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And the Survey says?

And the Survey says?

As my regular readers know by now, one of the things I write and speak on most is value alignment. Nearly all companies will proudly tell you about the value statements they have, and nearly everyone will agree that businesses should be values centered in their mission. However, nearly all have to work much harder on the practical application of their values so they truly take actions which are consistent with the beliefs they profess to have.

In my coaching practice, I consistently give the different companies I work with reality checks on if their values spoken are their values practiced. We take a clear look at their operations and work processes to see if they pass muster according to how they interpret the values they claim to have. One of my favorite targets? The employee opinion survey.

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Leaders will tell me they have an open door policy, that everyone is encouraged to give honest feedback, and that they do everything possible to create a safe environment in which people will do so, communicating freely and without any fear of repercussion. They say there are good relationships throughout the workplace, and that morale is high. Yet they still will persist in using anonymous employee opinion surveys so that employees will “tell it like it is,” and so they can periodically discover “what is really going on,” and “how people may truly feel.”

Doesn’t quite compute, does it.

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I get pretty bullish in my insistence that employee opinion surveys (and any kind of anonymous feedback forms) become completely unnecessary if managers consistently practice the Daily 5 Minutes to promote healthy, forthright and enjoyably engaging communication throughout the workplace. However despite the pain they potentially can cause, many leaders will in turn insist they still want to use surveys to shed light on any corners of darkness which linger. In particular, I can understand why companies in an acquisition or transition of some kind find them useful, however the norm is that not enough care is employed in the manner in which they are used.

If you must use them, please give considerable thought to the process. My biggest objection to employee opinion surveys is that by nature the communication is one way, and when anonymous need not be substantiated or clarified. It is a fallacy to assume that the feedback you are getting is a totally honest representation because it is seldom complete, even when comments are coming from employees with the most positive attitudes and good intentions. Understand you still have to read between the lines, or somehow employ a follow-up process in which you can get closer to the truth and uncover root causes for pervasive opinions.

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Construct your surveys carefully. The better ones I have seen do not ask questions about the work performance of peers, managers or leaders (for those questions invite witch hunts and unrealistic comparisons). Instead, they seek to educate, and question for understanding on company values, mission, and strategic objectives. They ask about the tools people feel they might need to get the job done better. They ask for ideas on how to serve the customer. They ask for suggestions beyond mere comments, and all participants understand they are expected to be part of the solution when they reveal issues.

Be timely with your follow-up process, and seek to validate the thought and effort which has been shared, however make it clear that the survey is just one part of on-going efforts to create a vibrant and dynamic workplace— and that everyone’s involvement is necessary.

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Article References:
The Daily Five Minutes
Hey boss, what do you want to know?

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: The First Time versus the Insider’s Advantage.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

2. Trust the Muse

Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

“The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

3. Remember to Be Authentic

Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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