Sync or swim: A fable about workplace communication and coming together in a crisis

Since earliest times, fables have been passed on from generation to generation. Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them, we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish.

Our book, Sync or Swim, helps us solve the frustrating contradiction of morale-building programs that end up hurting morale and of recognition programs resulting in cynicism. The story is written to be a fun, quick read, illustrating ways to communicate appreciation that generate productivity and effective teamwork. Each character responds in different ways to the same situation – as each of us as individuals do.

We shared Sync or Swim with a wide variety of managers, trainers, and other leaders and these were just a few of the positive responses we received:

“We’ve struggled with these issues, and the principles are so wonderfully illustrated. The story is an easy read for everyone, including those who don’t read very much.”

“The fable is a great tool for groups to create awareness, stimulate lively discussion, and give hope for changing their current atmosphere into a thriving workplace.”

Meet some of the colorful characters in the book:

Sam, CEO: The story is told from Sam’s point of view. He’s an optimist who begins the book thinking he knows it all and can easily step in to fix the company’s problems. He soon learns that before you can lead change, you must learn to use verbal and nonverbal communication more effectively.

Here are some of the things he learns from other characters through the course of the book.

Tia, Head of Human Resources: “You wouldn’t believe all the negativism around here! … How am I supposed to help employees when they won’t work together, and they sit around blaming each other for all the lost work orders and not meeting deadlines?”

Jackson, Engineer: “Nobody cares. Nobody! Where’s the money we need for equipment? And where’s the new staff to replace my guys who quit? … without equipment, supplies, and staff, how are we supposed to fix that gigantic crack? We’ve been requesting them for months!”

Olympia, Local Entrepreneur, Professor, Consultant: “Sarcasm is poison. It kills morale. … Changing the culture will take a whole new way of communicating.”

“Ever run a machine without oil? Pretty soon, metal grinds against metal. Without it, work grinds on worker. Spark ignite resentment and then cynicism. What’s vital is communicating authentic appreciation. It’s organizational oil.”

“Sam, everyone needs to feel valued. Work is tough and full of harsh realities. Authentic appreciation isn’t a magic bullet, but the magic dies when it’s missing!”

“There’s a lot more to leadership than grim, get-it-done stuff. There’s celebration! And it all starts with affirming the dignity and uniqueness of every person.”

Sync or Swim will help you break through apathy and cynicism to inspire teamwork and create an engaging work environment. And after the story, you’ll find responses and questions to stimulate your thinking and discussions.

If you order a hardcover version of Sync or Swim between December 2, 2019 and December 19, 2019, you can enter “FREECODE” at checkout and receive a free code ($15.00 value) for taking our Motivating by Appreciation Inventory — to use for yourself or share with a friend or co-worker.

This article first appeared on Appreciation Blog.