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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ask the Right Questions, Receive Better Answers – Part I

Here’s the scenario: It has just come to your attention that a customer filed a complaint about Mr. Smith, one of your employees. While your gut tells you that the customer may have overreacted a bit, there’s enough information to warrant a meeting with Mr. Smith. You know from past experience that he’s somewhat sensitive to criticism, but you have several legitimate concerns. How can you get the information you need without triggering a negative response from Mr. Smith?

Ask the Right Questions

Here’s another common office dilemma: You are meeting with a vendor who’s behind schedule and over budget on a project. You don’t want to jeopardize the job and you don’t want to burn a bridge with this company. However, you’re not at all satisfied with the way things are going and you need to take some answers back to your VP of Operations. What is your best approach?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Overcoming the Fear of Change

Change is inevitable – everybody knows that.  Some of you reading this today don’t even know it used to be common for a person to start a job in their teens and work their way up the ladder, eventually retiring at age 65 from the same company!  Today, employment is much more fluid, and many people experience job change frequently, sometimes by moving on to better opportunities, but sometimes because their current job is changing due to new ownership, new strategies, new methods and new technology.

Change

Still, in spite of the new normal trends, most people struggle with change even if it’s positive. In today’s business environment, since nothing stays the same for very long, those who are unable to effectively “ride the waves” will likely find themselves drowning.  Here are ten tips to help you navigate in a changing world.

“To change is to be vulnerable. And to be vulnerable is to be alive.” Alexis DeVeaux

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fear and Cockroaches

I meet with people nearly every day who are controlled by their fears or victimized by the fears of their spouse, parent or other influential person in their life.  They often miss out on the joy of life because they are consumed with worry about financial ruin, illness, rejection, criticism and the list goes on and on.

Fear

The emotional, physical and psychological symptoms that accompany the anxiety brought on by these fears often greatly diminish a person’s quality of life and ability to relate well at home and work.  People experiencing fear and anxiety often tell me they live with a constant sense of panic or dread that something bad is going to happen.  Or they suffer with physical symptoms like headaches, stomach cramps, chest pain, tension and fatigue.  Of course, it’s always important to check with your physician to rule out health problems, but it’s equally important to learn how your body tends to react to fear and anxiety, because long term stress can eventually lead to physical illness.  It’s a perfect example of a vicious cycle!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Keys to Effective Office Communication

Building and maintaining strong relationships on the job can be a challenge.  One of the greatest challenges is knowing how to communicate effectively.  These 10 keys to effective office communication will help you build stronger work relationships and a position your business for greater success.

Office Communication

1. Avoid written communication when your emotions are involved. Just because it’s “business” doesn’t mean you won’t have strong feelings when communicating with a co-worker. If you’re happy, it’s tempting to punctuate with triple exclamation points, smiley faces, etc. (I’m not saying you can never do that, but it’s not very professional – use them sparingly if you must.) Conversely, if you have negative emotions, it’s more likely you’ll be terse, abrupt or write things you’re sorry about later. It can be better to talk to the person face-to-face so your body language and expressions can help communicate what you mean to say.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Managers Can Improve Staff Morale – Part 2

If you’re a manager, you know the challenge of keeping your best employees and trying to bring the others to a higher level of performance.  While an employee may simply not have the skills to do their job well, in many cases an underperforming team member may have more of an attitude problem than an ability problem.  Fortunately, there are some practical things you, as a manager, can do about it.

Staff MoraleIn my last blog I shared the first five of ten strategies for improving staff morale within your team.  Here are the remaining five strategies.  Feel free to pass them on.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Managers Can Improve Staff Morale – Part I

Most employees who quit their jobs are leaving because of their managers and low staff morale, not necessarily their companies.  Sure, we can think of exceptions, like an employee who moves away, or someone who works at a burger joint who decides to follow a vegan diet, or someone who feels a company product, practice or philosophy violates their own values.  But in cases where the employee just can’t stand to go in to work anymore, most of the time it’s personal – often directly related to the interaction they have, or don’t have, with their manager.  If the manager/employee interactions are negative or inadequate, low staff morale will often ensue.

Staff Morale

Many studies have revealed that there is a direct relationship between employee morale and productivity and performance, so making a conscious effort to improve morale is simply good business.  The Gallup Organization has estimated that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the American economy up to $350 billion annually in lost productivity including absence, illness, and other problems that occur as a result of employee dissatisfaction.  Executives and managers who are able to keep employee morale high will undoubtedly improve productivity and performance for their company.

If you want to improve staff morale among your employees adopt the five strategies outlined below as part of your regular management practice.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Your Past Affects Your Marriage

Remember the old jump rope jingle?

Tommy and Suzy sittin’ in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

First comes love, then comes marriage

Then comes Suzy with a baby carriage!

We usually inserted the names of a boy and a girl we knew and used this rhyme as a way of embarrassing them; but the point is, it wasn’t that long ago that the sequence of events in the relationship were the norm, and variances were socially unacceptable.

Marriage - Uncertainty

Social climate, perceived standards of morality and priorities have changed a lot since then!  I read some interesting research by Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley that explored how the “new normal” trends have affected the younger generation of married couples.  Their findings include three major conclusions:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do the Right Thing

In the business world we often hear terms and strategies for doing business that are predatory, aggressive and even deceptive in order to make the sale or increase profits. Words like shark, war and guerilla come up in the vernacular. But I’ve been watching people over the years, and find that, in the long run, people who are willing to cheat or compromise often lose out on true success. People who do the right things for the right reasons have more satisfying careers and happier lives.

Do the Right Thing

So, let’s explore this a little further: Have you ever met someone that you consider to be, or to have been, a really good person? I would imagine that you could probably name at least a few. What character traits do you think describe a “good” man or a good woman in our society today? Perhaps words such as kind, thoughtful, generous, giving and unselfish top your list. If so, I would agree – these are traits we would all expect a good person to possess, but there’s got to be more to it – and there is.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Marriage is Alive and Pretty Well!

We have all heard that the majority of marriages end in divorce, and if you believe what you hear, you may think the tradition of marriage is doomed.  But I recently read the research published by Shaunti Feldhahn based on census statistics and many other sources.  In her book, The Good News About Marriage, she and her research assistant, Tally Whitehead, dig deep into facts, figures, trends, and urban legends about the state of marriage today.

Marriage

The full scope of marriage research is too overwhelming to summarize in a blog post, so today we will look at two significant statistics about women that give us reason to hope.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Strategies for Dealing with Burnout – Part 4 of 4

In my previous blogs we talked about the causes and symptoms of burnout, the importance of thinking differently and some ideas to revitalize your life to help break the burnout cycle.

Burnout

In this final blog we will talk about Strategy#3: Recommit.