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Why Appreciation Matters So Much

Why Appreciation Matters So Much
by Tony Schwartz

I’ve just returned from an offsite with our team at The Energy Project. As we concluded, I asked each person to take a few moments to say what he or she felt most proud of accomplishing over the past year.

After each of their brief recountings, I added some observations about what I appreciated in that person. Before long, others were chiming in. The positive energy was contagious, but it’s not something we can ever take for granted.

Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter — that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we’re recognized for it.

The single highest driver of engagement, according to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged.

Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.

So why is it that openly praising or expressing appreciation to other people at work can so easily seem awkward, contrived, mawkish and even disingenuous?

The obvious answer is that we’re not fluent in the language of positive emotions in the workplace. We’re so unaccustomed to sharing them that we don’t feel comfortable doing so. Heartfelt appreciation is a muscle we’ve not spent much time building, or felt encouraged to build.

Oddly, we’re often more experienced at expressing negative emotions — reactively and defensively, and often without recognizing their corrosive impact on others until much later, if we do at all.

That’s unfortunate. The impact of negative emotions — and more specifically the feeling of being devalued — is incredibly toxic. As Daniel Goleman has written, “Threats to our standing in the eyes of others are almost as powerful as those to our very survival.”

In one well-known study, workers who felt unfairly criticized by a boss or felt they had a boss who didn’t listen to their concerns had a 30 percent higher rate of coronary disease than those who felt treated fairly and with care.

In the workplace itself, researcher Marcial Losada has found that among high-performing teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs that of negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1. By contrast, low-performing teams have a ratio of .36 to 1.

So what are the practical steps you can take, especially as a manager, to use appreciation in the service of building a higher-performing (and more sustainable) team?

1. As the Hippocratic oath prescribes to physicians, “Above all else, do no harm.” Or perhaps more accurately, do less harm, since it’s unrealistic to do none. The costs of devaluing others are so great that we need to spend far more time thinking than we do now about how to hold people’s value, even in situations where they’ve fallen short and our goal is get them to change their behavior for the better.

2. Practice appreciation by starting with yourself. If you have difficulty openly appreciating others, it’s likely you also find it difficult to appreciate yourself. Take a few moments at the end of the day to ask yourself this simple question: “What can I rightly feel proud of today?” If you are committed to constant self-improvement, you can also ask yourself, “What could I do better tomorrow?” Both questions hold your value.

3. Make it a priority to notice what others are doing right. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get at it, and the more natural it will become for you. For example, start by thinking about what positive qualities, behaviors and contributions you currently take for granted among the members of your team. Then ask yourself, what is it that each of them uniquely brings to the table?

4. Be appreciative. The more specific you can be about what you value — and the more you notice what’s most meaningful to that person — the more positive your impact on that person is likely to be. A handwritten note makes a bigger impression than an email or a passing comment, but better any one of them than nothing at all.

We’re all more vulnerable and needy than we like to imagine. Authentically appreciating others will make you feel better about yourself, and it will also increase the likelihood they’ll invest more in their work, and in you. The human instinct for reciprocity runs deep.

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

9:44 AM Monday January 23, 2012 | Comments (70)

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Career Changes

 

Job Discrimination Over 40

Have you Been Discriminated against during the Job Seeking Process? Then this Article should enlighten you.

While most of you are looking for jobs. It is worth noting that there are congressional laws and organizations charged with compliance. Hopefully your job search does not lead you down this path. But?

“Section 201 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) provides that all personnel actions affecting covered employees 40 years old or older shall be free from discrimination based on age. The CAA only protects individuals who are at least 40 years old against discrimination. Individuals younger than 40 are not protected.

The law generally forbids the use of age as a motivating factor in personnel actions, such as hiring, discharge, promotion, pay, or benefits. A covered employee over 40 may also assert that he or she is harassed because of age if certain conduct creates a hostile work environment or interferes with an individual’s work performance.

There is no single test for determining whether age was a motivating factor in an alleged discriminatory action, but instead, proving motivation will depend on the facts of the individual case. For example, placing a phrase like “age 25-50” or “young” or “college student” in a help-wanted notice or advertisement may be evidence of discriminatory motive. Furthermore, a covered employee must prove that he or she was treated differently from others in similar circumstances and that age was a motivating factor in that treatment.

There are several exceptions to the general prohibition on age discrimination. The employing office must prove that the conditions for a particular exception have been met.
Your Rights Under the Congressional Accountability Act Age Discrimination Section 201 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) provides that all personnel actions affecting covered employees shall be free from age discrimination for those forty years old or older. This includes hiring, discharge, promotion, pay, benefits, reassignment, and other personnel actions affecting the terms and conditions of employment. Key Provisions Under the Law # The CAA only protects individuals who are at least forty years old against discrimination; individuals younger than forty are not protected. # Harassment because of age is also prohibited – insults, jokes, slurs, or other conduct relating to age may be unlawful if they create a hostile work environment or interfere with an individual’s work performance. # Proving motivation depends on the facts of a particular case. A covered employee must prove that he or she was treated differently from others in similar circumstances, and that age was a motivating factor in that treatment. # Bona fide seniority or merit systems may be used so long as they are not instituted to discriminate on the basis of age.

Frequently Asked Questions About Age Discrimination
Q. What actions by an employing office are unlawful when taken against an employee aged 40 or older? A. An employing office is prohibited from discriminating because of age against an employee aged 40 or older by failing or refusing to hire, discharging, or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Limiting, segregating, or classifying an employee in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of an employment opportunity because of the employee’s age is also prohibited.
Q. How does an employee establish a claim of age discrimination? A. By demonstrating that an adverse action taken by an employing office was actually motivated by age. For example, an employee may have direct evidence of discrimination, or discrimination may be inferred when: (a) the employee is within the protected age group (aged 40 or older); (b)the employee was doing satisfactory work; (c) the employee was discharged despite the adequacy of his or her work; and (d) the position was filled by a younger employee.
Q. What remedies does an employee aged 40 or older have if an employing office discriminated against that employee based on the employee’s age? A. An employee may have a right to be hired, reinstated, or promoted. In addition, an employee may be entitled to unpaid wages or overtime compensation and liquidated damages.”

More info on the Article from The Office of Compliance:
http://www.compliance.gov/employeerights/er_agediscrimination.html

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Career Changes

 

Tell Monster.com: Stop discriminating against the unemployed

On Monster.com, employers are allowed to prevent anyone who is currently unemployed from applying for a job.

It’s cruel to the millions of Americans out of work — but you can put an end to it this week.

Kelly Wiedemer, who lost her job in 2008, has launched a campaign demanding that Monster.com ban these discriminatory ads. I’m one of the original 99ers. Before losing my job amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I was living the American Dream. I paid for my own college education, working full-time while attending night classes at Metropolitan State College of Denver. I bought my own home. And I had a great job as a business analyst.

That was then. In 2008, as the stock market crashed and companies were panicking, I became one of the millions of Americans laid-off and seeking employment. As an experienced business analyst, I routinely used sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder to look for job opportunities. Gradually, however, it dawned on me that my status as an unemployed person was a serious problem. One agency rep told me after an interview, “I’ll recommend you to the hiring manager but your employment gap is going to be a hard sell.”

This is happening everywhere. Many employers are discriminating against the jobless by prohibiting us from even applying for open positions. And they’re using sites like Monster.com to do it.

The National Employment Law Project recently conducted a review of job listings on Monster.com and CareerBuilder and found 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status.

Employers shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against the unemployed. Sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com can do their part by banning these kinds of discrimatory employment ads from their networks.

This type of ad is already illegal in New Jersey, and there’s legislation pending in Congress that would do the same nationwide. Let’s force companies to end this practice.

A nationwide backlash against the company, which treasures its reputation as a website that helps people find jobs, will force Monster.com to act.
Sign the petition asking major employment websites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com to refuse ads from companies that prohibit the unemployed from applying.

The solution is simple – major job sites like Monster.com can just say “no” to discriminating against the unemployed. By preventing these ads from running on their job networks, they’ll help end this practice by employers.

Please sign the petition today asking Monster.com to stop discriminating against the unemployed.

Thanks for being a changemaker,

– Jess and the Change.org team

This email was sent by Change.org Start a petition.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Career Changes

 

MBA Debt: The Burden Grows Heavier & Gets Scarier

In 2008, Brian Jenkins moved to Malibu, Calif., to start his MBA at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. He had big ambitions for B-school, expecting the degree to help him land a job in human resources at a top company. He hoped to make close to a six-figure salary, too.

Pepperdine seemed poised to deliver. When he was a mere applicant, the admissions director gave him a personal tour of the business school, which commands a stunning perch overlooking the Pacific. His student experience was “amazing,” he says, handing top marks to his professors and classmates. He loved his courses and wrote an up-beat student blog. The weather – “perfect every day” – was an added perk.

To pay for all it, Jenkins took out $120,000 in loans. But Jenkins’ six-figure-salary job never materialized. “The career services staff basically said, ‘We’ll help you edit your resume, good luck out there,’” he recalls. “That was a little miss-sold to me (when I applied). A lot of (my classmates) found jobs paying $55,000 to $65,000 per year, and they were very excited that they had a job. A lot of people didn’t get jobs like that.”

In fact, Jenkins’ class earned a mean base salary of $69,167, according Pepperdine’s official stats–but they also owed an average $66,242. But the school that ranks 78th in the country happens to rank 20th in having the largest MBA debt. When the economy was doing well, and there was upward mobility, it made not have made all that much of a difference. MBAs then made sense, Jenkins believes. “People were able to mange their debt load. (Now), people are putting off families and buying homes.”

SIX-FIGURE DEBT IS NOW COMMON FOR MOST TOP MBAS

MBAs like Jenkins are shouldering record levels of debt, approaching a tipping point that makes the degree – no matter how good the experience and learning – a risky investment that isn’t always being approached with financial caution and restraint. It’s now common for many graduates to leave a top business school with six-figure debt, and in some cases, MBAs are graduating with more than $150,000 in loans that will take them ten or more years to pay back.

At a few elite business schools, including Wharton and Columbia, the “average” debt burden is already in six figures. Wharton grads left Philadelphia last year with loans that averaged $109,836–the most among all B-schools. Overall, graduates from Poets&Quants’ top-ten U.S. MBA programs owed an average $87,049 last year (MIT-Sloan did not release its debt figures). (See 25 B-Schools That Lead to the Most Debt)

Several business schools, including Stanford and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, expect these numbers to go much higher this year. The reason: Many students are starting their MBAs with diminished assets due to the Great Recession. They drained their bank accounts as the economy went south to maintain their lifestyles so many of them will have to borrow more than earlier classes to get the degree. And they’re doing so at a time when starting salaries for MBAs, by and large, have flattened.

“The numbers scare me,” concedes Diane Bonin, director financial aid at the Tuck School. “People coming in are making a little bit less and have much less in available savings.” She expects the average debt burden of latest Tuck grads to rise to $98,500 from the record $96,292 last year.

‘IF YOU’RE RECKLESS (WITH STUDENT DEBT), YOU CAN CHOP YOUR ARM OFF’

Taking on debt has become a big enough issue to a few MBA hopefuls and alums that several have started blogs to address it. No Debt MBA, a Boston-based female blogger who will begin classes at a top B-school this fall, vows to get through the experience without a dollar of debt. “I think debt is a lot like a miter saw,” she says. “As a skilled user it can be a really useful tool for getting work done, but if you’re reckless you can chop your arm off. Many students seem to be blissfully chopping away, and I am slightly terrified of becoming one of them.”

The MBA-bound blogger, however, is a rare exception. In general, the incoming Class of 2013 expresses little concern over taking out the “miter saw.” Like Jenkins at Pepperdine, they’re betting that the degree will payoff in the long run, providing salaries and bonuses that will easily allow them to repay the loans. “No one says, ‘how am I going to pay for this?’ says Rod Garcia, director of MBA admissions at MIT’s Sloan School. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years. A place like MIT is a low risk, high reward investment. With other schools, it may not be that situation.”

by Mica Bevington

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Career Changes

 

Why Skills and Experience are Irrelevant when Hiring

One reason hiring fails is because people focus on the person’s skills and experience, and then if everyone likes the person, they are the right person and will be successful. This is not true. I have asked thousands of CEOs and key executives if they have ever hired someone with an excellent resume, that had all the right skills and experience, that the interviewing team really (I mean really) liked and once that person came on board the person fell flat on their face within 6 months. Usually about 99% reply, “Yes.” How could this happen if skills and experience are so relevant? The fact is, just because a person has all the right skills and experience and everyone likes them, that doesn’t mean that they will be successful. These things are important but having the right skills and experience isn’t what is relevant when making a good hire. What is relevant when making a good hire is whether or not the person can apply these skills and experience in your organization. Can they apply them to achieve the results you need? Can they apply them effectively in your culture? If they can’t, they are not the right candidate for your organization.Skills and experience are simply tools every candidate brings to the job. The ability to use them effectively is what matters. I know many people that have golf clubs in their car and have been playing golf for 20 years, can swing the club over 100 miles per hour, and have taken so many lessons that if an MBA in golf existed they would have one. Even with all of these skills and experience they still aren’t on the PGA tour. Why? Because having skills and experience is different from applying them. When hiring, it is important that the person you choose can apply these effectively in your organization and your culture.One problem is that when we define things around skills and experience the interviewing process often becomes focused on these rather than the real job. For example, if you were hiring a CFO, most job descriptions would define the ideal person as a CPA, 10+ years experience, 5 years industry experience, knowledge of GAAP, financial reporting, cash management experience, good leadership skills, etc. All of these are important, but not what you really want to hire. What you really might want is a CFO that can improve cash flow by 10%, implement a cash management system, reduce overhead costs by x% within x number of months and have accurate financial statements within three days of the close. This is the real job and requires the person to have the right skills and experience or they could not achieve these goals. When you are ready to make your next hire, instead of focusing on the person’s background, focus on how they would apply those skills and experience to achieve the results you are seeking. Ask yourself this, “If you hired someone with all the skills and experience listed above, what are the odds they could achieve the results listed?”Just because a person has the skills and experience you seek doesn’t mean they can deliver the results you need. But if they can deliver the results you seek that means they have the skills and experience you need. I don’t know if that is 10 years, 8 years, or 15 years, and it doesn’t matter, they have enough to deliver the results.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Career Changes

 

Layoffs vs Pay cuts. How Wall Street May Trim Comp

Some folks are saying investment bankers are due for a round of major pay cuts.

Return on common equity has fallen at big banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, but compensation-to-revenue ratios haven’t budged by much.

If finance executives are going to trim comp, however, odds are good they will do so with layoffs. Bosses have historically preferred to cut jobs, which arguably is less harmful to morale and productivity.

Even in the darkest days of the recent crisis, the companies that trimmed checks had a bit of a one-for-all culture, like FedEx, which gave a 5% haircut to 36,000 workers. Finance, a business where there is often a loser on the other side of every winner, is a bit of a different animal.

And the key to making a pay cut work most efficiently is having it perceived by workers as equal and unilateral. In a recent study on people selling membership cards to German nightclubs, an across-the-board wage cut was met with a 15% reduction in productivity. However, a wage cut to only one worker in a two-person team prompted a 31% to 34% decline in productivity for that unlucky individual while their partner’s productivity was unchanged.

In investment banking, a business marked by layers of seniority and a largely fluid practice of doling out the bonus pool, the appearance of even-handedness would be hard to achieve.

In other words, Wall Street may well get the axe out for shareholders, but don’t look for it to swing at compensation packages, one of the industry’s last sacred cows.

Advertise Yourself on Facebook (FINS)
Some job candidates are buying ads pitching their services directly to prospective employers on Facebook and other social networking sites. Creative or creepy?

Is HBS Cooling on Wall Street? (WSJ)
The share of Harvard Business School entrants with finance experience dropped to 25% from 32% last year. Harvard says it’s getting more strong applicants from other industries.

No Experience Necessary (Registered Rep)
With 14% of financial advisors over age 60, Wells Fargo Advisor is trying to lure career changers to the business. Almost two-thirds of the firm’s January hires were rookies.

Featured Job
Associate Manager – Financial Analysis
Novo Nordisk, Princeton, NJ Posted 6/13/2011

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Obama’s Street Strategy (NetNet)
NetNet has a playbook on how Obama can mend ties with Wall Street donors. Among other things, it suggests dropping the “fat cats” label and wooing young staffers.

How to Raise an Entrepreneur (WSJ)
Apparently, it goes beyond the lemonade stand. A wide range of experts weigh in on how to cultivate a curious mind (there’s a great anecdote about a young Sam Zell peddling Playboys).

…however (Forbes)
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. A career coach makes a case for traditional jobs; they don’t require as much selling and they often provide a better work/life balance.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Career Changes

 

Facing age discrimination in the workplace

No matter what laws exist, age discrimination is practiced every day in American business and industry. It’s just a fact of life, and in a poor economy, it is even more prevalent. Some of the other workplace discriminations are disappearing because of gradual social changes and enforcement of the laws. The most prominent were hiring and promoting prejudices because of skin color and gender, Most of that has disappeared because activists went into the streets and voters went to the polls to end those kinds of overt discrimination.

Of course, there are formal ways to let your voice be heard if you believe you’ve suffered discrimination because of your age. Some suggestions include:

1. When the situation arises, such as you believe you’re refused a job because of your age, or you don’t get a promotion because of your age, start keeping specific records. Get dates, names of people involved, list inappropriate interview questions and other events you believe involve age discrimination against you.

2. Write up a concise report of the history in time-line sequences of the discrimination happenings. If there were witnesses to such events, ask them to provide their written observations and opinions of what went on. If there were any written materials, such as emails, you believe expose discrimination against you, keep copies.

3. When you have all the facts on paper, make your request to management for an interview regarding your belief that you’ve suffered discrimination. If you must go up the line from supervisor to manager to executive, make sure you are not stopped before you get to the highest company authority. In face-to-face meetings, give the facts in a businesslike way, and don’t let uncontrolled anger or frustration weaken your case.

4. If company authorities agree to investigate, be willing to cooperate in every way. If it requires more than one meeting and additional paperwork, do it willingly.
Commission (EEOC). Then, of course, file your complaint.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Career Changes

 

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