Organizational Development

Organization development (OD) is a deliberately planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and/or efficiency and/or to enable the organization to achieve its strategic goals. OD theorists and practitioners define it in various ways. Its multiplicity of definition reflects the complexity of the discipline and is responsible for its lack of understanding.

Top 10 Rules For Facilitating A Successful Meeting

August 11, 2017 •  5 minute read • by Saeed


“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.” ~ Unknown

When you are tasked with facilitating a meeting, there are some fundamental rules of the road to follow to get you safely to your destination. By definition, facilitation is any activity that makes an action or a process easy or easier. Here are the top 10 rules I’ve learned and honed after 25 years of facilitating meetings:

  1. Start the meeting well. First impressions count. Setting the right tone for the meeting is important. Review the agenda to let people know what’s up for discussion. Review the objectives. Set a positive tone with an inspirational opening activity. Please don’t make it cheesy. To the extent possible, make it relevant to the meeting at hand.
  2. Keep your eye on the objectives. Without objectives and/or stated purpose, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions. Be very clear about your purpose and pursue it with focus. You objectives should align with your agenda items. The whole agenda should work as a, well, as a whole. Aim for harmony.
  3. Maintain your focusControl tangents. Be careful about going on for too long and raising extraneous points. Bring your focus back to the stated agenda item, question or topic at hand when you find yourself taking unnecessary detours. If others are rambling, do the same. Remember, you are air traffic control and everyone is either trying to take off or to land and your job is maintain some sense of order.
  4. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it succinct. Agenda items, presentation, discussions, back and forths, and Q&As are best delivered in short sprints rather than long marathons. Long marathons test peoples’ attention spans. These days, our attentions are a major commodity not to be taken for granted or abused. Respect it. Don’t just be a bystander to a discussion that unfolds after someone says something provocative. Facilitate. Your task is to help people come to a common understanding or to consensus efficiently (BTW: consensus is not that everyone must necessarily agree with each other but rather that they can live with the decisions being made). Help people retain the information. Don’t babble like a brook and don’t let others do so either. When answers are long and rambling, people don’t know what to hang on to. Your job is to anchor them in something.
  5. Review “homework” from the last meeting. Not only does it remind participants what happened last week, it holds attendees accountable. It demonstrates continuity from one meeting to the next. It validates your work before and your work after.
  6. Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. The world’s most successful organizations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks. Apple, Google, Microsoft. You name it. Action is the name of the game. People talk too much and process too much at the expense of action – especially in the nonprofit world.
  7. Bring solutions, not problems. There are times when you need to develop solutions in the meeting to a stated problem. But I have sat through so many meetings where the facilitators have created a process to give the illusion of inclusion when they already know the solution. Forgive me, but that is a crazy waste of time. If you know the solution bring it. Let the attendees discuss your solution not the problem you already have a solution to.
  8. Make careful transitions. Before you transition from one agenda item to another, ask if everyone is finished with the current topic. Have a bridge that takes you from one point to the next. Good writers do this with their paragraphs. There is a bridge that takes the reader from one paragraph to the next. Good facilitators do the same thing.
  9. Every item should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. People mistakenly think that open ended discussion lead to innovation. Wrong. By not placing an end time to agenda items or discussions, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation. Time constraints kick in a sense of urgency and urgency ignites attention. Creativity then starts to flow.
  10. End the meeting well. A productive meeting needs to end on the right note to set the stage for the work to continue. End on the same positive note you started. Congratulate. Inspire. Encourage. Above all, evaluate. Ask participants for what worked well and would could be improved the next time around. Use the feedback to improve the next meeting.

Successful meeting facilitation is a skill. It’s both art and science. Done well, I believe it has the power to create impactful change. Done poorly, it’s just one more of the drudgeries we have to deal with at work.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

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The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence Not Just Technical Skills

July  12, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


Silicon Valley is associated with nerd culture stereotyped as socially awkward, tech savvy, sci-fi loving loners who probably don’t rank high on emotional intelligence.

But the stories I have heard about Silicon Valley scions like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg suggest otherwise. In fact, these folks rank high on emotional intelligence and the way they approach candidate interviews proves it.

Jobs famously would conduct interviews by taking a walk around the block with the person being interviewed. The longer the walk went, the more likely it was that Jobs thought the person compelling.  Surely, he was trying to get a sense of the whole person and not just their technical skills.

Musk famously asks candidates one question and listens closely to what they say: “Tell me the story of your life and the decisions that you made along the way and why you made them and also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”

The answer tells him who really knows what they’re doing and who’s grandstanding, and it helps him choose employees who are likely to share his goals and work ethic.

At Facebook, the focus of the interview is on connection just like the mission of the company. So Zuck wants to know: “On your very best day at work – the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day?”

Obviously, these questions reveal more about the candidate than stale and overused questions with well rehearsed responses such as “what is your greatest weakness?”

What are some of your best interview questions that you’ve asked or that you’ve been asked?

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

June 26, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


“Trust is like an eraser, it gets smaller and smaller with every mistake.” ~ Unknown

In relationships, trust is the fundamental building block from which everything else is built. Full stop.

Need proof?

A new study from the Ken Blanchard Companies examining the connection between trustworthy leadership behavior and productive employees demonstrates significant correlation between trust and numerous positive employee behaviors including performance, loyalty and productivity. Duh!

But how do you build trust?

That’s simple but not necessarily easy. Trust is built over time and by people sharing and being increasingly vulnerable with each other.

Think your staff meetings are enough? Think again.

You have to spend unstructured time together getting to know each other outside of work.

When I lived in the UK, I noticed that co-workers went out for drinks with each other after work on a regular basis. The pub culture helped. Nevertheless, discussing what is important in your life, who your family is, and what is going on in your life outside of work is an essential part of relationship building and trust.

When you add a new team member, you have to work to foster trust. When someone leaves, you have to start this process over again.

Your team will never reach their potential, individually or as a group, unless you are willing to be equally vulnerable with each other. High performing teams need this level of, let’s call it intimacy.

Only when a high level of trust is created among team members is there a chance to reach your goals as a collective. Otherwise, it’s every man or woman for him or her self.

Fairness, honesty, recognition, openness, transparency, and effective communication are the hallmarks of a trusting work environment.

Trust or the lack of it has major motivating implications. Trust is a lubricant for loyalty. People want to perform their best for those they trust. People begin to believe in themselves if they are recognized and trusted for their efforts in an organization.

On the other hand, when trust is broken, it’s extremely hard to repair. That’s when your once star performer starts spending more energy on self preservation and job hunting than excelling in their role. That’s when ideas dry up. That’s when innovation stagnates and that’s when communication mostly becomes one way.

Take care of your employees. Stop treating them like expendable commodities. Stop making everything about what they can do for you. They are not just idea and execution machines. Take the time upfront to develop trusted relationships. If you show them you care about them – their lives, their thoughts, their values – your business performance will only increase.

Recognize their efforts. Most importantly, recognize their extra efforts. Recognition increases trust between leadership and employees.

There is a high cost to low trust. An organization with high levels of trust will withstand any crisis. Conversely, an organization with low levels of trust can come apart at the smallest sign of trouble.

Effective leadership moves organizations from current to future states. The bedrock of effective leadership is trust.

What are your thoughts on how to protect trust among team members? Tell me about it in the comments!

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

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6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

May 30, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


“People leave their supervisors, not their companies” ~ Unknown

Stress-producing bosses are not just bad for productivity, morale, loyalty, and engagement. They are literally bad for your heart.

In a large-scale study of over 20,000 employees conducted at the Karolinska Institute, results showed a strong link between leadership behavior and heart disease in employees.

The study also found that the stress of belonging to hierarchies itself is linked to disease and death. The lower someone’s rank in a hierarchy, the higher their chances of cardiovascular disease and death from heart attacks.

As a leader, it’s important to recognize your impact on those around you. No matter where you are in the org chart, from first level manager to CEO, your efforts and attitude impact your team.

Gallup calls this the “Cascade Effect” – that is to say, engagement at one level impacts the morale of those below you in your organization.

Performance is Personal Before it is Organizational

Relationship problems in the workplace have been found to be associated with absenteeism, decreased productivity and decreased engagement. You could probably add a few more to the list based on your own observations.

I’ve personally seen this pattern repeat itself time and time again: The issues that impede organizational progress the most are the people relationship issues – not the subject matter or the content of the work itself.

That’s because whatever the topic – revenue generation, customer service, or business results – it requires collaboration, communication, and coordination by people to move the ball forward.

It is the people that must understand and embrace the mission. It is the people who must be empowered to act on it. And most importantly, it is the people who must develop productive working relationships to advance the project.

Negative work environments increase stress. Reducing your stress levels can not only make you feel better right now, but may also protect your health long-term.

3 Characteristics of a Positive Work Environment

Conversely, the Karolinska study also showed that employees who rated their managers as inspirational, positive and enthusiastic also reported less short-term sick leave.

Supervision is not just about ensuring task completion. As a boss, it’s imperative that you create a positive and healthy work culture for your team. In fact, this should be on every supervisorial job description.

Here are three ways to foster a positive work environment:

1.      Demonstrate Empathy – defined as the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experience of others, empathy is more than mere sympathy. It is a key part of social and emotional intelligence critical to being an effective leader. Transformational leaders show their teams that they care about their needs and achievements. Giving time and attention to others fosters empathy. So do active listening skills. Good listeners foster trust which in turn fosters greater engagement. Leaders can develop and enhance their empathy skills through coaching, training, and other professional development opportunities.

2.      Show Gratitude – Show appreciation for your team members as a routine part of your day-to-day interactions. Act on the belief that employees will do their best if their contributions to the team are recognized. Praise publicly and criticize privately. Criticizing employees publicly can create a sense of embarrassment among all who are present and diminish their respect for you as a leader.

3.      Reinforce Purpose – Today’s employees, especially Millennials, want more from their jobs than just a paycheck. Research shows that employees with a strong sense of purpose are at least four times more likely to be engaged in their jobs as other employees. They are also healthier, happier and more productive. Explain to employees exactly where they fit into the company structure and how they contribute to the success of the business. Institutionalize purpose driven conversations.

The research is clear. Employees and employers mutually benefit from a positive, engaged and purpose-driven work place. While there isn’t a magic bullet, it is possible to design work that better serves people, organizations and society. You can start to move the needle with these few simple steps. Yes, it’s clearly good for the bottom line but more importantly, it’s good for your cardiovascular health.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

May 26, 2017 •  7 minute read • by Saeed


“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in caves, we were all self-employed… finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us,“You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs. “

– MUHAMMAD YUNUS

Our zeitgeist is obsessed with entrepreneurs. They represent the new American Dream. Their overnight success stories of fame and riches are alluring but the truth about success is very different. Most successful businesses are not run on the next disruptive technology that changes the world. They are run onrather on consistent service delivery to meet a customer’s specific need.  Having an entrepreneurial spirit is not restricted to spawning new enterprises. Not at all. There are many internal employees who exhibit the same drive, enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation but do so within an existing framework – they are intrepreneurs. The main difference is that the intrepreneur is already backed by capital – what the entrepreneur spends half their time chasing. Meanwhile, the intrepreneur is busy pushing the envelope, testing the limits of their own creativity, inspiring others, and creating incredible internal value. Here is how they do it.

1.      Intrepreneurs act like they own it.

They act like the CEO. Of their team, project, space or whatever else they’re handed. It’s a good question: What if owned it? How would you behave differently? What kind of time would you put in? What kind of discipline would you apply? How would you view your team, your project, your equipment? How would you approach them? What would be your objectives? Would they change from what they are now?

2.      Intrepreneurs are visionary.

They routinely visualize an unrealized future. They can see what others can’t. They skate to where the puck is going to be. They are big picture thinkers. They innovate fearlessly.  They are creative and bold. They think and dream big. They’re not afraid to try. They’re not afraid to fail. They have a let’s ‘test it and see what happens’ attitude. The are idea machines and they treat their work environments like laboratories to experiment with what works and what doesn’t and to better understand human nature.  As Wayne Gretzky once said: I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

3.      Intrepreneurs take responsibility for their own engagement.

Entrepreneurs do what they enjoy. Intrepreneurs need to enjoy what they do. Don’t like your job? Struggling? On a sheet of paper draw two columns. Label one ‘Things I Like About My Job’ and label the other one ‘Things I’d Like To Change About My Job.’ Now make the list. Stream of consciousness is best. Once you’re done, study it. Then, begin to capitalize on the things you like. Make efforts and do activities that grow that column. For the next column, identify those items you may have some control over and those you don’t. For those you don’t, forget about them. Exert no energy their way. For those you do, begin to put actions in place to change them and move them over to the ‘Things I Like’ column. That’s your engagement plan. You’re welcome.

4.      Intrepreneurs take responsibility for their own motivation.

Don’t blame others for your lack of it. Otherwise see #3.

5.      Intrepreneurs manage resourcefully.

This is not just about being frugal. It’s about doing more with less as a mindset. It’s about paying attention to the bottom line. look out for the owner, company or whatever so that not only can it survive, but so that it can thrive. Your efforts will be noticed and rewarded.

6.      Intrepreneurs Ideate AND execute.

Richard Branson says ideas are a dime a dozen. Steve Wozniack tells a story of Steve Jobs that while he was without doubt a visionary, he did not know how to execute. Not until he was fired and had to start up NEXT. When he came back to Apple, he’d learned how to execute. That difference meant the iPod, iPad and iPhone, some of the most iconic products we’ve seen produced by the technology sector.

7.      Intrepreneurs have command over the data.

Big data. Small data. Whatever kind of data. They got it. They know it. They have it down pat. They show up with facts, not opinions. That’s what a serial entrepreneur told me was his best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. This was something he realized after a meeting he had at the White House where everyone showed up with their opinions but because he had the facts, he won the day.

8.      Intrepreneurs practice the art of persuasion.

Cultivate the ability to influence others to change how they think. That starts with your own credibility and attributes. This is where you begin to demonstrate real leadership. I once read a definition of leadership that said it’s the ability to focus the attention of others. That’s the art of persuasion. This requires you knowing when to pull back and when to choose your battles. It requires a significant amount of emotional intelligence.   

9.      Intrepreneurs understand the art of negotiation.

Negotiation comes into play daily at all levels and in every position. It comes naturally to some but must be learned by most. Intrepreneurs understand how important it is to plan for  and prepare to negotiate with their colleagues to create a win-win outcome. They negotiate to win consent, cooperation and consensus. They negotiate up, they negotiate down and they negotiate laterally. To do so, they leverage effective communication skills, emotional regulation, active listening, and clarity of purpose. Most importantly, they are closers.

10.  Intrepreneurs develop risk tolerance.

Recent research does not support the long held conventional belief that risk tolerance is solely the domain of the entrepreneur.   To the contrary. While the intrepreneur does not necessarily have to tolerate the same types of risks as the entrepreneur, they are by no means risk averse. Entrepreneurs don’t seek out risk but rather learn to manage it. In fact, researchers found no differences in risk tolerance between people who continued to work for other companies and those who went on to become entrepreneurs. Those who take more risks simply become more comfortable with it over time.

11.  Intrepreneurs are effective promoters.

It has been said that perception is reality and how people perceive you or your projects at work is vital to overall success. In the age of the Internet and social media and unrelenting competition,

the ability to brand and promote has become essential. Despite how talented you may be, pushing to the side your personal branding efforts will ensure that your talents are not appropriately noticed. Show your passion. Share your talents. Use stories to tell who you are. Part of getting promoted at work is about learning how to promote yourself.

12.  Intrepreneurs understand their customer.

Here is where you must really think like an entrepreneur. Research shows that those who understand their customers (insert audience, constituents, stakeholders, clients etc.) are more successful overall. That’s common sense too. Identify your customer, analyze them and develop key insights that help drive your acquisition and retention strategy. Customer analytics allow for more effective customer engagement providing more actionable intel to meet the long-term needs of your customers. Understanding customer behavior has gotten easier than ever. Just because you’re at the back of the house, it does not mean you should not understand the front-end issues related to customers. The more you understand the end user issues, the more successful you are likely to be regardless of your position in the company.

Tremendous forces are radically reshaping the world of work as we know it. To keep up, we need to radically shift our point of view on what it takes to be successful at work. Disruptive innovations are creating new industries and business models and destroying old ones. Similarly, we need to destroy the old model of moving tasks from the inbox to the outbox. New technologies, data analytics and social networks are having a huge impact on how we communicate, collaborate and work. We need to leverage these. Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow will be ones we’ve not even thought of yet but the steps laid out above will help you understand and respond effectively to these new changes while creating value each and every time.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

May 23, 2017 •  8 minute read • by Saeed


“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept but the hours are lost.” – Unknown

The spectrum is wide: Meetings can be laboratories for innovation or they can also be borefests that waste time and productivity.

Like you, I’ve sat through thousands of unproductive meetings. It took me a while to figure out what was happening: People really don’t know the basics of how to manage meetings.  Meeting management is part art and part science. With this article, I want to share some of the best practices I’ve learned over 25 years of facilitating meetings to help you improve yours so you can generate greater creative dialogue, increase productivity and maybe even change the world.

Let’s start here. There are at least 10 reasons that I can think of to hold a meeting. We hold meetings to:

  1. Share information
  2. Update status
  3. Obtain input
  4. Improve process
  5. Improve communication
  6. Transfer knowledge
  7. Reach agreement (or consensus)
  8. Advance thinking
  9. Make decisions
  10. Innovate

Regardless of meeting purpose, this list of best practices, will help your meetings be successful every time.

The Basics

1.     Do you even need a meeting?

Before you start planning your meeting, you need to ask yourself if you really even need a meeting. To figure out if your meeting is necessary or not, ask: What do I want to achieve with my meeting? Every meeting should have a goal and a purpose and by defining what that goal is, you can eliminate all meetings with obscure goals. Buh-bye!

2.     Who should you invite to the meeting?

Do you invite everyone you know to every party you have? Think about who you should invite and why. As a general rule only those who have a clear role at your meeting should be invited. The decision about who is to attend depends on what you want to accomplish in the meeting.

3.     What’s on your Agenda?

Whatever is on the agenda, it should be relevant and engaging. Agendas have to be timed and there has to be a flow. How information is prioritized and structured is very important to the success of the meeting. The hierarchy of how agenda items are presented usually starts out broadly with general information and background and evolves into more detailed actionable items as the meeting progresses.

4.     How long should your meeting be?

While there is a temptation to schedule longer meetings, it’s far better to keep it as short as possible. That way, you ensure that meeting participants are focused on the agenda. There’s no ideal length. It just depends on your agenda, participants, and what you are trying to get done.

5.     What kind of ground rules should you have?

You don’t always need ground rules but there are times when they may be necessary. There are four powerful ground rules I like to use: 1) stay engaged, 2) stay focused, 3) maintain momentum and 4) reach closure (or move towards consensus). Depending on the meeting, you may want a ground rule about confidentiality as well. List your primary ground rules on chart paper. Keep the ground rules posted at all times. Explain them if you have to.

One Level Up

6.     What kind of planning should you do?

I have an 80/20 rule about meetings which says that if you put 80% of your time into the planning, you’ll do 20% of the work in the meeting. On the other hand, if you put 20% time in planning, you’ll be sweating the other 80% out in meeting. Planning means preparing yourself (you know the content and objectives), preparing your audience (they know why they are there and have received the agenda and other necessary materials in advance to be well prepared for the conversation), and preparing the space (which includes not only the right seating arrangement and meeting participants’ comfort but also attention paid to technology and back-ups you may need).

7.     What kind of atmosphere should you create?

One that’s conducive to innovation and learning of course. I had this conversation with my son when he was about 10 years old. He said to me that everything is about atmosphere and went about making a case with examples of why that was true. He impressed me and he convinced me. The location should be comfortable, well lit and large. Ideally, other rooms nearby would be available for small group break-out sessions.

8.     Should you leverage visual communication?

Hell yes! Most of us are visual learners (65%) and we live in an ocularcentric world. Yet, so many of our meetings appeal only to auditory learners (30%). Use video, still images, graphs, Power Point and Prezi presentations to engage participants.

9.     How should you open the meeting?

The cardinal rule of meeting facilitation is to start and end on time. This lets your participants know that your respect those who showed up on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is serious. Use a meeting opener that’s fun and informative. All the better if your opener is tied to the overall theme of your meeting and is not just arbitrarily plopped in for fun. Relevant meeting openers that are positive and inspiring are better that generic icebreakers.

10. How should you close the meeting?

Always, and I mean always, end your meeting on a positive note and with concrete action steps and take-aways. Summarize what happened in the meeting and briefly list the action steps that need to take place to move the project or team forward. Remind everyone of the big-picture. End with enthusiasm for the future. Try a reflective question like: “What’s one thing you’ve learned today that you can apply tomorrow?” Trained facilitators also evaluate the meeting by using the Plus/Delta method. Put up a piece of chart paper up and draw two columns labeling one Plus and the other Delta. Ask participants what worked (The Plus) and what could be improved next time (The Delta).

Advanced

11. How can you prewire the meeting for success?

In other words, how can you set it up for success by doing some work up front. Maybe you need to meet with a meeting participant outside the main meeting to catch them up because they’ve been on vacation. Maybe you need to send some research that needs to be reviewed in advance. The more prepared your participants are, the higher your chances of success.

12. How should you lead the meeting?

If you are leading the meeting, your main responsibility is threefold: 1) Did you meet your meeting objectives? 2) Did you do it on time? and 3) Did you do it with the participation of the whole group? If you can answer these questions with a ‘Yes’ then you’ve been successful. As the leader, you create value when you make sure that the meeting runs smoothly by monitoring and guiding the discussion, connecting the dots and helping the group reach new insights and understandings.

13. How should you manage the conversation?

Prevention is the best policy here. Be as specific as possible in your agenda and meeting expectations. That way, meeting participants are on the same page when they enter the meeting room. To make sure they are, review the agenda and ask participants if they have the same understanding of the meeting objectives. There are certain meeting personality types you will encounter in every meeting.  If you feel that someone has spoken too much, thank him or her for their insights and comments, but point out respectfully that it’s important to hear from others. On the other hand, if someone is silent, address that person by name and ask him or her a specific  and direct question. That way, you’re bound to get a reply. Thank them and return to their point again to encourage their participation. Create a ‘Parking Lot’ to manage off-topic discussions by placing a piece of chart paper on the wall with that label. Then put anything that is not on the agenda and could potentially derail the meeting, into the Parking Lot. As a last resort suggest a separate meeting where the unrelated issue can be discussed.

14. How can you divide and conquer?

Working in small groups gives participants a chance to practice the higher-order thinking skills that are needed for breakthrough conversations. Participants in small groups generally learn more of the material, contribute more, and retain their knowledge, enthusiasm and motivation longer.  Small group work can range from short, informal discussions to more formalized exercises that involve deeper level problem solving.  that make up the majority of class. Contrary to popular belief, you can incorporate small group work into any of your larger meetings. You can also use paired discussion or triads if you don’t have enough people to form a small group. Pose a question or a problem and give participants a set amount of time to tackle it. Have them share out their findings at the end and compare notes with the other groups you formed.

15. How can you generate new creative ideas?

The Holy Grail of meeting time is generating useful, creative and actionable new ideas that advance the project, team or product to the next level. That means having the right process and the right questions to guide the process. The go-to method is brainstorming. Traditional brainstorming, invented by Alex Osborn back in the 1940s is based on the principles of withholding judgment and quantity over quality when it came to idea generation. That’s fine. There will always be a time and a place for brainstorming but you can take your traditional brainstorming to a new level by adding some more structure to it using techniques such as Mind Mapping (identifying a central topic and linking this to a new idea and repeating the process until you have a web of ideas) or using the 5 Whys technique (an iterative interrogative technique where the answer to each Why question forms the basis of the next question until a the cause and effect relationship underlying a particular problem has been discovered).

In future posts, I’ll discuss other techniques for idea generation. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow up to your meeting. Meeting management is part art and part science. Timely follow up is just a vital professional habit  that you should have in all that you do and it is particularly important in establishing continuity after the meeting. Notes, next steps and highlights should be distributed to make sure that the train of ideas and actions keep moving down the track.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

May 15, 2017 •  6 minute read • by Saeed


Yes, that’s me in the picture. Let’s move on.

Numerous studies have shown that successful employee engagement programs contribute to improved business outcomes. It ‘s common sense that engaged employees increase productivity, inspire innovation, and deliver better results to clients and customers.

The reality is most company engagement efforts are facile and feckless. That’s because they lack the fundamental framework upon which all successful engagement efforts are built: connection, feedback, and trust. The ‘Still Face’ experiment conducted with a mom and her baby in 1975 demonstrates the evolutionary importance of engagement to our growth and development.

But first…

What does employee engagement even mean?

To some, employee engagement is corporate band-wagon buzz phrase flavor of the week.

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary offers  banal definitions of engagement such as ‘the act of engaging’ and ‘the state of being engaged.’

But there it also offers two definitions I like for our purposes:

1.      Emotional involvement or commitment.

2.      The state of being in gear.

These two factors are essential in the conversation on engagement.

Engagement is when you’re hooked intellectually and emotionally in a subject. When you are, you feel enthusiastic, inspired and confident. You innovate. You inspire others towards innovation and towards greater engagement. You evangelize the goals and the mission of the company. You have a skip in your walk on your way to work. Your senses are locked and loaded.

Why does employee engagement even matter?

Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace report released in February 2017, found that 70% of U.S. workers are Not engaged at work.

70%!!

That’s a staggering number. Does it surprise you? Probably not. Chances are, you are not engaged either.

That means a lot of productivity loss and ultimately churn for companies. Engagement matters.

243633-percent-of-engaged-employees-D__1_What does employee engagement  even look like?

The ‘Still Face’ experiment is famous in child development circles. It was first conducted in 1975 and has been replicated many times over since. In it, Dr. Edward Tronick and colleagues showed how after three minutes of “interaction” with a non-responsive expressionless mother, an infant becomes rapidly distressed (the same experiment has been done with fathers with the same result).

The baby makes repeated unsuccessful attempts to get the interaction into its usual reciprocal pattern and withdraws hopelessly when he fails to do so.

In watching the video, you could argue that not only is the baby experiencing a loss of attachment, but he’s also experiencing a loss of agency. We’ll come back to this theme at the end.

It may be helpful to conjure up an image of what engagement looks like in adults. When you go to a movie and you’re at the edge of your seat, gripped by the story and what is about to happen next, that’s engagement.

When you can’t put a book down and when you can’t walk away from a conversation or a radio report, that’s engagement. When you’re intellectually and emotionally committed, when you seek feedback to improve your performance, when you are eager to collaborate with colleagues, that’s engagement.

You’re engaged when you feel like your work is meaningful, and that the organization is doing something significant.

What can babies teach us about employee engagement?

1.      Employee engagement is about connection. Connection is the key. If you’re a manager, elicit ideas from your employees. Improve communication. Facilitate change. Authentic employee engagement involves connection with the work and with the company, but also with others: our peers,  our leaders and ultimately ourselves. It involves a connection to the larger meaning of the work. When we disconnect we disengage. Watch the baby in the video for proof.

2.      Employee engagement is about feedback. Countless studies have found that the vast majority of employees who receive little or no feedback are actively disengaged. Engagement goes up dramatically when employees receive feedback (even when it’s negative!), and even more so when they receive feedback that acknowledges their strengths and supports their development. When you give employees ‘just in time’ feedback, engagement increases. Again, watch how the baby reacts when the feedback loop is cut off by the mother.

3.      Employee engagement is about trust. Trust is the cornerstone of employee engagement. Managers and leaders who consistently work to build trust do so by demonstrating reliability, integrity, loyalty, credibility, transparency and honesty with their staff. They encourage autonomy, buy-in and ownership of ideas, initiatives and decision-making responsibilities. Results-oriented leaders explain the reasons why a decision is not workable, thereby creating a learn­ing environment, which goes a long way to building trust. Trust is the binding agent between the mother and the baby in the video.

To conclude, the three essential and foundational elements above are key to framing any employee engagement program. But a note about the actual design of the program and the importance of employee centered approaches. Employee engagement programs are notoriously inadequate and while many companies have implemented such programs, participation rates are low. Engaging employees has to be done through a bottom-up principle that takes into account the people you are looking to help and tailors a solution accordingly. That is to say, employees must be engaged in their own engagement. In short, they need to be at the center of the design and given agency to drive their own learning and engagement.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other most recent post on why you should work like a consultant.

Best,

Saeed

Most Workers are Unhappy. Here is Why.

May 8, 2017 •  3 minute read • by Saeed


“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

Here are the stats.

According to Gallup organization, only 13% of people are actively engaged in their jobs. That means that 87% of the 230,000 international employees surveyed  were not engaged.

In other words, work is more often a source of frustration than one of fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers!

That’s a staggering number of unhappy workers.

Research through these and other similar surveys, reveals that happiness at work comes down to three fundamentals that if not met lead to unhappy employees and consequently unproductive workplaces.

  1. I feel appreciated at my work

It has famously (and rightly) been said that “employees leave their supervisors not their jobs.” If you leave work every day thinking “My boss doesn’t appreciate me,” you’re not alone. And when the majority of the people in a workplace feel this way, the result is an unhappy workplace. Even though human capital is considered the most important resource workplaces have, most do not encourage a culture of gratitude towards their workers. It makes no sense for companies not to deliberately infuse their cultures, from top to bottom, with an “attitude of gratitude.”

From boss to employee and from peer to peer, gratitude encourages repeat performance and leads to a happier and more productive work place culture.

  1. I am growing at my work

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of workers between the ages of 25 to 34 is only three years. That’s less than a third of the tenure among people aged 55 to 64 years old.

How do those average three years break down? Well, typically in your first year, you are learning the nuts and bolts of the job. In your second, you are creating value and in your third, you are making real impact.  Beyond that, if you’re not learning, then you’re not growing. Beyond those years, people are beginning to develop career inertia. Millennials in particular value growth, learning and professional challenges.

Too many workplaces are asking what can our workers do for us and not asking, what can we do for them. If you are an employer, it is incumbent upon  you to understand what motivates your workforce and how to maintain their engagement. No matter the size of your company, you should be conducting an annual employee engagement survey to understand where the challenges and opportunities are because churn is the eventual death knell of your company’s growth.

  1. I find meaning in my work

This New York Times story on why many hate their jobs tells the tale. In a 2013 survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no “meaning and significance,” and an equal number were unable to relate to their company’s mission. A more recent poll among Brits revealed that as many as 37% think they have a job that is utterly useless.

On the other hand, employees who derive meaning from their work are more than three times as likely to stay. In fact, meaning at work ranked higher than compensation, work-life balance and other variables usually associated with happiness at work.

Employers who are singularly focused on task completion, are missing the opportunity to engage employees in the broader context and meaning of their work and as a consequence driving their employees away. They may be getting work done in the short term, but the cost of turnover, training, and loss of talent is hurting their business in the long term. This is the false economy of productivity.

Here is the bottom line: If your workplace doesn’t value and appreciate you, if it  isn’t challenging you and providing you with opportunities to learn and grow, and if it isn’t fulfilling you, then cut the cord. Your future self will thank you for it.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, be sure to check out another one of my recent posts on how happiness is the wrong pursuit!

Best,

Saeed

 

How To Create Your Own Personal Strategic Plan (a.k.a. Personal Development Plan)

May 1, 2017 • 9 minute read • by Saeed


Companies have strategic plans so why not you?

No matter the technique, any strategic planning process is about getting from Point A to Point B. You do this by first defining Point A (identifying where you are now) and then defining Point B (identifying where you want to be in the future). Then you develop strategies that will be your road map from one point to the next. What follows below is a classic organizational strategic planning technique adapted for personal development.

You’re welcome.

Now, let’s get started. Write down the headings I use below and follow the instructions under each category. Let’s do this.

  1. Vision: the “what”

Your vision statement is your north star – a mental picture of what your future self may look like. As the sun does to a flower, your vision statement should pull you towards your optimal desired future state. It should be inspirational and focused on what you want to achieve over time.

Ikea’s vision is to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

Amazon’s vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

  1. Mission: the “why”

Your mission statement should provide a top-level answer to the essential question: Why do I exist?

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Having a personal mission statement brings clarity and purpose to your life. Employees often can’t remember the company’s mission statement. That’s because they’re usually all-things-to-all-people word salads. A mission statement should be a concise statement of What you do, Who you do it for , and How you do it. Too hard to write or remember? Try creating a mantra or adopt a favorite quote that guides your personal and professional life.

  1. Goals: the “where to”

A goal is a specific target, a destination, an end result or something to be desired. It is a major step in achieving your vision. Ideally, each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (a.k.a S.M.A.R.T.).  You could have one or several goals to achieve your vision: lose weight, gain weight, whatever. A charity might want to increase donations by 20% in one year, or maybe increase community engagement through social media by 10% the next. You get the idea. But remember The Law of Diminishing Returns: The more goals you set, the less likely you are to achieve them. One goal distracts from another, leaving you less likely to accomplish anything. In goal setting, quality, not quantity is what counts.

Finally, take your resources into account as well as those things that might facilitate the achievement of your goals or be a barrier to realizing them.

  1. Strategies: the “how”

This is where the fun begins. Each goal should have 1-3 strategies. This is what you will do to reach your goal.  Be sure to separate the things that must absolutely be done this year, from the things that would be nice to have, but aren’t urgent. Save those for years two and three. For now, just think what concrete action or set of actions needs to be taken tomorrow, to reach your goal?

Our hypothetical charity might create celebrity partnerships to support their programs or invest in optimizing the website to increase online giving. What about you?

  1. Key performance indicators and targets: the “how much”

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure your progress towards your goals. You may have heard the famous management axiom “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Your metrics will ultimately let you know whether or not your strategic plan was effective.

The target is the number you need to reach to achieve your goal. In the examples above, the target is directly integrated into the goal statement: 20% for the increase in donations, 10% for the growth in community engagement.

Let’s look at some examples of personal and professional goals with associated KPIs:

Personal Goals & KPIs:

Goal 1 – Read more: KPI 1 –   # of non-work related books I read each month.

Goal 2 – Exercise more. KPI 2 –  # of times I go jogging each week.

Goal 3 – Play more: KPI 3 –  # of fun things I do every day.

Professional Goals & KPIs:

Goal 1 – Read more: KPI 1 –  # of work related articles I read each week.

Goal 2 – Improve typing skills: KPI 2 –  # of typing classes I attend each month.

Goal 3 – Improve public speaking skills: KPI 3 –  # of presentations conducted each year.

  1. Self-Assessment: the “let’s get real” 

No strategic planning process would be worth its salt without a good Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats  (a.k.a S.W.O.T.) assessment. The first two are usually internal and the second two are usually external.

Printable-SWOT-Analysis-Templates-for-DownloadDraw a grid like the one you see on the left and in the individual quadrants write your:

  • Strengths: the (internal) attributes you possess that will help advance your plan.
  • Weaknesses: the (internal) attributes you possess that will hinder your plan.
  • Opportunities: the (external) conditions that may advance your plan.
  • Threats: the (external) conditions that may hinder your plan.

Strategic inquiry – Now ask:

  • How can I Use each Strength?
  • How can I Stop each Weakness?
  • How can I Exploit each Opportunity?
  • How can I Defend against each Threat?
  1. Putting it all together “the personal strategic plan”

If you did all of the above, you’ve managed to complete a personal assessment, develop a vision for the future, craft goals and related strategies to move towards that future in a systematic way, and establish metrics for your progress. Bravo! Those are all the essential elements of a strategic plan and therefore essential elements of your personal development plan. Now, comes the hard part.

The devil in any plan is always in the execution.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world so feel free to send me a contact request.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other most recent post on how to be successful when you are new on the job.

Best,

Saeed

How To Crush It In The First 90 Days!

April 26, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed


“…there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”Donald Rumsfeld

This is about your first 90 days. The most crucial period on your new job.

Your first 90 days on the job are the most crucial because what you do in the first 90 days can have a potential long term effect on your overall experience at the company.  That’s according to Harvard Business School professor Michael D. Watkins who in his 2013 book, The First 90 Days, outlined how these transition times are critical to ultimate success on the job.

If you’ve been on the job but you’re unhappy, think back to your first 90 days. If you are in your first 90 days, this is your chance to chart a course for one of success.

In brief, you have 90 days to prove that you were worth the trouble the hiring department went through to get you in your new seat. That’s true if it’s a new job and it’s also true if you’re promoted into a higher position at the same job. For this post, we are going to assume that the employer has done their bit in on-boarding you to make sure you have what you need to be successful. Now let’s get to work.

Time is not your friend

But focus and attention is. You need to hit the ground running and figure out what’s what quick. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses. What worked in your last job may not work in this one. You may need to acquire new skills, so acquire them. You may need to build new alliances, so build them. You may need to learn new content. So learn it. You need to know what you know and know what you don’t know. Most importantly, you need to be ready for the things you don’t know you don’t know.

What do you need to know?

In short, everything. But you need to prioritize and focus on what’s important. The tendency is to focus on the technical job skills and not enough on politics. It’s understandable to want to gain mastery over the core components of your new job. But it’s relationships and politics that often take us off track. To start, put together a learning plan. Figure out what’s a top priority and what can wait. Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.  to figure out what’s important and what’s urgent. Do you know the biggest challenges your department or organization is facing? Why is your department or company facing these challenges? Do you know where the opportunities are? How can you find out? Do you know who the key players are; internally and externally?

eisenhower-box

How well do you need to know it?

Here is the thing: You fail because you fail to learn and  you learn by directing your attention towards what you want to learn. It’s not about intelligence. It’s about attention. Like sunlight going through a magnifying glass you have to focus your attention. On what? The essentials. What matters most. What keeps you moving forward or better yet what propels you.  If you put your attention on the wrong things, you’ll always be playing catch up. You’ll create head winds for yourself instead of putting the wind at your back. If you just engage in a flurry of activity and change for change’s sake, you’ll blunder and stymie your progress. If you must fail, then fail fast and fail forward. Learn quickly from your mistakes and press on. Your ideas got you hired. The quality of your execution keeps you hired.  

Momentum, Momentum, Momentum

They say in real estate it’s all about location. In the first 90 days, it’s all about momentum. Here is the wind analogy again: Your job is to get wind in your sails, not tears. Tears hold you back. Wind keeps you moving and even accelerates your journey. Wind =Wins. You need early wins to propel you. To get them, you need to adjust to the culture, adjust to your boss  and get in alignment with where the business is going. Don’t work against the grain. Don’t sail on sand. You need to root out misalignment (in yourself and in others) and address it. If you feel resistance (in yourself and in others), look for the release valve. Be a problem solver. Be a facilitator. Create value. Grease your own runway.

Get To Know the PPL

Unless you are a monk in a cave, work is about relationships. Know what motivates each member of your team. If you have A players, do everything to keep them and get them on your side. They’ll propel you the most. Take time to listen instead of showing off your knowledge and skills. Build credibility before visibility. Be positive.  Be collaborative. Be assertive. And if you’re in a position of power, recognize that direct authority is never enough and never sustainable. You have to build buy-in. You have to build coalitions. Don’t just focus “vertically” on managers above you—also create “horizontal” alliances. Remember, of all the people in the room, 50% will support you; 20% never will, and the other 30% are ‘swing voters.’ Where will you spend your time?

Why 90 days?

It’s a quarter, which is a recognized time frame in the business world. Companies often track how they’re doing based on how much progress they make each quarter. In presidential politics, the fixation with the first 100 days traces its history back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who passed 15 major pieces of legislation during the era of the Great Depression. Presidents have been trying to manage that impossible standard and the expectations surrounding it ever since.

The First 90 Days Are Your Architectural Blueprint

Your first 90 days are when opinions and impressions are formed about you. If you’re late every morning, you’ll be labeled accordingly; if you make mistakes you may be thought of as careless going forward. Reputations, once built, can be tough to break. Be on your best game so you can create the best impressions early and build off of them for the rest of your time. Be mindful that you don’t over-promise and under-deliver.

Harsh Beginning May Mean a Harsh Ending

And if you do all this and still have a harsh startup, don’t just ignore the writing that may be on the wall. You should absolutely try to right the wrongs, give the benefit of doubt, and try to make it work. But also know and be ready for how long that should take and when you should take action if you don’t see improvement in your experience. Statistics tell the story: 20 percent of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment.  That means that one of every five people who start a new job today are likely to have left that job within just three months. And that, may be a good thing.

Invest in your first 90 days. It will pay you back in dividends.

Good luck.