Thanks!

Want to improve your outlook on life? Give thanks. It’s that easy. And that rewarding.

There’s lots of ways to do this. You can call someone or Zoom them, or post a link on FaceBook or Twitter, or send them an e-mail. However, buying a Thank You card and sending it via snail mail might be more meaningful, because personal snail mail is so unusual. And a Thank You card is something physical that the recipient can save on their desk and re-read in the following days, smiling and feeling connected to you each time they read it. Just a few short sentences will mean a lot to the recipient.

Additionally, since a person’s mind can only focus on one thing at a time, while you’re remembering what you’re thankful for, your body will relax and you’ll feel better yourself.

If you want to really stretch yourself, at noon every day think of twelve things that you’re thankful for. After the obvious few (family, health, friends, etc.), the search for the final topics becomes more interesting.

I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving

Gary

My Brother-in-Law Was Murdered by a Friend

It was completely unintentional, but he is still dead. My sister and my brother-in-law were in a small group meeting recently, in which someone was unknowingly carrying COVID. Net result: 4 couples came down with COVID. Seven of the people, including my sister, survived. My brother-in-law did not. None of the 8 people who got COVID was vaccinated, and I’m assuming they were not masked in the meeting. Obviously, none of the 8 people intended to infect the other 7, including their spouse. It “just happened”. But he is still dead.

My sister has lost her soul mate. They were high school sweethearts; they almost lived in each other’s pockets. They had just bought his dream car – a 2006 Mazda Miata – to take road trips. Now he is gone.

A few years ago, they were riding their motorcycles on a mountain road when my sister saw her husband almost get hit by a log truck coming around the corner toward them. She made him sell his cycle, because she did not want to see him get killed. How will her decision to not insist that they get vaccinated affect the rest of her life?

Please learn from their pain. This was completely preventable! For the sake of your loved ones and friends, please get yourself (and them) vaccinated. And wear masks and maintain physical distance and social closeness.

Gary Langenwalter

Eat That Frog!

Mark Twain said that if you have to eat a live frog, do it first thing in the morning so that you’ll get the worst thing of your day out of your way. The rest of your day will be much better by comparison. In his best-selling book Eat That Frog!, Brian Tracy has a corollary – if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.

What is your frog? It’s NOT the annoying little action you’ve been putting off, like washing your car. No. It’s the most important, biggest task on your plate. The one that looks daunting, even overwhelming. Why do it first? Because it’s important. Doing the important tasks first sets the foundation for long-term, sustainable success. It also provides a psychological high, which boosts your productivity and creativity for your other tasks.

I have demonstrated that truism on this website in the recent past. My intention, my commitment to myself, was to post a blog each week, preferably on Wednesday, and no later than Thursday afternoon. I allowed myself to be distracted by lots of excuses. But that’s all they were – excuses. And the psychological lethargy that this inaction created also affected my performance on other tasks. It made it easier to procrastinate on them, too. You can think of this process as the rudder of a ship – the rudder is small, but it determines where the ship goes.

So now I’m renewing my intention to post weekly, for 2 reasons:

1. For myself – posting requires me to ruminate on a subject of interest to thought leaders. And to clarify my own thoughts sufficiently that I can create a cogent blog, one which I hope will be valuable to the readers

2. For the readers – I hope that this helps readers become more effective leaders, and to have richer, more meaningful lives. Because my passion is for EACH person to have a rich, meaningful life – to live it powerfully and boldly.

What do you think? I’d really appreciate hearing from you.

Gary Langenwalter

What If Half Your Employees Resigned?

48% of America’s workers are actively job searching or watching for opportunities, according to Gallup on July 22.* This is across the board – from customer-facing to highly professional positions. 3.6 million Americans resigned in May alone. Would your organization survive if 50% of your employees left within the next 3 months? How about “only” 25%? And who do you think your competitors will lure away – your best performers or the “ok” performers?

This movement should not be surprising. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report found that only 34% of employees are engaged – the rest are either not engaged or are actively disengaged. “Gallup has found that it takes more than a 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them, and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers.”*

The good news is this is NOT about pay! It is about engagement. And that is something you can address without pouring red ink on your P&L. On the other hand, ignoring this phenomenon costs real money: 1) the cost to replace workers (but even when you replace them, their wisdom is gone forever), and 2) the lost productivity of not-engaged and actively disengaged employees is equal to 18% of their salary. *

Want to know what your employees are REALLY thinking? Here’s 2 screen shots of the Engagement section on an organizational health survey. The results below are for the entire company.

But the devil is in the details, so let’s drill down. The results below are for the women in one department. Look at the donuts for “I receive clear, constructive feedback on my performance”, “I have opportunities to develop and grow” and “I have a good relationship with my direct supervisor”. The red means the respondents answered “never” and the orange means they answered “seldom”. Two questions:
1) do you think anyone will be telling you this? and,
2) how hard will it be to replace the best performers when they find other positions?

Want to take cost-effective action to keep your best performers? We can help. Let’s have a conversation – no cost or obligation.

Gary Langenwalter

(These screen shots are from the Vantage Point organizational health assessment, which was developed by 25 professionals at the Oregon Organization Development Network.)

*https://www.gallup.com/workplace/351545/great-resignation-really-great-discontent.aspx?utm_source=workplace&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=workplace_newsletter_aug_08102021&utm_term=newsletter&utm_content=keep_employees_engaged_textlink_1&elqTrackId=9dbabb89e12f4777bee2409d9301f17f&elq=fd96e3039c9b468386d04e7cdcf9ea77&elqaid=7149&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=1515

How to Increase Employee Retention and Hiring

One of today’s biggest challenges is finding and retaining employees. How can an organization do that cost-effectively? One answer is to improve their organizational health – to be a place where people are personally engaged, where they can grow, where they feel appreciated. There is a direct positive correlation between organizational health and employee attraction and retention, and a strong positive correlation between organizational health and profitability/performance. To improve your organization’s health, you need to define it and measure it.

Perhaps the best way to measure your organization’s health is to use a confidential survey. Here’s an example of survey results comparing departments

When you’re looking at organizational health surveys, we suggest that you choose survey that:

  1. Is actually valid – that has been tested for:
    1. Reliability,
    2. Validity, including face, content, and criterion validity, and
    3. Acceptable statistical fit.
  2. Allows you to define the demographics that fit your organization (e.g., departments, length of service time buckets, ethnicity, locations, shift, etc.).
  3. Allows you to add your own questions.
  4. Allows you to drill into the resulting data and reports until such inquiries would compromise confidentiality. For example, if you wanted to see how female Millennials in Department X scored, the survey should show those results only if there are at least six responses that fit all those attributes. If there are fewer than six, it should not show the responses. You might have 32 females in your organization, 11 of which work in Department X. But only 4 of those are Millennials. So you could see results for all females, and all females in Department X, and all female Millennials across the organization. But not female Millennials in Department X.
  5. Shows you the results across multiple iterations of the survey, so you can easily see trends. Once you take the survey, you’ll want to take some actions to improve your organization’s health. So we suggest that you take the survey again in 4-6 months to see if your actions are having the desired effect.

One survey that meets all these criteria is Vantage Point™, which was developed more than ten years ago by more than 25 Oregon Organization Development Network professionals. The three major dimensions of the survey are:

  • Adaptability
  • Engagement, and
  • Cohesion.

If you’d like a copy of the White Paper which outlines the origins and validity testing of Vantage Point, I’ll be glad to send you a copy. You can also learn more about Vantage Point by going to our website: https://willamettevalleyconsultants.wordpress.com/vantage-point-organizational-health-assessment/

Gary Langenwalter

COVID Brain

Got less energy than you used to before COVID? Feeling rudderless, unfocused? Having trouble sleeping well? You’re not alone. We, as a society, are basically suffering from PTSD, except the trauma keeps occurring, so we are unable to move forward. And this has been exacerbated by four factors:

  1. The loss of human touch and face-to-face connection. This is especially traumatic for extraverts, whose psyches are centered around physically being with others. Zoom is a lousy substitute for a hug!
  2. Financial uncertainty and stress for those who have lost their jobs because of COVID, especially since the $600/week federal payments have stopped. People are losing their homes, their cars, and their self-respect, again adding to their trauma, and again multiplying the PTSD.
  3. The increasingly shrill divisiveness of our election season, which is reaching fever pitch. So many different “truths”. Is there anybody or anything we can trust?
  4. The worst aspect of this entire experience is that the primary cause of our PTSD just keeps on keeping on, adding more uncertainty and stress.

A recent Insead Knowledge article explains: “In times like these, our brains tend to work differently. The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for complex planning, working memory, and analytical thinking, is swamped with ambiguous signals, impacting our decision-making abilities. Meanwhile, the brain scours its long-term memory systems for comparable experiences. Finding few precedents for this pandemic, it looks intently outward for guidance on what to do next.

The combination of impaired analytical thinking and heightened external sensitivity creates what can be called "Covid-19 brain"–a fragile, frazzled state that keeps our thoughts simultaneously on edge and unfocused.”*

What can we do about this? The frustrating answer, which is the underlying cause, is that we can’t “cure” it. The best we can do is to understand it and cope with it. Some ways to cope include:

  • Be gentle with ourselves. View this the same way that we would view recovering from a broken leg. Expect that we will be less effective than before. And forgive ourselves for being that way.
  • Find ways to bring ourselves joy, within the new boundaries. Intentionally find and partake of activities that soothe our frazzled souls.
  • Be gentle with others. Each person deals with COVID brain differently. Some people become aggressive; others withdraw; still others become hyper focused on something (even something very minor in the grand scheme of things). Call people. Be a friend. Many people are hungry for affirmation that they still matter.

* https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/battling-covid-19-brain-14626

Hang in there.

Gary

Let Us Redeem the Soul of our Nation

Here is John Lewis’s writing. It asks us each to become the best we can be, and to help each other do that also. I share his vision for our country and our world.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/opinion/john-lewis-civil-rights-america.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage&fbclid=IwAR0BJWOANT7ma4UXpkLbVSKDNq5uhJrvppV_qyUrDxFslFIohAiNj17DQCE

Together, we can, and we must, redeem the soul of our nation.

Gary

Does Being Kind Pay Off?

Science says that acts of kindness pay off by making us feel better and healthier. This is hardwired into our social DNA because it stems from way back when humans were living in tribes. Being kind to others in the tribe increased the odds of survival for the tribe.

Recent research at the University of California Riverside has shown that people who were kind to others became happier and more connected than those who were kind to themselves. In another study several years ago, a researcher divided college students into two groups and gave each student $100. He told one group to buy presents for themselves, and the other group to buy presents for others, including people they did not know. The second group felt better about themselves and was much more socially connected.

I invite you to test this for yourself. For two weeks, do three acts of kindness per week for yourself. Then for the next two weeks, do three acts of kindness per week for others.

If this is indeed true, how can you use this in your organization? What would happen if staff meetings or team meetings started by explaining this research and encouraging each person to do acts of kindness for others, both inside and outside the workplace? What would happen to employee engagement? What would happen to creativity? What would happen to productivity? What might happen to the dynamics in meetings – would people be more willing to work together instead of disagreeing and digging into their positions?

You can read the Associated Press article at https://apnews.com/f487b63befb2f4c3181404bcc87be1c1.

I welcome your feedback

Gary Langenwalter

Avoiding the Worst Outcomes of COVID-19

COVID has cost us dearly. Approximately 132,000 people have died in the USA, with almost 3 million confirmed cases, and our economy is in the tank. As painful as these are, the potentially the worst and longest-lasting cost of COVID is a social recession, because it weakens our social fabric so that we are no longer a country with common ideals but a collection of fractious factions. A social recession is caused by physical distancing, which leads to social distancing, causing us to feel increasingly disconnected from the people in our lives. This is confirmed by a recent (May 21-29) survey by the University of Chicago* in which 50% of respondents said they had sometimes or often felt isolated in the past 4 weeks, more than double the number (23%) in 2018. This results in reduced health, reduced learning on the part of children, and reduced workplace productivity.

Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, says, “Typically, in moments of stress, we reach out to people. We spend time with people we love. And now we’re being asked not to do that, at least in physical terms.” He cites recent research from Wharton, “If we want our kids to do well, if we want workers to do better in the workplace, if we all want to be more fulfilled and healthy, …human connection is at the center of it all.”

He encourages us “to build our lives around people, and to make the case for creating a people-centered society, … putting ourselves on the path to creating a society that is healthier and stronger, but also more resilient, than before the pandemic began.” The 4-page conversation is at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/avoiding-a-social-recession-a-conversation-with-vivek-murthy.

I invite your comments and your ideas about how we might do that. We owe it to our children and their children.

*https://www.norc.org/PDFs/COVID%20Response%20Tracking%20Study/NSF_COVID_Topline.pdf

Gary Langenwalter

Your Values Are On the Line

Who you are, matters. Right Now! What you stand for, matters. Right now! What you do matters. Right Now! What you say matters. Right Now!

If what is going on makes you uncomfortable, the time to speak out is NOW! Even though speaking out is uncomfortable. Even though you might “do it wrong” or upset someone. If you are silent, you tacitly support the status quo. It is time to let your true values shine. For many years to come, you will be remembered and judged for what you do and what you say RIGHT NOW. The picture is my public stance in McMinnville, Sunday, May 31, on highway 99W. I could no longer sit safely and silently on the sidelines.

Whatever your sphere of influence, people respect you and will listen to what you say and how you say it. And they will watch what you do and how you do it. Where do you invest your organization’s resources? Where do you invest your time? How do you treat others who have different ethnicities?

Think about the leaders whom we admire. Each of them took a stand, knowing that their stand would make some people uncomfortable. That’s the price of being a leader who makes a difference. They spoke truth to power. And they did so with deep respect and compassion for the people whose lives were being affected. It’s time for each of us to do the same.

I cannot do great things. But I can do small things with great love. And when others do the same, we collectively build a better future for our children and their children.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

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