Achieving Through Joy

    Joy is the sense of wellbeing and happiness that often occurs when a person's environment, - work, family, and community - supports and nurtures their ideas, feelings and creativity.

    The presence of joy is beneficial to any situation, relationship or goal. It helps people to be more creative and productive and to find solutions that work for everyone.

    Joy can be achieved through communication in which the ideas and feelings of people are heard and accepted. There is a method which is called the Achievement Exercise which can be practiced by groups including companies, organizations and families.

    This article focuses on using this method in work situations to help leaders and employees develop more joy and achieve excellent results for their company.

    The Achievement Exercise is a 5-step process which uses Active Listening to help a team or department achieve its goals.

    The first part of this article focuses on Active Listening and the second part describes the 5-Step Process.

    It is often easier for a team or department to master Active Listening first and then use it skillfully in the Achievement Exercise.

    Active Listening

    A Shared Way to Listen and Support One Another

    It can be helpful for each member of your team to have a listening partner. They can take turns being the one who listens and the one who works through a problem or goal.

    When Active Listening is used in this process, the ideas, opinions and feelings of the listening partner are not shared with one who is sharing. Instead, it is their role to listen completely, with full acceptance and support of what their partner is saying.

    Here are 3 Active Listening tools you can use with your group.

    a. Verbatim Listening

    You share with the person what you heard them say in their own words.

    b. Paraphrase

    You share what you heard your partner say in your own words.

    c. Ask ‘Open-Ended' Questions

    You ask your partner questions which cannot be answered by "yes" or "no".

    Here are a few examples of good open-ended questions.

    1) "Can you say more about that?"

    2) "Can you go more deeply into that?"

    3) "How do you feel about that?"

    Because of your support, open-ended questions enable your partner to explore all of their ideas and feelings deeply.

    Even though Active Listening sounds easy, it takes practice. You can practice as a group by setting aside a short amount of time at your staff meetings or by arranging special time devoted to practicing it. This time is well-spent as you will notice the results in the increased productivity of your staff.

    It is often helpful to have a skilled facilitator in the beginning. When your group masters these techniques, they act as facilitators for one another. This enables them to work out their own issues easily and quickly.

    Because of the element of acceptance in this process, staff feel acknowledged and supported. In this atmosphere, joy, creativity and productivity can flourish.

    The Achievement Exercise

    A Shared Way to Solve Problems and Challenges As They Arise

    The active listening techniques above are part of the Achievement Exercise which focuses on solving situations as they arise.

    Developing a proactive approach to solving problems and achieving goals brings out the best in your staff. As their inner responsibility increases, so do their results.

    This Achievement Exercise can be used for projects, goals and interpersonal relationships. It is suitable for problems as well as opportunities.

    As with active listening, this exercise is usually done in partners. It can also be done with an entire staff with one person facilitating or the entire group acting as a listening partner for one group member.

    Here are the steps of this Exercise. Notice how valuable active listening skills are in this process.

    The following five questions are asked by the listening partner to their partner who is working with a problem or opportunity.

    Achievement Exercise

    Question #1

    What would you like to achieve?

    "I would like to have more team support with the engineering project I am leading."

    "Can you say more about that?"

    "My team is too busy to support me on this project. Their workload does not enable them to have enough time to work on this project."

    "Your team is too busy to support you in this project."

    "Yes. I do not feel supported by them or by Fred (his boss).

    (There can be more probing here using the 3 Active Listening Skills we share above.)

    Question #2

    How do you feel about achieving more support?

    "I feel hopeless about it. It will take a major reorganization of staff commitments to other projects. I do not know if Fred is willing to do this."

    "Can you say more about this?" "Yes. While Fred is a good manager, he also procrastinates. If we do not do something, we will not finish the project on time and our department goals will not be met."

    "How do you feel about this?

    "I feel that Fred's procrastination can make or break this project. Something needs to be done now and I am willing to talk with him."

    "So you are willing to talk with him?"

    "Yes. This is the only way I can see that we can resolve this problem."

    Question #2 enables this staff member to verbalize his feelings of hopelessness. Through this and active listening, he arrives at a clear and direct decision about the action he will take.

    Our feelings about situations at work are often underestimated. If they are less than positive, it tells us there is more for us to look at about ourselves and the situation.

    When we pay attention to them, we can work with them to find the best and highest action in any situation.

    Question #3

    How do you feel now?

    "I feel much more hopeful. By talking with Fred, we will either find a way to bring more staff into the project or we can change the project goal."

    When Question #2 is explored in depth, there is often a positive change in the feelings of the person who is sharing.

    Question #4

    Is there anything else you need to do now?

    "Yes, I want to prepare for my conversation with Fred by writing down all of my thoughts and feelings before wetalk."

    Question #5

    When will you do this?

    "I will do this tonight and talk with Fred tomorrow.

    If you are in an ongoing relationship with your partner, following up can be very helpful. You may want to set up another time to talk as you complete this Exercise.

    The Achievement Exercise enables your staff to be happier because it helps them to have positive feelings and take effective action. When a company, department or team uses it regularly, they experience higher levels of achievement by developing solutions which benefit their customers, clients and one another.

    © 2008 Oshana Himot. All Rights Reserved.

    Oshana Himot, MBA, CHT is an organizational and personal development consultant and coach. She specializes in communication, work-life balance, teambuilding and emotional wellness. Oshana has two Masters of Business Administration degrees from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California and is a Certified Hypnotherapist.She holds executive workshops which are based upon her current book, It's All About Joy, which helps groups and individuals create extraordinary results based upon joy. Oshana belongs to the Institute of Executive Development and the International Association of Coaching. She is presently facilitating an executive retreat in Hawaii in 2009 and can be reached at: www.itsallaboutjoy.com or through email at: oshanaben@yahoo.com.