In the Streets of Sofia, Bulgaria

I’m sitting in the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. A European city filled with hidden gems and almost a feel of Barcelona, Spain…but not quite.

This morning I’m finding refuge and laughter in one place where everyone speaks a universal language and shares the same love for a modern vice…Starbucks! I adore immersing myself in foreign cultures, but for whatever reason this Cafe Americano tastes so good.

My lesson this morning is unity through commonality. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find commonality with the person or people that surround you. You just have to stop and get curious to find it; when you do unity is inevitable (if even for just a moment).

Today, get curious about the people around you, and find refuge and laughter in the one commonality you share. You may be surprised on how this moment of unity can heal even the most tumultuous relationships.

Kindness Comes Back To You When It Matters Most

As I sit in the Paris airport I’m reminded again of the different cultures that span our world–thousands is truly an understatement. It’s so easy to just jump on a plane and find yourself as the minority in a foreign land.

Appreciation for kindness and patience from others grows leaps and bounds when YOU’RE the one that’s different; unable to speak the language while looking different and appearing confused. You become forever grateful for the kind soul that helped you order the pastery while the cashier looked at you as though you were a complete idiot (this was my experience just a moment ago).

Oh how perspectives change when the shoe is on the other foot. This weekend, choose to be kind and patient to those different than you–that kindness will come back to you when it matters most.

Death By Corporate Speak 😳

Word to the wise… if you’re a leader who’s trying to move an idea, project or corporate initiative forward stay far away from “corporate speak”. Seriously, there needs to be a book called “Death by Corporate Speak”. Regardless of the effort, the only way to get anyone to want to help you is by using real language that’s super clear and speaks to the heart. Ditch the spin, stop trying to be fancy and just be real. Simple language moves mountains.

Turn Around And See All The People

I was asked by a client today, “Why do so many companies have problems with engagement?” 87% of US employees are disengaged to be exact.

It’s not rocket science… It’s because most leaders are faced in the wrong direction. Spending so much time appeasing “higher-ups”, Wall Street and making sure that the lastest initiative gets launched that they forget to turn around and see all the people….people who are the bread and butter to the company. Without people you have nothing.

The sure fire engagement strategy is simple. Every executive needs to model a “people first” management philosophy. Walk around and talk to people, care about them and recognize their value. If you’re thinking you don’t have time for this…then you don’t have time to be a leader and should take up a new individual contributor role. Harsh but true.

Today make your top priority taking Suzi out for a coffee to tell her how valuable she is to you and the company. Then everyday after that take a different employee out for coffee and tell them the same thing. Before you know it, I guarantee you’ll have higher engagement, greater profits and happier customers.

The Boomerang Effect

What you put into the world comes right back to you in strength. Be kind to your team and colleagues and they will be kind to you. Show respect and they will respect you. The Universe runs on a system of equal exchange. If you want engagement, performance, appreciation or loyalty from others, you must first take time to invest in them as a human being. There is no other way. So before you jump into fancy million dollar strategies…ask yourself, “How are my actions creating the current environment? How can I show up differently to inspire a different result?” It all comes back to you.

What Zoos Can Teach Us About Employee Performance

I walked into a client’s office yesterday optimistic and full of life. A great nights sleep, healthy breakfast and ahead of schedule. I was ready to conquer the day.

I sat down in my office disguised as a cubicle and jumped right in. Then an unexpected turn of events happened.  After my first meeting I started to feel drained. My Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah pep turned into a series of yawns and random walks around the building to revive myself. No worries, I recovered and got my groove back right before meeting #2. After meeting #2 all shit broke loose. I felt myself completely unmotivated and almost stir crazy. Yikes! I couldn’t even get myself to look at the computer screen let alone get anything accomplished. I was being overtaken by the ugh syndrome before noon! I thought, “Oh, no. What’s happening?”

I started looking around at all the gray–I noticed everything was literally covered in gray. All I could hear was the humming of the air system and florescent lights. Without realizing what was happening all my stuff was packed in my bag and I jetted out the door as fast as possible. I felt absolute relief once I got into my car and started driving away. From there I decided to work from home and the day began to turn itself around.

So what happened at the office? What in the world came over me? I’m not Sherlock Holmes but the mystery was not too difficult to solve.

First, I’m not alone. In fact, there’s a good chance most of you reading this blog have experienced this phenomenon multiple times in your work life. A phenomenon caused by one simple fact–you’re a living human being. Yep, being alive caused me to jump out of the cubical and run for the door. Here’s why…

When you’re at work, you’re no different from an animal in a zoo. Follow me here, it’ll make sense. Have you ever seen a wild animal running and playing freely in its native habitat? They’re happy and performing at their best. Compare that to an open zoo where animals roam in beautiful habitats similar to their natural environment? Not always ideal, but for the most part the animals are relatively satisfied. Now go a step further… Compare the last two examples to a zoo that puts animals in covered cages with concrete floors and glass walls where they stare at the same damn thing everyday. In the last example animals become depressed, slow, sleepy and unmotivated to interact and play with each other. For a human, working in gray cubical land can create the same feeling as being an animal held captive in a concrete cage.

Morale to the story… environment plays a significant role in how productive a person is at work. Air quality, lighting, plants, music, natural light and color all ramp performance up or drive it down into the ground. Even the direction you face in your cubical can play a significant role in how you feel and you’re ability to focus. Feng Shui at the office works. That said, if you don’t have the luxury of designing your office space try these tips to revive your mojo the next time you’re feeling squirrely at work:

  1. Drink water: Believe it or not water is scientifically proven to have the same “wake-up your soul” effect as coffee–but better! Water will keep you hydrated and alert without the crash. By no means am I telling you to stop drinking coffee. I love the stuff! Just keep it balanced and make sure you’re drinking more H2O especially on those days you need to focus.
  2. Just add color: I know, can it get more basic?! Yes, the human mind needs color. Again proven, lack of color is one of the most significant reasons you’re falling asleep at your deck. For you business owners out there, if your office is covered in gray you’re simply asking for employees to fall asleep. An easy fix for those who feel they have no choice, start splashing your work area with colors that energize and keep you moving.
  3. Plants, plants and more plants: Fill your space with greenery! And no, plastic does not count. If you’re scared of killing your new green friend buy a Chinese Evergreen, they’re durable, hearty and can go longer than most plants without water or sunlight. Here’s the deal, plants aren’t just pretty they’ll purify your air and keep you alert. If your office has a no plant policy break the rules and sneak one in any way! Your boss will thank you when they see your performance improve.
  4. Headphones: If you want to keep your groove moving at work start listening to your favorite tunes while cranking away on that spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation. From classical to death metal…makes no difference just so long as it makes your heart sing and keeps you focused.
  5. Go into the wild: Like animals you do better in your natural habitat. If you have the ability to work from home do it. If not, leave the building at least every couple of hours to breathe some fresh air. Even five minutes of fresh air and walking can turn your day around. And for those freeze babies who live in the arctic tundra with me, throw on a hat, coat and gloves and start walking! You’ll be glad you did guaranteed.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter. 

3 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

Published By: David Fralinger                                                  

Have a nagging suspicion your employees are a bit disillusioned? Disenchanted? Just plain bored? They may be suffering from acute employee disengagement, and they’re not alone.

In fact, recent Gallup polling has identified an estimated 30 percent or less of the US workforce as actively engaged in their work—a dismal reality for employers concerned with innovation and productivity.

The cold hard truth? If your workers are disengaged, your company’s losing money.

Engaged employees feel a passionate connection to their company’s mission and values—a connection that compels them to innovate, problem-solve and think outside the cubicle. Increasing employee engagement is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary to maximize productivity and bolster morale within your company.

So what are some ways you can wrangle your workers away from their Instagram pages and into your office infrastructure? Industry expert, Gina Soleil, sheds some light on specific strategies that promote engagement and foster employee trust.

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Expert: Gina Soleil
Site: GINASOLEIL.COM

 

Soleil believes openness and transparency are vital components for increasing employee engagement. She views transparency as “choosing to convey the truth in it’s entirety, absent of any PR Spin,” and openness as “the willingness to become vulnerable and exercise courage by sharing the truth with the masses—because it’s the right thing to do. In other words, honesty is the best (corporate) policy.

“When done right, key messaging is not only 100% truthful, but gains loyal support from employees because people feel trusted and believe the business has their best interest in mind. If employees have a gut feeling that information is missing, or incorrect information is being communicated, they’ll fill in the blanks. If that happens (and it will), a business then will have to manage misinformation, gossip and employee fear.”

Be honest with your workers. Once lost, employee trust can be difficult to restore, and a persisting lack of trust promotes a culture of discomfort. Infuse your key messages and virtual communications with Soleil’s transparency and openness.

Untitled picture 3 stooges                                                                          Source: Dilbert.com

Avoid the mutiny. Tell the truth.

Still unclear on how to foster that feeling of solidarity and motivation in your office? Soleil has you covered. She’s crafted a practical check list that can help you create an engaging environment for your employees.

1: Executive sponsorship: A culture of openness and transparency starts at the top. You’re the leader of your office, so don’t neglect to lead by example.

2: Have a strong communication plan: A strong internal communication plan “becomes the check and balance of truth and integrity,” says Soleil. She recommends designing your intranet as a core vehicle with the intention of “communicating truthful information that impacts employees, the community (local and global), and the earth.”

3: Employee Involvement: Your workers want to feel relevant. Without a sense of inclusion, their motivation dwindles. Soleil recommends creating employee-based intranet communication teams that generate video content, post content, interview employees, etc. “The overall goal,” she says, “is to support employees in their quest to make the intranet ‘their space.’”

In today’s high-speed environment, enduring employee engagement is critical. Harnessing the communicative power of your company’s intranet, and applying Soleil’s strategies for increased openness and transparency with help you engage every member of your team—persuading them to abandon their status updates and rejoin the social community you’ve created.

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About Gina Soleil:

Gina Soleil is known for her fresh new approach to business. For nearly two decades, she has been leading teams through transformational change within Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Today, she is a published author of Fuel Your Business: How to Energize People, Ignite Action and Drive Profits, blogs for Huffington Post, and is a speaker, coach, energy practitioner, artist and business owner. Her expertise is creating a workplace where people are energized, feel good and are happy—and demonstrating how to create a work life they’ll love. Soleil lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit GINASOLEIL.COM and follow her on twitter @GinaSoleilWorld.

How to Make Love in the Boardroom

redefining-love-work-foster-sense-connectionPeople are looking everywhere for ways to feel valued and appreciated. We want to be surrounded by other people who are mindful of our needs in a way that says, “I hear you.” We want to be in the presence of other people who joyfully give us the freedom to be authentic and walk in our truth. We want to feel honored by other human beings with acts of integrity and compassion. We want our creative expression to be celebrated and recognized by others, to be forgiven easily without judgment, and to have other people take responsibility for their own actions. To sum it up in one sentence, in our personal lives we say, “I want to be loved.”

In business we don’t call it love. Oh no, that wouldn’t be politically correct. The word love may not go over well in the boardroom. Heaven forbid we use a word that might make people feel uncomfortable. Ironically, the very thing that makes people feel uncomfortable is the exact thing every human being in business is looking for from their leader and company. Rather, in business we call love “engagement”. You see, when people feel loved they want to give love. In business, we call this exchange of love “discretionary energy”—and this discretionary energy is evaporating from business faster than the speed of light.

Today people feel the void of love more than ever, and most businesses have yet to acknowledge the reality that the only way to have an engaged culture is to have leaders who show-up and live high-character values. Values that include: mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, and responsibility. In other words, having leaders who are able to show acts of love. It’s only then that people will become fully engaged and the business can create a high-performing culture.

What gets in the way of leaders being able to show acts of love?  Fear of becoming vulnerable.

Vulnerability is the magic ingredient to showing acts of love and receiving the love that others show. Not only is vulnerability the magic ingredient, it’s the hardest thing for a business to attain because it requires not intellect but heart. Vulnerability is the willingness to do something without a guaranteed result, having the courage to be imperfect, having the ability to be kind to ourselves first, and believing that the things that make you most susceptible and weak to the world are what make you most beautiful. The key to joy, love, and happiness is vulnerability.

In business, vulnerability is overshadowed by fear and shame. As a means of survival and protection from fear and shame people have become experts in denial. We pretend things that are uncertain are, in fact, certain; we pretend we are what we’re not; we put ourselves on a conquest to prefect our existence. All the while, at the core of our human nature, we want to be vulnerable and feel connected. We want to feel loved.

Together, vulnerability and living high-character values is the way forward in business—it’s the solution to employee engagement. Vulnerability is the only way people feel loved, and living high-character values is how love is shown. That said,vulnerability always follows character–it will never happen the other way around. When leaders show up living high-character values, exhibiting acts of love, the culture begins to feel safe. When a culture feels safe people are willing to let their guard down, become vulnerable and give love right back to the business.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profits. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil at ginasoleil.com and follow her on Twitter.

14 Tips for New Leaders (pass it on)

keep-calm-i-m-a-new-leaderAll too often new leaders are thrown to the wolves and expected to survive with nothing more than a quick go get em’ sentiment from the powers that be. Then about six-months (or 10 -years) later someone in HR says, “We should probably send you to a workshop on leadership.” And the leader is now thinking, that may have been helpful before sending me into the lion’s den.

Here’s my advice for new leaders. I guarantee if you follow this advice your role as a leader will be easier, and you’ll feel better about who you are and what you’ll accomplish in your career. I have just one request before sharing my insight. Pay it forward. Share the blog with a leader who needs a little help and inspiration today.

Here’s my advice for new leaders (or the new leader at heart):

  • Leadership is service. Leadership is about serving people. Don’t let anyone tell you something different. Always make sure you’re facing the right direction–toward the people you’re leading and not the people leading you. If you follow this basic advice your team will work hard for YOU because they respect you, and your boss will thank you for it.
  • You’re leading people not cogs. Every person on your team is a human being; a human being who loves, laughs, hurts, cries and suffers just like you. When you have a decision to make, remember this truth, and choose kindness. You will have moments in your career when you have to be firm, make decisions that impact the bottom-line and follow-through on consequences–that’s okay. That said, when you make those decisions, do so with respect and compassion for the people who give you their time and energy everyday.
  • Don’t compromise. Some higher-ups and peers will try to convince you to “desensitize”, separate business from personal and play the harsh political game–they’re wrong. You can’t separate business and personal–you’re one person. Stay human-centered. And don’t become one of them. Choose to surround yourself with ethical role-models that can help you navigate the corporate world.
  • Great leaders have heart. Great leaders inspire others and model the way with compassion and integrity. Always choose to lead with high-character and you will always prevail.
  • Choose to be a maverick! Stand up for what is right, even when it’s not popular and it may cost you your job–who cares. There’s another job out there that won’t ask you to compromise your ethics and integrity. Walk your truth, people will respect you for it. Most importantly, you’ll respect yourself.
  • Leadership is about relationships. Never compromise time spent with the people on your team–they need you. Everything else is less of a priority. Period. Reschedule that meeting, postpone a sales call, tell your boss that you can’t meet. Your #1 priority is meeting with everyone on your team for at least 30-minutes every week. If you feel that all you’re doing is meeting with your team, good! You’re here to serve the people on your team, it’s not the other way around. If you do this, you’ll become a top performer because people will work hard for you. Why? Because they care about YOU, not the company.
  • Don’t make conversations all about business. When you meet with people on your team ask them how they’re doing, how their family is, what they did on the weekend, or if their child is feeling better. Make it personal. Spend the first 30 minutes of your day walking around and talking with the people on your team. Care about the people you lead and they will care about you.
  • Network. Don’t put yourself in a silo. Spending time with the people on your team is #1 priority, meeting and building relationships with everyone else is priority #2. Your team will no doubt ask you to pull off miracles: get more money, hire more people, attain more space, etc. If you personally know the right people in the business, and they like you, you’ll be able to move mountains. That said, people will only like you if you’re authentic. Don’t play the harsh political game. Always remember, givers gain! People will want to help you if they know you genuinely care about them as a person and want to help them succeed.
  • Keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something do it. Don’t lie, fudge the truth or withhold information for any reason. If you have been asked not to share confidential information simply say, “I’ve been asked not to share information at this time. The moment I have approval to share more I will let you know.” If you lie for any reason, your team will never trust you. Trust is the magic ingredient to engagement, performance and loyalty. Without trust you have nothing.
  • Take care of yourself. Higher-ups and peers will try to convince you that working 12 – 14 hours a day is needed to get the job done. They’re wrong. One of the best executives I’ve had the privilege of working with once told me, “If you’re working more than 8-hours a day you’re doing something wrong.” And they were right. How is this possible? Remember, the people on your team are brilliant. In fact, they are most likely more brilliant than you at their job (this is a good thing). Ask them to help you. That brings me to my next piece of advice.
  • Don’t be a control freak. Contrary to popular belief there are many different ways to get work done. You’re way is not always the best way. In fact, it probably isn’t. Give people the permission and protection to run the business in their own unique way. Yes, they will make mistakes. That’s okay. You’re job is to help them learn. If you find yourself working more than 8-hours a day, there’s a good chance you’re a control freak. Take a deep breath and let go. There’s hundreds of “tasks” that will come your way; your job is to figure out who can help you accomplish the work. Remember, your #1 priority is meeting with the people on your team, not writing the company memo. Yes, there will be times you need to roll up your sleeves to get the job done. That said, if your team is already helping, and you’re still working 12-14 hours a day, you may need to find another workplace that respects work/life balance.
  • You are smart and talented. Although leadership can be incredibly rewarding and fun, it can also be incredibly hard. There are moments you will doubt yourself. There are times you’ll feel alone and that the world is against you. In those moments remember how brilliant you are. You were given the leadership role for a reason, you have the ability to succeed.
  • Follow your intuition and honor your heart. Always follow your intuition, it will never steer you wrong.  And most of all, follow your heart. If you’re not happy, don’t stay because of the “golden handcuffs”, you will serve no one well (especially yourself) if you’re acting from a place of obligation–and you will look back at your life with regret. Choose to love what you do, and people will love you for it.
  • Last but not least…. have fun! Come on people, it’s not rocket science. Seriously, lighten up. At the end of the day, it’s a job. Life is about the lessons we learn and who we love. Keep perspective. And never sacrifice your happiness for the time clock.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

You’re Bloody Brilliant

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In case someone hasn’t already told you, let me just say, “You are brilliant.” In fact, you are the most brilliant person in your life. You are so smart that you have the ability to answer any life question, accomplish anything you put your mind to, and your ideas are so phenomenal they have the ability to inspire and motivate everyone around you to be better and more self-confident. Without a doubt, you are brilliant.

Now here’s the reality, you may not feel brilliant or that your ideas are phenomenal. In fact, you may feel the exact opposite. You see, our society, especially Corporate America, has taught us the art of self-degradation. In fact, most people have become so good at the art form they literally insult and condemn themselves out loud in order to save themselves from public shame and humiliation. People think things like, If I tell everyone how stupid I am right now someone may think it’s funny. They might even respond by telling me how smart I am–that will make me feel better. And then people might not think I’m so stupid. Reverse psychology at its best.

Here’s the deal: most people have been doing this self-degradation thing for years–some, since they were born. What you may not know is that self-degradation is a form of mental programing. The psychology is simple: the human mind will believe what is heard repeatedly as truth. In other words, keep telling yourself you’re stupid and you will believe you’re stupid. Tell a child, or a young adult they’re stupid and they will believe it for life. I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a society where I am surrounded by brilliance not stupidity. Moral to the story: be respectful when you’re talking to yourself, and show compassion when you’re talking to others.

Today, make the choice to acknowledge your brilliance as truth. It doesn’t matter your IQ score, how far up the corporate ladder you’ve climbed, or what anyone else has told you in this life–you are brilliant. It’s now time to put your head up, stand tall and walk forward in this truth. And when you’re walking forward, and someone chooses not to acknowledge your brilliance, simply say, “I’m bloody brilliant”.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.