Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for September, 2012

Now is a good time to express your gratitude or love.

I feel compelled to share this entry today because of how I’ve spent the last few days. I attended the funeral of one of my elder uncles, and I spent time with a dear friend who is tending to her husband’s end-of-life needs. With the good life memories shared about my uncle, and the grace with which my friends are dealing with their fate, I’m reminded of what is most important in life. It’s the love and support we offer one another as human beings. It’s telling our family and loved ones that we love them. It’s offering a word of praise or gratitude to a colleague. It’s helping a friend in need. It’s mentoring someone who can really benefit from our support.

I hope you find yourself pondering this entry today. If you’re at work, whom might you approach right now with a “thank you” or recognition of some kind for a job well-done? What family member or friend can you call today to let them know what they mean to you, or whom might you call to schedule that overdue visit?

As professionals, I know we tend to place a great deal of importance on our work and our “successes”. Our work is important in our lives. However, today is a good day to realize that it’s the people and relationships in our lives that truly take priority and matter most now, and when all else fails.

Offer someone else something to be grateful for today.

Creating a vision for your organization? Here’s a creative way to get input from your most valuable assets—your employees.

I often have a “vision board” posted on my refrigerator at home. I’ll clip pictures and/or sayings from magazines or actual photos, etc. to represent either my wish list, how I see the world, or specific goals. Several years ago, I posted a picture of the car I wanted to drive. I cut my small head and waving hand out of a family photo and placed it right in the drivers seat. I took a lot of ribbing for that as family and friends noticed it, but the feeing I had the day I drove into the dealership and the car was sitting there waiting for me was pretty cool. I have several personal stories to support the power behind visually representing our wants and goals.

Our kitchen was painted this spring, so I removed my latest vision board from our fridge and placed it into a file. I was reminded this morning that it’s time to get it back up there—and add to it—because it’s creative, fun, and quite motivating.

Being reminded of the impact a vision board can have, got me thinking about a pretty cool way to engage your employees in creating a vision for your organization. Although there are many formal and structured models used in organizations to create a vision, maybe it’s time to get creative and think out-of-the-box a little. If you’re interested, here’s what you’ll need:

– Some well-exposed empty wall space in your workplace where you can hang a good-sized reachable corkboard with lots of push pins. (If your organization is sprawling, you might have several sites throughout the workplace, where corkboards will be hung.)

– A well-written and engaging email (or presentation) to your team(s), in which you (assuming you’re the leader of the organization, or the department you’re creating a vision for) let them know the location(s) of the corkboards, and their purpose. You’re asking employees to contribute to a collage of ideas—over the next two weeks—representing what they believe, or would ideally like to see, as the organization’s vision for its future. Encourage them to cut pictures or sayings out of magazines, or post whatever information or materials they feel will best represent their personal hopes for the organization’s success. Ask them to be creative with purpose. (You may want to have a few things already posted on each corkboard to start, so people get the idea and so they don’t have to be the first to post.)

– It will be important that you generate and share a meaningful debriefing or summary of your employees’ contributions, and further inform them about next steps towards solidifying the organization’s vision. Perhaps you’ll let them know up-front that their shared vision will be highly considered by you and your leadership team as you work to solidify and share the organization’s vision statement. Or, if you’re planning on engaging them or communicating further, let them know specifically how you’ll do that. Either way, let your team know that you appreciate their participation and that you’ll reflect to them—within a specific timeframe—what you hear and learn from their input. Then be sure to follow through and hit your target date.

Do you have any experience or creative ideas to share with readers about how the data posted by employees might be summarized and/or debriefed? What challenges do you anticipate with this approach? What next steps do you think need to happen, or what could you recommend, to provide the most meaningful follow up to this creative exercise?