Do You Know Your Employee's Engagement Language?

Written by: Jay Forte | 5:38 pm

Back in 1992, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages, a book that wonderfully and easily shared that we all feel loved in primarily one of 5 ways. Knowing our love language and the love language of the important people in our lives helps us better understand how to share what we need and how to better understand what others need from us. This awareness has changed countless relationships.

This had me thinking about the employee-manager relationship. We know that this is the critical performance relationship in any organization – the need for employees and managers to connect. Based on results from the Gallup Organization, we see that nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, and a large part of this has to do with an ineffective relationship between managers and employees. In fact, the Gallup shares that one in two employees who leave an organization, leave because of their manager.

What if we could identify the engagement language that an employee needs so that a manager could get it right more often? Knowing that we are all different and unique, why would we think that any kind of one-size-fits-all approach to connection, engagement and to making employees feel valuable would be effective?

Here are my suggestions for four employee engagement languages.

Words of appreciation – some employees look for the compliment and supportive applause; it activates their inner higher performer. There is a chronic shortage of praise in the workplace. This isn’t about artificial praise; it is praise for work well done. When an employee who thrives on being noticed for his or her hard work and contribution receives words of appreciation, it creates a great sense of personal value. Who on your team needs this?

Personal time – some employees like and need the one-on-one time with a manager. They feel valuable and important when the manager intentionally makes time to teach, guide or support in a personal way. Though all employees should have time with a manager, some employees are more actively engaged by personalized attention and time. Who on your time needs this?

Awards and gifts – some employees are more competitive than others and find trophies, awards or gifts more engaging. These then become tangible representations of effort, validation and applause that encourage and drive engagement. Who on your team needs this?

Development opportunities – some employees crave doing more, having more responsibilities, being in charge and having a larger influence. New and challenging activities, tasks and responsibilities activate them and are engaged by being selected for new and additional tasks. Who on your team needs this?

Our greatest impact, influence and connection with our employees can happen only when we take the time to really know them; we each should have a process of discovering our employees’ talents, values, interests, skills and unique abilities. Additionally, we should learn to speak their engagement language – the things we can do for them that activate their greater engagement and effort.  How would you feel if your manager knew how to say or do the right thing to engage you more? What would it do for your performance, contribution and loyalty?

What If Every Day Were Thanksgiving?

Written by: Jay Forte | 12:44 pm

My heart is in your hands

Holidays help us focus. In our busy and distracted lives we stop and notice something – mothers, fathers, religious events, new years and a day to be grateful.

It seems ironic that we would have “a” day to be grateful. Science and religion agree that being grateful does amazing things to our bodies, minds, communities and our world. So I ask the question, what if every day were thanksgiving – having a focus on being grateful for whatever it is we see and choose to be grateful for?

So if every day were a day of thanksgiving,

  • How would your life be different?
  • How would your relationships, your work and your life be different?
  • How would our world and our connections with other countries, cultures and peoples be different?
  • How would you look past the disappointments and focus on the blessings?
  • How would you inspire others to see and live what is best in them?

We learn from holidays that we need to stop things for a moment to focus on something or someone important. The goal is not to stop, remember, celebrate – then move on. Rather, the stop, remember and celebrate is to change us from the inside out – to create a new awareness that then helps us be more present, more loving and better in our next moments. Holidays are teachers – they help us learn important lessons that are to guide and support us through life. We lose the lesson if we focus on the turkey for Thanksgiving, the presents for Christmas or Chanukah,  the candy for Easter, the gifts for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days. The lesson in each of these relates to an inner value that is important to learn to make our lives better, stronger and happier.

As we look over the gift of food on Thanksgiving, may it help us remember that for all that we have, there are others that don’t – here and across the world. How can we become more compassionate, more generous and kinder?

As we look at our families that sometimes drive us crazy and don’t always agree – how can we see unique individuals all finding their way in our world. How can we be patient, empathetic and supportive?

As we see the manic rush to get into Christmas shopping that encourages us to almost lose Thanksgiving – can we commit to being more fully present in this moment – appreciating it, soaking it up and holding it dearly before we push past it for the next distracting moment? How can we be present, patient and relaxed fully engaged in what we are doing?

Holidays can make us run faster – our big to-do lists of all the things we “need” to do to have a perfect day. They make us run faster until we see that their real message is to actually to get us to slow down, focus on the people and reasons for the holiday, and be really connected to this very moment. What does it give you? What does it teach you? How does it help to add yet one more great thing to your life?

How do you want your holidays to change – to improve – you? Let their message speak to you and carry its lessons forward to every day. If every day were Thanksgiving we would truly live in a kinder, more compassionate and more generous world. Let’s bring that lesson forward.

Be Adaptable - The Key To Success In A Changing World

Written by: Jay Forte | 12:52 pm

adaptableLife throws things in our way – roadblocks. We start something only to find that we can’t seem to achieve it, connect with it, finish it, make money from it, stay in relationship with it – have things go the way we want. The way to thrive – and to be ready for life – is to learn to ask ourselves this question in these situations: What is another way to do, view or consider this?

Our go-to, default response isn’t always the best one or the one that works. But when many of us meet an obstacle, we back down, quit, give up or just say “why bother?”

Be adaptable

I teach a youth leadership program. Some of the students wanted to host a particular event as part of their required community service project at a local venue. The venue manager said no to their idea and the students were ready to quit the program.

A colleague friend of mine was interested in getting a new idea implemented in his workplace. He was convinced it would make the difference he wanted to make to improve a process that directly affected customers. He brought the idea to his manager who said no to the idea. He called me to vent and to say, “why bother?”

All that has happened in these situations is that they bumped into a block – a challenge or an obstacle. How committed are we to our plan, idea or thought if at the first encounter of an obstacle or that someone says no, we drop it and give up?

They say that challenges and obstacles are life’s greatest learning situations – not when things go our way – but when things don’t go our way. These force us to rethink and reconsider. These force us to be resilient and adaptable.

Challenges test our resolve

How committed and passionate we are about an idea, a project or even a relationship influences the energy we bring to it? This is the reason we always talk about passions when we talk about abilities. Someone may have the abilities to do something but without the fuel – the passion – an obstacle can shut them down. The more passionate and committed they are, the more adaptable, resilient and tenacious they become.

To build your adaptability muscle, consider the following:

  1. Check in on your motives. How badly do you want this? See the value and impact of what you are doing to find the energy and resilience to keep pushing forward. If you don’t really believe in what you are doing, every obstacle will be enough to shut you down. If it truly doesn’t matter, let it go. If it truly does matter, keep pushing for it.
  2. Have a plan B. Life just doesn’t always go as planned; we know this but yet we still are disappointed when things don’t go our way. Go into your situations knowing you many need to shift to another plan or direction so have one in mind. By creating a plan B, you are also expanding your understanding of your situation to be able to see greater opportunities.
  3. Find an adaptability mentor. Who inspires you not to give in, but rather to keep going, find a way and be resilient? Whose life story or circumstances show you that we all have the ability of dealing with what life sends us. Use their story and success to stay focused, get back up and find another way.

To be ready for life requires that you be flexible, resilient and adaptable. These are “got to have” abilities to be part of a changing and dynamic world. If one road is blocked, don’t give up – simply tap into your inner genius to find another way.


To See A Genius, Look In The Mirror

Written by: Jay Forte | 1:34 pm

geniusYou are a genius. No, I am not talking about your IQ. And I am not talking about whether you work for Apple.

You are a genius because you are amazing, talented, inspiring and extraordinary. You are all these things. Me too. Maybe we haven’t figured out how to live them yet, but we are these things. Knowing this empowers us to make the effort to discover what genius we came packaged with so we can be ready for life – so we can choose to live life in a way that makes a difference to ourselves and our world.

What makes you a genius?

No genius is brilliant at everything – every genius is average at some things and is utterly amazing at others. To discover what makes you a genius requires you to be open to try new things, investigate and have the courage to see yourself and the world differently. By tuning in to who you are, you start to see the elements of genius you came packaged with. By developing the courage to be authentic, you gain access to your genius. But the decks are stacked against you; you are guided and encouraged to hide or cover up your genius.

You are taught in school to see things in the same way – the grass is green, the sky is blue and the sun is yellow; there is something wrong with you if you see shapes, colors or textures others don’t. You learn facts about the past to guide you how to think about the future. You sit in rows and memorize facts instead of following your passions, thinking independently and seeing your uniqueness as valuable and important. Your genius gets trained out of you – you learn to blend – you learn groupthink. It is easier to educate everyone in one way than to encourage each of us to see the world in our own unique and genius way.

We need our genius to be ready for life

Your genius is your guidance and fuel to live life in a way that matters – to tap into what is best in you and to use that best to build a great life and a better world. When you allow your unique genius to come forward, be developed and flourish, you expand what you see, think about and consider. This is how you can invent new and amazing things. This is how you can solve chronic or challenging problems. This is how you can find ways to change the world for the better. This is how you figure out who you are and how to show up to a life in a way that really matters.

So, what gets you ready for life? Discovering, developing and living your genius – your unique abilities.

And, what stops you? The loud voices around you that don’t see your genius or don’t consider your version of genius valuable.

Work hard to know your genius. Trust it and let it guide your decisions. And, the next time you look at someone, tune in to their ‘genius’ – their unique and amazing abilities. Get good at seeing and encouraging their genius – to allow them to be the best versions of themselves.

Be proud of your genius. See it as an amazing and remarkable part of your. Value it for how it makes you different. Value it for how it helps you find your way in a noisy and cluttered world. Value it because it lest you be the best version of you. Discover, developing and living your genius is how to be ready for life.

Replacing the Bathroom Faucet Game Me A Powerful Life Lesson

Written by: Jay Forte | 2:36 pm

Life Lesson

We got a new faucet for the bathroom – it was such a deal that it was impossible to say no. Replace the bathroom faucet on a pedestal sink – easy peasy. The old fixture was leaking but still wasn’t that old and everything is open and easy to get at – should be a nothing event to take of the old faucet and replace it with a new one. Maybe 30 minutes – tops.

Well, we know how home repairs go. The simple process of removing the old faucet was neither simple nor a process. Rusted fittings, bent pipes. It was like trying to get a flat tire off the car without the right tools.

But after a struggle it came off. Without it, cleaning the pedestal sink was a breeze. And now with this outdated leaky faucet gone, how amazing will this be to have a shiny new non-leaking faucet. I could feel the frustration of the struggle to get the sink to let go of the old faucet fade to excitement of finishing this unpalatable task. I found myself humming.

That is until I saw it. The new faucet had one large pipe to mount to the pedestal – the pedestal had three smaller holes. As I evaluated the situation, no matter how I tried to fit the thicker stem on the faucet into the smaller center pedestal hole, it just didn’t work. All humming stopped.

Anger stops all repairs

First option. Force it. What if I just bang the faucet into the opening? Hmmm. What could happen? I could break the sink and now a free faucet will cost hundreds of dollars for a new sink. Not a good idea.

Second option – enlarge the hole. Good idea. Search the toolbox – I had never ground porcelain before so nothing I had in the toolbox seemed right. Humming moved to frustration. Frustration was brewing into anger. Words I hadn’t used in a while were rolling off my tongue in every part of speech – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs – even gerunds. My English teachers would have been so proud of effective use of grammar, tenses and parts of speech. In a huff, I headed to the hardware store to buy a grinding bit. I needed to gently widen the hole in the porcelain – too fast and it would break. If I stayed in this mood, I would break it. Calm down.

The first trip (yes, first trip – you know where this is going) to the hardware store brought back a grinding disc to use with my drill. A minute into sanding and the head of the disc broke off. I bought the cheapest one and got my money’s worth. Good thing I did not have a hammer near me – that saved me from what could have been hours repairing the hole I would have put in the wall. I found myself so angry and so frustrated over something so ridiculous. I drove back to the hardware store like a banshee – aggravated, frustrated, pissed off and completely out of control. I bought several strong grinding bits, determined not to have to shop again today.

At home, I added the bit to the drill and started. Gently rolling the grinding bit around the circle started to widen the opening. The movement around the circle created a gentle rhythm that was actually calming. I focused on the task now, almost enjoying it. After an hour of grinding gently, the opening was sufficiently wide enough and the new faucet slide perfectly into the pedestal. I connected the hoses and the faucet worked like the star it was made to be.

Why is it that we loose our cool over little things?

Life lessons are everywhere

I realized in that moment, that when life sends us challenges – like a faucet that doesn’t fit the opening in the sink – we simply need to slow down, consider our options, decide on the one we want to try and patiently go forward. There was nothing about this faucet repair that warranted my internal outbursts, anger, temper or my elaborate use of curse words, in every language. Nothing. It simply needed me to see this as just one situation needing my best response – like all other things in life. And my best response comes from managing my emotions, staying calm, gathering information, thinking it through and diligently working a plan – not in acting like an out-of-control maniac. Thank you universe – I got the message. In fact I am remind of this message every time I see or use this faucet.

So how does this event remind you of your parenting? What are the events that get you to boil over when all that is needed is to tune in calmly to see things differently?

How does this event remind you of your workplace? How do employees activate your hot buttons about things that don’t really matter?

How does this even remind you of your relationships? How do those you love do and say things that drive you crazy, when all that really happened is they just said or did something – you allowed it to drive you crazy?

I let this little household task get the best of me. But in the end I made peace with the faucet and thanked it for the lesson. Patience. Resilience. Calmness. All of these help us succeed with whatever comes our way. Get upset for the things that really require it – that probably amounts to 1% of the things in our day. For everything else, just learn the lesson of the faucet – stay calm, think it through, have a plan, work the plan then celebrate your success.

What lessons is life providing you so you can show up better on the other side?

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