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Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? How to Engage Your Employees

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? How to Engage Your Employees

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

The last article in the 6-part series, How to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work, speaks to engagement. What does a company look like if they have made it to this level?

Genuine engagement is the culmination of all that has been discussed. It is the result of clarity and transparency generating safety and trust within your company. It includes a thorough understanding of your own biases and taking the time to know your employees’ strengths. It is committed diligence to ensure that your employees and customers feel connected to your company’s mission and that teams are working together in a collaborative and innovative manner. It is asking if your stakeholders feel valued and heard.

Everyone wants to feel connected and purposeful. It is what numerous happiness studies reveal as primary. When employees feel satisfaction and connection to their work, their team, and your company, you have a happy and engaged company culture!

This is done intentionally, by design – not by chance. Engaged and loyal stakeholders create agile, nimble and resilient organizations. However, the ingredients of employee engagement need to be taught, modeled and practiced within a company. It requires, “harnessing the heart and empowering the minds” of your employees – at every level.

Engagement and an intentional culture that supports engagement are not static. Culture is dynamic and will grow and change with the company, and it is the responsibility of leadership to continually create the company culture you intend. It requires understanding the basic needs of humans, from the inside out, and building it into the fabric of your organization.

You, as the leader, have to decide, then define, and design. This is what is meant by an intentional and purpose-driven company culture.

Tools for genuine engagement to increase retention, productivity and reduce turnover:

  • It is a process. Learn the essential ingredients in our ACE video series – How to Become the Best Place to Work – delivered to your inbox in biz-size segments over the next two weeks.

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • So, after learning more about what is necessary to create a fully engaged workforce, how would you grade your company(A, A-, B, B-, C, C-, D, D-, F)?
  • What opportunities do you see to increase engagement?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science to the workplace to improve employee engagement.  ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? You Need Lasting Employees

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? You Need Lasting Employees

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

The consequence of the aforementioned steps (#1 -#4) in How to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work, is lasting employees.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

Businesses are complex systems that have human beings at their core. People are the alpha and omega of business and are the true X-factor. By focusing as carefully on people as they do on products, systems, and org charts, organizations can humanize and create sustained success.

However, only 33% percent of leaders are extremely confident in their organization’s ability to motivate employees at an emotional level (Northhighland White Paper, 2018). The emotional commitment an employee has to your company equates to their level of engagement.

Engaged employees don’t just work for a paycheck, bonus or promotion; they believe in the company’s values and work toward its success.

Disengaged employees can cost your company a lot of money.

  • Decreased productivity
  • High turnover
  • Absenteeism
  • Fiscal costs of stressed-out workers (illness, etc.)
  • Poor customer service

You might not always notice that you have an “engagement” problem, but you will definitely notice the effects of disengaged employees.

Conversely, actively engaged employees are three times more productive (Rapid Learning Institute 2017). And, companies with a formal engagement strategy in place are 67% more likely to improve their revenue per full-time equivalent on a year-over-year basis (Aberdeen 2016). In today’s new economy, long-term market success is less about what you do, but who you are as a company: your mission, values, beliefs, culture, and your people. The companies that get this win.

Difficulty retaining good employees in this current competitive workforce? Quick Tips for reinforcing lasting employees in your workplace:

  • Learn how your employees feel rewarded and incorporate what you learn into a regular acknowledgment tradition (e.g. announcements in meetings).
  • Administer regular employee engagement surveys, either written or interview style, so you can get a pulse on your employees level of engagement.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to share both their personal and professional goals and brainstorm ways they can achieve those goals inside and outside of the office (e.g. professional development).

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • What is it about your employees that sets your company apart?
  • How are you going to share the knowledge of that differentiating factor with the world?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.  ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? Try Creative Collaboration

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? Try Creative Collaboration

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

Creativity is #4 in How to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

You might be asking yourself why is creativity one of the cornerstones?

By 2020 creativity will be the third most important skill in the job market according to the World Economic Forum, and of CEO’s polled, 60% agreed that creativity was the most important skill to have in a leadership role (Fast Company, 2017). Creativity and imagination are the drivers of innovation, the keystone to differentiation.

If you remember back to #1, safety and trust and how the brain is divided, you will recall that as the brain evolved new layers were, essentially, added to the top. These additional “layers” include the limbic system and the frontal cortex, which are divided into two cerebral hemispheres, the right and the left.

Creativity targets both the right hemisphere and limbic system of the brain – bypassing language and “rational thought and logical assumptions” (left brain attributes). Therefore, creativity gives expression to that which cannot be spoken, due to the structure of the brain.

This provides the opportunity to re-imagine concepts – the very core of innovation. However, as a leader, you need to be prepared to sustain the creative process in its various stages, some of which look very different than detailed gantt charts or profit and loss statements.

Quick Tips to increase creativity in the workplace needed to differentiate and harness your competitive edge:

  • Encourage doodling at your next meeting. Yes, doodling! Be the example. Draw or sketch ideas at the whiteboard. It doesn’t matter if you are an artist and if your circles don’t even look like circles. Just the act of sketching your ideas will engage a different part of the brain, which will foster new ideas!
  • Find times and ways to “zoom out”. For instance, go outside and go for a walk. Insights, those “aha moments”, occur when we relax our focus and become receptive to see the whole. (Brain tidbit: Insights are associated with the right hemisphere of the brain that can detect anomalies and occur when not highly focused on them.)
  • Welcome opposites. The tension of opposites is part of the creative process and can produce results that are greater than the original parts! (Brain tidbit: The right hemisphere has the ability to hold dichotomy. It does not categorize things as opposites, but rather sees them as connected and in relation to one another.)

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • Refresh your understanding of the creativity cycle.
  • How do you practice creativity in the workplace?
  • Do you feel it is important to do so?

Imagine for a moment, if you could unleash and realize a fully-engaged and innovative company culture. What would be different in your company culture, what would be different in productivity and motivation and what would be different in your ability to use innovation and creativity to make the best services and products for your clients?

To transcend a current situation, we have to be able to imagine it differently. To understand and change the way we think is to change the way we form our lives – and businesses.

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes.

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science to the workplace to improve employee engagement.  ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? Effective Communication is Key

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? Effective Communication is Key

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

Our teachings are founded in neuroscience – what we’ve come to term the ACE model of employee engagement and leadership and include: awareness, alignment, communication, and creativity, which lead to lasting employee engagement.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

Open, respectful and effective communication, once considered a “soft skill”, is increasingly being understood as a key ingredient to the success of a business.

This type of communication and emotional intelligence are not necessarily “intuitive”. Rather, the building blocks of effective communication need to be continuously taught, modeled and practiced within a company.

Additionally, our need for safety must be satisfied before we can consistently practice effective communication. As mentioned in the brain integration article and safety video, when we traverse our way up the brain we move from the brainstem to the limbic system (area in pink in the image below). triune brain

The limbic system includes a variety of structures such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. It is the part of the brain we share with other mammals and is responsible for deep-seated emotions, learning, and memory. Its basic need is satisfaction, beyond the survival of self and to rewards found within groups (Me to We).

And, let’s face it, as humans the best way to have our needs met within groups is to communicate effectively.

Here are some simple, but not always easy, strategies for both the listener and the speaker. It’s important to remember that communication can be both verbal and nonverbal (e.g. eye rolls, walking away) and even though asynchronous communication sometimes seems easier, some conversations really should be had face-to-face.

Listener

  • Listen attentively. Look at the speaker with open body language.
  • Do not interrupt. Take a breath instead!
  • Accept silence.
  • Clarify what you hear. What and how questions versus why.
  • Reflect on what you hear, including empathic responses. (What you think they were feeling.)

Speaker

  • Speak attentively. Direct communication without being harsh.
  • Use “I” statements. Versus “you”, which sounds blaming.
  • Accept silence.
  • Do not overspeak. Take a breath instead!
  • Avoid cross-examination.

Dr. John Gottman, one of the foremost couples’ counselors, identified “the four horsemen” within communication styles that can predict that end of a relationship.

It is important to identify if any of these are a familiar way of interacting so that these types of negative communication patterns can be targeted and reduced.

  1. Criticism: When a complaint about something specific becomes global/general.
  2. Contempt: Exemplifies a sense of sarcasm and/or mockery.
  3. Defensiveness: Self-protection when an attack is perceived, but the effect is to blame.
  4. Stonewalling: The listener puts up a wall between herself/himself and the speaker and is perceived to be emotionally detached.

Quick Tips for effective communication in the workplace to increase retention and detoxify workplace bullies:

  • Co-create communication norms and print them in black and white for all to see. (If you want help in facilitating this co-creation, contact ic3!)
  • Model, model, and model some more. As the leader, it is up to you to make these a part of your company culture.
  • Try rephrasing “why” questions to become “what” of “how” questions. You will notice that people immediately are less defensive and, instead, partners in finding a solution.

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • Do you currently employ any of the “four horsemen” speaking styles?
  • What communication strategies do you use that work well within your company?
  • Is there an area within your company where communication is less than optimal?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science to the workplace to improve employee engagement.  ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to make your company the best place to work? You Need to Align Your Workforce

Want to make your company the best place to work? You Need to Align Your Workforce

ic3 consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

The ACE Model

awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

It is one thing to be aware; the next step is to be aligned – #3 in this 6-part series, How to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work.

Not only do you want your team to be aware of self and others and of the company culture, mission and values, you need them to be aligned.

When all of your employees and systems are working towards the same goal, mission, and values, your company, products, and services become an unstoppable force.

Conversely, picture cogs in a gear. What happens if one of those cogs is out of alignment? Friction builds, your machine slows downs and, eventually, stops. But now, imagine the power of a laser beam. A laser is created when light waves are coherent and “aligned” – generating high focus and impact.

A coherent, aligned and engaged workforce will save your company money by reducing turnover, absenteeism, and healthcare costs while improving customer services and increasing innovation. You will also be doing your part in creating happier, healthier employees, which has a ripple effect on their friends, family and the community at large!

Tips to create alignment in the workplace to tackle high turnover and burnout and increase productivity.

  • Offer an all-company retreat, where leaders and teams co-create the set of cultural values that drive your company.
  • Use those cultural values to hire. When hiring potential hires, make sure they are a good fit for what you and your company have established.

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • What is your personal North Star?
  • What is your company’s North Star?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement. ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to make your company the best place to work? You Need Awareness at Work

Want to make your company the best place to work? You Need Awareness at Work

IC3 Consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

In this 6-part series, How to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work, #2 is awareness.

The ACE Model
awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
(lead to lasting) employee engagement = intentional culture

Google is doing it. Intel is too. By this point, you have certainly heard of mindfulness in the workplace. But, what does it mean to be mindful, especially at work? To be mindful is to be conscious, awake – aware of what is happening now, in the present moment, without a knee-jerk emotional reaction (aka judgment).

Ok then, what does it mean to be aware? Awareness is knowledge, or an understanding of the whole – not just particular biases or schemas. Just like every person, every business has strengths and vulnerabilities and knowing these is imperative. Knowledge is power and awareness is at least 50% of the solution.

And, primary, even prior to awareness of your employees, is awareness of yourself. As a business leader, we understand that you are self-aware. You had to be in order to excel. So, how do you continuously put this practice into practice and remain aware of your internal biases and schemas?

There are multiple ways, but a foundational one is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is one of the key skills to create an integrated brain, leading to optimal functioning not only on an individual level but systematically as well. When your staff and managers are operating from this state, you will establish thriving teams that systematically innovate and collaborate with one another.

Quick Tips to increase awareness at work and overcome high turnover and achieve greater productivity and less burnout:

  • Employee assessments such as StrengthsFinder
  • Create opportunities where teams interact to co-create goals, objectives, and the values of the company.
  • Regular employee engagement surveys (Here is a quick 3-minute assessment you can take to begin to get a pulse on engagement within your company.)

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • How do you practice self-awareness?
  • What tools are already in place that helps you keep a pulse on the level of your employees’ engagement?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement. ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices.

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? You Need Safety & Trust First

Want to Make Your Company the Best Place to Work? You Need Safety & Trust First

iC3 Consulting – a firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement.

When you see those annual rankings of the best places to work, do you find yourself wondering what it would take for your company to make the list? In this 6-part series learn the necessary ingredients that we’ve come to term the ACE model of engagement and leadership, which include awareness & alignment, creativity & communication, and lasting employee engagement, with a foundation of safety & trust.

Each article and video is short and sweet with quick tips and actions steps so you can start implementing these strategies today.

The ACE Model
safety & trust
awareness + alignment = insightful companies
communication + creativity = innovative collaboration
lasting employee engagement = intentional culture

Why are psychological safety and trust the starting place? They are the building blocks that are needed for people to bring their whole selves to work – necessary for a fully functioning and engaged workforce.

When employees feel safe, they feel like they can share their ideas – even the ones that aren’t always implemented. Trust is established through transparency, or clearly defined expectations and established communication patterns practiced by all. These are the launching pad for happiness at work.

(Want to learn what is happening in the brain that necessitates safety being the starting place? Click here.)

Imagine a workplace bully. (Unfortunately, this usually is not too hard to conjure.) When employees start to feel threatened by a co-worker, especially if the company is small, they begin to dread coming to work for fear they will be insulted and provoked, or that their job is in jeopardy if that person is in a position of power. Suddenly, you no longer have a team that is working together. Employees do not feel safe or trusting. Rather, they are working from a place of fear and anticipation.

Take this moment and truly pause. Reflect. How many people and/or teams can you identify that are currently operating from a place of fear – not having their needs for safety met? (If this question is difficult for you to answer, click here for more information about awareness at work.)

Quick Tips for safety, transparency and trust in the workplace to address high turnover, low productivity and lack of innovation.

  • What would your employees need to feel more secure at work? Ask them. Not feeling secure often leads to a dramatic reduction in engagement.
  • Are there established methods for effective communication that are practiced and reinforced regularly within your workplace? If not, use this as a starting point.

This Week’s Action Steps:

  • Make note of what you do in your company to instill safety & trust?
  • What is one thing can you do to increase safety & trust within your company this week?

 

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes.

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ic3 consulting is an engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve stakeholder engagement. ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for their clients through customized corporate retreats, ongoing training, and executive coaching. ic3’s vision is to make the world a better place, one company at a time, through facilitating the creation of human-centered workplaces and business practices. 

Your Business & Your Brain

Your Business & Your Brain

How Understanding Brain Function Can Help You Take Your Business to the Next Level

Basics of neuroleadership explained in ic3’s brain and business infographic.

 

Within each division of the brain, there are certain needs that must be satisfied before we can think and act from the more advanced, thoughtful and evolved parts of the brain. For example, imagine that before you even begin your workday, you wake up late, skip breakfast, and have an argument with your partner. It’s now 9:30am and you have to tackle a project that requires creativity and strategic thinking. It’s due by 2:00pm, but you’re feeling scattered and can’t seem to focus. That’s because you haven’t fulfilled your brain’s fundamental need for nourishment and connection. And until you do, you won’t be able to function at optimal levels.

So how does this relate to your business? Well, in each company there are basic day-to-day, or operational, functions that need to be taken care of before it can evolve to the next level. Only when those functions have been adequately addressed can the company begin to focus on:

  • creating a sense of purpose
  • cultivating genuine employee engagement
  • standing out from the competition, and
  • conceiving innovative solutions, products, and services

How does this happen? By leveraging specific characteristics and traits in its employees that, when combined effectively, support the ongoing growth of the company.

We call this the evolution from me to we.

Let’s take a closer look. Click on the brain and business infographic below to enlarge.

neuroleadership basics

 

Co-founders Dayna Wood and Jennifer Carey help CEOs and their teams create a fully engaged and innovative company culture through offsite corporate retreats, CEO intensives, and ongoing accountability services. Their diverse backgrounds make them uniquely qualified to address the critical human-element of business.

Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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Running Toward Fears Every Day

Running Toward Fears Every Day

Do you ever wonder why your employees don’t always finish their projects or get their work done on time? Perhaps you can remember a time when you yourself avoided a particular item on your to-do list. There’s a good chance that when this happens, you and your employees are trying to navigate FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real).

Fear can creep up when we are challenged with tasks like making a sales pitch to a particular client, completing a critical task for a project, or coming up with an innovative product or service. Fear makes us uncomfortable, and most of us want to avoid that discomfort at all costs. But this avoidance becomes dangerous when it gets in the way of what it is we really want for ourselves or for our organization.

In our last article, we talked about creativity and how running away from fear, rather than toward it, can actually keep you from the highest expression of your ideas and the things or experiences you really want. George Addair, a real estate developer in post-Civil War Atlanta, summarized this beautifully:

 

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

 

This article includes tips on how to use mindfulness to overcome fear-based blocks to flow, productivity and creativity. I’ll start with a quick story from my own experience.

I recently almost let my fears stop me from approaching a client that we really wanted to work with at ic3. We knew we could bring a lot of skills and expertise into their organization, and they could help bring us more clients. It was a win-win, with a tremendous amount of potential.

As you know, building any business relationship takes effort and persistence, especially in the beginning. Although we were in early talks with this client, we hadn’t yet come up with a specific partnership plan or strategy. When the moment finally came to call them directly and make something happen, I felt my stomach drop and I immediately began to search for ways to avoid making that call. I was overcome with the sudden need to scroll through my Facebook feed and thought about tackling any and all of the other (low risk) tasks on my to-do list — anything that would allow me to avoid that phone call.

But I quickly recognized what was happening. Fear was rearing its head, and I knew I needed to move toward my discomfort.

Why? Because this potential client was so important to me and to my company. Our business relationship would make us both better. And taking this step would be in alignment with our vision of serving more companies, which in turn would serve the greater community. Once I remembered that, I stopped, took a few breaths, got centered, and brought to mind our intention and goal: to create a partnership with this client. I noticed the discomfort in my body but I didn’t judge it. This enabled me to see it for what it was: fear. I looked closely at my fear, and realized that what I was really afraid of was “sounding stupid”. As I stayed with that thought, I realized that it wasn’t true. What I wanted to share wasn’t “stupid”, and it wouldn’t sound stupid. With that in mind, I moved towards the fear and made the call.

Moral of the story: I’m happy to report that the client was very receptive, and we’re now discussing lots of creative partnership options. If I had allowed myself to react to that uncomfortable feeling of fear, without bringing mindfulness and awareness into the picture, I might never have made that phone call, and the partnership may never have come to be.

Below, I’ve outlined mindfulness skills that you and your employees can use to keep fear in check. In following the steps below, you’ll learn to use fear as a prompt for moving toward all that you want to accomplish, rather than a feeling to be avoided at all costs.

The next time you feel fear, discomfort or unease about sharing a creative idea or bringing up a challenging issue, try the following:

  1.   Get Centered: Sit comfortably in your chair and take a few natural breaths. Notice your feet on the floor and notice how you feel in your chair. When we are in this quiet place, sometimes our mind starts to race or emotions come up. That’s okay. You don’t need to judge anything that arises as good or bad; simply notice what comes up and see it as helpful information.
  2.   Remember Your Goal/Intention: Bring to mind what it is that you wish to achieve, especially if progress is being blocked by fear.
  3.   Gather Information: Ask yourself the simple question: What am I afraid of? Wait for the answer, and simply notice whatever comes up for you. It may be a simple phrase, or an image or sensation. Whatever it is, make note of it. Bring yourself back to the present moment by feeling the temperature of the room, the chair beneath you and your feet on the floor. Write down any information that came to you around your fears or obstacles to achieving your goal.
  4.   Examine the Information that Came Up in Step #3: In a gentle and non-judgmental way, take a closer look at the thoughts, images and/or sensations that came to you in Step #3. Ask yourself if they make sense, and whether or not they are true. Just as important, ask yourself who you would be without that thought. (If this step intrigues you, check out Byron Katie http://thework.com/en – she offers a powerful process around confronting irrational thoughts and fears).
  5.   Reconnect with What You Really Want and JUST DO IT: Now that you’ve got a fresh perspective on your fear, and you’re willing to look at it as a signal to bring you closer to what you really want, bring your end goal to mind. Believe in yourself and your ability to obtain it. See the fear for what it is: false evidence appearing real. Respect it for trying to keep you safe, but take opposite action, so that instead of moving away from what you want, you move toward creative solutions for achieving your goal. I like to use the Nike slogan in these instances: Stop thinking and “Just do it!”

We encourage you to try the steps above — and let us know how the process worked for you.

If you would like further assistance in helping your employees overcome fear-based blocks to productivity and creativity, we can help! Contact us at  http://www.ic3consulting.comto start the conversation.

 

Jennifer Carey Employee Engagement Consultant

Jennifer Carey, EdS, LMHC

Jennifer applies her background as a Psychotherapist to help optimize company cultures through her writing, consulting and speaking on employee engagement. Some of these crucial skills include mindfulness, human dynamics, and interpersonal communication.

Jennifer is the co-founder of ic3 consulting. ic3 consulting helps business leaders re-engage, re-align and re-ignite their workforce to create highly empowered teams that communicate effectively, collaborate freely and work to realize their company’s vision. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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Why the Creativity Cycle is Like an Outstanding Cup of Coffee

Why the Creativity Cycle is Like an Outstanding Cup of Coffee

If you’re like most people, your standard cup of “morning joe” is okay. It serves a function by helping you go from barely functional to getting you through your routine each morning.

However, the standard cup of coffee is very different from a fantastic cup of coffee that’s so good, it makes you stop and savor each sip. So, what separates an okay cup of coffee from a superb one?

It begins with intention — the desire to make a great cup of coffee. Allowing yourself enough protected time to go through the process is important, too, as is your knowledge and understanding of the steps involved. This knowledge can include far-ranging topics such as the quality of the beans and how to store them properly, roasting types and preferences, timing of grinding, filtering techniques, water quality, and temperature and equipment standards. This is a far cry from scooping some coffee grinds into a machine, pouring in water, and turning the button from black to red. And, so is the result.

Similarly, there is a large divide between producing an adequate product or service and creating something that awes, inspires, disrupts — or all of the above. Like making a remarkable cup of coffee, you need to know each specific ingredient and step required to make a great product or service.

There are distinct stages in the creative process, which we will dive into in our next article in this series. First, let’s examine the concept of creativity itself.

Creativity is a word that has an almost magical connotation because it’s often assumed that it’s an attribute of only a select and chosen few. Many people believe that you have to be an amazing visual artist to be creative. Some also believe that creativity cannot truly be defined, because of its utter uniqueness. But the good news is, all humans are creative. Our earliest ancestors had to be creative in order to survive, and it’s still hardwired into our brains.

So, the question isn’t “How creative are you?”, but rather “How are you creative?”

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the key ingredients of creativity is constraint. Creativity functions best when it is understood and practiced within a framework, and it blossoms within defined boundaries.

For instance, when making a cup of coffee, the equipment, steps, ingredients, and processes are pretty well-defined. Within that structure, it is possible to create something anew, as well as to question what had been previously assumed as “obligatory”. A great example of this approach is the recent popularity of nitro cold brew coffee. All that said, you still need coffee, liquid and and equipment, and you’re still working within the structure of “coffee making”.

Furthermore, there is a risk of getting lost in the creative process once you are in it. Think of how many brilliant ideas never made it beyond the brainstorming phase. Not because it wasn’t a great idea, or because funding wasn’t available, or because of functionality questions; but rather, because the person who generated the idea became too bogged down in the details — or in their personal “stuff”, which will inevitably surface. So structure not only provides perspective and clarity, it protects fledgling ideas and supplies energy for the long haul.

Different skill sets are needed at each stage of the creative process, and it’s wise to plan for this. If you know where you are at any given stage, you can seek assistance to close any gaps in knowledge that might arise, and then continue with the process, rather than giving up or going back to the drawing board. This is how you turn your idea into an original new product, service, or methodology that can set you apart from your competitors.

Another critical ingredient in the creative process is fostering a culture in which it’s supported — in all of its stages. Feelings of fear, loathing, and failure are inevitable parts of the process and can arise anew in each stage. If you want to create a work environment that encourages creativity, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether or not your current culture welcomes these challenging feelings as signs of growth and the arrival of something new. If they are considered taboo, you will need to plan on how to address them when they come up.

One of the most challenging aspects of creativity is the temptation to take feedback personally. Creativity feels extremely intimate, like shining a bright light on our most soft and vulnerable parts, so we can be very sensitive when it comes to hearing comments and criticism from our peers. It can take a tremendous amount of self-awareness to manage the emotions that can come up. In general, it’s a good idea not to take yourself too seriously, and to do your best to keep a sense of humor throughout the process. Training your team or staff on how to provide feedback in a compassionate and constructive way is also very helpful.

To recap, some of the necessary ingredients of the creative process might seem antithetical at first, such as:

  • Protection (for instance, of time and culture)

  • Universality (We are all born creative!)

  • Constraint (Including understanding the various stages of the creative process. Stay tuned for our next article)

  • Fear (and a whole gamut of “negative” feelings)

  • Not taking it personally (What can be born from the creative process has the potential to be life-altering, but if you start taking yourself too seriously, the creativity is already doomed)

You might not always choose to journey through the creative process — just like you might not always choose to make that outstanding cup of coffee. However, once you taste and experience the difference, you will truly understand how it is hard to go back to just “okay”.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, in which we’ll we describe the cycle of creativity and its relationship to our current understanding of the brain.

 

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Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

As an employee engagement consultant and professional psychotherapist and coach, Dayna combines out-of- the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds.

Dayna is the co-founder of ic3 consulting. ic3 consulting helps business leaders re-engage, re-align and re-ignite their workforce to create highly empowered teams that communicate effectively, collaborate freely and work to realize their company’s vision. Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. 

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