Category: Strategy

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.

Becoming a Better Employee

Help people good better best achievementMost of the talk is about being a better manager. But what about our own contributions as employees? Seriously thinking about our work persona and making changes may also make you more indispensable. Here are some ideas for becoming a better employee.

  1. Show Emotional Intelligence. We live in ever-changing environments. Stress levels can be high. But the ability to manage the highs and lows at work is an increasingly important skill. If your coping mechanism keeps you from getting defensive or emotional, you probably work more effectively is tough situations. Cooperation is high among those with emotional intelligence, which makes them more valuable in the workplace.
  2. Plan for your own development. You may work for an organization that includes a formal development process, but if not, plan your own. The goal here is to bring out your fullest potential – you have to WANT to improve for it to happen. And when you discover what really matters to you, you’ll foster real change. Understanding what you can work on and how to improve it is important. When you actively seek out new skills, you are recognized as someone willing to take the initiative. More than likely, you’ll be given more responsibility.
  3. Connect. Connect. Connect. The more connections you have in the workplace, the more opportunities present themselves. Connecting with people often means admitting to what you don’t know. As you connect with more people, you can learn exponentially. Be patient. Give people a chance to get to know you, and trust you. And give as much as you can.
  4. Say Thank You. The most innovative managers are those who recognize the work of others. Why? Because they encourage innovation and productivity. Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive, or hard. It may mean giving a spot award to someone who has made a concerted effort to launch an initiative. If a team deserves recognition, consider something that may not be the norm for your workplace – wearing blue jeans for one week, for example. You can also consider recognizing anniversaries – perhaps a lunch outing or an unexpected coffee and bagel.
  5. Plan your goals, and strive to implement them. Work with your manager to plan your goals. And then make sure you review these goals daily. Try printing them out and posting them at your desk. Being proactive about progress and challenges will make you a better employee.
  6. Manage your time more constructively. Think about the day’s activities. What usually pulls you away from your important work? Whatever it is, minimize the time you spend on that activity. If it’s email, try checking your email just twice a day. If it’s finding files, develop a system that’s easier to remember.
  7. Make things easier for your boss. The idea here is to be more concise. Can you send emails that get to the point quicker? Leave out all the details that are unimportant and get to the point immediately. Can you give regular updates on a project rather than wait to be asked? Be honest. Your manager will trust you more. Ask questions. If you admit what you don’t know, you are more likely to build respect. And in many cases, your manager can point you to someone who may have the answer.
  8. Deal with conflict proactively. The cardinal rule is to first find out what’s causing the conflict. It may just be a stressful time in the workplace. Or it could be an overload of emotions. Talk it out. Suggest a compromise. See our tips in the next article.

You probably have ideas of your own on how you can be a better employee. This may in fact, be a good discussion to have with your manager. Be open to new ideas. You manager will come away realizing that you are on the job to be more productive. You benefit. Your organization benefits. It’s a win-win.

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn this month. I’ll provide more information on how to be a better employee! Share your ideas with me!

Keys to Dealing with Conflict

  1.  Conflict word cloudSound business practices. Don’t assume. Instead, define acceptable behavior. Having clearly defined job descriptions help. Effective communication from leadership goes a long way to avoiding conflicts.
  2. Don’t shrink. Some people go to great lengths to avoid conflict. What usually happens in such cases is that conflict grows. At the first suggestion, seek out potential areas of conflict and resolve them. The time you spend identifying potential projects will help you avoid future conflict.
  3. Identify motivations. If you can approach the problem from the prospective of what’s the best action needed to help everyone reach their objectives, you should find few obstacles
  4. How important is it? While it’s best to meet conflict head-on, there are some conflicts that are not important. If you call attention to the problem, you may just be blowing it out of proportion.
  5. Conflict is really an opportunity. There is some learning possibility that comes from any conflict. Take advantage of that opportunity and build in the potential for growth and development. Opposite positions can stimulate innovation and learning. Take advantage of it.

Ditch Bad Habits This Year

Can 2017 be the year that you get rid of bad habits and make real strides forward? It can, but it requires new thinking. Moving forward means we have to drop some of the things we hold onto, even though they may be things we’ve come to expect, and accept. I’m one of the worst at letting go! I know it. The people around me know it. But sometimes, it seems that I just HAVE to keep those old habits going. Not this year. I’m going to make a concerted effort to let go of these bad habits. Do you want to join me? They say that if we join forces, there’s a better chance we’ll succeed in ditching our bad habits. Here’s a list of bad habits often seen in the workplace.

Striving for perfection. While we all want our work to be correct, striving for the perfect result does not pay off. We lose time, the project takes longer to complete and the end result is not significantly improved. Instead, we overstress ourselves and those around us.

Addiction to our phones. Have you noticed sometimes when you’re out, that everyone’s on their phones? Whether they’re playing games, on social media or checking email, it’s a habit most of us need to break. There’s a difference between responsible communication and not interacting with the people around you.

Accepting a high level of stress. I blame this one on the “east-coast-culture.” Truthfully though, it’s prevalent everywhere. There is so much going on in our lives that it’s easy to accept a high level of stress as normal. We sometimes contribute to our own stress. Even before we begin work, our thinking turns negative. We say to ourselves, “I’ll never get this all done today!” It’s up to us to break our own stress habit. We can turn our attitude around by saying “Let’s see how much I can get done on this project today.”

Sticking with the way we’ve always done things. There are so many tasks that can be done faster and more efficiently today than in the past. These tasks may require learning new technology – which can be frightening to many. But spending time to sit down with someone who can explain a faster way of accomplishing a tasks broadens our minds and keeps us current.

Acting too quickly. When I can’t answer emails quickly, I notice that some problems solve themselves.  The same thing happens in meetings. When we listen to the discussion for a while, rather than come to a quick decision, the best way to solve the problem surfaces naturally. Holding back, rather than jumping in too quickly, is often more effective.

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn this month. I’ll provide more information on bad habits we should kick and how to succeed! Share your ideas with me!

Four Ways To Engage Your Employees

The Word Results on a Brick Wall Background

  1. Listen. Every company has good ideas. The question is, are they recognized? Too often, the good suggestions fall on deaf ears. Even if an idea seems silly, or not doable, before you reject it, let it work itself inside your brain for a while. Often, the best ideas come from where the work is being done.
  2. Get Feedback From Within. Being recognized by our manager is important, but just as important, and maybe more sincere, is the recognition we get from our colleagues. Start a campaign where employees can recognize the work of others.
  3. Inform. Sometimes organizations don’t see the need to inform everyone of progress, issues and roadblocks. So instead of knowing what’s going on, employees guess. Or wonder. A thorough understanding of the situation engages employees even more powerfully. Providing information encourages a culture of assistance. Instead of being discouraged, employees are more likely to ask, what can we do to overcome this barrier?
  4. Involve. No one is expected to have all the answers. Even management can’t possibly have all the answers. Involving employees in decisions is powerful. With involvement comes ownership. Employees work harder to make it happen.

Working Effectively as a Team, Motivating Employees, Building Trust and Integrity – these are just some of the courses we’ve developed for organizations. How can we help you? Give us a call at 301-670-0051. Let us help you put a plan in place to instill a culture of accomplishment in your organization.

Planning for the Year Ahead

Business strategic planningYour business plan is essential to the success of your organization. Your plan is your map. It not only describes what you are going to do, but also provides a direction on how you and your team will get there. Without this execution strategy, your plan is meaningless.

Having a solid plan for how your department or organization will run is a key component of its smooth and successful operation. Your plan is critical to achieving success. It’s important to you, your managers and equally important for the staff you lead. Everyone needs to understand how your organization should be run on a daily basis. Your thoughts and expectations should be clearly defined.

Obviously, for smaller organizations, the business will be far more streamlined and less complicated than it is for larger ones, but your plan still needs to demonstrate an understanding of the work required and how you’ll handle the work flow.

So let’s discuss how you can put together a plan that is organized and understood. Your plan should contain the following items.

Mission. Your mission should be clearly defined so that everyone knows what your organization or department does and why you do it. You may be part of a broader mission, but your organization should still have its own mission. A clear and thoughtful mission statement creates a connection with the organization and the people you serve.

Keys to Success. Organizations have a few key factors that lead to success. What are the things your organization must do to be successful? List these factors in your plan.

Analysis of your organization’s position. Think about your organization’s position or circumstances. A good tool to use is a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. What is the present position of your organization and how does it need to grow, or change?

Description of Services. What are the services you offer to the rest of your organization? A clear description of these services, what they do and the benefits they provide are important. You may provide a variety of services, depending on whether your customers are internal, external or both.

Delivery Requirements. You must define the requirements of the services you will deliver. These requirements may be set by your team or defined by an outside source. In either case, deciding the measurements and stating them within your plan is important to tracking success. Your next step is to define the responsibilities around each step and the tactics you will take to accomplish your goals. These requirements will play a key role in helping you analyze the success of your staff and the organization as a whole.

Implementation Plan. How are you going to carry out your plan to provide the services needed by others? Your plan should be strategic. Each task should bring you closer to accomplishing the plan.

Objectives. There is a reason why you are taking certain steps, or actions. These are the objectives – and should be stated in your plan. The objectives also help to define success factors.

Personnel and Expertise Needs. Your managers and staff carry out most of your plan. It’s important that everyone understands his or her responsibilities, as well as the qualifications for doing the job. Our next article provides more detail on roles and responsibilities within the plan.

Leah M. Joppy & Associates would like to be your partner in your strategic plan. We provide training – training for leadership, professional and personal development, and many different types of computer training. Give us a call at 301-670-0051 and let us help you achieve faster results with your team.

Utilizing Technology

cloud computing technology informationIn this day and age, every organization should leverage technology in the workplace. But it’s one thing to have technology solutions and quite another to make sure the solutions are being used to their full extent. Using technology is not just about having computers and an internet connection in the office. It’s also about having a deep understanding of the various software solutions available to employees. Having a complete working knowledge of various applications will significantly affect employee productivity. The knowledge and understanding of these programs also breaks down barriers to mobility. Work-related documents and information can be accessible on the road, as well as in the office.

Wasted time and energy add up over time. Keeping employees productive and efficient should be an important objective for all managers. Looking at a normal business environment, there are many tools that can help organizations take control of their time and improve efficiencies. Here are some examples.

  • Collaboration is key in the workplace. Increased connection in the workplace promotes extended communications among co-workers, clients, and industry professionals. The right technology can eliminate multiple emails flying back and forth between employees. You can also eliminate any “double” work, where 2 or more people may be making corrections on the same document. Try using collaborative tools such as webinar conferences, skype, video chat or an intranet where employees can share files. Applications such as OneNote, Outlook, Office 365 and Project can keep everyone informed more efficiently. Many organizations are adopting SharePoint for even greater project management oversight.
  • Document Management. When cloud services became available, document management got a whole lot easier. Employees can work live with collaboration tools like Google Docs. This tool allows multiple people to work on a project together without emailing multiple versions back and forth.
  • The collection of data and the retrieval of information is key in today’s workplace. At the very minimum, employees should have a working knowledge of Excel and know what capabilities exist within the application. Other programs, like Sharepoint, are capable of more complex data entry and retrieval.
  • Tools that are common to most workplaces – including most Microsoft Office applications – are instrumental in providing an effective solution for organizing the data collected to solve many problems.

Effective Use Of Technology In The Workplace. Technology has afforded most organizations with the opportunity to have a higher level of communication and connectivity than we’ve had before. We have, through these technologies, the ability to connect instantly with others, regardless of where they work or live. Employees have the ability to communicate face to face – even when they reside in different parts of the country – or world!

Technology is a powerful tool that can be used to foster relationships, effectively manage time, improve organization and bridge the gaps of communication. The key to the powers of technology lies in the knowledge and confidence of your employees. The level of knowledge of a particular application depends on the individual and his or her work. Some of us take longer to understand and feel comfortable with programs than others. By providing workshops to reinforce what we know, and open the door to other possibilities, we grow the productivity skills of our organization.

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



Can You Advance Without Becoming a Workaholic?

workaholicYour boss spends at least one day out of the weekend in the office. Or your boss is on the job till 7 pm most nights. Does this make you think, “I have to do the same if I’m going to succeed!” Maybe not everyone thinks that way, but I sure did! One of my bosses was in the office every Saturday. And nearly every evening, he was there when I left. I started to think that this was what was expected of me. But I had a family, and kids still at home, I wasn’t sure this was really what I wanted to do.

I decided to mention it to my boss. I wove it into the conversation when we were talking about someone junior to me. He mentioned that he didn’t think this particular employee was dedicated to his job. So I asked him to tell me what he meant when he said “dedicated to his job.” Did he expect overtime? Working on weekends? To my surprise, and relief, he told me that he didn’t expect long hours, and certainly not weekend job responsibilities. He did those things because his family lived in another city and it was easy for him to spend long hours at work. Instead, he wanted to see passion in his employees. He said,“people who work for this company should have a real desire for their work, and demonstrate value.”

So what is expected of most employees? How do you get ahead, without dedicating your life to your organization? Here are some tips from career coaches.

Be engaged. If you are engaged, you’re part of the solution. How can you help? Your attitude shows through and more people want to be around you.

Be a person who takes action. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone keeps telling you, “it won’t work.” It drives you crazy, doesn’t it? Instead of saying it won’t work, try coming up with a solution. You take ownership. Demonstrate the creative problem solving skills you have.

Work smarter. Long hours don’t necessarily mean you are more productive. Take a minute to think through your project and see if there are overlapping areas that aren’t necessary. That’s what business process re-engineering is all about. Companies and organizations start fresh. They look at a process and determine what activity is no longer productive. Working smarter means planning your time more effectively.

Focus on relationships. Advancement rarely happens in a silo. Instead, managers what to know that the relationships you’ve built are solid. It’s important that people who work for you think highly of you. And in building relationships, you never know what gems of knowledge you’re going to uncover.

Take on new challenges. Do you hide from new projects? Instead of thinking of the work that new projects entail, think about how, if done right, that new project might just help you learn new skills – skills that will be important to the business as you move forward.

Think Big. Instead of being mired in the details, think about how you can achieve more. If you’re going through a checklist, you’re probably thinking of tasks. Look at the big picture instead, and come up with ideas that might grow the business.

When it comes right down to it, the one thing that separates successful people from others is the smart decisions they’ve made – not the hours they’ve spent on the job.

More successful employees result in a more productive organization. Does your organization need help with career development? Leah M. Joppy & Associates provides training at all levels. Give us a call at 301-670-0051 and let’s discuss your needs.