conversations | the fierce newsletter


September 2014 Edition

Welcome to the September edition of Conversations, the Fierce newsletter.


This September, we highlight articles sharing results from our current work-life balance survey along with tips for your workplace. Additionally, we highlight our Fierce in the Schools work from Washington State in Orting School District along with other updates.


As always, we're interested in hearing your thoughts on our Fierce blog, and don't forget to check out upcoming workshops, webinars, and other events.


1. Motivating the Negative Nancy on Your Team
2. Fierce News!
3. Fierce in the Schools News!
4. Fierce Events: Save the Date

1. Motivating the Negative Nancy on Your Team 

At my previous job, I worked with a team on an important project. Our group was cohesive, except for one teammate.

Nothing was good enough for her. Had the members of the team thought things through before setting the project’s timeline? Why was he in on our meetings? How did we think we could do this better than dozens of others who had tried before?

Her bad attitude left us feeling like we were running on a hamster wheel, drained from trying to please someone who couldn’t be pleased – with no end in sight. As the motivation waned, the work suffered. Finally the issue had to be addressed for the team’s productivity.

That was the first time I experienced how contagious negativity can be in the workplace. It can spread like wildfire and affect everyone, including customers. If a pessimistic employee is stifling company productivity, address the issue as soon as possible.

A “Negative Nancy” is someone who overgeneralizes in labeling situations and people, focuses on the bad in each situation, jumps to conclusions and constantly redirects the blame. In a business setting, these behaviors can result in harmful effects, such as reduced productivity, decreased group morale, increased stress, wasted time, hindered creativity and innovation, and higher employee turnover.

Fierce Inc. survey highlighted just how toxic a negative personality in the workplace can be. Respondents ranked negativity higher than laziness, passive aggressiveness and gossiping when asked to identify the most harmful quality in a co-worker.

“Allowing [negativity] to fester is much more costly and damaging to an organization’s bottom line than confronting or possibly replacing a single toxic employee,” said president and CEO of Fierce Inc. Halley Bock in a statement. “Organizations must foster employee- and company-level accountability by addressing attitudinal issues as soon as they arise.”

After detecting negativity in an organization, take these steps to nip it in the bud before it spreads throughout the office:

1. Identify the negative behavior. Recognize bad attitudes and negativity and identify the individual involved after receiving a tip or spotting something.

2. Confront the person. Develop a plan to address the individual in a calm, private setting. Set aside enough time to discuss the situation in detail. There may be a reason or a trigger for this behavior.

3. Reinforce positive behavior. During the discussion, set goals for change and even play out scenarios. Listen to the employee’s thoughts and ideas about the situation and emphasize the need for a positive attitude moving forward.

4. Follow up. Schedule a meeting to discuss the individual’s progress. Recognize and praise positive improvements and attitude.

5. Set a good example. The manager should demonstrate positive behavior for staff members — even on the cloudiest of days. Remind them that problems and setbacks are an inevitable part of business, but each one can serve as a learning experience.

6. Invest in positivity. Boost the positivity quotient in the office by fostering programs or activities that will make staffers happy, such as potlucks, games and employee-of-the-month recognitions. Promote physical and mental health by funding employee-fitness programs, planning office yoga classes or creating work spaces with natural light.

Even the most positive person can have a bad day, and it’s not uncommon for co-workers with different backgrounds, beliefs and behaviors to have an occasional personality clash. But letting a Negative Nancy disturb the attitudes and work of others can be extremely detrimental to business productivity. The key is addressing the issue quickly and promoting positivity and happiness throughout the workplace.

Fierce CEO, Halley Bock, was interviewed in this Entrepreneur article by Zeynep Ilgaz. It was originally posted here.

2. Fierce News! 

New Fierce Press Release: Work/Life Balance Plaguing Working Women-70% Stressed, Nearly 50% Experience Health Issues


The stresses of managing both a successful career and a healthy home life are taking a serious toll on today's working women. An astounding 70 percent of respondents to a recent Fierce, Inc. survey cite work/life imbalance as a major cause of stress.

Read the press release

Having It All: The Ground Truth About Work-Life Balance

A New Fierce survey reveals insights into what it means to “have it all”. Listen to an engaging conversation with Fierce CEO as she shares the changing dynamics of balance in the work place.

Listen to the podcast

The C-Level Recipe for Work-Life Balance

This article by Megan Ingenbrandt shares how different entrepreneurs and CEOs balance their lives. Ingenbrandt shares our Fierce CEO’s thoughts.

Read the article

Stay Sought-After by Connecting Better in Conversation

This article shares pointers and tips about how to connect with others better through conversation – referencing Fierce Conversations as an additional resource.

Read the article

More Women Give Up on "Having It All"

This article shares information about Fierce’s recent work-life balance survey, highlighting the stats around keeping top female talent.

Read the article

Blog Posts

Fierce Tip of the Week: Ask Your Team – This week’s tip encourages you to remember and ask your team to weigh in on specific decisions that will affect their workflow.

Be a Fierce Leader: 3 Conversations to Share Wins – This blog shares tips on how to be a leader that acknowledges and appreciates the people on their team.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Identify Your Needs in Negotiation – This week’s tip is to identify your needs prior to any negotiations – it is a critical step that is often overlooked.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Put Your Health First – This week’s tip focuses on putting you and your health first, so you can be the best for others and your work.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Show Yourself Gratitude – This week’s tip is to take time for yourself and practice gratitude.


What People are Saying

"One of the differentiating factors with Fierce is the sticky language: 'mokitas,' 'missing conversations,' 'unreal conversations,' 'ground truth vs. official truth,' 'sharing your stripe.' This  common language gives us a solid platform and the courage to enter into what may have been missing conversations."
– Mary Buscher, Organizational Development Specialist, Sammons Financial Group

"The unexpected impact is that personal lives are changing too. People come back to the second and third sessions with amazing stories of how their lives have changed for the better."
– Brian Parks, Executive Director at St. Andrew's Village, Fierce Facilitator, Presbyterian Senior Living

"Fierce is helping our organization build more open and honest relationships, one conversation at a time."
– Jayne White, Director, Talent Management, Forest City Enterprises

Join the conversation


3. Fierce in the Schools News! 

Mount Marty Brings Fierce Conversations to Entire Freshman Class

This month, we were thrilled to be able to host a Fierce Conversations workshop for the entire freshman class at Mount Marty College to kick-off their Fierce Leadership Program this fall.  Dr. Suzi Kalsow, VP of Academic Affairs, headed up this effort. She and her Fierce certified colleagues delivered this workshop to staff and students with the belief that ALL students deserve to discover the tools and learn the skills of leadership.

One student commented after the workshop that Fierce had given her the tools to have the tough conversations she needed to have in her life, and she wishes she would have had the training sooner.  An upperclassman also asked one of the facilitators when they were going to be getting the workshop too! Mount Marty is the first college in the nation to implement Fierce concepts for an entire student body.

How One School District Transformed by Speaking the Truth


Orting School District transformed the culture and improved academic results by bringing Fierce training and concepts to the staff, teachers, and most importantly, the students.

Read the case study

Edison Learning Partnership

This month we began a partnership with this international educational services provider to enable fierce conversations to begin to take place among their leadership teams from over 50 schools in 14 states. Their extensive network also includes virtual high schools, eCourses, and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies, who focus on dropout prevention and recovery.  We are so excited to be working with these leaders to have the conversations that are critical for them to work collaboratively, effectively, and successfully in this challenging, dynamic new educational landscape. Their leadership team is all reading the Fierce Conversations book, then coming together to practice new skillsets that will help prepare them to work with their teachers, staff, and students to have a common language and framework for engaging with each other.

Educator TTT Certification on the Move

Fierce Feedback is going full force by certifying hundreds of trainers the past few months. Educators from around the country are attending this one hour class so they can bring Fierce Feedback to their staff this year. Fierce Trainers are also eligible to have online certification for our Accountability and Generations programs. Please contact any member of the FITS team to find out dates and more details about how you can register and add these to your offerings for the 2014-15 school year.

What They Are Saying About FITS

“Participants across our school division continue to tell us the Fierce Conversations workshop transformed their conversations--personally and professionally.” 
– Jamie Luerssen, Manager Professional Development, Fairfax County Public Schools

“At the root of staff development within the Divisional Student Affairs is the desire to challenge our staff to move forward beyond status quo and pursue higher levels of excellence with determination and enthusiasm. The goal of Student Affairs is to help transform the lives of our students and help students with their discovery of self and the world in which they live; this effort is completely reliant on staff having rich, meaningful and productive conversations.” 
– Juan C. González, Vice President, Student Affairs, University of Texas, Austin

“The principles of Fierce have had a tremendous impact on the way I communicate and relate to others. The lessons I've learned continue to benefit me long after my two-day session with Fierce. I have no doubt that Fierce will encourage and engender positive relationships and learning within schools.” 
– Joel Constable, Stanford University School of Education: Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies (POLS) Program

4. Fierce Events: Save the Date 

Attending one of our workshops is a wonderful way to evaluate Fierce for your organization. If you would like more information, please click on the options below.

October 10th Online

Taste of Fierce Confrontation (8-9:30 AM PST)

October 14-15th in Brisbane, AU

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

October 20-21st in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

November 4th Online

Taste of Fierce Confrontation (8-9:30 AM PST)

November 10-11th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

November 18-19th in New York City, NY

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

December 5th Online

Taste of Fierce Confrontation (8-9:30 AM PST)

December 15-16th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

©2014 Fierce Inc. All rights reserved.

Fierce on Facebook Fierce on Twitter Fierce on LinkedIn Fierce on YouTube

Fierce, Inc.

101 Yesler Way, Suite 200

Seattle, WA 98104

206.787.1100 phone

206.787.1120 fax

© Copyright 2007 - 2014, Fierce Inc. All rights reserved

Fierce Inc. is certified as a women-Owned Business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Astra Women’s Business Alliance.