Tag Archives: Organizational Culture

Research Refining the Vision of the Future of HR

CEO Perspectives Screen ShotA couple of weeks ago, I published a blog here discussing the revolutionary opportunities Human Resource professionals now have in reshaping their role in the organization.  As a follow up to that blog, I’d like to share a study that was recently published  by The Economist Intelligence Unit entitled, “CEO Perspectives ~ How HR Can Take On A Bigger Role In Driving Growth”.  The study, co-sponsored by Oracle and IBM, surveyed 235 “C” level executives, of which 57% were CEOs.

The study points out two driving trends that are intersecting to fundamentally change the opportunities HR professionals have to elevate their strategic input in organizational success.  First is the rise of knowledge workers, something I’ve been discussing since 2008 when I began writing my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur”.  This reflects the fundamental shift regarding the inputs of value creation in companies.  Human beings, and their creativity, are now the raw material for the creation of commercially viable intellectual property and processes.  This changes everything.

The second relates to the outsourcing of the transactional, historical, administrative functions of HR.  Areas such as payroll, pensions and compliance have been and can be outsourced to third parties and two thirds of companies now outsource some portion of these administrative functions.  This frees up HR to truly reinvent itself to focus on driving the strategic value of talent and ascend to a new level of critical functionality within the organization.

To quote directly from the study, “Unburdened by some of their former responsibilities, HR specialists have a chance to transform their role, exploiting their image as experts in people to place themselves at the heart of the debate on a company’s strategic direction.”  This also has implications that cut both ways.  If HR doesn’t take the necessary steps to impact both the strategic and financial trajectory of the organization they may find themselves marginalized to the point of irrelevance.

CEOs are pulling for HR executives to step up and contribute at a higher level.  The study revealed 55% of CEOs report that HR is a key player in the strategic planning of the organization, yet 70% expressed their desire to see HR take a stronger leadership role in this process.  The door is open.

The study goes on to identify two factors that are holding HR back in capturing this opportunity.  The study states, “Perhaps heads of HR are not being included in strategic planning because doubts linger about whether they have the requisite breadth of business knowledge to participate productively”.  Of the CEOs surveyed, 41% believe their HR executives are “too focused on process and rules” and 37% say they don’t “understand the business well enough”.  This is a perception that I addressed in my previous blog regarding the opportunities to develop one’s own business acumen.

The second constraining factor relates to performance outside the traditional confines of the HR function.  While two thirds of CEOs believe HR performs well in their traditional role, approximately half or fewer think HR is making the grade in talent development, succession planning, or creating a high performance culture.  Another recent survey identified the fact that Board of Directors believe talent management is totally failing to make a positive impact on company performance.  Why is this?  There’s a misalignment in what many HR executives perceive to be the CEOs’ areas of primary concern.  I’ve seen this firsthand in discussion groups of senior HR executives at various conferences…they don’t always understand and appreciate what’s keeping the CEO awake at night.  They would be well served to understand this primary customer’s areas of concern.

What are these concerns?  According to the study, CEOs are worried about (in order of significance):

  1. Insufficient talent within the organization as a whole (56%).
  2. Insufficient leadership talent (43%).
  3. Lack of alignment of individual and business objectives (41%).
  4. Low employee satisfaction (38%).

CEOs have also expressed a need to capture a 20% increase in productivity from existing resources in order to meet current financial and performance obligations (Corporate Executive Board, 2013).  In fact, McKinsey & Co.® recently released a major study that indicates companies will need to achieve a 30% improvement in current productivity in order to maintain the same levels of growth and the standard of living we all enjoyed in the 1960s.

The study makes some suggestions as to how HR leaders can ascend to a more strategic role within the organization.  It comes down to cultivating stronger relationships with the CEO and functional heads by demonstrating insight and competency, ensuring cohesion amongst the leadership team, and taking the initiative and being accountable in this new level of authority and impact on the organization.  These recommendations are less specific than the recommendations I offered in my previous blog, but are very much in alignment.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Experts Discuss the Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business and Education on The Gail Shane Show

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting The Gail Shane Show on WSRQ – Sarasota with, of course, Gail Shane.  The subject of the program explored the critical role Emotional Intelligence competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, Relationship Management skills and Empathy) have on creating and sustaining competitive advantage in business, education, and in our own personal lives.  We were fortunate to have on our panel neurosurgeon Dr. Ravi Rao, the author of “Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness To Grow Earnings And The Economy, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the Principal of the Just For Girls Academy.

I’ve edited the podcast replay into three segments, which you can listen to by clicking the audio players below:

Segment One ~ Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray discuss the neurology of human emotions, leveraging neuroscience to develop engaging and inspirational leaders, and how organizational  mastery of our emotional landscape contributes to competitive advantage, engagement, productivity and business performance (13 minutes).

Segment Two ~ Becky Cannesse and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom discuss how they’re educating the whole child by cultivating empathy, compassion, resiliency, and Emotional Intelligence skills in young girls and how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, conducted by Performance Transformation, LLC™, has contributed to the girls’ development (8 minutes).

Segment Three ~ Ravi, Terry, Gail, Becky and Jennifer discuss methods for teaching emotional awareness skills, how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning accelerates and supports the emergence of Emotional Intelligence competencies, and strategies for cultivating a positive, emotional landscape in organizations, businesses, and families (13 minutes).

Thanks again to Gail Shane, WSRQ – Sarasota, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), our collaborator and host for Equine programs, and Neal Communities, the sponsor, for having us on the air!

© 2013, Terry Murray, The Gail Shane Show.

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Why The Mainstream Leadership Development Industry Has Failed and Will Continue to Fail

A colleague of mine referenced me to an article on the Harvard Business Review® Blog Network over the weekend that she knew I would find of interest.  The blog explored a recent study on the level of dissatisfaction corporate boards were expressing on the failure of Talent Management in the corporations they oversee.  According to the study, and to no surprise, Talent Management is failing miserably in most organizations.  I say to no surprise because Talent Management is the latest offshoot of the mainstream leadership development industry, which has perhaps the most dismal performance record of any professional service industry on the planet.  Over the past twenty years alone, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion (yes, trillion) on leadership development.  Yet, only 1% of executives score excellent in eight key competencies of leadership, 90% score below average (McKinsey & Co®), and employee disengagement has been mired at 70% for over a decade (Gallup®).

As I was reading the blog, and here’s the correlation to today’s subject, I came across another entry on the HBR Blog Network entitled, “Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail” by a gentleman named Peter Bregman.  In the blog, Mr. Bregman states, “Ever since I started teaching leadership on mountaineering expeditions in the  late 80s, the question of how to develop leaders has absorbed me.  I’ve designed and taught everything from one-day team buildings to 20-day wilderness trips, from business school classes to corporate trainings, from simulations to executive leadership courses.”  At the risk of sounding facetious, which is not my intention, I can’t help but wonder if this question that has absorbed him for 25 years might have been answered if he had ever actually been a leader rather than a career teacher of leadership?

It’s strange to me…no other professional discipline has followed such a misguided path.  Medical surgeons, with decades of experience practicing medicine, are called upon to develop and educate the next generation of surgeons.  Senior scientists educate up and coming scientists.  Pilots are trained by experienced pilots.   Yet, next generation business leaders have not, and are not, being educated and developed by experienced business leaders.  They are being trained by career consultants and organizational psychologists.

The irony that runs through Mr. Bregman’s blog would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.  An author of several best-selling books on leadership, he comments, “What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical” and follows on by emphasizing the importance of not getting sidetracked, distracted or losing focus by stating, “And you can’t learn them from reading a book…”

Mr. Bregman’s main point in his blog is to share an apparent epiphany he’s recently had regarding emotional courage.  This, he believes, is the key to successful leadership.  It’s a fair point, and one that was eloquently written about eleven years ago by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky in their seminal book, “Leadership On The Line – Staying Alive Through The Dangers Of Leading“.  Another irony is that this book was published by the Harvard Business School press.  It’s also a lesson I learned personally in my first business managerial role leading a national sales team nearly 25 years ago.

Another supposition in which Mr. Bregman appears misguided is, “The goal of any leadership development program is to change behavior.”  Isn’t that the goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?  Behaviors in the workplace are manifestations of perceptions, orientations and conditioned, neurological responses to emotional stimuli.  This focus on behaviors is just what one would expect by psychologists.  It’s what they know, so it’s what they do.  Shouldn’t the goal of leadership development be to improve business performance by imparting leaders with the tools and adaptive thinking skills necessary to communicate, engage and inspire others to perform at their best?  Isn’t the goal to develop nascent leaders’ ability to lead in any circumstance?

The final kicker in Mr. Bregman’s blog is his mea culpa, “By that measure, most of what I’ve done – and what I’ve seen others do – has failed.”  He goes on to add, “Here’s why: We’re teaching the wrong things in the wrong ways.”  Wow, that’s an amazing statement to read on an HBR blog.  I cannot help but wonder how Mr. Bregman’s past clients feel about the fact that he’s admitting his work, of which I’m sure he’s charged handsomely for, has been a decades long experiment trying to figure out for himself how to develop leaders?  And this grand experiment in leadership development has proven one thing…both Mr. Bregman and the mainstream leadership development industry still has a lot to learn about leadership.

I didn’t write this to personally take Mr. Bregman to task.  This is, however, highly indicative of what’s wrong with the leadership development industry.  Leadership, as Mr. Bregman says himself, cannot be learned from a book.  It must be experienced, first hand, and evolve over time under the tutelage of a seasoned leader.  Unfortunately, there are very few seasoned leaders in the leadership development industry.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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The Revolutionary Future of Human Resources

When many of us first embarked upon our professional careers, few if any disciplines had the opportunity to truly reinvent their organizational roles on the fly.  Things were fairly steady, moving forward at a relegated pace, keeping stride with what, at the time, was the revolutionary influx of information technology.  While the support tools were evolving, sales was still sales, finance was still finance, and HR was still HR.  Turning our contemporary lens back onto those bucolic days of the 80s and 90s now has the feel of looking back into the archeological record of some ancient civilization.

Things have change.  Really changed.  Not just on the surface, but deep into the very essence of what business now does in its never ending pursuit of value creation.

During the Industrial Age, value was created through the exploitation of cheap and abundant raw materials, the organization of specialized labor (think assembly lines), and the application of capital.  Industrialists like Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan helped usher in the golden age of the corporation.  Economies of scale, vertical integration, corporate finance and sophisticated marketing methodologies took root and flourished.  Great sales people ascended to dizzying heights.  These were the tools and drivers of their time.

The Information Age, the precursor of today, breathed new life into tiring, threadbare methodologies of management and organizational development.  Information technology enabled the aging structures to shed overhead and secure gains in productivity, while the very essence of their fundamentals were quietly slipping away beneath their feet.  Resource constraints, environmental concerns, the first waves of globalization, and labor strife were all taking their toll during the 1970s, right at the threshold of the coming IT revolution.  Those of you old enough will remember the gas lines, stagflation and the emergence of the Rust Belt that marked the close of the decade.

While the internet, cloud computing, and Big Data all offer productivity promise, the very source of value creation has shifted dramatically over the past thirty years.  In today’s economy, value is created through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property (IP).  The assembly lines of the past have been supplanted by teams of knowledge workers.  Multi-cultural, multi-generational workers that are often dispersed around the globe.  The new raw material of our age is human creativity and the human beings that bring their creativity to life.

The implications are far reaching, but the opportunities are even greater, especially for the professionals in Human Resources and Talent Management.  The fact of the matter is, what was once perceived by senior leadership as overhead, a department that was saddled with risk management and often derided as a necessary evil that slowed things down, is now center stage in the value creation equation.

With this unprecedented opportunity for unleashing remarkable productivity gains (Gallup® once again, for the 12th year running, reported employee disengagement levels hovering at 70%) comes equally remarkable challenges for HR.  While the source of value creation has shifted, the political capital HR requires in their new role has lagged behind.  Chances are, this political capital wont be philanthropically handed over by the Sales and Marketing folks; it simply isn’t in their nature.  But the fierce competitors must inevitably give sway to the fierce collaborators if companies are to maintain their competitive advantage in rapidly changing markets.

So HR professionals are left to blaze a new trail, to build their voice at the strategic table of senior management.  The challenge is, where are the forbearers?  Where are the pioneers to whom we can look for guidance and methods to set this new standard?  You’ll find them in the mirror.  It’s you, and it’s your time to step up and lead.

Having been on the forefront of this revolution for the past five years, I’d like to share a few thoughts as you embark on the first steps of this new journey:

  1. Cultivate your business acumen.  Tap into the thought leaders beyond the traditional practice of HR (i.e. The McKinsey Quarterly®, the Harvard Business Review®, and people like Dan Ariely, Daniel Goleman and Rich Davidson).  Tap into the many entrepreneurial voices heard through blogs and the unadulterated business press of the internet.  Find a senior mentor from outside HR and learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can about both the new and evergreen fundamentals of business.
  2. Invest in your leadership competencies.  Not the old command-and-control philosophies, but methods based upon transformational and service leadership.  It is values-driven leadership that resonates with today’s multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce.  And it is intrinsic values that resonate (i.e. authentic relationships, purposefulness, being of service and a part of something bigger than one’s self) in today’s world.  Leveraging extrinsic values alone (i.e. money, power, prestige) is an artifact of the past (and a contributing factor to endemic employee disengagement).
  3. Look for integrative solutions that drive insights.  Today’s business world is faced with accelerating complexity.  One-off, simple solutions are no longer capable of bridging the growing performance gap.  The solutions to today’s adaptive challenges lie in the convergence of seemingly disparate disciplines (i.e. the convergence of neuroscience, applied behavioral economics, emotional intelligence, leadership development, creativity science, and advanced analytics).
  4. Build metrics into every HR initiative.  This is crucial in gaining a respected voice at the leadership table.  Sales is transactional and easily measured.  Human creativity, collaboration, leadership development, and innovation precursors require a bit more thought to construct meaningful metrics.  But these metrics are there if you look, and be sure to ask every HR vendor for their metrics as well.  If they shy away from measuring their own impact on the business, find vendors willing to step up and be accountable.
  5. Be prepared to take some risks.  This is the threshold, the point at which you will either embark on what famed author and scholar Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Journey or fall back into the staid definitions of the past.  Here’s the thing, if you follow the first four steps of advice, the risks will be measured, rational, and justifiable.  Those are risks worth taking and those are risks one survives.

We’re truly working and living in unprecedented times.  The HR profession has arrived at a nexus.  The opportunities for those bold enough to redefine themselves and their role within the organization will enjoy equally unprecedented success.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ Announces Change In Open-Access Policy For Methodologies and Intellectual Property

Due to a recent upswing in plagiarism, copyright violations, and the theft of intellectual property for commercial gain, Performance Transformation will curtail their standing, five year policy of open knowledge sharing.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ VENICE, Fla. — Performance Transformation, LLCTM (Venice, FL) announced today a change in their longstanding, open-access policy for the sharing of their knowledge systems, methodologies, and intellectual property.

“It’s unfortunate, but I suppose it’s a sign of our times.  Information should be open and new ideas and insights should be encouraged to move freely.  That’s the reason for copyrights as well as patents.  Patents are open for review by anyone looking to improve upon the patent.  Just like patent infringement, plagiarism is theft,” commented Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation, a leading firm in the development and delivery of high performance leadership and enterprise performance insights and solutions. “The plagiarism and copyright violations have been growing incrementally over time. The recent theft of our copyrighted intellectual property, by a major, multi-national corporation, caused us to rethink and retool our policy. We will continue to share our intellectual property, as we strongly believe in the 21st Century business value of transparency, open collaboration, and the free flow of ideas as the propagating seeds of innovation. We will just reign it in a bit by implementing a chain of custody trail to those that seek to access our ideas and insights.”

Founded in 2008, Performance Transformation has developed and delivered highly innovative experiential learning programs and strategies for both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Through their recent partnering with Talent SprocketTM, LLC (St. Petersburg, FL) they are the first leadership and enterprise performance firm to incorporate advanced, machine learning into their approach. Talent Sprocket incorporates sophisticated algorithms to deliver Predictive Human AnalyticsTM, a major step forward in the rapidly growing, talent management arena. The combination of Performance Transformation’s proprietary, developmental approach and Talent Sprocket’s analytical capabilities delivers concise, return on investment metrics for leadership development, a very unique benefit in the industry.

“Everybody claims to be an expert today, especially in the field of leadership development,” added Terry. “When we look at the research data, it’s quite obvious there are very, very few effective leadership development companies delivering viable solutions and value in the market. Corporations and institutions have invested nearly $1 trillion over the past twenty years in behaviorally-based leadership development programs. The ROI is pitiful, representing perhaps the worst, collective investment companies have made over the past two decades.”

The Gallup® Company’s recent, annual survey on the State of the American Workplace once again pegs employee disengagement at 70%. This figure has remained stagnant for more than a decade. McKinsey® published a study less than two years ago that demonstrated only 1% of executives scored excellent in eight key leadership competencies. Ninety percent scored below average.

Terry is the author of “The Transformational Entrepreneur”, which was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012. Performance Transformation’s pro bono program, “Warriors in Transition”, was formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010. The program imparts leadership and resiliency skills in combat veterans working to successfully navigate the transition home. It has also

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been employed extensively for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress to support Post Traumatic Growth.

“What would our economy, companies and nation look like today if these traditional approaches to leadership development had actually delivered on their promise? It’s why we come armed with a validated, neurologically-based approach grounded in the needs of the individual as well as the business, build skills around tangible business outcomes, and hold ourselves accountable with our analytics capabilities. We’re determined to make a change.”

In addition to publishing his book in 2011, Terry has written and published more than 300 articles and blogs, openly sharing his wisdom, knowledge and expertise. He is a frequent guest of the media and a sought after speaker for professional conferences and symposia.

“Congruency is such a part of our philosophy and we believe in giving forward and openly contributing to support positive change in our society and communities,” said Terry. “Capitalism can be, and should be, a force for good. When business leaders embrace this perspective, it resonates with today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational, global workforce. Enormous productivity gains and value is lying quietly, just beneath the surface in many companies and organizations. Our approach is proven to capture and leverage that value, driving remarkable, breakthrough business results. We simply will no longer subsidize individuals and corporations that don’t share in our honesty and authenticity.”

For more information on Performance Transformation, please call (941) 485-7428.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

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Five Steps for Solving the Endemic Employee Disengagement Crisis

The Gallup Company® just released their annual report, The State of the American Workforce ~ 2013, and once again, employee engagement levels are woefully low.  Sadly, this isn’t news.  This has been consistently reported upon for at least ten years.  Addressing employee engagement represents the most cost effective way a company can improve productivity and profitability.  Here’s a few strategies that can make a difference in a few short months.

It’s an issue we’ve been discussing for years.  In fact, one of my earliest blogs on this site explored this very topic.  While we speak with business leaders and HR executives every day, we hear them expressing their desire to improve on collaboration, innovation, productivity and performance.  None of these objectives can emerge without first engaging the workforce, both cognitively and emotionally.  Yet, for some reason, the disconnect remains.  The recent Gallup study identifies only 30% of employees are engaged, 20% are actively disengaged (meaning their spreading discontent and working at cross purpose with their employers…actually destroying value), and 50% are disengaged, meaning they’re sleepwalking through their day.  Our additional research identifies the fact that upwards of 50% of many firms’ payrolls, their single largest expense line, is delivering little to no return on investment.

When we consider that in today’s New Economy, value creation in business emerges through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property, we must understand that human beings are the new raw material of production.  Now, if Henry Ford had been experiencing a scrap rate of 50% on steel, his raw material of the day, I think he would have found his way down to the factory floor and addressed it in relatively short order.  Yet, the Gallup study reveals this endemic situation has been steady since 2001.  Eleven years of leaving value lying fallow on industries’ floor.

How important is this issue for businesses, hospitals and our economy overall?  Let’s take a look…

The Business Case for Employee Engagement ~

Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.

For a small to medium size company, with 100 employees averaging (on the low end) $45,000 in salary and benefits, actively disengaged employees are costing the business owner $1,350,000 in wasted compensation and, conservatively, another $500,000 in destroyed productivity of fellow associates.  Giving the sleepwalkers the benefit of the doubt, that they’re contributing something at least half of the time, are also costing the business owner $1,125,000 in wasted compensation.  As a business owner, can you afford to keep tossing approximately $3 million a year out the window?

Looking at the comparisons between companies in the top quartile of reported engagement, versus those in the bottom quartile of engagement, higher engaged firms:

~ Score 10% higher in customer ratings

~ Are 22% more profitable

~ Have 65% lower turnover rates

~ Enjoy 37% lower absenteeism

~ Incur 48% fewer safety-related accidents

~ Experience 28% lower shrinkage

~ Create 41% fewer quality defects

~ Hospitals incur 41% fewer patient safety incidents

After twenty five years of leadership experience, in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings, and five years of research, application and validation of our philosophy and approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™, we know how to solve employee disengagement in five, relatively easy, and very cost affordable steps (you’ll actually lower your training and development expenses by following our suggestions while unleashing remarkable breakthroughs in productivity, creativity and innovation):

mckinsey-quarterly-right-leaders-image-0031.) Address the broken, traditional leadership development approach.  Over the past 20 years, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion in leadership development programs.  The results?  Thanks to Gallup’s study, we’re staring them right in the face…and McKinsey & Company reported in July, 2011 only 1% of “C” level and “one-step down” executives scored excellent in eight key leadership competencies.  Nearly 90% scored below average.  Leadership development based in the theories of behavioral psychology simply don’t work.  If you disagree, please show me the proof.  We must migrate to an approach based in neuroscience to address the underlying causation of behaviors in the workplace.  We must conduct leadership development around tangible business outcomes.  Experiential learning and immediate application, framed by an educationally-based coaching process is essential.  Demand a clear ROI to be reported on every developmental investment from your vendors.

2.) Help HR bring their focus and practices into the landscape of the 21st Century.  While line management is playing to win, based upon their historical charter of responsibilities, HR has little choice but to play not to lose.  Due to this, many HR practices have naturally evolved to be highly risk-averse at a time when boldness and leadership is most needed.  As an example, traditional Diversity & Inclusion training (another $8 billion per year expense with no discernible ROI) is archaic and typically a vacuous exercise lacking context, strategic communication, or business application.  D&I training needs to transform into Collaboration & Innovation learning.  We’re already diverse (companies are very multi-cultural and multi-generational, but still far too homogenous at the senior levels), but real inclusion cannot emerge without engagement.  Also, resist automating misaligned HR practices still rooted in the Industrial Age with Talent Management systems that are little more than CRM platforms turned inward.  First, process map your procedures and competency models to see if they’re actually in alignment with the rapidly changing needs of the business.  Then, and only then, migrate to systems that enable predictive analytics through the use of machine learning technology.  It is through this application that insights into the future will emerge rather than simply accelerating and duplicating the broken processes of the past.

3.) Stop spending money on foolish Team Building workshops.  Get down off the ropes courses, stop building toy boats in resort swimming pools, put the paint gun pistols down, and leave the trust falls to adolescent summer camps where they belong.  Many of these so-called team building activities are exclusionary to older workers, workers that may have physical limitations, or workers that have differing cultural concerns.  Want to cultivate collaborative behaviors?  Focus on cultivating relationship-based skills (i.e. Emotional Intelligence) and only conduct Team Building within the direct and immediate context of the business.  Invest in employee development using meaningful and science-based learning modalities.  The recent discoveries from the neurosciences provides us with rich insights into what truly matters and provides us with a roadmap for sparking lasting, meaningful neurological change in perspectives and orientations of one’s self, of others, and how we can engage in positive communication and open collaboration.

4.) Create an organizational culture that embraces and celebrates intrinsic values (authentic relationships, purposefulness, personal and professional development, being a part of something larger than one’s self, service to others) over extrinsic values (money, power, prestige).  Intrinsic values are core to human happiness while extrinsic values are anchored in culture and conditioning.  We were all born to care for one another; it’s part of our primary survival mechanism.  No other mammal on the planet is born more vulnerable or develops more slowly than human beings.  Without empathy and compassion, our natural, inborn attributes that enabled us to evolve over the past 80,000 years, we never would have survived as a species.  Leveraging intrinsic values engages the entire human continuum, transcending the superficial differences of cultural perspectives and generational orientations.

5.) Align and optimize transformational leadership, enlightened strategy and a highly engaging and inclusive organizational culture.  This is the primary theme of my book, The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success, published in February, 2011.  Companies that thrive follow this path.  This isn’t conjecture, the book provides historical facts and was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012.

It truly is this straight forward.  But if you want to thrive, and going forward, simply survive in business, the first step is up to you.  You have to want to make the change, awaken and take a few steps forward, and stop simply talking about it.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Research Demonstrates Efficacy of Cultivating Emotional Intelligence with Nurses Through Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

Back in 2009 we introduced, “The Emotionally Resilient Nurse”, a relationship-based, equine facilitated experiential learning program designed specifically to cultivate Emotional Intelligence(EI) competencies in nurses.  This program came right on the heels of our pro bono program, “Warriors in Transition”, designed to help combat veterans and their families wrestling with PTSD, and quite often PTSD/TBI.  For anyone participating in or monitoring our warriors program, the efficacy was remarkably apparent.  Sleep patterns improved, agitation levels diminished, and family relationships improved almost overnight.  The program, which we’ve helped to introduce in six states, was formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010.

Having worked in the health care field for two decades, I had personally witnessed the challenges nurses face on a daily basis.  Their environment is emotionally toxic and they are constantly walking a tightrope, without a net, of expressing authentic empathy through healthy, professional boundaries.  It is not a task for the faint of heart.  Having witnessed the success of our approach with combat veterans, migrating this approach into acute care hospital settings, specifically designed for other front line professionals, seemed like a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, at the time, hospital administrators were still laying off nurses to cut costs.  In the very short term, this may have helped the bottom line, but over time, lowering staffing levels only exacerbated the costly problems of nurse burnout, high turnover rates (the Florida Nurses Association reports that it costs a hospital an average of $64,000 to backfill an open nursing position.  Extrapolated across the nation, this problem adds approximately $17 billion in hard dollar costs to the health care delivery system, adding absolutely no value whatsoever.) and perceptions of quality of care with patients and their families.

As we do with the development of all of our programs, we dove into the peer-reviewed, published research on the effects of cultivating emotional intelligence in nurses on the delivery system.  Here’s a snapshot of what we discovered:

    • Patient satisfaction is a widely recognized measure of medical care quality and a predictor of several positive consequences for organizations and patients (e.g. patient adherence to treatment regimens, fewer malpractice suits, hospital employees’ satisfaction, and financial performance).2
    • Compassionate behavior is threatened by technological concerns and economic constraints.3 “Continually, we experience situations where patients received excellent technical care but, when the emotional side of their care was not met, they believed that their care was inadequate”.4
    • By understanding the patients’ emotions, and being more empathetic, nurses are more able to understand the values, worries, and fears of patients. They are more apt to automatically connect with patients, appreciate the patients’ perspectives, understand the impact of their actions, understand and satisfy patients’ needs5 and respond appropriately.6
    • Nurses need to interpret and understand how patients feel, to ascertain their motives and concerns, and demonstrate empathy in their care. They also need to understand and manage their own emotions, not just for high quality care, but for their own self-protection and health as well.7
    • Nurses capable of a self-reflective process become aware of their own emotions.  When nurses recognize their own feelings they are more likely to manage them and communicate in appropriate ways.8
    • Non-verbal interactions play a vital role in nurse-patient perceptions.  The non-verbal interactions include patient-directed eye gaze, affirmative head nod, smiling, leaning forward, touch, and instrument touch.9
    • Emotional Intelligence in nursing leads to more positive attitudes, greater adaptability, improved relationships, and increased orientation towards positive values.10
    • Emotional Intelligence has a positive impact on nursing team cohesiveness and patient/client outcomes.11
    • Emotional Intelligence minimizes the negative stress consequences of nursing.12
    • Emotional Intelligence is important in managing stress and reducing nurse burnout.13
    • Emotional Intelligence is an important characteristic for building successful nursing leadership, enhancing nursing performance, and reducing nurse burnout.14
    • Emotional intelligence scores in clinical staff nurses correlate positively with both performance levels and retention variables. Clinical staff nurses with higher emotional intelligence scores demonstrate higher performance, have longer careers, and display greater job retention.15
    • Emotional Intelligence should be integrated into the nursing profession by a model of transformational learning for nurse education.16

It seemed as if we’d made a fairly strong case for how cultivating the soft skills in nursing could save hard dollars in health care.  Unfortunately, we were in hindsight, more that a bit ahead of our time.  With the coming of HCAHPS, and the effect these patient satisfaction surveys will have on 30% of a hospital system’s reimbursements from the Medicare, perhaps it is time to revisit the value this approach represents.  An approach that is capable of delivering an ROI that soars into the thousands of percent.

Adding to the evidence, a pilot study has just been conducted and released from the University of Kentucky that warrants attention.  The study, authored by Patricia Dyk, and Robyn Cheung, et al, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses“, demonstrates statistically signifiant improvements in Emotional Intelligence competencies with nurses employing this approach.  This comes as no surprise to us, as we’ve been traveling the United States for the past four years, conducting our evidence-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, seeing consistent, reproducible results in very challenging populations.

The fact is, we’ve crossed a threshold into a period of adaptive challenges.  Unprecedented challenges that require unprecedented solutions.  The complexity of the challenges institutions and enterprises face today will require the integration of seemingly disparate disciplines and methodologies in order to find sustainable solutions.  One thing’s for certain, investing in our nurses would be a major step forward in improving the health care delivery system in the United States.

Copyright 2013, Terry Murray.

 1.)  Daniel Goleman, (1995).  “Emotional Intelligence”, Bantam Books, New York, NY.

2.)  Gesell, S.B. & Wolosin, R.J., (2004).  Inpatients’ Rating of Care in 5 Common Clinical Conditions. Quality Management Health Care, 13(4), 222-227.

3.)  Godkin, J. & Godkin, L., (2004).  Caring Behaviors Among Nurses:  Fostering a Conversation of Gestures. Health Care Management Review, 29(3), 258-267.

4.)  Kerfoot, K., (1996).  The Emotional Side of Leadership:  The Nurse Manager’s Challenge.  Nursing Economics, 14(1), 59-62.

5.)  Ibid., 59-62.

6.)  Vitello-Ciccui, J.M., (2003).  Innovative Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence.  Nursing Management, 24(10), 28-34.

7.)  McQueen, A.C.H., (2004).  Emotional Intelligence in Nursing Work.  Journal of Advanced Nursing, 47(1), 101-108.

8.)  Ibid., 101-108.

9.)  W. Caris-Verhallen, (1999).  Effects of Video Interaction Analysis Training on Nurse-Patient Communication in the Care of the Elderly.  Patient Education and Counseling, Volume 39, Issue 1, 91-103.

10.)  Kristin Akerjordet & Elisabeth, (2007).  Emotional Intelligence: A Review of the Literature with Specific Focus on Empirical and Epistemological Perspectives. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 16(8); 1405-1416.

11.)  Quoidbach & Hansenne, (2009).  The impact of trait emotional intelligence on nursing team performance and cohesiveness.  Journal of Professional Nursing, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp. 23 – 29.

12.)  Montes-Berges & Augusto, (2007).  Exploring the Relationship Between Perceived Emotional Intelligence, Coping, Social Support and Mental Health in Nursing Students.  Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 14 (2);163-171.

13.)  Linda Gerits, Jan J. L. Derksen, & Antoine B. Verbruggen, (2004).  Emotional Intelligence and Adaptive Success of Nurses Caring for People with Mental Retardation and Severe Behavior Problems.  Mental Retardation: 42, (2); 106-121.

14.)  Vitello-Ciccui, Joan M., (2002).  Exploring Emotional Intelligence:  Implications for Nursing Leaders.  Journal of Nursing Administration.  32(4):  203-210.

15.)  Codier, Estelle PhD, RN; Kamikawa, Cindy MSN, RN, NE-BC; Kooker, Barbara M. DrPH, APRN, NEA-BC; Shoultz, Jan DrPH, MPH, (2009).  Emotional Intelligence, Performance, and Retention in Clinical Staff Nurses.  Nursing Administration Quarterly:  October/December, Volume 33, Issue 4, 310-316.

16.)  Dawn Freshwater & Theodore Stickley, (2004).  The Heart of the Art:  Emotional Intelligence in Nurse Education.  Nursing Inquiry. 11(2); 91-98.

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