March 27, 2022


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at seven types of rest, how to help teams thrive in the months ahead, the science of blockbusters, when (or not) to wait til the last minute, barriers to dialogue and why good employees quit. Enjoy!


1. The Seven Types of Rest

Sleep is usually considered the solution to periods of low energy. But sleep and rest are not the same thing, according to Saundra Dalton-Smith, a physician and author of Sacred Rest.

“We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need,” she writes on Ideas.TED.com.

You need the restoration that rest provides in seven areas::

  • Physical: “This can be either passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest comes through activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that improve circulation and flexibility.
  • Mental: Breaks every two hours during work to slow down provide this restoration. So does a bedside notepad to jot down thoughts.
  • Sensory: Bright lights, computer screens, and background noise can be overwhelming. Close your eyes occasionally, and unplug at night.
  • Creative: This reawakens the awe and wonder inside you. Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, even if it’s just a local park or your backyard. Also, fill your home and office with inspiring art and images of places you love.
  • Emotional: Take chances to freely express your feelings and cut back on people-pleasing.
  • Social: It’s important to distinguish between relationships that revive you and those that exhaust you.
  • Spiritual: Hone your ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose.

“It’s time for us to begin focusing on getting the right type of rest we need,” she concludes.

2. Help your Team to Thrive Post-Pandemic

The last two years have been a collective trauma. It wasn’t a physical attack or horrendous experience like war, but the pandemic took its toll.

People are exhibiting a decreased capacity to deal with emotions — their own and those of others. Increasingly we see displays of anger, higher rates of anxiety and depression, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems

Consultants Darren Overfield and Wanda T. Wallace recommend that leaders focus on four actions to help employees feel valued in the post-COVID workplace.

  • Simply Listen: Lend an ear without trying to solve any problems. When you leap to providing solutions, people don’t feel heard. Simply listen.
  • Foster autonomy: Granting people decision-making power can show them they are valued and belong. That boosts motivation, performance, and well-being. “Leaders can increase autonomy by establishing principles, not simply by promulgating policies,” they add in strategy + business.
  • Respect people’s time: People are overloaded. Respect their time by making it clear why a meeting is needed, cancelling those that aren’t, and running meetings more efficiently.
  • Allow people to take ownership of their development: People feel valued when they think their manager is trying to help them develop in their careers. To do that, leaders need to give timely feedback that helps people move forward, ideally through a question that channels the employee’s thinking in a productive direction.

Keep those four approaches in mind to help your team feel valued.

3. The Science of Blockbusters

After studying blockbuster movies, Warton School professor Jonah Berger highlights three key elements of stories to apply to our own work.

“When we make a presentation, when we give a talk, even when we write an email, we are creating content that’s like a story,” he notes in Knowledge @ Wharton.

Pay attention to:

  • Speed: Just as we can drive a car fast or slow, a story can unfurl at different speeds. It can work slowly through things that are very closely related or move faster, travelling from one thing to another that’s not so much related.
  • Volume: Some stories cover a lot of ground, others are narrow. “Imagine a story having a set of points. We can take all of those points together and ask, are they closer together or further apart?” he says.
  • Circuitousness: Are you moving through the shortest path possible between the ideas or taking a more indirect route?

When pitching something, for example, consider whether to jump from benefit to benefit or focus on one thing.

4. Why Wait Til the Last Minute?

Leaving things til the last minute is an easy — but potentially risky —  habit to fall into, observes entrepreneur Seth Godin. Why wait for a crisis?

If something is far off, unlikely to happen, cheap to fix if it should occur, and not sensitive to advance planning, waiting until the last moment can be a smart strategy. But if events have some combination of known variables, certainty, and a higher cost down the road but lower cost now, it’s best to plan ahead.

“If it’s not worth the time to do the calculation, it’s probably not worth waiting for the last minute,” he advises on his blog.

5. Zingers

  • Ditch the Jerks: Jim VandeHei, a founder of both Politico and Axios, says he learned as a leader to ditch jerks fast: “Cut ‘em before their badness spreads – and infects you.” (Source: Axios).
  • Tighten Up Meetings: Create urgency by shortening the length of meetings, advises executive coach Dan Rockwell. Create accountability during the session by declaring “in our next meeting please plan to report on the specific actions you took to move this agenda forward.” (Source: Leadership Freak).
  • Resistors or Grapplers? Know the difference between true change resistors and people grappling with change, says skills coach Kate Nasser. Resistors argue endlessly against the change. People grappling with change ask how-to questions, contribute ideas to discussions, and take action to achieve it.  Let resistors know you expect different behaviours. (Source: Kate Nasser.com).
  • “You’re Important!” One of the most valuable leadership lessons consultant Scott Eblin learned when he was an executive is: “what doesn’t get said doesn’t get heard”. It’s not enough for you to think your people are important, you’ve got to be intentional about telling them they are and why. Otherwise, at a time when job switching is intensified in many fields, they’ll leave. (Source: Eblin Group.com).
  • Take a Hike: Many situations in life are similar to going on a hike, observes author James Clear. The view changes once you start walking. You don’t need all the answers right now. New paths will reveal themselves if you have the courage to get started. (Source: JamesClear.com).

6. The List: Why Good Employees Quit (and What to Do)

Consultant David Burkus offers the top six reasons high-performing employees depart, and how leaders can respond:

  • Burnout: Pay attention to the load each member of your team is carrying. If you’re adding new assignments, make sure you’re also reviewing any old, less important tasks that are still part of that person’s job description.
  • Boredom: Make sure you’re giving team members stretch assignments that help them grow.
  • Bad Managers: Shield people from bad supervisors, perhaps by keeping them safe from the increasing demands of senior leaders, or by fighting to get your team the resources or respect it needs to perform better.
  • Better Pay: If you can’t get team members more money, keep in mind that research suggests a thorough explanation of why an individual’s pay is set where it is (including what the organization can afford and why) can often decrease that person’s intention to quit.
  • Bigger Opportunities: Talk to team members and help them grow into the new opportunities they want.
  • Blah Purpose: If your mission is vague or uninspiring, keep reminding people who it is they help by the work they do.



7.  Around Our Water Cooler


When Tensions Make Dialogue Difficult

Last month we enjoyed a presentation by Janet Parsons from Unity Health Toronto on her new film-based method for qualitative research when studying controversial issues in healthcare and social policy.

She calls the method Brokered Dialogue, which employs video interviews, messaging and animations to reduce some of the tensions inherent in face-to-face interactions. These barriers make it difficult to share experiences on controversial topics. Here are a few:

  • Fear of confrontation and/or relationships: This may lead stakeholders to avoid others or decline opportunities for dialogue.
  • Disparities in language skills: Some parties may feel intimidated, unable to articulate their perspectives, or have a tendency to under-estimate the value of their views.
  • Social distance: Often self-perpetuating, this schism is attended by alienation, marginalization (even demonization) and missing out on perspectives from a variety of experiences.
  • Lack of appropriate contexts for dialogue: Interactions can tend to be less common across various socio-economic, political and cultural divides, making the disconnect and absence of dialogue the norm.
  • Power and influence dominate perspectives: This leads to “impoverished accounts of complex social phenomena and their stakes”. It reduces diversity of acceptable viewpoints, and valuable knowledge is lost.

These are all barriers worth considering the next time you pursue research or dialogue, brokered or not, with stakeholders speaking to tension-laden issues.

What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: Suddenly Hybrid, by consultant Karin Reed and Joseph Allen, a professor of industrial and organizational psychology at the University of Utah, is an excellent guide to meeting the challenges posed by the hybrid world. The material builds upon their prior research and book about remote work.
  • Rob’s Pick: While the accelerating impacts of technology aren’t new, Azeem Azhar looks into The Exponential Age — how it is rewiring society and upending old assumptions with unexpected consequences for society, politics, biology and economics. Emerging gaps and shifts may bring more collective decision-making and flux in worker-employer relationships as well as a new focus on “local”. He compares the ever-faster pace of change to a complex “phase transition” (as when water suddenly turns to steam at the boiling point). Meanwhile, our practices aren’t keeping up.

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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.

8.  Closing Thought

“Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.”

Steven Wright, comedian