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Spirit at Work

This is a great time of year to remember we are spiritual beings… having a work experience. How do we connect our spirituality with our work? A couple things come to mind. First of all, it means you look for the best in yourself and others. Am I looking for the best in me? Am I looking for the best in other people?

Being spiritual is about kindness. When you’re running 75 miles per hour, however, sometimes it’s hard to be kind; whether it’s to the people you work with, manage, live with, or even yourself. Would you describe how you’ve been relating to people as “loving kindness”?

Being spiritual is about compassion. It’s about feeling for the other person. Which of course is difficult when you run 75 mph and don’t show this compassion for yourself.

Being spiritual is about serving. The concept of servant leadership was born from a statement by Jesus “Anybody who wants to be the greatest among you should serve others.” Few carry this mantle. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on taking care of ourselves far more than serving others.

Spirituality is also about recognizing the miracle that is every one of us. As Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

We can find spirituality in our work no matter what we’re doing, whether we’re washing dishes or advising in the boardroom. Spirituality is more about who we are than what we do. What can you do to find the good, be kind, be compassionate, and remember that you and the people around you are all miracles!

 

How to Bring Meaning to Your Work

I’d like to share two quick stories.

Years ago I was training the Palm Beach County Clerks Office executive team. The new Clerk, Sharon Bock, was intent on creating a world-class organization. One of my more interesting assignments from her was to attend a Six Sigma day as an observer. The 300 person management and leadership team would be facilitated by Six Sigma trainers to further define their vision, mission, values, and goals. Afterward, Sharon asked me what I observed. I told her the attendees were having their own little happy party talking about the difference they would make out there…without including a single customer of the County Clerk involved in the conversation.

I explained it’s hard to be purposeful or self-actualized where you don’t invite your customer, client or user into the conversation. How else can you truly understand their experience?

I had another client in my Florida days that was a formal wear manufacturer. Their retail spaces were amazing. Beautiful models wore the clothes in 12-foot posters all around the showrooms. However, when you got to the manufacturing floor, those pictures were gone. The purpose of those seamstresses was to sew that tuxedo or wedding dress. That was it. No real “meaning” in the work other than that.

I convinced the owner his employees should be treated no differently than their customers and that the same pictures should also be hung throughout the manufacturing floor. Even better, I suggested they provide a discount to some couples if they came by the manufacturing floor and showed the workers how special the garments they sewed made them feel.

Now, do you think those seamstresses would be more engaged and more purposeful after a direct experience with the customer like that? Produce greater “discretionary effort”? Of course, they would!

Eventually, they also added real photos and testimonials from client weddings on the manufacturing walls too.

Finding meaning in your work is about serving. More precisely, it is about the service experience between an employee and their customer. Make sure your employees get to directly interact with the people they serve and then let them discover how their work makes a difference in their customers lives.

Investigation and Lie Detection

“The liar was the hottest to defend his veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness, and the cad his honor.” 
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

There is a great deal of literature available to help determine whether someone you are speaking with, perhaps during an investigation, or during a game of poker, is lying to you. What follows are some of the “tells” the trained eye will look for:

  • Eye contact avoidance.
  • Liars use less hands and arms. Often on their lap, folded, closed body posture.
  • Palms down on the table or clenched.
  • Arms and legs crossed.
  • Touching face, playing with hair.
  • Partial shrug.
  • Inconsistent words, gestures, and emotions.
  • What was the initial reaction?
  • Timing of gestures.
  • The surprise wears off quickly.
  • The tight smile; the small smile.
  • Head moves mechanically.
  • The guilty usually go on the defensive; the honest on the offensive.
  • The head shifts.
  • Slumped posture.
  • Liars generally won’t touch you or point fingers.
  • Liars feel the need to give a lot of details.
  • Liars often repeat the question to gain time.
  • Liars use your words.
  • The Freudian slip.
  • Discomfort with silence.
  • The guilty usually engage in body “awayness.” They will put up barriers.
  • Guilty people try too hard to convince. “I would never…”, “I wouldn’t lie,” “To tell you the truth…”
  • “I need time to think.”
  • They look to be relieved that the questioning is over.
  • Look for the out of left field response
  • They make an effort to change the subject.
  • The guilty will engage in moral superiority.
  • They will answer the question with a statement first.

When you are hot on the liar’s trail, you can say things like:

  • Let them know the advantages of coming clean.
  • On a scale of 1-10 where might you fit in …
  • What else could you have done?
  • Talk about it as if it is already an established fact.
  • Stare at them and be silent. Give them a reason to tell the truth.
  • Ask them if “this is the whole story?”
  • I know this happened… what I want to know is what your intentions were?
  • Was this an innocent mistake or a calculated effort?
  • Expand their statement.
  • I know there are two sides to every story…

Liars feast off of amateurs, which is one reason I don’t play poker, and a good reason for you to hire a pro when dealing with workplace investigations!

 

Behavioral Interviewing

The goal of a behavioral interview is very simple: to see how somebody might behave under varying circumstances. The following is a partial list of circumstances that can show up. Add questions unique to your environment too. You can discuss the who, what, where, why and how of behaviors around:

  1. Not being clear about job tasks.
  2. Having difficulty with a co-worker.
  3. Having difficulty with a boss.
  4. Feeling your talents aren’t being properly utilized.
  5. Managing a challenging project either due to lack of resources, time or other pressures.
  6. Having made an error or dealing with somebody you manage who’s made an error.
  7. Setting goals and making sure you execute on them.
  8. Making an unpopular decision.
  9. Examples of how you motivate or engage people you manage or co-workers.
  10. What are some innovative or creative solutions that you’ve helped to generate to solve a problem?

And the catch-all question, “We’ve done a fair amount of behavioral interviewing, today and I’ve learned a lot you as a result. What other behaviors, both positive and negative, have we yet to discuss?

My Three Favorite Behavioral Questions

I consider all the above to be a dance around the middle. There aren’t enough interviewers who ask questions at the extreme. Such as:

  1. Tell me something that felt unfair to you in your last job? This is my favorite interview question of all, to understand somebody’s behaviors. Our personal culture is largely defined by how we deal with what feels unfair to us. So dig into it. If they tell you nothing felt unfair about their last job, then guess what… they are lying… and I won’t hire a liar. However, when they do tell you something felt unfair, now you get to ask additional questions. For example, why did it feel unfair? What did you do about it? I would go through their entire resume and ask that question about all their recent jobs.
  2. Now we go to the other extreme. What are you most excited about (in your previous job and other jobs)? Once again, why, why, why? Ask yourself if there’s a position at your company where the applicant can do the work they are most excited about. That’s where they tend to be most productive.
  3. The third question I like to ask relates to how well they know themselves. The question is this: “What are three things you think the people you have worked with would like to see you change about yourself?” If they say nothing, then they have the fantasy they are perfect, and I’m not hiring them. Most people would know the answer to that question, including you. When they eventually tell me what those three things are, I’ll find out from them what effort they’ve made to address those concerns.

You can understand how powerful these questions are by applying them to yourself. What feels unfair to you? What are you most excited about? What would people like to see you change about yourself? They are a great source of inquiry and awareness.

What are your favorite behavioral interviewing questions?

Occupy This Space

Most people reading this article go to a defined workplace every day. Even if you’re a sole entrepreneur like me and consult with clients, you still have your office space, whether it’s at work or home.

Your environment always communicates to you. It is never not communicating. Just what is your environment communicating? How are you branding you to you?

First there are the obligatory family pictures. My only suggestion is you keep them up to date. You don’t have a full head of hair and your wife is not 25 anymore. (I’m speaking of myself of course). Be in the now.

Then there are all those pictures with the celebrities you’ve met in life and myriad of diplomas up on the wall to impress everyone else about how important you are. I guess if you’re selling to a very conservative clientele and you’ve got a picture of you and Ronald Reagan up on the wall, that’s probably a good thing. If you need it to remind you how important you are, it’s probably not a good thing.

I like to put up my main goals on a whiteboard. I’ve learned that the smaller the whiteboard I use, the more focused I become. I love going into executive offices where there are these enormous whiteboards filled up with the same writing that’s been up there for six months. If it’s up there to help you show the big picture of your operations, then great. If it’s something that should’ve been done six months ago, then it’s not so great.

Plants are a must have in your office. It helps bring your environment to life. It also supplies you with more oxygen. The more plants, the better.

What about art? Art can agitate us, inspire us, or settle us down. What is the purpose of the art in your environment? I’ve gone into plenty of offices where the art up on the wall was meaningless and suggested by some interior designer. That’s not good art. Put up art that speaks to the work you do or otherwise inspires you.

Then there are our books. In my litigation days, my bookshelf was crammed top to bottom, books piled on the side… you get the picture. Then my wife hired a feng shui consultant for me. The first thing she did was to go over to the bookshelf and ask me if I had touched each book in the last three years. Those I had not were tossed to the middle of the floor. You can imagine my panic! Once she had completed that exercise, less than a third of the books remained on the book shelf and all were neatly arranged. She told me that now my chi (energy) could flow. And boy, did it. I had great months after going through getting my office feng shui’d. It may just be coincidence but who knows?

The desk. A person’s desk says a lot about them. What’s it made of, how neatly is it kept, is it functional, etc. Personally, I like using organic materials in my office wherever possible. So I have a bamboo desk and bookshelf.

Then there is the chair we sit in every day. Or not. Last year, I experimented with a standup desk. Now it’s what I use 90% of the time. At first I had the $22 Silicon Valley Ikea model standup desk and then I progressed to a $350 Varidesk, which has been a great investment. I also got a $100 standing mat from Topo. Here’s a shot of the setup. Notice the ergonomic keyboard too.

Last, breathe good air. I’ve invested in a $89 Honeywell air filter and if you’re working in a closed building like I do, then you should as well. Gurdjieff stated that “life is breath”. If that’s the case, then it’s worth investing in an air purifier.

What have you done to make your space a great place to work? I’d love to see your comments below.