Author Archives: Karen Snyder

Leadership - Mindset

I Am Fed Up! Enough is Enough!

For those of you who are long time readers, you will notice that I frequently write blogs on positivity, appreciation, and gratitude. In general, I try to model those qualities when approaching challenges in my work and personal life.

So, is there ever a time when we should all stop and shout, “Enough is enough!” “This doesn’t make any sense!” “I am fed up!” The answer is yes, and the research on the negative effects of what can be referred to as toxic positivity are clear.

I had a situation three years ago with a colleague and it wasn’t positive. Okay, I will say it: It was negative. Soon after the encounter, I was retelling the experience to my friend Patty and we were rolling around in the verbal upset. Neither of us liked where we were going, and then Patty said, “Can we just say it was awful?” Yes! It was awful!

Kate Bowler, a bestselling author who studies the cultural stories we tell ourselves, said in her recent podcast that “positivity becomes toxic when it prevents us from being able to speak honestly about our circumstances.”

Therapist Whitney Goodman wrote an entire book about it and created a fantastic chart to help you say something that is both truthful and helpful.  

I wish for you a life full of happiness, but I also know that is not always possible. I hope that these phrases will help you be where you are while moving forward to a legitimate place of feeling better, day by day. 

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Leadership - Mindset

A Change in Attitude

I recently came across a list of amazing quotes by acclaimed American poet, storyteller, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Since I often write blogs discussing the importance of gratitude and mindset in our personal and professional lives, I found it to be a treasure trove of inspiration. I will be highlighting a few of my favorite quotes in the months ahead, and I encourage you to share with me the philosophies and quotes that guide your life.  

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. Certainly most of us reading this blog will never experience the level of turmoil that Angelou faced. But as we confront our own challenges, we can be reminded to work towards positive progress and to recognize that sometimes a change in our attitude will take us the rest of the way.

A small attitude adjustment that had a big impact on others was demonstrated this past summer by my friend and colleague, David Glickman. A large group of colleagues and I attended a conference and many of us subsequently came down with Covid.  

There was an email thread where a few of the attendees, as well as those who had chosen not to attend, all of whom had been vaccinated and boosted, were politely discussing what the conference organizers (who are volunteers) could have done to lessen the risk of Covid. 

While an interesting question, David wrote in the thread, “I accept full responsibility. I knew the risk and I chose to take the chance.” This shift really changed the tone of the conversation. Perhaps David’s behavior caught my eye because it was exactly the discussion point I used this past Wednesday when I was conducting the program Blame, Shame and It’s Not My Fault

When have you in your organization shifted the conversation from blame to responsibility? 

This article is one in a series discussing the importance of gratitude in our personal and professional lives, the benefits of routinely recognizing the good things in our lives, appreciating others who have helped us, practicing gratitude, saying thank you, trying a complaint-free day, taking a gratitude walk, and recognizing fresh starts.

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Employee Engagement - Leadership - Performance Management

Remote Work – How Fair is Your Organization?

I recently had three discussions about remote work in the same one-week period.

The first instance came up with a close friend. Yohan moved to the DC area during the pandemic because his wife got a new job here and his Charlotte-based company was allowing, and even encouraging, everyone to work remotely. Since relocating, Yohan has been promoted to the role of manager, and now his organization is calling all managers back to the office for a minimum of three days per week. Yohan has to decide if he will: 1) Get a new job; 2) Move back to Charlotte; or 3) Apply for a non-managerial position within his existing company.

The second person facing a remote-work predicament is a coaching client, Kathy, whose husband has accepted a job in another state. Kathy has been with the same university for the past 15 years where she has held a variety of administrative positions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has worked remotely 100% of the time, and her performance appraisals reflect that her work and work ethic are exemplary. Kathy plans to move to the other state with her husband, but the university has a requirement that employees must live within a 90-minute commute so that there will be no overnight expenses associated with in-person staff meetings. While this requirement exists, there have not been any in-person meetings during the past three years.

And finally, I am working with a biotech firm trying to fill a niche position that has been open for months since the need for this particular skill set is so great and the pool of qualified personnel is so small. While the organization has primarily an in-person work environment, their organization does have a few exceptions; however, everyone agrees that this position would work best if the incumbent were in-person. According to the recruiter, they now have three highly-qualified candidates, but none are willing to relocate for the position.

How should companies manage these situations which are no longer unique, and in fact, are now quite commonplace? While each organization and industry must decide what is best based on their own business needs, I was most impressed with the process one of clients uses to designate a position as fully or partially remote. It starts by asking a number of important questions, like: 

  • How specifically will the individual continue to meet the organization’s business needs?
  • How will the proposed remote work benefit the organization?
  • How will the individual contribute to mentoring colleagues and to creating the culture of the organization?
  • If the position has direct reports, what processes will the manager use to manage remotely?

Do you agree that these are valid concerns? Can you think of other questions that need to be answered in order to start or continue remote work in a post-pandemic world? 

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