Category: Leadership

Prioritizing What’s Important During the Holidays – And All Year Long

The holiday season is upon us and consumer culture is out in full force – think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas Eve rush for last minute gifts. Whether it’s trying to score the hot new toy for your child or finding the perfect gift for your spouse, it can feel like our holidays (and even the rest of the year) are more about “stuff” and less about what’s truly important in life. Compared to 50+ years ago, Americans today have more cars, bigger homes, and eat out far more frequently. But are we happier because of it? Or is it a case of more money, more problems?

It’s said that if you take a look at someone’s checkbook, you will know what his or her priorities are. Is it true that where your money goes, so goes your priorities? What better time than the holidays and before the beginning of a new year to take a look at what’s really important in your life. Here are 5 ways to help:

  • Determine what you value most about your life: Try choosing five things you value most as a starting part. By consciously making these choices, it’s a reminder of what things in your life you can’t – and won’t – do without. Consider it the backbone of your life.
  • Assess the way you use your time: After determining the five areas you value most in life, take a look at how you spend your time and evaluate which things are absolutely necessary for these areas. Assess how much time you spend emailing, texting, and staring at a screen. How can you cut back?
  • Cut the clutter in every area of your life: Do you really need everything you have or does it feel like too many possessions are wearing you down? This also goes for emotional clutter! Reevaluate what’s truly necessary in your life for where you are now.
  • Spend more time with people that matter: Assess how much time you actually spend with family and close friends. Is it quality time where you’re truly interacting?
  • Make time to be alone: Do you tend to put yourself at the end of your priority list? If the answer is ‘yes’, take some time to reconnect with a hobby or activity you’re passionate about. There is nothing selfish about spending time recharging alone – it could be the healthiest gift you can give to yourself.

By determining what’s most important in your life and breaking free from the clutter, you will not only see changes in your everyday life, but in your work life as well. An increase in prioritizing and productivity are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy! Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to learn more about how we can help you start the new year happier.

 

Keeping Your “To Do” List Manageable During The Holidays

While the holidays promise fun, parties, and time with loved ones, more often than not, the result is mounding credit card debt and exhaustion. Vowing to do better next year, we make a resolution on New Year’s Day not to repeat the same mistakes. But why wait until the New Year? Here are a few ways to ease the stress of the holidays and evaluate what’s truly important. And they don’t involve heavy spending and acquiring more possessions!

Delegate: The holidays are not about perfection and adding more items to your “to-do list”. Let someone else bring a dish to the party. Share the shopping, wrapping, and decorating.

Think Outside the Box: Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Give your time instead of gifts and use your imagination. And above all, make a budget for gift giving and stick to it! There is no joy in being in debt.

Pay It Forward: Each of us can touch another person’s life in a profound manner. Random acts of kindness go a long way! Take baked goods, magazines and /or toiletries to a senior community. Often residents don’t have family to visit them. Many of them are on a fixed income.

Show Yourself Some Compassion: Keeping your body, mind, and spirit relaxed goes a long way in making the holidays fun. Stressing over gift giving does not.

We can help your organization and employees focus on what’s truly important and a top priority and help weed out what’s not. Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s needs.

Worrying More? Enjoying Life Less?

With all the advancements in our world today, life should be a breeze, right? After all, we can have dinner delivered to our door, order anything with a click of a button, and even bring up movies and television shows whenever we’d like. We seem to have so much these days, both in terms of material possessions and conveniences. Then, why are we more worried and stressed than ever? And what are some signs that we’re headed down the path of too much worry in our life?

According to the 2016 “Worry Less Report” conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance, 38% of people worry every day, mainly in the early morning or late evening. For some, worry can help inspire problem solving. But for many others, it can be paralyzing, hinder productivity, and produce feelings of helplessness. Chronic worrying can erode our ability to function well at home and at work. Here are a few signs that worrying is becoming a problem and steps you can take to help:

  1. You’re always thinking about future “threats”: When you start to interpret everything as a potential problem and constantly look for potential threats, worrying becomes a default pattern in life.
    The Remedy: Try to separate emotion from what’s actually happening and don’t confuse feeling anxious with actual worry. Ask yourself: is this a worst-case scenario or am I catastrophizing?
  2. You can’t sleep: Poor sleep creates a vicious cycle of poor emotional functioning – which ultimately leads to more stress and worry.
    The Remedy: Remember that sleep in not expendable. Turn your room into a restful haven away from the stressors or life, including technology! You might even want to try moving your bedtime up 60 minutes.
  3. You can’t seem to “shake it off”: No one enjoys confrontation or an unpleasant encounter. But worry starts when you continue to relive it in your mind, wondering what you could’ve done differently, and second-guessing your response.
    The Remedy: If you’re trapped in replay mode, get up and move. A change of scenery can help you return to your desk refreshed and able to make better decisions. Once you’ve hit your reset button, ask yourself: Was the situation as bad as I thought and is it worth getting this upset about? Often the answer is “no”.

Sometimes it can feel like it’s impossible to break the worrying cycle and find your way back to what’s really important in life. For more help, read our article on Tips For Dealing With Worry – How to Stay Focused and On Task. If you’re interested in engaging your organization in Professional and/or Personal Development to discuss how to decrease worry and increase productivity in the workplace, call Leah M. Joppy & Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com. We’re ready to help!

Tips For Dealing With Worry – How To Stay Focused and On Task

Will Rogers once said, “Worrying is like paying on a debt that may never come due.” We all know that chronic worrying can get in the way of what’s really important both in our work and home lives. It can impact our productivity, health, and happiness. But once the cycle starts, it’s often difficult to break the pattern and get back on task. Here are a few tips to help you prioritize, clear your mind, and stay focused:

  • Stop trying to do a million things at once (multi-tasking!) and tackle one task at a time.
  • Specifically block out time in your day to spend on a project and set a timer to hold yourself accountable for that time.
  • Turn off your phone and computer and get some exercise – preferably outside in the fresh air! Make the most of workday breaks to refresh and recharge.
  • Use technology to your advantage by trying options like Cold Turkey, Freedom, and Self Control. They block out the Internet to keep you off social media and other distractions.
  • Try a yoga or meditation class. There are online apps such as Headspace and Calm that help promote mindfulness if you want to try meditation in the comfort of home.
  • Find better ways to streamline your communication and break free from the endless chain of message. Ask yourself how the conversation would be most effective – email, on the phone, or in person?
  • Make sure to set reasonable standards for yourself and others. The pursuit of perfection can lead to increased worry and paralyze productivity.

Interested in stopping the cycle of worry and get back to a happier, more productive work life? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s needs.

Self-Awareness In Career Development

Learn from experience. There’s nothing wrong with failure. There’s nothing wrong in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. How often do you hear people 50 or older say that they wish they had the wisdom they have now, when they were in their twenties. When we are aware of ourselves, we are most likely aware of others. And that ability to know how people will react is critical to good leadership. We can maximize the potential of our teams if we are able to reduce conflict, use competitive advantage and drive organizational effectiveness.

Take time to know who you are. Objectively, can you identify your strengths and weaknesses? It’s essential for a company to perform its own SWOT – identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Performing your own personal SWOT is essential for identifying your self-awareness. Think about your trigger points – what sets you off and completely derails any other thoughts? How do you deal with criticism? And on the other hand, what inspires you?

STOP normal behaviors. If you’ve always “taken the bull by its horns” and barreled forward – without regard to the team or to other suggestions, put on the brakes. Instead, look around. Seek information from others who will be part of the development of the plan going forward. Indeed, surrender control and seek cooperation. The end result can be a more collaborative effort – one that is far more likely to succeed and one that you are more likely to enjoy.

Don’t wait. More often than not, individuals tend to think about self-awareness during periods of transition. During a career change, personal crisis or family emergencies, we often experience the need to re-evaluate our lives. But in truth, it’s important to be sensitive of our own changes, and the environment around us, even when life seems to be running smoothly. These ongoing assessments of ourselves help us become more fluid and flexible as our career and environment change.

Collect data. To develop an accurate self-assessment, we must collect data. We have to answer questions about our own personal qualities. Create a list for yourself that includes:

  1. Interests – both career-wise and personal.
  2. Values – make a list of what’s important to you, both in your career and in your personal life.
  3. Talents – objectively list your talents, not just hard skills learned through education, but soft skills learned through experience.
  4. Abilities – these are different from talents in that these are usually innate. You have natural abilities that make you suitable to different jobs and relationships.
  5. Lifestyle preferences – these are different for all of us. Some prefer to live in the suburbs; others would rather live in the city. What are your preferences?

Taking the time for self-exploration is key to adding value and control in your own life – regardless of age or organizational environment.

Personal development, including self-assessment and self-esteem, is an attainable goal for any organization. These skills are particularly important in today’s workplace as organizations demand flexible work environments. Leah M. Joppy and Associates offers various seminars on Personal Development. Please give us a call at (301) 670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss the needs of your organization.

What Are the Barriers to Self-Assessment?

As noted in our previous article on Self-Awareness In Career Development, building self-awareness involves collecting data on your values, skills, talents and other personal qualities. Because environments are continually changing and issues may be complex, self-assessments may be inaccurate if certain problems exist. Here are some categories of problems that should be considered in every self-assessment.

  1. Too Much, or Too Little Data. Too much or too little information leads to a distorted self-awareness. This is especially true when data is collected during a time of transition.
  2. The Threat of Anxiety. Because we are collecting information on ourselves, an anxious person may perceive the results as a threat to self-esteem. When this happens, an individual will focus on their anxious feelings, rather than the data itself.
  3. Self-esteem. Individuals with low self-esteem tend to interpret data that is consistent with their low self-esteem. When thinking more about their own self-image rather than an accurate assessment of self, inaccuracies are bound to happen.

Because self-assessments can serves as guides for career actions, if one of the barriers exist above, individuals may make hasty career decisions or neglect to change their behaviors as needed. In that case, an outside observer should be consulted before determining the accuracy of the self-assessment.

Need help with creating personal or career development goals? Both are the keys to a successful Individual Development Plan. Please give us a call at (301) 670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss the needs of your organization.

Traits Of Our Best Leaders

We listed the strengths that are most often sought in the leaders of an organization in our article “Do You Have The Right Leaders?” But leadership is more than skills and intellect. Leaders also must have the right traits to lead effectively. Here is our list of the most effective qualities in a leader.

  1. Leaders must inspire action. If inspired, we find ways to clear roadblocks.
  2. Leaders must be optimistic. Lift up our spirits and we’ll work even harder.
  3. Leaders must have integrity. If we believe our leader is fair, we have faith in him or her and move forward confidently.
  4. Leaders must be supportive. If we feel supported, we are more apt to take risks and seek challenges.
  5. Leaders must be confident. A confident leader inspires us to accomplish more.

Are there other traits that you think are important for a leader? Send us an email at leadership@lmja.com and tell us why the trait is important to you. We’ll add it to the list!

It’s My Co-workers Fault!

Your co-workers may have their own habits and preferences. Sometimes these work habits will clash with yours. In this article, we give tips on how to make it work for all.

I once had an assistant that worked hard to get 90% of the project done, but couldn’t seem to wrap it up. It was frustrating. A project could end up on the to-do list for months, when really, it would only take an hour to put it to bed! I finally figured out the problem. She insisted on doing things her way.

How we work is personal. Some of us create to-do lists religiously. Others work on what’s urgent and forget the rest. A lengthy meeting where the project strategy is presented in detail is perfect for some workers, whereas others would prefer to read a long memo. A CEO might be the big thinker – willing to publish his/her ideas to the company – expecting others to figure out the details. We are all different. Figuring out the best way to work with others can significantly increase your chance for success.

Making changes for the benefit of the team. How we work may depend on our age, culture, experience and geographic location. But at work, we’re all on the same team. The success of that team may depend on how we work with each other and what changes we make in consideration of others. Here are some tips for working with people who have developed habits that are different from yours.

  1. Build a common understanding, trust and commitment. Easier said than done, right? To build a common purpose, it’s imperative that we consider what is important to people, what is below the each person’s surface (what you cannot see), and the inner layers of values and beliefs. As a team, when we create common ground rules we help build trust and commitment in our purpose.
  2. Instead of lamenting our differences, focus on the strengths everyone brings to the table. The truth is, the more opinions, and the more variety of ideas around the table, the more likely we will be more creative and innovative in the solutions we develop.
  3. Celebrate collaboration. If you always have a habit of wanting to do things on your own, think differently. While independence is good in some situations, generally people who are team players experience more success at work.
  4. Listen, and be empathetic. Being respectful builds trust. Knowing how you work, and understanding how others work, strengthens the communication among all team members.

As for my assistant mentioned in the beginning of this article, she insisted on closing the loops in projects through email. It was her preferred method of communication. But many of the people she needed to communicate with were either very busy, or travelled frequently. By adjusting her habit and putting aside an hour to either walk to each office (we were all in the same building), or talk to them on the phone, solved the problem. A simple changed proved successful.

Why Do We Work So Differently?

If you type “successful work habits” in any search engine, you’ll find numerous articles on what habits we should develop if we want to be successful. So why can’t everyone just understand and foster those habits? It’s not quite so easy. There are some habits ingrained in our personalities because of various factors. Consider the following:

  • Age. How old we are dictates subtle differences in work habits. Consider the following. 60% of people 55 years old and older prefer to meet face to face. Of those 24 – 35 years of age, only 35% prefer to meet in person. When asked if they should be promoted every 2-3 years if they’re doing a good job, 43% of those 55 and older agreed, while 61% of 25-34 year old agreed.
  • Culture. Values and beliefs are part of our national culture. Some people may not even be aware of these values and beliefs until challenged by others. Different values lead to different behavior. It’s important to learn these differences in order to work with people from other cultures.
  • Experience. The more experience we have, the more problems we’ve encountered. We believe we know what works, and what doesn’t work. Those with less experience however, are willing to try new ideas. Sometimes we clash over those ideas.
  • Geographic location. Sometimes our culture and our location work together to influence our work habits. You can even see the difference in the continental U.S. Very often Californians are at work early in the morning – as early as 6 a.m. They work with colleagues on the east coast who are sending email and conducting meetings on our side of the country. Consequently, they’re gone from the office by 3 pm their time.

Considering all of the complexities of a team, if we can create some common ground rules for everyone, we can help building trust and commitment.

A Toxic Workplace

It’s a hot topic these days. From the problems at Uber to the damage experienced at a major network, hearing a story of a dysfunctional workplace seems like part of the daily news feed. Indeed, if you sit down with colleagues, almost everyone can tell a story about a bad boss or misplaced priorities in the workplace.

The trick here is knowing how to filter through all of the information you are hearing, or witnessing, and deciding whether the environment is stressful, not the expected norm, or definitely toxic.

We’ve outlined key problems that are often seen in toxic workplaces.

  1. Major Communication Problems. This is sort of like the “who’s on first” syndrome. When you are in an environment where communication problems are rampant, working together to further the good of the company or organization is extremely difficult. It may start with the director, who may not be communicating properly with his/her supervisors. The next thing you know, supervisors are communicating different stories to their employees. It can even extend to customers, who are given misleading information. It’s also possible that a toxic organization has NO communication – so employees find out about major decisions after they’ve been implemented.
  2. Leaders Who Only Agree. I once had a boss who really only wanted to hear people agree with her. Any effort at disagreement, or giving another side to an argument, was considered treason. The result was that employees simply shrugged their shoulders when asked to do something. It became easier to comply rather than to face getting fired!
  3. Employees Who Don’t Care. If employees feel the need to survive, rather than fight, they become apathetic. There is absolutely no interest in setting the record straight or providing another opinion. Instead, employees trudge forward, holding a blind eye and deaf ear to anything that is going on.
  4. Inconsistent Policies. In this case, depending on who you ask, you get different answers. Companies or organizations who do not have consistent policies often experience chaos – employees decide to do whatever they want!
  5. Narcissistic Leaders. These types of leaders consider themselves better, brighter and privileged. Rules don’t apply to them. Witness how many leaders you know from history who have made stupid decisions that ruined their careers.

The solution? So what’s our point with this article? It may be that some places are just plain toxic – they were created that way and continue to run that way. But in most cases, a dysfunctional workplace happens over time. It is entirely possible to change the atmosphere of an environment that is leaning toward toxicity. But in most cases, it takes an outside resource to change an environment.

That’s where Leah M. Joppy & Associates can help. We have seminars on diversity, workplace performance and leadership. We can help build trust and integrity within an organization. Give us a call today and let’s discuss your needs.