Tag Archives: employee engagement

Diversity and Inclusion - Employee Engagement

It’s Always Someone’s First Job

I graduated from school during a deep recession. Armed with an undergraduate degree in psychology, I didn’t have readily apparent job skills. After a long and daunting job search, which took place using an old-fashioned typewriter, envelopes, stamps, and bus rides all over Massachusetts, I secured a job at a junior college in Boston. My adult children are very tired of hearing about my travails, but that search and resulting job left a lasting impression on me.

My first professional job was a great fit! I was able to work with junior college students and help them plan their future careers. I was able to work with employers and help them find great workers, and I was able to teach a class that I had taken as an undergraduate. That was not all – the environment I worked in was vibrant, and most of all caring.

My new colleagues invited me to lunch and then to their homes. My new friend Karin greeted me every morning. Ruth always had a listening shoulder. Jon teased me mercilessly and created so much humor that many days I laughed until I cried. There was ever-smiling Debbie, and also Maria, who was older and wiser and shared so much wisdom with me. And then there was Nancy. Nancy was my manager and she ensured that I felt welcome and a part of the team from the outset.

In our new virtual work, where our colleagues are dispersed all over the area and oftentimes all over the world, do you take the time to welcome the first timers? Do you send a text or a card when a colleague is ill or is struggling with a family member? And if you are back in an office, do you go to lunch with the newbie? Do you take the time to welcome them and spend a few minutes learning about them?

Here are my friends from my first professional job in Massachusetts. Even though none of us have worked together in over three decades, we gathered last week for dinner in Boston. This group was my support system and they encouraged and inspired me. Are you that person for someone else? Be the reason someone new feels welcomed and included. Pass it on.

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Performance Management

Time Stands Still

I am leading a monthly series of Leadership Trainings spanning over a year. One of the modules is Time and Stress Management, and it’s a topic that I have been presenting and trying to learn more about myself for the past 31 years since I started Concordia Consulting.

To prepare for the program, I began my usual process of reading what’s current, watching a few YouTube videos, querying my colleagues on an HR listserv, and then poring over previous presentations of my own. I have no shortage of materials, and as you can see from the spread, it’s not a neat and tidy exercise as I like to fan things out all around me as I review the materials on the floor.

Reading through some of my more dated course books, I found that there were a lot of references to phone interruptions which I found humorous since the only phone interruptions I regularly receive are robo calls. There were also numerous references to facsimile machines which were invented in 1964 and became common in the 1980s. Of course with the widespread use of email, faxes are rarely used today. I filled my recycling bin and was happy to toss some musty paper out!

What I realized during this exercise is that while forms of communication have changed considerably through the years, the basic tenets of time management have not changed at all. I like to start my course by saying “Time Management Is a Fallacy,” and point out that you actually cannot manage time since we all have the same 24 hours each day. What you can manage is yourself and how you focus your time: what projects you take on, what tasks you say “no” to, and what your job, organization, and manager require.

One of the best methods for organizing your time is by accurately analyzing how you spend your time and then making sure it’s appropriate. The time management exercise shown that I used 31 years ago is just as relevant today. I hope you will take the time to click on its image or here to complete the exercise and share the results with me.

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Employee Engagement - Leadership

Com Pane — Breaking Bread in Your Organization

I used to bake bread for our family, specifically Challah, about once a month. We didn’t celebrate the sabbath in our home every week, but our family knew that when they smelled the aromatic Challah, we would be having a “formal” dinner. They could expect that everyone would sit at the table, engage in active conversation, and be a loving family for at least 30 minutes.

Bloomberg posted this article in April:

Workers Are Winning the Return-to-Office War Because They’re Right

My big takeaway from the article is this:

The important lesson that employers learned from Covid is that companies are more than just “nexuses of contacts,” as Michael Jensen and William Meckling put it in 1976. They are social organizations that are in the business of transmitting unique cultures. In fact, the word “company” is comprised of two Latin words “com” and “pane,” meaning breaking bread together. When it comes to passing on the tricks of the trade, generating a sense of camaraderie, or solving collective problems, there is nothing better than sharing the same space. 

Whether your organization never stopped meeting on site, you have gone fully virtual, or you started a new hybrid model, when you are together don’t overlook time to break bread. If you are a senior leader, meet with all of your direct reports at least once a month. Get to know each other as people, refrain from always discussing job responsibilities, and just talk as two people about your lives outside of work. If you are a department head, bring your remote employees together at least quarterly, and be sure to throw some fun into the mix while you are all together. If you are an employee seeking connection, try starting a company-sponsored pickleball or bowling team.  

And when you are in my area, please let me know and I will make Challah and share a meal with you. My husband loves meeting my work family, and we have plenty of room around our table. Remember that the root words of “company” are about breaking bread together. When will you next break bread with your work family?

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