The Self-Awareness Guy

20 Ways to Tell Your Organization Doesn’t Value People

Proactive leaders “get it” about treating their employees well but I run across many others who don’t share that perspective.  Many leaders and organizations tend to focus on the bottom line at the exclusion of everything else.  This leaves their employees struggling to keep up with ever-increasing demands to do more work in less time and at a higher level.  This has the predictable result of burning people out and creating unhappy workplaces.

I’ve found that organizations can be highly productive and support their employees but that approach isn’t even on the radar in many workplaces.
Leaders and organizations demonstrate how much they value their people by the actions they take.  Here are 20 signs you might be valuing other things instead of your employees.

  1. You have high employee turnover.
  2. You give out commands but don’t ask for feedback.
  3. HR is just a way to avoid lawsuits.
  4. People get shown the door quickly if they don’t like company policies or go against the status quo.
  5. There is low morale and motivation and people seem unhappy.
  6. Productivity is low even though you’ve tried many things to increase it.
  7. Your employees shrug or look perplexed when you say, “Employees come first in this company.”
  8. Your workplace is consistently more stressful than it has to be and it’s affecting people’s performance.
  9. Leadership doesn’t listen to employees.
  10. Leadership makes unilateral decisions without seeking input from employees at every level.
  11. Information is hoarded at the top.
  12. There’s little two-way communication between leadership and employees.
  13. Employees are viewed as expendable, as in, “There’s more where she came from,” or, “If you don’t like it, I’ve got a hundred other people who could fill this job.”
  14. You offer very few opportunities for advancement.
  15. Limited or non-existent training and educational opportunities.
  16. You say things like, “At least he’s got a job,” or “I’m providing jobs for people,” to justify a less than wonderful work environment.
  17. Touchy-feely is a bad word in your organization.
  18. Diversity is a scary and contentious concept in your workplace.
  19. You notice chronic ongoing conflict between employees.
  20. Lack of benefits for employees.

These types of behaviors happen all the time in innumerable workplaces.  The remarkable thing is that many leaders seem to think that it’s the only way to run an organization.  Thankfully, we now know that we can create thriving and highly productive organizations while treating our employees well the moment leaders choose to do so.  What do you do to make sure your employees feel valued?

Take care,


Choosing the Safe Path

There are people who spend their entire lives choosing the safe path, which means that they do what they’ve always done, how they’ve always done it. They value feeling safe and secure over all else, including self-awareness, no matter what the consequences. In the process, they lose their true selves and live middle-of-the-road, ordinary, as-uneventful-as-possible existences.

I’ve always wondered why people live like this, and the answer that often arises is fear. When people are scared of stepping outside their comfort zones or of being their real selves, they tend to do everything they can to remain in their cocoon. They never fly because they’re too busy worrying about everything that might possibly go wrong or be slightly different.

One of the reasons I love coaching and training people who value self-awareness is that they live more courageously; striving to understand who they are and where they want to go. It’s not that they live dangerously, just that they’re willing to test their own thought processes and face their fears.

How do you avoid choosing the safe path?

Take care,

Team Building: Healing Your Workplace

Team building and healing are strongly linked in the workplace because teams can’t function well if everyone is walking around carrying personal grudges and hurts.  It often falls on the team leader to help everyone function effectively but it’s nearly impossible if he or she is carrying around a lot of negative energy.

There are many negative workplace experiences that affected people negatively.  Individuals sometimes hold on to these feelings for a long time even when they realize intellectually that they would be better off letting them go.  I train leaders and employees about how they can end this cycle of negative feelings and thoughts and build stronger teams and it almost always begins with healing.

Healing your workplace is one of the most important concepts for you and your employees’ well being and it begins with healing yourself.  If you think about it, you deal with people very differently when you are healthy rather than hurt.  If you want to create a work environment that is free of hurts from the past, then think about the following questions.

1.  What do I need to heal?

This question will help you define what it is that you need to look at.  There is no right or wrong answer, you get to decide what part of you or your workplace is hurt and then you get to heal it.  No issue is to small or trivial, if you need to heal it it is a valid starting point.  You can have several issues but try to pick one to start on.

2.  How will I heal myself?

There are many avenues you can take to heal yourself and they almost always involve getting help from an outside person who can help you get a clear perspective.  You benefit from realizing that you need help and then reaching out to someone who can partner with you to make it happen.  There is no right or wrong approach to healing, look for an approach that works for you.  Some people talk to a friend, others a therapist and others HR.

3.  How will I know that I am healed?

The goal of healing is to come to terms and feel at peace with the issues you face.  You will know you are healed when an issue no longer stirs negative feelings inside you.  You will also see improvements in your day to day work life because that issue won’t be affecting you in the same way.  Healing can take time so be patient and keep working on taking care of yourself.  Take it easy on yourself and only work on healing one thing at a time.  Once you feel better about one thing then you are then ready to move on to the next issue.

Do some careful thinking about these three questions and you will begin the process of discovering what hurts and how to heal it.  The idea is not to reopen terrible wounds and relive those moments, it’s to acknowledge that you have an issue and work on it.  Once you heal yourself you’ll be in a great position to help your team do the same.  The result is a workplace where people aren’t working out their personal stuff on each other.  How will you start healing your workplace?

Take care,


Going beyond the Family

People who possess self-awareness tend to chart their own courses instead of following rules imposed by outside influences, including their families. A lot of individuals are bound by a sense that they have to adhere to family rules and expectations, but I’ve often noticed that they often live more fulfilled lives when they follow their own inner voices.

Yes, the family is an important social structure that can provide a sense of meaning and belonging, but it is a human construct that has held countless people back. How many people have had to live their lives a certain way because their family tells them to? How many people have had their dreams extinguished because well-meaning family members suggested they follow a certain path? Far too many.

A major reason people are profoundly miserable in life is that they pretend that they enjoy doing what others tell them to do. Trying to be someone we’re not is always a recipe for disaster because the only way we can be truly happy is to do what we love to do, in a way we love doing it, for the reasons we find meaningful. This kind of courageous self-determination often goes against the rules and expectations of our families, but it is the only path toward true fulfillment.

At its very core, being happy means having the self-awareness to be who you really are: an individual who does his or her own thing regardless of what any other person or group says. What do you think about going beyond the family?

Take care,

The Overlooked Leadership Tool

One of the most overlooked and underutilized leadership tools is brainstorming. Leaders can spend their entire careers in their own heads, jumping from one quick fix to another without asking for outside advice or tapping into their employee’s brainpower. They insist that they’ve tried everything and can’t understand why the keep getting the same results.

Brainstorming provides opportunities to examine any issue from a variety of perspectives and develop solutions based on richer information and more varied options. Here are some practical tips to help you brainstorm effectively.

  1. Welcome and write down all ideas.
  2. Avoid judging or giving opinions about the ideas that come up.
  3. Stay away from debating or arguing the merits of any idea.
  4. Don’t worry whether the idea seems practical or not.
  5. Encourage everyone in the room to share one idea rather than one person sharing many.
  6. Remember that no idea is wrong, outlandish or strange.
  7. Try not to lead the ideas in any predetermined direction, let them develop naturally.
  8. Invite a wide range of people to brainstorm so you have access to a wider range of perspectives.
  9. Keep the brainstorming sessions brief so that people don’t get overloaded by too many ideas.
  10. Thank people for their ideas and participation.

Brainstorming encourages creative thinking and allows people to stretch their minds. Once the ideas are out in the open, they suggest new opportunities and possibilities that might not have otherwise existed. Savvy leaders and organizations use brainstorming sessions to create nimble, flexible and creative workplaces. What will you do to encourage brainstorming in your organization?

Take care,