#ShowingUp with Anese Cavanaugh

12 Hugs, Cupcakes, and Curiosity Before Assumptions – Another Recipe for Organizational Engagement

Random thoughts this a.m. Thinking about how totally EASY it is to make a positive impact on someone’s energy and the rest of their day. And then how easy it is to create a ripple effect that goes out to those they touch. Thinking also about how much time, energy, money and “task forces” organizations can put into increasing engagement in their companies – which I’m not knocking – I think these are incredibly worthwhile initiatives with really beautiful intentions behind them – AND how ironic it is that the quickest way I know to impact engagement in the organization is just to integrate three key things into your life – more consciously – right now. If, at a minimum, senior leadership in your company starts doing this – really starts doing this, and more consciously – you’ll see a shift in engagement and happiness in your organization – very quickly. Do the rest – do the focus groups and the panels and the task forces, absolutely – but today – right now – start here with these 3 “engagement boosters” – and see what you can do…and how fast you can do it.

1. Acknowledgement and connection: In “Boot Speak” I call this “12 Hugs” (read the paper – opt in on the right – for an explanation of this.) “12 hugs” are about truly acknowledging the human beings you work with and taking the time to connect with them, to fully engage – fully present - with them – if even for 1 minute. An acknowledgement recognizes someone for who they “be” or who they are, while a compliment recognizes someone for what they do or what they’ve done. The acknowledgement cuts to the essence of them as a human being and has an impact of having them feel seen and appreciated. Compliments are great too of course, but acknowledgements, in my experience, are much more powerful. Use what is real for you. Engagement Booster #1: Acknowledge and connect – authentically and with full engagement - and do it often.

2. Bring joy to yourself and your organization – do the little things: I call this “Cupcakes” (again, check out the paper.) Cupcakes are about indulging in those extra things in your life that may seem luxurious or extra and are really not necessary, but boy do they make you feel good. They increase your joy factor, they nurture your body and spirit, they just feel good. The impact? Happy, energized, fulfilled people make better leaders. Better leaders increase engagement naturally by who they are and how they show up. What are cupcakes? Well “cupcakes” can be things like making cupcakes with your kids (this is one of mine), taking an afternoon off, taking a “white space” day to regroup with yourself and your vision, getting a massage, taking a balloon ride, getting yourself flowers or a bottle of good wine, etc…they can be anything – you know what yours are. Go make them. Engagement Booster #2: “Eat your cupcakes” and share them with others too (or not! :-))

3. Replace assumptions with curiosity: Did you get your degree from the University of MSU? My colleague John Foster shared this term with me last year and I thought it was brilliant. The University of Making Stuff Up – most of us have at least one degree from there (present company included!) – some of us have a PhD at that particular institution. We all do it – the trick is to know when we’re doing it and be conscious about what we want to do with it. If you were to do something else to add to positive energy and joy and engagement in your organization – this would be another place to look. Check your assumptions at the door. Check them out. Even better, just don’t make them. As human assumption making machines, I notice often these assumptions tend to lean towards the negative (shocking, right?) What’s interesting to watch is how draining they can be, how much energy they take up, how quickly they ripple out, and how unproductive they are (check it out for yourself – do they help things go right or create more aggravation?) If you must make them – make them work for you (ie. assume good or positive intentions), if you can’t do that, at least check them out. Engagement Booster #3? Bust assumptions and get curious instead.

Just thoughts on a beautiful morning here in St. Charles. What are your thoughts? Chime in…//anese