A recent article in the New York Times, “Why You Hate Work,”  shares the results from The Energy Project, a company that probed over 12,000 white collar employees, on their attitudes towards work.

In a sentence:  the more refreshed, valued and connected we are to our work, and the more spiritually connected we our to our purpose while at work, the better we feel and more loyal we are to our organization.

From my own experience as a coach, I can attest that the we LOVE work is to attend to the FOUR CORE NEEDS as outlined by authors:  Renewal, Value, Focus, and Purpose.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What our study revealed is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the four core needs of their employees.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

We often ask senior leaders a simple question: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?”

For the all the discussion recently about stresses in healthcare, physician burn-out and dissatisfaction, it would behoove all healthcare leaders to self assess along these same lines.

In the January-February issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone explore a conundrum in their article, Find the Coaching in Criticism

Feedback is important, and yet, feedback doesn’t work.

More from the article:

 What makes receiving feedback so hard? The process strikes at the tension between two core human needs—the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are. As a result, even a seemingly benign suggestion can leave you feeling angry, anxious, badly treated, or profoundly threatened. A hedge such as “Don’t take this personally” does nothing to soften the blow.Getting better at receiving feedback starts with understanding and managing those feelings. You might think there are a thousand ways in which feedback can push your buttons, but in fact there are only three.

The notion of difficulty recieving feedback is especially important for physicians.  This is a group of high achievers accustomed to “straight As” and being in the top 10% of their classes since high school at least.  Not only do they expect stellar achievements from themselves, they are unaccustomed to a more nuanced and narrative evaluation that many performance reviews present.

Authors Heen and Stone recommend six steps to improving the receiver‘s ability to accept and act on feedback.  Their premise is that it’s incumbent upon the receiver perhaps more than the giver to solicit feedback and coaching in order to improve effectiveness.

I was intrigued by a TED Talk given by  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, who  investigates how people judge each other and themselves.  According to Cuddy, we make judgments along two critical trait dimensions:  warmth/trustworthiness and competence/power.  These visceral judgements then greatly determine outcomes, such as who we promote, who we hire, and — for leaders — who we follow.  The good news is we can help ourselves into a “power and competence” mindset by spending 2 minutes in a “power pose” just before we have to make the pitch, the speech or the debate.

Just stand tall, and take up as much space as possible.  This “power pose” causes our body to manufacture more testosterone and less cortisol.  More than just “faking it” we’ll start to feel more confident and become what we envision we can be.     Our body language not only visually signals “power”  (standing or sitting tall, taking up more space) or “powerless” (shrinking in, folding our arms and legs inward), it physiologically determines our attitude.

I encourage physicians and coaches to watch this intriguing talk by Professor Cuddy:

Physicians, Tap Into Your Potential

The following was an interview I did with Physician’s Practice in 2003, almost 10 years ago!  I think it’s as timely now as it was then.  —- Francine Tap Into Your Potential First published in Physicians Practice July 01, 2003 | Healthcare Careers By Bob Keaveney   An interview with Francine Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, [...]

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