Category: Leadership

Pivoting To A New Way Of Business

For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many workplaces to upend traditional office environments and pivot to a new way of doing business. These changes looked different across various industries, but one thing is certain: work life will never be the same again.  Many of the workplace changes that became necessary because of the pandemic will likely impact the way we work for the long-term. This month and next, we’ll look at a few of the workplace trends you can expect to see. Here’s a look at 3 of the biggest:

  1. Continuation of remote work or moving towards a hybrid model: According to surveys from the IBM Institute of Business Value, 83% of people want to continue working from home in some capacity. Many organizations have seen the light and have determined that some degree of remote work can be a win-win for everyone. It’s a retention tool for present employees, as well as a recruitment perk for future talent.
  2. Bigger focus on employee wellbeing: The pandemic has required organizations to rethink what it means to have a healthy and safe workplace. Many are improving benefits related to employee mental and physical health, childcare and paid time off. Workspaces will be reimagined to maximize both safety and employee collaboration.
  3. Improving schedule flexibility: Prior to the pandemic, flexibility was seen as a perk. For many, it’s now a necessity. Employers are finally understanding the need to accommodate families who have school-aged children at home, particularly those who will continue with some form of online learning. After a year of working from home, many employees have grown accustomed to more flexible working hours and are going to be resistant to going back to more rigid hours. Now is the time to look at present policies and implementing changes to accommodate your team members.

Have you started thinking about how your workplace will look moving forward? Now is the time to rethink your old systems and habits and create a better environment for your team. Leah M. Joppy and Associates can help you take a look at your old ways of doing business and where you can make improvements – all while continuing to maximize productivity. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

Re-imagining How Work Is Done

When we think about how our lives have changed over the past year, our work life is probably one area where we’ve felt the greatest impact. The pandemic forced many offices to adopt new ways of working in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees – and they had to do it virtually overnight. For many people, it meant working from home exclusively and the numbers prove it. According to a Gallup Poll, the percentage of Americans working in some form from home jumped from around 25% to more than 60% during the height of the pandemic. As more people are fully vaccinated and life begins to return to some sense of normalcy, many employees have started to return to the office. However, the future of traditional work life and workspace will likely be impacted for the foreseeable future.

Some employees are eager to return to the office and have face-to-face contact with others and enjoy post-work happy hours. Others have adjusted to working from home and don’t miss their long commute. Companies are realizing that there are advantages to both work from home and office time. That’s why the hybrid model where employees can work at least a few days from home may likely become the new norm. It’s one of several workplace trends that we’ll discuss in the next article.

There are a lot of questions businesses must answer about the role of the office moving forward. It differs across industries and there is no one-size-fits all approach. However, there are some universal steps organizations need to take to re-imagine how work is done:

  • Decide how and where people work: Can some workers be fully remote? Does a hybrid remote model make more sense? Or does work need to take place on site?
  • Redesign the workplace to correspond with company priorities: Looking at spacing issues between desks, meeting space, the airflow of the office and upgrading technology to collaborate with people working from home are just a few areas to consider.
  • Look at the footprint of the office and resize creatively: Now is the time to take a fresh look at how much space is required and the location.

Across industries, leaders will use the lessons learned from the pandemic to reimagine how and where work gets done. Employees will demand it. Organizations must use this time to break from the old habits of the past and reinvent what a collaborative and productive work environment looks like moving forward. Creative and bold organizations will be the ones that meet the challenge and retain and attract employees.

Is your organization poised to make challenging workplace decisions that will create a better experience for your employees? Leah M Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Permission-Based Coaching

Sometimes it feels like we live in a society that thrives on giving unsolicited advice and loves to “tell” instead of “ask”. “You should do [insert task here] this way.” “You need to handle [insert situation here] by doing this.” After a while, we can feel like we’re losing our sense of autonomy or worse, start to doubt our ability to make decisions on our own. However, one place where you should never feel like you’re being “told” instead of “asked” is when you’re working with a coach. That’s why “permission coaching” is such a vital part of the process. By asking permission when having a discussion, it helps people feel like they’re in the driver’s seat and their feelings are respected. It also establishes trust in the coaching relationship. Here are a few approaches that are permission-based:

  • “I’d like to discuss some more about this matter. Would this be okay with you?”
  • “Is this a good time to talk and explore this topic a little more?”
  • “Can we spend a few minutes brainstorming some ideas about this?”
  • “I’m getting the sense you have more to say about this topic. Could I ask some more in-depth questions?”

Some people get so used to being “told” what to do that it becomes a comfortable pattern. It’s easier to be led and rely on someone else than make autonomous decisions. On the other hand, other people who live or work in an environment where they’re consistently being told what to do may become defensive and resentful. Both personalities benefit from “permission coaching” because it gives them a chance to explore their own thoughts and insights independent from being told what to think or feel.

This isn’t always an easy process and it takes work, particularly if you’re accustomed to being told how to handle things under the guise of “advice”.  If you’re interested in learning more about how working with a coach can help you explore your thoughts and reach new insights on YOUR terms, Leah M. Joppy and Associates can help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

In These Times, Can We Even Plan Ahead?

Between the pandemic changing the way we work and a new administration, 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 leah@lmja.com to learn more.

A NEW MINDSET FOR 2021

Typically at the start of a new year, we think about big goals and resolutions. But this year feels a little different. While we’re all grateful for a fresh start, we’re probably feeling a little tired and overwhelmed as we come off of 2020. If the past year taught us anything, it’s that:

  • We thought we were ready for anything, but it turns out that our resilience and fortitude were put to the test.
  • We thought we had everything planned (or at least attempted to), but the last year tested all of those plans.
  • We thought we had a positive mindset, but learned that when that mindset is challenged, problems may seem bigger than they really are.

So yes, we’ve had some hurdles thrown at us. How do we navigate the coming months with a refreshed mindset and add more doses of positivity in our lives? Here are a few basics to start you through the process:

  1. Start your morning with a consistent, positive routine that will set the tone for the rest of the day.
  2. Focus on the good things happening throughout your day, however small they may be.
  3. Surround yourself with positive friends and mentors.
  4. Become aware of self-sabotaging behavior and negative self-talk.
  5. Focus on the present because we can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future.
  6. Try to find humor, no matter how challenging it may be!

No matter how much you want to hit the refresh button, it can feel challenging to make changes on your own. The past year has been isolating for so many of us and it can feel like we’re stuck on autopilot waiting for the world to return to some sense of normalcy. But you don’t have to go through this journey alone. Working with a coach will help you build the core skills and habits to propel you forward – not just through the coming months, but well beyond.

There are still many things that may still feel up in the air as we’re entering the New Year, but we do still have power and influence within our own lives.  What will 2021 hold for you?   Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help you move forward with renewed energy and focus. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

Re-focusing On What Matters

So many of us go through the motions when it comes to our day-to-day work, but 2020 truly changed all of that. The way we work, the way we manage, and the way we interact are just a few of the areas that were turned upside down for so many of us. It tested our resilience, our patience and most likely, our mindset. Usually the New Year is a time to hit the reset button with refreshed energy. However, after the events of the past year, you and your team are probably feeling burned out and overwhelmed. This can lead to a negative mindset that doesn’t help any department move forward.

How can you help your employees start the New Year with a fresh, focused mindset when everyone is still reeling from the challenges of 2020? If there’s one area you should focus on in 2021, it’s relationships. Employees need connection, support, and guidance from management and peers in order to feel engaged and valued. Here are a few commitments you can make in the coming months to refocus and improve mindset:

Reconnect with your team. To effectively manage your team, it’s important to understand their values, interests and strengths. Make it a goal this year to get to know them better and develop a plan to have team members connect with each other more effectively going forward.

Make goal creation a shared task. We’ve all dealt with feelings of isolation during the past year, so including team members in the goal creation process makes them feel included, valued, and part of the organization. It gives everyone a chance to reflect on what worked last year, what didn’t, and how to move forward with renewed energy.

Share more performance information. No one wants to feel like they’re being kept in the dark. Team members are much more likely to be engaged and focused when they receive clear feedback. If this is an area that you neglected over the past months, now is the time to start reengaging with team members.

The past year has challenged us all, but if there’s one lesson we can take from all of this, it’s the importance of strong relationships for building a positive team mindset. This year, commit to enhancing employee relationships through observing, listening, and guiding. Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help you start the New Year off strong by offering coaching seminars that focus on developing a productive, postive mindset. For more information, contact us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

PLANNING FOR THE NEW YEAR

Planning for new yearWhat a long, strange ride 2020 has been and it’s safe to say we’re all ready to see what 2021 has in store. If 2020 has taught us one major lesson, it’s that plans can get derailed and we must be willing to adapt. It’s also given us an opportunity to assess our way of doing business within a new framework. For example, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year? What are some of the biggest challenges facing your organization over the next year and beyond? What are your strengths and weaknesses to meet those challenges?

You may have already developed a strategic plan for 2021, but if we’ve learned anything, it’s that plans can change quickly. That’s why it’s important to consider the following when drafting a plan for the next year:

  • Embrace Reality: While we’re all ready for the pandemic to be over, we’re still going to be doing business differently for a while. You may want to keep some of the changes you made over the past year. Or based on what you’ve learned over the past several months, you may need to make additional plans based on existing conditions.
  • Be Adaptable: Organizations that were able to pivot quickly when the pandemic began experienced less impact than those who struggled through the process. Flexible processes and adaptable strategies are your best course of action if things worsen before they improve.
  • Make Your People A Top Priority: People are the core of your department and now, more than ever, you need to take care of them. This includes physical and mental health, as well as work-life balance. With so many people working from home, communication should be a priority. What’s worked well over the past several months? What areas could use improvement?
  • Plan For The Unusual: A long-term strategy that includes various scenarios helps you navigate challenges. For example, additional equipment and tools for remote workers, plans for employees who may be out due to the coronavirus and workers who need flexibility due to school closures are all issues to consider.

Planning in advance is one way effective leaders avoid the stress of falling behind, particularly during times of uncertainty. Leah M. Joppy and Associates has worked with numerous firms to draft annual plans that align and inspire teams to reach their goals for the coming year – and beyond. Then we help you put it all into action. For more information, contact us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

Happy Mindful Monday!

Last week was indeed a privilege for us as we continue to facilitate a variety of  leadership development opportunities for our customers.  Enlightening discussions were had around managing the challenges, stress and anxiety this pandemic has created. We explored how to strengthen resilience; how to create successful virtual communication; leading in times of crisis; holding on to our personal values; managing blind spots; and dealing with isolation – just to mention a few. Most importantly, we talked about the importance of checking in on each other from time to time.

We were also privileged to have a peek into the participant’s other world. You know,  the roles that makes them SUPER!  We got to see Dads braid their daughter’s hair, clean up spills and provide snacks to their little ones. We heard Moms directing home improvement projects and where to put the new microwave. Every once in a while a little face would appear in the corner of the monitor, trying to see where all the commotion was about. Carrying out these responsibilities while focusing, engaging and sharing their workplace successes and challenges in a 8-16 hour span of training! That gives the definition of multi-tasking a whole new meaning!

Our public servants are “getting it done,” “moving and shaking,” helping our brothers and sisters all over the world during these very unpredictable and stressful times.  LMJA is so honored to be a part of their story; to support our customers in any way we can. Whether it be ‘staying after class’ to provide guidance on a pressing career decision or helping to create ideas for ‘fun food’ for their kids, we are here for our customers. We hope to return to some level of normalcy soon.

In the meantime, be MINDFUL of your team mates and loved ones and most importantly, BE MINDFUL OF YOU! We are all in this together.

Be safe.

Leah Payton

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness benefitsYou may have heard the term “mindfulness” thrown around, but what exactly is it and how can it help during times of crisis? Jon Kabat-Zinn, psychologist and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” In short, to be mindful is to be purposeful about where you direct your attention. Instead of letting your thoughts run wild, you take a step back and become intentional about where you put your focus.

We are all dealing with different stressors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, work responsibilities are greater right now and it’s difficult to juggle professional and personal duties. For others, work has slowed down or stopped and the anxiety of remaining productive and dealing with uncertainty can feel paralyzing. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness reduces activity in the part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is central to switching on your stress response, so by practicing mindfulness, you’re reducing your background level of stress. And who doesn’t need a little of that right now?

Here a few of the benefits of practicing mindfulness:

Physical and Emotional Health: According to research, practicing mindfulness regularly can help manage anxiety. It also complements medical and psychological treatments and can help reduce pain and symptoms of conditions such as depression, high blood pressure and addiction.

Emotional and Cognitive Regulation: A regular mindfulness practice has been shown to increase focus and help with memory and problem-solving abilities. It can also improve the brain’s capacity for decision-making.

Happiness and Joy: By practicing mindfulness, you’ll find it easier to take a few deep breaths and respond in a more patient and thoughtful way to a challenging person or situation. You’ll begin to slow down during particularly challenging parts of your day and not react to a problem hastily. That enables you to more easily tune in to pleasant experiences that are around you, even during times of stress.

Mindfulness takes practice, but the effort is well worth the reward! Leah M Joppy and Associates has been conducting webinars focusing on strategies we can all use to get through these challenging times. We can tailor a webinar that focuses on mindfulness practices, stress reduction and more. How can we help you? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

 

LEADERSHIP COACHING

leadership coachingWe’ve all had at least one job where it felt like leadership was lacking. You probably remember what it was like – a lack of communication, no clear expectations or defining of roles and difficulty handling conflict. Add it all together and it makes for a less than pleasant work experience and likely one where you didn’t want to stay long-term. Strong leadership matters and it’s the backbone to every successful work team. Team leaders are responsible for more than just delegating tasks and monitoring employees’ progress. To be effective in this role, true leaders must understand each staff member’s overall goals, strengths and weaknesses and then use this information to build a strong team.

What do you need to do to be an effective leader? There are many lists out there outlining what it takes, but when it comes down to it, they all focus on these 6 core strengths:

  • Communication
  • Cultural Competence (the ability to work with people from other countries and cultures)
  • Flexibility
  • Vision
  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
  • Personal Skills (areas such as authenticity and trustworthiness)

When you look at your leadership style, how would you rate your strengths in these areas? Whether you’re new to a leadership role or been in the boss’s chair for years, it’s important to take a step back and look at how you’re leading your team. Frequent changes in focus and conflicting priorities can leave staff feeling stressed and anxious. That’s certainly not the environment you want. Working with a coach can help you identify areas where you need improvement, develop leadership skills that you can begin using immediately and learn techniques to develop a stronger, more cohesive team. The benefits are numerous: happier, more loyal employees, increased efficiency and greater productivity. And who doesn’t want that?

There are so many differences between being a boss and being a leader. Bosses command, while leaders influence. Bosses discipline, but leaders act as a mentor. That’s just the beginning. If you want to improve your leadership skills and be a team leader who inspires, Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com. And if you’re wondering if you should be working with a coach, check out our article on Why Should I Work With A Coach?