WorkingSmarts is led by CEO and Principal Consultant, Dr. Erika Salina
Building healthy AND high-performing workplaces
Salina founded the management consulting firm in 2012 after decades building expertise as an organization development consultant and educator. She launched WorkingSmarts to help organizational leaders build high-performing and healthy workplaces where curiosity and creativity are supported, where positive mindset is modeled, and where learning is continuous (“brain-friendly workplaces”). She shows clients how to apply smart research-based organizational and management practices to achieve “radical productivity” and greater ease at work and in their personal lives.
Erika is a sought-after speaker and consultant in the area of corporate culture, productivity, and organizational excellence. Using expertise developed over 25 years as a practitioner, her warm, engaging connections with audiences and clients bring her back time after time.
Erika combines a unique educational background in sociology, education, organization development, and neuroscience. She is as effective working with front-line employees up through C-suite executives. She has coached forestry supervisors in the woods of northern Minnesota, developed call center management protocol and training programs, transformed workplace cultures of consulting firms, and unblocked executives held back by their own emotions, thoughts, and unproductive habits. She holds certifications in many behavioral assessments, coaching methodologies, facilitation, strategy, human capital strategy, accelerated learning, NeuroLeadership, workforce planning, human resource development, and organization development . . . together, making her expertise one of a kind.
WorkingSmarts has a team of other experts who uphold the WorkingSmarts values and join in on projects that benefit from their skillsets.
The WorkingSmarts Vision, Mission and Values
Vision - We make workplaces positive, productive, and rewarding places to be so professionals can give their best selves to the world.
Mission - WorkingSmarts creates healthier and higher-performing organizations by unleashing brilliance and ambition through neuroscience-based methods.
We translate powerful scientific theory to everyday workplace practice. WorkingSmarts shows organizations how to navigate a path through the world of improvement methods, and shares the roadmap to simple, high-impact, brain-friendly practices that make workplaces immediately more effective and sane.
Values - excellence, curiosity, respect, exploration, compassion, growth
What We Offer
Multiple pathways to radically higher productivity and greater ease
We offer a number of cutting-edge programs that teach our core 'brain-friendly workplace' methods. Some are self-paced courses, others are hybrid -- weekly individual study with periodic group coaching sessions. Individual management/leadership/executive coaching also available.For Individuals
Customized team development programs, courses and coaching for employee and management groups or whole organizationsFor Groups
Want radical productivity? A more engaged staff?
If you’re like most organizations, you struggle with some common issues related to your PEOPLE and PEOPLE SYSTEMS.
It can be daunting to know where to start fixing these issues, and in what order. We can zero in on a particular person or unit . . . or we can transform your organizational culture. We’ll show you how to drive performance smarter, faster, and sustainably. . . . lining up your people strategy with your organizational strategy.Consulting
Master Facilitator, leading organizational scientist, and author of “The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Five Big Ideas from Neuroscience That Address Organizational Challenges”, Dr. Erika Salina and her team are on a mission to build healthy and high-performing organizations.
An international speaker, author, and management consultant, Erika works with diverse teams in fields like technology, health care, financial services, government, natural resources, energy, human resources, insurance and engineering. Clients re-engage her as a favored facilitator and speaker at company meetings, management retreats, association conferences, and strategic consultant.
You can expect solid design and fresh delivery . . . people will be impacted by her warmth, humor, and definitely a thought-provoking experience.
Dr. Salina is a member of the National Speakers Association, Past Speakers Academy Dean and Instructor of the Speakers Academy in Minnesota. She is a past winner of the NSA Speakers Academy Award and the NSA Newcomer Impact Award.Speaking
Fun Facts about the Founder
ERIKA IS AN AVID MUSICIAN
She comes from a family of classical musicians and had learned to play the piano and violin by age three. She later added more instruments (e.g. flute, guitar) to the list, and sang in choirs as well (Erika is secretly a wanna-be thrash drummer!) She considers music an enormous part of her life and loves almost every genre (guess which two she does NOT love).
CAN'T GET ENOUGH TIME WITH ANIMALS
Erika is a passionate animal lover and makes regular charitable contributions to animal safety, wellness, and rights organizations. Her household currently includes a 75-pound rescue named Morrison.
WE HAVE MAD RESPECT FOR BRAINPOWER
Dr. Salina is a member of Mensa and encourages others to be proud of their intelligence rather than hiding it.
Wondering how you can be more productive at work?
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Full of our favorite goodies supporting radical productivity and well-being at work.
Interview with Erika
In response to inquiries about Erika’s background and career path, please read the following, “Interview With Erika,” which answers frequently asked questions.
Q: How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get here?
A: I come from a family of teachers — teachers of music. Learning was a major priority and love in my household growing up. As a kid, I spent ten times the number of hours reading as I did playing with toys. Learning WAS my play. And, it still is.
My undergraduate degrees were in sociology and education and my first job out of college was as an elementary school teacher. At the time, brain-based learning was cutting edge, and was how I learned to teach. I never knew another way. I used brain-based learning techniques with both my students in the classroom and with teachers and staff development. I taught for a number of years and loved it. I also learned quickly that I had another passion . . . teaching teachers. During the summertime when school was out, I taught courses in the Staff Development department of my school district and knew without a doubt that I’d found a really special, soul-serving way to use my gifts. For years then, I looked as much forward to summer staff development work as I did working with my classroom of kids during the school year. I began creating curriculum for my own district, then the state, then the National Science Foundation.
After an adventure in Europe, I returned to the US and started a degree program in organization development at the University of Minnesota. During that program, I was recruited by what was then called Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and received a crash course in cross-industry consulting, focusing on people strategy, change management, performance and learning. For the next 15 years, I consulted in those areas for consulting firms from start-up to global, and continued to build expertise and a variety of industries. I also earned further certifications, licenses, and niche skills, beginning to integrate them all into proprietary methods and frameworks.
In 2012, I left my last position as organization development manager to start my own firm, WorkingSmarts (first called Garms Group, Inc.). I completed a program in neuroleadership from the Neuroleadership Institute and Sussex University, which provided me with the in-depth theory I was looking for. I had grown frustrated with the limited impact that organizational improvement methods had shown over the years, and had a strong hunch that neuroscience had some golden nuggets crying out for application in workplaces, as I had applied brain science in classrooms earlier in my career. I dearly wanted to mine for those golden nuggets, and translate them in a very user-friendly way, in order to develop people and organizations in a new and radically more productive way.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: An organization with managers and leaders is an organization I can likely help. I have helped new and startup companies as well as corporate giants. There are two types of these organizations that I tend to work with:
- A continuously improving workplace looking for new, progressive ways to fine-tune individual performance, team dynamics, and whole organization performance and culture.
- An organization with some sort of pain point (low morale, high turnover, poor or inconsistent performance, underprepared supervisors and managers, timid leaders, dysfunctional relationships and communications, no people strategy, or reluctance to change).
Q: What industries do you serve?
A: Many of my clients are in science, technology, engineering, financial services, energy, government, higher education, and manufacturing. I tend to attract bright and curious professionals and work best with those with some initiative and goal-directedness.
I also do a great deal of speaking for all of these industries – and the professional associations that serve them. I have space for a limited number of speaking engagements for non-profit groups/events as well.
Q: How are you different from other consultants?
A: Organizations are systems. Making one change in an aspect of an organization will inherently cause other systems to need to adjust in response. The systems all interrelate and must align with each other. When they don’t– which is common– confusion, suspicion, distrust, and poor performance emerge. I use a systems view.
Secondly, I don’t do things that don’t work. I stay abreast of new trends in behavioral and organizational science. Literally, there is always a stack 12” high on my night stand including magazines, journals, books, and articles. There is not a fiction book in sight, truth be told. I look for the supporting research and test cases so that I only do and teach others to do what will make a positive and sustainable impact. Working with me, you can rest assured that I you’re your back. I’ve done the reading and the research and have pulled and translated the best ideas out there.
Lastly, I will tell it like it is and as I see it. I know clients generally want to cut to the chase and hear my recommendations in a concise and direct way. Then, they want to see the path to improvement, clearly and plainly. I give you both (and often with humor). I’ll help you prioritize and sequence and give you the pros and cons of your chosen action.
Q: What is “radical productivity”?
A: The word, “radical” means going to the root or origin; fundamental thorough, extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms
I show clients how to master “radical productivity” as individuals, in their teams, and for their entire organization. Guaranteed: these are novel, fresh, quick-results methods!
Q: Your first book is called, “The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Big Ideas From Neuroscience that Address Organizational Challenges.” What is a brain-friendly workplace?
A: “Brain-friendly workplaces” are work environments where everyone – from the front line to the executive leaders – feel calm, valued and able to do the work they are best at. As I describe in all of my programs, these key words/phrases:
- “. . . they are best at”
…are all intentional and critical. Subtract one of them, and I assure you, there are organizational woes. Ignore these woes, and they will spread and intensify. The longer they are ignored, the harder the recovery will be. It’s never impossible to turn around a culture, but the longer the bad habits and ineffective practices are in place, the more energy is required to reshape it.
Q: How long are your programs?
A: We offer hour-long keynotes up to year-long programs. Many of our programs work very well in 3-hour formats. See the home page of our website for a graphic that shows many of our most popular programs and their length. We also do long-term transformational and leadership development initiatives that may last a year, or be on-going.
Q: Will I recoup my investment in your programs?
A: Absolutely! Without a doubt. Consider these statistics about workplaces today:
- 40% of managers’ time is spent on conflict about people and issues
- 23% of our time is lost on distractions and loss of focus
- 70% of employees are disengaged AND one of the top few impacts on disengagement is someone’s relationship with and satisfaction with their direct boss the average manager spends 40% of their time in meetings and 65% of those meetings are ineffective and unproductive!
If you made even a 10% improvement in just one of the above areas, what would that be worth to you? To your team? To your entire organization?
When you quantify what a 10% improvement is worth to your performance, your mental health, and your confidence, it is easy to see the payback of investing in a program for yourself or your organization.
…and typical improvements are far greater than 10%!
We think these programs are (pardon the perfect pun) “no brainers”!
Q: Okay, I know which program I want. How do we get started?
A: Some of our programs are on-demand and available through our learning portal. Click the orange button on the Home page of our website to go to the learning portal.
Other programs require a short conversation. Call us at 612.315.0807, go to www.workingsmarts.com/contact to schedule a time for a chat.
Q: I’m not sure I’m ready to get started; how can I find out more about the program I’m interested in?
A: Email us to request further information on the program(s) you’re interested in. We may be able to connect you with someone who has participated in the program and who would be happy to talk with you about the value they received.
Or, go to www.workingsmarts.com/contact to schedule a time to discuss.
Q: I’m not the final decision-maker. How can I inform the person here with purchase authority that this is a good investment?
A: We have overview documents and talking points that may be helpful to you. Ask us – we’ll share them with you. It may also be smart to get a 3-way phone call scheduled, where you can convene the discussion, and let us highlight the program and results alongside you and your decision-maker.
Q: What forms of payment do you accept?
A:PayPal, Stripe, electronic funds transfers (EFTs), purchase orders, credit card payments, government P-cards, checks