- Mind-engaging work
When was the last time you got so caught up in interesting work that you lost track of time? What were you doing? What was it — about the work itself, how you were going about it, its connection to a greater good — that made this such a wonderfully consuming activity?
- Seeing the fruits of your labor
When you want to see the results of your work, what do you look at? How do you know that your effort is having a positive impact? If you could wave a wand and instantly create a more meaningful system for tracking results, what would it look like?
- Positive problems
John W. Gardner observed, “We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” What is your biggest insoluble problem? What makes it so tough to tackle, and what is the great opportunity that lies within? How would you go about pursuing this opportunity if you divided the challenge into manageable steps?
- Meetings, meetings, and more meetings
How many hours do you spend each week in meetings? How many of these hours are well spent, and how many are wasted? If you could redirect that unproductive time to worthwhile activity, what would you do?
- The voice of the customer
When your customers talk about your organization behind your back, what do you think they say? Who has the highest praise, who is most critical, and why? Now think about your own immediate customers: When they talk about you personally (and you know they do!), what do they likely say?
- The community-individuality balance
What gets greater emphasis in your workplace: teamwork and togetherness, or individuality and diversity? If it’s teamwork and togetherness, does the pursuit of unity prompt people to downplay their differences? If individuality and diversity are the main focus, does the workplace ever feel like a loose collection of conflicting styles and agendas? What can be done to maintain a good balance between unity and uniqueness?
- From passive complaints to positive action
What is your biggest complaint about the workplace? Now, rephrase it in the form of a positive goal. Here’s an example: “I’m tired of busywork. I spend half my day crunching numbers that no one looks at.” Here’s the corresponding positive goal: “I’d like to spend my time on work that relates to our mission and affects our customers. If my number-crunching has real value, I’d like to know exactly how.” After defining the goal, think action: What can you and others do to make it happen?
- Giving and getting respect
Johann von Goethe said, “The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” What did Goethe mean, and how does this play itself out in your workplace? What could be done right now to make respect one of the workplace’s greatest strengths?
- Can we talk?
Is there an elephant in your workplace — a big problem or concern that no one ever talks about? Something that’s well-known to all and in desperate need of dialogue? If so, why is the elephant so unacknowledged? What are the risks of talking about it? What are the potential benefits?
- Empowering yourself
“If I had just a bit more authority at work, I would _____.” Fill in the blank with several actions you’d like to take right now to be more effective in your job. Then explore why you can’t. What’s holding you back? What is the one action you can get started on right now?
Ten Conversations That Can Transform Your Workplace
by Tom Terez
The CEO Refresher
Subject: Organization Questions