Thrive in Five

Laughter for Stress Management

Thrive in Five
Happy New Year! Our guess is that you had some time over the holidays to hang out with friends or family, or you found some sacred time to yourself to catch up on your favorite shows. But our big question is: Did you laugh?

Think about the last time you had a really good belly-laugh. What was it about? How did you feel afterwards? Is it making you smile now? How does it make you feel just thinking about it?

Chances are high that you probably felt pretty darn good after a healthy laugh, and you probably even feel a little more relaxed just re-living the scenario in your head. Why is that? Are there any measurable benefits to laughing? If we’ve sparked your interest, read on to learn more in this Thrive in Five!

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Laughter Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away

While we think it’s safe to say that laughter is a feel good (unless you’re sore from doing a core workout the day before), we did some digging to find out why.

Did you know?

  • Laughter releases endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin which relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Laughter also decreases adrenaline and cortisol – stress hormones.
  • Laughter increases our heart rate and thus our energy levels, allowing us to focus more easily.
  • Laughter, like remaining positive, releases neuropeptides which help fight stress and other illnesses.

Another fun fact about laughter is that even if you fake it, your body responds to it as if it’s real. AND, if you fake it long enough, it most likely will turn into real laughter! So… if you’re having a rough time or feeling stressed, find a safe space where you can laugh it out! Maybe just put headphones in or something so people don’t think you’re nuts, or invite them to join you!

The last interesting thing we’d like to share about laughter is this awesome study on college students that showed that humor actually lowered anxiety more than exercise! Good news for you busy folks out there, but don’t let that convince you to drop your New Year’s resolution! (Shameless plug: Have you seen our Thrive about how less exercise is more when it comes to increasing productivity and energy?)

Apply the Five!

This is a fun Thrive, so you get “fun” homework!

For this Thrive, we challenge you to find 30 minutes every day to laugh (or at least smile).

Whether that means:

  • happy hour with a co-worker,
  • watching a sitcom,
  • listening to comedy podcasts on your way to and from work,
  • watching fail videos on YouTube,
  • browsing the “aww” section of Reddit, or
  • joining an improv class…

it’s up to you! Just laugh and reap the benefits!

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Jake Howard!

Jake sporting his holiday attire circa 2015 for a prank picture for his grandma – she didn’t find it funny, but hopefully you will!

I’m definitely one of those guys that finds humor in just about everything. There’s something so incredibly rewarding when you can get a friend or coworker to completely lose it and breakdown laughing… even better when you get one of those little snorts.

I think it’s fantastic how we all have our own brand of humor. You might be into situational comedy where you’re basically a walking Seinfeld episode, or perhaps you never take yourself too seriously and indulge in a little self-deprecation, or maybe, just maybe, you’re my old co-worker “Bill” who has that special soul-crushing “humor” and never fails with the old, “Hey Big Guy! Workin’ hard or hardly workin’? Heh heh hyahh!” *Queue finger guns* (I think we’ve all worked with this guy.)

No matter your style, laughter is such a powerful way to connect with people; we can’t help but want to be around those who make us laugh. Too often we get so caught up with the back-to-back (to back) meetings and looming deadlines that we forget to take the time to give ourselves, and those around us, a little chuckle. Don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to include that amusing anecdote in the team status email or stick around after the staff meeting and partake in some witty banter.

So go ahead… holster those finger guns, spice up those email chains, and it could be you that makes someone’s day a little bit brighter.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Exercise on Productivity

Thrive in Five
We’ve all heard that exercise increases productivity, but how much exercise are we talking about? Because we all know time is a factor! Well… Good news! It turns out less is more when it comes to working out. No need to have those grueling workouts to get the boost you’re looking for!

Read more in this Thrive in Five to learn the pros and cons to exercising during the work day!

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Less is More

Exercise has many benefits which we’re sure you’ve heard of, but here’s a quick re-cap from Healthline:

  • It strengthens your muscles and bone (yes, bone!)
  • It reduces your risk of chronic diseases
  • It helps slow aging in your skin
  • It improves your capacity to memorize
  • It helps you relax and sleep better
  • It can help reduce chronic pain
  • It releases endorphins making you feel happier
What you might be surprised to learn is that more is not always better when it comes to exercise.

If your goal is to sleep better or combat insomnia, then vigorous exercise is great! However, if your goal is to increase your energy and mood, then vigorous exercise can have the opposite effect.

Productivityist.com mentions a couple studies that support this statement. One showed that low-intensity exercise reduced feelings of being tired more than high-intensity exercise. They mention another study as well that found that high-intensity exercise (cycling, in this case) actually reduced the person’s attention, memory and problem-solving abilities immediately after exercise, and these effects continued for more than 20 minutes after exercise was stopped.

Key takeaways:

  • If you have a lot to get done, don’t do a really intense work out before or in the middle of your workday – it will actually wipe you out.
  • Low-intensity exercise is best if you’re looking for a pick-me-up from the after-lunch coma routine – try walking or yoga!

Apply the Five!

No surprises here… your “homework” is to exercise! We’re not going to ask that you workout every day for 30 minutes, even though that’s what is recommended by most physicians. Instead, all we ask is that you make a conscious effort to increase your exercise when possible.

Here are a handful of helpful tips to get you started:

  1. Park in the spaces furthest from your destination.
  2. Use the stairs instead.
  3. Step in place during commercials.
  4. Walk to dinner and back if possible.
  5. Walk for 5 minutes every hour.
  6. Take the long way to the office bathroom.
  7. Walk the dog instead of just letting him or her out to use the bathroom.
  8. Get up and walk around during phone calls.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Ryan Burke!

Even Achilles surgery doesn’t keep Ryan from getting “the zoomies”!


“I need you to live until you’re 90”. My wife seems to speak these words nearly every week. But in today’s world full of stress and numerous vices, how can someone make such a request? Sure, if I were to eat and drink the way nutritionists recommend, and couple that with a strict workout routine, I would no doubt be looking like a fitness model. But I’d also be broke, bored, and missing out on so many of the wonderful things this world has to offer.

I enjoy food. I enjoy drinks. I enjoy stuffing my face at midnight while binge watching Netflix and drinking eggnog that clocks in around 800 calories per glass. So how does one stay (relatively) fit while also enjoying the things they love?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you… the zero-sum game.

The idea is simple: workout to offset the terrible things you love. T he key is to find a workout routine that excites you and finding a time that works best with your schedule. Some of us have more energy in the morning, while others prefer to hit the gym after work. The internet is filled with hundreds of workout plans that fit your lifestyle; all you have to do is search. Find something that combines free weights and cardio, and start hitting the gym. The hardest part is pushing through the excuses of being tired, or too busy, etc. It helps to find a buddy who will push you through your workout, but if you commit yourself to working out on a regular basis, you’ll be enjoying those milkshakes in no time.

And if anyone is looking for a workout partner, or someone to yell at them throughout a workout, give me a call.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Promote Yourself

Thrive in Five
Imagine the perfect boss. He or she is probably supportive of your professional and personal life. He or she is probably an expert at what they do. He or she is probably not overly-confident nor indecisive. He or she probably isn’t afraid to admit mistakes or ask for help. He or she is probably always looking for ways to improve through feedback or through continued education.

How are we doing? Painting the perfect picture? We hope so! This edition of Thrive in Five is about promoting yourself. Essentially, we’re defining what makes the perfect boss, so you can then become the perfect candidate for moving up the ladder, or moving in the direction you desire (because not all growth is vertical).

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Be Your Best Advocate

There are lots of articles about different ways to promote yourself. Some tips include:

  • network
  • speak publicly
  • create a business case
  • write impact statements
  • make sure you get credit where credit is due

However, to us, these tips and articles were missing the “human-centered” element and felt a little self-centered. “What do you mean? You’re supposed to be self-centered when promoting yourself!” Well… at Evans, we don’t think so, so we came up with our own top tips to promoting yourself “The Evans Way.” We approach the situation in a little different light, because we feel to become a leader, you have to be the type of person you want to follow.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Use your talents and skills selflessly. As some of us at Evans say, “Work yourself out of a job.” Do what you do well with the final goal being to help others, not yourself. It will come back around… we promise.
  • Develop those with an interest in doing what you do. Be a mentor to someone who is eager to learn. By investing in the future of our workforce, you’re investing in yourself.
  • Openly share your knowledge by teaching. The best way to gain credibility in what you do is to teach others! Write blogs, teach a class, be a keynote speaker. Share what you know with the intent to teach, and others will come to see you as a leader in your field.
  • Be confident but stay humble. There’s a balance to being confident in your skills and being a know-it-all. Accept that while you might know a lot, you never know everything. And it’s 100% OK to admit when you don’t know!
  • Take ownership but give credit where credit is due. If you did a great job, don’t by any means downplay your hard work. However, definitely give props to those who supported the success. Notice that we didn’t say “your success” – hardly anyone accomplishes anything single-handedly.
  • Grow continually. Ask questions. Attend seminars. Read books. Do research. Never stop seeking to gain more knowledge. The more you know (and share!), the more others will see leadership in you.
  • Ask for feedback more than you give it. We almost put this as part of the previous bullet, but we thought it deserved its own spotlight. Asking for feedback is one of the most important things you can do to become a leader. Being imperfect is to be human, but admitting imperfection and seeking improvement suggestions from others is part of being a great leader.

Apply the Five!

Do our self-promotion tips resonate with you? Do you want to know how you’re doing? Well… we’ve created a simple self-assessment to tell you! Answer as honestly as possible, and try not to pick the answer you think is “correct” to get the best results. After you finish, view your score, and come back here to figure out how you did!

Score Key:

  • 0-15 points: Maybe you’re great at putting a good word in for yourself, or doing what’s expected of you, but try to put a little more emphasis on how you can promote yourself by helping others. We bet you’ll notice a difference in how others support you if you take the initiative to support them first!
  • 15-25 points: You’re off to a great start! It looks like you have a good foundation in considering others when you act. To continue to build on this, pick one or two of the questions you did not receive points for, and focus on improving in these areas.
  • 25-35 points: You’re killing it at promoting yourself “The Evans Way”! Keep up the great work!

Do you want to see how you answered compared to others? Click the “View Previous Results” link on the screen displayed right after you submit your answers.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Emily Rego!

Emily literally climbing a ladder as a metaphor for figuratively climbing the corporate ladder!

“Promoting yourself” seems to me like an elusive concept that every professional is inundated with since one’s very first adult job interview. Yet as often as I have heard the phrase, I’ve historically been uncomfortable putting these words into practice. Not to say I’m a stranger to hard work and think I’m not worthy of promotion, because even though I give 1000% at everything I agree to take on (even if, like in basketball, I would never be particularly good at it), I am the first to hide from the spotlight, feeling that I totally don’t deserve it.

To explain, there is no way I would be able to shine in sports if my teammates weren’t amazing as well. There’s no way I would be recognized for performing well at work if my co-workers and clients weren’t there to show up to fill in my gaps and teach me along the way. There’s no way that the one time I had an intern I could have taught her so well if she wasn’t willing to learn.

However, discovering the Evans’ way of promoting oneself has given me a new perspective on this phrase’s meaning and how I have unconsciously taken steps to promote myself and others around me all along. I hope to grow more as a professional in 2019, be more intentional in my actions, and keep promoting not only myself but all of my Evans peers in this new year!


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Sleep on Productivity

Thrive in Five
You only get 6 hours of sleep one night, and you wake up feeling groggy. So you go to bed early the next night and get 10 hours of sleep, and you’re still groggy. Something’s got to give!

People spend roughly a third of their lives sleeping, so it’s not surprising to learn how important sleep is to the function of our bodies and minds. Our cognitive function is seriously affected by our sleep, and this goes for when we get too little and too much. In this Thrive in Five, we explore the effects and what we can do to make sure we’re getting our best sleep possible.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

More is not always better!

There are TONS of studies out there about how a lack of sleep affects you, but we’ve narrowed our focus down to a few fast facts you may not know, shared by the NeuroLeadership Institute:

  • An estimated 80,000 drivers fall asleep at the wheel every day. (No, we did not accidentally add an extra zero.)
  • When you sleep, your brain “practices” activities you did during the day to help increase proficiency and improve your memory of them.
  • One bad night of sleep does more damage than one good one can repair.
  • A 10-minute nap has the biggest benefit in alertness and performance both immediately after and up to three hours later.

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room: too much sleep isn’t good either!

Dr. Mercola shared a study that we found very interesting. The study concluded that, while cognitive function starts to decrease a little every year naturally from aging, the cognitive function of those who slept 9 hours or more every night decreased twice as much as those who slept 6-8 hours every night, leading to an increased risk for dementia-related health problems.

Similarly, the University of Western Ontario conducted the world’s largest sleep study (44,000 people) and concluded that peoples’ cognitive functions, particularly their problem-solving abilities, are equally negatively affected when they get too little and too much sleep.

With all this being said, it’s important to understand what exactly is the right amount of sleep for you, so you can maintain your optimal brain function. Basically all the research out there recommends between 7 and 9 hours, but, like many statistics, this is based on a bell-curve, so there are people whose ideal range of sleep ranges all the way from 4 hours to 12 hours a night.

Apply the Five!

The key to getting a good night’s sleep is to find the amount of sleep that works best for you and stay consistent. To help you determine how much is the right amount for you, we’ve created another tool, which you can access below. It’s fairly basic, so if you want something more advanced and more accessible, there are tons of apps out there. Either way, the goal is to individualize your sleep pattern to fit what works best for you.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Mila Hanauer!

Mila and daughter, Alisa, enjoying lunch break together!

We always hear that it is important to take care of our health. This becomes crucial when you find yourself a new parent back to work and running short on sleep. Having to get up in the middle of the night (sometimes more than once!), forces you to pay close attention to sleep. Running your body on overdrive can only take you so far before you reach diminishing returns…

After going back to work, I had to figure out how to manage my time and my sleep to be efficient both at work and at home. I have learned that I need to listen to my body and notice when it functions best. Now I know that it works best for me to tackle the most important task of the day in the morning when I am most alert. I also know that no matter how tempting, snoozing after 7am does not make me feel more rested. Just like my baby, I thrive on having a schedule and going to bed around the same hour every night.

Just remember that your body knows what you need to stay healthy. All you need is to pay attention, listen… and sleep!


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Perfect Timing

Thrive in Five
Since the moment we could conceptualize what a job was, we’ve probably been ingrained with the “9-5” mentality. Picture this: Alarm goes off. Get ready. Commute. Start Work at 9. (Lunch?) Work until 5. Drive home. Sound familiar?

Well… what if we told you there’s a better way to work? In this Thrive, we discover the new productivity model that breaks the 9-5 mold.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

“9-5” is Old News!

What if you could determine when to work based on the times of day where you know you’ll be most productive ?

There has been a lot of research correlating time of day to aspects that we know affect productivity. One in particular is mood. It’s basically common knowledge that those who are in a good mood are more productive than those in a bad mood. So if we knew, generally speaking, what times of day people are more likely to be in a good mood, it makes sense to work during those times.

Daniel Pink, best-selling author, explores timing in his New York Times best seller When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Based on the research he references, the typical 9-5 workday falls within a time of day when peoples’ moods are diminishing.

Emotional Balance Versus Time

While this research doesn’t give us causation, it does allow us to understand the best timing for completing specific tasks, whether or not you can actually change your work schedule. For example:

  • More difficult tasks that require more focus and positive vibes should be completed in the morning, before our mood starts to decline.
  • Important meetings shouldn’t be scheduled in the afternoon when our mood is in its deepest trough. The same goes for important decisions.
  • Easier, more-enjoyable tasks should be completed in the afternoon to help balance out a decreased mood and maintain productivity.

Apply the Five!

The big picture created from big data is great for an overall understanding, but every individual is different. We need to take the time to understand our own peaks and troughs throughout the day, which is what our “Apply the Five” is focused on.

To help with this, we’ve created a tool to help you track your mood throughout the day. Using this tool, you’ll be able to understand your own mood’s trends to help inform when you should do certain tasks and when you can be most productive. Click below to access the tool, and go to File > “Download as” to save your own copy!

Tip: There are also some apps if you prefer to have something easy on your phone!

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Jennafer (Naffer) Miller!

Naffer and kids, Michaela and Cameron at Hershey Park.

As a summer camp staff member and administrator, I often said that at camp, a day feels like a week, and a week feels like a day. Each summer was magical in its own way, but camp is a high-energy, jam-packed experience, and a very real time of each camp season was the “Sixth Week Slump.” Throughout his book (see above), Pink refers to peaks, troughs, and recoveries.

We didn’t focus on “the slump” every year, but we planned towards it, for it, and how to rebound from it. It was our seasonal “trough.” It was a period when there was heightened camper drama, staff illness, a lower creativity and energy for planning and participating in activities, and a general camp-wide dip in mood. Knowing it was going to happen influenced the way we set up the weekly schedules, special events, and staff programs. My own kids, who have grown up at camps with and without me, have both felt it, and more profoundly so when they were still young enough to be living with me during the summers. With careful planning, however, we were able to get through the slumps with higher spirits, productivity, and energy than those seasons when we just plowed through.

So much of what we do at Evans includes thoughtful considerations of our individual strengths, how we function in groups and as teams, and our company’s DNA as a whole. A thoughtful consideration of time could be another element for us to include. Within each day or over the course of a year, we can all keep those peaks, troughs, and recoveries in mind as we plan.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Establishing Leadership Credibility

Thrive in Five
We’ve probably all been in a situation where you were “led” by someone who didn’t seem fit for the role. There are multiple reasons why we don’t see leadership qualities in certain people, all of which usually speak to their credibility. In this edition of Thrive in Five, we explore leadership credibility and the steps you can take to make sure you’re portraying yourself as a leader in others’ eyes.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Leading Persuasively

Great leaders naturally persuade others of their leadership capabilities. AllBusiness.com identifies 9 ways to build credibility as a leader:

  1. Respect – In order to be a leader, or really just as a human being, you have to give respect to get respect.
  2. Trust – Those who follow have to trust their leader, and those who lead need to show trust in those who follow them.
  3. Loyalty – Great leaders show that they’re committed to those who support them.
  4. Accountability – If you make a mistake or say you’re going to do something, own up to it or stick to it.
  5. Work Towards Goals – It’s hard to follow someone who doesn’t have a direction to lead. Having a goal gives you and your team something to work towards.
  6. Act – Actions speak louder than words. Show your credibility by showing you know what you’re talking about by actually doing it. Be the example.
  7. Be an Expert – Demonstrating expertise is a sure way to prove your credibility on a certain topic, which is a great step towards building credibility as a leader. However, being a subject matter expert doesn’t automatically make you qualified to be a leader.
  8. Keep Learning – Nobody knows everything. Great leaders understand this and continue their knowledge journey. They are also happy to share their knowledge.
  9. Be Honest – It’s no secret that lying is a sure way to blow your credibility.

Lastly, we’d like to add one of our own tips that we’ve picked up from experience:

Be Consistent

Have you ever had a manager who reacted in a supportive way one time and then unreasonably another time? Or maybe you were “scolded” for something that your co-worker wasn’t? After that, you were probably walking on glass around them since you had no idea how they would respond. It’s hard to trust your leader when you can’t reasonably understand and predict their reactions. As a manager, being consistent helps prove your credibility and allows people to follow and support you without hesitation.

Apply the Five!

Progress is made in small steps. If you’re reading this Thrive, it’s a good guess that you probably want to know how you can improve your credibility, or you want to see if you’re a credible leader.

Well, there’s always room for growth, even for the best of us! So our “Apply the Five” for you this time is to pick 1 or 2 of the tips above to work on . We’ve developed an Action Plan template that you can access at the link below. Feel free to print it out and complete, and keep at your desk or with your computer to remind you to stay accountable (one of the qualities of a credible leader)!

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Jack Moore!

Like many of you, I have children, two teenagers, that commandeer much of my “free” time. I really enjoy my time with them, although much of it’s spent in the stands at their various sporting events. As soon as we became parents, my wife and I realized we had to be consistent with our parenting approach, not only between the two of us, but also between the two kids. Any chink in that consistency armor was sniffed out and exploited to no end, frequently leading to a “that’s not fair – life’s not fair” exchange I’m sure many of you have experienced. Being consistent requires increased communication and coordination that slows some decisions down, but ultimately helps reduce the number of tears shed in the Moore household.

Jack and family enjoying their vacation in 2018!

While inconsistency at Evans hasn’t resulted in the same tears I’ve experienced at home, it clearly can be just as damaging. There were times, hopefully all in the past, where our Executive Team members were inconsistent in how we approached a situation and, being who they are, Evans Nation let us know. Like the Moore household, we had to increase communication within our team and better coordinate outside our team. Inconsistency pops up every now and then, so we’re still working on it, but, informally, I have heard that incidences of “that’s not fair” are down.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Thrive in Five: Developing “Trust” in Teams

Thrive in Five
One of our focuses of expertise at Evans is on forming and developing High Performing Teams (HPT). A big aspect of high performing teams that makes them stand out from the crowd is the element of trust. There are different things you can do to build trust, such as keep your promises, be honest and ask for feedback, but all of that means nothing without an underlying understanding of safety. We dive deeper into this concept in this Thrive in Five.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Psychological Safety

Imagine a team you’re on currently or a previous team you’ve been a part of. Think of a time when you didn’t agree with a decision or when you made a mistake. Did you feel comfortable speaking up with your concerns or with admitting your mistake? Why did you feel this way? Chances are you either felt safe doing so or you didn’t.

Safety is an innate need as a human being. Just look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Safety is second only to physiological needs. Often times we think of safety as physical safety. Shelter from weather… free from physical harm… but what does safety mean in a team setting? The key is psychological safety, and without it, you can’t establish trust or have a high performing team.

Amy Edmondson’s graph for reaching the Learning Zone – the ideal zone for high performing teams.

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Professor of Leadership and Management, has been studying psychological safety for decades, and she defines it as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” She explains that psychological safety can be created with 3 practices:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem – NOT an execution problem. This creates the rationale for speaking up.
  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility. This creates safety for speaking up.
  3. Model curiosity – ask questions. This creates the necessity for voice.

If you are able to implement all 3 practices, you can truly start to develop trust, and bring your team from the comfort zone, apathy zone, or anxiety zone into the learning zone.

Amy Edmondson has a great 11.5 minute TED Talk about psychological safety. If you’re interested in learning more about her research and findings, you can watch the talk below.

Apply the Five!

The first step to improvement is self-awareness and acknowledgement that there is room to improve. For this Thrive, all we ask is for you to increase your awareness of the psychological safety of your environment. Luckily for all of us, Amy Edmondson also created a psychological safety self-assessment with a total of 11 questions. It’s quick and easy, and the higher the rating, the better your team’s psychological safety! Click below to print!

 

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Chris Shoemaker!

I once held a Project Manager role which required significant communication between my team and the Stakeholders. My manager gave us little direction for how to approach our client counterparts, so our team brainstormed how to properly provide support for them.

Our solution was simple – establish trust early.

As a consultant, you want the Stakeholders to understand they can look to you for support. Therefore, our team developed trust with the client early on in our young project through great performance and personal relationships.

The parental relationship is one where trust is a huge factor. I think our kids, our oldest Oliver shown here, are great proof for the awesome team my wife and I make!

I’ve found this lesson critical for any facet of life. In 2009, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child. As incredible a feeling as that was, we were scared (and not just because we found out immediately after seeing Paranormal Activity). We had no idea how to raise a child, but we knew we had to trust in the strength of our relationship to be the best parents as possible. Now we are the proud parents of Oliver (8) and Ariel (6)!

I’ve also been a member of various bands (guitar, drums, bass, singing, etc.), and whether we’re writing songs or performing on stage, trust in my band mates has always been crucial for our progression.

As you can see from my experience, success begins with trust in others and in yourself for your professional career, personal life and your hobbies.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Thrive in Five: Engaging Team Members

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of September is High Performing Teams (HPT).

Last Thrive, we focused on the first step to building a resilient, high performing team: alignment. This Thrive takes it one step further. After you have a team that is aligned in its purpose and is collaborating freely, you have to develop a sense of empowerment in each team member.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Empowerment

Empowerment is based upon the concept that equipping employees with knowledge, resources, authority, opportunity and motivation, as well as holding them responsible and accountable for the outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their increased competence in their work and overall job satisfaction. As such, developing an empowered team begins with fostering a sense of importance and ability to add value for individual members through distributed leadership, team-imposed governance and accountability and clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Team Empowerment

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership speaks to employees being afforded the authority and opportunity to be involved in decision-making. Specifically, the leadership function is shared by all members and the entire team is accountable for the team performance.

Team-Imposed Governance and Accountability

Governance and accountability ensure there are effective policies, procedures, and processes available and well-documented. Typically, these “rules” are self-imposed and set forth how decisions are made and communicated.

Roles and Responsibilities

Lastly, clearly defined roles and responsibilities ensure transparency regarding the work being performed and delivers balance in the level of authority among individuals.

Apply the Five!

Governance and rules can feel burdensome unless they’re self-imposed. To help your team members feel empowered rather than weighed down, have a discussion with your team to draw out the “unspoken rules” you’ve all established through working norms. Ask your team members collectively, “What are some things you ‘just know’ you should or shouldn’t do based on your experience working with this team?”

You might be surprised at what you uncover! It can range from rules like, “Send a text, not an email, if you have a quick question.” Or it could be as silly as, “Schedule a brainstorming meeting after everyone has had their morning caffeine.”

Jot down the rules as your team identifies them, and have a discussion around what rules make the final cut for your “official team rules” . Keep the rules somewhere where they will be seen periodically by team members, such as posting them at the top of meeting agendas. These rules will also be super helpful for anyone on-boarding onto the team to help them figure out and understand the team operating norms from day 1.

Do you want some help facilitating the discussion? Do you have a question on how to enhance or support your high performing team? We’d love to connect to give you a free 30 minute consultation!

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Nicole Anderson!

Tools. We have, what feels like, a million of them in our house. Well, I should clarify that my husband has a million tools, and now that my oldest son is almost two, he ALSO has a million tools around the house, but that’s another story for another day! The tools are everywhere. I have found them on the top of the stair platforms, by the front door, scattered across the basement and on top of the microwave. Yep! They find a way to pop up everywhere! I can’t say I mind too much. My husband is very good in the ‘fixing stuff around the house’ department.

My oldest son playing around with some of his tools. Like father, like son!

Thinking back to before we were married, I possessed a toolbox with all the basics. It was simple, but it had all the things I needed to hang pictures, patch walls, etc. However, over time, my tools and my husband’s tools were mixed together. I realized recently, when trying to hang some shelves in our new townhouse, I couldn’t find any of the tools needed to do the job.

At Evans lately, we’ve been talking a lot about empowerment as a key element to fostering a high performing team. I realized, in my frustration trying to complete that simple task, I was no longer really empowered to hang those shelves. Sure, my husband would be happy for me to take something off his to-do list, but empowerment isn’t just having someone tell you it’s okay to move forward with something. As leaders, we have to also provide our teams with the right tools to do the job. When we provide our team members with the resources, guidance and information to accomplish the team’s mission, and (this part is important) then get out of their way, we will see amazing things happen.


Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Thrive in Five: Resilience Step 1: Alignment

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of September is High Performing Teams (HPT).

Our tagline, Human-Centered Change That Works®, is based on the idea that our focus is not solely on the transactional aspects of change and program management. Rather, we acknowledge that people are what drive your organization forward. Each individual team is a very important aspect of the organization. There are many indicators to a successful team, but one in particular signifies if the team will be lasting and long-term: resilience. But how do you ensure your team is resilient? The first team aspect Evans considers when helping our clients build a resilient, high performing team is the team’s alignment, and that’s what we will focus on in this Thrive in Five!

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Alignment

As with a whole organization, for a team to be successful, it must be resilient and dynamic – capable of maintaining a high level of performance in the face of changing conditions and evolving in response to emerging trends. To enable that endurance and flexibility, the team must first define and embrace its common goal and shared purpose. Establishing that foundation as you assemble your team will set you up for long-term success and will provide key context to new members of your team that join over time. What does it take to establish that foundation?

The first step is to building a high performing team is to create alignment. Team alignment exists when there is a strong team road map for success and members choose to follow it. Having a unified purpose gives team members a common understanding that drives the upcoming work, so even those who don’t see directly eye-to-eye are able to work together to fulfill the team’s ultimate purpose. Similarly, creating this sense of a shared purpose will remind your team of its relevance and drive you through periods of slow momentum or change.

Team Alignment

Take Hamilton (the musical) for example (Don’t worry! No major spoilers!). There were multiple parties who shared a common purpose of winning the war against the British (to gain independence), although many of them did not share the same strategy to do so. Even Hamilton and the great George Washington disagreed on the tactics, ending in George Washington sending Hamilton home. Despite disagreements, Washington and Hamilton shared an underlying understanding of the ultimate purpose of the war and continued to work together to ultimately win the war and fulfill their mutual purpose.

Apply the Five!

Apply in your next team meeting with a 30-minute discussion! One fun and engaging way to create your team’s alignment is to have all the team members find a picture in advance of your next team meeting. It could be a picture from online, from a magazine, or it could even be a personal picture. Each team member should pick a picture that describes what he or she thinks portrays their interpretation of the team’s purpose or what success looks like.

Once you have your team together, ask each team member to share his or her picture and describe how the image resonates with them with respect to the team’s purpose and what success looks like. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers at this point. The intent is to get the team talking together. Once everyone has shared their various interpretations, use that opportunity to generate discussion about creating a shared purpose. It’s a really easy way to connect and at least talk about each individual’s understanding of the team’s purpose, and it could also potentially lead to a discussion about how each team member believes he or she can contribute to the purpose.

Would you like some more guidance on how to create team alignment? Or perhaps you’d like help structuring a team alignment meeting? Our High Performing Teams experts are happy to help! Click below to reach out to our HPT team.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Jesse Lambert!

Actually, meet my 7-month-old son, Lucas, who’s way better looking!

In October 2017, I started working on a multi-agency acquisition program with a few Evans colleagues, initially to help document roles and responsibilities within the program office. What seemed like a logical and fairly straight-forward task became an exercise in organizational excavation. Sure, the program office was full of people, but they didn’t really work as a team with defined functions and roles. There was a business rhythm hurtling the program between acquisition milestones without much of a strategy. We realized we had to persuade leadership to define their vision for how the program office and its many teams should support the long-term work of the program – we needed to align everyone involved. Over the past several months, we’ve started referring to this aspect of our work as organizational design, with two major areas of emphasis:

  • First, we’ve been pushing senior leadership to think more strategically about how to organize program resources (i.e., people) for work more collaboratively across agency lines and think beyond the next step in the acquisition process. We’ve done this by encouraging them to revisit the documents that established the program and tried to define the ways the agencies would partner together. What did Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the partner agencies have in mind when this program was established? How should that initial vision be revised to reflect needs of the program that have emerged since its inception? Revisiting – and revising – this foundation helps provides a sense of purpose that is crucial for alignment.
  • We’ve also been redesigning the program’s organizational structure, comprised of a multitude of teams, each with defined functions and shared purposes. We’ve interviewed staff from across the program to understand their work and capture their ideas for how people could work better together. This is culminating in a new governance model that is anchored by the common mission of the program and details the functions of teams throughout the organization, and responsibilities of key individual roles within those teams. We’re hoping that when everyone shares a similar mental model of the program, people will find themselves within it more easily.

Our experience illustrates the value of taking the time to step back, then think about why and how your team started, and where it’s going. With that context, your team should have a clearer, shared idea of team purpose, bringing all members into alignment. Finally, your team should start to gain an understanding of how each individual can contribute in pursuit of the common goal.


Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Thrive in Five: Collaborating with Stakeholders

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of August is Program Management Optimization.

A key aspect to Program Management Optimization is stakeholder collaboration. A program can’t run smoothly without the stakeholders, both internal and external, so keeping stakeholders engaged in decisions and informed with updates will help promote a smooth operation. This Thrive focuses on a few key methods you can use to ensure you’re collaborating with your stakeholders.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Stakeholder Engagement to Optimize Programs

Imagine this: Your client needs help with finding a solution to a problem they’re experiencing. You ask them the following questions:

“Who contributes to this problem?”
“Who else is impacted by this problem?”
“Who else needs to contribute to the solution?”
“Who else would be impacted by the solution?”
“Who else could influence the success of the solution?”

To each the client responds, “Just me.” How easy did your job just become? The only stakeholder is your client!

Realistically, most clients don’t operate in these vacuums but are part of complex systems with massive operational dependencies and interdependencies. This additional level of complexity can be overwhelming, but there are many tools available to facilitate effective stakeholder collaboration such as Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Engagement Plans, and more.

At the heart of any of these tools are the following four concepts:

First, identify who the real stakeholders are – it’s not just the sponsors or people within your organization; who are the customers of the solution and who provided you with the input critical to do your work?

Second, understanding stakeholder priorities is imperative to understanding their perspective on the program. If stakeholders have different priorities, it could create tension in how these different views believe the program should be run. Taking the time to understand the perspectives will help the stakeholders know that their perspective matters when making decisions that affect them. It’s also important to note that stakeholder interests or priorities may differ from their publicly-taken positions.

Third, give the stakeholders a platform to speak. Whether this is a forum once per month or weekly team meetings, stakeholders should be given the opportunity to weigh in.

Fourth, provide timely, tailored updates. Stakeholders should be kept engaged by giving timely updates that are tailored to their interests and influence on the program. There is a balance between giving an update too soon with information that is likely to change, and waiting too long to give an update so the information spreads by word of mouth before stakeholders are informed by the appropriate role. As far as tailoring updates, there is nothing that makes someone “check out” quicker than continually being sent irrelevant information. Understand your audience for each update, and send these updates only to that audience to prevent communication burnout.

Stakeholder Collaboration: Identify Your Stakeholders, Understand their Priorities, Give Each a Platform to Speak, Give Timely, Tailored Updates

Apply the Five!

The first step in engaging your stakeholders is to identify them! Take a moment to think about your program, or the program you support, and list who is involved and affected by the program. Stakeholders could be employees, managers of other programs, directors or account leads, clients or customers, business partners, suppliers and more.

You may find that the list is smaller than you thought or much bigger and requires a more formal Stakeholder Engagement Plan, but knowing first who your stakeholders are is a step in the right direction to laying a great foundation for stakeholder collaboration!

Need some guidance or want to take your stakeholder collaboration to the next level? Our team of seasoned, human-centered professionals can help!


 

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Brit Nanna!

Realistically, most of our clients don’t operate in vacuums but are often part of complex systems with massive operational dependencies and interdependencies. This produces more stakeholders with whom you must intentionally collaborate to understand the full breadth of the problem and ensure the success of your solution.

I liken stakeholders to dynamic puzzle pieces. Understanding how everyone fits into the big picture helps me understand their influence on the program and vice versa.

Engaging stakeholders in collaboration can range from easy to insanely difficult. This experience can hinge on a variety of factors, but below are some key obstacles I’ve encountered:

  1. Stakeholders may not share the same goal(s)
  2. Stakeholders may not feel the same pain of the original problem as your client
  3. Stakeholders may not share the same organizational culture
  4. The most collaborative stakeholder may not have the most influence (i.e., the least collaborative stakeholder might hold the most influence)
  5. A stakeholder’s organizational culture might not promote collaboration to the degree required of them for your project
  6. A stakeholder might favor a more commanding leadership role in the solution than a collaborative partnership
  7. While silent during meetings, a stakeholder may actively voice their dissent and discontent behind closed doors
  8. A stakeholder’s publicly-taken position on a topic may not truly reveal their true interests
  9. Operational inefficiencies may inhibit effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration – e.g., how decisions are made, how stakeholder input is elicited, etc.

These considerations may feed into tools commonly available to facilitate effective stakeholder collaboration such as Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Engagement Plans, etc. The concepts described above are at the heart of any of these tools.


Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)