Strengthsfinder Assessment Tool
What management challenges has your organization experienced over the past few years? How have issues changed or developed over the last 12 or 6 months? As more and more employees are returning to the office, you’re probably dealing with a fresh set of challenges and we outlined just a few in our previous article. Last year was a period of office ‘reentry’ and now it’s time to figure out how to juggle in-person team members, hybrid and remote workers while not sacrificing performance. It’s a lot to handle and how do you even begin?
Let’s start with a few of the basics. We’ve outlined a few “dos and don’ts” below. Maybe you’re already using some of them or perhaps they’re a good reminder of where you need to improve:
- Do set immediate and clear expectations – and make sure everyone knows what they are!
- Do schedule regular team meetings and make them a priority (no regular cancellations, please). It’s an effective way to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with your team’s work and communication style and find areas for improvement.
- Do engage directly with employees as often as possible.
- Don’t just have a communication strategy in place – document it and share it! Everyone needs to be on the same page.
- Don’t just encourage feedback, make it possible. And listen to it!
- Don’t micromanage and make employees feel like they’re not trusted.
- Do have an open-door policy and set aside time for one-on-one conversations.
- Do have regular team building activities that enable in-person, hybrid and remote team members to get to know each other in a fun, casual setting.
- Don’t forget about mental health. Make sure you’re communicating benefits that your organization provides to employees. Listening to team members and working with them to address concerns is one of the most important things you can do.
A proactive approach and implementing improvements not only keeps your organization moving forward, but also shows team members, whether they’re in the office, remote or hybrid, that you’re engaged in their wellbeing. Fortunately, you don’t have to handle it alone. Working with a coach like Leah M Joppy and Associates and utilizing our Strengthsfinder assessment tool is an ideal way to get started. We outlined the benefits of Strengthsfinder in our previous article. The data it provides goes a long way towards leveraging team members’ strengths, addressing team conflicts and improving communication. Want to learn more? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at email@example.com.
Challenges In The Workplace – How A Coach Can Help
Over the past few years, we’ve all had to adjust to the virtual workplace and the challenges that came with it – from being interrupted on Zoom calls from a crying toddler to missing out on casual chit chat with your colleagues as you grab a morning coffee. Or perhaps you were hired during the pandemic and don’t really feel connected to your new team. Now that people are slowly returning to the workplace, many organizations are dealing with a whole new set of challenges. We’ve broken down the top 3 below:
- Office Etiquette: Let’s face it – we all developed some interesting habits while working at home, whether it’s living in pajamas, pacing around the house while on a phone call or leaving a pile of dirty dishes in the sink to deal with later. Clearly, this isn’t going to fly in a professional environment. Management needs to set guidelines when it comes to office etiquette and clearly communicate areas such as: respecting team members’ personal space, dress code, keeping workspaces clean and being mindful of voice level. Patience needs to be practiced as everyone readjusts to office life. It’s not fun, but managers must be ready to have conversations when/if issues arise.
- Communication: While some team members are returning to the office, many may be on a hybrid work schedule and others may continue working remotely. This can make communication challenging for even the most seasoned managers. Effective communication requires clarity, consistency and careful listening.
- Team Building: Returning to the office can be particularly difficult for employees who were on-boarded during the pandemic. The existing team may wonder, “Who are the new people? What role will they play within the team? What knowledge and skills do they bring to the group? Will they be a team player?” The new employees may feel like they’re truly part of the team and may not feel comfortable speaking up or asking questions.
How Working With a Coach Can Help
It’s easy to say “communicate more with your employees” or “set clear expectations”, but how do you get started when you’re already feeling overwhelmed? That’s where working with a coaching team like Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. Our popular Strengthsfinder assessment tool has helped organizations and team members learn so much about their core competencies, how to use them to their advantage and where to make improvements.
Participants who have taken this assessment develop a clear understanding of how to use their strengths to support and effectively communicate with team members, as well as work together to support agency mission and goals. This tool also identifies complementary strengths that enable team members to support each other in areas where they may not be as efficient. In addition, this self-awareness insight enables participants to:
- Better manage team and customer conflict
- Leverage individual strengths and communication styles to build cross-agency collaborative partnerships
- Maximize creativity
- Increase performance
Imagine what your organization could do armed with this kind of data! Contact Leah M Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get started.
Burnout For Organizations
Burnout. It’s something no one wants to feel and it’s an issue that no organization wants to experience. But increased levels of employee burnout are becoming more common across every industry and not just the ones we think of most, like healthcare and teaching. Many organizations think of burnout as an “individual problem,” solvable by an employee just taking the afternoon off or practicing some breathing techniques. Wrong! It affects your organization at every level and has a negative impact by decreasing morale and increasing turnover.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings or negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy (World Health Organization, 2019). It’s incredibly costly for organizations. Consider these statistics: according to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of nearly 1,500 U.S. workers, 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). Meanwhile, 36% reported cognitive weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019.
It’s important to train managers to recognize the signs of burnout in team members and have a comprehensive plan in place to address underlying issues. Symptoms of burnout include:
- Decreased engagement and enthusiasm in work
- Increased absenteeism
- Decreased productivity
- Higher sensitivity to feedback
Employee burnout is one the most pressing challenges that organizations face today. Leaders need to know the prominent signs (as we outlined above) and how to work with team members on solutions that have a lasting impact. It’s no small task, but in the end, it’s a win-win for everyone. Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help your organization face any workforce burnout issues head-on before they become major problems. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email email@example.com and let’s discuss your needs.
Ideas for Improving Psychological Safety
Imagine a work environment where every team member feels comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.
- An environment where people feel like they can learn from their mistakes and not humiliated.
- An environment where disagreements and open discussions are encouraged and not seen as a threat.
Perhaps you already work in an office like this and you probably feel grateful for it! However, if you’re like many, it could feel like a dream that will never come true. That’s because many organizations have difficulty developing and maintaining a strong sense of psychological safety for their team members. As we discussed in our last article, psychological safety is about being able to act and engage in a team without fear of negative consequences. It’s one of the strongest proven predictors of team effectiveness.
It takes great leadership and management to create psychological safety. But if you feel like it’s lacking in your organization, what are a few first steps you can take to improve it? Here are some ideas to get started:
- Practice accountability and lead by example: Leaders set the tone for an organization and are responsible for the psychological safety of the workplace. Leaders should be approachable, be open to opinions that differ from their own and be willing to acknowledge their own mistakes (just to name a few).
- Enhance communication skills: For example, ask team members directly for their thoughts and opinions. Encourage people to share by asking questions. Actively ask quieter individuals for their input. Also, practice active listening by leaving your phone on your desk during meetings and improving eye contact.
- Hone conflict resolution skills: No one likes to deal with conflict, but when you’re leading a team, it’s inevitable. If a team member humiliates or undermines others or prevents team members from speaking up, leaders have to be ready to intervene. Just one or two negative people can really put a damper on overall company culture.
- Foster open conversations with team members: It’s vital to pay attention to how your team operates. Do some people dominate during meetings? Are some more quiet and seem reluctant to participate? Make an effort to enable equal speaking time for everyone. A calm environment and perhaps some ice breakers are just a few ways to put everyone at ease. Team outings or even virtual hangouts can also provide an opportunity for team members to let their guard down and get to know each other better.
Saying you encourage your team to speak up and be candid is one thing, but creating a culture of trust is another. It takes care, consistency and a commitment to learning new behaviors, but the payoff is worth it! Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help with fresh ideas and strategies to help you increase psychological safety within your organization. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start 2023 off on a productive note!
Most of us spend the majority of our week at the office, yet how many of us find our job to be meaningful? It can feel like a pipe dream to find work that makes us feel fulfilled and motivated. And the numbers back this up: according to a study by Bates College and Gallup, over 80% of college-educated Americans aspire to meaningful work, yet less than 50% actually attain it. This isn’t good news for organizations, as a lack of employee engagement and perceived meaninglessness leads to decreased productivity, lower morale and greater turnover
I just recently completed a certification from Cornell University on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The course, taught by Professor Nishii, takes a deep dive into the issue of employee engagement and it’s three components. We examined psychological availability last month and this month we’re taking a look at the second component: psychological meaningfulness.
What Is Psychological Meaningfulness?
What do we mean by the term “psychological meaningfulness”? Organizational psychologist William Kahn, author of the 1990 study “Physical Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work”, defined it as “employees perceiving their role/task as meaningful, both to the organization and within the context of wider society, to justify their “full self” being deployed.” Team members feel motivated within their positions due to challenge, opportunities for autonomy and strong goals. They feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves.
What Psychological Meaningfulness Looks Like – and Steps to Avoid
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to meaningful work. It differs from person to person and often changes as people age, go through periods of personal change and have various life experiences. But we can agree that once a sense of meaningfulness is found, it brings about a greater sense of pride and achievement, a feeling of fulfillment and a satisfaction in finding work that is absorbing and interesting. And while there’s no magic formula for creating meaningful positions, there are definite steps that organizations don’t want to take. Here are 6 of the most common mistakes:
- Failing to recognize and appreciate team members’ contributions
- Creating a disconnect between organization and personal values
- Treating team members unfairly
- Overriding team members’ judgment and making them feel disempowered
- Creating a disconnect between team members
- Putting team members in situations where they feel unsafe
Most organizations don’t know where to begin when it comes to helping their employees find more meaning in their positions and increase overall engagement. The typical “office perks” are often surface level and don’t delve into the root issues. That’s where Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. A fresh approach and perspective, combined with experience tackling all different types of employee disengagement issues is just what you need to start next year off on a positive note! Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at email@example.com today.
Leading In A VUCA World
There’s no doubt about it, we’re living in a VUCA world. Although it sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. And it’s become even more pronounced over the past few years. What’s also becoming clear is that strong management within organizations is more vital than ever and comfortable, classic models of leadership don’t work within our ever-changing climate.
So, what does it take to lead in a VUCA world? It takes a lot of effort, but here are some of the top ways to navigate the waters:
- Developing shared purpose and communicating it effectively: Leaders need to be skilled at building teams that have a shared vision. They must also be adept at helping team members understand their place within the big picture. Communication is key!
- Learning to move out of a comfort zone: The old ways of doing things may have worked in the past, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to work forever. Leaders must be open to change and embrace a fresh and creative approach to tackling challenges.
- Having the confidence to lead through times of uncertainty: Times of change can be difficult to handle and managers feel it as much as their team members (maybe even more!). However, strong leaders must be able to assess available information, risks, etc. and take strong, confident action based on their knowledge.
- Providing consistent support: This includes: mentoring team members to help them adjust to changes, modeling the desired behavior for embracing changes, providing and supporting employee learning and development and acknowledging and celebrating successes!
In today’s constantly changing world, leaders may feel like they need to step up their game to be as effective as possible. However, it can be intimidating
to take the first steps towards meaningful and sustainable action. Leaders don’t have to go it alone. Working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, provides managers with a partner that can help them navigate our VUCA world. We work with leaders to develop the competencies outlined above and to survive and thrive in a VUCA climate. We also help leaders develop high levels of resiliency, so they’re ready to take on challenges and are less likely to experience burnout.
Call Leah M Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help.
A Word For An Unsettled Environment
Chances are, you’ve probably heard or read the acronym ‘VUCA’ (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) thrown around a time or two. It’s one of those buzz-worthy terms to describe the unsettled environment organizations have to deal with on a daily basis. And nothing has brought out VUCA more than the past few years, as organizations have dealt with unprecedented changes in day-to-day operations and had to pivot in unexpected ways.
The acronym ‘VUCA’ was first used in 1987 by the U.S Army War College to describe the unfortunate situation after the Cold War. The term later found its way into the business world and outlines four distinct challenges that leaders face:
Volatility: Challenges are unstable and unexpected. The duration of these challenges is unknown.
Uncertainty: The future is unpredictable. It’s nearly impossible to anticipate events and how they’ll unfold.
Complexity: Information is overwhelming and choosing a single right path is almost impossible. Challenges and their repercussions are more complex and harder to understand.
Ambiguity: Situations are vague and difficult to interpret.
In short, we’re living in a world that’s constantly changing and these changes, whether big or small, are happening faster and faster and in more unpredictable ways. Since we don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, the best way for an organization to be prepared is through strong leadership. As we saw over the past few years, change can be incredibly challenging for team members with people reacting to these changes in different ways. Skilled, prepared leaders are the key to meeting the challenges of VUCA head-on through:
- Maintaining strong lines of communication
- Keeping employees engaged
- Determining fresh and creative approaches to meet changes head-on
- Maintaining and growing productivity
And that’s just the start. It’s a tall order for even the most seasoned leader and one where they’ll need a strong level of support from upper management.
As much as we’d like to make time stand still for a bit and catch our breath, change and the challenges that accompany it, is inevitable. We don’t know exactly what changes are coming down the road, but working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can help your organization be prepared when they do happen. We can take a look at what challenges your organization has faced in the past, how your leadership team handled them, what worked and what didn’t. We can then work with you to improve approaches and develop creative and flexible solutions that will help make this VUCA world we’re living in a little more manageable.
Interested in learning more? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email email@example.com.
Keeping Your Managers In Place
When it comes to workplace satisfaction, employees continually rate “strong leadership” among one of the most important factors. Your management team is an integral part of your organization, but are you doing everything you can to support them and ensure that they have the necessary tools to lead effectively? In our last article, we looked at a few of the reasons why managers leave their jobs for other opportunities. What can organizations do to reduce turnover among managerial positions and keep current managers engaged? Here’s a look at a few suggestions:
- Provide adequate training: Some people are born leaders, but most need training and support when they’re in a managerial role. However, managers are often last in line when it comes to training and development. And it’s one of the biggest mistakes organizations can make. There are all kinds of beneficial training for managers, from honing their soft skills to methods for delegating more effectively and increasing productivity, to name a few.
- Monitor stress: The past few years have been particularly stressful for workers and managers are no exception. They’ve probably been trying to manage the anxiety and stress within their team, but they also need someone in their corner. Regular check-ins, encouraging open and honest feedback and providing flexibility to create work/life balance can really go a long way.
- Give regular feedback and praise: Consistent conversations about performance need to take place at all levels of an organization and that includes managers. Give praise where praise is due and provide constructive feedback on areas that could use improvement. Make sure managers are in the loop about future plans, so they understand where to place their priorities.
- Have regular career conversations: Managers who see opportunities for progression and a career path are more likely to be happy and engaged. If you can show them how their role might develop over time, they will continue to bring enthusiasm to the job.
If it sounds like a lot, don’t worry. That’s where working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can really help. We get to know your organization, your management team and help develop a plan to combat any issues head-on. We can also help develop training programs that tackle a variety of subjects.
Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to work with your managers to not only increase job satisfaction, but ensure they feel supported in their role. It’s an investment that will pay off in increased loyalty and lower turnover. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help.
In These Times, Can We Even Plan Ahead?
With all the variables in the world today, it can seem like your agency or association is in a constant state of flux. Without the aid of a crystal ball, it may seem like planning for the future is an exercise in futility. Organizations may be tempted to wait and see what happens during times of uncertainty. But all of these unknowns shouldn’t keep you from looking ahead. In fact, failing to plan is a huge mistake for so many reasons.
In uncertain times, it’s the most resilient organizations that succeed. Part of that resilience is looking ahead as best you can and planning no matter what the future may hold. Here are a few important questions to consider as you develop a strategic plan:
- What do we know about the current environment in which we’re working?
- What hasn’t changed? What can we predict with some level of certainty?
- What do we need to prepare or plan for ‘just in case’?
- Has anything about the current environment caused us to reconsider or change our mission and/or values?
- What is our action plan for the next year? What are our objectives, timelines, budget to work with, etc?
Of course, the key to navigating times of uncertainty is developing a strategy with flexibility. But instead of hoping for the best, you at least have a plan that gives you and your team some sense of a forward-moving mission.
No matter what direction your agency or association takes in the months ahead, everyone has areas that can be strengthened with a little help, probing and encouragement. That’s where Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. We help you take control of your future by developing an action plan that positions you to succeed, no matter what the coming months may bring. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email email@example.com to learn more.
Write Your Own Story
So many of us are weary from the events of the last few years. Whether it’s a job loss, difficulties maneuvering the work from home/family life balance or the disappointment and loneliness that have accompanied the pandemic, we each have our own story about how these past few years have affected us. By now, everyone has a list of things they once took for granted but now miss or things they’ve grown to love during the period of staying at home.
According to a survey conducted by the National Research Group, approximately 90% of Americans say that the past few years have been a “good time to reflect on what’s important to them.” There’s also a renewed appreciation for “chatting” with our family and friends, as roughly 72% say our experience with the pandemic will have a positive impact on how we communicate in the future. And there’s newfound respect for a sometimes overlooked and underappreciated workforce in our country: grocery store workers, health care professionals, emergency responders – anyone we rely on for everyday life.
These are not small things, but rather a huge shift in how we view what’s important to us and how we spend our time. Perhaps family dinners and new traditions have become an area of focus. Others may have started a new health and wellness routine they’ve been putting off for years. And some people may have reduced the amount of material possessions in their homes, developed a new hobby or worked on learning a new professional skill. Whatever your story, these new priorities and insights truly matter!
When and if things begin to settle down, will you return to your old ways? Will you again focus on working crazy hours, money, material things or other areas of your life that were lacking in fulfillment? The big question is, what do you do with this appreciation of what really matters in life and make sure it continues after the world returns to “normal-ish”. Working with a coach is an ideal way to develop a plan with attainable goals, as well as have someone who will hold you accountable and keep you on track. Think of a coach as a partner for your future!
This past years have been far from easy. There’s been irritability, frustration, anger, and a major dose of cabin fever. But perhaps years from now, we’ll look back on it as an unexpected opportunity to really tune into what matters most in our lives and use that knowledge to create meaningful change. Whether these goals are personal or career-related, Leah M Joppy and Associates can work with you to bring them to fruition. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.