find the bright spots in your organization and make them stars

March 28, 2011

in client stories,context communication,culture

i write a quarterly health e-newsletter for a client’s managers. it’s a quick, digestible read focused on managers’ concerns and the client’s expectations. we pack it with key messages, upcoming deadlines and tools for their use. in every issue we also feature one of the managers—a peer who can tell his or her story and inspire others with it.

here’s an excerpt from my most recent interview. the bold headlines are my copy. the rest is the manager’s:

“Change through passion. You can mandate what people won’t do, but you can’t mandate what people will do. What we’ve done is let the folks who are health-conscious get more visibility.

Let management set the boundaries…and then step aside. Once the idea of a fitness center took off, the folks who were interested got together as a team, led by our continuous improvement manager. Management set a budget for it. The team identified the equipment and all of the needs. When you get people who are passionate about something, management should step aside and facilitate it. Give those people the boundaries and let them go.

Ask employees to drive. We hold a monthly ‘take a break’ meeting. For about 90 minutes per month, we have between seven and nine employees, who are randomly selected, come in and talk with us [the management team]. Whatever they want to talk about, we talk about. The whole idea of a fitness center was borne from this.

Remove the barriers. Access time to computers is hard. Our employees work 12-hour shifts, and break time is when they want to get away from doing anything. They want to take that time for themselves. That’s why our LiveWell Champions [volunteer employee wellness champions] cover employees on the floor during their shift. This gives these employees additional time to go to the kiosk without sacrificing their break time.

Stick with it even when you think it’s not working. It’s like the way a wave builds. When people who aren’t involved see the successes, their passion comes out. They want to get involved. You have to have the courage to stick with things when they’re not going the way you want. Change’ll happen eventually. You just have to keep feeding it.

chip and dan heath talk about “bright spots” in their book, switch. the concept is simple: instead of fixing what’s broken, find the people who are doing something that’s working and clone them. shine a light on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

this manager’s a bright spot within my client’s organization. he and the others we profile “get it.” they see the connection between individual and organizational health, and they’re making health a priority at their location. they’re the stars. my client and me? we’re the key grips.



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Emirhan November 14, 2015 at 8:14 am

Great idea Sandra. It’s a tricky buesisns trying to keep readers engaged, while trying to share pieces of yourself that truly matter too. I’ve found that mixing apples and oranges on my blog has been hit and miss. My most popular post was on Willard Insane Asylum who would have ever thought that would be the most read article on a food blog?? Yet typically, if I don’t post food related content, my numbers seem to drop. My advise write what you want. I enjoy reading all of your posts so bring um on!


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