Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Category

Image

I recently met with new employee Melissa Phelps to hear why she joined Community Medical Centers, and what she loves the most about her work as an office assistant and scheduler in the radiology department. By the time we had finished lunch I ended up hearing not only how much she loves her job, but also learning about her personal love story with her husband Josh.  See the blog post “Love Letters“.

Valentines Day is a time to celebrate love for our husbands, wives, partners, children, parents, pets and yes, …our jobs.  This feeling of attachment and connection is so important, it deserved a poem of sorts, so I wrote a knock off of 1 Corinthians in celebration of Valentines Day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Done well, work is Love.  Work is kind. It allows us to accomplish things in service to others, it allows our hearts to swell with pride and our voices to sing praise of goals met.  Work done well does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, it praises in public and criticizes in private, it is slow to anger and it keeps no record of wrong doings (except of course those that violate policy).  Work delights in excellence and rejoices in customer satisfaction. Work done well always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  Work done well –  is Love.

Read Full Post »

Image

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a presentation called “How to Fail at the New Healthcare: The Masters Class,” at the beautiful H. Marcus Radin Education Center on the Community Medical Center campus in Fresno.  Healthcare futurist Joe Flower has spent 30 years studying the way healthcare works and challenged us to think about the risks of 22 strategic choices we might make about how to operate in the future. The “ways-to-fail” list include things like failing to build a new business model by sticking with fee for service, failing to engage patients and physicians and forgetting to build trust.

My natural focus, in both life and in business, is to explore and reveal the positives.  I am a proponent of strengths based learning and development, emotional intelligence, and the power of positive thinking.    But just this once, I thought I’d see what happened if I explored what my friend Chris Slater, who is an artist calls, “the importance of painting the negative space.”   So, here are 10 things you can do if you want to be completely and totally miserable at work.

1) Lack a sense of humor

Life is messy so one of the quickest ways to hit bottom is to be dead serious, all – and I mean all – of the time. If you are working on a project with your peers and the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) fails to act on one of their accountabilities, take advantage of this by blaming them, talking behind their backs or snubbing them the next time you meet them in the cafeteria.  Healthcare is a serious business right?  Falderal and silliness just causes mistakes and we can’t have that, now can we?

2) Be self-centered 

I know you think it’s all about you but really it’s all about me.  Heighten your quest for misery by focusing really hard on ignoring the people around you.  I mean, geez – how needy are those people!?  They want to be communicated with constantly.  They’re always asking for help. They are clingy and want to spend quality time together. They use reverse psychology to get compliments for themselves by saying nice things to you!  They can’t think for themselves so they’re always asking for your input. You can fix all this by saying, “Leave me alone, so I can do my work and get out of here.”

3) Think the sky is falling

Catastrophizing is an excellent way to bring on that dull prolonged sense of unhappiness.    When I hear about the innovative plans to expand our bed capacity, I know by gosh, that there is no way in H-E-double-hockey sticks that the idea is gonna work.  Seriously, things are never going to get better – EVER – no matter how hard any of us work.  See?  Uh, are you getting that sinking feeling yet?

4) Stop learning

Remember that saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?”   It’s true. There’s no reason to spend any time developing new skills.  That’s too much work.  And besides, if you are properly executing strategy #2 (Be self-centered), the teammates you are snubbing in the cafeteria will get the hint and just do those things for you.

5) Believe you’re the smartest person in the room

It’s really difficult to work amidst such a large number of low functioning people. But you must so just buck up.  Remember, things will be ok because you are the only one who really knows what’s going on.  Asking others for their insights just clouds your thinking.  This strategy works best when combined with some physical behaviors like frowning while crossing your arms in front of you, or the ultimate – the eye roll.  Use a mirror to practice.  You’ll know you’ve got this one down when people stop sitting next to you in meetings.

6) Distrust everybody

Surely you’ve been watching the news and have heard how the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting all the phone numbers you’ve been dialing and gosh, who knows – maybe even listening to your calls.  People are sneaky.  It’s just the human condition so watch your back.  Don’t share any personal details with the people you work with.  I mean not even the names of your kids.  Why would they want to know that stuff any way?

7) Create a hit list

If you’ve developed your proficiency in #6 (distrust everybody), you’re definitely going to want to create a hit list.  Luckily on this one, we all have a great role model to follow in the Governor of the great state of New Jersey.   Step one – gather the names of everyone who has ever disagreed with you on anything and put it on a list.  Step 2 – find a way to make their life a living hell for as long as possible.  Don’t worry about the collateral damage of impacting people you never intended.  Think of it this way – if Governor Christie had been worried about the elderly having their ambulance show up on time, he never would have been able to properly make his point.

8) Talk a lot

Since #5 is true and you “believe you are the smartest person in the room,” it just makes sense that everybody else should listen to you.  Find a way to monopolize conversation.  Truly, it doesn’t matter if you know all the facts.  It’s your opinion that counts.  Oh, and go ahead and interrupt if someone else is talking—that’s always good.

9) Go it alone

We enter this world alone and we leave it alone. Our DNA is obviously programmed so that there is no need to lean on another human being for support.  Be stoic.  Hold in your feelings until you think you’ll pass out.  Remember that no one else has problems like yours – absolutely no one.  Even if someone wanted to help you they would not know the first thing about what to do.

10) Play it safe

Don’t listen to that song “Brave” by Sarah Bareilles.  Being brave just puts a target on your back.  Stay in the shadows. Don’t be direct or transparent or real or honest or committed.  Don’t express your feelings, don’t be passionate, don’t dance as though no one is watching, or love as though you’ve never been hurt or sing as though no one can hear, or live as though heaven is on earth.  What good would that do? Honestly!

Read Full Post »

Image

The holidays are a perfect time to catch up on reading just for fun.  This Christmas you won’t catch me knee deep in a James Michener novel.   Instead I look for lighthearted tales, with a tinge of sarcasm.   So if that’s your cup of tea as well, I recommend heating up a nice cup of hot chocolate and sitting down to read Tina Fey’s book “Bossy Pants.”

In Bossy Pants, Tina describes what she learned at Second City, an improvisation and sketch comedy theater in Chicago.  She says the rules of improvisation will change your life and reduce belly fat. And, maybe these rules can also improve the engagement on your team or the relationship with your significant other.  You be the judge.

Rule#1- Always agree and say yes.

In a business sense this doesn’t mean that we simply run with any idea no matter how bad.  Instead, as Fey puts it, the rule reminds you to “respect what your partner has created and at least start from an open-minded place.”  Fey points out that in improv, this takes the form of saying, “Freeze, I have a gun,” to which your partner should avoid saying, “No you don’t, that’s your finger.”  See.  That’s not funny.  In business when employees say, “This new software stinks,” we should avoid reviewing the three competitive bids and 20-page document that shows why it does not stink, because this kills employee engagement.  An alternative might be to say, “Yes, it sounds like we have some bugs to work through. Let’s see if IT can help us through this.”  In both comedy and business, saying “yes,” validates the other person and shows you trust what they are talking about.

Rule #2 – Say Yes, And. 

In improv, Fey says that it’s all about adding something of your own.  When your partner lays out a line like “Boy it’s hot in here,” you could respond with, “Yes, and that can’t be good for the wax figures.”  The point is relationships are positively impacted when you respect what the other person has presented and add something to it.  Fey says this rule is about not being afraid to contribute.  So as leaders we want to encourage contribution to make a little bit of magic happen.  That magic, according to Professor Fey, is the result of showing people that their initiative is worthwhile.  As employees we need to take a risk and speak up, ask for that assignment and stretch a little bit.

Rule #3 – Make Statements

This rule is Fey’s shorthand for something we often try to teach in our leadership development training curriculum.  I’m simply going to quote Fey because I don’t want to ruin the humor while making the point.  She says:   “Be a part of the solution, don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.  We’ve all worked with that person.  That person is a drag. It’s usually the same person around the office who says things like, “There’s no calories in it if you eat it standing up? Or, “I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice.”  As leaders we sometimes need a reminder to stop raising obstacles and get out of our employee’s way.   As employees we need to think positively and act with positive intent.

Rule #4 – The Best Rule:  There are no Mistakes, only Opportunities.

Employees won’t believe this if they are chastised when they try something new and it doesn’t work out.  So, while this saying is great, employees want to know they can use a little bit of trial and error.  Obviously trial and error is not a recommended practice in the surgery suite or for the employees who manufacture your car.  Fey’s words are an encouragement to create engagement by letting people takes risks.  Why?  Because, in her words, “Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident – I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup or Botox.” 

What are you reading over the holidays?

*A big hearty thank you to Garth Wade at Regional and Tom Minas at Clovis for mocking their supervisors on camera. Directors Drenda Montgomery and Brenda Diel – you both are role models of supervisory wisdom!  Thanks for helping me illustrate this tale.  Happy Holidays!

Image

*This blog was originally posted on Community Medical Center’s Blog – It Takes Community.  Follow Peg on Twitter @peg_breen

Read Full Post »

catching fire jpg

Thanksgiving was lovely.  The Ina Garten recipe I used to make the turkey and stuffing turned out beautifully, the weather was gorgeous and I had the chance to indulge in one of my favorite past times – watching a great story told on film.  The Hunger Games Catching Fire box office sales reportedly topped $200 million in its first six days, and nine of those dollars were mine.

At first I was caught up in the real story.  Katniss Everdeen, who had survived the Hunger Games in book one is now suffering posttraumatic stress syndrome.  In a twist of fate, she must join her faux love interest Peeta, to go back into the game and kill or be killed.  But as I thought about it on the drive home, it came to me that her survival skills could work just as well in our everyday work lives.

It’s difficult to kill people once you know them 

Woody Harrelson plays Haymitch Abernathy, a hard-liquor drinking, yoda-like mentor who tells Katniss that she better form an alliance with a couple of the other more experienced players or she’ll surely be killed.  This is smart advice right?  The world runs on relationships. What if we employed Katniss’s strategy at work, by sharing more of our authentic self with the people with whom we work.  Or giving compassion to people we know are struggling to avoid the poison fog. It would cause people to pause. There might be better teamwork, less blaming, more fun and less stress.  If you had to choose someone to get to know better at work, who would it be?

Prepare to fight but refuse to shoot first  

In one scene, Katniss draws her bow and arrow on a fellow fighter who pleads with her not to shoot him by saying, “Remember who the real enemy is.”   She had honed her skills and could take him down, but instead lowers her bow.  Showing restraint and emotional intelligence when things are tense is one of the most sought after skills in business.  Are you as empowered and confident as Katniss?  If not, whom can you trust to help you develop this skill?

Beware of the baboons

I just had to mention the baboons.  At one point I embarrassed myself by screaming like a little girl when one of the raging creatures charged our heroine.   But beyond my fear of angry monkeys, a message is buried here.   Fear is way too common in the workplace.  We fear failure.  We fear the people we report to.  We fear we’re not smart enough. We fear someone will find out we are imposters.  What’s your personal baboon?  What fear is keeping you from peak performance at work, or finding contentment and happiness?

Remember the lightening strikes at noon and midnight

Toward the end of the movie we discover that the lightening is a signal that a threat is coming. You know, the regular stuff…blood rain, floods, angry baboons.   But our fighters also figure out that there is a pattern – that the lightening strikes at specific intervals of time.  Being able to recognize patterns and respond to them is a skill that helped Katniss survive.   Managing change and having hope, even when times are uncertain, is as necessary for our survival at work as the bow was to Katniss.  How well do you deal with change?  What techniques can you use to better manage stress?

Take time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and take in some entertainment over the holidays.  If you watched the Hunger Games or took in another movie, share your review and anything you learned about yourself.  Happy Holidays.

(This post originally appeared on the Community Medical Centers website in a blog titled “It Takes Community”.  Follow Peg on Twitter @peg_breen )

Read Full Post »

July was a blissful month.  I had the opportunity to take a vacation and one of the highlights was my visit to Chamisal Vineyards in San Luis Obispo.   This little piece of heaven lies between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in rolling vineyards that imitate the Italian countryside.

Image

We drove up and opened our doors to a breeze that was “warm-cool.”  I’m trying to coin a new meteorological word – definition:  climate that is warmed by the sun to 69 degrees but cooled by the ocean breeze just five miles west.  It’s the kind of warm-cool that beckons you to an Adirondack chair to take a nap. The kind of weather than calms your mind, and raises your spirit.  The kind of weather that is absolutely not found in the Midwest where you either sweat or freeze.  You get the picture.

We ordered a wine flight and were delighted when we tasted a Pinot Noir called 8-N.   “That’s an unusual name,” I commented to our hostess.  “Is this a placeholder name?” I asked.   Sort of like naming a baby, “Baby Girl Smith,” just after the delivery and before you leave the hospital?   But our hostess explained that this wine was named after the exquisite little piece of soil that gave birth to it – 8 miles North of Chamisal Estate Vineyards.  How did it taste?   Conjure up the scene from the movie Sideways where Paul Giamotti’s character describes why he likes Pinot so much, and you can tell he’s really talking about himself.

On the label, as if written by Shakespeare, is the description of 8-N:

“This wine boasts of black cherry, raspberry compote and strawberry flavors, backed by supple tannins and salted dark chocolate on the sultry finish.”

As I sat under the orange awnings sipping 8-N, chatting with a friend and gazing out on the gentle curves of the vine-laced hills, I wondered what my label would read, if I were wine…  Maybe this:

  • Wine: Cloud 9
  • Where bottled:  Medical Center Drive Vineyard
  • Type of grape:  Pinot Noir
  • Vintage year:  2013
  • Wine description:  This wine boasts of sweet and nutty relationships with friends and co-workers, robust and full-bodied work accomplishments, velvety smooth project implementation, backed by an earthy vision and mission.

Think about your own work and home life.  What would your wine label read?

(This post originally appeared on the Community Medical Center Blog – It Takes Community.  Follow Peg on Twitter @peg_breen

Read Full Post »

All of us will be faced with a decision at some point– Where do we want to relocate?   And thus today’s reflection….

I had coffee with a well-read friend and he recommended that I should read a new book by Peter Kilborn, a former reporter for the NY Times called, “Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America’s New Rootless Professional Class”.   I read an excerpt, a couple of reviews from major newspapers and also watched a video clip of an interview with Kilborn on Fox Business.  Click “Fox Business” to link to this video.  I am hoping that having really read the entire book, Mark will post a comment providing some additional revelations, but here’s the theme:

Kilborn coins a word “Relos” (REE-los) to describe the corporate gypsies, or middle class professionals who relocate every few years.   At their core, he says, “is a faith in open horizons and a willingness to risk losing ground to gain ground. ( ) They are an affluent, hard-striving class. They inflate the American Dream and put it on wheels.” In the Fox video interview with Kilborn the interviewers even make the point that many “reloville” communities thrive because of this professional migration.

The thing that has me thinking though are comments like these:  A Minneapolis Star Tribune writer comments:  “In pursuit of power and influence, they lose the simple staples that generations of human beings have leaned on for meaning”. Another reviewer says – “A fascinating account of a new type of transient worker in America, affluent in their material lives but impoverished in their community ties.” The most depressing reviewer commented,  “In this sympathetic and arresting portrait, Kilborn takes the Willy Lomans of the present age and weeps for them.” The Willy Lomans?  Ouch.  I’ve read “Death of a Salesman” and seen it on stages several times but never in my life figured I’d be him.  Did you?

For some of you, you’ll transport your family to the new location, and develop a best-friends-at-work network, and continue to keep in contact with your colleagues across the U.S. and will probably be able to keep everyone including yourself from feeling isolated, adrift, disconnected, lost, and disassociated. For me – it’s just me.  My son is in college and my parents are finally doing well in a retirement home so I’m free to “seek open horizons”.  But I do need to figure out the cost-benefit equation.   How do I make sure that what I’m doing doesn’t sacrifice creating a greater meaning for my life.  I’m going to take a stab at answering this but your suggestions are welcome.

How Relos can lead a fulfilled life during their season of migration:

  • Pick an employer who truly has a Mission you believe in and work that makes you feel energized and passionate
  • Stay connected to your virtual family – for members of TS, just a quick nudge,  that means all of you
  • Make time to contribute your talents in the new city.
  • Once per year, spend the money to join former colleagues at a spa (I’m sort of into this experience now), or an education seminar so you can reconnect.

Tell me what you you’ll do to create a smooth transition and make the new place feel like home….

Read Full Post »

A few days ago I had lunch with a member of Team Severance (TS), and she was glowing.  It wasn’t because she had just finished 90 minutes of crazy weight lifting and cardio at her fitness club, although in fact that was true. She was on top of the world because she had a phone interview that morning with an entrepreneur in London!  This fellow is a VC guy, had bought and sold companies many time over and I can only imagine,  is probably 10 years younger than I am.  She said he loved her resume, and commented that she was very  articulate.  He noted  that they had some experiences in common and told her there might be some leadership opportunities in companies he would soon be buying.  She of course will be a FIND for anyone.  So after I listened to her I reflected on what there is to be grateful for, large and small.

I had another conversation with a member of TS who had an outstanding discussion with a search consultant. I caught him on his way into a Kinkos for a video interview.  He had just returned from a  visit to Philadelphia.   Each of the search consultants were incredibly impressed with his qualifications and want to talk further.  Of course.  We know how amazing he is.  It helps though to hear it coming from the other side of the table, the other side of the video screen, or the other side of the world.  I don’t even remember driving my car, while I was on the phone with him.   It was completely energizing to hear THAT tone in his voice.  The sound of “good things yet to come”.

And today, I returned from an interview.  I felt confident I could make a difference in this company and spoke  in a way that I think demonstrated my knowledge, energy, focus, and leadership style. I debriefed with a friend and mentor afterward and just talking through the experience out loud allowed me the chance to revel in the possibilities of a new challenge and new relationships.  I received 4 phone calls this evening,from people who just wanted to check in.

In Mike Morrison’s recent blog,(See –  theothersideofthecard.com) he says “Every day offers a powerful sense making opportunity”.  I think some of this “sense making” at this time, for some of us, maybe for all of us includes these things –

  • We can be grateful for having this time to mold our lives in a new direction.
  • This time of change gives us a chance to take stock in how much we’ve learned in the past and how we can contribute to a Larger Purpose in the future
  • This transition time, could be very lonely, but we can be grateful for the support that we have given, are giving and will give to each other in the future.  It has made all the difference.

The universe has opened up possibilities for all of us.  I will relish hearing the stories.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »