Motivation and De-Motivation is Contagious: Recognition Resources to Spread

October 4, 2018 | Posted in Leading Hartfully, Living Hartfully | By

Like the common cold, motivational ways can spread across the workplace. Unfortunately so can un-motivational actions. Sincere recognition and appreciation reap big rewards.  I understand some just don’t have a clue when it comes to implementing such practices; so I’ve culled lots of ideas from my resources to help add to your arsenal of positive actions. Please spread the word and infect others with these recognition resources.

  • We never seem to get or give enough recognition where it is needed most. Non-cash awards are a sound business investment in the future of your company. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group cited in Incentive Magazine indicates that companies with superior employee recognition grew four times faster, earned $40 billion more and created 140,000 more job opportunities than the average company.
  • The American Productivity Center suggests that non-cash programs cost three times less than cash programs and produce similar results.
  • “Atta-persons” are not a panacea for improved performance and productivity. These sincere acknowledgements must be accompanied by mutually agreed-upon goals for the individual or team, communication, a respectful relationship and workplace, education, tracking, and measurement to maximize results and lead to long-term behavior changes.
  • Balancing between cash, material stuff, and non-cash incentives and recognition is an individualized art and it changes with each team member. Ask them what they desire out of the relationship with their job and then find ways for them to make it happen. Intrinsic motivation and a passion for a cause is the most powerful incentive of all.
  • In the midst of economic turmoil and organizational uncertainty, incentives and promotional programs can provide stability and a way to help pull people and entice them out of stressful times. They can be an emotional jump start to show appreciation for employee’s time, loyalty, service, and commitment, and make it easier for them to deal with emotional issues. These acknowledgement programs can bring fun and good spirits back to the workplace and show how much you care about the team pulling together and sticking together through tough times.
  • Making a show that the top dogs are cutting back on expenses during financial squeeze times demonstrates to the team that everybody, including the top dogs are tightening their belt. Make a game of who can trim the fat off the financial statement and expenses line item could offer incentives and get suggestions for improving operations. Offering a percentage of the cost savings to the person who suggested it will go a long way to empower and energize staff.
  • Start a walking club at work, or a brown bag “lunch and learn” session to make positive use of the lunch hour and encourage healthy habits, networking, and self-improvement. Include topics such as planning for retirement, scrap-booking, refinancing your home, training your dog, communicating with family members, or vegetarian cooking.
  • If your organization offers flextime, how about offering a change of schedules with the change of seasons for a change of pace.
  • Offer a company-sponsored luncheon or special recognition for the graduates of family members, or offer a small gift from the company to the graduate such as a gift card to a bookstore or computer store to help them in their next phase of life. Endearing your organization to the family members has been proven an effective retention strategy.
  •  Involve family members in the recognition process or incentive chain. Perhaps offering a catalog of awards or prizes that the worker can receive in exchange for their earned points in a company-sponsored contest or sick-leave, or safety record program. Sending the catalog to their home address where family members may page through the options may be just the incentive a worker needs to spur them on to earn more points for the mountain bike their daughter spotted in the catalog. Sometimes we do more for family members than we do for ourselves.

Remember that motivation is contagious and so is de-motivation. Even self-motivated employees wither within a demoralizing environment. You can’t fake appreciation – it will backfire every time. Ultimately, companies that treat their employees with respect and show concern for their personal and professional well-being are most likely to emerge successful, even in the face of a downturn, or a bad economy. Organizations can foster loyalty by tuning in to their workers and offering them what they want such as flexibility, education, tele-commuting options, and ways to enhance work/life balance. Asking people what they want is the first step to tuning in and getting it right.

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Clients Comment on Morale-Boosting Ideas

October 4, 2016 | Posted in Leading Hartfully | By

I often get ideas from clients on how they boost morale in their organizations. Here are some of their ideas along with some tidbits I’ve picked up on how to enhance your work experience to live and lead Hartfully:

  •  Have a mascot for the office who can wear the official badge, pin, or t-shirt of the department. This can be a stuffed animal or beanbag character. Other departments have been known to kidnap the mascot and hold them ransom for pizza or candy. Sometimes the mascot sits at the reception desk to oversee visitors – it adds some playful professionalism.


  • One payroll professional wore a crown and a sash that say Payroll Queen when she personally distributed paycheck stubs to the team.


  • One accounting firm offered free 15-minute seated massages during the month of April when their team was particularly overworked.


  • A city recreation department’s executives hosted a breakfast cooked by them for their organization to kick off the summer staff meeting.


  • Another recreation department used some of their own staff in a training film with the theme of COPS – catching frontline personnel staging bad customer service for the film. They also interviewed colleagues about what they thought was good service and the best part about the film was the bloopers and outtakes that they added to the end of the film. The audience went wild as they saw their co-workers goof up and be themselves in front of the cameras.


  • The admin staff at a physics lab gets together for weekly lunches during the summer to create fresh salads made from the gardens of the workers with a recipe from an Italian grandmother.


  • In similar fashion – another office hosts a cookie exchange over the holidays to expand on the variety of cookies each household offers without all the work of baking different cookies. They take it one step further and deliver extra plates of cookies to the local fire department, police station, and nursing home.


  • Special Events Magazine reports that two-thirds of respondents to an online poll believe that in-person interaction tops technology as a communications tool. Some 66 percent of respondents said that technology-video conferencing, Webcasting and the like-is not as effective for communication in meetings as is in-person communication.
    • Eliminating just fifteen wasted minutes each day adds up to ninety-one extra hours a year, more than two full workweeks. Organize and energize your space, your stuff, and your life to gain valuable time you can use for more fun in your life.


    • Ask yourself what is the best use of your time right now and then act on it.


    • Create systems that work with your preferences for sorting papers and stuff – try horizontal surfaces and vertical surfaces for storage bins.


    • Look at your time you have allotted for a project and then add to it – things usually take longer than you plan.


    • Put your personal and professional appointments on one calendar to avoid double-booking yourself.


    • Finally, decide right now to think FAT: file, allocate (give to someone else), or toss.


  • Findings in a recent USA Today article:  HR experts say employees exposed to stresses such as layoffs are more likely to engage in violent behavior. Nearly 35% of workers say they’ve seen an increase in anxiety and stress-related physical ailments in their workplace in the last year. 27% report a rise in emotional problems such as insomnia and depression.

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High Fives to Improve Your Workplace

May 4, 2016 | Posted in Leading Hartfully | By

Giving you high-fives with helpful tips in groups of five to handle issues, improve motivation, and inspire your team to get-along and get going. With that, here are several topics with their top five lists:

A helpful tip for managers when confronted with a problem involving people is to ask “why” at least five times in a non-confrontational way such as “Help me understand what happened” instead of “What happened here?” Generally asking “why” five times takes you down the path of:

  1. blame
  2. excuse
  3. symptom
  4. cause
  5. root cause


By digging down a little deeper, you can get past the blame and excuses and focus on the root cause of the problem instead of a surface issue.

  • A study by U-inspire, Inc which revealed the top five motivating methods of over 250 major companies:
  1. communication
  2. growth
  3. respect
  4. leadership
  5. compensation

One of the major findings in the study was the need for organizations to develop a mission statement what conveys the goals of the company and to implement multiple levels of employee recognition programs.


*     In the book Clash of the Generations at Work by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak, they give a simple 5-point ACORN model for managing and motivating across the generations:

  1.  Accommodate differences
  2.  Create workplace choices
  3.  Operate with sophisticated management style
  4.  Respect competence and initiative
  5.   Nourish retention


*     In keeping with the theme of fives in this post, think of yourself as a 5-pointed star. To keep your star shining brightly, follow these five easy tips from Sharing Ideas Magazine:

  1. Take care of your inner self and outer body.
  2. Shepherd thoughts that enter your mind.
  3. Care for your emotions and relationships with loving-kindness.
  4. Be on-purpose in how you invest, give, and spend your money.
  5. Be forgiving and grateful for the unlimited spirit of love that keeps you energized to serve others.

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Spring Cleaning Stacks of Teamwork Tips

April 4, 2016 | Posted in Leading Hartfully, Living Hartfully | By

It’s Spring Cleaning time and you get the benefit of culling through the stacks of articles and information I’ve accumulated over the years.

  • American Express Incentive Services commissioned a survey of employees to see what they wanted in a reward. They found that 62 percent wanted the freedom to choose their own reward. They wanted a say in what they received in the manner of gift cards where they could use them for a dinner out, new CD’s, DVD rentals, a BBQ set, new shoes, movie tickets, or whatever else that suited them at the time. So say goodbye to plaques and hello to pre-paid gift cards that have multiple uses.


  • If you are tired of meetings where nobody is contributing their share of solutions to the day’s challenges, then tell them that their admission ticket to the next meeting will be an index card with an original idea or their take on a solution to a pre-stated challenge written on it. Collect the tickets at the door and start the meeting by reading each card to the group to generate more active participation and engage them.


  • Did you know that compared to the 1970’s, people today work 20% longer hours and have 32% less leisure time? In the past 30 years, psychologists estimate that workplace stress has doubled – along with the increase in stress levels of mixing business with family matters.


  • A survey by revealed that 60% of the nation’s workforce finds it difficult to be professionally successful and sufficiently involved in family/social life. Over 74% said tele-work is the most desired perk, and 49% said they deliberately sought out flexible work environments during their last job hunt. What are you doing to help your workers balance their personal and professional lives?


  • In the spirit of getting along in the workplace and increasing understanding between Generation X, Boomers, and Traditionalists, here are some sites that give some insight into “What the heck do they mean and why on Earth are they acting that way?”.

General Generation info and links to other sites addressing the issues:, and

Veterans:  and

Boomers:  and

Generation X:  and

Nexters:,, and


  • Research from ComPsych – the world’s largest employee assistance program provider shares their recent findings on employee stress at work. 48% of workers report high levels of stress mixed with extreme fatigue and a sense of feeling out of control. Among that 48%, there were 41% who cited their workload as the culprit, 31% said it was people issues, and 28% of those with high levels of stress said it was juggling work and personal life that stressed them out so much. The next group of workers, 38% cited they experienced constant, but manageable stress levels, and 14% said they had low stress levels. What are you doing to manage your stress levels or those of your team so they will be more gruntled and less disgruntled and grumpy?

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Exercise Your Empathy and Compassion as Leaders

December 19, 2015 | Posted in Leading Hartfully, Living Hartfully | By

Research from the neuroscience field has demonstrated that we’re actually hard-wired to empathize with those around us, thanks to a neural network called mirror neurons. We see it when we hear of natural disasters, which causes a deep emotional response. Our empathy makes it so that we can’t help but feel concern and care for those we don’t even know. Not to be confused with sympathy. I watched a stirring, animated short video on Youtube regarding empathy with a little fox. Check it out. One of the points to the video was that when you make an empathetic statement, it should not start with “At least….). Oh how that resonated with me. How often do we mention something to a colleague that did not go well and they being their response with “At least it didn’t….” Responses like this don’t help and don’t solve the issue, they just annoy you.

Though we are hardwired for empathy, we don’t see evidence of this behavior in the workplace.  It seems too mushy. Why are so many workplaces suffering from a lack of human compassion, connection, and shared belonging? We care about the realities our colleagues face in our organization – of the challenges and opportunities they see going unaddressed and thus, our compassion arises from our curiosity to listen and learn, paired with our innate drive to relate to the realities of those around us.

This type of compassion is vital in today’s leadership because it’s the key to the internal driving force found within each us to understand what motivates our employees, what matters to them, and how we can connect the work they do to the shared purpose that defines why we do what we do. Many studies have shown that compassion in the workplace leads to higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction and reduces employee absenteeism and burnout. The Gallup organization’s major study asks employees if they have somebody they can call a best friend at work and if they have been asked about how they contribute to the organization and shown by their leadership that what they do matters. If they don’t feel they matter, they walk.

Here are some steps to help you to reconnect with your sense of curiosity and empathy to bring more compassion into the workplace:

  1. See your team mates beyond the roles they play in your organization and remain curious about what challenges them along with the willingness to listen to what opportunities they see for our organization to succeed.
  2. Make efforts to discover their true strengths by seeking to better understand and know those we lead – of what serves as the fuel for their internal motivation.
  3. Be open about not having all the answers because it’s impossible for anyone to truly know or understand the complexities of the work we do today and its impact.

Most of the daily decisions we make are not driven from a rational mindset, but from a response to our emotionally-driven, network of mirror neurons where we seek commonality and connection both to the work we do and to those around us. And that means that compassion in leadership involves an honest and more outward-focused approach to leadership that allows us to tap into the native talents, creativity, and insights of those we lead. Leaders must show their team members that they are present to hear, understand, and provide them with what they require to succeed and thrive. How will you show compassion and empathy to your colleagues, clients or customer today?

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What Workers Adore and Abhor: Mentors and Tormentors

November 19, 2015 | Posted in Leading Hartfully | By

Mentors affect teams positively and tormentors infect teams. We can look at traits employees adore and abhor in their mentors and tormentors and what they can relate to themselves as they look into their leadership mirror to see how they come across to others. How do you rate on the Mentor/Tormentor scale? Are you adored or abhorred? What changes can you make today to move towards adored mentor status?

Leadership traits that people adore

  1. Has a clear vision of how people’s work meets the leader’s expectations.
  2. Provides timely, clear, constructive feedback.
  3. Expresses appreciation and gives credit where credit is due.
  4. Actively listens and answers questions.
  5. Treats others with respect and kindness.
  6. Consistently fair in their treatment of others.
  7. Trains, develops, and grows their people.
  8. Willing to jump in and help out when things become difficult.
  9. Has an open door policy and is available.
  10. Supportive and protective of their people when things go wrong.

Leadership traits that people abhor:

  1. Indecisive
  2. Foul-mouthed
  3. Plays favorites
  4. Doesn’t take time to learn about employees personally, treats them as cogs in the production wheel
  5. My way or highway thinking
  6. Takes credit for your work
  7. Doesn’t take action when needed, particularly for discipline problems
  8. Has clunky communication skills and low emotional intelligence
  9. Does not respect younger workers and their contribution
  10. Kisses up and kicks down

Obviously, this list is not comprehensive. There are many great and not-so-great leadership traits we could add. One of the primary skills of strong leaders is excellent communication. Every item on the list above is affected by communication style and emotional intelligence.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to improve your leadership skills and help you get the results you want:

How do you treat your people? To help answer this question, you might ask yourself, “How do my people treat me?” For example, if you are warm and friendly, your people will probably be warm and friendly in return. On the other hand, if you are cold and blunt or if your demeanor is unpredictable, your team will likely go to great lengths to avoid you. Be approachable and consistent in dealing with others and they will reciprocate. We are mirrors for how people treat us. If you notice that others are not treating you well, not saying hello and good-bye, then look inward to see if they are mirroring your demeanor.

Does your team understand how what they do contributes to the success of the organization? Don’t assume they know, even if the answer may be obvious to you. Recent research indicates that somewhere between 70% and 95% of people do not know how what they do contributes to their organization’s success. If most individuals lack this understanding and you haven’t conveyed it to them, then you are missing the opportunity to increase their motivation, and the likelihood that they will be as productive as they could be. Ask them if they know their impact on the organization’s success, listen to their response, and be prepared to fill in the gaps. According to Dan Pink in his book Drive; he states that motivation today relies on purpose, autonomy and mastery. If they don’t know their purpose, are not given the space to do it and to learn it, then you can be sure you’re a tormentor they abhor and they won’t be there for long. Do you express appreciation for a job well done to each person on your team at least once a week? Particularly with the new workforce, they expend on-demand feedback and may not wait around for it. The younger generations in and entering the workforce today are serial freelancers with the skills to get jobs at other places and won’t hesitate to jump ship and go out on their own. Make sure you are doing what you can to retain them and be their mentor they adore.

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A Little Means a Lot: Small Holiday & ThanksGIVING Ideas with BIG Impact

November 23, 2011 | Posted in Living Hartfully | By

I’m a card-carrying member of the “non-commercialized holiday traditions” club. For most of my adult years I’ve not been a believer in the usual nostalgic American tradition of shop ’till you drop, unfettered consumerism type of holiday madness. I call it practicing safe stress over the holidays and quite frankly, every day. That’s why I loved living in Europe for 10 years with all those wonderful outdoor markets and much less commercialism at that time.  Of course as a kid, I reveled in my parent’s consumerism as I opened present after present for Christmas. As the wise poet, Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better”.  Now it’s just embarassing to imagine how much value I put on that stuff as a kid. Ah yes, adulthood does have its advantages.

If you’re a fan of Oprah, you may have seen the following info in her magazine and if you didn’t catch it; I’m bringing it to you right here. Yes, I’m copying the info from her magazine word for word on page190 written by Lauren Murrow and Rachel Mount. I commend them on their research into what a few bills can do in somebody’s life.  So, in honor of all Americans who may not have as much to give this season as well as those of you, like me, who take a vow to avoid all malls and shopping venues from mid-November until mid-January; I give you 17 ways under $20 to give this ThanksGIVING, your particular holiday or any day you feel like it. Starting at a buck, you can make a contribution to make changes in the world without adding to the pile of stuff for somebody.

  1. $1 for 2 books shipped to a classroom in Africa. In many African school rooms, 20 students share 1 textbook:
  2. $2 for a set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums:
  3. $3 for a field trip to a museum, concert or theatre production for a high-risk youth:
  4. $4 for 2 hours of prepaid phone time for a soldier stationed overseas – calling cards for our troops:
  5. $5 for a one-burner kerosene stove for a family that would typically rely on an open fire:
  6. $6 for measles vaccinations for 15 children in a developing country:
  7. $7 for a week’s worth of food for an abandoned dog or cat at a shelter run by the American Soiciety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
  8. $8 for a medical teaching doll to be used in educating a child about his or her cancer treatment:
  9. $10 for a box of nails uded to adapt a disabled veteran’s house from Homes for Our Troops:
  10. $10 for a day’s worth of fresh fruites and veggies for feed 2 chimps, most of which have been orphaned by poachers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehab Center in the Republic of Congo:
  11. $10 for 2 specialized bottles for babies born with a cleft palate, who otherwise might suffer from malnutrition before receiving corrective surgery:
  12. $10 for cloth and tools so an Afghan woman can become self-sufficient by taking a 6-month tailoring course through Creating Hope International and the Afghan institute for Learning:
  13. $11 for 11 trees to be planted in Alabama communities devastated by the April tornadoes:
  14. $12 for 20 pounds of multipurpose soap to help keep families germ-free around the world through Oxfam:
  15. $14 for 2 nutitious meals delivered by volunteers from Meals on Wheels to a housebound senior citizen:
  16. $15 for a backpack and school supplies for one homeless or low-income urban child:
  17. This item was not in the Oprah mag, but I wanted to offer it to you and your friends as a way to connect with loved ones over the holidays and every day. For $9.80 you can send 10 custom greeting cards or postcards to anywhere in the world with your own photos and personal message at and select the Pay-as-You-Go option to send some cards. You can send a couple more on me – my treat as an added bonus. The video will walk you through sending a card and the company prints it, stuffs the envelope, stamps it and mails it for you. If you have questions – send me an email

On a final note – for a little more money, you can donate to your local food bank or give some small business owners some work by giving the gift of their services to loved ones such as: house cleaning services, yard services, home improvement services, a massage, a mani/pedi or spa treatments, a home chef,  or any number of personal services that include experiences rather than stuff to help support the small business community.

I hope this list is helpful. Big thanks once again to Oprah and her team for brining us enlightened ideas.  (BTW – have you seen her Life Class show – awesome!)  If you have more ideas of making a BIG impact on a small budget, let me know and I’ll share ideas. Cheers!

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The Happiness Factor at Work

October 17, 2011 | Posted in Leading Hartfully, Living Hartfully | By

There’s a lot of talk these days about happiness. Are you happy, are your kids or partner happy? Do you work in a happy environment, even the folks who are employed at the happiest place on Earth are not immune to the question of “Am I happy here?” And “here” can mean here in your life, here in your job, here in your business, here in your marriage, here in a geographic location or here in any specific situation.

Lots and lots of studies, books and blogs about happiness have cropped up over the years. It’s a sign that we’ve moved up the food chain on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Once a need is met, it’s no longer a need and we go out seeking something else. Our motivations come from needs, so once a need is met, we no longer have tha motivation. So I’m guessing that most of us have our food, clothing and shelter taken care of and now we’re in search of the self actualization and happiness penthouse level.

One of the aspects of happiness is to find something you love to do, make it your life’s work and focus your energy and attention towards it. It gives you meaning, gives you joy and gives you something you do well to serve the world and create a better place. Having that type of purposeful project fans the flames of your inner potential. When our work is a natural express of who we are and what we do well, that intersection of our talents and the world’s needs is ripe for success. Ultimately, our work on Earth is to shine our light joyfully and give our greatest strengths to the world and if we combine that with our vocation, it’s brilliantly blissful. Need help figuring out your gifts, talents and purpose? We can point you in the right direction at

Happiness is a decision of the mind. Deciding you are going to take action to make changes towards what makes you happy is the first step. Of course EVERYTHING starts with the mindset, deciding, then doing. Our thoughts, ideas and desires are what drives us forward and helps our soul to evolve and happiness is a pleasant side affect. So many of us seem to be in the busy-ness of being too busy to do X, Y or Z. I’d say being too busy to slow down and figure out what makes you happy is like being too busy driving to stap for gas. Slowing down to figure out what feeds your soul in how your serve and how you move through the world is refilling your tank. Once you know what feeds you, then you can put it on your t0-do list and fit it into your busy schedule.

Research shows that life’s most gratifying experiences and happy moments  come from really living and being present at what you’re doing, who you’re being and where you are and NOT in all the trappings of the usual suspects of success. Studies show that the little things add up to a happier life such as walking to the store from home instead of driving, great neighbors, friendship, sharing conversation, socializing, notice daily joys, music, smells, dogs/cats, tending your garden, fresh flowers, home-baked treats, spending time with family disconnected from technology.

So many of us are experiencing a life deficit disorder in our rush to the bus/metro/carpool, the rush through lunch, the rush home and rushing to get everything done. Your challenge this week is to slow down, make time to make your list of your happiness factors that affect you personally. What’s on your list? Once you make your happiness factor list, do a gap analysis to discover where you can close the gaps and just how far out of whack you may be, or celebrate how on track you are and rejoice in your alignment with life/work/happiness. Make it a priority to create happiness at home, in your workplace, in your life. Once you have your list, challenge yourself to put more of those things from your list into your daily life and into the workplace.

Here are some ideas to get you started for  a happy workplace:

  1. SAS corporation supplies M&M’s and coffee in the break areas, they have on-site childcare so employees can visit their kids at lunch, dry cleaner drop-off service, on-site doctors, lovely landscaped grounds.
  2. Northwestern Mutual offers boxed dinners from the cafeteria so dinner is easy to fix after a long day, music groups/bands so employees can enjoy their hobby with others and give concerts to colleagues.
  3. Car detailing or seated massages while at work, bosses serve breakfast to workers, Office Olympics or friendly competition – chili cookoff or bake-off.
  4. Colors affect our mood – paint the walls what makes you happy, fresh flowers, music, flextime, ability to express how you work through your work, listening, respect, caring for others.
  5. Disney entertains you while you wait in looooong lines, Vail and Copper Mountain ski resorts through out candy to skiers in lift lines and ask trivia questions to make the time in lines go faster.
  6. My dentist recently replaced their waiting room furnishings with very comfy, luxurious yet whimsical furnishings, a new plasma TV, fireplace and fountain and a fresh supply of current magazines.

What is your workplace doing or what can you contribute to your business/workplace to up the ante for happiness for yourself, your colleagues and your customers? It will go a long way in improving the happiness factor in your life since you spend about a third of your life at work.


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