Tom Rath on “Being Fully Charged in the Workplace”

Tom Rath, 2016 NC State SHRM Conference Keynote Speaker (photo from NC SHRM Conference website)

Tom Rath, 2016 NC State SHRM Conference Keynote Speaker (photo from NC SHRM Conference website)

In addition to the outstanding kick-off keynote from leading transgender activist Janet Mock (see link to last week’s blog), the North Carolina SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) team scheduled another great keynote for the second day of the conference. Tom Rath, a multiple-time New York Times Best Seller list author spoke about how to be fully charged in the workplace. As employee engagement continues to decline, this is a key issue that companies must address.

Tom started with a very disturbing statistic – that 49% of people surveyed felt that they were not spending time doing impactful work in their daily vocational activities vs. the mere 22% who answered that question positively. (Remainder were neutral or provided no anwer.)

Some of Tom’s key points:

• We need to really increase this 22% who feel they do meaningful work. Some tactics include realizing that small wins generate meaningful progress, and when people see meaning in their work, they create more.

• Three key components of increasing meaningful work include having interest in what you do, focusing on skills you are good at, and meeting the needs of others.

• Top performers are not often well-rounded, but great teams are.

• In daily interactions, most people need five positive interactions for every negative one. It is therefore important at work to lead with the positive and acknowledge people for their good work.

• When listing the top good and the bottom bad interactions during a typical day, interactions with friends and family where at the top, and two very worst were co-workers and bosses.

• Only 11% of people answered positively to “I had a great deal of energy yesterday.” Small changes in proper eating, fitness and sleeping can lead to big changes in energy. Scary Fact: going 6 days in row with less than 6 hours a sleep per night is the same as operating at a .08 blood alcohol level (DUI level in most states)

• Social networks and social structures can have a tremendous impact on encouraging positive healthy behaviors. Example: smoking in our culture.

Tom then closed with three challenges to us as HR leaders in how we can lead as examples:

1. What changes will I make in my daily routines to model to others that I am putting my health first?

2. What steps will I take to add more positive interactions with others in my environment?

3. What will I do with my colleagues to help them connect their daily efforts to the meaning it creates?

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From the NC SHRM Conference web page including links: Tom Rath is an author and researcher who studies the role of human behavior in business, health, and well-being. He has been described by business leaders and the media as one of the greatest thinkers and nonfiction writers of his generation. Tom has written six New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers over the past decade, starting with the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket? His book StrengthsFinder 2.0 was the top-selling book of 2013 and 2014.

A superb transgender awareness keynote from Janet Mock

Janet Mock, 2016 NC State SHRM Conference Keynote Speaker (photo from NC SHRM Conference website)

Janet Mock, 2016 NC State SHRM Conference Keynote Speaker (photo from NC SHRM Conference website)

As a diversity consultant with a deep expertise in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) diversity, I have often heard of young transgender activist and media superstar Janet Mock, but had never seen her. Therefore, I was thrilled with our North Carolina SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) Conference planning committee scheduling Janet as this year’s North Carolina kickoff keynote speaker. And the timing is perfect as more transgender people are visible in our work places and as North Carolina continues to struggle with the negative impacts of our horrific anti-trans, anti-gay HB2 bill. (see my recent blog on the five impacts of HB2 on our state.)

Janet’s talk and her gracious telling of her personal story truly helped raise the awareness of what transgender lives are really about. I heard so many attendees exclaim that they were so moved and learned so much from Janet’s keynote. Particularly poignant was her vulnerability in sharing her personal story, including how she totally lived as a woman in graduate school and early career before even disclosing she was transgender.

Some of Janet’s key points included:

• That HR professionals need to take the lead in embracing the differences of others, building coalitions across differences, building a culture where differences are valued … this can be a huge strategic business advantage.

• In our ever increasing multi-cultural world, being different is becoming “the new normal.” More people are embracing their difference instead of minimizing their differences to blend in.

• As a black, female, native-Hawaiian transgender millenial, Janet shared that she cannot fit into “one box” as which often happens with identifying someone’s diversity. Many people now incorporate several aspects of diversity and difference.

• Transgender individuals often have very difficult lives as they are thrown out of their homes and end up unemployed on the streets and in prison.

• Issues are so often not addressed because we are afraid of difference. Instead we should ask “who is not in the room” and create a space where there can be open dialogue among a diverse set up people.

• HR professionals should invest time in reading about and learning about people living in their “other-ness.”

I join many others in thanking Janet for making her first trip to North Carolina during a time when our state laws are unwelcoming to and creating a hostile environment for transgender people.

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From the NC State SHRM conference website with lots of links: Janet Mock is the New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness and the host of So POPular! — a weekly MSNBC digital series about culture. One of Oprah’s “Supersoul 100,” she is a sought-after speaker and the founder of #GirlsLikeUs, a social media project that empowers trans women. Since 2011, she’s become one of the most influential trans women and millennial leaders in media.

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Take my 12-question organizational transgender awareness self-assessment to gauge how trans-inclusive your organization is.