Tag: american workforce

You don’t know what you’re missing!

Written by Cindy M., Recruiter & Assistant Team Manager – JFC Workforce  

Prior to my current work family I spent six years in the insurance industry as a case manager.  In that period of time I learned many things but was never ‘formally’ introduced to the concept of professional development.  After my time in the insurance industry I was hired by JFC Workforce.  It was a foreign world and industry to me however I was excited to embark on a different path.  That was three years ago and “wow” was I in for an awakening.

It was at JFC where I was propelled into being a student of deliberate learning; not just about the industry but also about myself.  It was a pivotal moment where professional development was infused into my mindset.

From the very first day, heck the very first hour, it was apparent that my employer genuinely cared about my personal and professional growth. Several of the VP’s spent one on one time with me and welcomed me to the team.  The CEO even spent time to learn about me and explain the vision and culture.  It was quite surreal.  It was also during those first few encounters that it sunk in…”I had gained a second family, my JFC family.”

I was dedicated to their philosophy of pursuing my better self and it was noticed.  Most recently I was selected for JFC’s Professional Development program – when each year a select few team members are entrenched in executive mentoring, consultation, coaching, as well as lesson study, and of course, team building activities.

So what did I learn?  

I was introduced to the topic of Emotional Intelligence and the “why” behind it.  If you have never heard of this, I urge you to look it up.  Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is critical to self development.

Here is the essence of EQ:

  • Self-awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen. This includes keeping you on top of how you ten to respond to specific situations and certain people.
  • Self-Management – Your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior. This means managing your emotional reactions to all situations and people.
  • Social Competence – The combination of  your social awareness and relationship management skills. It’s more about how you are with other people.
  • Social Awareness – Your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and get what is really going on. This often means understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, even if you don’t feel the same way.
  • Relationship Management – Your ability to use aware of your emotions and the emotions of others to manage interactions successfully. Letting emotional awareness guide clear communication and effective handling of conflict.

Now I know what professional development really means…

Throughout my tenure at JFC I have been pushed to grow, to develop myself as a person. Most surprising to me was that learning doesn’t have to feel like work.  When done right, it is very energizing!

It also does not need to be in a formal setting, like a classroom.  Sometimes it is as simple as getting together with a group of colleagues to share experiences and provide support .

I imagine not many employees of other organizations can say the same.  After all, what have you learned this past month, week, day?

 

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Separation: It’s good for problem solving

It turns out that the advice Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) gave Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) in the 1991 hit movie “What about Bob?” was more than the premise of a funny movie. In the comedy, therapist Dr. Marvin tells patient Bob Wiley to “take a vacation from his problems”.

And sure enough while on vacation Wiley finds the answers to his greatest problems.

What about BobWe have all been stumped by a problem at work that seemingly has no answer to it.  In that moment we conclude that we have approached it from every angle, and yet there is no apparent solution.

During those pressure cooker moments, we find ourselves in the weeds – no longer seeing the forest through the trees.  Our minds become hyper focused on what’s in front of us and begin to shut down.  We tell ourselves, “I will just work longer nights at the office…or…I can cut out my morning walks and come in earlier.”

More often than not, this is the wrong approach.

Our professional lives are routinely interrupted by extraordinary challenges; those by which we no longer see light at the end of the tunnel.  It seems counter-intuitive but this is when you should create space and distance yourself from the problem.  Don’t take it from me, take it from NASA.

In 1993 NASA suffered extra pressure and great stress when the Hubble Space Telescope broke down.  They faced a daunting task of figuring out how to go up in space and fix the distorted mirror inside the telescope.  For months the brightest minds in NASA couldn’t identify a solution.

Then one day NASA engineer, Jim Crocker, was taking a shower in a hotel and noticed how the shower head was mounted on adjustable rods with folding arms.  Eureka!  The answer did not appear while working late hours in the lab.  It occurred when Jim was in the shower on vacation, when he created space (no pun intended) from the perplexity of his problem.

Why does creating space work?

Your brain is like any muscle in your body.  Imagine lifting weights multiple times per week but only on biceps.  Doing so will surely strain and fatigue those muscles.  Thus, when you are consumed by constantly tackling the same challenge at work, you actually lose mental energy needed to identify solutions.  This is when it’s time to create space!

Let me be perfectly clear.  I am not suggesting you kick the can down the road and embrace avoidance. That will simply create additional problems. But like Bob Wiley, or Jim Crocker, you may find answers to your greatest problem when you take a vacation from the problem.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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What Really is Professional Development?

This month’s blog was written by Will Richard of the JFC family.  A little about his military service: 4 years in the Army with a year tour in Iraq, Rank:  Sergeant, Company:  756th EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), MOS/Job: EOD/Bomb Squad

The term “professional development” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In its simplest form, it is the continual process of acquiring new skills and knowledge as it applies to their career. It requires turning your focus inward to self-reflect and take an honest appraisal of yourself. In my own self-reflection I found that there were two areas that had the greatest potential for personal and professional growth. Figuring out how to lead by inspiration rather than fear, and learning how to better handle personal issues when they leak into the business world.

It’s easy for managers to try and lead by fear and intimidation. While in the military, fear was the main tool taught and used on a daily basis. From basic training to everyday life, fear was used by most people in charge to keep the troops in line. It’s a quick and easy way to get people to listen and do what you say. Fear has its limits, though, making people comply only enough to avoid what causes their fear. Whether that’s a talking to, a ton of push-ups, or even losing their job. Fear is a short term solution and when it is removed so is the motivation. That’s why I’ve devoted a lot of my professional development energy to learning new and superior tools. I want to inspire and lead, not just manage through intimidation.

Fear is an easy, one size fits all method. And as most good leaders know, it is rarely the easy way that’s the optimal way. In order to get best results from people you have to take a more nuanced approach that’s tailored to each individual. You must find what makes them tick and what makes them want to give their best. This takes time and can be very difficult because it requires a leader to spend energy and use tools that are much more complicated. Fear is the fast food of a leader’s tool kit. Quick and easy but it won’t give you the best results. Over reliance on it can have devastating long term effects.

Fear is a strong emotion, but many strong emotions can creep into the workplace. I’ve always been very good at learning new processes, solving unique issues and handling stressful situations, but if you put a crying person in front of me I’ll have no idea how to handle it, or at least, that’s how I used to be. This can be a problem if you’re leading a team because, no matter how hard we try, personal circumstances can infiltrate the workplace. Growth as a professional for me has meant learning how to handle emotions in the right way at work.

fear

It becomes a delicate balancing act of showing concern for your fellow employees without overstepping boundaries. Some people like sharing and having others involved in their personal lives, while others are very closed and guarded. Showing care without pushing too far and maintaining a professional working relationship can be difficult. This is where learning different strategies for handling unique situations is so important. Talking out real and hypothetical situations with others who have experience is an excellent tool in a leader’s toolkit.

Ultimately, I want to be the type of leader that motivates and inspires my team to reach their full potential rather than bark orders and get the bare minimum. In order to do this, I will continue to hone my management tools, adding new ones and adjusting others for the situation. I’ll continue to balance being there for others in their time of need with the needs of the company. I’m still not much of a hugger, but if an awkward hug will brighten your day, then feel free to stop by anytime.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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How will you pursue your better self?

So many of us are not deliberate or intentional about our own professional development.  Maybe it’s fear, maybe its complacency, or a little of both.  No matter what the reason(s), all are unacceptable.  Rather than go with the flow we should routinely stretch our boundaries and push out of our comfort zone.

Legendary leadership guru, John Maxwell, said it best, “The smallest crowd you will ever lead is you – but it’s the most important one.  The first person we must examine is ourselves.  If you don’t look at yourself realistically, you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.  And if you can’t see them, you won’t be able to lead yourself effectively.”

My personal advice…focus on the present.  Don’t put off today what you should have started yesterday.  Do something today that your future self will thank you for.  When you’re constantly focused on the future you’re actually much less productive in the current moment.  No one can control the future BUT what you do today will influence it.

future self

My personal request…take action and repeat.  When was the last time you read a book about professional development?  When was the last time you listened to a Podcast for learning?  When was the last time you sought out a mentor?  How about video TedTalks?

Discover untapped abilities by working toward your full potential; never stop growing into your better self.  Be a driving force that contributes to your future self!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

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@ Work, How Do You Create Space?

In 1993 NASA suffered extra pressure and great stress when the Hubble Space Telescope broke down.  They faced a daunting task of figuring out how to go up in space and fix the distorted mirror inside the telescope.  For months the brightest minds in NASA couldn’t identify a solution.

Then one day NASA engineer, Jim Crocker, was taking a shower in a hotel and noticed how the shower head was mounted on adjustable rods with folding arms.  Eureka!  The answer did not appear while working late hours in the lab.  It occurred when Jim was in the shower on vacation, when he created space (no pun intended) from the perplexity of his problem.

Mindset spaceCreating space allows our minds to process thoughts more freely and creatively.  Heck, Newton discovered gravity when sitting under an apple tree.  It requires purposeful separation from the typical problem solving environment in order to let your thoughts move more freely.  It happens when thinking on a problem while out for a stroll, riding a bike, or sitting out in nature (under an apple tree).

Why does creating space work?  Your brain is like any muscle in your body.  Imagine lifting weights multiple times per week but only on biceps.  Doing so will surely strain and fatigue those muscles.  Thus, when you are consumed by constantly tackling the same challenge at work, you actually lose mental energy needed to identify solutions.  This is when it’s time to create space!

June is the halfway mark.  You are six months into 2016.  Are you where you should be? Are you where you want to be?  Take time, create space, and allow deep thought to happen.  The goal is not to be perfect – it is just to be better than before.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

 

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OSHA doesn’t enforce psychological safety…

OSHA may not audit your organization’s psychological safety but you most definitely should!

This is psychology brainwhat makes teams succeed or fail.  It’s not member intellect, commonalities or diversity.  The dynamics of a team and the environment will vary but everyone must feel a sense of psychological safety.

What is this?

It is whether members feel they can trust each other, that honest conversations can take place without fear of retribution.

Each teammate must have a seat at the table and an equal voice.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not to be decision by consensus – each person does not have an equal vote.  An equal voice means that each teammate has opportunity to shape the greater team’s decisions and outcomes.

While this typically begins with the team leader, any teammate can take the reigns of psychological safety.  After all, as John C Maxwell once said, “The smallest crowd you will ever lead is YOU…but it’s the most important one.”  By demonstrating the above mentioned behaviors you can influence others on the team.  No matter your rank/title, think about what message your behavior might send.

Practice active listening…demonstrate sensitivity to what others think and feel…and harness self-awareness.  Pretty soon you will begin to witness psychological safety in action and the success of your team blossom!

Disclaimer: Psychological safety might be less efficient in thesafety short run (allowing everyone to weigh in) but it is far more productive in the long run (members will be committed to the group).  Remember, few worthwhile things in life come quickly.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

 

 

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Seeds of Spring Sprouting: Goal Trajectory

Sunshine on flowersIsn’t Spring great?

This is a magical stage of the year, abound with both external and internal transitions. Outside, landscapes become greener, days grow longer, and the air warmer.  Inside, our energy and optimism take bloom like buds on cherry trees.  Everything is growing!

Both figuratively and literally, seeds are starting to sprout. It is a period for nurturing and fostering things to come.  B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes Magazine, nailed it when he said, “It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.”

Take his word, you better make haste in spring. Reflect on the goals you’ve previously planted in the year.  Identify whether or not your actions are indeed fertilization for their future achievement.  The decisions and actions you make now will become stepping stones for your future development.

Use this time of year to influence a positive change in your trajectory towards long-term success. After all, the ever-lengthening days of warmth and light, and all of nature’s responses to them, are obvious reminders to focus on growth. Be proactive in Spring so that you may reap harvest (achieving goals) in the Fall.

What is the current health of your goals? Are they taking root?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.  

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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Emerging Workers Meet Dr. Sheldon Cooper

Manage emotional culture for survival and growth…

“Do what we tell you and get a paycheck, healthcare, and retirement bucks. Do that long enough and eventually you’ll tell others around here what to do: Maybe everyone.” Those are the rules, right? That’s what you learned from the punches, and battle-scars that the hardest work and sharpest focus invited on your trip toward the C-Suite.

Okay, maybe when you strip away the context, that’s a little Sheldon Cooper-ish. Sheldon Cooper? You know the Ph.D. from Big Bang Theory who’s floating in an Asperger bubble which deafens him to either his own or other people’s emotions. Dr. Cooper is a highly functioning autistic who’s immersion in a super-specialized field of interest obscures what drives other people.

dr-sheldon-cooper-quotes

Fact is, that model worked. It was a paradigm for enterprise cultures that prospered because they laser-focused upon serving markets by creating goods and services in return for gold. This revenue provided paychecks, healthcare, and retirement bucks.

So? What’s changed?

Employees are increasingly becoming a market that enterprises must also please. Otherwise they lose access to the STEM technicians and specialized management professionals who allow an enterprise to serve customers with their goods and services. As the labor markets have moved away from a demand from brawn to a necessity for brain… Well, Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s begun to realize that the emotional drives of his colleagues are now part of succeeding in the super-specialized field of interest which defines modern market competition.

Increasingly labor-force entrants with productive skills want something more out of a job and especially management.  Too quickly their appetites have been stereotyped by the Sheldon Cooper myopia of the past which dismisses these emerging workers as solely interested in trophies, instant gratification, or fast-tracking to the top. Their emotional cravings for flex-time, telecommuting, social significance, family time, interesting objectives, meaningful tasks, and continual feedback leave Sheldon Cooper cultures muttering… “These kids are good for nothing! They… they… don’t know the meaning of hard work!” Sound about right?

Shhhhh… Hear that? It’s the din of cultures clashing!

Look, the reality is not that younger generations are a challenge to hire and manage.  Instead, too many executive suites have the wrong core belief about managing emerging workers. And being wrong about that core belief means every subsequent decision only makes things worse because every decision is ultimately tied to that belief.

Successful enterprise cultures must evolve and adapt with the workforce or risk irrelevance.  After all, executives demand similar flexibility to the demands of their product markets, right? The reality is that the Millennials and Generation Y who characterize the emerging workforce are not the problem: Sheldon Cooper’s the problem.  Too many of us manage in a narrow tunnel walled off from the emotional culture we create.  Increasingly we must focus upon how employees feel: Yes, the emotional drivers.

Adaptive enterprise cultures are learning to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome internal challenges, and defuse conflicts. Succinctly, they learn to read their community’s signals and react appropriately to them. All of which are the components of effective EQ management. Meaning they are pricking the Sheldon Cooper Asperger bubble.  They’re synthesizing that traditional management driver with the aspirations of emerging workers. This for relevancy in a world that blurs self gratification on the job with gratifications from ideals, families, and self awareness.

Is this affordable? Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace Poll” found that 70% of the nation’s employees are disengaged at work.  They estimate that these disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity.  A “Global Workforce Study” by Towers Watson showed only 48% of employees report that their top management is doing a good job of providing effective leadership. In the face of those sorts of metrics, is the Sheldon model still affordable, particularly in a world of out-sourcing, and off-shoring? Is it cost-efficient in a world of market competition without borders?

This is not some soft kumbaya movement.  It’s real and the emerging workers are more mindful of it than most in today’s C suite.  It’s unfortunate given the critical importance of emotional culture that EQ is rarely managed if managed at all. Unfortunate since it influences soft measures like employee engagement but also the hard measures like retaining top talent and financial performance.

Most of us over thirty years of age have barely heard of emotional intelligence (EQ).  Raised in a Sheldon Cooper business culture we were never shown that feelings are primary drivers of behavior and thus we’ve ignored the drive of key emerging workers to shop for the employers who make deliberate attempts to harness this concept.  In the increasingly competitive market for high-productivity talent, enterprises need to grow attention to emotional intelligence (EQ) and its effect on both the front and bottom lines.

It starts at the top, the executive suite.  The old ways might still get you compliance but they will never let you maximize the productivity of focused attentions and commitment.  Disregarding the feelings of others makes employees insensitive and indifferent.  Which will permeate out to customers causing dominos to fall – turnover (employee and customer) creates a costly clatter.

Executives who invest in their EQ management are in fact investing in the overarching emotional culture of their company.  Their front line employees blossom out of happiness and pride rather than wilt from boredom and anxiety.  They perform to higher levels so the customers receive more positive experiences nurturing both profitability and growth.

EQ is the cure to Dr. Cooper’s management Asperger’s. Or at least it’s strategically dialing down the profit-distracting din of colliding cultures.

Article originally published in Lancaster Business2Business Magazine February 2016

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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Get your psychological well-being on!

Well-beingEverybody wants and deserves a sense of relatedness in life. It is a human need, not something to be turned off or on between home and work.  Think about it.  You can’t divorce one from the other; the two worlds are dramatically interconnected.

Healthy relationships are fundamental to our success in life. When they are absent at work, our potential is limited.

Be mindful of the influence you have on your peers’ psychological well-being.  Make a conscious effort to facilitate a culture of connectedness.  I guarantee that doing so will bring joy to both yours and their personal and professional life.

Work should be a place where friendships are created; people can go home fulfilled, and they can inspire their friends/family.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

 

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Is motivation a skill?

Motivation is indeed a skill and actually, you are motivated all of the time. Bubble people

Think of the last meeting you attended.  Aware of it or not, you went into it with certain feelings and beliefs – your outlook.  This decided the direction of motivation you chose.

Your outlook either motivated you to actively participate or to tune out altogether.  Thus, the real question is not “if” you are motivated but “why.” Here is where the magic happens.  The true nature of motivation is that we can learn to choose and create the intentions behind it; positive or negative.

Let’s say you chose positive intentions going into the meeting.  You went into the meeting motivated to actively participate, you learned something new – even helped a peer learn something new.

Now let’s reverse those intentions.  You went into the meeting motivated to disconnect from the conversation, you were close minded – even disruptive of other’s learning experience.

Which scenario was more beneficial to you; to others?  Hopefully you are connecting the dots.  A positive outlook leads to positive intentions, leads to positive motivation, leads to positive results.

Motivation is a skill and just like any other skill; it can be learned.  The real power is not in being motivated but in “why” we are motivated.  I challenge you to learn to choose and create optimal outlooks and intentions.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

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