, in my experience, most of the workplaces that were well-systemized tended toward the bureaucratic. Is this the problem? Semantics?


Motivation to create designs?…deal me in.


We can get around this by thinking of systems as designs that streamline your workplace to make it more harmonious. Would you be more motivated to dive into designing a more effective workplace? I would…simply writing that word makes me want to draw something. Semantics aside, the main point here is the effectiveness of the design, and of how the end product will function in the real world, just like building a piece of furniture.

Let’s use as an example the system that is the least pleasant to most entrepreneurs I know, that can get them into the most trouble; let’s talk about financials. Accountants are, in general, operating in a logical universe. That’s what makes them good at it. Let them work in the systems world to your benefit and ask them to explain things that you don’t understand. The person you will mostly be working with is your bookkeeper – still logical, but probably more adaptable and flexible. Instead of setting up a system, how about designing a workflow with him or her that includes communication with your accountant. It’s the same thing, but it feels better, right?


An Effectively Designed Workplace


Your team knows what works, what doesn’t and where it would be great to have some cheat sheets or manuals. They know what it is like to learn the ropes and figure it out as they go along. Now, if you bring them together and say, “We are going to document our systems, processes and procedures,” they will give you that look. What if you brought them together and asked them to help? “I would really appreciate your help in designing more effective workflows and better ways to deliver our (product or service) because you know better than anyone what needs improvement. Let’s shut the doors next Monday and have an idea jam. I’ll buy lunch.”


If you would like guidance on ‘idea-jamming’, how to map out systems and pretty much any aspect of your business with your team, and bring it all together, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

Click the link below or in the sidebar to get on the mailing list!

Clear Communication: What did you say?

Clear Communication: What did you say?

Clear communication is a hallmark of any good relationship, which includes your relationship with your team members and your customers. It is a mark of respect and genuine connection.

The previous post, Expectations: I can’t read your mind, was about identifying and communicating expectations in the workplace. This one goes further into clarity of communication and the energy behind our words, actions and body language; in other words, practicing mindfulness in our interactions.

The Neutral Approach


What do you think of when you hear the word neutral? Boring? After all, It is a state of disengagement. How do you view it in terms of communication? It is most commonly used in the case of disputes when someone caught in the middle refuses to take sides. You probably switch to neutral in workplace disturbances to settle things down without even thinking about it. You naturally know that to be the best way to handle it.

The neutral approach is powerful – not just in disputes – in everyday communication because it keeps the focus on the topic of the conversation. When people are upset, excited or personally attached to a specific outcome, it is difficult to be clear and objective. Most of us are used to communication that has either passive or aggressive qualities to it (sometimes both) and you can feel that there is more to the conversation than what is being said. There is a competition for energy going on.

Becoming mindful of your energy with your team members helps you and them to stay focused on the purpose of your workplace. Neutrality opens doors to communicating more authentically. It helps your team feel comfortable approaching you and one another when things come up. It builds trust. It helps everyone to consciously listen and respond.


If you would like to explore this train of thought further, and bring it into your workplace, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

Click the link below or in the sidebar to get on the mailing list!


Expectations: I can’t read your mind.

Expectations: I can’t read your mind.

Clear and realistic expectations are a big deal.


What can you expect from your team, what can they expect from one another and what can they expect from you? This is a tough one, right? Every person has an individual set of expectations that arise from values, personal motivators, prior experience and life in general. Certain workplace expectations are easy to name and agree upon, while some are pretty hazy or unspoken and hard to identify. Where is the line between personal and purposeful?

The easily named expectations should be put in writing and openly discussed so that everyone is clear and held accountable. This is your contract with one another…your policy statement that is based on realistic and achievable day-to-day expectations.

The hazy, less identifiable expectations are based on assumptions, which are personal.

Think about the different personalities, different skills and different motivators of you and your team. Honouring those differences contributes to a workplace that works. We all have some manner of conditioning that leads to assumptions of how people, including ourselves, should be because of their career path, credentials, economic status, family situation, appearance, age, race, gender and so on. Intellectually, we know that we are all equal as human beings, but subconsciously, it’s a different story.

In your workplace (and everywhere else), personal assumptions can end up in resentments, divisiveness, competition and other negative expressions like bullying that create the opposite effect of what makes a workplace work. People will behave in ways to gain the upper hand, even if they don’t know they are dong it. That puts you right back into the power and control workplace instead of the empowered and self-controlled one that you want.


Awareness and transparency.


As part of your clear expectations, why not build empowerment right into your policy? An inclusive leadership approach, keeping things neutral and focused on the Primary Purpose and creating Clear Roles takes care of many of the triggers for control games. The next step is to bring awareness of these behaviours to your team and to empower them to neutralize them (the behaviours, not the people). Once you see something, you can’t unsee it. With these hazy control tactics, once you are aware of them, you can’t become unaware.

If you would like to explore this train of thought further, and bring it into your workplace, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

Click the link below or in the sidebar to get on the mailing list!



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