By Brenda Smyth
We live in a society that values individuality … that encourages competition. We work in a world where we are constantly advised to speak up, be assertive, toot our own horns, beat the competition – and the person sitting next to us. Humility is an often overlooked, yet extremely valuable human quality.
Humility is our ability to admit that we don’t know everything, and that everyone has equal value. Why is it important in the workplace?
- It reminds us to keep learning.
- It enables us to ask for advice (regardless of whether you’re the boss or fresh out of college).
- It keeps us quiet when we’re in a conversation about something we know little about.
- It means giving … before we receive.
- It helps us listen to and recognize when someone else’s idea is better than ours.
- It makes it possible for us to admit our mistakes and apologize for them.
- It affects how we work on a team.
“The consensus is that humility is widely embraced. People react positively to the thought of it,” says Terry Howard of Texas Instruments in a blog post for onthemarc.org. Yet “good old-fashioned humility has an image problem these days.” He asserts that there’s an underlying belief that humble people don’t get ahead in the business world—that “basic humility gets trampled in the stampede for results at all cost, driven deeper underground by job insecurities, work pressures and huge egos.”
But “there’s something truly powerful about humble people that we can all stand to emulate,” wrote Lindsay Holmes for huffingtonpost.com. “Studies have associated humility with healthy adjustment, good leadership and other positive emotions – demonstrating that in order to reach total success, we could stand to benefit from getting in touch with our modest side.” She quotes Mike Austin, PhD, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University: “Many people think of humility as … thinking very little of yourself, and I don’t think that’s right. It’s more about a proper or accurate assessment. A big part of humility is knowing our own limits, our strengths and weaknesses.”
Learn to be humble. Here’s some advice to get you started:
Understand your strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard for most of us to accurately self-assess. Ask a few people who know you well to give you some candid feedback so you know what your weaknesses are.
Remember to keep learning. Improvement is a lifelong process that should never stop, even when you’re really good at something. Whether it’s through books, classes, or people, continue to learn.
Develop a grateful mind-set. Be willing to receive advice, corrections, and contributions. True
gratitude takes a willingness not to be the sole contributor to your accomplishments, says Robert Roberts forbigquestionsonline.com. He also suggests that you keep a gratitude journal where you write down ways that others have contributed to your successes so you’ll be more aware of your dependency on others.
This struggle to maintain our humility is age old, as summed up in this Benjamin Franklin quote: “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself.”
“Consider how much better a workplace would be if everyone, yourself included, were willing to not just take constructive criticism from others, but use it,” says Robert Kaplan in his book What to Ask the Person in the Mirror. “Imagine the comfort level if we weren’t all afraid to nudge each other in a better direction.”
You Missed! 5 Reasons Why Your Training Program Was Unsuccessful
From the Managers Minute
Here are the top 5 reasons why people are unhappy with your training program and what you might do about it. Meeting attendees’ expectations is very achievable. If you have thoughts on how to avoid any of these share them with us here.
1. Trainer didn’t cover what was promised. Cover promises. Tell them what will be covered when you announce the training. Use the same language or draw their attention to the fact that you are covering those promises during the training.
2. Too many personal stories. Each time you talk about yourself or offer one of your experiences ask yourself, “so what?” If there wasn’t a learning point appropriate for the group and the topic, leave it out. Connect the dots. Don’t assume they make the connection. Be sure to state the appropriate point and how it applies to them. Show them how they can use the idea to be more successful with their challenges.
3. Didn’t go over what was in the workbook. Get a clear set of objectives from each group every day, and show how the content in the workbook meets those expectations. When you leave something in the workbook out of your presentation, let them know why. “This is clear information you can read yourself.” “Which five items off this list are most important to you? Let’s discuss those.”
4. Trainer didn’t “know” material. Knowing material means being able to make it practical and applicable for them, in their workplace, at their position. It also means giving them something new, something they haven’t heard before. Not every point needs to be that way; if you haven’t added a new concept to your program over the last three months – you don’t “know” your material.
5. Trainer couldn’t or wouldn’t answer questions. This is sometimes a trainer’s response to not having enough time to cover all the material. It’s about them. Take the time to answer their questions. If it means you need to leave an example or joke out, that’s probably a good trade-off.
So, what do you think? How will you address these issues to avoid problems? Are there any other issues that have gotten in the way of your quest for perfect satisfaction?
Surprise! Millennials Are in Fact Highly Engaged in the Workplace
By Steve Bent
An analysis of employee engagement surveys from 350 companies and 6.8 million workers shows that 73% of millennials would recommend their organizations to others as good places to work, compared to 70% of the overall workforce. By 2025, estimates are that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, and as such they are a true force. They are a highly educated and a technically savvy generation, and employers should take care in helping develop them into the next generation of leaders.
Feedback and Advancement Opportunities
The research showed that millennials are more positive about advancement opportunities – 54% favorable, compared to 46% of the overall workforce. They are also more likely to feel that their immediate managers support their development – 71% favorable, compared to 63% of the overall workforce.
In addition, millennials are more likely to report that the feedback they receive during the year helps them improve – 67% favorable, compared to 63% of the overall workforce. This generation also feels that good performance is adequately recognized – 67% favorable, compared to 63% of the overall workforce.
Faith and Values
The analysis also shows that millennials have faith in their organizations. They are more favorable about the extent to which their companies are responding effectively to changes in the business environment – 71% favorable, compared to 65% of the overall workforce – and their companies’ prospects for success over the next 2-3 years – 78% favorable, compared to 72% of the overall workforce. In terms of values, they are more favorable about their companies treating people with respect – 82% favorable, compared to 79% of the overall workforce- and valuing and promoting diversity – 80% favorable, compared to 77% of the overall workforce. Though they may be seen to evaluate companies against higher standards, they are on par with overall averages in terms of their companies’ social responsibility (80% favorable) and ethics in operations (83% favorable). Millennials want their employers to give more than lip service to being socially conscious and ethical — they want proof that the company puts a strong emphasis on doing the right thing. However, they are pragmatic and also want to work for companies that are leaders in their field. Companies that do well financially and are good corporate citizens are employers of choice.
The Need for Challenge and Recognition
While millennials showed greater favorability in many areas, the analysis showed people of this generation are anxious to test their capabilities and be rewarded for their efforts. They are somewhat less likely to indicate that their current jobs make good use of their skills and abilities – 71% favorable, compared to 74% of the overall workforce – and that they are paid fairly for the work they do – 47% favorable, compared to 50% of the overall workforce.
Some may think that restless millennials are leading the job-hopping trend, and to a certain extent that is true. The research shows that this group is less likely to express intentions to remain with their current employers for more than five years – 48% favorable, compared to 60% of the overall workforce. However, other research indicates that greater mobility among millennials might simply be a factor of their young age. Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor show that college-educated millennials actually have longer tenure with their employers than Gen X’ers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s millennials. With today’s low unemployment rates, it’s important to offer challenges and stretch assignments to all employees to ensure they are prepared to contribute to the company’s future success.
11 Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Engaged
By Dan Rose
Pssst … wanna know a secret? Happy and engaged employees are more productive. They’re more likely to stick around. They’re more likely to say great things about you and your company. OK, OK … that might be the biggest “No kidding” thing you read today. However, if everyone knows that creating a work culture that breeds employee happiness and loyalty is the ultimate goal, why do so many companies stink at doing it?
Sure, not all companies have budgets that include thousands of dollars designated for “employee happiness.” You might not have a ping-pong table, video games in the break room or gourmet lunches, but, even without all those perks, you can create an environment that’s honest, fun and flexible.
Here are a few ideas:
Communicate transparently. Employees want open and honest communication for both good and bad news. They also want to understand the big picture. Involve them in projects that they aren’t directly responsible for to gain interesting input.
Clearly define goals. Being able to track progress helps employees feel in control. They have a purpose and they can check their progress. Give employees more direction by helping them set goals for themselves. A Gallup survey of 27 million employees found that of the employees who felt strongly that their managers helped them set work priorities, 66% were engaged.
Give feedback often. Timely and objective coaching will help good performers keep growing. But remember, the key is the quality of the feedback, not the frequency. If you have trouble giving productive feedback, get some training on how to do it better.
Help workers focus on work. Make meetings shorter. Teach employees how to streamline emails. Remind them to take breaks throughout the day.
Help employees bond. Employees will stay if that’s where all their friends are. So, help them bond with co-workers. Create a no email day once in a while, so employees must communicate in person. Lunches and cookouts or a day at the ballpark will give everyone a chance to get to know each other better.
Make sure new employees feel welcome. Don’t let a new hire spend his or her first day in HR. Host a “get acquainted” lunch or department breakfast. Give the new employee an opportunity to meet people within the department and beyond. (Hint: Make fun nametags for current employees to wear for the newbie’s first week since learning 20 new names in the department on top of figuring out the new job can be overwhelming.)
Reward performance — tailor it — celebrate it. Praise brings joy. Make employees feel good about the work they do. Thank them either with a note or verbally. Find out if they are more motivated by private or public recognition. If your employees go out to lunch, book a reservation somewhere. Take them out for a drink if they’re a happy-hour group. Celebrate the successes in a big way — throw a party. Dress up. Have fun.
Offer flexible work options. Telecommuting, job sharing and compressed workweeks give employees options. As long as they communicate their schedules and get their work done, giving this freedom shows trust. Remember to keep in contact with HR to make sure you’re not impacting labor laws or employee/contractor status.
Allow creative solutions. If an employee comes up with a viable solution to a problem, don’t squash it. Give employees autonomy to solve problems … without rigid guidelines.
Offer new responsibility. Open communication will enable managers to recognize untapped skills and give employees a chance to use them. Most employees will eventually burn out when performing the same task over and over again. Many of them will enjoy the challenge of new responsibilities.
Encourage career development. Show employees they are important to you by giving them chances to learn new things and better ways to do their jobs. How about offering training sessions with a free pizza lunch? If your HR or training department isn’t capable of handling the training that you feel your employees need, bring in your own training.
Keeping employees happy is worth the effort—and it can make the difference in your company’s success.