The Desk

November 24, 2016

Post-Election Stress

Filed under: Diversity,Leaders,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 12:01 PM
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There are some who are still going through the decompression phase of post-election stress. There are still some experiencing anger, anxiety, depression.

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

According to an interview with Washington-based psychologist Alison Howard, which appeared in Psychology Today, “. . . “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Howard, who stressed that such feelings were natural and not a mental health pathology. (Emphasis supplied)

There are other accounts of how this election has taken a toll on the population. “Stephen Strosny, a psychologist in a Washington suburb who voted for Clinton, said he started noticing a spike in election-related stress in April, when he coined the term Election Stress Disorder, whose symptoms include anxiety, trouble concentrating and nervousness with resentment.”

Although the article recommends being mindful of self in order to overcome the stresses being experienced at this time, there is something more that I would recommend.

  • Find a positive aspect of things that happen.
  • Develop an attitude of Life as filled with teachable moments.
  • See your life as a continuing path.
  • See your role and your activities as purposeful and meaningful.
  • Endeavor to fulfill some aspect (or become prepared to do so) of those activities each hour of each day.
  • Be open to candid and respectful conversations with others about how your endeavors can be a cohesive effort toward improvement – for living together, working together, bein part of the same community.
  • Identify the things in your life that have mutualities with others of opposite positions.
  • Build on the differences of perspectives and how each can be applied to something that is of mutual benefit.

No matter what you do, it isn’t necessary to carry around a mental self image like the one above. Make certain your endeavors are lawful and leading toward a positive outcome.

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July 1, 2015

On Your Shoulders

Reliability

Reliability Definition Magnifier Shows Trust Quality And Dependability

Taking responsibility for failure to deliver is essential to reaching maturity. Recognizing when circumstances begin to build toward a failed commitment and making necessary, satisfactory adjustments is essential to having the right leadership ingredients. Those involve planning and foresight. Those involve being able to make contingency plans.

Compensation and resourcefulness are important to remember for the sake of projecting professionalism.

Whatever the dynamic, the “slippage” is not the fault of someone else or something else and responsibility for it is On Your Shoulders. Read more about it in the Career Coach Corner.

June 21, 2014

Personality: Being a Great Boss

Filed under: Education and Training,Leaders — Yvonne LaRose @ 10:48 AM
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This week was full. There were many things to take in. But by far, the most compelling was an instagraph about personality traits a leader needs to have. Do you agree with the 12 traits? There’s one additional that’s sort of obscured because it’s w-a-a-a-a-y down at the bottom. It’s called encouraging good habits.

great boss personality traits

Although it’s more an advertisement disguised as a blog post, the content is still worth taking into consideration. It’s especially important for women who are climbing and clawing their way out of being a support person and into being a manager, a leader, a boss. It puts things into perspective and turns the lens of the camera [of investigation] back on the user. Many times, the problem is internal and comes from what you are projecting onto others and your environment.

It can be overwhelming to try to develop all of these traits in one sitting or one day. Habits are developed over time. Personality traits are developed over time. They may be deliberate efforts in the initial stages. But eventually, they no longer need any thought. It’s been internalized to such an extent that it’s simply the automatic reaction, a bit like developing muscle memory when training for a physical activity.

It was once said that in order to conquer something so that it becomes ingrained, it must be repeated at least seven times. With self governance practices, it would be more accurate to say it must be done at least everyday for about a month. But that isn’t the end of the exercise in developing a habit. Practice is usually done in a private place. So the next step in developing a habit is to develop the boldness to do it in public and without embarrassment. The goal is to make it your habit – your positive habit.

Let’s say you already have some of these traits in your arsenal of positive traits. What’s the first one you’re going to work on developing and the one after that? Are you going to seek out a support system to pull these things together? Maybe they don’t even need to be told they’re part of your support system. They’re merely your friends or colleagues who are part of your associations. Isn’t that great? They can watch you evolve before their eyes. You can measure how well you’re doing by the reactions they have to what you’re doing. Sneaky little thing, that. [snickering] Of course, another way to accomplish one of those traits is to learn how to encourage collaboration, which is another way of creating informal mentoring and training relationships. Get busy learning about developing yourself so you can do likewise with others.

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April 18, 2014

Traits of a Great Leader

Today’s HR Daily Advisor has an article that itemizes the 14 traits of a great leader according to Marvin Bower and then talks about the qualities of those traits. The 14 traits are listed here.

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Fairness
  3. Unassuming behavior
  4. Listening
  5. Open-minded
  6. Sensitivity to people
  7. Sensitivity to situations
  8. Initiative
  9. Good judgment
  10. Broad-mindedness
  11. Flexibility and adaptability
  12. Capacity to make sound and timely decisions
  13. Capacity to motivate
  14. Sense of urgency

You can go to the article to read a discussion of each attribute.

The order of these traits is interesting; I speculate about whether they’re ranked in order of importance or not. Whatever the ranking system, the next thing to consider is whether you, in your career goals, have these traits or not and what you can do to develop them. Author of the article, Dan Oswald, tells us many of these attributes cannot be taught but can be learned and developed. I would venture to say having reliable mentors and coaches is one way to accomplish the learning and development involved. Further, these coaches and mentors should demonstrate these attributes in their own dealings, no matter what the industry.

And then comes the tricky part – does Boss have these qualities. If not, which are excusable and which ones aren’t required in that milieu.

There’s one very important characteristic that’s missing from Bowers list. Have you been wondering about its absence? Perhaps we should talk about that one another day. It’s “good ethics.”

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August 23, 2013

Did You Make the 101 List?

I talked about the issues impacting Detroit in an earlier post. The city and 101 notable businesses that are based there made news in 2012. Now the city is delisted for 2013. Rather than dwell on the negative – and the past – let’s look at the present (okay, not this month’s present, but this year’s).

The name of the company that makes these selections (and the criteria they use for tapping their honorees) is 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For[.com]. Their evaluations and honors are not just focused on the Midwest nor just the East. Their regions cover all 50 states and include Washington, D.C. It’s impressive that they not only have classifications of competition in Human Resources, Sustainability, and Wellness.

This is not some late-breaking phenomenon. It’s possible to search for winners in these categories as far back as 2011. The searchable regions by way of their drop-down menu are Atlanta, Chicago, Metro Detroit, Houston, West Michigan, and National.

Another eye-catching feature of these honorees are the distinguished status in their specialty area. There is the best overall category (for which Capital One was honored for Chicago this year). There is also a category for best small business; Communication and Shared Vision; Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; and Community Initiatives. Did someone say something about Diversity and Inclusion? Well, 101 Best did. They also talk about even more special categories such and Work-Life Balance; Employee Education and Development; Employee Enrichment, Engagement & Retention; Recruitment, Selection adn (sic) Orientation; and Strategic Company Performance.

Then there are the plain ole vanilla Winners. Each company has a short headnote that describes what they do or what they’re about along with the company URL so that it’s possible to visit their website to get more information about them.

How does this Winners List compare with the Fortune or Forbes “Best” lists? Well, these winners focus more on practice and policy and not on financials. But this is the type of information that a job seeker or someone who is interested in strategic business alignments will want to know about. There’s more involved in the pulse than just the dollars, cents, and locations. How they go about getting the wheels to turn and keeping the functions humming is of significant importance to a company’s longevity and reputation.

Maybe you want to put 101 Best and Brightest on your research list in order to determine whether the company you have in mind even made it onto their radar.

March 11, 2013

Career Tip: Moving on Gracefully

So this is how a CEO looks, right?

Andrew Mason, former CEO of Groupon

Andrew Mason, former CEO of Groupon

This is a male version of a CEO and he’s doing what you’d expect of a 21st Century CEO. Definitely. You notice the crisp t-shirt, the roughly tossled hair, the hands in both jeans pockets that creates body language screaming with confidence, the wistful look and eyes looking at something aside as though focusing on a distraction rather than the line that leads to a purposeful destination.

Actually, the image is of former (as of February 28, 2013) Groupon CEO Andrew Mason. He served at the helm for 4.5 years. Things for Groupon went as poorly as they did for Facebook and its IPO. Changes needed to be made – drastic changes. Andrew admitted his leadership was flawed. Not many people will make that type of admission, even to their own self. Some will thrash about and make excuses about the dumb others who were at fault. Because the sting is still fresh and is affecting many parts of one’s persona, a lot of people resort to thrashing and bashing those other people.

A lot of people deal with terminations (getting fired) in different ways. After exploding people in your mind as though you’re playing a video game, there’s the next step – developing and executing a plan of recovery. As you do so, your self esteem seems to pull itself back into your body. You feel as though there’s purposefulness in you and your life. You start wondering why you didn’t allow yourself some of the indulgences you’re finding and actualized them long ago. No matter.

The next step is getting to that frame of mind that Andrew reached. It allowed him to write that public proclamation of having been fired. It afforded him the time to take a stroll down the avenue rather than a cab across town. It allowed him to wear his t-shirt and jeans instead of going through all the ramifications of making certain to keep the business suit dry cleaning costs in check. He put things into perspective and prioritized what’s really important.

That proclamation helped him be proactive and positive. It gave him the opportunity to face the world on his own terms and to open his networks so that they start working for him. Just by publishing that brief memo, Andrew started searching for his next position and his hat is not in his hands.

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July 14, 2012

Have a Plan

Filed under: Leaders,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 5:23 PM
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It’s striking when you observe some situations and realize the recurring problem is not so much a problem as it is a belief that things will take care of theirselves. Not so. These observations come from the tutor, teacher, child care provider perspective but they’re essentially universal. Followers, workers, students, and kids all seek guidance from their leader. They want the security of knowing there is some direction and purpose in regard to their activities. Without the guidance and a type of agenda for their activities, they feel lost and a need to keep checking in about what they’re supposed to be doing.

It helps to have a schedule with specific activities for specific times of the day or throughout the project. The activities need to be not only engaging but also purposeful. It helps to know when it will start; it’s even more helpful to have a sense of what signals the stopping point. Even more important is the knowledge that there’s a destination and being able to gain a sense of when that’s about to happen.

It’s important to keep the activity fun so the person stays interested. If fun doesn’t work for that situation, it’s helpful to post a challenge that will keep the person engaged because it’s educational or solves a problem. Allow them to feel as though their abilities are unique enough that they are the right person to create the solution. Most of all, at the end of the designated period of time, check in to see how the project is going and what was accomplished. Then offer a reward that’s meaningful. Sometimes it can be a simple acknowledgement. At other times, it can be a treat. And at still other times, it can mean the freedom to move on to another activity or choose what will happen next (within reason).

The creative aspect also encourages engagement. Engagement will induce sticking with the project because of the interest factor. It’s really gratifying when you have to tear your worker away from the project in order to get them started on something else. It staves off boredom because they feel there’s something they’re doing that is useful. They’ll look forward to the next day to get started again in order to finish what they’re doing. The more the worker gets involved with their project and has the liberty to use their creativity, the more they’ll begin to either silently compete with their own self to do a better job than on the last project or (especially if there’s some type of percussive element involved) compete in a healthy way with their team mates to do more with good integrity of product.

When it comes to people, it doesn’t really matter what the age. They simply want to feel as though the leader has a plan that everyone is working to achieve. Sometimes it’s important to give the big picture to those involved with it so that there’s an investment in the goal. Sometimes it’s enough to just allow the workers the satisfaction of knowing they’re part of the solution. They need a sense of direction. You know, having people carry buckets of water for miles could be viewed as similar to slavery and drudgery. But when they realize each bucket is watering the field or preventing disaster, they realize where their efforts are directed and that the efforts are purposeful. It makes them want to be part of the solution and that’s tied to the reason for the plan.

January 15, 2010

Where Voices Ring

It seemed like just another day. But the someone punched a hole into the dark morning sky and a streak of light tore across the landscape announcing that this was not going to be just another ordinary day. The scene was glorious and people in the building stopped their work in order to take in the amazing sight of that broad shaft of light stretching across the land.

The busi-ness of the mundane suffocated the morning. And then minds began to awaken to take cognizance of the actual date. January 15. Just a minute! There’s significance to this date. It’s the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Laureate, the civil rights leader, the champion of freedom, the advocate for change through nonviolent means.

The impact of the quietude regarding the date also has an impression. Not only is it eclipsed by the disastrous earthquake that has leveled Port au Prince, Haiti, the hurry scurry of being in our small spaces of our small worlds also eclipse the date. No longer do we have the stalwart civil rights leaders who champion equality and equal rights for the oppressed and downtrodden. No more do we have the voices being lifted up to speak against unfair practices that suppress those who would be qualified but for. No more do we have civil rights leaders.

My belief used to be that those who could have carried the Civil Rights torch became afraid after King’s assassination in 1968. They feared that they too would suffer the martyrdom and have little to show for it. “Cowards!” I growled to myself. Few inroads were made in the civil rights arena after that historic occurrence. There were occasional skirmishes such as Shannon Faulkner. There was the astounding victory of having a Black man elected as the President of the United States without having overt attention drawn to his race. It could be argued that these two meager examples are the present-day torch bearers of the Civil Rights movement. But I think not.

Where are those voices that used to cry out for justice, admission, and equal rights? The ones that were so prevalent and effective in the 1960s, where are they? I don’t hear them any more.

I stop to examine my circumstances as these seven years have stretched into an eternity and my strength and endurance have begun to fade (but not the desire nor the willingness to speak). Finally, like that hole punched into this day’s dawn, realization and appreciation of why the voices are stilled comes to me. It isn’t because of fear and cowardice. As with Faulkner’s epiphany, mine comes from the appreciation of the rigorous path that I have personally traveled, alone, and that many others have endured as well as those who are also enduring it.

The staggering preparation to become qualified has been there for each voice singing the song of freedom and equality. Look at our newest women who have succeeded in breaking that iceberg of the glass ceiling. The strong logic contained in the arguments and advocacy in favor of admission and access has been there. The humble words to encourage the adversaries to change their positions or merely open their ears to hear the message have been appropriate. The consistency of the message was in place. The urgency of the need was properly emphasized.

The trouble was the perversity of the opposition. Unbeknownst to the general public were the many overwhelming distractions that plagued the advocates. Accomplishments can be forgotten. They can be erased and no sign of them recoverable. In these days of electronic media, the mere click of a mouse button on the “Delete” key can wipe out years and decades of work. Thievery can destroy back-up copies.

Best laid plans and agendas can be overturned and toppled. All it takes, even with the most disciplined, is to have some type of urgent disruption on the order of financial or health matters that simply cannot be put off to a later or a more convenient time. Somehow, those urgent, single-factor disruptions grow in proportion and complexity. What should have taken half an hour or an hour, becomes several days. Those people who are pivotal in reaching a solution are not available; they don’t return phone calls or emails. The details and the requirements grow. The original agenda is lost.

The original advocate begins to appear to be ineffective and not worth the time to hear or read what they have to say. In many instances, finances become scant. With that loss also comes deterioration of appearance and lack of ability to be in the right company and places. The voices become hoarse and weak. The clarity of their ringing tones becomes a whisper, an occasional feeble squeak. It’s easily brushed off as something not very important and low on the priority list. And then the entire entity is forgotten because the person is dying or dead. As one person observed, the advocate has been so marginalized that they are no longer.

Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. In his words at the Lincoln Memorial, he urged us to let freedom ring. Today we need to partner with those who would let their voices ring on behalf of those who are still oppressed and repressed to our social detriment. We need to do whatever we can to allow those voices to ring with the message that causes the positive change and empowerment so vital to our survival and a thriving and healthy society and economy.

According to today’s E-Alert from California Employment Advisor, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that 2009 witnessed the second highest number of nationwide bias claims against private-sector employers in its history, amounting to 95,277 and edging out above the previous record set in 2008. The filings show a steady stream of age and race claims while the number of claims of disability, retaliation, national origin, and religion increased. According to the CEA, “Overall, continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in 2009 were those alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%).” Could it be that the lack of those voices of protest is part of the reason that the claims are growing and the lackadaisical attitude that conscious deterence of discrimination is flippantly disregarded? No doubt it’s part of the reason.

It’s time for a change. We need to have those voices ringing everywhere we go. It’s time to stop their suppression. It’s time to stop the disruptions and obstructions. Those voices must be heard again. They must be heard today.

July 18, 2009

Losing Icons and Stretching Boundaries

Late yesterday we learned that another television news icon passed away from us to another realm. Walter Cronkite, that stalwart who delivered the news with stern professionalism, with the detachment that is expected of one who is supposed to deliver unbiased, balanced reportage.

It isn’t so much that we’re losing celebrities at a faster rate (as some have argued) as much as it’s a function of the fact that we demarcate our entry into the world of Television at approximately the same time — 1950. Until then, we had relied on radio to convey our messages. That took a different set of listening and attention skills. It required using the imagination more so that the details could be filled in. And it required a unique vocabulary of both the speaker as well as the listener so that subtle nuances could be absorbed. It also took a different set of skills for delivery. This new medium came with new challenges, protocols, boundaries, and more.

The medium of television has given way to many avenues to deliver information and keep the public aware. Look around at the new branches that are shooting out before our eyes and try to absorb the rich future they can provide us. The Internet is now used by politicians to announce their candidacy. YouTube competes with CNN to bring up-to-the-minute coverage of great public events such as debates, town hall meetings, and more.

The standards that were created for the more accepted delivery were set by those who started in radio. And it is those who carved the paths for us to follow are the leaders and hallmarks. Those people, like protocols, wear out and die. Life and progress are founded on change and adaptation. They thrive on innovation and improvement of the art in order to make the content more meaningful and drive the reach to farther places so that more can avail themselves of the message and the knowledge.

We have a responsibility to learn from those icons and replicate the standards they set for us. We also have a responsibility, as with the Olympics, to push the standard a little higher in order to deliver the best possible product. That means we need to not only pay attention but also ask questions about how and why things are done so that we can provide the answers to our audiences as they watch what we produce.

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