ckunze on July 30th, 2014

Written by: Chris Kunze

Change; we all talk about the pace of it, the need for it and the lack of time to make it happen. If all of that is true, and it usually is, than why is it so difficult to make changes, especially in business? Change in business often fails for two primary reasons: poor communication and planning.

Communication

This means more than talking to employees about the need for change. It means very clearly defining why a change has to happen. Change often seems to employees as the latest new fad in business and in some companies, it occurs like clockwork. Every couple of years someone in the executive suite decides on what is needed to make the organization really productive and comes up with a new approach to managing people, processes or a program rollout. Examples might be Best Practices, Six Sigma, TQM, HEI…the list goes on. Often you can achieve better results by asking and really engaging the employees or team members who are engaged in the work day-to-day, what they need to execute their responsibilities better, faster or to deliver an improved customer experience. But what is most often missing is a compelling reason for the change that can be clearly communicated to all employees so that they understand its relevance and how it directly impacts what they are doing in their daily work activities.

Planning

To plan for a change before executing it seems intuitive, but it is so often done poorly or not at all. Either action is a sure fire means to failure and is why determining the compelling reason for change is the first step in developing a successful plan. If you know why you need to change then you will have a much better idea of what needs to change in you organization. Do you need new equipment to remain competitive? If you are a roofer still using a hammer then you will not be competitive in terms of speed and cost with a roofer whose crews are using nail guns. Does your team require new and improved skills to operate the equipment? Does your sales team need additional training to successfully present the new services and products you are offering? Can your IT team support the increased need for data that sales, operations and accounting teams will need to sell, produce and invoice. Planning takes a lot of time and effort but pays dividends when you begin implementation as it will help your employees feel a part of the process and take ownership of it.

Each business and industry is different but spending the time upfront to determine the reasons for change will help communicate and plan for successful results.

To get more information on planning for change, you can contact Chris Kunze or Perspectives Ltd at www.perspectivesltd.com.

 

 

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donors forumWritten by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group

When looking to “get work done” nonprofit organizations have to consider a number of options available to them. Will the work be done “in-house”, by a volunteer,or by a consultant? Sometimes the discussion is driven by resource constraints, or politic considerations, and not by careful thought about what is really needed to advance the organization and its mission. Each choice brings with it certain advantages and disadvantages which need to be weighed out against the anticipated outcomes.

These challenges are at the heart of the upcoming program & panel titled “Building Just the Right Team” which is part of the Donors Forum’s new Breakfast Learning Series. I am currently the Vice President of Programming for the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and will be on the program panel so I want to give a sneak peak here of the considerations that will be discussed at the event by suggesting that nonprofits explore the following questions before moving forward with their projects:

  1. The pros and cons of hiring a consultant vs. volunteer vs. contracted person. Cost, scope of responsibility, and organizational fit should all be considered.
  2. Does the organization have internal resources to deal with the issues or the funds to hire an outside person? Does it make more sense to develop the existing staff to deal with the issues or to gain an outside perspective?
  3. Is the organization ready to cooperate with outside resources and implement the results of the work being done?
  4. Are the roles and responsibilities clear to all involved? What are the expectations placed on the outside worker and are they willing and able to fulfill them?
  5. Is there a process and criteria in place for choosing and hiring outside help? What issues should be considered before making such a choice?

If you are interested learning more and becoming a part of a more in-depth discussion on this topic please check out the Donors Forum’s Breakfast Learning Series: “Building Just the Right Team” which will be held on July 30th at the Donor’s Forum. The program will feature a panel of nonprofit executives including Gary Garland the Executive Director of Lakeview Pantry, and Andrew Smerczak-Zorza the Executive Recruiter for Nonprofits at Campbell. For more information please email registration@donorsforum.org.

 

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Bernie Dyme on July 16th, 2014
success we all can have

Picture from Thrive Sports

Written by: Bernie Dyme

Now, I am not a soccer aficionado and I must admit that I am not an expert in the game but the recent world cup was pretty captivating.  Just a quick background on me and soccer.  My exposure, to this game occurred almost 25 years ago when the first of my 3 sons played park district soccer.  It expanded when my middle son (who is now 28 years old) got onto a traveling team.

I give you this background because if anyone reading this is looking to learn much about soccer, you should stop here.  No, my point in this post is to do a quick analysis of the German victory over Argentina in the finals this past Sunday.

I did watch almost the entire game and here are some of my observations that demonstrate why victories in team sports occur as a result of the “team play”.  And this is exactly how it works in successful organizations.  Look at the game and you will see that the “name player”, Leo Messier, was on the Argentinian side.  He got all the pre-game hype and make no mistake, he is one of the best but he couldn’t do it by himself.

It was a very hard fought, close game but I had this feeling very early in the first half that Germany might win.  Why?  Well, their precision was impeccable  and their patience was remarkable.  They seemed to dominate possession of the ball which is their trademark.  You can read about it in this Washington Post article.  In fact, no team in the world cup has completed more passes and they remained true to their philosophy by dominating time of possession again (60% to 40%).  So what does this tell us?  Well, it tells us two things.  First, that team work is the key to success.  And that is true in the workplace too.  Everyone out there on that soccer field for the German team understood his role and they worked unselfishly.  Secondly, it speaks to staying with what works for you in terms of overall organizational philosophy and mission. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust or change to accommodate changing marketplaces.  It does mean the following 4 things:

  1. Be true to your company’s mission, keep it updated and use it to guide you in decision making.
  2. Constantly communicate your mission and objectives to ALL staff so that they can know what the main organizational philosophy is, as well as their role in achieving results and success and so they can contribute to that success.
  3. Be patient and disciplined in your approach so that you and your organization aren’t constantly shifting with the changing winds of the marketplace.
  4. Be open to innovation and supportive of the ideas of all of your employees at all levels of the organization. They usually know best and are willing to help out if they understand what you are trying to achieve.

Doing these things may not always insure victory or success, but it will over the long haul which is the most important thing of all.  Like Germany, patience, discipline and teamwork are the key ingredients to long term sustainability and profitability.  After all, Germany won the World Cup for the 4th time.

 

 

 

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Sara DePasquale on July 10th, 2014

Written by: Sara DePasquale
“Our business is to keep your employees engaged in your business”

There are many ways to keep your employees engaged in their work. One service that I have found to be a great incentive is when a wellness program is offered through my place of work. What better way to keep employees healthy and engaged, than by caring for their well-being. One of Perspectives’ service offerings is wellness coaching.

What is wellness coaching? Wellness Coaching is when experts (health coaches) are paired up with the client to help answer common wellness questions, cultivate a plan of action with the employee on their wellness, and deliver ongoing coaching related to their health. Perspectives’ Wellness Coaches start by providing an immediate, solution-focused health consultation by phone or online. One huge health benefit with wellness coaching is that our coaches work with the employee to review their past health and wellness experiences and then create a custom plan for what works best for that individual in order for them to achieve their goals.

Some of Perspectives’ Wellness Coaching services include:

  • Access to Wellness Coach via telephone, email and instant messaging
  • Outbound calls by Wellness Coaches to top 20% of high-risk population based on HRA and/or screening results (in incentivized program only)
  • Initial 45- to 60-minute intake and goal-setting session
  • Up to eight 15- to 30-minute scheduled follow-up sessions
  • Unlimited inbound calls
  • Additional follow-up with personalized e-mails and coach-chosen materials
  • Secure personalized web portal

If you would like to get more information on Wellness Coaching, or any other on-site wellness services, please call 800.866.7556 or visit us online at www.perspectivesltd.com or http://blog.perspectivesltd.com/.

 

 

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Working World Cafe on July 2nd, 2014
mindfulness

photo credit: dreamstine

Written by: Anna Izzi, POCG intern and Master of Arts in Counseling and Organizational Psychology candidate (expected August 2014) from the Adler School of Professional Psychology

Mindfulness has recently become a buzzword in our society. Ever since the Beatles discovered transcendental meditation in the ‘60s mindfulness has slowly become a part of the Western culture and eventually the corporate world. Big names like Steve Jobs, Mark Bertolini, Oprah Winfrey, and even Rupert Murdoch are said to practice it. Additionally, over a 1000 of Google’s employees have taken its mindfulness course designed by Chade-Meng Tan, one of their engineers.

The interest in mindfulness practice makes sense as studies have confirmed many of its benefits including:

  • Increase in executive functioning of the brain (this includes self-regulation of emotion, recall, ability to plan and organize, etc.)
  • Reduction in stress levels
  • Improved focus and performance
  • Improved interpersonal relationships

The practice of mindfulness is, in essence, the act of paying attention to the moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn describes it as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment”. Mindfulness creates a space between us and our experience. This space allows us to look at the experience with objectivity instead of judgment and react to it in a more productive way. Perspectives’ Nikki Nelson states that “it allows the individual to focus on what is being experienced in the moment, rather than ruminating on the past or future”.

I have been incorporating mindfulness into my life for the past 15 years. I wish I could say that during that time I sat diligently in a lotus position for hours and swept my Zen garden during the breaks. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I have a busy schedule and often have to figure out how to be mindful while meeting the deadlines and pace of the Western world. As a result I looked for ways to cultivate mindfulness through everyday activities that fit my schedule. Sure, formal meditation practice is optimal but benefits can be found outside of it too. In order to stay fit one can go to the gym, but cardiovascular benefits can also be gained through walking more and taking the stairs, right?

Here are some ways I found for incorporating mindfulness into a busy schedule:

Morning:

  • Pay attention to the water temperature while washing your hands and to how your skin feels when it goes from dry to wet to dry again.
  • While eating breakfast or drinking coffee note its taste, smell, and texture.

At work:

  • Before you start your day take in your surroundings. Pay attention to all the objects around you, notice their colors, shape and place. Take a deep breath and move on.
  • Pay attention to the people around you. Notice the color of their eyes and what they are wearing. Pay attention to how you feel when you are around them.
  • Take a few minutes to pay attention to your breath. http://doasone.org offers simple guided breathing exercises for those of us stuck to a computer or a mobile device.

During a commute:

  • Take a route you haven’t taken yet or don’t take often. New surroundings make you pay attention to a lot more detail and be a lot more in the moment.

Unfortunately, sometimes when we try to pause and observe the moment all we notice is how “noisy” our mind is and how quickly it wants to move on to something else. When this happens mindfulness practice tells us to just observe it without placing any judgment on the experience or ourselves. If all we can do is to observe how rushed our mind is – that too is being mindful.

 

To check out other posts on Mindfulness, please go here.

 

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Working World Cafe on June 26th, 2014

natural mood enhancersWritten by Brea Seder, LCSW

Looking for more natural mood enhancers? Check out our 5-10 suggestions below.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Do something new. When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut and don’t feel like doing anything, even things you once enjoyed.  Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum, take a class, read a book, go to a movie or a show, start a new hobby.

FAITH, PRAYER OR MEDITATION. Namaste.  According to a study in the Journal of Economic Psychology, the more frequently that people attend religious services, the more content they are.  Faith and prayer, regardless of religion, satisfy a basic need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Research shows that spiritual practices, such as regular mindfulness exercises, can actually change brain structure in a way that promotes a sense of well-being. So as a part of your day, set aside some time for prayer or meditation. It’ll lift your spirits—literally.

THINK POSITIVE. Another key strategy for increasing happiness is to think positive thoughts. Become aware of your “internal dialogue” how and what you think about a situation or experience, or your life. First identify the negative or pessimistic thoughts and patterns. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time a negative thought comes to mind. Once you are aware of the negative thoughts and maladaptive patterns you can let them go and replace them with happier positive thoughts!

SUNSHINE. Get Sun!  Sunlight naturally brightens your mood. Just about everyone, regardless of whether or not they suffer from depression, feels better when the sun comes out.  Exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin levels in the brain making sunlight the most abundant and easiest to absorb anti-depressant. A recent survey of 1.3 million Americans found that those who live in the sunniest states tend to report the highest levels of happiness.  Open your binds first thing in the morning and you will feel happier in seconds!

SMILE. Put on a happy face.There’s good evidence that just smiling and looking like you’re happy will make you feel better and live longer.  Research shows that those who smile more often live an average of 7 years or longer than those who can’t turn that frown upside down.  Smiling is a way of tricking your brain into thinking that everything is “OK”, even if it’s not. Studies show that even muscular changes in your face can elevate your happiness, as can good posture, says Lyubomirsky. Smiling works, she says, because “if you act like you’re a happier person, you can experience all these positive social consequences. You make more friends. People are nicer to you. And these things can have real consequences.”

For more information on these enhancers, or to read part 1, please go here. If you would like to get more information regarding Perspectives Ltd wellness programs, please visit our website.

 

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Working World Cafe on June 25th, 2014
mood enhancers

photo credit: dreamstine

Written by Brea Seder, LCSW

Depression affects over 16 million Americans every year and a large percentage of those people are prescribed antidepressant drugs. While antidepressants have been shown to be helpful for moderate to severe depression, they are usually less effective for those with mild depression.

If you don’t respond to antidepressants (or even if you do), you may want to explore non-drug remedies to lift your depression.

ROUTINE. Get in a routine. If you’re depressed, you need a routine, says Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA. Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.

SLEEP. Get enough sleep. Many studies have shown that there is a strong link between sleep and depression.  Depression and lack of sleep or the opposite; getting too much sleep is quite common.  Sleep problems, particularly insomnia or not getting enough sleep can make depression worse. Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, try not to nap and eliminate caffeine in the afternoon or evening hours, and remove bright lights and distractions from your bedroom such as; a computer, TV, phone, iPad, etc.

DIET. Eat Healthy.  I’m sure you have heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  Although there is no magic diet that fixes depression, what you eat can affect who you are and how you feel and being aware of what you eat can help alleviate symptoms of depression.  Often time’s depression tends to make you overeat or eat foods that are high in sugar and carbs (think comfort foods); being in control of what you eat can make you feel better.  Try to eat a balanced diet rich in dark leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, kale, and avocado. These feel good greens are high in folic acid or folate and vitamin B which act as natural mood boosters. Try to incorporate fruit in your diet if you are in need of a sugar fix. Not only do they increase your body immune system but they increase energy and brain activity which can aid in combating depression, irritability, and stress.

EXERCISE. Get moving! Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, and promotes a healthier you! Research on anxiety and depression show that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety, depression, and improve mood. Exercise can relieve depression, possibly by altering the mood-regulating brain chemicals nor-epinephrine and serotonin. Regular physical activity (even a 20 min walk) can make a difference!

GOALS. Set goals. When you’re depressed, you may feel helpless and hopeless, like you can’t accomplish anything. This mentality will only make you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself. “Start very small,” says Cook. “Make your goal something that you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.” As you start to feel better, you can add more challenging daily goals. It’s important not to over schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. If you have complicated tasks to perform at work or at home, break them up into manageable pieces. It’s OK to slow down a bit– Listen to your body!

 

Stay tuned for the second part of this post coming tomorrow with more natural mood enhancers!

 

 

 

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Working World Cafe on June 19th, 2014

bullying at workDo you work with a bully? If you answered yes to this question, you could be part of a statistic. Numbers show that one of 54 million Americans who have been bullied, were in the workplace. Bullies can be bosses, coworkers, friends and even family. The first step in managing the bully is to recognize that bullying is happening. Bullying at work has a pattern of behavior that is meant to hurt, dominate, or control others. So how do we stop or control this? In order to resolve issues and return to a peaceful workplace, supervisors hold the responsibility to spot signs of bullying and to confront the problem.

How to Manage a Bully

  • Take Complaints Seriously. When a subordinate comes to you for help about feeling the target of disrespectful treatment or behavior, it is crucial to take seriously.
  • Respond promptly when you get a complaint. A minor issue to you may not seem like a big deal, but it matters to the person who is asking for your help.  When coworkers cannot resolve an issue between themselves, it says something about how your workgroup gets along. Your managerial involvement requires immediate attention.
  • Get both sides of the story. Neutrality is important in order to maintain fairness and to give maximum credibility to any plan of action that comes out of the meeting. If emotions are high, meeting with employees separately is an option. Ask each individual what is going on. Focus on the facts and calmly point out any patterns that you see.
  • Require civil behavior. When you address disrespectful conduct early on, simply clearing the air can often be very effective.  Your suggestions can help individuals recognize the signals that their behavior has gone too far.  Targeted individuals need to be encouraged to keep communication open and speak up rather than harbor continued bad feelings about their treatment by others.
  • Remind everyone about retaliation. Maintaining open communication protects your awareness of what is going on in your department.  Make sure everyone knows that you want to be informed right way if bad behavior does not stop or if any party feels they are being “punished” for speaking out.  Follow up with individuals privately to confirm the situation has improved.

To get more information on how we can help with bullying, please visit our website or contact us.

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Bernie Dyme on June 11th, 2014

prevent school shootingWritten by: Bernie Dyme

Well, it has happened again.  Another act of violence in our schools against our children.  Yesterday’s school shooting was the 74th incident of shots being fired in a school since the 2012 Newton Elementary School shooting.  This accounts for almost 1 shooting per week since 2012.  Why does this keep happening and what have we learned that can help us to prevent this kind of thing again in the future?

Let me begin by saying that this is not a post about getting rid of guns or better controlling their access.   Although this is an important element that should be discussed, we need to look deeper into how we can prevent violence in general.  A recent study done jointly by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows a number of interesting statistics as to the “whys”.  It covers the period from December, 2012 — February 10, 2014.  Here are some highlights:

  • Of the 44 shootings, 64% were in K-12 and 36% were on college campuses.
  • At least 16 of the shootings — more than a third of total incidents — occurred after a confrontation between students intensified and shots were fired.

Other interesting facts that might shed some clues on the causes and possible plans for dealing more effectively with this problem in schools include:

  • A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.”
  • 93 percent of assailants planned the attack well in advance, some for months or even years.
  • Statistics reveal that 80 percent of shooters informed at least one person about their plans. Nearly two-thirds told two or more people and the people who knew were most likely peers, friends, schoolmates or siblings.
  • Many offenders have experienced some kind of traumatic or destabilizing event before the attack (i.e., death, divorce, etc.).
  • perpetrators appear to be obsessed with violence.

Strategies for Prevention

  1. Create an environment of openness where teachers, counselors and students can feel comfortable discussing their feelings and referring friends of theirs whom they may be concerned about for help.
  2. Provide ongoing programs that are aimed at prevention of bullying.
  3. Discuss violence prevention with students.
  4. Teach children and adolescents conflict resolution, anger management and stress management skills.
  5. Engage parental involvement and cooperation.
  6. Provide Student Assistance Programs and use their resources to assist in prevention and remediation activities.

This is a growing problem that can be effectively dealt with as long as their are coordinated efforts.

For more information, contact bsd@perspectivesltd.com  and Perspectives Ltd.

 

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Working World Cafe on June 11th, 2014

Written by: Creig Holm, LCSW, CADC

Studies have shown that organizations offering employee assistance program (EAP) benefits reveal a significant decrease in the use of sick leave benefits, help in attracting and retaining top talent, and creating a more productive work place.

Supervisors, managers, HR and high level management are discovering the benefits of any EAP.

Services EAP’s offer to employers are:

  1. Critical incident stress management
  2. Substance abuse case management
  3. In person and phone counseling which includes short term/problem solving interventions for employees
  4. Organizational development
  5. Wellness services for employees

Differences between EAP Vendors

Many purchasers of EAP services don’t realize that there are differences in the quality of EAP vendors. Generic EAP’s tend to be offered for free or bundled into other products (i.e. insurance, disability, etc.) which offer bare minimum services aimed at referring directly into a provider (without first doing a thorough assessment). Perspectives, on the other hand offers high-touch EAP services with careful screening to callers to determine what help they will need, and then places them with the best possible provider. One of our high-touch services includes short term counseling, which helps individuals develop goal setting strategies to improve their performance or quality of life. We also consult with managers on how to deal with employees who present both job performance and behavioral issues, along with many more services. Want to learn more of our EAP services? Take a look here.

Elements of our effective EAP include:

  1. Confidential assessment and counseling services which are provided by licensed mental health counselors from the very beginning of the process v. just automatically referring to a provider.
  2. Trauma response and consultation both by phone with managers and on site with affected employees using a critical incident debriefing model.
  3. Providing a large network of qualified clinicians that the demands/needs of the employee population
  4. Information, referrals, and crisis intervention 24/7 – 365 days per year
  5. Substance abuse expertise to address the specific impact on both the employee and the client company
  6. Services available to all of the employees and household members
  7. Management consultation to address employee job performance and company violation issues

Through the use of EAP interventions and counseling, employees discover healthier ways to manage the daily stressors of life. Employees can be better equipped to approach both their personal and professional lives with integrity, focus, confidence, enthusiasm, while developing a strong sense of achievement from doing their work well. Also, employer support is given to management and leadership to enable a high functioning and performing workplace. Thus, it becomes a win/win situation for both the employer and employee.

To learn more about our employee assistance program, you can contact us by email, giving our call center a ring at 800.456.6327. or requesting more info by filling out a form here.

 

 

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