You may have heard me talking a lot about traditions in the workplace lately, especially since the TEDx Talk in Boca Raton in early May of 2015. In case you missed it, you can click here to watch it. Even after you realize the importance of preserving traditions in the workplace, you may wonder, well how can this be done?

These rituals are essential to keeping the workplace fun, as well as improving the quality of the work atmosphere while there. It gives employees something to look forward to! Plus, it helps to solidify your corporate brand and identity, helping your company to become “known” for something.

If you are ready to embrace this concept, but simply don’t know where to begin, here are 20 Fun Traditions you could apply or modify to bring into the workplace:

  • Days of the Week (or Month) Themes. Clash day, Bring your kid to work day, Pizza day, etc. or you can think of anything relevant to your organization to further develop these special days.

  • Create a corporate song/jingle. This could be a quick, 15-30 second, catchy jingle that will motivate and pump up the staff and that you sing or listen to every morning before starting your job.

  • Welcome tradition or indoctrination. Think of a tradition that your staff could do to welcome new employees; preferably something friendly or a type of indoctrination.

  • First day of the season celebrations. The first day of spring, summer, winter and fall could be an opportunity to celebrate, so think of a tradition that would remind your employees about these changes of season.

  • Birthday traditions. If you have a large company, it might not be feasible to celebrate birthdays every day, however, if you pass around a giant card and have everyone sign it, and acknowledge the employee’s individual birthdays with a gift card, this would be a great way to make them feel appreciated.

  • Non-profit of the month participations. Employees shouldn’t feel obligated to donate to non-profits; however some may have individual non-profits that they feel passionate about. At the beginning of the year, create a calendar of 12 non-profits that you wish to help and invite employees to suggest ideas on how you can all raise money for each organization. Examples include walk-a-thons, flea markets, kids’ carnivals, etc.

  • Appreciation jar. You could encourage appreciation in the workplace with an “appreciation jar” and every time someone feels appreciation towards another employee they would put in a quarter. At the end of the month, give the jar to the employee-of-the month or think of a way to honor someone. Repeat monthly.

  • Summer cookout. If you are not into the corporate holiday parties or perhaps your business is too busy during this time, organize an annual “outside of work” day that people can bring their family members. This is a great way to build a tight-knit workforce.

  • Spiff bonuses. “Spiff” money is a slang term for cash that is handed out the same day. If an employee meets a certain goal or milestone for that day, they would receive cash rewards. This is especially encouraging for employees who are money motivated, rather than having to wait for their paychecks. It gives them a reason to work harder in between paychecks.

  • Company hike once a month. Nothing makes people work together better than to experience some kind of a field trip together, so you could make it a hike, festival, bike ride or whatever is most appropriate for the type of people who work for your company.

  • Have a “Flop of the Week” award. It may seem counterproductive to reward failures, but this is not true. Laughing about errors can be a good way to teach everyone what to do and what not to do, so the “flop” should be something that reminds them about the flub. For example, you could have an ugly doll that gets passed around to the winner of the “Flop of the Week” and the employee has to keep it in a prominent place on their desk all week until it goes to the next person.

There are so many different traditions you could apply to your own organization, and it is a good idea to integrate as many as possible. By doing so, you will build loyalty, trust and commitment to your workplace. Your challenge: Assess your current and commit to developing one new impactful tradition within the next 30 days. The kind that puts you in a class of one! One of my favorites is The Holiday Inn, Panama City, Florida: The hotel involves its customers in a fun tradition. The hotel blasts “The Circle of Life,” the memorable song from the musical The Lion King, at 11 a.m. daily to wake the annual influx of spring breakers. The marketing director says when they first tried this in 2012 they didn’t dream it would become so wildly popular. Yet today people make sure the tradition continues before booking a room. That may be a bit over the top for a staid office, but a musical shot of adrenaline shouldn’t be dismissed, either.

THE COACH

Rita Craig’s father, mother, grandmother and 10 siblings taught her to appreciate diversity. Craig, 59, is president of Top Tier Leadership, an international training and coaching service. The wife and mother is president of the Florida Speakers Association and winner of the Human Resource Association of Palm Beach County’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

RitaCraigON HER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: “That, to me, really was one of the most rewarding forms of recognition I’ve ever gotten because it was from people in my field – my peers.” FULL HOUSE: “I lived with my father, mother and grandmother, seven brothers and three sisters. Living with 13 distinct personalities with different likes and dislikes prepared me to work in the people business.” ASK, DON’T TELL: “A coach’s job is to ask questions. A mentor tells you what you should do. I’ve coached thousands upon thousands of people, from Microsoft to small mom-and-pops, to get them to think it through. It doesn’t matter where I go globally, people have the same challenges.”

http://www.palmbeachermagazine.com/features/women-power

While preparing for my TEDx Talk in Boca Raton on May 4, I did a great deal of research about the differences between culture and tradition.

After studying the meaning of the word culture, it is rather parallel to tradition. It refers to the rituals we put in place. It is defined as a way of “thinking, behaving, or working that exists within a place or organization. In 2014, the word culture itself was the most “looked up” word on the online dictionary. This tells me that people are trying to find a sense of community.

However, when you look up the word tradition, it does have a similar meaning. It’s a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used and reinforced by a person, family, society or group of people for a long time. It is taking practices and passing them on to the next generations. They bring life and values to an organization, creating a huge environment.

Some traditions connect us in a way that extends far beyond the real traditions themselves, by establishing a sense of camaraderie, friendship, community and commitment.

Those same feelings that connect our families can also be used to create a strong sense of dedication and connection at work. According to a Gallup Survey in January 2015, over 70% of all employees are disengaged, meaning they are not motivated to get up and do their jobs.

That means only 30% of all employees like what they do! Many of them actually hate their jobs and try to taint others in the workplace with their dread or disdain. Perhaps you know people like this, whether you work with them or have an acquaintance? Although disappointing, employers do not realize why and have many assumptions to blame. Technology, the economy, or other factors offer possible reasons.

In reality, the biggest reason for staggering numbers of people who hate their jobs is because they simply don’t have the heart to do it. They have not been “touched” or “connected” or “expanded” through traditions. Within our multi-generational workplaces, there must be some traditions in place to connect people and touch them in some way.

Using this knowledge, as an employer, you can evaluate…

  • What is our company doing to bring people together? Particularly “off-line” and outside the space of the internet?
  • What are we doing to help people get to know each other, so they can laugh more and nurture a sense of camaraderie and friendship?
  • Do the employees feel like they are nothing more than a number or that nobody truly cares about them?
  • Does everyone’s opinion(s) count?

Some traditions need to go away, or be rehabilitated. Some are stale and need to be thrown away.

Employers must find ways to connect their employees. By bringing them together, it directly impacts productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. It could be as a group, or through community and schools. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time, but it can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line.

Recently, I had the complete honor and pleasure of speaking at the latest TEDx Talk in Boca Raton, Florida. Coming from a huge family of eleven children, plus two parents and one grandmother, it was essential for my mother to have systems in place to manage such an enormous undertaking. After packing seemingly hundreds of sandwiches and lunch bags, she looked each of us square in the eye before school and always said, “Be on your best behavior. I know you’ll make us proud.”

After hearing those words every single day, it became a tradition. It was a “touch tone” to start the day. Traditions do three things:

  • Traditions touch us

  • Traditions connect us

  • Traditions expand us

That early morning touched me because it brought so much love, as well as connecting me with my family, as we all shared those heartfelt words. It expanded me because I took those same feelings to school. So, after becoming a mother, I also instilled a tradition by saying to my son, “Make good choices. I love you.”

When we think back to our own childhood traditions, do they still touch you? Connect you? Expand you? Family is easy, but what about work?

Traditions at work have a bad rap, perhaps many of us believing them to be a way to hold on to the status quo. Some people think they go against everything we’ve learned about being innovative, productive, creative or progressive. However, this is simply not true.

Traditions can bring a sense of community, which results in a positive work environment; while enabling employers to attract and retain the very best in talent.”

We must change our perception of traditions.

Why? If we don’t, we cannot bridge the gap between today’s multi-generational employees. The millennials mixed with the baby boomers and Gen-Xers simply don’t understand one another, unless you find a way for them to come together.

WATCH THE TEDX presentation to hear ideas for building connections and traditions in your workplace!

 

The larger a company, the more likely it is to have multi-generational employees. A lot of workers are forgoing retirement until much later than the normal age of 55, for a variety of reasons. Some simply don’t have the financial safety net of social security or pension benefits to fall back on, either because they started saving too late or simply because of the increased cost of living. Others want to work because they enjoy the social camaraderie and bigger paychecks.

Meanwhile, keeping the new workforce relevant, engaged and interested in working also requires a strong company culture. In order to hire and keep the millennials and Gen-Xers interested, a company must incorporate relevant programs and systems that are more contemporary in values. As you might imagine, the struggle to maintain balance between the old and new is an ongoing topic for any business. There is often a gap between the “oldies” and “newbies” that is not only noticeable, but problematic in some cases.

Balancing Tradition While Blending New Methods and Technologies; Can This Be Done?

The importance of preserving tradition in the workplace is not about maintaining “status quo”. It is about connecting and bridging the gap between the baby boomers and the youth who are entering the workplace. By merging the new technologies and programs with the old, companies can satisfy the needs of all of the staff members on a broader scale, while creating a harmonious working environment.

Another reason to preserve the corporate traditions is for the benefit of the customers. Too many changes all at once can create confusion and discontent. There is nothing that will alienate customers faster than disgruntled employees, and after working so hard to build a brand that is rich in tradition, it would be a shame to throw it all away. Nevertheless, a company must evolve. The best way to provide balance is through training, implementing and by nurturing effective leadership. Teaching the management to pass on the most critical aspects of a company culture – while consecutively embracing the newer systems and concepts – is an ongoing process.

How to Know Which Traditions to Keep vs. Which to Toss

As far as knowing which traditions matter most, this can be done by using two methods.

  1. asking the employees; or
  2. asking the customers.

Both should be done subtly. You don’t want to alienate either of these vital aspects of your business, but there is value in their opinions. One way you could do this would be simply by asking for feedback. A straightforward approach makes employees feel included, whereas changes that suddenly appear might seem scary. Come outright in your approach. For example; “How do you feel about our traditional July cookout, do you feel that it should be changed?” or; “Our company is leaning toward a simplified method of networking online, how do you feel about that?” You could also ask which traditions are their favorite, versus which they care the least about. Their answers may surprise you! Traditions connect people and are very important in our very disconnected world!

There is a book by one of the most successful leadership trainers of our time, John C. Maxwell. “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions” is a topic that many people would not even think about, much less write an entire 304 page book about. Yet, when it comes down to it, the importance of asking questions is understated as a leadership skill. Not just any ‘ole questions, but the thought-provoking kind that make people stop and wonder how you came up with them.

Why is Question-Asking Considered a Valuable Leadership Skill?

Good question.

It does require thought to answer a question, but the act of “asking” it in the first place requires cognitive, tactical or logical thinking. Asking questions also uses creativity, because the asker must first notice what is wrong in the first place and then process the information to realize there may be an answer. In other words, the asker has done the following (ANIV):

  • Analyzed: The question asker has analyzed that something is amiss.

  • Noticed: After analyzing that something is wrong, the asker has “noticed” and wondered this question.

  • Initiative: Rather than settling for what is wrong, the asker has taken the initiative to question it.

  • Voice: After analyzing what is wrong, noticing it, and taking the initiative, the asker then “voices” it out loud. This is what sets the person apart as a leader, because rather than silently musing about the topic; they have expressed it out loud in the form of a question.

Makes sense, right? In other words, the person who inquires about what is wrong has not only noticed (through logic), they have also voiced it in the form of a question. Now, as a leader, how can you develop these thought provoking questions?

Let’s begin by brainstorming. Think about a team of people. Think about typical questions they might ask. Then, think of the complete opposite, or stretch your mind beyond the typical questions to make your questions more engaging, enlightening and more on the side of problem solving.

Questions and Answers Help to Solve Problems

Questions are challenging and give employees a chance to “figure things out”, which can also make them look up to you. Instead of doing things for them or answering and solving your own problems, by presenting it as a question, you are asking them to think for themselves. You are helping them to develop not only in the workplace, but as individuals!

Here are some examples of thought-provoking questions you could present to your staff. This might help you come up with other pertinent examples for your business. There is a “typical” question and then a similar, yet more thought-provoking way of asking it directly underneath.

  • Typical: “How can we beat the competition?”

    • Thought-Provoking: “If another company came along offering the same services, what weak areas of ours would they most likely target?”

  • Typical: “How can we be more successful?”

    • Thought-Provoking: “What are two key areas that are preventing us from moving forward?”

  • Typical: “What do you like about working here?”

    • Thought-Provoking: “What is your biggest concern about working here, and what can you do to overcome this?”

  • Typical: “What do you think of this project we’re doing?”

    • Thought-Provoking: “If you were to be solely responsible for this project, how would you handle it or make it better?”

  • Typical: “How should we handle this?”

    • Thought-Provoking: “Assuming there was absolutely ZERO chance of failure, what would be the first thing to do?”

Asking questions is stimulating and nurtures a creative workforce. By making your employees think harder, they will decidedly earn your respect as a leader who listens, cares and who asks the right questions to help them succeed.

by The Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce

The Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business Council presented their quarterly luncheon on Tuesday, March 25th at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott. They were thrilled to have guest speaker, Rita Craig.

rita-craigI Showed You So…Lessons from Mom about the Business of Life
Do you wonder what ever happened to good ‘ol common sense? You’ll be sure to find out when you join executive leadership consultant, author and coach Rita Craig as she talks about her latest book, I Showed You So – Lessons from Mom about the Business of Life. In her book, Rita takes a fun and insightful trip down memory lane, sharing what it was like to grow up in a house with 14 people, and detailing  fundamental life lessons she learned from her mother along the way. A bit of a romp at times, her book is much more than simply entertaining; in her own inimitable style, Rita connects these life lessons with today’s business climate in a way that is direct and hard-hitting. This will be a time of laughter and learning…Be sure not to miss it!

Rita B. Craig, Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR), is founder and president of Top Tier Leadership, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Ms. Craig taps into her 40 years of global human resources experience, including nearly 25 years in the corporate arena, to help transform clients – individuals, companies, public sector and associations – into highly effective employees, executives and organizations.

Fortune 50 to 500 companies in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Singapore and Latin America have capitalized on her ability to swiftly drill down to identify issues, engage stakeholders and create positive change solutions. She has developed and implemented hundreds of customized strategies for clients around the globe on such topics as leadership, ethics, personal success and organizational effectiveness.

sharon and friendsA master in the art of listening and communicating, no two clients, keynote addresses or coaching sessions are ever the same for Ms. Craig. Each is treated with a personal approach to fit the client’s needs. Her ability to connect with each client to provide relevant content and measurable results consistently rewards her with top ratings from attendees around the world. Ms. Craig adheres to strict confidentiality, as many of her dealings are of a private, sensitive nature.

Rita is President-Elect of the Florida Speakers Association, a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Global Speakers Federation. Her publishing credits include Welcome to the Workforce, I Showed You So, and a manuscript entitled, “Ethics: The Hot New ‘E’ Word,” featured in the NSA’s first-ever book, Paid To Speak. Her reputation as a consummate professional has awarded her with a number of honors from respected sources such as the South Florida Business Journal, HR Florida, North Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, SER Jobs for Progress and The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.  In October 2012, she was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Human Resource Association of Palm Beach County.

Ms. Craig earned her master’s degree in business administration with a specialty in Human Resources from Nova University.  She has also completed the Columbia University’s human resources executive management program. Her past and present civic and community involvement reflects a diverse business and non-profit base, which helps her connect with clients from many disciplines.

wibThe Women in Business Council was founded 2002 by the Jupiter Juno Tequesta Chamber of Commerce and is now a part of the merged Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. The mission of the council is to promote networking and education for professional women and female entrepreneurs while highlighting the women leaders in the community. To find out more, please visit the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce website at www.npbchamber.com.

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Power of Confidence:

7 Characteristics of a Confident Person

Confidence can take a life time to build, while taking only a moment or two to crumble into tiny bits. Depending on the life circumstances we are dealt with, having a confident demeanor can start very early in life; as young as toddlerhood.

Some of us had great parents who instilled positive values, which in turn made us believe we could become, do or be anything in life. Others did not, but perhaps found confidence later in life in other ways, such as through sports or by forging ahead in academics and within the workplace.

Confidence IS power, and vice versa. It has been studied and scientifically proven that confident people carry a different persona; one of poise, high self-worth, strong radars between right and wrong, and an ability to lead or convince others to follow.

People who are not confident are less likely to succeed, because they constantly second-guess their own ability to do things. They have excuses and often fall short of their own expectations, as well as failing to meet up to the perceived expectations of others. They may say things like,

  • “I could never do that, because I didn’t receive any formal education.”
  • “I’m not cut out for these things.”
  • “My Dad never showed me how to do that when I was a kid.”
  • “I’m not even going to try, because I know there will be a lot more qualified people applying than me.”

Listen, confidence is KNOWING. You must know you are good enough, without blaming anyone else (past, present or future) of your character faults. If you haven’t done something before, teach yourself how to do it. You can learn most anything these days just by doing an online search. Stop blaming your parents, your family, or your imperfect partner, or your kids, and most of all, yourself.

The power of confidence IS power. It is a knowing that no matter what you do, you will not fail. Here are 7 distinguishable characteristics of confident people:

  • Poise – Standing up, walking with an attitude
  • Eye contact – Never be afraid to look at people dead in the eyes, as it can put you in a position of power and knowing whether the person is truthful or not
  • Firm – Staying true to yourself and not sacrificing your personal beliefs for another person
  • Appearance – Confident people take pride in the way they look, including overall fitness, health and wellness. Looking good transcends to feeling good. Dressing nicely automatically makes you feel more confident.
  • Tone – Confident people keep a level head. They have self-assurance; therefore they do not need to yell to get their point across.
  • Stand up for others – Never talk badly about other people, because it can diminish or weaken your own confidence and self-esteem. Remember that it is the people who speak negatively about others who often feel the worst about themselves.
  • Do what is right – Doing the “right” thing is not always easy, especially when outside pressures persist. Whenever you bend on someone else’s wishes and not uphold what you feel in your heart is the best action, step or course to take, and then your confidence level goes down. Never let another person control your destiny, you are in control of your own.

People who lack confidence have excuses, whereas people with confidence have ambition. With the power of confidence, you cannot fail.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

-Thomas A. Edison