Friday, November 17, 2017


House Republicans passed Trump's disastrous tax plan -- even though it raises taxes on hardworking American families and the middle class.  Watch this video to learn more about the Republican scheme:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Mindful Team Engagement Can Cultivate Innovation and Inclusion

I am pleased to welcome Melissa Shaffer, author of today's blog on mindful team engagement. 


 There has been a rapid development of new technologies claiming superior approaches to leadership development and team engagement.  However, big companies continue to struggle with creating inclusive cultures and retaining diverse workforces.  Why?  Technology clearly has its place in the game.  However, we believe culture change also requires dedicated face-to-face time for connection, vulnerability and mindful team engagement.  

What do teams and communities need to mindfully engage and create inclusive environments where each individual can communicate and contribute to their greatest potential?  This is a question our team at HiveQuest thinks about deeply in our work.

An alternative approach to group learning

How many times have you sat in a room with one person speaking at the front, while you simply sit and “receive knowledge”? When you leave, you have to then figure out what to do with that knowledge, and have no context for how others received it. We feel this is not the way adults learn best and want to actively work to flip that model.

A community of practice is a research-based structure that makes a major paradigm shift in adult learning. It offers an ongoing space for people to meet and have room to surface dilemmas in their work and discover new approaches from the wisdom of others.

To test the impact of this group learning approach, we have been hosting in-person “Community of Practice” events with Culture Labx in San Francisco. Over the past couple of months, we’ve brought together local culture builders to have deep conversations and crowdsource their ideas about supporting belonging, inclusion, and diversity in the workplace.

We posed the following inquiry:  How do we interrupt inequitable patterns of participation to engage in courageous conversations around inclusion?

To address this, we focused on practicing norms for inclusive collaborations. We theorized that attendees would gain valuable new insights from the co-construction of knowledge and peer-to-peer learning.

Through our experience facilitating these networking events, and thanks to the willingness of all involved to share openly and vulnerably, we arrived at some key takeaways to bring back to your workplace.

Using Norms to Foster Inclusion

We began each event by setting agreements about how we would engage with each other as a new community. For example, one norm was to “withhold blame, shame, or judgement”. Then a Block Party protocol allowed us to reflect more deeply on the norms and begin building trust as a group.

From our own experience using the norms internally, and from event participant feedback, we’ve found norm setting to be crucial in holding safe space for everyone. 

What’s important to know about setting norms:

  1. PURPOSE: They help level the playing field. Everyone has access.
    It’s much easier to give your 100% when you don’t have to climb a mountain to do so.
  2. PROCESS: They can build team connection from Day 1.
    Each person gives input  and takes responsibility for developing the company culture.
  3. PRACTICE: They take time to internalize and integrate into your culture.
    Setting intentions and interrupting old ingrained behaviors that aren’t serving the greater good requires awareness of self and others to enhance communication.

Norms are important because they create equal access for all community members to make their voices heard in a positive and organized way. Extroverts can agree to pause more to allow others to speak. Similarly, introverts can agree to speak up and request time to process information when needed. Norms help account for different communication, processing, learning, and engagement styles. Furthermore, giving everyone a chance to share their ideas and perspectives sparks greater innovation.

One of our event facilitators had this to say after the event:

“Voices of dominant culture loudly communicate their discomfort and disapproval of messages that would fall outside the normative conversations. Ears are not trained to hear the silence of the oppressed.”

When we establish norms for mindful team engagement, we make space for the voices of the oppressed and ask dominant voices to embrace their discomfort. The deviant conversations that emerge often lead to the most creative and innovative results.


Melissa is the Community Relations Manager at HiveQuest. An important component of their work is using the Mindful Engagement cards. The Mindful Engagement cards can help you strengthen your community norms, core values, and organization's culture.  Check them out at EngageMindfully.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Feedback and Employees Retention

I am pleased to welcome Rae Steinbach, author of today's blog on feedback and employee satisfaction.

Feedback is the Key to Keeping Employees:  Here’s How to Use It

Happy employees increase a company’s bottom line, help build great culture, and boost business performance. While perks are part of showing employee appreciation for great work, effective communication far outweighs material gifts when it comes to increasing employee engagement and happiness.

Perks, though positive in nature, will also be forgotten much more quickly than strong workplace relationships, meaningful one on one interactions, and great communication. Here’s how to incorporate feedback into your management strategy for better retention and satisfaction in the workplace.

Reap the Benefits of Employee Feedback Loops

Employee feedback loops have been acknowledged as inspiring and incentivizing staff to always give their all and open up blocked channels of communication throughout a company. Regular, meaningful  communication builds a healthy and energizing workplace culture – the thing known to be the cornerstone of employee engagement and retention.

Annual performance reviews with structured feedback sessions are simply not enough. The irregularity breeds a disconnect between teams and managers rather than building strengths. At best, they are considered a waste of time. At worst, they are a chokehold to employee motivation and introduce awkwardness to the relationship between teams and their leaders.

Great leaders communicate consistently with their teams throughout the year, ask meaningful and searching questions, and solicit feedback from employees about their own performance. Great teams understand that there is always room for improvement and relish the challenge of driving things forward for the business. They’re also able to provide constructive feedback to leadership and create an open dialogue for the benefit of organizational development.

Four Elements of Great Employee Feedback Loops

Feedback loops are reciprocal. Thus, they require good questions and active listening. They also need to spark action and reaction to be effective. Without these elements, they will not provide the necessary results for your leaders and the business as a whole.

1. Ask the Right Questions

Provide structure for feedback collection by asking the right questions, and make sure there is room for staff to elaborate and provide open-ended responses that will expose blind spots of the business. The right questions may be tough but will get to the heart of any problems.

2. Analyze

Go through responses objectively and define trends that may not be immediately obvious. By taking time to interpret feedback, you are setting yourself up for better results when you take the next step, which is acting upon the results.

3. Take Necessary Action

Productive feedback loops will highlight things that need doing, so do them, and do them straight away. Don’t just talk about what needs to be done, or plan for changes. Recognize what actions need to be taken and then act accordingly.

4. Communicate

The whole point of the ‘loop’ is to show your team that you have heard and are taking action on their feedback to you, just as you expect them to the same with the feedback you give to them.

Let them know their needs are being addressed and how this is being done. This lets them know that you take their thoughts seriously and will strengthen the feedback loop for next time.
Be Empowered By the Feedback

Great feedback loops allow your business to recognize issues before they become problems and act before they become crippling. They also empower your teams and company to become agile in response to changes through better communication. Employees feel supported, heard, and valued which enables them to understand and support problem solving methods better.

When all is said and done, looking after your greatest asset – your employees – will create a workplace culture that promotes open communication in support of your business’s bottom line.

Investing energy into building an environment that promotes transparent, supportive communication will help in the retention of top performing employees and protect your future profits.

Contributor:  Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course, and is a contributor to 15Five.