Feeling Down? Reclaim Your Joy at Work

Most people have experience a season when they were not satisfied at work. Maybe it is caused by a project you are not excited about, a co-worker that is difficult or possibly your general health is down. Regardless of what it is, the result is lower job satisfaction and a lack of joy at work which become a downward cycle. No one wants to stay in this place, so here are some strategies to turn that situation around and reclaim your joy.

  • Discard the “Grass is always Greener” view

One of the things that can steal our job joy is looking out at other jobs or situations and thinking the grass in greener elsewhere. There may be some truth to that but remember that every job and company has its issues. It is important to remind yourself of that and focus on what is, not what isn’t. If you can do that, you will have already taken the first step to reclaiming your joy. You will also be able to identify what is taking away your joy which allows you to better achieve success in turning it around. As you look at those things, you can then determine, what is temporary, what is possible to change, and what you will continue to exist and you will need to work with.

  • Make a change at work

When you have identified those things which are issues at work, see what you can do to change them. If there is an environmental issue such as the office temperature, or space configuration, see if it is possible to make a change. If the issue is one of duties, maybe there is a duty you wish you didn’t have or one you wish you did, talk to your supervisor to see there is a possibility to either gain more experience in the duty you want or trade duties with someone to reduce the task that is frustrating. Not every manager will be open to conversations such as these but a good manager recognizes the benefits of a happy employee and if there are changes within their power to make, a good manager will work with you.

  • Find a professional growth activity

As Albert Einstein said, “The day you stop learning, you start dying.” We all need to be learning and growing and being active in professional growth can help recapture your joy at work. Maybe the opportunity is at or through work but there are many opportunities for professional growth outside of work. In the Learning and Development industry, you may look for a local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). These are just two of the many great organizations that have opportunities for professional growth through local meetings, online webinars, and research papers.

  • Do something to affirm a co-worker

One of the great ways to find joy is to give it. There are lots of ways to affirm another employee but consider writing a handwritten note to another employee recognizing their strengths and how they impact your work or environment at the company. Douglas Conant, former CEO of Cambell’s made it a practice to write handwritten notes to employees every week as a part of developing a new culture that turned the company around. Just doing something positive that benefits a coworker will help you focus on the positives of that person and reclaim joy.

  • Identify ways that you make an impact

As a part of reclaiming your joy at work, make a list of the activities where you have made an impact at work. This may be specific projects you worked on that were successful, people that you helped or trained to be more effective, or ideas that you have contributed to help the company as a whole. As you make this list, you are affirming yourself and taking away the power of other things and people to take away your joy.

These five strategies will help you reclaim your joy at work. Things will never be perfect, but they will be better. And if for some reason you decide that you need to make a job change, each of these activities will have helped you with that process as well, from trying to work with your current employer to resolve the issue, networking through professional development, making sure when you leave you have left a good impression and left on good terms, and identifying those strengths that you have to offer your future employer.

Looking for some more information on these ideas, check out some of these links:

Build a Team for Success

Whether you are building a project team, a department, or starting a new business venture, building the right team is essential to success. Ultimately, you are building a team that will be able to create and influence opportunities, a team that will have a global view and yet be able to focus on details. The beauty of a team is that you don’t have to have all of these things in one person, but in the combination of people you bring together.

So what are you looking for in a team?

  • Shared Passion – You need to bring together people who share a passion for the goal to be accomplished. This might be a project team that will be visioning and developing a company enterprise system and you want to bring together people who have a passion for connecting people, developing culture, and bringing together resources to increase productivity. This might be building a Talent Development department and you want to bring together people who are passionate about helping people improve their performance. Regardless of the purpose of the team, you want to find people who have a passion for the goals.
  • Strengths – You need to find people who have honed their strengths. If the goal is to move things forward, you need people who have identified their strength(s) and are honing them. These people bring not only that strength to the table but experience and commitment to developing expertise. If you want to create an opportunity, you need people who have a demonstrated ability to set goals and achieve them. Ideally, the strengths people bring will relate to the goals to be achieved or the perceived tasks that will be necessary but don’t discount a person with strengths in a different area. You may find that the unrelated strength becomes the seed for innovation.
  • Differences – You need to bring together people who are different. Bringing together different people will help the team to better identify patterns and see the systems that are relevant to the goals of the team. On a project team, you need to include stakeholders in addition to team members that are expected to drive implementation.

Why is this important?

When you build you team based on passion, strengths and differences, you are setting yourself up to identify the different systems you will encounter, the roadblocks to the goals, and the solutions to drive success.

Developing a team that can see the forest and the individual trees is developing a team that will be able to both vision and implement. This team will be able to see the interconnectedness of the company and who will be impacted by a project and how that impact will play out. A team that represents differences will more successfully identify the fundamental issues and forces that come into play and how they relate to one another. If you can identify these and represent them together, you will be able to see the system(s) at work and identify roadblocks to your goals and identify the places of influence.

Launching a new program such as a new induction training program to a company is going to face roadblocks. You need to be able to understand all the ways this new program will interact with the company. This may interact with how employees spend their time, what goals it helps them achieve, company culture, just to name a few. With that understanding of where it connects, you can identify the roadblocks, whether they are environmental or attitudinal. Looking at the system of implementation and roadblocks, you then are able to identify points of influence and see how you can strategically manage those to optimize success.

Bringing together a team with passion is a team that will have the dedication to persist to success. Bringing together a team of people with strengths means that those people will have credibility and can be influences. Bringing together a team of differences means that the team will be able to identify the fundamental parts of the systems involved, the potential roadblocks, see where the points of influences and have the foundation for innovation.

In addition to my experiences this post was inspired by two recent talks I heard. One was given by Dr. Carol Ann Sharicz on Systems Thinking 101 given at a local chapter ISPI meeting and the other is a TED Talk called Be an Opportunity Maker given by Kare Anderson.

Put your Participant First in End-of-session Polls

How many times have you answered feedback questions at the end of a webinar you have attended? Did you ever get any personal benefit from the poll?

Many feedback polls only collect feedback data, which is helpful to the facilitator and the stakeholders that requested the training the best polls benefit the participants as well. If you want to create an effective poll that provides benefit for both you and the participants, include questions that provide:

  • Concept Reinforcement
  • Audience Awareness
  • Feedback

Concept Reinforcement

Devoting one or two questions to concept reinforcement can really help both your audience and you. Even a question as open ended as, list three things you learned today, can be powerful. For your audience, the simple act of listing them down acts as reinforcement and demonstrates the main points of what they received or the pieces of information that were most notable to them. For you, you learn what stuck with them and can compare it to your goals and objectives to determine if you need to modify your presentation or activities to better communicate information.

Audience Awareness

Strategically asking a question about available resources or ideas help build up awareness for them. For instance, after we launched our new LMS, we asked a multi-select question about which types of resources the participant had used in the LMS. The question alone made them more aware of the different types of training resources at their disposal. Some participants were already aware, others started asking questions about these different resources and still others further explored the LMS on their own to discover these resources. While the data was valuable to us to understand the usage of our LMS, the goal of the question was to build awareness and encourage company employees to use all the resources of the LMS.

Feedback

These are the question that are designed to fuel your improvement for future webinars. Feedback questions need to go beyond ratings of the facilitator and the information, although these are valid questions and can be helpful, but need to include open-ended questions that invite open and honest feedback. These can include questions about what was most helpful? Least helpful? And what questions/information they wish had been a part of the webinar. These kinds of open ended questions will best provide you paths to improve and offers you the opportunity to respond to them if necessary/appropriate.

When you build your next feedback poll, think about your questions and make sure you are getting the most out of the poll. Don’t just get feedback information, but build reinforcement and audience awareness into your poll. Make sure that the poll is not just about benefiting you, but also your participants.

Interested in more resources about crafting good feedback questions? Check out these other blog posts:

Evaluation Cards – Use them to quickly improve your presentation skills

What’s the Best Webinar Polling Question Ever?

Why the Former Teacher May be Your Next Star Employee – Part II

In last week’s Part One post, we started looking at how the skills of former school teachers transfers to the Core Competency Model™ put forth by ATD and common job description skills. In that vein let’s continue to look at those.

Managing Learning Programs

  • Provide vision and strategies for learning program design
  • Provide project management for learning projects
  • Manage outside resources
Public school teachers are given a framework for what learners need to accomplish by the end of the year, but from their, they provide the vision and work out the strategies to achieve those goals and make their vision come to fruition. On top of this, teachers are working with a diverse population and manageing the learning programs for each learner they work with. They manage other school resources, parents and school volunteers, and other outside learning resources such as field trips, SMEs that they bring into their classroom, and learning competitions that their students compete in. Just putting together a field trip is an example of their project management skills. They deal with volunteer resources, budgeting for the trip, managing transportation and determining the content that will be delivered and how it will be structured. This can also involve the creation of other materials to supplement or extend the learning from the field trip experience.

 

Coaching

  • Coach employees to improve job performance
Teachers are involved in coaching students, parents, and future teachers. Teachers constantly work with students to engage them in examining their learning progress and establish goals. They review these goals and provide accountability for the student. Many parents are looking to teachers for ways to help and support their children and teachers coach them through this and help them understand their child and their child’s needs and work with them so that parents can determine the best strategies for helping their child. This can be coaching parents in how to help with homework, or how to question their child while reading together or how to oversee their child’s project. Additionally, many teacher have taken on the role of being a mentor teacher to a colleague or a student teacher. This is a very formal coaching experience that the teacher provides and is formally assessed by the school district or a local college.

 

Knowledge Management

  • Develop a culture of learning
  • Facilitate collaboration and social learning
A classroom community has a culture of learning and the teacher is right in the middle of it. The utilize strategies to bring together learners to work on projects and learn from one another. Teachers leverage a variety of resources, identifying the sources of knowledge and bringing students together with the necessary knowledge. They foster curiosity and a love of knowledge by engaging learners and helping them see the benefits of growing and learning together. Teachers act as facilitators, moderators, and social directors for their classroom and understand how to leverage these to promote optimal learning success.

 

Performance Improvement

  • Evaluate training needs
  • Design and develop training materials
  • Implement performance solutions
These days every teacher has at least one student with special needs, whether they are gifted or receiving educational support services. These are the students where a teacher applies more than just instruction, but brings their performance improvement skills into play. They need to take the extra time to understand the special learning needs for this student and determine what solution will best help them to excel. This might be a technology aid solution, involving them in a mentorship program, or modifying their environment to increase success. Teachers are not just designing instruction and facilitating it, but they are working with the whole learner and determining and implementing performance solutions that go beyond training the learner.

 

Because teachers are in charge of a small community, they end up involving themselves with all aspects of training and development. In addition to being the instructional designer and trainer, they also serve as the project manager for classroom events and project (and sometimes school-wide initiatives), the coach for anyone they bring into the learning community, and the person who looks at all aspects of a skill deficit and not only reaches out to training, but utilizes a toolbox of performance improvement techniques. While the teacher may less familiar with corporate culture, that is easily learned and the wealth of skills they bring to the table mean that the former teacher is primed to be a superstar in the learning and development world. Instead of hesitating, companies should embrace the former teacher and leverage the wealth of abilities they have to offer.

Some Advice for Teachers Looking to Transition

Like I said in the beginning of last week’s post, the key for the transitioning teacher is to effectively communicate their skills in corporate language. The Core Competency Model is a great place to start to understand how the corporate world talks about learning and development. Adopt the terms and framing when marketing yourself through your resume, cover letter, and during interviews. Being able to talk like a corporate instructional designer will demonstrate that you have done your research on the field you are transitioning to and allow you to communicate the vast array of skills you have to offer that will enhance the potential employers company and improve their bottom line. You can make the transition and you will find the employer that has the vision and insight to hire you, their next superstar!

Looking for more information about becoming an instructional designer, check out these other posts:

How to Become an Instructional Designer

Getting into Instructional Design