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Hope Unhinged

Influential Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker encourages bold and collaborative action.

May 03, 2013
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“I always encourage people to be bolder,” Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., told attendees of CO-OP Financial Services THINK Conference this week in Chicago. “The times I’ve learned the most are when I’ve taken the most risks—and failed.”

In his first term as mayor, Booker described how “we started challenging the conventional wisdom and started articulating our vision. We brought people together and created a collective strategy of change and a conscious conspiracy of love.”
 
This included encouraging people to move out of their state of “sedentary agitation,” he says. “The productivity of the city shot up, we used technology to innovate, and we created innovations in youth courts and the jails.” 
 
The city worked to provide men with mentors and offer them parenting classes, and the city saw its recidivism rate drop. “And we democratized access to education and put classes online,” he adds. 
 
Booker, with nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers (@corybooker), uses social media to connect with the people he serves. It’s a connection so strong that now “I have residents taking pictures of potholes and tweeting their mayor,” he says, very often before the city workers know where the potholes are.
 
The power of the people must be greater than the people in power, Booker says. “We must continue the course of our nation, but it’s not easy. Life can be a grind. But I am hope unhinged.
 
“You can’t have great breakthroughs without great frustrations. Life is about purpose—not positions.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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