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Forget YouTube Fame; Social Responsibility is Key To Career Happiness.

career

Forget YouTube Fame; Social Responsibility is Key To Career Happiness.

American children and teens, when asked the age-old question of what they want to be as adults, lean toward careers that could bring personal fame or are just plain fun, rather than those that might contribute to the betterment of society or lead to scientific progress.

“While we’re focused on fame and fun, other countries are emphasizing discipline and a good work ethic,” says Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior.

The latest example came in a survey Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Lego, where American children ages 8 to 12 picked vlogger/YouTuber as their No. 1 career choice. Chinese children, in comparison, overwhelmingly chose astronaut.

The results are similar to a survey Chicago-based market-research company C+R conducted a couple of years ago. American teenagers were asked about career aspirations and the largest percentage, 20 percent, said they want to be an athlete, artist or entertainer.

Mintz says the emphasis on fame – combined with a trend of many employers trying to create a “fun” work environment for employees – is troubling.

“Is this really what success looks like in the U.S.?” he asks. “Can we reasonably be expected to compete with the Chinese in the 21st century by making the workplace fun when the Chinese, who will likely surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy within the next 10 years, have skyrocketed to the top through hard work and discipline?”

But eschewing fun for fun’s sake doesn’t mean employees can’t find happiness at work. Mintz says that is better accomplished by creating a socially responsible workplace, which he says meshes nicely with the passion millennials and Gen Z have for social causes.

Some ways to help employees find happiness and meaning on the job, he says, include:

Establish an ethical culture. Companies should strive to create an ethical workplace culture where employees are encouraged to serve the interests of the company’s stakeholders – customers, clients and suppliers – and to do so ethically, Mintz says. Creating an ethical workplace starts with ethical values: emphasize doing what is right not wrong; doing good things not harmful ones.

Coach employees on the workplace’s values. Company leaders should engage employees in regular discussions about workplace ethics and the procedures that are designed to uphold ethical practices, Mintz says. “Employers must coach employees so they do good by being good, which means commit to ethical values,” he says.

Tap into the social conscience many employees already have. A recent survey reports that nearly one in five business-school students would sacrifice more than 40 percent of their salary to work for a responsible employer. “Some will work for nonprofits where they are committed to the cause,” Mintz says. “Millennials especially seek out purpose in their employment. I believe that’s because each of us is searching for happiness and greater meaning in life and our jobs provide one of the best sources to enhance our well-being.”

“Although there are troubling signs in our society regarding attitudes about jobs,” Mintz says, “I am heartened by other surveys that show millennials and Gen Z really care about what a business does, whether its actions are ethical and trustworthy, and that a purpose-driven culture exists that puts benefitting society front and center in their mission statement.”

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Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo.

culture

Is America’s Corporate Culture In the Dark Ages?

American work habits can seem downright oppressive when viewed from afar.

Various reports and studies show that Americans experience a more burdensome work week than many of their peers abroad, spending interminable hours at the office, wolfing down lunch at their desks, letting vacation days expire unused, and answering emails after hours and on weekends.

It’s practically the dark ages compared to the rest of the civilized world, where 20 to 30 days of vacation are the norm, the maximum length of the work week often is set by law, paid parental leave is mandated, and some countries have even tried to legislate the “right to disconnect” for workers besieged with after-hour emails and phone calls.

This divide between America’s doggedly industrious approach on the one hand, and the less-relentless global approach on the other, might make it seem that a corporate culture developed for a U.S. company would prove a poor fit beyond our borders.

But that’s not necessarily so, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the upcoming Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com).

“Yes, there are differences, but there are also commonalities,” Higgs says. “There are people in every corner of the world who want to serve others, do high-quality work, collaborate closely with others, and have fun while doing it. Where they live or where they’re from has nothing to do with those traits; they come from the person’s character, not his or her nationality.”

Higgs knows from experience. He is a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering, and from 2005 through 2014, Mustang opened several international offices.

“Our first was in Woking, England, about 30 miles southwest of London, and it grew to about 450 people,” he says.

Within the next few years, Mustang added offices in Melbourne and Perth, Australia; Mumbai, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bogota, Colombia; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia; and Norway.

“That’s a lot of different cultures around the world,” says Higgs, who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast, which was named a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes.

Higgs says certain principles that make for a winning corporate culture are universal. Why? Because they all relate to people, and people are the crux of any organization’s success. A few of those principles include:

Open communication is critical. Higgs believes in encouraging employees to speak up if they spot a problem or have a suggestion. A corporate culture that promotes such open communication can work well anywhere in the world, he says, because it spurs people who have a different take on things to share their thoughts. If employees feel comfortable speaking out, that can help a U.S. company operating in a foreign land avoid missteps.

Smart hiring practices make a difference. It’s possible to take a new hire and train them to fit into your corporate culture, but it’s even better to hire people who are a good fit to begin with, Higgs says. “Whatever your values are, you want to make sure the new people you hire share those values, and that’s important both at home and abroad,” he says. A bonus is that, once you bring on good people, they often know other good people and can help you recruit.

A spirit of belonging helps promote a passion for work. People want to belong to something, which is why they buy the jersey of a favorite sports team or bumper stickers supporting a favorite cause, Higgs says. “For some reason, though, this sense of belonging rarely happens where people work,” he says. “But you can go a long way toward making people passionate about their work if you organize activities where they can get to know each other as people, not just coworkers.” In many cultures, people already like to spend time with coworkers outside of work, so for them it comes naturally.

“You really can break down the barriers that some think separate people in different parts of the world,” Higgs says. “Respect their local cultures, but invite them to belong to yours as well.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc., which he and two partners started in Houston, Texas, in 1987 to design and build offshore oil platforms. Over the next 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide; since then, it has grown to a $2 billion company with more than 12,000 people. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship.

culture

Who’s Responsible For Your Company’s Culture? Look In The Mirror, Leaders.

Extensive research has shown that a positive work culture often results in productive employees who both value their work and feel valued themselves.
But company leadership, not the employees, usually creates that culture. Executives and managers have a significant responsibility to establish a positive culture that is conducive to company success.
“Culture can be thought of as the inner life of the organization,” says Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org), an executive coach, performance expert, and author of the book The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room.
“It is the self-sustaining mix of values, attitudes, and behavior that drives performance. Culture is the brand identity of the company, and it has the ability to attract and retain great talent or not. Thus, it’s incumbent on the leaders to be aware of their culture, what they can do to improve it, and honestly assess if it’s the kind of place where people want to be and want to grow.”
Another key reason that company leaders need to make work culture a high priority, Howard says, is because millennials — who comprise the largest segment of the workforce — rank culture as their top consideration when choosing where to work.
Howard offers five ways leaders can foster a positive work culture:
Model positive, respectful behavior. Howard says a positive work culture starts with the leader setting the tone, which can send the right message to leaders at other levels in the company. “Don’t play the blame game,” Howard says. “Encourage an environment where it’s OK to make mistakes and move forward. Frontline staff crave leaders who understand them and care about them, will mentor them, and will provide professional guidance to make fair and tough decisions.”
Show gratitude. “Show your gratitude and appreciation for accomplishments by acknowledging people during a meeting or with a note,” Howard says. “Celebrating wins lifts morale, and when people know they will be recognized for exceptional work, they’ll be more motivated.”
Communicate consistently and with clarity.  “Keep employees in the loop with consistent updates,” Howard says. “Give them regular feedback, not just at review time. This keeps people connected, feeling part of the team, and removes the mystery — and inherent tension — of where they stand. Create clear goals, and make everyone feel that they are necessary components toward reaching those goals. That inspires an environment of inclusion, pride and commitment.”
Really listen. “This is the important other side of communication that some leaders fail to master,” Howard says. “For the leaders underneath you and the employees throughout a company to truly feel valued, they have to know they have a voice and that it will be heard. Be open and encouraging to others’ ideas and solutions.”
Promote collaboration. One of a company leader’s primary jobs is getting the most out of their team — mainly by defining the importance of team. “Maximizing the strengths of a team means knowing each person’s uniqueness and talents and using them in the best possible way,” Howard says. “It also means creating a culture where everyone respects each other’s talents and is enthusiastic about working together for the greater good.”
“Poor culture leads to lots of turnover,” Howard says. “When you as a leader instill and insist on a positive culture, you reap the benefits. Happy, engaged employees mean a thriving company.”
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Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org) is an executive coach, performance expert and the author of The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room. She researched stress and its consequences in performance during her PhD. In the past 20-plus years she has coached thousands of professionals, leaders and executives toward emotional agility and engaged leadership.