MERRILLVILLE | Creating a corporate culture that develops and values people increases productivity and engenders more success than all other business tools used today. Yet that will take change, which human beings resist.

Award-winning, internationally known motivational speaker and author Tim Shurr delivered and demonstrated that message to more than 300 attendees at the 10th annual Indiana University Northwest Business Speakers Series Luncheon held Thursday at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza. The Times Media Co. was among the sponsors of the fundraiser for the IUN School of Business and Economics that featured the president of Indianapolis-based Shurr Success!

Audience members included business leaders, educators and students enrolled at IUN School of Business and Economics in Gary.

Fear, stress and worry are among the emotions that imprison people, and the workplace has become one of those places where stress stifles creativity and, in turn, profits, said Shurr, a Hobart native who graduated from IUN in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology.

“People are every company’s greatest competitive advantage,” he said during a talk that had audience members up on their feet interacting with one another. “The point is to not learn how to get comfortable, but to realize we have the keys to our own mental prison in our pockets.”

There are major costs paid for not maximizing human potential in businesses, according to Shurr. Those costs include high turnover, lower productivity, negative work environments and development of silos between departments that work against each other rather than cooperatively.

Honest conversations typically don’t occur in businesses, because “people are very resistant to change. Human beings are creatures of habit,” he said. “Change is an opportunity. People don’t change with information. They change from having emotional experiences.”

Refocusing employees on team-building rather than themselves creates self-awareness, empathy and better verbal and nonverbal communication skills, he said, adding that 55 percent of communication is nonverbal.

For example, the words used in every environment are powerful and actually cause emotions or feelings because of a chemical reaction in the human brain, Shurr said.

“If you say ‘no problem,' what word do you hear? Problem,” he said. “If you say ‘My pleasure’ you hear ‘pleasure’. You have an opportunity to lift people up (with your words).”

These techniques also lead to active listening, better attitudes, making employees feel more valued and ultimately to better customer service, which is seriously lacking today, Shurr said.

The goal is to become “a value-based organization that has transformational versus transactional values and performances,” he said. “How will you live the values (of your organization)?”

This “culture of engagement” is especially important to the generation of workers known as millennials who call employers to ask about the corporate culture, he said.

“Every chance you get to help someone feel better about themselves, seize it,” Shurr said. “That is maximizing human potential.”

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News Editor/Lake County Editor