Workplace wellness: say thank you

A few weeks ago I was at a gathering of colleagues who had lunch with one of the leaders of our growing department. One of the laboratory managers explained that many of the principal investigators at the University do not ever tell them the final results of their studies. Nor do they routinely thank the staff their for their contributions to their research projects. And yet, many of these projects could not be completed with the hard work of these staff.

image of thank you post-it
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I found this appalling, as someone who has engaged a variety of multi-functional teams over the years for a global company. Thank you is a minimum. Thank you for me is just the floor for what you must do when you collaborate. Thanking people and also letting their managers know what a good job they did is next level.

Making sure you credit people in a published paper, a poster and/or a talk is another way to give credit. Though if the staff are not in the audience of that talk (because it may be directed at another audience), please find a way to thank them personally in another way.

Sometimes a hand written card can be appropriate. Other times a short email with a “I appreciate your work on …” is enough. We all depend on others to get our work done in this day and age. It’s true, sometimes people just do the minimum at their job. Maybe they didn’t put in any “special” effort, but they showed up and they delivered.

Consider how good it feels when someone takes the time to thank you, and to acknowledge how your work makes an impact. All of us enjoy being recognized for our efforts. Some of us don’t love the spotlight, so please don’t make us accept awards in front of big crowds… a simple and sincere thank you will do.

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On the other side, consider how much you enjoy doing for those who express gratitude rather than those who are always griping. It’s worth considering this before you spending time critiquing what may not have been done perfectly.

Take the time to notice those efforts and your workplace engagement will improve. And yes, even bosses like to be thanked! If they give some helpful advice or feedback, or maybe help you see things in a new way, it does not hurt to tell them what you appreciate.

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cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Workplace Wellness – from Gallup

This week I am going a little “light” on the writing. I am preparing for YTT weekend number 5, and trying to get set up for a good experience.

I read an article from Gallup New entitled: Your Boss Could Be Bad — or Good — for your Health. I decided I really must share it, because Gallup is reputable organization that does good and validated research. Someday maybe toxic workplaces will be considered a public health risk.

This article focuses on the value of trust in workplaces. This is something I always want to promote, trust and trust-worthiness among my teams and colleagues. The Gallup article explains why.

boss Gallup article
Straight stolen from the Gallup article

If you are not working in a place that feels safe, and that values your strengths, consider working with a coach to help you find alternatives to your current situation. My own coach (Elizabeth) helped me see how my values need to be represented in my work setting in order to feel fulfilled each day.

Wow, am I ever glad she was there to help me articulate those ideas in a new way. It has helped me see what I need to feel happy and well.

Have a wonderful “hump” day! Enjoy the midweek and mid-summer.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Workplace Wellness – find your friends

One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is having someone who you consider a good friend (or sometimes best friend) at work.

Or at least that’s what I used to read about when I was an operational manager at Medtronic. I was a little skeptical. But I think I understand what all those employee engagement surveys are trying to say:

It is important to have colleagues that you trust at work, people who may, over time, become friends. I certainly felt like I had a lot of friends at Medtronic. It’s one reason why it was so hard for me to leave.

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At the University, I am only 2.5 weeks in. I feel like I have a lot of “potential” friends, and people who share common interests. It takes time to form relationships. I am not expecting to adopt a bestie right away. It might take 6-12 months before I find out who my real friends are. People tend to be polite in Minnesota, and it’s not always easy to discern who is a true friend.

Also I sometimes encounter people who are excessively concerned with titles and prestige, so they are likely to wait it out a bit before being too warm and friendly. As a “newbie” in this organization, I don’t have networks yet. I am untested, though my boss told me that the people I had met so far gave her positive feedback about the impression they had from our first meetings. So I will count that as a win.

In any case, I think I am fairly good connecting people and ideas. But like anything, I am being patient with it, since I know that every work place culture is different. I am confident that all of this will shake out eventually.

Back to the mantra I used a couple of weeks ago: You have time. 🙂

Happy Wednesday, friends!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Workplace Wellness – Ask for help

The following is an edited post from August 2018 originally entitled “Wellness Wednesday – Ask for help.” Since I am in the second week of my new job, it seems like a good reminder to myself! 

Do you find it hard to ask for help? 

I confess that this is something I am still need to practice. I was taught very well to always be helpful. But I did not often ask for help. And it can take me time to admit to myself when I need help, and to ask and receive it.

But asking for help can be a way to honor other people and allow them to connect with us in a meaningful way. Once I started thinking of it this way, it seemed that asking for help is actually like giving someone a gift. 

When we ask for help we indicate that we trust and respect another person. We express our belief in their capability. Most of the time, people who can help us are happy to help us. Think about the last time you responded to a request. Did you feel good about helping? Most of us do. (Unless the request is unreasonable or feels imposed, but that is another scenario).

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It can feel vulnerable to ask for help. We must admit we don’t have it all together, or we do not know something. I am starting to get over this as I realize we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in it, and potentially we deepen the connections in our relationships.

Sometimes we worry that if we ask, a person will say no and reject the request. I have found that if I ask sincerely and from a place of gratitude, more often than not, I receive help. It helps to be specific about the request and to always thank the giver.

I also learned that asking out loud is a better option than mentally projecting your requests to someone. This is truly OBVIOUS. And sometimes I have made the mistake of assuming others (like my husband) could read my mind and would know what I wanted. Nope. We must use our words, and express requests out loud. I realize not everyone here has grown up in passive-aggressive Minnesota where this tends not to be modeled.

Perhaps we want to stubbornly do things ourselves, and we feel a sense of failure if we ask for help. Perhaps we were taught that strong and capable people do not need help, or this is the message we absorbed in our youth. In any case, it is time let go of our fear and to embrace a new belief and a new practice!

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Graciously asking for and receiving help is a practice that can enhance our relationships and allow us to focus on our strengths. If you are new to it, take it in stages, and start small. You may be surprised at what you discover and how much more capable you feel by inviting your community to be part of your success.

Next time you are struggling, know you are not alone. Use it as an invitation to ask a coworker for what you need or want. Be brave, and be thankful. We do not have to go it alone.

cristy@meximinnesota.com

 

 

Workplace Wellness – You have time

I am just coming out of my first two days at my new job, meeting people and learning more about what I have signed up to accomplish. It is exciting and exhilarating.

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My new work space at the University

It is also like one of my colleagues described it, “like drinking water from a fire hose.” There are a lot of new concepts to absorb, and research units to understand, training to complete, and meetings to schedule.

Over the lunch hour, I attended a session from the Office of the VP for Research on Vulnerable Populations. It was a fascinating look at the fact that researchers sometimes take a paternalistic perspective to protect research participants. But we do not always consider the injustice of excluding certain types of candidates for research, and how this may actually deny treatment alternatives.

Fascinating stuff. I can tell this job is going to challenge my thinking and open me up to new perspectives. I love that.

I also know that by the end of the day, around 4:45 p.m. after two full days of meetings, and a mini-celebration dinner with friends for my birthday on Monday, I was wiped. My brain felt worked and tired.

I considered pushing through and working longer. Then I opened my journal and opted for a short reflection on the day, old-fashioned pen and paper style. It helped clarify my thoughts and questions.

On the 12 minute walk to my car to begin the commute home, I considered what might be a helpful mantra, given a slight feeling of being overwhelmed by expectations. Ultimately I decided on “you have time.”

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

You have time to learn the new job (and it is okay that you don’t know everything you need to know/do in the first couple days)

You have time to get to know the department.

You have time to map out a strategy and plan.

You have time to absorb the information you need. You were hired because of your expertise, experience and capabilities, not because you know everything.

You have time to enlist the support you need to be successful.

After a few minutes of deep breathing and chanting this simple mantra to myself, it started to resonate in my body. I felt that familiar relaxation response, when my mind starts to believe what I am “feeding” it via conscious thoughts, and my body lets go of anxiety.

The next time you find yourself flipping into a mental script has you feeling overwhelmed, you might tell yourself that “you have time.” See what effect it has on your body, and your feelings. You have time.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday to evolve

Hi Friends,

I have been doing some thinking in the last couple of weeks to determine what will be the new rhythm of my blog as I begin a new job on June 10th – my birthday!

One of my popular columns & topic areas was the Wellness Wednesday post, which I did some time back. Since I am returning to the workplace, I am going to write a little bit less frequently. I want bring mindfulness to Workplace Wellness. And since I will receive my yoga teacher certification this fall, I really want to bring principles of wholeness and integration to my new workplace.

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

I will be a Research Program Manager for the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at the University of Minnesota. I am looking forward to it, and I still want to write a couple times a week. So my Sunday haiku will remain (it’s kind of a staple of my week). I still plan to do a Saturday share, maybe every other week, or whenever a particular blog inspires me. It’s good karma to promote others work as well!

And rather than the Tuesday/Thursday posts, I will begin a series on Workplace Wellness to be posted each Wednesday throughout the summer and maybe beyond. (WWW – so you won’t forget to check here!).

These posts will be reminders to myself for how to live well in a changing workplace, and I hope they might help others as well. I plan to integrate principles of yoga and other wisdom I may learn along the way of this new journey.

I thank you so much for your readership and support! Happy Wednesday!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com