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We need to talk:  Rekindling quality conversations at work

We need to talk: Rekindling quality conversations at work

by Moyra Mackie on February 28, 2018

From the outside it looks as if the majority of organisations are in a mess.

Surveys tell us that only a third of workers bring their A-game to the office.   More and more time is spent at work, or working via the umbilical cord of our smartphones, yet productivity is stuck in the pre-digital era.

Stressed and overwhelmed

To make things worse,  more people at all levels in organisations are reporting excessive levels of stress.  Both  employee and company suffers; when we are under stress our brain prioritises survival, and reduces our capacity to think clearly or creatively and to make rational decisions.

Grand initiatives haven’t made a dent in the discontent and disengagement

Everyone seems aware of the problem and a whole industry has sprung up, with million dollar consultancies and business schools clamouring to fix the problem.

However it isn’t working.  Three quarters of those expensive change initiatives fail and it doesn’t seem managers with MBAs can transform the way their teams feel about work either.

So where’s the real problem?

When we at Mackie Consulting listen to people in organisations through our Clarity Survey, and through our coaching work with teams and individuals, people tell us that they are not having the conversations they should be having. What we hear supports the Ken Blanchard Leadership company’s research that shows the extent to which conversations are avoided:

  • 81% say their boss doesn’t listen to them
  • 82% say their leaders don’t provide appropriate feedback
  • 28% say they rarely or never discuss their future goals with their boss
  • only 34% meet with their boss once per week

While people talk a lot, they have lost the habit of having meaningful, quality conversations 

In all too many organisations, meetings are long and formulaic. People come to meetings either to transmit information or receive it. Dialogue seems to have been substituted by the “let-s-read-this-presentation-together” practice.

Meaningful conversations are frequently avoided, and the more challenging conversations are saved up for those zinging e-mails or vented to the wrong person at the coffee shop or water cooler.

Is it time to get back to being human?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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It should come as a surprise to nobody that work can stress us out. Stress isn’t always bad; stress can motivate us, and help us prepare for the unexpected.

However, chronic stress can have a dire impact on our personal well-being — which can in turn impact the performance of our business or organization. This is what we call organizational stress, and it should come with a toll big enough to grab the attention of employees and managers alike.

The high costs of high stress

When we’re stressed out, it can tax our bodies and minds to surprising lengths. Organizational stress has been demonstrated to increase costs through higher health benefit payouts, more absenteeism, higher turnover, and increased workers’ compensation claims.

Researchers estimate that the combined cost of employee stress in the United States rounds out to around $300 billion per year. Regardless of your workplace’s management style, this fact alone should make stress management a priority for everyone involved in your organization — and this begins with effective management.

Management strategies to reduce organizational stress

Managers have the power to reduce stress in a number of ways, and it all starts with open lines of communication. (And this means much more than a passive ‘open door policy’.) Leaders need to regularly reach out with employees to share ideas, concerns, and constructive feedback.

They should not only measure and facilitate performance, but also resolve obstacles and other everyday stressors that might impede an employee’s workday. Employers can also reduce stress by offering greater flexibility, ample rewards, and motivational strategies.

The infographic below, produced for the Online MBA Program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, illustrates the impact that organizational stress can have on businesses, and what we can do about it to make employees happier and more productive at work.
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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

by Tim Wayne on February 14, 2016

If you’ve ever hated being stuck in a cubicle farm or became annoyed with the distractions of an open office, it turns out that you’ve got a great reason to complain.

Office design does more than just the shape our place of work – it can also shape employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. When your workplace doesn’t meet your psychological needs, it can be devastating to your productivity.

Your work environment can make you happy (or stress you out)

According to environmental psychology, or the study on the relationship between people and their surroundings, a work space can inspire workers to be creative and happy or stress them out.

While the impact of office design on productivity is more obvious when issues like lighting, ventilation, and noise pollution are the problems, it can also harm morale when workplaces don’t offer employees enough freedom in when, where, and how they work.

Innovative design can help create an innovative workforce

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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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Emotional Intelligence and the Art of Noticing

Emotional Intelligence and the Art of Noticing

by Moyra Mackie on April 26, 2014

When Daniel Goleman’s first book on Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995 I was so excited by the possibilities he was describing that I was happy to rush to Barnes and Noble in Raleigh, NC and pay out what was then a princely sum of $40.

I was pregnant with my first son and captivated by Goleman’s introduction:

“What can we change that will help our children fare better in life?  What factors are at play, for example when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well?  I would argue that the difference quite often lies in … emotional intelligence…these skills can be taught to children, giving them a better chance to use whatever intellectual potential the genetic lottery may have given them.”

What four years olds and a plate of marshmallows showed us

In the book Goleman describes what has become known as the “marshmallow experiment” which was actually a series of studies on delayed gratification carried out in the 60s and 70s at Stanford University. 

Researchers offered children the choice between eating a marshmallow immediately or holding out for two marshmallows if they waited until the researcher returned.

If you want to see how cute delayed gratification looks, do watch this video.



The effects lasted….

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Why we all (still) need a dream

Why we all (still) need a dream

by Moyra Mackie on March 15, 2014

Do you have a dream?

I’ve come to believe that we all need to have a dream if we are to make the right choices for ourselves and those we care about.  This is what life coach and writer Martha Beck calls Finding Your Own North Star.

Here’s why I think we all need a dream before we can succeed.

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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How expensive is your meetings habit?

How expensive is your meetings habit?

by Moyra Mackie on July 19, 2013

How much of your working week is spent in meetings?

If you are at all average – and I don’t mean that as an insult – at least 50% of your calendar will be taken up with meetings, whether in person or on the phone.

How effective are your meetings?

Though precise calculations of time – and therefore salary hours – spent in unproductive meetings are hard to calculate, one UK study estimates around £26bn ($40bn) is wasted each year in unproductive meetings.

What does each of your meetings cost?

I always encourage my clients to do the following calculation:

Number of meeting participants  x  number of hours spent talking  x average hourly salary of participants  ÷  actions agreed  =  cost  of meeting

Do this and you might discover that an awful lot of meetings are pretty expensive habits.

So where is the senior management memo on improving the ROI of meetings?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

More Posts - Website

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