TagEncouraging and Engaging Employees

The Trouble with Being Transparent


It’s one of the biggest buzzwords used to describe management style and workplace culture today.

Like all buzzwords, the definition of what “transparent” means in the world of work varies … For me, it is a management style and/or culture approach where parties are consistently forthcoming and clear about expectations and goals in order to achieve desired-outcomes. It is a management style and/or culture approach of openness, sincerity and collaboration.

Everyone says they would love to work in a transparent culture for a transparent manager. Everyone thinks transparent culture and transparent managers are great. Everyone assumes transparent culture and transparent management is easy.

Everyone is wrong.

If you work in a transparent culture or for someone with a transparent management style, here are a few things to expect:

  • You will answer a lot of questions on a lot of things a lot of the time. Clarity is critical for transparency.  To get clarity, you must gain knowledge and understanding. And you cannot gain knowledge or understanding without asking a lot of questions — factual questions, open questions, closed questions, recall questions, process questions, relational questions, causal questions, questions on questions on questions.
  • You will track, report and analyze metrics. Data is critical for transparency. Part of being transparent is making and sharing information to enable and explain decisions.  Costs, expenses, transactions and trends must be monitored to achieve this.
  • You will handle confidential information. Sharing is critical for transparency. To share, you have to provide information. Some of that information will be sensitive in nature. Some of it will be OK to repeat to others; some of it will not. Be sure to know the difference.
  • You will spend a lot of time with your co-workers. Collaboration is critical for transparency. To collaborate, you have to build teamwork. To build teamwork, you have to spend time together in active work and in downtime. Expect to have a lot of formal meetings as well as social events and organized bonding.
  • You will have to be available. Visibility is critical for transparency. To have visibility, you have to be accessible. You must be approachable and cooperative. You must be receptive and innovative. You must be willing and accountable. You must be enthusiastic and accepting.
  • You will get a lot of feedback on areas for improvement. Pursuit of development is critical  for transparency. To grow, you must know your weak areas and be willing to improve. To learn, you must be critiqued and coached. Not all the feedback will be good or feel good.

Cultivating a transparent culture and/or a transparent management style is hard work. It is demanding and  burdensome. It is time-consuming and deadline-driven. It is confrontational and persistent. It is difficult to create it and challenging to maintain.

That’s the trouble with transparency. Can you handle really it?

From PIC — Sarah Williams’ Recipe for Workplace Fun

I have always had a love/hate relationship with workplace fun.

I’ve seen employer attempts to create “fun workplaces” go horribly wrong … Instead of fostering cooperative happy, and more productive environments, it spawned competitive, entitled and ineffective environments. What was designed to create camaraderie and show appreciation developed into something divisive and disparaging.

After many years of watching employees take advantage of or be completely indifferent to the efforts of their employers to bring joy, levity, recognition and appropriate fun to the workplace, I became sour to the very idea of it. I decided workplaces couldn’t be fun. It simply wasn’t possible. I believed workplaces should be about work and anything given to employees should be earned through their efforts and outputs.

Ffff the fun, yo!

About 6 months into my latest position, I was tasked with organizing our Halloween contests …with an S. Meaning there were multiple! One each for costume, decorating, pumpkin carving and themed snacks. I began wondering what I’d gotten myself into! I set myself to planning — and I waited for people to suck the fun out of these well-intentioned events. I waited for people to demand more, allege unfairness or loaf off.

I waited … It didn’t happen.

We had fun. Appropriate fun with sincere appreciation and no sense of entitlement … But it didn’t hurt our productivity or our attitudes.

We had fun for that day, for those few designated moments — then we went back to work. Like the fun hadn’t happened.

I watched and waited to see what would happen for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Years. And Valentine’s Day.

The fun came and the fun went. No one missed a beat.

My Fun-less Grinchy Heart grew two sizes … I was amazed.

Now, I gladly lead the “Spirit Committee” efforts for our company. I look forward to it. I post and boast about it using the #MyJobBetterThanYours tag … I believe again there can be fun in the workplace without all the negative non-sense.

So what’s so different about this place vs the others? What is the recipe for workplace fun?

Read the rest over at Performance I Create

When Good Meetings Go Bad

Once upon a time, I was in an all-day meeting. It started at 8am sharp and was scheduled to go until at least 6pm. Presentation after presentation. Lots of talking and lots of slides. Not a lot of breaks.

Sometime after lunch, I started to lose focus. My mind started to wander. And so did my eyes.

My eyes landed on the phone of the co-worker seated next to me. He was texting. I didn’t want to be obvious in my bored nosiness so I couldn’t see what was said. But I know what came back as the response.

Ta-tas. Puppies. Jugs. Tiggle-bitties … BOOBS!!! Big ol’ boobs!!!!

My co-worker was sexting. In the middle of the meeting. And in my nosy boredom, I’d stumbled on his girlfriend’s booby pics.

It was like a car crash.

I tried to look away — but I couldn’t. I was freaking out — but couldn’t say a word. It was so awkward and uncomfortable — and hilarious!

As it gets more difficult for management to be unreachable for long periods, it becomes more common to see smart phones in our meeting rooms … Inevitably this leads to people emailing about other topics during meetings and texting answers to quick questions from staff. It also leads to loafing behavior like gaming, checking social media, online banking, personal errand and calendar prep, and even sexting.

Have I done these things? Yep. Every single one. More than once.

It is nearly impossible to keep a room full of adults fully focused for a meeting, especially when it lasts all day. I’m not sure it is realistic to expect people to hold it together for that long when we all have so many other things pulling at us in any given moment.

Most employers nowadays don’t care. Attendees at meetings are welcome to bring their smart phones and tablets to meetings so they can multi-task.

Others find it upsetting. Attendees at meetings need to be focused on discussing and resolving the agenda items. And they need to show respect and appreciation for the meeting organizer by being fully present and attentive.

If you fall into the latter group and want attendees to be more focused in your meetings, here are a few tips you can use:

  • Declare the meeting a device free zone.  Instruct attendees to leave their devices outside the meeting or designate a place for them to put their devices while the meeting is in session.
  • Take longer or more frequent breaks. Schedule breaks specifically for device checking. We often don’t give enough time for lunch, restroom and checking/returning messages. Make sure your break schedule allots for this.
  • Call out abusers. If someone is more into their device than the meeting, politely call them out. Emphasis on polite. Suggest they take a break and step out to handle their issues in a way that doesn’t leave hard feelings or tension.
  • Gamify disruptions. At the start of the meeting, ask attendees to place their phones on the table upside-down. Let them know that turning their phones over will result in penalties like having to wear a funny hat or glasses or gloves. Keep a count and give a cool prize at the end of the day for the least distracted attendee.

Love them or hate them or love to hate them, meetings are a necessary part of the world of work. Whatever we can do to make them more effective, bearable and fun is worthwhile effort.

But the next time you’re bored in a meeting, DO NOT attempt to read your co-worker’s texts. There’s no telling what you’ll see.


Not Your Typical Christmas Carol

any traditions accompany the Christmas season. Events – both religious and secular – bring joy, laughter, and much more to countless women, men, girls, and boys. Music is played. Carols are sung. It is the season to be jolly as each and everyone has their own story to tell. It is our tale – our story – just like the stories of Christmas. It is our Christmas Carol. When Sarah asked me to choose a favorite Christmas movie to write about, I have to admit my mind initially went blank. Then, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the choice came to me – but with a twist. So, sit back and relax. Be prepared to enjoy my choice, A Christmas Carol. Yet, be warned and make no assumptions. This isn’t the typical Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol originated as a novella by Charles Dickens. Its publication in December 1843 resulted in the rejuvenation of the “Christmas Spirit” in both Great Britain and the United States after a period of Puritan somberness. The story describes a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. It has never been out of print since 1843. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia.org.) The story has been translated time and again into movie, animation, comic, television, and other media.

The story I tell you is about a character named Kazran Sardick. Kazran lived sometime in the future on a planet that was an Earth colony. Kazran, old in age and very bitter and alone, is first seen when a family comes to ask for one day – Christmas Day – with a family member. You see, Kazran’s family owns all the wealth on the planet and is the one-and-only bank.  A loan must be accompanied by “insurance” and that insurance was a family member – who is then frozen in suspended animation. Kazran refuses and, while doing so, receives a call from the President of Earth. A ship, carrying 4006 passengers, is headed for a crash landing on the planet and only Kazran can help. (The planet’s atmosphere could be adjusted to help buffer and ease the landing.) Kazran refuses saying “What’s in it for me? See if I care.”

The family is about to be escorted out when something – no, someone – comes down the chimney. Is it Santa?

No.  It’s The Doctor.

We see The Doctor change the present day Kazran by traveling back and meeting him as a young child. We see the doctor’s traveling companions – who are amongst those stranded on the crashing ship – take the role of Christmas Present. We see Kazran himself become the Ghost of Christmas Future. The story was ingenious, contemporary with a science fiction twist, and ultimately enjoyable. It is also a testament to the longevity of a story written over 100 years prior.

So, to all who may read this post, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a heartfelt Season’s Greetings. May your Christmases Past and Present be an inspiration to your Christmases of the Future!


This post was written by Kyle Jones. Kyle has over 20 years of experience in a variety of roles including human resources, social media, customer service, and recruitment. He’s the current Social Media Director for the Pine Belt Human Resources Association and the Co-Social Media Director of the Mississippi SHRM State Council. Kyle has served in volunteer roles on both the local and state level since 2007. He was recipient of the 2012 Mississippi Spirit of Human Resources Award.

He has written posts for company, HR and social media blogs and shares his passion for HR and Social Media on his blog, HR to WHO. Follow him on Twitter @kylemj6977 or on LinkedIn.

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