Category: Strategy

EFFECTIVE TEAMS

effective teamsBuilding and maintaining an effective team is not something you should think about in between all of your other day-to-day activities. Projects come and go, but the teams behind them drive the results. Leaders play an important role in team development, from facilitating communication to mediating conflict to setting standards for accountability. But all too often, it’s easy to forget to check in and make sure teams are running smoothly and efficiently. The beginning of a new year is a great time to step back and take a look at what’s working, what’s not and make necessary changes. To do so, let’s take a look at a few characteristics of effective teams:

  • Having a common goal and shared objectives
  • Creating a positive environment around the objectives
  • Maintaining open communication
  • Establishing clearly defined team roles
  • Focusing on time management in order to meet deadlines
  • Implementing practical problem solving tactics
  • Encouraging differences in opinions and not suppressing alternative ideas

You can have all of the checkpoints listed above, but the foundation of any effective team is trust. Team members need to know that everyone will deliver on their promises, support shared goals and maintain open communication. Patience, transparency and providing mutual feedback are a few ways to cultivate trust. Team building exercises and problem-solving activities are also effective ways to build team trust.

Effective teams are the foundation of every successful organization. If you feel like your teams could use some help in the New Year, Leah M. Joppy and Associates can help. We’ve helped a wide variety of organizations assess their current team structure, determine where changes can be made and develop a course of action to get everyone on the same page. We also specialize in team building activities that promote bonding and trust. For more information, contact us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

Coaching To Expand Thinking

expand thinkingWhen most of us face a challenge, our typical response is to fall back on the old ‘tried and true’ way of doing things. This is usually what we’ve learned has worked for us in the past. However, Oliver Wendell Holmes may have put it best when he said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” With 2020 almost upon us, now is an ideal time to take a look at how we think and how those thought patterns relate to our personal and professional development. Are you feeling stuck? Do you feel like your current way of thinking holds you back from your goals and living your best life? Over time, experiences and messages can ‘fix’ how you see yourself and result in negative emotions, quickness to give up, avoiding challenges and feelings of self-doubt. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the way you live your life.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

What’s the difference between someone with a “growth” mindset and a “fixed” mindset? Those with a growth mindset understand that they can develop abilities and adapt them to different situations. They also understand that mistakes happen and they have a stronger sense of resilience as a result. A growth mindset is important because it can actually change what you strive for and what you see as success. The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. Here are a few ways to get started down the growth mindset road:

  • Acknowledge and embrace imperfections
  • View challenges as opportunities
  • Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning”
  • Disassociate improvement from failure
  • Value the process over the end result
  • Place effort before talent

Expanding your thinking capacity and moving away from a fixed mindset can be challenging, but the rewards are limitless. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Leah M Joppy and Associates can help you assess your current ways of thinking and determine steps you can take to cultivate a mindset for growth. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com.

Strategic Planning For The New Year

strategic planningLike most of us, you’re probably consumed with all the holiday hoopla right now and finishing out the current year on a strong note. But don’t forget that 2020 is just around the corner and you can’t put off strategizing for the New Year. Now it the time to clarify your goals for next year and beyond, think about how you can meet those goals and when you should meet with your team to get everyone on board.

You can make an argument that your annual strategic planning session is one of the most important things you’ll do all year. It’s a chance to move your team’s long-term strategic goals forward and make sure you’re all on the same page. It gives you an opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture. For example, what are some of the biggest challenges facing your department over the next year and beyond? What your strengths and weaknesses to meet those challenges?

No pressure, right? Strategic planning takes effort and preparation, but it doesn’t have to become a stressful exercise. Here are a few steps to get the ball rolling:

  • Define your department’s vision: This is the first and most critical step in creating a long-term plan. This statement should answer the key questions that drive your department. Where are you headed? Where do you want to be? Get it down on paper!
  • Establish short-term goals: This should include everything you want to achieve over the next 12-36 months. Remember to keep them “S.M.A.R.T.” (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and timely).
  • Outline your strategies and create an action plan: Strategies are the steps you’ll take to meet your short-term goals. Your action plan is all about the specifics – what you’re doing, when you’ll do it, what resources are needed, etc.
  • Review and modify on a regular basis: Don’t create a strategic plan and leave it at that. Check in regularly to make sure you’re progressing toward your goals. Foster strong communication with your team to ensure everyone understands your direction and what they should be doing to achieve strategic goals.

Planning in advance is one way effective leaders avoid the stress of being behind the eight ball. Leah M. Joppy and Associates has worked 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.

Coaching For High Level Administrative Staff

Coaching Administrative StaffIf you’re in a high-level administrative position, you’re used to wearing a lot of hats. From handling a wide variety of day-to-day duties to dealing with all types of personalities, it’s a job that requires a lot of knowledge and flexibility. Plus, you’re expected to do it all with a smile on your face and a “can do” attitude. High-level administrative positions can be extremely demanding and can sometimes lead to high stress levels and burnout. Here are some of the common challenges people in these positions face:

Challenge 1: Maintaining a work/life balance

Challenge 2: Dealing with difficult people

Challenge 3: Ensuring proper communication strategies are in place and making sure they’re followed

Challenge 4: Feeling disrespected and blamed for anything that goes wrong

Challenge 5: Feeling like you need to be available 24/7

If you’re an executive assistant, maybe some of these challenges sound familiar to you. And maybe you’re ready to make some changes that will help you both in your job and outside the office. That’s where a life coach can work with you and provide valuable perspective. By assessing the unique challenges you face in your position, a life coach can help you develop a detailed action plan with clear and specific expectations. Some of the outcomes from working with a life coach include:

  • Building a stronger partnership with your manager(s)
  • Establishing stronger boundaries
  • Improving communication and streamlining processes
  • Increasing productivity and feeling more focused dealing with day-to-day tasks
  • Reducing stress and enjoying your job (and life!) more

If you’re starting to feel the burnout that often accompanies high-level administrative positions and want to make some meaningful life changes, Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

End Of Year Budget Needs – Popular Courses (Part 2)

Strategic PlanningIf your EOY budget still contains money that needs to be spent, you may be thinking about what to do with those extra dollars. Investing them in your team is something that will pay off for years to come! Last month, we focused on two of our most popular courses that have helped departments deal with conflict and develop effective interpersonal skills. Here’s a look at two more of our most sought-after courses that we’re focusing on this month:

Developing Inclusive Teams: According to studies on the subject, leaders who create an inclusive culture for their team see performance increase by 17 percent, as well as increases in collaboration and decision-making quality. While most managers believe having a diverse and inclusive work culture is critical to performance, they don’t always know how to achieve that goal. Our course covers a broad range of topics, such as examining the culture of an organization, identifying current and potential problems and providing tangible tools for meaningful change. Each organization faces it’s own unique challenges when it comes to inclusivity and we work with you to build a customized course that will yield real results.

Organizational Strategic Planning: Organizational strategic planning is an incredibly important activity that covers a lot of bases. It involves setting priorities, determining where to focus energy and resources, ensuring that employees are working towards common goals and so much more. Our course helps you develop an effective strategic plan that clearly lays out where your organization is going, the actions needed to make progress and a blueprint for success.

If you have money left in your EOY budget to spend and are ready to invest it in your most important asset (your team!), Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help! Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

 

The Importance of a Cultural Assessment For Your Company

For today’s businesses, building a successful corporate culture has become a significant way to maintain a competitive advantage and differentiate a brand. Your culture can be a unique means to attract talent and also motivate, engage, and retain employees. For the last few months, we’ve taken a look at cultural values, both in society and the workplace. We’ve discussed what values are and why they’re so important. So, now you may be looking at your organization and thinking, “how do I define the culture in my particular office? And how do I take this culture and incorporate it into the day-to-day?” Conducting a cultural assessment is often what you need. It’s the first step in answering the question, “Is what we say we are, truly what we are?”

Conducting a cultural assessment includes reviewing the various components of culture, including environment, traditions, social relations, incentives, and values. Some of the following questions are examined: “Are employees happy in the space they’re in? Are workers communicative and social, both in person and online? Are the core values of the company filtering their way down to the employees in a clear manner? Are rewards offered through an employee reward system?” That’s just a sample of some of the areas that are explored. Through gaining this understanding, you can determine where gaps exist between the current state and the desired culture.

Often, organizations want or need to make changes, whether it’s shaping new behaviors, promoting new ways of thinking, or developing a culture of education to develop employees. However, the key to changing a company’s culture is a commitment from the leadership team. Leaders must understand why change is necessary and have a clear vision for making those changes. They must also be willing to change their own behaviors and actions!

I use the Barrett Values Center assessment tool to conduct cultural assessments for my clients. I find it to be the most comprehensive tool for understanding the current state of an organization’s culture and determining where changes are necessary. To learn more about the Barrett Values Center, visit their website as www.valuescentre.com. To schedule a time to discuss conducting a cultural assessment for your firm, call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com. Meaningful and sustainable change is possible.

Six Warning Signs Your Company May Need A Culture Overhaul

It’s no secret that many of the best performing companies have vibrant and exciting cultures. Disney, Apple, and NIKE, we’re looking at you! On the flipside, a toxic company culture can cause an organization to struggle. Maybe you’re dealing with poor employee morale and high turnover and are wondering if your company’s culture is to blame. What are the warning signs that your company culture may be in trouble? Here are a few signs that it may be time for a cultural assessment:

  • You routinely fall short of meeting goals and “underperformance” is a word tossed around all too often
  • Employees aren’t demonstrating a strong commitment to the company and energy is can only be described as “low”
  • Workers complain about a lack of positive feedback (or feedback at all)
  • There’s a level of mistrust among employees and leaders
  • Employees feel there is a lack of opportunity within the organization
  • The level of job burnout is high and work/life balance seems to be nonexistent

Don’t wait until issues blow up into big problems. A cultural assessment is a vital step towards assessing the current culture of your organization and taking clear steps towards making purposeful and meaningful change. Outside perspective is invaluable in healing a poor company culture and the damage it can inflict. To discuss conducting a cultural value assessment for your business, please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

What Are Cultural Values?

The Business Dictionary defines cultural values as, “The commonly held standards of what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable, etc., in a community or society”. Here’s an example: A Hindu man would rather starve than slaughter and eat a cow, despite the fact that cows roam throughout his village. To the average beef-eating American, this seems strange. If you’re hungry, why not use some of the cows for a food source? After all, they’re just walking around in the street, blocking traffic. What’s stopping the Hindu man from taking advantage of this obvious food source? The answer – cultural values. The Hindus make up over 80% of India’s population and believe that cows are sacred and should not be slaughtered.

A group’s cultural values are often difficult for outsiders to understand. But for those inside the group, cultural values are the core principles that dictate the behavior and actions of an entire community. We’re seeing cultural values come into play more and more in today’s workplace. As various cultures are brought together in an office, some will place importance on a particular set of values, while others will have a completely different view. It can be challenging to navigate through it all and meld a diverse pool of employees into a cohesive, productive group.

Each of us is raised in a belief system that influences our individual preferences to a large degree. Often, we can’t even comprehend its influence. We’re just like other members of our culture and we’ve come to share a common idea of what’s appropriate and inappropriate. But understanding cultural values goes beyond the list of “dos and don’ts”. There are so many factors that make up a culture – manners, mind-set, laws, ideas, rituals, and language, just to name a few. Understanding the “why” behind culture is so important, particularly in today’s world. We need to understand how groups have been influenced over time by political, historical, and social issues. This is particularly evident in the workplace, which is becoming more and more diverse.

In order to attract, motivate, and retain the best talent, it’s important to be mindful of employees’ cultural differences, along with who they are as individuals. We are currently conducting cultural value assessments for organizations and we’re ready to help you delve into this important topic. Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Examples of American Cultural Values

Cultural values are really the collective programming of our minds from birth. These values shape the beliefs, mind-sets, and practices that we often adhere to at work, home, and social settings. We looked at an example of a Hindu cultural value in our previous article and how that value shapes the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of that group. But what are some values that are distinctly American and have helped shape the American workplace for generations? The U.S. is a culturally diverse society, but there is a dominant culture that has developed over many years. Here’s a sample of a few American cultural values:

  • Personal control over environment and destiny: The future is not left to fate and lies in our hands.
  • Equality and egalitarianism: People have equal opportunities and are important as individuals, not based on the family they are from.
  • Competition and free enterprise: Competition brings out the best in people and free enterprise leads to progress and success.
  • The importance of time: The achievement of goals depends on the productive use of time.
  • Change and mobility: Change equals progress, improvement, and growth.

When discussing cultural values, it’s important to remember there are no rights and wrongs. Chances are, each of us has been raised with a different set of values from our colleagues. Education is the key to understanding these differences, particularly when diverse groups of people are working together. To learn more about how cultural values shape your organization and to discuss conducting a cultural value assessment for your business, please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

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 leah@lmja.com to learn more.