Increase Employee Engagement with These 5 Conversation Skills

Increase Employee Engagement with These 5 Conversation Skills
Our 2018 predictions released earlier this week (read them here ​ !) tell us one thing for certain: as we get ready to move into the new year, leadership will need to be willing and ready to have the sometimes tough but necessary conversations with their employees and fellow leaders. A 2016 ATD study revealed that 83% of respondents consider commun...
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Leadership Tips: Say What You Really Think

Leadership Tips: Say What You Really Think
Alethophobia is an intense, abnormal or illogical fear of the truth. In Fierce Leadership , Susan Scott asks, “How many times have you told someone – your boss, a colleague, a customer, your spouse – what you thought he or she wanted to hear, rather than what you were really thinking? Painted a false, rosy version of reality, glossing over problems or pretending they simply didn’t exist?” This happens often. The thing is…we have legitimate reasons for why we don’t want to fully disclose. Perhaps it has destroyed a relationship in your past, and you don’t want to do that again. Perhaps you have seen someone lose their job over disclosing more, and you happen to like your job. Maybe you truly don’t believe it is your place to say what you notice or feel (this is a popular one). The kicker is that not sharing the whole truth is...
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Millennials: A New Generation is Reshaping the Workplace

Millennials: A New Generation is Reshaping the Workplace
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by INC and examines how Millennials are reshaping today’s workforce. Over a third of today’s workforce in the United States is currently comprised of Millennial workers, and this number is constantly growing. In the last few years, Millennials have surpassed Generation X to become the dominant generation in the workplace and it is becoming increasingly important for companies to understand what Millennials want in order to attract and retain top talent. Per Sylvia Ann Hewlett, research from the Center for Talent Innovation identifies three areas of focus that are important to this generation that progressive companies are taking note of. 1. A Diverse and Inclusive Workplace – As the most diverse generation in the workforce to date, with 44.2 percent identifying as non-Hispanic white in the latest census, an inclusive and diverse workplace is incredibly important. Millennials desire a work environment that mirrors...
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It's Time to Be the REAL You at Work

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This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by The Washington Post and explores the benefits of being the “real” you at work. In the article, Bucklan explains the benefits of ditching the “work persona” many people work years to cultivate. She asserts that although people take on this professional persona to enhance their careers, in the long run it damages it more than it helps. “When you feel comfortable in your own skin, you make stronger choices — choices your “professional” self might be afraid to make.” Bucklan explains six easy steps you can take to unleash the real work you. A few of these tips include speaking your mind, staying clear of the water cooler gossip and making yourself vulnerable. Work can be difficult enough when being your true authentic self – don’t make it harder by putting up a façade. Be you. Be fierce. Read the article

How to Propose a New Idea in a Closed Environment

How to Propose a New Idea in a Closed Environment
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs Anyone can be a leader within an organization. Whether or not your role has the “leader” title assigned to it, you can be someone on the forefront innovating. Organizations that encourage everyone, from individual contributors, managers, all the way up to the CEO, to take on a leadership mindset create cultures that don’t settle. Few companies are really in this place. Many choose to abide by an old rank and file hierarchy that squashes creativity and inevitably disengaging employees. So what can you do if you work inside a culture where new ideas are not welcomed? Do you have to accept it for what it is and keep your creativity to yourself? No. The beauty of culture is that it is made up of the people who inhabit it. Meaning, everyone impacts how things operate, not just those at the...
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3 Ways to Take the Scare Out of Your Conversations

3 Ways to Take the Scare Out of Your Conversations
Think of a conversation that you need to have that scares you. Perhaps it is a conversation with your boss about something she is doing that is not helpful. Or a conversation with a peer about what you are noticing that is not working for him. Or taking it home, perhaps it is a conversation with your spouse or family member to discuss something that you do not feel the other is willing to talk about. Ok, do you have a conversation in mind? Does the thought of this conversation make you want to evaporate? Or run out the door? Or go on vacation? If so, that's a good sign. These are the conversations I am talking about. I do understand the fear. There are legitimate reasons to be scared about having these conversations. Some people do not react well when confronted, regardless of how eloquent and thoughtful you are....
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Leadership Tips: Engage with an Opposing Point of View

Leadership Tips: Engage with an Opposing Point of View
One of my favorite Bob Dylan songs is “A Satisfied Mind”. In the lyrics he says, “How many times have you heard someone say, if I had his money I'd do things my way.” I often think of this line when I look at leaders, and make a judgement of what I might do if I were in their position. When you look from the outside in, it can be easy to pass judgment when it’s all hypothetical. This week’s tip challenges all of us, whether you are in a formal leadership role or not, to participate in one of the more difficult aspects of being a leader: Engage , with an open mind and heart, with an opposing point of view. Leadership is more than a job title - it’s a state of mind. We can all participate and see how we handle the pressure of being someone who...
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Lack of Clarity in the Workplace is Costing Your Organization

Lack of Clarity in the Workplace is Costing Your Organization
“Clarity affords focus.” –Thomas Leonard If things are foggy or ambiguous on our way to success, any actions we take will require more time and resources, or may fail altogether. Especially if we’re not sure where we’re going. Clarity matters. Each small clarity problem within an organization may seem insignificant at first, but gradually, they lead to big problems. Fortunately, miscommunication issues can be resolved before we arrive at a sudden “ Oh, crap! ” Effective conversation is the way to clarity. There are no alternative fixes. When a conversation is effective, miscommunications are either resolved or prevented, and employees feel clear on their roles, goals, and action items. You’ll know a miscommunication has occurred if anyone is unclear. A miscommunication has also occurred if a conversation hasn’t taken place that in fact needs to take place. Here’s what these common miscommunications are costing organizations: 1. Engagement Survey findings in...
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New Research: The State of Miscommunication - 6 Insights on Effective Workplace Communication

New Research: The State of Miscommunication - 6 Insights on Effective Workplace Communication
We’re excited to announce Quantum Workplace's launch of the Fierce + Quantum eBook on the state of miscommunication in the workplace. The free eBook dives deep into the issues of miscommunication and offers solutions for creating more engagement and clarity in one-on-ones, team meetings, and organization-wide. We wanted to conduct this research on miscommunication to fully understand the impact it’s having on organizations, including the costs (time, money, engagement, relationships, productivity, and more), and explore how effective conversations can help. Fierce + Quantum Quantum helps organizations retain top talent, motivate performance, understand turnover, and build magnetic cultures. Their studies reveal that communication is indeed at the heart of employee engagement. Fierce and Quantum have both researched employee engagement in the past, and have weighed in on the conversations needed to improve engagement and workplace culture. In preparation for this eBook, Quantum Workplace and Fierce Conversations designed a survey to capture...
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3 Critical Questions to Ask Your Team About Vacation

3 Critical Questions to Ask Your Team About Vacation
Yesterday was the first official day of summer, and many employees are looking forward to planned vacations. Whether it’s hiking through Yellowstone, lounging around on a tropical island, or embracing a good old-fashioned staycation, talks of summer plans are taking over offices everywhere. Yet, the land of vacation relaxation is easier said than done based on the results of our new Fierce survey that launched earlier today. We surveyed over a thousand full-time employees across the U.S. and found some surprising variances in employee experiences around paid time off (PTO). From managerial support to stress reduction, we investigated various dynamics with paid time off and what gets in the way of employees truly enjoying vacation. Bottom line: people are not getting enough value from their vacations. And because of that, leaders, it is time for you to step up and have the necessary conversations. Research shows that vacation can improve...
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Leadership Tips: Develop Your Team While Away on Vacation

Leadership Tips: Develop Your Team While Away on Vacation
You can develop your team when you are away on vacation.   That sounds like a dream, right?  A magic pill that you would most definitely purchase if it existed, yeah? Well luckily, you don’t need a pill. It boils down to the conversations. As a leader, you need to take time off and recharge. This is necessary for your wellbeing as well as your team’s. A past Fierce Study revealed that more than 58 percent of respondents indicated that they received no stress relief from vacations. The goal of vacation is to enjoy and feel refreshed when you return. And your ability to relax and decompress is dependent on you, not the vacation itself. Surprising or not – there are currently responsibilities on your plate that your team members want to own. This should make you jump for joy When your team members develop, your team develops, and you...
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4 Barriers to Personal and Professional Growth (And How to Tear ‘em Down)

4 Barriers to Personal and Professional Growth (And How to Tear ‘em Down)
“You will either step forward into growth, or backward into safety.” —Abraham Maslow Throughout life, we experience moments of momentum where we feel like we’re expanding, moving upward, and spreading our fierce little wings. Other times, we feel like our own growth has become sluggish or blocked in some way. When stagnation occurs, it’s an indication that it’s time to get curious and shake things up. Stagnation can be safe and comfortable…at least in the beginning. I like to use the analogy of a dirty house when thinking about this concept. It feels nice sometimes to ignore chores. But after a while, the dishes in the sink start to smell bad, dust piles up on the shelves, and you can’t seem to find where you put anything. Growth works much the same way. We can get comfortable in our routines, but eventually the stagnation weighs on us. The longer we’re...
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5 Steps to Finding Your Focus

5 Steps to Finding Your Focus
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Fast Company and details five steps to help find your focus in a chaotic work environment. Today’s workforce is becoming more decentralized as teams commonly work together remotely, across different cities, states, and countries. Much of the time, technology, the very thing that connects these remote teams and coworkers, can also be the excuse for becoming increasingly distracted at work. Although the buzzing of a phone, chime of a computer, or that chatty coworker on your company messenger can seem like the perfect excuse to delay that project you are working on, these distractions are now commonplace and can no longer be validated. Things will not get easier as technology continues to advance, and the ability to focus and continue to produce great work amidst the clutter will be vital for employees everywhere. Jones Loflin, coauthor of Getting to It , offers...
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5 Tips for Finding Fierce Focus in Your Life

5 Tips for Finding Fierce Focus in Your Life
“When the WHY is clear, the HOW is easy.” –Unknown Read the news and you're probably aware of what could be referred to as chaos in our fast-paced, increasingly complex world. And all that news doesn’t even touch on the happenings in our personal lives, such as little Jimmy’s sore throat, your check engine light turning on during your morning commute, or Uncle Jeff’s open-heart surgery that’s scheduled this week. To focus is to put all our attention on the task at hand, and it isn’t always easy. And when focus is absent, it can jeopardize intended results within our organizations, seep into our time management efforts , and pull our attention away during important conversations. We’ve all had moments or even lengthy amounts of time when trying to focus felt like trying to move a massive boulder uphill. You may not be a body builder, but fortunately, you do...
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7 Habits of People Who Have Achieved Work-Life Balance

7 Habits of People Who Have Achieved Work-Life Balance
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Fast Company and shares seven habits of people who have achieved work-life balance. Achieving work-life balance in a world in which we are constantly connected through technology can seem more like a fairytale than a reality. According to the American Sociological Review , 70% of American workers struggle with finding enough time to devote to their lives outside of work. Although most Americans have not found the correct balance, there are some tools that can help. Harvey Deutschendorf, Fast Company Contributor, shares tools utilized by the 30% that have achieved this elusive balance. A few include: 1. Making deliberate choices about what they want in life. Instead of rolling with the punches and letting life unfurl, people who have achieved work-life balance make deliberate choices about what they want from life and how they want to spend their time. Once these parameters...
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How to Find "Balance" in an Imbalanced Environment

How to Find "Balance" in an Imbalanced Environment
In today’s uncertain environment, it is certain that balance is hard to achieve. Balance is often thought of as being equal in distribution in terms of time spent in areas such as our commitments, workload, and personal well-being. Having a routine and a plan for the week is a good start, until unpredictable external forces find their way in and cause undue stress. As part of the Fierce interview process, we ask, “how would we know if you are stressed?” The intention of this question is to get an idea of the candidate’s self-awareness and ability to manage a stressful situation with a healthy action to move them through it. An extension to that question is, “what elements do you find stress you out”? The question comes from the lens of knowing the natural pressures that emerge in a fast-paced environment where balance and consistency in day-to-day responsibilities are almost...
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Leadership Tips: Perhaps We Don't Need Work/Life Balance

Leadership Tips: Perhaps We Don
In business there is a lot of talk around work/life balance. To me, this topic is always too broad. I think for many, life is more fluid than that. In a world of constant connection, many of us work when we could be playing and play when we could be working. This week’s tip is about moving the conversation beyond looking at work/life balance as vacation and time at work. Rather than keeping those pieces apart, what would happen if we combined them more? Often people believe that you have to be really lucky to love what you do enough to not need a vacation from it. Perhaps in our current state of business, where 70% of Americans are disengaged at work, this is true. However, if your organization and your employees came to work each day as excited as they are to leave on Friday - what results could...
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Leadership Tips: Your First Idea May Be Your Best

Leadership Tips: Your First Idea May Be Your Best
Imagine for a second that you are in a meeting where the goal is to solve a challenge. An idea immediately comes to mind, however you skip over it, with the hope that an even more brilliant idea might pop into your head. Why do we do this? Why do we discount our immediate instinct? This week’s Fierce tip encourages you to vocalize all the first ideas you have, and to trust the instinct that told you that this is a problem, solution, challenge, or whatever it may be. If you’re a leader, this week when you are in a meeting, ask everyone to say their first ideas. You may be surprised as to what is being left unsaid due to self-editing. No matter what your initial idea may be it may look different once others collaborate and innovate on it, or it might be the perfect solution right off...
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Leadership Tips: Reflect on Your Generation

Leadership Tips: Reflect on Your Generation
I am proud to be a millennial. And this is despite the many demoralizing stereotypes. It may be weird, but yes, I do prefer face-to-face conversations when I have a difficult topic to talk about with someone. I also am not a serial job hopper; I can actually be loyal to a fault. I also don’t expect to get something unless I work very hard, and then if I achieve it, I work more to share gratitude for all the people who inevitably helped along the way. Yes, I am not the stereotypical millennial. However, I do not believe the publicized generalizations apply to most of my millennial peers. That’s the thing - it is an amazing time to be in business. Sometimes it seems easiest to just keep bucketing people in a way that “makes sense” and allows us to feel more comfortable. The landscape is constantly changing, and...
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3 Tips for Supercharging Small Team Collaboration

3 Tips for Supercharging Small Team Collaboration
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Forbes and shares three tips to supercharge small team collaboration and maximize efforts. Effective collaboration is critical to teams of all sizes, but it becomes especially important for smaller teams that do not have as much time, resources, and bandwidth as others. If your team is not operating at its highest potential, you could be in danger of running low on time or money. Being agile, adaptive, and most importantly, highly collaborative, is what separates high-performing teams from the ones that are just staying afloat. Per Matt Hunckler, Forbes contributor, and his interviewee, Max Yonder, there are some tips that can lead to better small-team collaboration. 1. Share Before You’re Ready.  We have all gone deep down the proverbial rabbit hole only to find out the task at hand did not come to fruition as plans changed. Not only is it disheartening...
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Are Your Collaborative Efforts Falling Flat? Here Are 3 Rules for Success

Are Your Collaborative Efforts Falling Flat? Here Are 3 Rules for Success
As leaders, we like the idea of collaboration, we just don’t like to actually do it. Especially at the highest levels. We tend to feel the pressure of ‘the buck stops here.’ We’re unwilling to bring others into tough decisions. We confuse collaboration with consensus. We like the allure of thinking our decisions are the best for our organizations. The list unfortunately goes on and includes lack of trust, not wanting our opinions to be ignored, not wanting to share critical information, not having enough time...we convince ourselves that for all these reasons and more, collaboration may not be the best decision. And there is some support for this thinking. In his book Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues , Jake Breeden identifies automatic collaboration as one of these bad work habits. One example he gives is, “there is no greater danger to productivity...
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Leadership Tips: Ask Your Team

Leadership Tips: Ask Your Team
"Unity is strength . . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved." -Mattie Stepanek Think about a time that a leader in your organization has made a decision without consulting the people it affected. How was the decision received? Was there resistance? Most of the time, when there is an issue with a decision, it is because people’s opinions and concerns were not addressed in the first place. People ultimately want to know that their perspectives matter. The engagement piece is more important than the final outcome. At Fierce, we have a culture committee – composed of cross department members – that is focused on bringing our core values to life. They explore and recommend opportunities from recognition programs to mentorship to coordinating our company-wide fantasy draft team. Why do we have this group? Because it is critical for our team members to help steer how...
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Leadership Tips: Celebrate a Woman in Your Life

Leadership Tips: Celebrate a Woman in Your Life
International Women’s Day is March 8th. As a women-owned business, Fierce wants to thank all of the women-owned businesses that make an impact in our community – from Seattle to around the globe. I want to shout out to Women in Real Life and PACE Staffing as some of our women-owned business partners who grow their businesses with brilliance and strength. In the United States, there continues to be a surge of women-owned businesses. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report, there are nearly 11.3 million women-owned enterprises (up from 9.1 million in 2014), employing nearly 9 million workers and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms grew 45%. So I ask you: Do you have women entrepreneurs in your life? What have you learned from them? This week’s tip is to celebrate a woman in your life. Find a...
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How the Best Companies Do Diversity Right

How the Best Companies Do Diversity Right
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Fortune.com and explains how the best companies are getting diversity and inclusion done the right way. The benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce are no longer a mystery. It can increase revenue, it breeds innovation and encourages people to work harder. Yet, so many companies have muted efforts to grow their programs and reach the positive results that are attainable. Or even worse, they invest the bare minimum into diversity and inclusion for fear of criticism if they don't and to improve public perception. These are not the reasons to invest in diversity and inclusion. When people feel like they are included, they are more willing to approach leaders with new ideas and strategies, or simply feel comfortable enough to have a candid conversation. “At a time when our national social fabric has frayed, workplaces that are great for all...
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Different Perspectives Lead to the Best Ideas. Here’s Why.

Different Perspectives Lead to the Best Ideas. Here’s Why.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” -Marcus Aurelius You’ve probably heard any of the given advice before: seek input, welcome perspectives, collaborate with others. But why? Where does the premise come from that inclusion is beneficial for individuals, teams, or organizations? An article from Scientific American entitled “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” states that “decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.” Although the focus should be geared toward diverse thought regardless of social group, this finding illustrates that when individuals from different walks of life come together and share unique viewpoints, positive results increase. Our Fierce Team model uses the term “beach ball” to describe how perspectives occur within organizations....
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Leadership Tips: Create Diversity of Thought

Leadership Tips: Create Diversity of Thought
All you have to do is turn on the news to see that there is a lack of diversity of thought around us, from our grid-locked Congress to our arguments about anything under the sun.  There is never one simple solution to the challenges we face, and we need, more than ever, diversity of thought. In order to get there, we need to focus on two things: getting curious and expanding our thinking. To dig a little deeper, I want to share a relevant excerpt from our white paper:  A Perspective on Diversity, Building a Culture of Curiosity : The metaphorical phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” has endured as long as it has for a reason.  In a similar vein, an employee should not be judged by the generation they represent, the religion they practice, or the socioeconomic status they were raised in. Because the combination of experiences and...
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Leadership Tips: Address Your Mokitas

Leadership Tips: Address Your Mokitas
Mokita is a Papua New Guinean term for something that  everyone knows but no one talks about .  Papua New Guineans measure the health of their tribes by how many mokitas they have. The fewer mokitas, the healthier the tribe. In other words, the tribes that can talk about the difficult topics are the most healthy. We have this concept in America. It’s called the elephant in the room. That thing that we know and feel compelled to not talk about, because the consequences may not be “pleasant.” The family gathering may have its own special elephant while your team meetings may have another. Mokitas can show up everywhere. One could be that your one team member is always late, and although it has negative impact on everyone, no one ever says anything. It could be that your mother always pressures you on a particular topic, and no one ever...
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Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter

Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by HBR.org and explains why diverse teams work smarter and more efficiently. Organizations must stop seeing workplace diversity and inclusion as a box to check off and instead truly understand the business impact that a diverse workplace can have on a business. “A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.” Per David Rock and Heidi Grant, HBR, a few key reasons diverse teams perform better than homogenous team are: They Focus on Facts. The idea of diverse perspectives creating innovative ideas is nothing new. Working with colleagues that have different backgrounds and think differently tasks our brains to think of challenges and obstacles in a different light. With diverse views come constant revisiting of facts that allow...
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How to Leverage Millennial Strengths

How to Leverage Millennial Strengths
Statistics show that millennials now make up more than half of the current workforce . And in case you haven’t noticed, millennials have received a wave of criticism recently in the news, via social media and in the workplace. This recent uptick in criticism is no doubt connected to the rise in working millennials who are mixing and mingling with individuals from previous generations. Workplace friction has resulted. Older generations may be stumped as to how to accommodate and deal with the supposed millennial mentality, while millennials may be feeling frustrated, marginalized and unappreciated by their employers. A recent blog from Born Again Minimalist goes so far as to say that millennials are experiencing a type of cultural gaslighting: “Generations before us completely drove the bus into a lake and it’s somehow our fault everybody’s drowning...the millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised...
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Leadership Tips: Be Inclusive

Leadership Tips: Be Inclusive
One of our Fierce predictions this year is that diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs will continue to grow. With the current global and political climate, it is becoming known that the convergence of competing views can be volatile when the skills are absent and the expectations are not set. The goal is to foster inclusion in the workplace, and furthermore, to ensure individual workers do not feel marginalized, unsupported, or unwanted. In addition to the cultural and emotional benefits of inclusion, there are bottom line implications. McKinsey research Diversity Matters examined proprietary data sets for 366 public companies in various countries. They found: Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.   Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective...
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3 Tips for Deeper Conversations in Your Team Meetings

3 Tips for Deeper Conversations in Your Team Meetings
If you’re a connected leader, chances are you meet with your team weekly or bi-weekly to touch base and talk shop. While the details of the meeting will vary from leader to leader, the goal is usually the same: share ideas, innovate, and strategize. However, when speaking with our clients, it’s common to hear that hosting meaningful meetings can be tough. Typically the conversations stay surface level. Below are three tips you can apply to make the conversations within your group meetings more robust and deliberate while still having fun along the way. Tip #1: Not All Agendas Are Created Equal While there might be some logistical details that need to be covered in your meetings, they shouldn’t be put to the group in the same way as an idea that needs real creative thought around it. In our Team program, we use an idea prep form that breaks out what the...
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How Millennials Are Disrupting the Workforce -- For The Better

How Millennials Are Disrupting the Workforce -- For The Better
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Forbes.com and discusses how millennials are disrupting the workforce in a positive way.   Millennials often get a bad rap for being difficult to work with, and some of justified. Millennials in the workforce often carry with them a sense of entitlement that has been well documented. What hasn’t been discussed as much are the positive impacts that millennials are having on organizations. One of the ways that millennials are changing the workplace for the better is in their ability to anticipate and embrace change. Most millennials entered the workforce just prior to or during the economic recession and learned that change is constant and part of today’s business landscape. This has made millennials adept at problem solving and allows them to work at high levels in chaotic ever-changing While many are accused of being serial job hoppers, much of this hopping...
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Inspire Your Black Friday Workforce: Lessons From Retailers Who've Done It Right

Inspire Your Black Friday Workforce: Lessons From Retailers Who
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Forbes and shares lessons learned from retailers who have trained and inspired Black Friday workers the right way. In the wake of a contrasting election many retailers are wondering if it will be business as usual, or if consumer spending will be impacted. For shoppers, Cyber Monday is becoming a more attractive option as opposed to long lines and consumer chaos in retail stores. So how do retailers stay competitive and keep employees motivated to deliver a great consumer experience? Meghan Biro, Forbes Contributor, provides four leadership tactics that can help to manage employee motivation on Black Friday. Two of them are: 1. Be transparent. The success of a retailer on Black Friday comes down to customer service. Are your employees engaged? If not, chances are your business will suffer. This starts from the top down. For employees to remain engaged amongst...
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2 Reminders to Take the Scare out of Your Conversations

2 Reminders to Take the Scare out of Your Conversations
There are legitimate reasons to be scared about having some conversations. Let’s be honest - some people do not react well when confronted, regardless of how eloquent and thoughtful you are. Sometimes, certain discussions are not career-enhancing, depending on your colleagues and boss. This is reality. However, what is also reality is that the cost of not having the conversation is much greater than the risk of it going badly.  These needed conversations weigh you down. You know this. Science tells you this. So, here are two tips to overcome the scary nature of some exchanges:  Prepare accordingly.  Whether it is a feedback or confrontation conversation, preparation is key for having the conversation align with your intention. Here at Fierce we teach the preparation piece for various conversations, and oftentimes, people tell us that it is our magic. The goal is to make your conversations authentic and drive the results you want. So,...
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12 Different Strategies for Dealing with a Boss Who Plays Favorites

12 Different Strategies for Dealing with a Boss Who Plays Favorites
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by The Muse  and provides twelve strategies for dealing with a boss who consistently plays favorites. Whether you have had a boss that played favorites or have witnessed it in some capacity, those managers are out there, and it is important to know how to deal with them. It is human nature to be drawn towards certain people or personalities, but it is up to the individual leader to act in a professional manner and treat all of their direct reports with the same amount of attention and enthusiasm. If you find yourself in a situation like this, it can be damaging on multiple levels. Perception of lower self-worth swirl around with the knowledge that your journey towards promotion may be significantly harder than some of your peers within the organization. Stacey Gawronski, The Muse, offers some steps you can take to navigate...
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3 Steps to Help You Confront Your Boss

3 Steps to Help You Confront Your Boss
Confronting someone is scary. It can be even scarier to confront your boss. Often times, the anxiety you feel is strong enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand, no matter what the issue. However, avoiding confronting your boss can turn a straightforward conversation into something bigger and more complex. For example, at a team meeting your boss makes a comment about your work that you think is off-base. Afterwards, you think: is this what my boss really thinks of me? The next day when he/she walks by you in the hall without smiling, you begin to wonder if you’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from being fired. You now want to avoid your boss at all costs, in hopes that his or her feelings towards you will work themselves out. Soon a low-grade resentment begins to breed toward this person, and every interaction...
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Leadership Tips: Take Time to Talk with Your Boss

Leadership Tips: Take Time to Talk with Your Boss
Today is National Boss’s Day, and whether you loathe or admire yours, it’s a good time to reflect on the role this individual plays in your life. There are identified areas that contribute to a healthier employee-boss relationship, and one of them is continuously giving and acting on feedback. A few years ago, we conducted a Fierce Survey exploring employee-supervisor relationships . Eighty percent of respondents who reported a good employee-supervisor relationship claim that the most important thing a boss can do to create a positive working relationship is to both solicit and value their input. Among respondents who claimed to have a poor relationship with their boss, 42 percent stated that one of the top reasons the relationship was strained was due to their boss’ failure to listen or take their input into account. If you do not feel your boss listens or takes your input seriously, it is...
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The Work Conversations We Dread the Most, According to Research

The Work Conversations We Dread the Most, According to Research
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by  Harvard Business Review and delves into the work conversations we dread the most, and in some cases, avoid altogether. A recent survey conducted by Fractl asked over 1,000 people about their most difficult conversations at work. According to the research nearly 66% of respondents claimed they would go out of their way to try to make the other person in a “difficult” conversation feel comfortable and at ease. If the majority of people walk into these conversations intending to be collaborative, why do we dread these conversations so much? Although intentions are good, many times people still enter the conversation with a combative mentality. This is the mindset where someone wins the conversation and the other loses – resulting in both sides feeling dissatisfied. According to Kerry Jones of Fractl, some tips to prepare for a difficult conversation are: Determine what you...
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Leadership Tips: Time to Get Uncomfortable

Leadership Tips: Time to Get Uncomfortable
Careful conversations are often failed conversations, because they postpone what wants and needs to be talked about. So I ask: How many careful conversations do you typically have in a week? And to add on to that. How many superficial ones? The “How are you?” – “I’m fine” ones. Or the “Have a great weekend – You too” ones. And of course, the “I’ll reach back out to you on that – Okay, talk then” ones. I don’t know about you, but the people in my life who really level with the me, who share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and opinions of me, of the world, of anything really, are the ones I crave the time with the most. This involves leaders in my life too. In Brené Brown’s recent book Rising Strong , she shares, “The most transformative and resilient leaders that I’ve worked with over the course of my...
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Be Awake. Be intentional.

Be Awake. Be intentional.
On a scale from one to ten, how awake do you feel in your life? Are you paying attention to the most important things right now? As summer comes to an end, think about these questions during this transitional time. I was recently talking with a retail executive, and she shared with me that her team stepped away from their phones and computers for a whole strategy session. Everyone noted that they were present with one another in a new way. One of the comments was:  I actually felt like I was paying attention to what I needed to, instead of the 10 distractions that come up every hour . I am sure you can relate to the feeling of distractions running your life. And every day, whether we want to admit it or not, we pay a price for not being awake to this. Our actions and inactions have...
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Leadership Tips: Restore Your Energy

Leadership Tips: Restore Your Energy
I recently heard Tony Schwartz, President & CEO of The Energy Project, speak at an employee engagement conference. His company focuses on helping organizations fuel sustainable high performance by better meeting the core needs of their employees. Schwartz’s recent book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working , makes the case that we’re neglecting the four key needs that energize great performance: physical (renewal), emotional (value), mental (boundaries), and spiritual (purpose). His background in working with athletes is quite analogous to employees. We need to feel healthy and strong to perform at our best. And yet, we often do not focus on our physical needs. Even worse, for many leaders, their health and energy ( how they actually feel) is something that they “deal with” as opposed to focusing on and improving.   So my plea to you: Pay attention to how you act during the week when demand is high....
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Leadership Tips: Create Time for a New Relationship

Leadership Tips: Create Time for a New Relationship
Looking ahead at your eventful week, think about the many people you will interact with – on the phone, via email, in your community, and in the office. When you talk with these people, will you ask engaging questions and really listen for the answers? Or will you simply wait until it is your turn and talk at somebody? As Susan Scott, Fierce Founder, states, “If you want to become a great leader, gain the capacity to connect with your colleagues and customers at a deep level…or lower your aim.” [tweetable text="Being genuine and authentic is easily identifiable through conversation." tweet="“Being genuine and authentic is easily identifiable through conversation.” via @fierce_inc"] Conversely, being unauthentic and fake can be even more obvious. This week’s tip is to make time to rekindle a fading relationship or create a new one with someone in your life.  Schedule the time in your calendar to build this new relationship. Create a...
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When a Vacation Reduces Stress — And When It Doesn’t

When a Vacation Reduces Stress — And When It Doesn’t
This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by Harvard Business Review and discusses why employees have varying levels of happiness after returning from vacation. To put it simply – all vacations are not created equally. There is no doubt that a positive vacation creates a significant increase in happiness and energy levels while reducing stress. However, a poorly planned stressful trip can leave you more burnt out than before. According to the research, the post-vacation blues are more a result of the type of vacation you take than taking the vacation itself. So is it easy to just have a great, stress free vacation? According to the research, apparently not. Luckily there are some steps you can take to help plan your stress free vacation. Go far away. We all know the benefits of a staycation – lowering your carbon footprint, saving money and being a tourist in your own...
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3 Tips for Curing the Post-Vacation Blues

3 Tips for Curing the Post-Vacation Blues
If you took a vacation and this post is relevant to you, congratulations! Taking time off is important. However, coming back from vacation and hitting the ground running can be quite jarring. In fact, the whole notion of “post vacation blues” is actually a top excuse used to not take vacations by many Americans, and consequently, the American workforce leaves approximately 429 million paid vacation days on the table every single year. Wow. At the end of the day, [tweetable text=" as a leader, it is your choice – no one else’s – to take or not take your provided vacation days. " tweet="“ as a leader, it is your choice – no one else’s – to take or not take your provided vacation days. ” via @fierce_inc"] In an effort to not contribute to that astronomical number, I recently took some time off for a vacation to France. It...
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Why Don't Americans Take More Time Off?

Why Don
This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by Fortune and questions why Americans do not take more time off from work. The American workforce leaves approximately 429 million paid vacation days on the table every single year. This begs the question – why do Americans feel that they cannot take time off? This is paid time off that employees deserve and have worked hard for – so why do we collectively feel so guilty taking the time off? According to a 2015 study by The Creative Group, 40% of executives believe employees would be more effective if they took more of their vacation days with only 9% believing there would be a decrease in productivity in their absence. One of the leading reasons Americans abstain from taking their much needed vacation days is the fear of returning to thousands of emails and unhappy clients or coworkers. This is an ill-conceived...
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How To Take A Vacation From Work

How To Take A Vacation From Work
Congratulations. You are gainfully employed. The primary focus of your organization is growth, and you have some knee-buckling goals to deliver. If you fail, darkness will cover the earth, the stock value will plummet and chaos will reign. Meanwhile, a talented colleague is vying for your job. And you could sure use a vacation! Hence, a few suggestions: Take one. Dammit! When your body and brain are running on fumes, you can’t do your best work. [tweetable text="It’s important to step away from time to time – physically and mentally" tweet="“It’s important to step away from time to time – physically and mentally” via @fierce_inc"]  –  so that you can return refreshed, energized. In fact, schedule three trips for the future. Each time you take one, add on another so that you always have something wonderful to anticipate. Check the dates with your boss and then put them on your...
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Leadership Tips: Don’t Fake It

Leadership Tips: Don’t Fake It
Fake it until you make it. We have all heard this phrase before. This is an appropriate notion when you are letting self-doubt or the imposter syndrome creep in. However, it is not great to fake it when it comes to who you are in situations – whether at work or at home. I was recently interviewed by Business News Daily about getting “personal” through the interview process. Any time we are in new situations, whether given new challenges or working with new people, there is an inclination to be who someone else wants you to be. The article dives into how the modern workplace has relaxed a bit from the "strictly business" environment of decades past, and the lines between work and play have blurred as the standard 9-to-5 workday becomes less common. It can be challenging to find how to bring your “blended” work-life self into the workplace....
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Leadership Tips: Go Outside - It’s Good for Business

Leadership Tips: Go Outside - It’s Good for Business
Oh, the smell of fresh air. Living in the United States’ Pacific Northwest, it is very normal to go outside as much as possible – rain or shine – to our mountains, lakes, and trails. How often do you go outside? While seeing the beautiful scenery is great for our standard of living, it turns out that going outside is good for business. It feeds our anthropological roots, and it fosters creativity. In the NPR segment, We’re Not Taking Enough Lunch Breaks. Why That’s Bad for Business , Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, who studies workplace psychology, states "We know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment, to a natural environment." So, what is the easiest way to go outside? Take a walk. Research published in the Journal...
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Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something

Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something
This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by  The Harvard Business Review  and discusses what factors play into our stress levels as humans, and how to overcome them. Stress within the workplace is nothing new, and all of us have experienced it during our careers at some point. Whether it is a critical boss, a big deadline, or an angry client – they all trigger stress. In the article, Markman explains how stress is an emotional response to our motivational system. There are two components to a person’s motivational system. The approach system is concentrated on accomplishing favorable outcomes while the avoidance system aims to avoid unfavorable outcomes. “Your motivational system engages goals and gives them energy so that you can pursue them. Simply put, when you succeed at your goals, you feel good, and when you don’t succeed you feel bad.” So the key to relieving stress at its...
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Leadership Tips: Find Your Inner Entrepreneur, Live with the Possible

Leadership Tips: Find Your Inner Entrepreneur, Live with the Possible
Have you recently cracked open Seth Godin’s book, What to Do When It is Your Turn [and it’s always your turn ]? It’s one of my favorite coffee table books. And on top of that, when our Fierce marketing team read it, we all had so many takeaways – personally and professionally. This is one of my favorite segments: The safest dreams we experience are dreams with no hope of coming true. The dreams of superpowers, omnipotence, of immortality. The teenager who dreams of stardom but never puts in the work isn’t dreaming, he’s hiding. Superman is a safe bet, because none of us will ever have to become the Man of Steel or fly off a building. Concrete dreams, on the other hand, are based on effort and a keen sense of what is possible. Concrete dreams juxtapose the what if with the maybe , they expose us to...
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