The Value Of A “Stay Interview”

Keeping employees engaged pre-pandemic was hard enough, but for many leaders, it can seem like an uphill battle in our new work-from-home/hybrid model world. It’s important to recognize the signs of employee disengagement early, so effective action can be taken. Whether it’s improved communication, providing clearer opportunities for job progression or taking time out to just have some team building fun, improving employee engagement is an investment that pays off in so many ways.

Reasons for disengagement are as varied as the people in your organization. That’s why taking the time to talk to team members and really listen to their concerns is so important. There’s an underutilized, but powerful tool called the “Stay Interview,” which can really help leaders gather important data about employee morale and engagement. In the book, “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay” by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan Evans, they list a number of thought-provoking “stay interview” questions that really provide valuable insight. Here’s a sample:

  • What will keep you here?
  • What might entice you away?
  • What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
  • What makes you hit the snooze button?
  • What one change in your current role would make you consider leaving this job?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department, team, organization?
  • As your manager, what could I do a little more of or a little less of?
  • If you had to go back to a position in your past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?

Once you’re armed with the information above, now what? How do you even begin to develop and implement innovative ideas that actually improve employee engagement? That’s where working with a coach, like Leah M Joppy and Associates, can help. We can collaborate with you to look at areas where engagement is low, establish where improvements can be made and come up creative solutions that will increase team members’ engagement and morale. There’s no better time than the present to get started! Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com

In These Times, Can We Even Plan Ahead?

With all the variables in the world today, 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.

Write Your Own Story

So many of us are weary from the events of the last few years. Whether it’s a job loss, difficulties maneuvering the work from home/family life balance or the disappointment and loneliness that have accompanied the pandemic, we each have our own story about how these past few years have affected us. By now, everyone has a list of things they once took for granted but now miss or things they’ve grown to love during the period of staying at home.

According to a survey conducted by the National Research Group, approximately 90% of Americans say that the past few years have been a “good time to reflect on what’s important to them.” There’s also a renewed appreciation for “chatting” with our family and friends, as roughly 72% say our experience with the pandemic will have a positive impact on how we communicate in the future. And there’s newfound respect for a sometimes overlooked and underappreciated workforce in our country: grocery store workers, health care professionals, emergency responders – anyone we rely on for everyday life.

These are not small things, but rather a huge shift in how we view what’s important to us and how we spend our time. Perhaps family dinners and new traditions have become an area of focus. Others may have started a new health and wellness routine they’ve been putting off for years. And some people may have reduced the amount of material possessions in their homes, developed a new hobby or worked on learning a new professional skill. Whatever your story, these new priorities and insights truly matter!

When and if things begin to settle down, will you return to your old ways? Will you again focus on working crazy hours, money, material things or other areas of your life that were lacking in fulfillment? The big question is, what do you do with this appreciation of what really matters in life and make sure it continues after the world returns to “normal-ish”. Working with a coach is an ideal way to develop a plan with attainable goals, as well as have someone who will hold you accountable and keep you on track. Think of a coach as a partner for your future!

This past years have been far from easy. There’s been irritability, frustration, anger, and a major dose of cabin fever. But perhaps years from now, we’ll look back on it as an unexpected opportunity to really tune into what matters most in our lives and use that knowledge to create meaningful change. Whether these goals are personal or career-related, Leah M Joppy and Associates can work with you to bring them to fruition. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

Re-focusing On What Matters

So many of us go through the motions when it comes to our day-to-day work, but the last couple of years 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 recent events 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 recent challenges? If there’s one area you should focus on, 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 years, 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 years have 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.

Get The New Year Started Off Right. How to Reach Your Goals in 2022

“Do you have a New Years resolution?” Once January hits, it’s a common question that strikes fear in the heart of many. The New Year means a fresh start, a clean slate. Yet, so many of us feel like we still haven’t reached our goals from last year, let alone ready to tackle what we want to achieve in 2022.

Each year, you start out motivated, enthusiastic and with the best intentions. You’ve identified a goal (or two) and this time, you’re REALLY going to put in the work, see it through, and accomplish your goal once and for all. Then “things” start to get in the way, like time, finances, and life. All those good intentions are replaced with excuses and, before you know it, that goal you set out to achieve seems impossible to accomplish.

How can you make this year different? It’s time to put pen to paper and outline what you hope to achieve. Writing out your goals is a great way to get all those ideas out of your head and into a format where you can break them down, tweak them and provide yourself with some accountability. Here are four key tips to get started:

1) Tackle Scary Thoughts and Acknowledge Your Fears. There’s an acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Yes, your goal may seem scary and you start to doubt yourself. We’ve all experienced fear, but the key is to outline where your fears lie, what fears are true and what aren’t based in reality. Write down, “what’s the worst that could happen?” And then, “what’s the best that could happen?” When you come up with answers for each, you’ll see that the pros always outweigh the cons.

2) Break Down the Various Steps to Get There. Let’s say you want to save money to take your dream vacation. You break your goal down further and decide to start by saving $1,000 over the next three months. Now, here’s how you can break it down even more to make it actionable, remembering that you don’t have to tackle every task at once:

  • Write down how much money you make each month after taxes
  • Write down all the places that you spend money over the course of a month or several months
  • Look at all the places you spend money and figure out where you can spend less – cut back on daily coffee runs, streaming services and other similar places
  • Examine if there are any ways you could earn extra money over the next few months

3) Schedule Time to Work on Tasks. Scheduling each task is a great way to manage your list because you have a plan of when to tackle a little bit of your goal. Maybe it’s 15 minutes in the morning and you set a timer. Or pull out your calendar and write down a designated time. Put aside the “someday I’ll do it” and just accomplish one task. However small it may seem, the act of doing SOMETHING can build confidence and start to put a goal-achieving plan into action.

4) Make a Plan for When Life Gets In the Way. Life can throw you curve balls, but don’t let those challenges derail your goals. There’s power in planning for obstacles in advance. Having a contingency plan prevents frustration and enables you to keep moving forward.

There are so many things that can stop us from making our goals a reality. But with the right tools and mindset in place, we can calm the voices in our head saying we can’t do it and move towards meaningful change. Make 2022 the year that you accomplish your goals with the help of a coach who can listen, advise and help keep you accountable. Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help! Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s work together to make your goals a reality.

 

The Difference Between Resolutions and Goals

The calendar has changed to 2022 and you’ve vowed to make some lofty changes: healthier, more productive, better grip on your finances. The New Year is ripe with promise. All it will take is to make some resolutions. Or maybe some goals. But wait. What exactly is the difference? Turns out, quite a bit.

Resolutions are really just a statement of intent. They’re not as powerful as goals, because goals, when set correctly, include a level of accountability and measurement to move you towards a desirable outcome. Let’s looks at few examples:

Resolutions:

  • To spend less time online
  • To lose weight
  • To read more books
  • To save money

Now, let’s turn those resolutions into more powerful goals:

  • I will check my email three times per day and will reply to everything immediately. I will spend a maximum of 45 minutes a day on social media and will set a timer to keep myself accountable.
  • I will keep a food log of everything I consume in a day to see where I can cut back on sugar, processed foods, etc. I will only order take-out or eat in a restaurant one time per week. I will schedule time to exercise 3 times per week.
  • I will choose a book to read each month and immediately order it from Amazon or check it out from the library. I will schedule time to read 1 hour per day.
  • I will schedule time to review my finances and see where I can cut back on spending. I will only buy my coffee 2 times per week and will schedule time in the morning to make it at home on the other days.

That’s a powerful difference. Setting goals is so much more attainable because they’re part of a journey. You’re setting a path towards reaching a better place in your life.

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Success is within your reach and with the right coach to help you along your path, there’s no telling what 2022 has in store for you! Leah M. Joppy and Associates can work with you to identify your goals and create a realistic action plan. We’ll also support you through every step of the process by providing accountability and helping you overcome obstacles. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s work together to make your goals a reality.

 

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.” 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.

For more reasons why someone may decide to work with a coach, read this article.

Struggles of Managing Offsite Employees

The past year has continued to rock the way we do business and forced us to pivot yet again as new and unexpected challenges were thrown our way. One of the biggest areas where many leaders are still struggling is managing offsite employees. Remote and hybrid teams are here to stay and leading them takes a different set of skills.

What are some of the top issues managers report when it comes to leading remote employees? Here’s a look at four of the top struggles. Do any sound familiar to you?

  • Internal Communication Problems: There’s no question that communication is a huge issue when managing remote employees. According to a study by Gallup, 71% of remote employees reported that they’re not actively engaged with their business. And 85% reported the communication they receive on the job isn’t enough.
  • Supporting Employees From a Distance: The relationships you developed working in an office can be hard to maintain when you’re staring at each other on a screen every day. Some workers are more forthcoming with the challenges they’re experiencing on the job or at home, while others are more private and many be struggling in silence. Some of the biggest struggles workers report is loneliness, collaboration difficulties, distractions at home and staying motivated. Employee wellness has become a huge issue for organizations.
  • Lack of a Company Culture: Those face-to-face interactions we were so used to a couple years ago are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It’s also made building and maintaining company culture even more challenging. A lack of company culture can mean there’s very little comradery, workers may not feel heard or recognized for a job well done and so much more.
  • Tracking and Measuring Performance: Managers are faced with two big challenges when it comes to tracking performance: making sure employees are completing their work and that they’re using their time efficiently and appropriately.

Organizations also report challenges with scheduling and time zone issues, onboarding new remote workers and developing and maintaining trust.

The struggles that arise from managing a team while you’re physically apart can ruffle the feathers of even the most seasoned leader. What challenges are you experiencing with leading a remote team? How have issues changed or developed over the last year? Leah M Joppy and Associates can work with you to identify challenges, develop a practical and reasonable action plan and collaborate with both leaders and employees to implement it. Follow through is also important, so we continue to check in on what’s working, what’s not and what we can do to fix it.  Call us at 301-670-0051 or email leah@lmja.com to learn more.

What To “Do” and “Not Do” When Managing Remotely

From Zoom “fatigue” to trying to onboard new employees from a distance, the challenges of leading offsite employees can feel vast and complicated. Just when you think you get one area figured out, another issue pops up and needs attention. We touched on a few common struggles in our previous article, but how do you start to address them? Ignoring the issues or telling yourself that “things will get better with time” can ultimately lead to higher employee turnover, especially in today’s tight labor market. A proactive approach and implementing improvements not only keep your organization moving forward, but also shows your remote team members that you’re engaged in their well being.

Let’s start with a few of the basics. We’ve outlined a few “dos and don’ts” below. Maybe you’re already using some of them or perhaps they’re a good reminder of where you need to improve:

  • DO set immediate and clear expectations. And make sure everyone knows what they are!
  • DO schedule regular team meetings and make them a priority (no regular cancellations, please).
  • DO engage directly with employees as often as possible.
  • DON’T just have a communication strategy in place. Document it and share it. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
  • DON’T just encourage feedback, make it possible. And listen to it!
  • DON’T micromanage and make employees feel like they’re not trusted.
  • DO have an open-door policy and set aside time for one-on-one conversations.

It’s easy to say “communicate more with your employees” or “set clear expectations”, but how do you get started when you’re already feeling overwhelmed? That’s where working with a coaching team like Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. Maybe you’ve established a routine that your team is comfortable with, but you’re struggling to improve your company culture. Or perhaps your regular team meetings are running like clockwork, but you’re having difficulty with one-on-one communication. We can help you figure out your primary challenges and work with you and your team to make remote working a less stressful and more productive experience for all!

Ready to get started for 2022? Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com.

PLANNING FOR THE NEW YEAR

shifting prioritiesWhat a long, strange ride it has been in the last few years! If the last few years have taught us one major lesson, it’s that plans can get derailed and we must be willing to adapt. They’ve 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 past 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 the year, 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.