Transitioning from Summer to Fall

Transitioning from Summer to Fall

Every worker knows that things change during the Summer when kids are out of school. The roads are less busy during commute, the heat keeps people indoors in their cubicles, and at any given time someone is on vacation. Once August hits, and the children start back for the new school year things start to speed up again. Budgeting season hits, planning begins for next year’s projects, and there is the final push to finish up this year’s projects. Do not get left behind in the excitement of the Fall season!

The first thing to do is take a deep breath; recognize that this is happening and just give yourself a moment to shift your mindset. Also, be aware that many of your employees and customers who have children may be overloaded for a few weeks until they settle into a routine. The best way to help your employees get back on track with the business pace is to set a few goals and deadlines to create clear objectives that they can meet and readjust to timewise. Create these goals as a way to prepare your employees to dive into the third quarter and finish out the fiscal year strong. This is especially important because as customers work on their own budgets and plans for next year, you may see in influx in requests for your information and proposals. These are going to set up next year’s work and many businesses have a cycle of what is planned in the Fall is done in the New Year. Do not lose out on these opportunities because your company is stuck in the Summer slump.

            Another great way to kick off the new season is to host a back-to-school team building event to get everyone excited for finishing their current projects and starting new ones. Note, this is not the time to have a go away retreat; try bringing in bagels or donuts one morning and have everyone gather for a stand-up meeting. These “coffee and catch-up” sessions go a long way in building internal relationships and increasing employee motivation.

            Do not get caught up in the slow Summer pace and give your company a boost by using a few simple tricks to get your employees ready to transition into Fall.

 

Pay Attention Please!: Cognitive Quantification and Why It is so Important

Pay Attention Please!: Cognitive Quantification and Why It is so Important

Cognitive quantification is a fancy term for being able to know without a doubt that people are paying attention to what you are saying. Everyone has to give speeches, reports, presentations, or memos and we do not always know if we got the message across with communication. By practicing and understanding cognitive quantification, you can add a level of maturity to your communication that we need to achieve in order to analyze how much attention is necessary to get the point across; considering, that nobody will pay attention for more than a few minutes to ANYTHING without having to be pulled back in.

Some great examples of engaging communication skills come from professional speech writers. They know that it is necessary to use sound bites to lock down whatever point is being made and add a joke or other break in between points to keep an audience’s attention. Many times, these sound bites or jokes will be the only thing that people can remember, so they have to make them count. With careful consideration, you can get people to remember what communication you put forth.

This is so important in the business world because you will be sending important emails to employees, making presentations for clients, or interacting with the higher-ups and in every conversation, you want to be remembered. It does no one any good if an important memo is sent out and the email is so long that people do not read to the end to know the actual message. So, take a few minutes before your next meeting, you send a new email, or present and read it to quantify how long does someone need to pay attention to know what it is about. This will help you cut out any excess or negligible information to send out clear communications that anyone can read and comprehend. 

Professional Bias in the Workplace

Professional Bias in the Workplace

Professional bias has become a bit of a hot topic recently with the federal government’s demands to auditors and auditing firms to show how they remove biases from their evaluations. The goal is to see how eliminating bias can lead to more accurate identification of inaccuracies and fraud. This subject though can apply to any part of the business world and is important to identify for continued business success.

First things first: no matter what profession you are in, realize that the easiest person to convince is always yourself. We rationalize everything including, and especially, the irrational. In order to truly understand customers, bosses, employees, etc. we must try to think as they do. Which means removing many of the biases we have that can cloud and sway our judgment. Obviously, this is easily said and very poorly done, partly because we do not know what those biases are. In order to move forward, the company and individual employees need to do self-evaluations and pinpoint what biases they possess. This can be done through quizzes, presentations, interviews, etc. Put the time and effort that is necessary to do it because any effort on your part, and the company’s part, is better than blindly going through not understanding why others are not agreeing with you.

Understanding professional bias is imperative in today’s business world with the rise of the millennial work generation and their fight for equality. Do not let your company be labeled as old fashioned or unapproachable because you do not understand your biases and how to appeal to the modern clientele. Customers and potential employees want to see the effort put into understanding biases and working through them instead of settling for less than acceptable work or conditions. Remember, these huge accounting firms the government-sanctioned struggle with it, you probably will as well, but try. This is what is going to allow your company to continue to grow and succeed in the current market. 

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Benefits of a Business Wellness Program

Benefits of a Business Wellness Programs

Setting up a wellness program at your company can have many benefits for the company as a whole, such as:

Reduce Health Risks

When you have a wellness program in place you reduce the risk of someone contracting something contagious, like the flu, and coming to work and spreading it. Wellness programs help to prevent these such outbreaks, which keeps all employees more healthy.

Improve Employee Health Habits and Morale

When employees know that they have a wellness program behind them, they are more likely to take care of their personal health. This not only keeps the office as a whole more healthy, but it also improves morale. If employees are worried about the next illness outbreak, then they will be less likely to interact with one another, however, knowing that they will not have to worry about that helps improve interaction and overall morale at the company.

Improve Attendance and Production

With fewer illness outbreaks, means fewer employees calling off sick. Therefore, with more employees staying healthy and showing up to work, overall production will greatly increase over time.

Helps Recruit and Retain Employees

Knowing that your company offers a wellness program makes it a competitive option for recruiting new employees. Your wellness program can also help retain employees as it is a privilege that many companies still do not offer.

Reduce Health Care Costs

By keeping employees more healthy, and preventing illness outbreaks in the office, employees and companies will spend less on health care. This money saved on health care can then be spent to help further the company.

How to Make Your Weekends Work for You

How to Make Your Weekends Work for You

The workweek can be tiring and when the weekend finally hits many people are not sure what to do with their time. Some try and get even more work done while others completely check out until they step back in the office Monday morning. Studies have shown that humans need a break about every 5 to 7 days or else their productivity, focus, and creativity can suffer. A break does not have to mean laying around in your sweat pants for two days and sometimes working through the weekend is unavoidable, but here are a few ways that you can enjoy your two-day break while still being productive.

            The most important thing to understand about the term “break” is that this does not just refer to taking a nap or watching TV all day. A break can be anything that is different from your daily routine. Saturday and Sunday are days designated for your enjoyment and spending time the way you want to, but do not waste the free time you have been given.

  1. Take away some personal errands that you would have to run during the week: getting your oil changed, buying groceries, cleaning your house, going to the doctor, etc.
  2. Do something physical that will allow you to move around and work muscles that you do not use at work: go to the gym, hike a trail, play a round of golf, etc. Anything that will get you moving and out of your second place of work: your house (because sometimes even home can be stressful and tiring).
  3. Have social interaction, and preferably it should be with people outside of your workplace. It is great to be friends with your coworkers but try and spend time with non-work friends. These are the people that you can talk about kids, sports, politics, or basically anything that does not have to do with the project you are on.

This does not mean you cannot have a weekend routine, just make sure whatever you do that it is separate from your weekday activities; its important because different activities cause other pathways in your brain to fire and exercise places not normally used. This can make you a better well-rounded person and actually help your work abilities.

Admittedly, there are many positions where people worry if they do not know what is going on at work. It is perfectly fine to read your email over the weekend, but DO NOT ANSWER IT. Many people find it beneficial to read it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, so they can prioritize what they do on Monday. 

A bonus activity to do on the weekend which will make your work week so much more productive is to meal prep. Go to the grocery store and buy ingredients to make some of your favorite meals that you can refrigerate and pop in the microwave as needed. This means less time spent eating out, eating fast food, or not even eating at all. Prepared meals mean no more late nights coming home from the office where you are too exhausted to make anything besides cereal or a frozen pizza. Also, this is a great helper for working parents! Have snacks prepared ahead of time for when the kids get back from school, do lunch prep so you are not up late at night making their sandwiches, or make and freeze some casseroles that you can cook in the oven when you get home from work. This will ease the strain on your already limited time at home and help you to stay healthy while being kind to your wallet. 

Practice Practice Practice Your Presentations

Practice Practice Practice Your Presentations

Presentations. The word itself sends a chill down the spine and you can feel your blood pressure spike. This is one of the most dreaded aspects of the business world and unfortunately, all of us have to give presentations or speeches to small to large groups at some point. To avoid the panic that ensues when this occurs, it is highly recommended that you practice making speeches and presentations often so you are in “good shape”. Just like exercising at the gym, creating presentations comes down to practicing until it is all muscle memory. Almost any volunteer organization or activity you get involved in will give you the opportunity to practice. This can be from your local Rotary Club, to teaching at church, to organizations like Toast Masters.

Join groups and organizations to take the opportunity of practicing how to be able to quickly pull together a presentation on some topic. It does not matter if this is related to your job or if you have joined the Earthworm Enthusiasts Society; all that counts is you taking the time to pull together your sources and being able to deliver your presentation to a crowd of listeners. You know your business well; it is the difficulty organizing into a presentation that this practice will give you. Get used to knowing your material and content and then formatting it to present in front of a crowd. Many people who are used to a weekly Bible Study can do a quick presentation on a project situation because they are used to short deadlines and speaking in front of an audience that is not always interested in what they have to say. Martin Luther King Jr. did not give his famous “I Have a Dream” speech as his first public presentation. He was accustomed to preaching to a congregation every week, the only difference was a matter of scale.

With time, practice should help you be able to quickly organize your thoughts and clearly explain and display it, so your audience can understand what you are saying. Remember: practice practice practice makes perfect. 

Tips for minimizing workplace negativity

Tips for minimizing workplace negativity

Negativity in the workplace is never good, but it happens all too often. Taking steps to avoid or resolve workplace negativity is crucial to your team’s survival. Here are six ways to reduce workplace negativity:

Treat All Employees Equally

Negativity energy in the workplace can often stem from employees feeling that others are being treated better than them. If all employees are treated in the same manner, following the exact same rules than employees will be less hostile, making them more likely to get along, reducing negativity in the workplace.

Allow Employees the Freedom to Express Their Opinions

Allowing your employees to give input in decision making, helps make them feel more like they are a part of the team. It also helps employees feel like you are listening to them, and you care about what they have to say. Overall, listening to your employees allows them to feel more involved, making their feelings about the workplace more positive.

Help Promote Team Building

By encouraging camaraderie among your team through team building exercises, you allow employees to become more familiar with one another. As a result, employees will be more likely to get along, thus making them more positive towards one another overall.

Do Not Allow One Person’s Missteps Reflect the Team

When one person breaks a rule, or does something bad, do not make a new rule or take it out on the team as a whole. If you take one person’s mistakes out on the whole team, you will cause the rest of the team to gang up against that one person, making the workplace environment extremely tense and negative.

Give Employees Opportunities to Advance

If employees are held in the same position with no opportunities for advancement, they will start to resent the company and have a more negative attitude. Allowing employees the opportunities to advance makes them more excited about coming to work and doing their job.

Recognize Hard Work

Reward employees, within reason, when necessary. When an employee really shines, it is important to let them know that you appreciate all of their hard work and you are happy for them. Letting employees know when they're doing well makes them more excited to keep doing their job, which not only makes the company more productive, but it also makes the workplace environment focus more on positivity.

The Importance of the 5 Whys

The Importance of the 5 Whys

If you have ever had something go wrong, then you have to fix it. What happens if something similar goes wrong? This means you never got to the root of your original problem. This can waste time and resources because to make a mistake once is a lesson if you make the same mistake twice that is a choice. Choose to learn your lesson the first time and dig deep to reach the true root of your problem; it is as easy as asking “why?” five times.

The 5 why method is a tried and true way of digging past the obvious answers to see what is actually causing your problem. The reason this method works so well is that it requires some deep thought and advanced problem-solving skills which will test your employees on their ability to think both logically and creatively about an issue. The first why is going to scratch the surface of an issue.

Let’s look at it through a hypothetical situation: a grocery store gets their delivery of produce for the week and the majority of the product is rotten.

  1. Why? Well, the fruit must have rotted in the transport stage.
  2. Why? It was not properly stored or preserved for transportation.
  3. Why? The fruit arrived at the distributor already ripe and they could not prevent it from rotting even with refrigeration.
  4. Why? The growers harvested the fruit late in the season.
  5. Why? The farm or company does not have enough workers to harvest the fruit in a timely manner.

We have taken an issue and boiled it down past the grocery store, past the delivery, past the distributor, to the source of the product which is the farmers that grew the produce. This is just an example, but it demonstrates the importance of asking “why?” enough times to find a real solution for the problem. This will prevent your employees from repeating the same mistake and that will save you time and money. 

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