I’d like to share the steps my team and I have been utilizing while we prepare for being out of the office. As I go on vacation the next two weeks, I'm looking forward to truly unplugging. These 8 easy steps show you how to enjoy your time off and make a great vacation - so you can come back to work refreshed and motivated.
Encouraging team connection is one of the most vital principles of infusing a thriving culture into your organization. A book club is an easy way to facilitate this, with
like-minded team members gathering and bonding over a shared experience.
At the firm I work with, Actualize, we’ve had numerous versions of book clubs over the years, and we’re just getting ready to begin another. Here are some tips on how you can start a book club within your organization (or even with a group of friends or family):
1.) Survey the team on the frequency and types of books to explore. (We landed on quarterly after discovering it was too hard to keep up with reading one book a month.)
2.) Choose a club leader with co-leaders to manage each book’s selection,
check-ins, and discussion sessions. This encourages participation and allows others to share the ownership.
3.) Invite the team to select the next book via a brief survey listing several potential books, after asking for new recommendations. The majority vote determines final selection.
4.) Choose a time to discuss the book. Be sure to send a list of questions* before the meeting so everyone is prepared to participate. (We identified this pre-discussion list of questions as a best practice to focus our time together.)
If your team is remote and you cannot meet in person, either have a conference call or utilize a video conference technology, such as Zoom, to make the meetings more personal.
What is the significance of the title? How did you interpret it prior to reading the book? Were you pulled effortlessly into the book, or did you have difficulty getting into it? Why? What have you gained from reading this book?
5.) Summarize key points from the book and distribute these to the entire firm. This strategy may entice new members to join!
What are some of your favorite books or experiences with book clubs? I would love to hear from you to help us get our book club back in session!
Do you have a to-do list a mile high? Too much on your plate? Have you ever had a hard time delegating? I know this has been a struggle for me over the years.
With guidance from my team of coaches, I have been focusing even more attention on delegating and empowering others.
First, I was guided to notice which tasks did not “light me up.” I got honest and realized they were mostly administrative in nature. I asked my internal team to step up and take ownership of their newly delegated responsibilities.
I see how they are more empowered as I let them take the lead. My long-term finance manager truly took the increase in responsibility and ownership to heart and led the operational side of our UK office opening.
Her efforts were rewarded when we promoted her mid-year.
Second, I was faced with giving up those activities that do “light me up.” I love to write and create, yet do not have the capacity to promote my line of mindful children’s books or my themed, soft squeezable Zendoway cubes with motivational prompts on each side.
I handed over the social media platforms that support my books and cubes to two interns, one leading the way as this is her second year working with me. At first, I “helped” them by giving them ideas and guidance, but I soon saw that I was just getting in the way. Steve Jobs once said, “The greatest people are self-managing. Once they know what to do they’ll go figure out how to do it. What they need is a common vision.”
I took this to heart; sharing my vision, I let them go and watched my interns create from their authentic selves as they successfully transformed the “Zendoway” social media sites.
The result of delegating and letting go of the details are increased sales, leads, and a fun and unique social media presence.
Watch the video that Maddie, my second-year intern, created:
Each time I see a new post, I smile. I am proud of letting go of a couple of my babies. I am proud of the accountability Maddie has exhibited in her role. And what an experience to start her career! I love that I am providing a meaningful internship, giving her the opportunity to shine, manage the other intern, and build her resume with something tangible she will always remember. The other good news is that Maddie has told me of the positive impact my work is having on her life, helping her be more mindful and less stressed.
How can you get started with delegating?
When my coaches requested the above, I laughed. Yet, now it is a focus and I am continually asking myself, "Do I need to do this task, or would it be better served by another member of my team? Is this task even necessary?"
The result? I feel lighter and free to focus on my passion of helping others. My team and interns are rising to the challenge wholeheartedly and feeling more empowered to lead. And this approach shows an example of me being an intentional leader which is the first principle in my book Culture Infusion.
Ask me how I can help your organization to Make a Great Day and help your teams delegate more.
Recently I shared about how to allow your teams to totally unplug. Watch my video on my vacation confession of how I was not following my own advice nor was I sharing it with the entire team.
Now others are giving themselves the gift of a clean inbox upon return from vacation.
When I think of the 4th of July, my mind immediately jumps to fireworks and the way they light up the sky and our spirit. This picture is my son after being able to take the lead on lighting fireworks (notice the lighter in his hands). Did you know that our passion can do the same thing? Passion excites us and lights us up to chase our goals and dreams. What are the fireworks in your life?
Think back to a time at work or school where you enjoyed a project you were working on. Did it feel like work? When we are passionate about what we are doing, the time we spend “working” seems more like time spent playing.
This is a lesson I’ve used as both a parent with my kids and as a leader at Actualize. With my kids, this lesson has helped me come up with summer projects to keep their academic skills sharp - projects they actually enjoy and do without me telling them to!
A few years ago, at work, our team was complaining about how we were setting goals and doing performance reviews; They weren’t sure how what they were doing aligned with our firm’s mission. We decided to shift our goals to focus more on our people. We came up with 3As – accountability, acumen and aspiration – to help our employees identify areas that they can be accountable for that will not only hone their skills but also help them aspire to reach more goals.
This week, I challenge you to think about where you might be pushing someone. Where might you be pushing yourself? How can you align your goals or your team’s goals with joy? What lights you up?
In Culture Infusion, I noted the importance of finding your passion and using it to fuel both your personal and professional lives. We can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere, as long as we are open. I discovered this truth anew when I attended the National Kids Yoga Conference in October 2017; I had no idea I would be leaving with a new partner and co-creator—the Amal Alliance—as well as a new cube idea—The Happy Cube—for my wellness company, Zendoway.
All the cubes I’ve created so far have meaning, but this one is special because it was made to provide emotional support to children in refugee camps. We even worked with psychologists to get the wording just right and make sure teachers can use the cube with children who have survived trauma to guide them in coping with their emotions.
The Happy Cube is intended to engage children through movement on multiple emotional levels inspired by self-compassion, mindful expression, self-regulation, happiness, and loving-kindness.
When we give back, we share a deeper sense of connection. This is true both personally and professionally. In my book Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture, encouraging team connection and giving back is principle 9. Giving back is engrained in the culture of Actualize Consulting, and as one way of enhancing corporate social responsibility, we encourage cause-related employee activities that we are passionate about.
So far, I’ve sent 150 Happy Cubes to the Amal Alliance’s Smile 4 Happiness pilot program, which “aims to channel inner strength and positivity through recreational activities, athletic programs, mindfulness, and fostering creativity for displaced youth.” For every Zendoway Cube package purchased, I will donate an additional cube to a displaced child in an Amal Alliance safe learning space.
I’ve always been passionate about kids. They are the reason behind why I started making Zendoway cubes in the first place—as a way to get breathing into my kids’ schools without using words like “meditation.” What started out as one cube has morphed into 12, and now even counselors and corporate offices use them. At Actualize, we give out a Principles cube—which outlines many of the components of Culture Infusion like breathing, communication, and the 3P Method—to all new hires. We encourage them to keep it on their desk as a physical reminder to take care of their well-being.
More cubes and their uses:
1. Questions. This is a cube designed to empower, with questions that focus on training us to think positively and reflect inwardly. It’s perfect for meetings since it makes a thoughtful icebreaker.
2. Play, Happy. With questions and activities perfect for children, these make a great mindful gift for any event to which children are invited.
3. Yoga Poses, Chakras. Because these cubes are perfect for stretching and affirming our bodies, they make great activities for corporate retreats and team building. They make it easy to teach a little bit of yoga and meditation to fuel team well-being—no experience needed.
If you have a passion, chase it. It will take you places you’d never expect and can turn into incredible things—much like the Smile 4 Happiness initiative.
If you’d like to learn more about the Smile 4 Happiness initiative, you can check it out here: http://bit.ly/PRzendoway or the cubes here: www.zendoway.com/cubes.
Earlier this year, we were actively hiring and desperately needed team members who could start immediately with little guidance; we wanted to balance out the hires we’d have to actively train with those who would could jump right in and get to work. The easiest way to achieve this was to recruit a former employee back to Actualize Consulting.
The first possibility who crossed my mind was someone I knew would be a perfect match for our project needs. Someone who would not only succeed but also shine. Long story short, this Star Player welcomed the opportunity to come back to Actualize. Why?
At Actualize, we strive to operate by the 9 principles we’ve outlined in Culture Infusion, and we know that’s what has made us so successful in our employee relations. A foundational part of what fuels our culture is our desire to lead with intention and the knowledge that we can only lead effectively once we have reflected inwardly.
Through that reflection, we’ve seen how much our working and professional life can improve from simple changes like prioritizing personal wellness. We insist that our employees find themselves and their passion, and we support their aspirations and recognize the need for a work/life balance.
Also, even though most of our employees work remotely, our team is still our family and we encourage team connection whenever we can through wellness weeks, retreats, competitions, community service, and more.
These healthy habits have had a domino effect, leading to more positive changes and improving the way we communicate and handle conflict. And as we’ve taken a step back from the office politics and our personal egos, we’ve become more apt to take accountability and use empathy and active listening in our day-to-day lives.
All of this stems from one underlying theme: We are successful because we care.
If you are interested in creating a sought-after workplace, here are 3 good places to start, all of which were key reasons our star player returned to Actualize:
For our Star Player, this balance was extremely important: “Based on my proven track record, I was offered a lot of flexibility. I am able to work from home, part-time, and do not need to travel.”
A big reason our team is so willing to share their skills is because we give them a safe space to do so, and we show them the appreciation they deserve.
This story is a testament to how the principles in Culture Infusion have not only kept our turnover rate to less than one percent for the last three years but also made the company attractive enough for former team members to return.
Do you want to learn more about working with me to enhance your organizational culture? Email me today.
When giving feedback as a parent, team leader or both, instead of criticizing and making another person feel bad, ask them how you can support them in their mission to reach their goals.This is my favorite question to ask because it allows us to support and inspire others rather than tearing them down. This is a good tip for performance reviews in the workforce, but also in our personal lives. How can I support you? Want to learn more, watch the video below.
Do you ever feel like you can’t take off work? Or at least like you can never totally unplug from the office? I’ve been there, and I know the feeling. All too well.
In our company, each of us wears many hats, and we check in regularly to keep things running smoothly. In the past, we tended to check in even during vacation; nothing kept us totally away from the office.
Thankfully, that has changed. We’ve finally learned how to support each other in fully unplugging and taking real vacations. With the strategies below, we all feel fully covered and are able to take time off to be with our loved ones and care for ourselves.
When my grandmother passed away recently, I was beyond thankful to have our time-away strategy in place. And when Lori, my newest hire, wrote the following after returning from vacation, I was overjoyed:
“As a new team member at Actualize Consulting, I didn’t know what to expect on my first day back from vacation, but I knew ‘re-entry’ was a real thing. I opened the welcome back email from my manager (Kerry Wekelo), and I was presented with a warm welcome and a list summarizing updates from the past week along with projects to attend to. I’ve read Kerry’s tips in articles and in her book Culture Infusion, but now I was experiencing and internalizing one of her actionable tips on a deeper level. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt a sense of calm come over me and ground itself in my core (which is the best most centered type of calm).”
This is powerful stuff. What would it take for your company to help its team members unplug and re-energize?
This week I was inspired to do a video about the lessons I continue to learn from my grandparents. This week was my grandfather's ACTION to stay in bed to comfort my grandmother. Below are a few pictures of them in their younger years. Now in their 90's.
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