Blog

by Dr. Russ Ouellette, Managing Partner, Sojourn Partners

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Our way of relating to each other seems to have slipped backwards a little. To know this, all I have to do is look at my Facebook feed.

Several years ago, my partners and I wrote a book (The Future of Everything: Strategies for Successful Business Behavior, 2015) that considered what organizations would look like and how they would work in the future. Based on research of past organizational theory, current social and business trends, and some formal research we did regarding relationships in the workplace, we discovered that our collective future really depends on how we all behave and relate. We also held several focus groups with different leaders asking them to articulate the best practices that worked well for them in their companies and forecast what they think their companies needed. The result was a very optimistic design of what work could be like in the future if we continued on our current organizational evolutionary track.

The outcome of all this playing and thinking was a vision for leaders, employees, partners, suppliers, etc. to behave better together with respect, trust and authenticity.  Seems obvious. We have great concepts being practiced like emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and mindfulness. And, it seems that the world was moving in that same direction. People were talking about big things like sustainability, inclusivity, education, change, creating great cultures at work that support the whole person - not just the one that shows up for a job. 

We were further encouraged by the millennial generation and how they approached their personal and work life as part of a greater community. The social tools they were creating and how they were incorporating these tools at work. The world was shifting too, paying attention to climate change, new methods of energy production, shared international trade and big solutions to sustain our cultures and our planet. All indications were that the future of everything depended on all of these things coming together through people working well together. We seemed to be evolving in a positive way.

For every positive opportunity, there is also a risk. During and after the recent events, like Brexit and our presidential election, it seemed as though all of these variables mentioned above were now working against us. Have we really created a sustainable environment for progress, inclusivity and great organizational cultures? Or has identity politics and the us-versus-them mentality so ingrained in the human condition that we can't find our way out of it?

Being an optimist I believe that we have positively evolved in our society and will continue to do so. All of these new realities of generation, demographics and social methods are working themselves out. To grow requires failure and setback, eventually leading reasonable people to adopt better methods and practices. As we learn to consume news, relate better, and share information, we will be compelled again to work together. For this to happen, we must demonstrate the thinking and behavior that we want to see in our society. We need to listen to each other, learn how to disagree, get more involved, be as engaged as we can, and always act with respect. So while we push back, lets do it respectfully, authentically and trust that those who we don’t agree with will eventually meet us somewhere in the future.

We must continue to move towards sustainability at work and in the world, creating positive relationships with those people we engage with inside and outside our companies. We will collaborate, innovate, and eventually find we can move forward using positive attributes to build, sustain and maintain great relationships at work. The future we want is still at hand, we just need to stay engaged in making it happen.

Dr. Russ Ouellette is the managing partner of Sojourn Partners, a Bedford-based executive leadership coaching firm.
He can be reached at (603) 661-4178 or
russ@sojournpartners.com. He can also be twittered @RussOuellette or Facebooked –Sojourn Partners.

 

by Mike Bellamente

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Back in the early aughts, circa 2004, the term social media was born thanks in part to a revolutionary new platform called MySpace.

Since then a lot has happened.  

If you’re in your 40’s (like me), today’s social media landscape often provides more questions than answers, and regularly leaves you scratching your head in curious wonderment (or wonderful bewilderment).  How can a person remain relevant, let alone a business, with so many social media outlets to choose from?  Which ones do I need to keep updated and current in order to effectively engage my audience?  At what point does managing social media begin to offer diminishing returns? 

For the business community, many of these questions can be answered by what message you’re trying to convey and to whom.   Moreover, a company’s social media strategy should be in lock-step with your overall marketing and sales strategy, and therefore, should be beholden to the same level of metrics and data analysis to determine whether the resources devoted to managing social media (both human resources and financial) are providing an adequate return on investment. 

While it used to be enough for a company to take a scattershot approach to social media, rapid changes in the algorithms and revenue generation models of platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have turned the once soft approach to social media into a cold, hard science.  No longer is it simply the sheer amount of posts that will keep your company in the public eye; on the contrary, blindly posting irrelevant material is more likely cause your profile rankings to tank.  

To that end, I have put together the following bullets that will hopefully offer some insight to this ever-evolving space that can be the source of ongoing frustration to the uninitiated:

  • Begin with Benchmarking:  if this your first crack at developing a social media strategy that suits your business, start by assessing what competitors in your industry are doing and replicate their success and avoid their failures.  
     
  • Identify your Target and Aim for the Middle:  if your target demographic is business professionals aged 35-50, developing a Snapchat channel for 15-year-old high-schoolers will get you nowhere.  Getting that micro-second of attention span from people who will actually buy your product or service is difficult enough, so it is more than worth your while to research which platforms your potential customers are actually using from the outset.
     
  • Budget Matters:  whether you’re a mom and pop restaurant or a $10 million-dollar company, have an idea of what you’re willing to spend on the front end and stick to it until you have enough data to make an informed decision on how to proceed, which brings me to my next point…
     
  • Data Drives Decision-Making!  While you may have a grandiose plan in place on January 1 that you think will serve the company well for the entire year, you’re probably wrong.  Don’t be afraid to assess the fruits of your labor on a monthly or quarter-by-quarter basis and be willing to pivot quickly if the data tells a different story than your expectations.  Be nimble.  If something appears to be working, double down.  If something’s not, scrap it and dedicate resources elsewhere.
     
  • Be Genuine in your Approach:  regardless of what kind of business you’re in, your BRAND is meant to tell a story that elicits a reaction.  Don’t be afraid to push the envelope of creativity and thought leadership.  It is more admired to stand for something, than nothing at all. If you step back and find that the language and tone of your social media messaging is banal and “salesy”, your intended audience will probably become loathe to hear what else you have to say. 
  • Developing a Following Takes Time:  don’t be discouraged if you’ve decided to launch a new company profile on Twitter and you only garner 30 followers in the first month.  If you’re not tweeting as much as POTUS: A) that’s probably a good thing and B) it’s going to take a while to develop a dedicated following.  Keep in mind though, once you convince a person to follow you or like your stuff, they will likely remain a follower for life. 
     
  • Interconnectedness and the Beauty of Recycling:  content is king, as any social media guru will tell you.  The key, though, is to make sure any original content is adding value and that your optimizing that value by sharing it in multiple locations.  If you feel you have knowledge to give to the world or simply a fresh perspective on a timely subject, turn it into a blog on your website, then add it to your newsletter and share it across your social media platforms.  Because people digest information in different ways, this gives one piece of subject matter multiple lives, each time driving traffic back to your website or specified landing page.  If you feel you don’t have time to share your own perspective, there’s nothing wrong with inviting thought leaders to write guest blogs or even sharing content that already exists, so long as you credit the author and maybe even give them a shout out.  People like praise, especially when it’s directed at them.   

So, there you have it in a nutshell.  The unsolicited ravings of a forty-something on a subject that could probably be better interpreted by his 5-year-old daughter.  Hey, you asked for it. 

Oh wait. No you didn’t.

Mike is the owner of the Green Alliance, founder of PeakAdvisory.Co, and idea guy behind the forthcoming Naked Bullfrog.

 

Member Feature:  a conversation with Eli Emerson, Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC

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For those of us who grew up in the 1980’s there is a deep affinity for the music and movies of that decade—Flashdance, Footloose and Purple Rain toname a few. Beyond these cultural references there were other things underway, including small businesses that were started to help the communities in which they were based.  We spoke with Elijah Emerson, Shareholder of Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, recently to learn about the firm’s history and where they are heading looking forward. Eli is an attorney in the firm’s Littleton office and whose focus is energy, an area that is growing as things evolve in that field.  He focuses on helping clients develop locally-sited renewable energy projects that also help reduce client and New Hampshire’s energy footprint.

Primmer itself has roots that go back to 1982, when it began as a boutique corporate/regulatory law firm by John Primmer, Bill Piper and Denise Deschenes in St. Johnsbury, VT. They primarily provided corporate, securities and regulatory legal services to insurance companies, financial institutions and public utilities.

In response to client’s increased legal needs the firm continued to grow in both their team and expertise, merging with Eggleston & Cramer in 2006 which expanded their presence into NH with an office in Littleton. This merger brought a whole new complement of expertise to the firm including state-wide corporate, tax, estate planning, bankruptcy, commercial, regulatory and health care practice. Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC continued its growth through the addition of notable lawyers from the Wiggin & Nourie law firm, creating a Manchester and Portsmouth presence, and most recently expanding their geographic presence with offices in Camden, Maine and Washington, DC.

They now find themselves in 7 geographic areas in New England with over 24 practice areas, which gives them the ability to draw on diverse experience and expertise depending on a client’s needs. Eli shares that  the firm is in a unique position to address clients’ needs from a holistic perspective, drawing on the knowledge and resources within their diverse firm versus the need to outsource. There are practice areas that will always be important to their clients—corporate, wills and estate planning for example. What has been interesting to the team are the new areas that are evolving around energy, new technologies and cyber security.  

When we asked Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer why they joined our organization, Eli shared that given the firm’s growing work in the environmental and energy arenas they are looking forward to connecting with other  like-minded businesses who are working with some of the same issues.  They hope to learn about the challenges that fellow members are facing and how they may help with finding a solution. While we try and keep politics out of the conversation, the upcoming change of administration is having an impact on the number and types of filings they saw at the end of 2016 and will certainly influence their work moving forward.  Eli’s representation of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association in front of the Public Utilities Commission in the net metering restructuring docket is a great example of this.  Given the change in administration, there is heightened attention to revisions to the program that will emerge in this docket.  Renewable energy and net metering are strong but young industries in New Hampshire. The outcome of this docket will determine if they continue to grow at the same pace.

Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer’s work in the community goes beyond their legal expertise. They have deep roots in the communities they work and live and feel a deep sense of commitment to giving back, which they do through sponsorships and financial donations to organizations.

Please help us welcome Eli and the rest of the Primmer team. We hope that you’ll have a chance to meet him and others at Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer in the coming year.

Eli welcomes the chance to meet and get to know fellow members and answer any questions you may have about their work.

You may reach him at---

Eli Emerson, eemerson@primmer.com, (802) 223-2102 x1109

Please help us welcome Eli and his team at Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC.

 

andrew_winston_head_shot_2x2.jpgby Andrew Winston

Every manager (or consultant) who has pitched an initiative under the banner of “sustainability” has faced the same question nearly every time: what’sthe business case?

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the question. Business is all about allocating some form of capital, be it financial, human, or organizational. So it’s not unfair to wonder what the return on the investment might be. But usually, when executives pose the question about sustainability initiatives, they’re asking about the business case in the narrowest sense: Does this thing pay back, in cash, within some short payback period (1 or 2 years)?

In response, we’ve all put a lot of effort into making the case in financial terms. And given the common assumption that sustainability somehow equates with philanthropy and saving the polar bears, it’s generally smart to make it all about money. Certainly, that’s a big part of the case I’ve made for a long time. But maybe I’ve been missing something.

Maybe, in trying to answer the business case question narrowly, we’re overlook something critical about what motivates the decision maker. Or we miss how much the world is changing. Perhaps it’s time to inject the moral case into the discussion and say, boldly, “This is the right thing to do.”

andrewwinston_blogphoto.pngLet’s face it: given the constant attack on our rights and democratic ideals happening right now, companies – some of society’s largest institutions – are finding themselves in uncomfortable territory. The moral position of a company and its leaders individually are facing more scrutiny. The conversation in executive meeting rooms is not just about shareholder value anymore. Will we defend LGBT rights or protect immigrant employees? Will we continue to tackle climate change, the human and planetary crisis of our time? These are not idle questions anymore.

I will write much more about the macro-level question of the role of business in society over the coming months and years. But for this discussion I want to rethink the specific question about how sustainability professionals and managers make the case for social and environmental action.

So, back to the nitty gritty. Do we have the right arguments for why we should invest in sustainability projects? Let’s consider four broad buckets of initiatives – three that create value for the business and one that’s more about value for society – and explore how (and when) they create value:

(1) short-term financial wins that meet all hurdle rates;

(2) clear financial wins, but with longer paybacks;

(3) investments that have less certain paybacks in cash, but create indirect (yet real) and internalized value, such as improved employee engagement, increased customer loyalty, greater license to operate, brand building, or risk reduction;

(4) projects that create externalized value for stakeholders and improve the shared commons

Of course these categories are not mutually exclusive – any of the first three will create externalized value as well. But for most projects there’s a core bucket of value. A simple lighting retrofit would fall mainly in group 1, for example, while employee volunteering, or providing water infrastructure for the community around a factory, would be mainly group 4 activities. Something like auditing and raising environmental or social standards in the supply chain, or investing in circular models, could hit all four areas, but would hit bucket 3 hard.

For each bucket, the business case we make should vary.

Category 1 is trivial, and the cash benefits of, say, eco-efficiency projects are now broadly accepted. Of course there’s always competition for capital, even between projects with quick paybacks, but it’s not hard to make the case that these things save money.

Category 2 requires more finesse. You can make the case for bending the rules on the hurdle rate for strategic reasons at times. Or, more frequently with sustainability projects, we get these through the system by shifting the conversation to category 3 value and point out that, by the way, it will also save cash, but later.

So category 3 is where so much of the effort lies. I’ve sacrificed many trees (and digital bits) writing about the importance of recognizing internalized value, even if comes in ways we can’t measure it perfectly. We all make the case that environmental and social initiatives can reduce risk, drive innovation, create employee engagement and loyalty, build the brand, and much more. That case is strong. Most large companies have realized that just considering the attraction, retention, and engagement of talent (especially socially-minded Millennials) can justify many investments in social and environmental progress.

But let’s look at category 4, the “save the world” value bucket that I’ve mostly avoided during my career. A new, challenging political environment is making me even more philosophical about why business should act, or even why a business exists.

Here’s the nub of it. Consider the following benefits a company might create: employee happiness, being a good member of the community, solving a customer need (the original, and some would say only, reason a company exists), and, yes, making sure the polar bears survive. Aren’t these things good in their own right, regardless of how or when they create business value? Maybe this kind of query falls in value bucket three-and-a-half, between the cracks because it begs the question of what value is.

My mini existential question was partly spurred by an interesting article I read recently in the Guardian. Focused on “why time management is ruining our lives,” the essay laments our obsession with personal productivity and talks about creating life balance and having more free time. In the article, John de Graaf, a founder of a group called “Take Back Your Time” challenges what I would describe as the business case for life balance: “People argue that more time off might be good for the economy, but why should we have to justify life in terms of the economy?”

It’s a great point. And it’s a good question to ask about all our efforts to improve employee engagement, connect to purpose and meaning at work, or drive sustainability in business. Why should everything that supports general well-being for people touched by a company – its employees, customers, supply chain workers, community members, future generations, and so on – have to be put only in economic terms?

The time may be ripe to broaden how we talk about sustainability and bring in a moral dimension. Consider one of my favorite sustainable business stories from 2016. After North Carolina passed the absurd “bathroom bill,” some big company CEOs sent an open letter to the Governor saying the law didn’t reflect their values. Companies are increasingly standing up for LGBT rights, and in the last week, for immigrants (bravo Starbucks for pledging to hire 10,000 refugees). A somewhat cynical interpretation would say that companies just want to stay in the good graces of a segment of their customer base. True, so there is some business logic. But it’s also clear that many of these companies and their executives just felt it was the moral thing to do.

I’ve talked to senior executives for many years about why they care about sustainability. And very often it stems from a personal journey. They went to the rain forest, or their children asked them about their work and their legacy.

So am I saying we should abandon the normal business case and stop focusing on how much value sustainability creates for business? Of course not. We should absolutely talk about the cash payback and all the indirect and hard-to-measure internalized value. But perhaps we (or at least I) have gone too far to counteract the “green equals polar bears” view of the world. Depending on the audience or particular executive, it may be time to throw in an element of “hey, this really is the right thing to do and your kids will be proud.”

Yes, the traditional business case will still be critical, particularly in public companies. But it might play the role of justifying something a leader wants to do in her heart anyway. Given what behavioral psychology tells us about the “confirmation bias,” this is how many decisions are made anyway.

My bottom line is this: how we make the case for sustainability needs to vary depending on the category of initiative (from slam dunk in cash terms to indirect value to “other” and societal value), the situation (a CFO presentation meeting vs. drinks with your boss), and a reading of the people involved.

But more and more, I’m wondering if a combined logic of “good for business” and “good for the soul” will work best. I welcome your thoughts.

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(Photo credit: Flickr, Joel Duggan)

 

Member Feature: a conversation with Erin Allgood, Allgood Eats Local

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" 
~ George Bernard Shaw

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This is a quote you can find on Erin Allgood’s website and, as a fellow lover of food, the sentiment certainly resonates. We recently sat down with Erinto talk about her love of food and how she became a food system consultant. Erin’s energy is infectious and we are certain that you, like us, will enjoy speaking with her when you do. We thank Susan O’Neil of @Website Publicity for introducing Erin to NHBSR and are grateful to have them both as members of NHBSR. 

It is fascinating to talk with Erin about her path to food and the start of Allgood Eats Local- a path she herself calls circuitous, when in fact it all makes sense. Erin started studied biochemistry in college and it wasn’t until her junior year that she realized how much biochemistry focuses on food and how the body breaks down and uses food. As we’ve mentioned in previous stories, timing plays such an integral role in decisions many people make. For Erin, the gift of Michael Pollan’s book An Ominvore’s Dilemma served as inspiration for her to dive deeper into nutrition, leading to a Master’s degree in nutrition, with an emphasis on nutritional biochemistry. Her thesis focused on the interaction of environmental pollutants and diet, examining the effects on metabolism. Early on, Erin developed an interest in the connection between food and the environment.

At the time she graduated in 2009 there were limited job possibilities, so she did what so many New Englanders do in such times—she got creative, taking a job outside of her field of study for several years, while maintaining her pursuit of food and nutrition through volunteer efforts as well as coaching and cooking. She regularly volunteers at farmers markets and serves on Seacoast Eat Local’s SNAP committee, advising on ways to connect low-income residents to local food.

Since then Erin has completed two certificate programs at the University of Vermont- Leadership in Sustainable Food Systems and Sustainable Business, which provided the impetus to launch Allgood Eats Local, a food systems consulting business, in 2014. The mission of Allgood Eats Local is to empower change by promoting equity, collaboration, and deeper understanding throughout the food system through facilitating meetings in multi stakeholder collaborations, network and organizational development, and process and strategy design. She works with both non-profit organizations and businesses.

allgoodeatslocal_flowers.jpgMore recently, she has taken on projects related to some of the most complicated issues in the food system, such as childhood hunger, local food distribution, public health nutrition. Erin explains that there is much work to do in these areas as it relates to policy and social change.

Erin is based in Dover, where she lives and has an office in downtown. You may just as easily find her at Flight, the local coffee shop, which is sometimes her office away from the office.  And if not in one of the offices you will probably find her working with her husband Kevin Johnson. Erin and Kevin co-own Embers Bakery, a mobile, wood-fired, sourdough bread and pizza business. On weekends, Erin and Kevin serve up gourmet pizza featuring local ingredients at public and private events like festivals and weddings. The bakery is quiet for the winter, but I for one am excited to try their sourdough bread when they start up again in the Spring.

 

Erin is excited to join NHBSR and this network of like-minded businesses across the state and she hopes to connect, and potentially collaborate, on food systems projects!

We hope that you have a chance to meet her at an upcoming event. Erin welcomes the chance to meet and speak with fellow members. She can be reached at erin@allgoodeatslocal.com  or by phone (603) 953 5765.

Please help us welcome Erin to the NHBSR community!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEMBER FEATURE:A conversation with Michael L’Ecuyer, Bellwether Community Credit Union (pronounced phonetically Lek-wee-air)

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With the arrival of mobile phones it’s sometimes difficult to imagine that we were ever beholden to a telephone that was plugged into the wall at home.Most things change and evolve over time, but it’s fun to learn about ways in which they stay the same too. We were happy to talk with Michael L’Ecuyer, President and CEO of Bellwether Community Credit Union, a company whose history goes back to 1921, when the company was originally founded as the Telephone Workers Credit Union of NH (TCU).

Employees of Bell Telephone Systems, independent of their employer, created TCU solely for the “promotion of thrift” among its members which was limited to NH phone company employees, their families, and retirees. We learned that credit unions have a philosophy of “people helping people”, and that TCU is the second oldest credit union in the State. In fact, the very first credit union ever established in the United States was started in Manchester in 1908, and is still thriving under its original name of St. Mary’s Bank Credit Union. St. Mary’s was created in an effort to give the thousands of immigrants who were coming to work in the textile manufacturing mills in Manchester the ability to save and get credit. As a side note, today you can visit America’s Credit Union Museum on Notre Dame Ave. in Manchester, which is located in the original building which housed this first American-based credit union.

TCU was run by volunteers in the early years, but in 1965 it hired its first employee--Richard Mahoney-- who was promoted to President of the credit union in 1976, a position he held for 25 years. The credit union continued to operate under its’ original membership charter (telephone workers) until the AT&T monopoly on telephone service was split up in 1982, which drastically changed the structure of the telephone industry and subsequently the Credit Union’s ability to grow. At this time, TCU’s charter was updated to include the communications industry as a whole, providing some relief to a declining base of potential members. Michael came to work at the credit union in 1998, and was elected to follow Richard Mahoney’s legacy as President/CEO in 2001. (You may find it interesting that, although Michael’s career has been focused in the banking arena, he was first attracted to the FBI. It just goes to show we all have a diversity of interests.)

In 2002 the charter was changed again to what’s referred to as an “open membership”— allowing membership to anyone who lives or works in the State of NH. For the first time, TCU was able to offer its’ products and services to anyone in the entire State, thereby providing a necessary economy of scale to allow for the increased technology expectations of 21st Century consumers. To more accurately reflect the community they were serving the company was renamed Bellwether Community Credit Union in 2005. Today they have 3 branches, 90 full time employees, 34,000 members and over $455M in assets. Bellwether Community Credit Union (BCCU) is a cooperative, non-profit organization whose goal is to provide real benefits to its members. Michael spoke of two things that have remained consistent throughout the years— their focus on providing value to their membership and their goal of maintaining high service levels. Their desire to deliver what their members want when they want it drives them to excel in remote delivery channels such as mobile, online, billpay, etc. As cases in point, they were early adopters of electronic statements and had an e-statement program well before it became mainstream and were one of the first to offer remote deposit capture.

bccu_groupservicephoto.pngService to their members is top priority, but service to others has also been an integral part of the organization. Bellwether is a huge community advocate, encouraging their employees to volunteer for organizations that have meaning to them individually and following that up with monetary support. At last count, Bellwether has a variety of active roles in over 60 community-based organizations such as Make a Wish NH, Home Health & Hospice Care, and Chambers of Commerce to name just a few. Michael says that giving back to the communities is a fundamental part of who they are. He encourages everyone at the executive level to participate in community service and further supports it throughout the organization. The benefits are many—Michael believes he has better executives because there is great personal reward in serving others, as it broadens their horizons, experiences, and perspectives. It’s a true win/win for both the employee and the organization which provides further positive impact on the community. Employees are proud to work for a company that is focused on community. In order to demonstrate their support of community involvement, Bellwether implemented a program which allows each employee one paid day per year to volunteer for an organization of their choosing.

When asked why he joined as a member of NHBSR, Michael’s answer was “MV”. Those would be the initials of Michelle Veasey, who serves as inspiration for many to join. Michael looks forward to getting to know more NHBSR members and to have the opportunity to partner with like-minded organizations in an effort to benefit the communities we live in.

Michael welcomes the chance to speak with anyone about Bellwether Community Credit Union or any other topic. He can be reached by email at: Michael.lecuyer@bccu.org or by phone at 603-645-8181.

Please help us welcome Michael and his team at Bellwether Community Credit Union! 

By Bea Boccalandro, President VeraWorks

It’s probable that right this moment…  beaboccalandro.png

·     A valet parking attendant is inspecting tires and, if any are bald, will alert the car’s owner.

·     A fitness-loving construction inspector is writing an internal blog to help her colleagues adopt healthy behaviors.

·     A safety officer at a chemical manufacturing plant is telling workers that the company will donate $10 to the food pantry every day the team has no safety violations. 

These charitable acts aren’t listed in their job descriptions. These workers are rebels.

They are, however, happy and industrious rebels. Research conducted by Yale's Amy Wrzesniewski and University of Michigan's Jane Dutton finds that workers who shape their jobs to be more purposeful are more engaged than their docile colleagues. “It’s a way to 'dig' my job. People are so grateful…and it might save them from a nasty crash" explains the valet attendant. The safety officer, who works at a global firm, also says it improves his work experience. “My job is now more enjoyable because I know several struggling families will have food through the dark cold winter… and, as a bonus, our plant’s safety record is now among the best in the company.”

Most us don’t realize that working for a purpose beyond our own wellbeing makes us happier and more productive, but academia has known this for years. Indeed, the Job Satisfaction Index by The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen finds that purpose not only drives job satisfaction, but is the most important driver.

By helping to combat traffic accidents, unhealthy behaviors, hunger or any other societal ills through their work, these rebels are applying a management practice called “job purposing.” Whether we inspect construction sites or manage an R&D division, job purposing enamors us to our work.

Ready to rebel?

If you are like many who attend my presentations, you're interested purposing your own job but don't see how. Don’t worry. This just means you’re a normal early 21st-century human thinking in the customary early 21st-century way.

After the fact, the job purposing of the three rebels seems simple and logical. Dreaming up concrete ways to ignite purpose in these jobs, however, was neither. Indeed, the valet attendant told me “I worked here for over a year before I had this idea. Not sure why I took so long.” I know why he, and all of us, take "so long" to job purpose. Conventional thinking.

Here are the steps to generate your unconventional, and practical, job purposing idea: 

Step 1: Select one job taskThe essence of job purposing is doing a work task in a manner that increases its positive impact on social causes or others. It might sound simplistic, but don't underestimate the transformative power of a little purpose. Wharton professor Adam Grant found that increasing such “task significance” dramatically improves work productivity — in some cases by more than 400%.

Start with the most core job task to your job. This is the task that takes up the largest swath of your work year. If you deliver packages, your most core task will be likely be driving. If you’re an accountant, your most core task might be responding to email. 

Step 2: Play loud upbeat music. OK, this step is not vital, but it might stimulate creative thinking. Why does this matter? Job purposing requires that we entertain concepts that were formerly absurd. It’s essential, therefore, that you unhinge your thinking.

Establish an environment that helps you break from ordinary workplace logic. If playing Phish at full volume doesn't free your thinking, consider a beautiful view or glass of wine.

Step 3: Explore options for conducting the task in a way that has a greater social impact. Set a timer for seven minutes. Now write down every idea, no matter how delusional or deranged, that comes to mind in response to these questions:

a. How might you contribute more to customers, team members or others you interact with as part of this task? (If you don’t interact with anybody as part of the task, skip this question.)

Examples:

·     The valet worker, above, helps customers avoid traffic accidents.

·     The construction inspector, above, helps work colleagues be fit and healthy.

·     As part of their sales call, many HP sales representatives help their business clients set up recycling, reduce solid waste and otherwise become more environmentally sustainable.

b. How might you redesign the task so that it’s more charitable?

Examples:

·     The Aetna HR department scrapped the information booths they set up on college campuses during recruitment visits in favor of blood drives. By doing this, Aetna shows its values, as opposed to merely talking about them; students get the opportunity to contribute to the health of others; and individuals needing blood to restore their health are more likely to get it.

·     An instructor at KPMG eliminated the dry case study in his new-hire accounting class and, instead, invites nonprofit partner representatives to present their accounting challenges to students, providing these nonprofits free financial services.

·     Many FedEx drivers in Florida have attended The Nature Conservancy’s training on identifying invasive species of snakes and are, therefore, not only drivers in their day job but also "Python Patrollers" who help to rid the Everglades of an environmental menace.

c. How might you otherwise sprinkle some charity into the task?

Examples:

·     An art school owner writing her newsletter promoted civic involvement by offering a free class to anyone who voted in the presidential election.

·     Every time an independent consultant closed a sale, she donated $100 to one of three nonprofits, per the selection of the new client.

·     A leadership trainer at a Fortune 500 company offers open slots to staff of local nonprofit organizations.

Rotate through the three questions as quickly and as many times as you like, but don’t stop jotting down your unedited stream of consciousness until the seven minutes are up. If you hit upon a brilliant job purposing idea, circle it and go back to the jotting down ideas until the timer rings.

Step 4: If needed, choose a slightly less core task and repeat step 3

If you’ve generated a promising job purposing idea, you’re done! Start fleshing out and piloting your idea. If not, select another job task and repeat step 3 (do this with five tasks or until you get dizzy, whichever comes first). Consider first common tasks, then move to more episodic tasks.

Step 5: If needed, brainstorm ways to bake a little charity into non-job related workplace experiences.

If you have a viable option from steps 1-4, you're done! Otherwise, explore ways to ignite social purpose in workplace experiences that you can influence but that fall outside your specific job — such as trainings, staff meetings, or annual retreats. Examples:

·     Antis Roofing enriches staff meetings with charity. At each staff meeting, the company honors one employee for exceptional work performance with a charitable giving card that the honoree donates to the nonprofit of their choice. At the following meeting the former winner shares to what cause they donated to and why. "This simple step has transformed our culture" according to Founder and CEO Charles Antis. "It's difficult to stay dry-eyed at many meetings as team members share why they care deeply about their cause of choice. We are getting to know each other at a beautiful new level. Who knew it could feel this effortless for us to feel so connected?"

·     Instead of standing around slurping punch at the annual holiday party, why not turn the entire event into a service project that serves a meal to the homeless or builds a home for a single mother?

·     Many companies include a service event, where participants repaint a school or clean up a trail, in their retreats or meetings.

Step 6: If needed, ingest chocolate or single malt scotch and contact me.

If you’ve completed steps 1-5 and still don’t have a promising way to purpose your job, don’t panic. Eat, drink, work, hike or otherwise do something different. Let your brainstorming efforts lay for a few days. You might have a “Eureka!” moment and realize, as you’re taking a bath for example, that the answer is right in front of you. If not, contact me.

BE A PROUD REBEL.

If you’ve read this far, you’re a pioneer. Your interest in promoting social good through everyday work makes you a bright spirit in what can be a darkly skeptical corporate landscape.

Don't think, however, you are alone in this pursuit of workplace purpose. Rebels like you are an emerging force. In fact, the world has invented a term for you and is beginning to value you. Specifically, you are a “social intrapreneur” (“intra” to denote doing social good work from within the company) and Forbes Magazine has named you "most valuable worker."

Congratulations!

 

Bea Boccalandro is founder and president of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that helps companies — including Aetna, Bank of America, Disney, FedEx, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Levi’s and PwC — contribute to societal causes. Bea focuses on “job purposing,” the practice of heightening employee engagement, performance and wellbeing by adjusting job tasks to make a societal impact. To learn more about job purposing, download Bea’s free Job Purposing Essentials paper, or follow Bea on Twitter.

MEMBER FEATURE: A conversation with Thomas CarterFreedom Energy Logistics, Auburn

Please help us welcome Freedom Energy Logistics (FEL) of Auburn, who recently joined as a member of NHBSR. We recently sat down with Thomas thomascarter_fel_photo.jpgCarter, Director of Business Development & Public Relations, to learn about their work and what it means to be an energy procurement company.

Like we have choices of ice cream flavors, commercial businesses and residents have choices in where they get their power, although perhaps without the typical rainbow of ice cream flavors. FEL was started in 2004 by Gus Fromuth, shortly after the electricity market was deregulated. They began bringing many of New England’s largest commercial and industrial businesses to become members of the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL).  Over the years they began developing additional cost-cutting strategies for smaller-sized businesses that weren’t suited for NE-POOL membership, but still needed cost-cutting solutions to the rising costs of energy. 

FEL has remained a family-run business since its inception, with Gus and his son, Bart, at the helm. Combined with the experience of their colleagues, the Freedom team brings over 100 years of collective energy industry expertise to their clients. Gus was recently recognized by the NH Business Review and was awarded their 2016 Business Excellence Award in Consumer Services.

FEL is the largest New Hampshire-based energy management firm, working with thousands of clients located primarily in New Hampshire and throughout New England.  The energy market is constantly fluctuating and most businesses don’t have the bandwidth to follow this perpetual evolution. Armed with an unmatched understanding of the state utilities, the FEL team takes pride in educating their clients about energy markets and strategizing how to best manage them for each specific business. 

While they largely focus on consulting for their clients on the most timely purchasing of competitive electricity and natural gas rates, Freedom Energy Logistics is excited about some new initiatives in Net Metering.  Buying local is a priority for many consumers, whether it’s fruits and veggies or power, giving consumers the power of choice and the satisfaction of supporting local businesses. Utilizing HB 1116, FEL pioneered the first-of-its-kind relationship between UNH and three local hydro generators, who produce clean energy which is directly purchased by the University of New Hampshire. UNH can purchase this clean local energy without the costly REC (Renewable Energy Credit) process. Purchasing green, locally produced energy at less than utility supply rates- now that’s a win/win!

With a dozen or so options in power purchasing, the ice-cream menu of procurement has been steadily expanding under this boutique energy management firm. Apparently they’re quite adept at ‘custom flavors’ as well. Keep your eyes peeled for more such projects in the year ahead.

While Freedom Energy Logistics is helping their clients be more efficient with their energy use they have their own sustainability efforts underway in their office. The staff of 20 is dedicated to recycling as much as possible and minimizing their energy use through the use of LED lights. Thomas shares that he attended the Sustainability Slam and was inspired by the stories of small, but meaningful efforts that have impact. Cirtronics’ story of replacing plastic flatware with reusable metal flatware was one such story that he is considering proposing at the office.

In addition to Freedom Energy Logistics joining NHBSR, Thomas speaks to his personal belief in NHBSR’s mission and his desire to support the organization, which of course makes us happy. Thomas has joined the NHBSR membership committee, so for anyone interested in learning about membership, he is one of several you can speak with.

And of course, if you have questions about the energy industry, where you get your power and how Freedom Energy Logistics might help, feel free to contact Thomas Carter by email at Thomas.Carter@felpower.com or by phone 603.625.2244.

by Leila Murphy, Michelle Veasey of NHBSR, with contributions from Robin Eichert, PeopleSense Consulting

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Effective leadership is key to supporting a culture where we feel empowered and inspired to meet our goals.  As a team of two, we recognize we have a unique opportunity to learn from each other as we continue to build a strong working relationship.

This summer, we were drawn to a workshop led by NHBSR member, Robin Eichert of PeopleSense Consulting.  Being inspired by the work we’ve done with Robin before, we knew that the workshop, Dogged Leadership: Unleash Your Vision, would give us great insights into our individual leadership styles in an unusual way.  It provided a unique combination of individualized leadership assessment and time for self-assessment reinforced by meaningful activities. 

 

Which dog represents your personality style? Let us know.

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From Leila’s perspective:

I think that we all probably have a sense of our own leadership style, based on our work or volunteer experiences. I found the results intriguing. The assessment Robin uses identifies a person’s work style based on the popular DiSC four-quadrant personality theory

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I was unequivocally identified as I (or Influence), followed closely by S (or Steadiness).  These two together have a relationship focus, which certainly resonates with where I see my strengths.  While no big surprises, the assessment provided me with a different lens to see myself through and gave me new insights, while reaffirming known qualities.

doggoggles_photo.pngAs a fun way to think about the DiSC styles, Robin incorporates dogs into the workshop format. This dog spoke to me right away when asked which reflected my personality style—with its eyes wide open for adventure and taking in the fresh air—both things that are important to me in my life.

I was reminded of how quickly our brains make assessments of people and dogs alike based on how they present themselves through the obvious things like what a person (or dog) looks like and facial expressions, but also by things that are more subjective like how they carry themselves and what energy they give off.

In a millisecond we get a snapshot of information, which helps to inform us how we might respond or choose to interact.

 

 

From Michelle’s perspective:

Like Leila, the assessment results fell in line with what I know about my leadership style.  I found myself nodding my head in agreement with the style tendencies and needs, but often what we know we should do to improve our interactions doesn’t translate to what we do. 

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In this workshop, activities reinforced how our styles translate in our relationships.  We were instructed to lead Sawyer, a sweet therapy dog trained to work with people with disabilities, through a simple “course.”  Sawyer perceived not only our physical interaction, but also our tone and words.  It quickly demonstrated how we must consider how our body language impacts how others respond. 

Clearly one’s work is never done when it comes to forging meaningful relationships and by looking at other interactions, such as with our dogs, it can help us meet that challenge.

Tug, my four-legged friend, is a golden and I thought that impacted my selection when asked which dog best reflects my own style.  But then I started to think about whether we choose pets that connect with our style? Think of a golden you know – do they want to create a favorable impression, do they view people optimistically, do they try to motivate you to take action?  Now I bet you can guess my leadership style!

From Robin’s perspective:

As Michelle acknowledged, just because we know something doesn’t mean we’ll act on it. That’s why having dogs as a mirror to our behaviors is so powerful. If we make a request -- such as come, sit, or stay -- of any dog, whether an exuberant puppy or a seasoned therapy dog, they will react based on the whole picture. Are we clear in our message? Do our words and body language send the same signals? Perhaps our mild-mannered, wishy-washy words and ambiguous body language signal to the dog that what we’re asking them to do isn’t really important.

One of the greatest lessons my own dog, Grace, taught me is that the way I interact with her provides accurate insights into how I relate to others. My natural style is easy-going, but this relaxed, laissez-faire demeanor of mine wasn’t effective in working with her fearful nature. She needed firm direction. If she was going to behave better, it required me to behave differently for her.

And so it is in the workplace: employees have contrasting personalities that impact how they relate to each other. Next time you want to be top dog and it’s not working, think about what kind of canine characteristics you are exhibiting and what needs adjusting for a better outcome. You’ll be dog-gone happy you did. 

Robin offers custom “Dogged Leadership” workshops for small groups and company team-building programs. For more information, contact Robin at robin@PeopleSenseConsulting.com.

 

Member Feature: The Green Alliance

A conversation with Mike Bellamente, Managing Director and Co-Owner

Serendipity (n): finding something good without looking for it.   mikebellamente_photo.jpg

We love hearing stories that involve serendipity, and it certainly sounds like there was some at play when Mike went to meet up with his friend Sarah Brown, owner and director of The Green Alliance, for a drink at the Thirsty Moose last October and left with a deal as the future owner of The Green Alliance.

As is often the case, it’s all about timing. Mike was getting ready to start his own environmental consultancy, having worked for Climate Counts, a collaborative effort to bring consumers and companies together to address solutions around global climate change. Using a scorecard that rates the world's largest companies on their commitment to addressing climate change, consumers can make informed decisions about their purchases. Sarah Brown, had taken this scorecard and modified it to apply to a local area, providing members of The Green Alliance with a pocket shopping guide to help them make informed purchasing choices. At the time the two met last October, both Mike and Sarah were both at an interesting crossroads.   

Mike says it’s one of the most enjoyable endeavors he’s pursued in his life, where unexpectedly his interests both past and present came together with an opportunity to help move a respected and appreciated business into its next chapter. The transition happened within a few short months and last January Mike found himself stepping into his new role. As most people know, The Green Alliance hibernated over the winter, which allowed Mike and his team to regroup, talk with member businesses about priorities, and create a plan for moving forward that best serves members, consumers and the organization. Two things became clear— people really enjoy the storytelling. Sharing stories about people, who happen to own and run businesses, gives consumer a face to connect with beyond the name of a business.  These personal connections help foster and expand the community we live and work in. Second is that the Green Alliance green card, which gives members a discount at member businesses, is something that people appreciate. Loyalty speaks volumes. It became clear that it’s really difficult to rate companies using a one size fits all system- especially if you consider comparing a solar provider, a pest control company and a yoga studio. They are just different so you will see the scorecard go away.

Enter Naked Bullfrog.  What, you ask, is Naked Bullfrog? It is a new interactive platform that focuses on consumer engagement around sustainability. Consumers will use Naked Bullfrog to find and refer businesses that are committed to sustainability so that one can feel good about your purchases and reducing your impact. Think of it as a Green Yelp or Angie’s List. The name itself is symbolic—with naked referencing a commitment to transparency and the bullfrog speaking to both being both loud and green. Naked Bullfrog will have kickstarter effort underway from November 16 to December 16th. Check it out if you haven’t already. The Green Alliance is not going away—there’s just a new member of the family, so to speak.

We asked Mike what he’s most excited about as he looks ahead to 2017. His answer—the people. In his previous roles his work had him working with a national or international audience. Mike’s work at The Green Alliance gives him the opportunity to talk and connect with people in his own backyard. We all know how much it means to make connections between friends, colleagues, and business partners…and if you are able to do so knowing that sustainability is a shared priority that just feels good.  Mike is happy that NHBSR and The Green Alliance are partners and members of each other’s organizations and shares that he really values NHBSR and being able to network with like-minded businesses through programming and events. NHBSR is certainly happy for the partnership as well.

Mike welcomes the chance to talk with anyone who is interested in learning more about The Green Alliance or Naked Bullfrog. He can be reached by email at mike@greenalliance.biz or by phone at 603.828.2626.

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