Category: Project Management

Effective Communication In The Workplace

Have you ever walked out of a meeting scratching your head and wondering, “What was that all about? What exactly am I supposed to do? What’s the goal of our discussion?” We’ve probably all been there. It comes as no surprise that effective communication is one of the most important issues in the workplace. Strong communication helps everyone feel heard and understood, resulting in a positive, encouraging, and productive environment. On the other hand, ineffective communication causes ideas to fall flat due to lack of follow-through, frustration, and an overall decline in morale.

If you feel like your team is stuck in a communication rut or you’re just looking to improve your skills (and we all can!), here are some things to keep in mind and strategies to employ:

Give Undivided Attention: Whether it’s a group meeting or one-on-one, offering full attention to those you’re with goes a long way. How often have you had a conversation with someone who continuously looked down at his or her phone or seemed lost in another world? Lack of focus devalues conversations and causes people to tune out.

Remember to Listen: Listening may not sound like a component of communication, but it is one of the most important ingredients. Being an effective communicator means listening, as well as talking. It sounds easy, but it can take some practice. How often do you find your mind wandering during a meeting or a conversation? It can be helpful to keep a mental checklist of all the main points the other person makes. When the conversation is over, try to recall at least three important things the person said. Get in the habit of doing this until listening is second nature.

Be Mindful of How You’re Communicating: Body language and tone contribute a great deal towards the effectiveness of your message. Maintain a relaxed stance and facial expression, rest your arms by your sides rather than crossing them in front of you, and make eye contact. Remember that words only make up a fraction of your message.

Follow Up in Writing: A lot of information and ideas are thrown around during meetings and it can be challenging for everyone to remember what was shared. Prior to meetings, designate someone to take notes and then assimilate this information into a concise email. Having a follow-up and refresher is an important step to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Effective communicating is more than just talking; it’s about connecting with the people around you. It’s integral to team development, company culture, employee engagement, and innovative thoughts and ideas. If you’d like to improve the communication process in your office or are interested in doing a “wellness check”, we’re armed with lots of strategies and ideas to help. Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at to learn more.

Intelligent Workshops

Our workplaces today have had an eruption in technology. How we work and how we deliver our products and services has shifted. We need to maximize the ability of our employees in order to create efficiencies. The workshops listed below help to break down barriers to productivity.

Give us a call at 301-670-0051 and let us help you achieve faster results with your team.

cloud computing electronics technology

Word Excel
Access PowerPoint
Outlook InfoPath
OneNote Project
Publisher WordPerfect
Crystal Reports Adobe Professional
SharePoint SharePoint Designer
Office 365/One Drive Skype for Business


SharePoint: Empowering Teamwork

Sharepoint logoBusinesses and organizations must be able to work intelligently. We have to be able to communicate rapidly, change directions when needed and manage projects and staff simultaneously. Work requires agility. It’s a tall order. To be productive and efficient, we need to invest in solutions that are tested. The applications we use must be reliable and still provide flexibility for the particular work we do.

We spend money and time investing on our infrastructure. Our expectations are that these investments will improve performance and reliability. And we expect these systems to expand as we do – providing future needs as we grow in different ways.

Still, our investment in infrastructure depends largely on our workforce and our adoption strategies. Given the right application, and the training needed to utilize its capabilities, organizations have the power to collaborate, manage projects, and work more intelligently than ever before.

SharePoint, the web application designed by Microsoft, is probably the most highly configurable application used to reinforce the work processes throughout organizations. Here’s how SharePoint can help your organization.

Content management. Nearly everything that you can do with documents and content is easier with SharePoint. You can store files and then retrieve the information. You can search that information for certain content. You can manage these files intelligently and even track who’s accessing them. The application is designed specifically for record keeping purposes, legal issues, compliance and work processes.

Collaboration. SharePoint allows people on the same team to share documents. Process management is centralized with every member of the team sharing the same knowledge. Departments are more productive with easy file sharing.

Project Management. Projects are more easily managed. Communication within the team is easier and less cluttered when everyone can have access to documents and leave comments as needed – all within the same platform. Schedules are less likely to slip with reminders in place and hand-offs that are communicated more efficiently.

Intelligent Data. All companies and organizations have data. The problem is finding the data when you need it. How do you search through emails effectively? How do you find the latest version and feel confident that you can make changes and they will be seen and absorbed by all? SharePoint allows centralized access to enterprise information and applications.

The power of SharePoint is empowering teamwork. Every member can find, share and communicate content from any place, to any device.

You have the power. Leah M. Joppy & Associates has training capabilities that can help your organization build effective communication skills that ultimately lead to better teams and better productivity. Check out our new offerings on the following computer training. We have training in these applications at all levels, and in any version! We’re standing  by.  Give us a call today at 301-670-0051 or send us an email at



Where will you be, this time next year?

Game strategy drawn with white chalk on a blackboard.It’s the beginning of a fiscal year. A year from now you’d like to look back on the last 12 months and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Is that even possible in our changing environment? Can I create a plan that not only motivates me, but motivates all the people who work for me?

I know what you’re thinking. . .

“Maybe if I owned my own business, I could make plans!”

“If I work with blinders on, maybe I can just keep pluggin’ away and not pay attention to all the changes happening around me.”

It’s not easy. In this changing world, is there any point in trying to plan? The answer is a resounding YES! But the planning has to be smart. Consider these points.

Set Priorities. As of today, what are the priorities of your organization? The basic priorities probably won’t change much over the year, so think high level priorities and write them down.

Focus Energy. In every job, there are lots of things we do that sap us of energy, but really don’t move the organization forward. So what we are talking about here, is focusing on the items that have more to do with the overall health of the organization, rather than your particular job.

Identify Resources and Strength Operations. Identify the high level priorities and decide where your energies should be spent. Look around your organization and beyond for resources that can help. Are there groups or departments who can help you strengthen your talents and accomplish a goal? Is there an individual with particular skills who can help develop those same skills throughout your department? Should you go outside your organization? Sometimes training is best accomplished by someone from the outside. A third-party resource may not have preconceived notions on what you should learn. Instead, outside resources are generally better at listening to you and coming up with the training customized to your needs.

Establish Common Goals. We all have different work to do, but our goals can be universal. Knowing what my part is in reaching a goal helps me keep on track. And measuring the activity leading up to the goal can remind me each month of the importance of the goal.

Assess and Adjust. When the organization takes a turn, you can adjust your priorities, energy, resources and goals. Chances are, you’ll only need to adjust them slightly, making everyone feel better about the change in the organization.

Measure Accomplishments. As each quarter winds down, focus on what you have been successful in achieving. On a daily basis, we sometimes feel like we’re going in circles. But when we look at a 3 month period, it’s fulfilling to see how far we’ve come.

Strategic planning depends on a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it – with a focus on the future. Measuring action items is critical. See our tip on measuring strategic plans.

For more information on how Leah M. Joppy & Associates can be your resource for training, give us a call at (301) 670-0051. Or take a look at the training opportunities on our website.

5 Tips for Measuring Strategic Success


  1. Include Key Performance Indicators. Nearly everything we do can be translated to numbers. While numbers never tell the entire story, they serve two purposes: 1) they help management determine results, 2) they motivate everyone to reach the goal.
  2. Include the HOW in your plan. How does your goal help align the organization? Including your organization and how your objectives improve the performance of the entire organization helps everyone understand the vision. Communication is key toward helping an organization achieve success.
  3. Set timeframes. Working on your strategic plan for 12 months is more effective than squeezing it all in during the last quarter of the year! If timetables are given for each goal, small chunks that can be accomplished on the way to the accomplished goal, the chances of reaching that goal are improved considerably.
  4. Make it possible. If a goal is not attainable, there will be no movement toward that goal. Breaking it down, even if the goal will end up taking several years, will improve the chances of success. Along the way, your organization will see progress, allowing your group to envision the end result.

For more information on strategic planning and overcoming organization challenges, check out our website at, or give us a call at 301-670-0051.

Stealth Startup

photodune-4048532-technology-xsIt’s a very intriguing name for Obama’s quest to recruit top talent from the likes of Google and Facebook. While this article in Fast Company is long, it’s a very interesting one, focusing on the mission of these top recruits – to “reboot” how government works.

Most of these recruits are young professionals that were on successful career tracks with public companies. What made them take a salary cut, move from one coast to another and work for the government is brilliantly explained in this article. Without a doubt, the transfixing power of creating technology that will make life easier for millions of people, had a lot to do with the decision to take a technology job in Obama’s administration. The article explains what inspires these young men and women and helps us more fully understand their work ethics.

We highly recommend that you put some time aside at lunch, or at the end of the day to read the entire article, but here are some of the high points.

  • – remember when the site just didn’t work? People were getting locked up and the site froze from too many visitors. It wasn’t the result of a dearth of engineering talent in the DC area, but rather the technique they used to build the site. Instead of one huge project, the fix-it team rolled out the site in stages – testing it, improving it and repeating the process to get the right outcome. It’s a strategy used by most public companies in order to build software that works. It’s called building “agile” software.
  • Making Government Work Better – The young people recruited for these government projects aren’t just software engineers, but according to the article, “they’re data scientist, user-experience gurus, product managers and design savants.” Making the user experience better on any platform is what they strive for. “Fixing bugs” for software companies is not very inspirational. But solving problems that have plagued the government for years is both satisfying and intriguing. These young professionals are uniquely capable of handling these “planet-sized” websites, since they’ve worked on huge sites solving various problems while creating extraordinary growth for their former companies.
  • Changing Minds About the Slowness of Government – According to this group of talented professionals, “Everything else is getting done faster.” The technology industry is built on the belief that processes can become twice as efficient every two years. Because that belief is so integral to their work, these professionals have a hunger for increased performance. If what we do online every day is completed far faster than before, then the same should be true for the Federal government.
  • Washington, the “Go-To” Place for Technology Gurus – The folks now being lured to DC are arguably among the very best. Talent is extremely important, but so is attitude, patience, collaboration and the ability to work within the structure of the government. According to the article, candidates are screened for EQ – that is, emotional intelligence. The workload within the Federal Government is huge. Can this team create enough momentum, before Obama’s second term ends, to achieve a stable environment and re-energize government agencies?

These technology gurus believe they’ve already had an impact. They can gauge improvement on various sites – from the Immigration site to the Veterans website. Interestingly enough, the recruitment team is not expecting these young professionals to make a career out of the Federal Government. But rather to enlist them for a year or two to accomplish real change. As a result, there is now a third option open to technology gurus – a start-up, a big company and now, Washington.

Tip: Making Incremental Changes

Steps to the sunThe site successfully deployed by making incremental changes, testing the changes and making improvements. Can this process of incremental change work at your organization? Here are some thoughts that might lead to success.

  1. Making incremental changes is not as disruptive and typically does not significantly threaten existing structures.
  2. Incremental changes are typically slower, but can move a team steadily forward. Incremental gains prove better than none at all.
  3. Often, the magnitude of a change will dictate how employees react. Employees will often react positively to a change that does not cause them to move too far from what they know.
  4. Incremental change is often determined by the gap between the current state and where you want to end up. If the gap is large, incremental changes may not be possible. But incremental changes require less change management – you’re asking your employees to make a smaller leap from what they know, to what they are comfortable with.

Change and change management can be taught. LMJA works with organizational challenges. If you need help or would like to discuss your options, give us a call at 301-670-0051, or email me at

Shrinking Space

photodune-3951848-office-working-space-xsThe OMB, Office of Management and Budget, is putting federal office space and excess property into a deeper freeze. Announced Wednesday, April 1, OMB is requiring civilian agencies and the Defense Department to create a plan for reducing their footprint over the next 5 years. David Mader, the OMB controller announced two mandates: Set a target for reduction in square footage and adopt space design standards for any future development.

One Tactic. Reducing the total real property footprint will most likely result in more expanded teleworking for agencies and the DOD. If agencies cannot lease or buy new space, they must consolidate. The reduction plan has already had positive results since it was announced in 2013. This five year plan will likely shrink the overall footprint even more.

Successful Teleworking. So how do agencies heed this call for a smaller footprint? Achieving a successful telework program will certainly help. And according to the Report to the Congress on the 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government, most successful telework programs have been achieved through organizational change. When agencies actively work toward change management, goal setting becomes an essential practice. Goals that are SMART, that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, help provide the motivation to facilitate progress. So an agency that is serious about promoting a change in work toward teleworking can gauge its success and effectiveness of the program by setting SMART goals.

Measuring Success. What goals can your agency use to measure its success? Here are some examples.

  • Increase the eligibility for telework positions
  • Set a number (percentage) of the employees that you expect to telework consistently in the coming year
  • Set a number (percentage) of the employees that you expect to telework during certain situations in the coming year
  • Develop and monitor a survey quarterly to measure the effectiveness of teleworking
  • Measure the cost savings of telework
  • Add a telework performance goal to employee reviews
  • Identify Best Practices of telework employees and publish

Proof of Success. Over the next five years, as OMB requires agencies to reduce their footprint. Assessing your goals and results will be key. Developing clear goals, and meeting them, is possible with the right focus.

Need Help? Leah M. Joppy & Associates can help your agency identify needs and solutions. Then we’ll put together the right program for you – and get results! Give us a call at (301) 670-0051 to discuss an approach that will work for your agency.