Writing a Book! + Monthly Culture Inspiration: August 2018

I'm excited to announce that I'm co-authoring a book, along with information designer and illustrator Liz Fosslien!

No Hard Feelings: Emotions at Work (And How They Help Us Succeed) will be published by Penguin in January 2019. The book is a visual exploration of how to embrace emotion at work and become more authentic and fulfilled while staying professional. It's a wickedly funny interactive guide to un-repressing your emotions at work, finding constructive channels even for jealousy and anxiety, demystifying digital interactions and coworker communication styles, and ultimately allowing readers to be the same person in work and in life.

Liz and I are launching a newsletter, which you can sign up for here. Every month, we'll send you our favorite emotion-at-work-related articles and research, a little bit about what we're up to, and an illustration. We promise we'll keep it short and sweet. If you ever want more (wow!), you can browse our book website here (lizandmollie.com), or follow us on twitter @lizandmollie and instagram @lizandmollie.

 

Now back to my regular monthly post...

Every month, I post three types of culture inspiration: a visual, a book, and an article to bookmark.

Visual: Deckaholic, the largest online library of card decks

 StartupKit is a deck of cards for start up companies that can be used to help clarify thoughts, develop ideas and structure work.

StartupKit is a deck of cards for start up companies that can be used to help clarify thoughts, develop ideas and structure work.

 Innovating for People L+D Cards offer over 70 suggestions for managing group life and deepening the connection between collaborators.

Innovating for People L+D Cards offer over 70 suggestions for managing group life and deepening the connection between collaborators.

 These Organisation Culture Cards map patterns of behavior in organizations related to change, learning, knowledge, and information.

These Organisation Culture Cards map patterns of behavior in organizations related to change, learning, knowledge, and information.

 These cards from SY Partners help you uncover your workplace superpower, like Decisiveness, Harmonizing, or Problem Solving.

These cards from SY Partners help you uncover your workplace superpower, like Decisiveness, Harmonizing, or Problem Solving.

I love card decks as a tool to convey information and spark conversations. Deckaholic is a website devoted to cataloguing the universe of card decks. It's the brainchild of Stephanie Gioia, former director of consulting at design consultancy XPLANE. Stephanie also teaches a very cool class on designing with card decks at Stanford's d.school. The library includes decks about language, food, and colors, but the decks I've highlighted above all relate to organizational culture. 

 

Book: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

A friend recommended this book to me, and in turn I have been recommending it to everyone I talk to. Priya Parker is a facilitator and strategic advisor, and the founder of Thrive Labs, which she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker points out that many of the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive--which they don't have to be. She explains her approach to creating gatherings that are meaningful and memorable, whether for work or play. In the book, she shares examples of gatherings-- everything from work conferences and meetings, to Diner on Blanc (a global dinner-party series hosted all over the world where everyone wears white), to an Arab-Israeli summer camp-- to show what works, what doesn't, and why. 

Big meetings, workshops, and "off sites" are a common part of most organizations' culture. For these gatherings, Parker recommends sending out a digital “workbook” to participants to fill out and return to her ahead of the gathering:

"I design each workbook afresh depending on the purpose of the gathering and what I hope to get guests to think about in advance. The workbooks consist of six to ten questions for participants to answer. For a gathering on the future of education at a university, I asked questions like “What is one moment or experience you had before the age of twenty that fundamentally impacted the way you look at the world?” and “What are the institutions in the United States and abroad that are taking a bold, effective approach to educating the next generation of global problem solvers? What can we learn from them?” For a gathering on rethinking a national poverty program, I asked questions like “What is your earliest memory of facing or coming into contact with poverty?” and “How are our core principles the same or different from when we started fifty years ago?” For a gathering of a technology company’s executive team after a merger, I asked questions like “Why did you join this company?” and “What are the most pressing questions you think this team needs to address?”

I try to embed two elements in my workbook questions: something that helps them connect with and remember their own sense of purpose as it relates to the gathering, and something that gets them to share honestly about the nature of the challenge they’re trying to address. The workbooks aren’t so different from a college application in that sense: Sure, they give me a sense of the person and the dynamics of the group, but they also help the person think through the things they value before they arrive. I then design the day based on what I see in their answers. I also weave quotes from their workbooks into my opening remarks at the convening. And the workbooks do one further thing: They inadvertently create a connection between each participant and me, well ahead of our time together, which makes my job much easier once I’m in the room. By crafting the workbooks and sending them out, I am sending the participants an invitation to engage. By filling them out and sending them back to me, they are accepting. The relationship, and the sharing of confidences, begins well before we enter the room."

I love this and want to try this in the future!

 

Article to Bookmark: Culture is the Behavior You Reward and Punish

Jocelyn Goldfein is a general partner at San Francisco VC firm Zetta Venture Partners, and formerly was an engineer at Facebook and VMware. In this Medium article, she shares how Charles O’Reilly, a Stanford GSB professor, came to VMware for a workshop and asked her and her colleagues to do a simple exercise. He asked them to write down on the white board "what makes people here successful." Goldfein writes, "When we finished, O’Reilly pointed at the whiteboard with a magician’s flourish: 'That’s your culture. Your culture is the behaviors you reward and punish.' At first, I was stunned. When I thought of culture, I thought of big mission statements and values, like our emphasis on innovation...I didn’t think of responsiveness to email." This is a great exercise to help articulate your organization's culture. What behaviors are rewarded and punished at your organization?

Monthly Culture Inspiration: July 2018

Every month, I post three types of culture inspiration: a visual, a book, and an article to bookmark.

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Visual: What makes a great leader, explained in eight counterintuitive charts

Journalist Shane Snow is the author of the new book Dream Teams. While writing the book, he learned eight counterintuitive lessons, which he shares in chart form in this article in Quartz. Above are two charts I like. The first chart shows that the best leaders are those who not only "motivate their teams to work toward a grand shared vision, but who encourage their teams to adapt in order to get there." The second chart shows that the best leaders" are not just flexible. They’re opinionated, too; that’s how they convince us to follow them into the unknown, even when they change their minds." See all the charts here.

 

Book: Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work by Alison Green

Alison Green has been called “the Dear Abby of the work world.” She writes the popular Ask A Manager blog, which was recently published in book format. Green goes beyond surface level advice and provides specific and actionable insights and recommendations from her experience as chief of staff of an organization and as a consultant. It's worth a read by everyone, whether you're an employer or a manager. She covers crying at work, salary negotiations, and how to deal with someone who won't respond to your emails (or emails you too often), among many other topics. Here is a good example of what to do if an employee’s stress impacts the whole team:

"If someone vents about stress constantly or just doesn’t control it well, that can end up stressing out everyone around him. If this is happening on your team, start by talking with the person one-on-one and asking what’s going on: “You seem pretty stressed lately. What’s going on?” This might lead to a conversation where you can provide concrete help with things like prioritizing the person’s workload, adjusting deadlines, or suggesting shortcuts or more efficient ways to approach a project.

But if the person is stressed out by things that are just normal parts of the job—issues where there aren’t really solutions other than “just roll with it”—then you may need to explain that, name the fact that his stress is affecting other people, and ask about other ways it might be managed: “I hear you that it can be stressful to have to get input from so many people and to make last-minute changes sometimes. It’s really the nature of the role, though; those things are pretty unavoidable in this type of work. When you complain frequently to coworkers about it and start most meetings by talking about how frazzled you are, it can raise the stress level for everyone. Do you think you can find other ways to manage your stress so that it doesn’t spread to your coworkers as well?”

Depending on how the conversation goes, you might add: “I want to be clear that I’m not asking you never to feel stressed. I know this work can be stressful! Rather, this is about being aware of how your handling of stress might be affecting colleagues. You can of course come and talk to me when you’re feeling overwhelmed; I want to be a resource for you when that’s happening. It’s adding to other people’s stress levels that I want to avoid.”"

 

Article to Bookmark: What does a more agile HR look like? 

I love the Culture Amp blog. If you haven't already subscribed to their newsletter, The People Geekly, you should. In this article, Kate Le Gallez uncovers "how organizations can apply agile principles to the HR function, especially when it comes to employee feedback." The article explores how HR can learn from the agile processes and use them to redesign the employee feedback process to make it more helpful. Learn how you can take a real-time approach to feedback.