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Traci's 2018 Business Tips

Decision-making with outdated information can cause problems for you and your organization. Stay current on rules, regulations, and guidance in your industry by signing up for alerts from State and federal departments and subscribing to newsletters and other industry-related periodicals. On a regular basis, set aside dedicated time for you and your staff to review, discussion, and incorporate new and updated information. (Posted December 16, 2018)

Do not allow employees to come to or stay at work when they are obviously ill. While you can admire their desire to work, the risk to them and others is too great. Foster a culture in which employees are not penalized or looked down upon if they need to take a sick day. Also, remember to practice what you preach! (Posted November 25, 2018)

Don’t hide from or try to minimize your mistakes to your employees. Take the opportunity to model how to be accountable and learn from things that don’t go as desired or expected. Your actions set the foundation for a culture of acceptance and learning or of blaming and shaming. (Posted November 18, 2018)

As a leader, if you turn a blind eye to problems in the workplace, you are complicit in the wrongdoing. You have moral, ethical and legal responsibilities to address policy or work rule violations. You don't have the luxury to hope that serious issues will resolve themselves on their own. For the good of your organization and employees, even if it's unpopular or hard to do, fulfill your obligations. (Posted November 11, 2018)

There's never an excuse to stagnate professionally! Don't solely rely on your current place of employment for professional growth opportunities. Expand your knowledge and skills by actively seeking new experiences. Professional development can come from various endeavors such as joining a non-profit board, volunteering outside of your current area of expertise, or self-education through various classes and training. (Posted November 4, 2018)

Before you send written communication, take the time to clarify your thoughts. If your thoughts are jumbled, and you don't know what you want or need, the receiver of the message is likely to be equally confused. Further, don't hesitate to request a review and feedback from a second set of eyes. (Posted October 28, 2018)

The desire to keep going long after you stopped being productive can be tempting. Don't give in to temptation! Instead, take a break, regroup, and begin again after you've had time to recharge your mind and body. Otherwise, you might find yourself redoing tasks that you did poorly due to being tired and unfocused. (Posted October 21, 2018)

When you are feeling overwhelmed about your workload, your mindset plays a large part in your perception of your ability to get the work done. A positive attitude usually results in more being accomplished. A negative attitude generally results in inaction or limited action. Don't waste your time complaining; focus on what you can get done and then do it! (Posted October 14, 2018)

Know your limits. If you don't have the time, resources or expertise to undertake an endeavor, don't shy away from seeking assistance. Asking for help doesn't make you weak; it makes you smart. Better to get help on the front end than to have a disaster to tend with on the back end. (Posted October 7, 2018)

No matter your job title or position in the organization, don't be fooled into thinking you know everything. There is always more to learn. Find a mentor to keep you grounded, and be open to learning from everyone, including your subordinates. (Posted September 30, 2018)

Patience is not the same as procrastination. While it does not benefit you to make rash and impulsive decisions, lengthy delays in decision-making can be equally problematic. Strive and encourage others to make thoughtful and timely decisions. (Posted September 23, 2018)

There are ten commandments of effective listening. The first and the last commandments are to "stop talking." It is difficult to talk and to listen at the same time. If you are talking more than you are listening, your active listening skills may need a tune-up. The more you practice, the better you become! (Posted September 16, 2018)

What is your attitude conveying to your employees? Do you project doom and gloom, or do you have a can-do spirit? Your bad mood has the power to create tension and ill will. Your can-do attitude has the power to motivate and inspire. When deciding how to approach your day, choose wisely! (Posted September 9, 2018)

Properly allocating and managing resources (time, money, effort) are critical skills for organizational leaders. If a project or department is the priority, ensure that your resources are aligned to support it. Designating a project or department a priority and then undervaluing or ignoring it, is a set-up for failure for all involved. (Posted September 2, 2018)

As a leader, open-mindedness is a valuable trait. Some leaders claim to be open-minded, but their actions contradict their self-description. If you shut down new ideas, ways of doing things, partnerships, etc., you are doing a disservice to your employees, yourself, and your organization. Strive to remain flexible and open to change. (Posted August 26, 2018)

How do you know if you are competent in your leadership role? Don’t hesitate to gather feedback from subordinates, peers, supervisors, customers and other stakeholders. Listen with an open mind and be prepared to make changes as needed to improve. (Posted August 19, 2018)

When problems are brought to your attention, excuses to, and blaming the messenger should not be your go-to. Even if there isn't an immediate fix, commit to identifying and resolving the problem. Taking steps toward improvement can change the work environment from negative to positive. (Posted August 12, 2018)

Don’t let accidental success make you complacent. Take time to develop and follow a strategic plan before a crisis strikes. Completing a thorough review of your business practices to identify what creates value and what unnecessarily depletes resources, is an important, yet often neglected, step for many organizations. (Posted August 5, 2018)

If your employees were provided an opportunity to continue working with you or choosing a new supervisor, which option would they most likely take? If you don’t know, ask. Make it a priority to check in with them, so you have a good handle on their concerns, needs, and desired areas of growth. (Posted July 29, 2018)

If you only deal with problems on a surface level, they can be prolonged or exacerbated. As a leader, your responsibility is to identify and address the root causes of problems. Creating and fostering a work environment that is productive and drama-free may take extra effort, but it is worth it! (Posted July 22, 2018)

What’s on your to-do list that you have been avoiding? If it’s still there, that probably means you need to get to it! Make a firm commitment to finish that task or project in the next two weeks. Imagine the relief you will feel when it is completed. (Posted July 15, 2018)

If you advanced in your career because someone believed in you and took the time to mentor you, pass it on! Even if no one did, don't let that stop you from helping others to grow and become leaders in their own right. (Posted July 8, 2018) Not having work done to organizational standards can sometimes be corrected by practicing different communication styles. Effective communication is not a one size fits all endeavor. It's important to know, understand, and practice the communication styles that are most likely to get positive results from each employee. (Posted July 1, 2018)

If you have an "open door" policy, what does it really mean? Clarify with your employees so that you aren't resentful and annoyed that someone is always at your door, or that they aren't disappointed because you never have time for them. (Posted June 24, 2018)

Do you have a go-to employee that you can always count on to get any job done? While dependability is good for the organization, make sure that you don't overload the employee with work that can and should be done by others. Also, assess whether a promotion or increase in salary is in order. (Posted June 17, 2018) Be mindful of the potential impacts of friendships in the workplace. Crossing professional boundaries, making workplace decisions based on friendship, or treating employees differently due to friendships can be disastrous. Make sure that as the supervisor, you know where the line is…and that you don't cross it! (Posted June 10, 2018) Seek out people who challenge you to grow professionally. Embrace new assignments. Test out new ways of accomplishing tasks. Speak up when you don't understand. While you might be pushed beyond your comfort zone, ultimately it will make you a more well-rounded employee. (Posted June 3, 2018)

How do you keep your employees motivated during tough times, whether through financial downturns or employee turnover? Strive to keep employees informed and work with them to develop a workable plan to handle the extra work that may come their way. Even if you are delivering less than ideal news, provide it with confidence and compassion. Communicating bad news is better than communicating no news. (Posted May 27, 2018) Don't let your mouth write a check that your ongoing employment status can't cash. Profanity, flippant, sexist, racist, etc. comments have no place in the work environment. Your "jokes" can lead to serious allegations of harassment or discrimination, disciplinary actions, or even termination. Think before you speak. (Posted May 20, 2018)

If you expect your subordinates to respect your leadership authority based solely on the structure of the org chart and written policies, you are in big trouble! Your employees should want to follow you because you have a well-articulated vision for excellence, you treat them with respect, and you show your appreciation for the work that they do to support you and the organization. (Posted May 13, 2018)

Having a diverse workplace does not automatically equate to having an inclusive work environment. Inclusion requires action. Consistently practice and promote involving and valuing all members of your team. Each individual should feel comfortable voicing their thoughts and opinions even if they differ from yours. Embrace the richness that diversity and inclusion bring! (Posted May 6, 2018)

Warm weather can bring wardrobe challenges! Now is the time to review your organization's dress code policy. Employees should dress in a manner that is comfortable for them while being cognizant that they are in the workplace and not in their homes. Professional attire should not be offensive or make co-workers or customers uncomfortable due to exposure of body parts that should be covered. (Posted April 29, 2018)

Don’t be THAT person who can never find anything! Take advantage of electronic tools to aid your organizing efforts. There are many tools such as Microsoft OneNote and Evernote that allow you to easily organize your notes, tasks, handouts, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. in one location. I have been using Microsoft OneNote since December 1, 2007 and can very quickly and easily find and share relevant information from then until now! (Posted April 22, 2018)

Do your employees look forward to connecting with you or dread to see you coming? Be mindful of how you come across. Ensure that you are not continually projecting negativity or wasting their time by spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on issues unrelated to the work they need to complete. (Posted April 15, 2018) How do you feel about your job? In general, work takes a significant part of each day. If you aren't happy or even content with what you do, ask yourself a few questions. Why am I doing this job? Am I prepared to make a job change? If changing employment is not an option, what can I do to make my job more desirable? (Posted April 8, 2018)

When you are on personal or annual leave, leave your work at work! Taking time to recharge is good for your physical and mental health. Healthy people are more productive and make better employees. (Posted April 1, 2018) Sugarcoating facts can erode trust. Don't give your employees reason to doubt your integrity. Even if you are delivering "bad" news, be open and honest with all communications, and keep the lines of communication open for future questions. (Posted March 25, 2018)

On occasion, do a self-check to ensure you are meeting all the requirements of your job. It is much easier to focus on the parts that you enjoy or that you are most comfortable and neglect the areas that challenge you. Don’t sell yourself short; embrace and perform all aspects of your job! (Posted March 18, 2018)

Feel like you have to respond to a million emails? Try grouping your emails by "conversation" and then read the last one sent to you first. Often, others have weighed in, and no action/response is needed from you! (Posted March 11, 2018)

Create professional growth plans for all employees. They should be monitored and adjusted as needed. No one should stagnate in their jobs because everyone has room for growth, even you! (Posted March 4, 2018)

Time is too valuable to waste on useless or unproductive meetings. Never meet just for the sake of meeting. Know what you want to accomplish ahead of time, have a written agenda, and start and end on time. (Posted February 25, 2018)

Don't miss deadlines! When possible have two deadlines-the "real" one and the one (3-5 business days before) that gives you enough time to ensure that if "life happens," you still have enough time to complete the task before it is due. (Posted February 18, 2018)

Communication is a two-way street. Work with your employees to establish communication expectations for them and for you. Discuss the best method of communication (email, phone, message, etc.), expected response times, and when and how to follow up if responses are not timely. (Posted February 11, 2018)

Appropriately delegating tasks to subordinates is a valuable skill for all supervisors. If you lack this skill, work to build it. Without it, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your employees. (Posted February 4, 2018)

Email is a tool that should work for you, not against you. Before hitting send on an email, take a minute or two to read it out loud. This will give you an opportunity to catch any distracting spelling or grammatical errors as well as get a sense of the tone of your message. (Posted January 28, 2018)

If you don't understand directions provided to you, ask! Better to seek clarification and complete the task correctly than to remain silent and waste your time and effort, as well as, diminish the regard of others. (Posted January 21, 2018)

Employees are the backbone of most organizations. Ensure that you treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve. As a supervisor, your actions should always be a model for how others should conduct themselves in a work environment. (Posted January 14, 2018)

If you have identified a problem in the workforce, what's preventing you from addressing it? Don't let procrastination, fear, or stubbornness prevent you from taking actions to improve the situation. (Posted January 7, 2018)

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