Improving Business Effectiveness

​​Traci's Business Tips 

(Updated Weekly)

With 20+ years of experience in organizational and personnel management, I am sharing my practical tips to assist with enhancing employee engagement and with facilitating a smooth running organization.

I hope you will find these tips helpful in managing your day-to-day operations!

Don’t say yes if you really mean no. If you don’t have the time to dedicate yourself to a task, speak up. Being truthful strengthens your credibility and puts you in a position to have a rational discussion of what’s possible and what’s not.  (Posted September 27, 2020)

Words matter. Commitments matter. Actions matter. Alignment between the three is critical if you want to be viewed as a fair and capable leader. If there is misalignment, don’t be surprised when your employees begin to question your integrity, or worse, follow your lead. (Posted September 20, 2020)

When was the last time you cleaned and organized your workspace? If office clutter causes you to waste time shuffling from pile to pile instead of getting work done, schedule 2-3 hours, and complete a thorough cleaning and reorganization of your space. Watch how your productivity and mood improve when you begin working in your new environment. (Posted September 13, 2020) 

Your employees are not your children. Therefore, "because I said so" is not a reasonable response when someone questions a decision or asks for more information. Ensure that you fully understand your request and its potential impacts and then be prepared to clarify your expectations. (Posted September 6, 2020)

At the start of each week, map out tasks that you must accomplish. Use your calendar, planner, or other organizing tools to block out dedicated time to complete each task. Unless there is an emergency, stick to your schedule. By week’s end, you’ll be ready to enjoy some downtime because you will have earned it! (Posted August 30, 2020)

Rethinking a decision and readjusting when needed is a powerful leadership practice. Don’t compound mistakes by digging in your heals and failing to acknowledge your error. You will be trusted and respected more if you admit you are wrong and work to get back on the right track.  (Posted August 23, 2020)

Do you find yourself going through the motions of your day with no passion for what you accomplish? If you’re content to do just enough to get by, shake things up! If you have outgrown your current position, look for more challenging opportunities. If your job is still right for you, recommit, and find ways to go beyond “good enough.” (Posted August 16, 2020)

Where would you be if someone had not given you a chance to shine? Don’t forget what it was like to be enthusiastic, wanting to excel, and fervently hoping that someone would recognize what you had to offer. Take a chance, and mentor potential! (Posted August 9, 2020)

Some challenges may be difficult to overcome. However, keep in mind that solutions to problems don’t have to be masterpieces of complexity. Often, simple and straightforward reasoning can help you work through the most frustrating obstacles. (Posted August 2, 2020)

There should be no shame in taking a timeout to rethink and regroup. If something is not working, trying the same thing one more time is a waste of time and energy. The best use of your resources is to accept what’s not working and figure out what can be done differently to achieve the desired results. (Posted July 26, 2020)

If you can’t or won’t trust the people you work with, change needs to occur. Figure out if your concerns are legitimate or if you need to let go of assumptions or old resentments. If the issue is with you, figure out how to reconcile your negative, and perhaps inaccurate, perceptions of others with the reality of their actions. If the problems indeed are with others, and there is no chance for improvement, you may need to seek other employment opportunities. (Posted July 19, 2020)

When decision-making, you don't have to choose between your gut, your head, or your heart. It would be best if you relied on each of them. Listen to your instincts, view the pros and cons of decisions logically, and ensure that you don't compromise on your ethical standards. (Posted July 12, 2020)

When trying to start or finish a project, do your thoughts race in 100 different directions, leaving you wondering when, how, and where to start? If so, give yourself a brief timeout. Find a trusted confidant to share your ideas or capture your thoughts on a piece of paper or the computer. Moving ideas from the internal environment (your brain) to an external environment can help you gain clarity on how best to proceed. (Posted July 5, 2020)

Don’t let pride stand in the way of personal and professional growth. Pay attention to how you respond when your beliefs are challenged. Do you shut down and tune out, or do you open yourself up to new possibilities? Imagine how much you could gain by being open to new information, fresh ideas, and different ways of doing things.  (Posted June 28, 2020)

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. If you have concerns about past actions, take time to pause and reflect in order to figure out where you went wrong. Don't be afraid or ashamed to offer a sincere apology and to make amends. Seek to expand your knowledge, and then strive to ensure that your future actions are grounded firmly on the side of right. (Posted June 21, 2020)

Difficult conversations are…well, difficult. Don’t shy away from discussions because you are uncomfortable. Start by clarifying the issues or topic(s) of discussion, establish ground rules on how to handle conflict that may naturally arise, and then listen to understand and not to reply. While these steps may not make discussions any easier, they may make them more productive. (Posted June 14, 2020)

Instead of a Business Tip for the week of June 7, 2020, I want to share some personal thoughts.  As a black woman who has been in positions of "power" for over 20 years, I have felt the sting and gut-punch of racism, personally and professionally. Growing up, the messages that I received, due to the color of my skin, were that I was stupid, I would never amount to anything, and I was worthless. My husband has been judged and asked to change because he made people uncomfortable because he is a big and loud black man. My daughter was urinated on and called the N-word at her daycare center by another child when she was only three years old. Before he understood why he was treated differently than his peers, my son was judged and able to instill fear in others simply because he was black and often taller than others in his age-group. While I could fill volumes with more personal examples, I want to shift to the professional side.

"Improving business effectiveness" is my business tagline. What everyone should understand is that people are the business. If there are people in your organization with no voice or leaders who are tone-deaf to the struggles of black and other people of color, the business might see a profit, but it is NOT effective. Many times, when I look around the room or across the table, no one looks like me. I have often been underestimated, and there have been many failed attempts to talk down to me because a person of my color surely couldn't bring much value to the conversation. I have been called a little black troublemaker (by a supervisor) to my face, and I'm sure many other negative names behind my back.

G2 Diversified Services was founded because my husband and I believed that I had something to offer that could help others learn from my professional experiences, both positive and negative. I have counseled, mentored, and coached individuals who made mistakes but were ready for positive change. I have worked with people to improve their communication skills. I have provided training on diversity and inclusion. I have helped groups of people to become effective teams. I have worked with businesses to find solutions to problems that they thought were insurmountable. I have done these things and more because I genuinely believe that I and others always have room for growth and improvement. If I can be a small part of helping others to do better, I am doing the job that is meant for me.

As I struggle with the racial injustice that other people of color and I continue to suffer, my brain cries out for a solution. What's stopping us from developing and implementing a focused and sustained strategic work plan, so that we can begin to take steps to tear down institutional racism and build up equality. Why can't we, as a people, have a mission, vision, and values solely focused on equality for all? Why can't we let everyone have a voice—those who want peace and those who are extremely angry? Why can't we have focused efforts in every state, aligned around a common goal?

Much like businesses that develop strategic plans to guide their long-term decision making, let's figure out how we work together to tackle this problem, that in some way, touches us all. While I get discouraged sometimes and think that we will never make progress, I can't and won't give up! Just like I fight for businesses to be successful, I will fight for justice and equality for all. 

Don’t fall prey to the false narrative that time and patience will solve all problems. As leaders, your silence in the face of misconduct makes you more culpable because you have the power to bring change. If you see wrongdoing and do not do something or bring it to the attention of someone who can, you are perpetuating the issue. If you see something, say something.  Otherwise, problems will never get resolved. (Posted May 31, 2020)

While sunny days and summer activities may be calling to you and tempting you to take shortcuts to finish work-related tasks, especially those you don’t like, don’t do it! Have the patience and discipline to do things right the first time. Fulfill your employment duties and responsibilities and then spend your time and energy doing leisurely activities you enjoy. (Posted May 24, 2020)

Wishful thinking is not an effective strategy for job advancement. If you want to climb the career ladder, you must do the work. Conduct a realistic check of your knowledge, skills, and abilities; develop and implement a plan to fill in the gaps; and then actively pursue opportunities for upward mobility. (Posted May 17, 2020)

Work hard, and play hard while you take the time to enjoy the short days of spring and summer. Let the sunshine inspire and motivate you to give your all and do your best! (Posted May 10, 2020)

Ever wonder who’s responsible for keeping you focused and on track during the workday? You are! Don’t depend on others to motivate you. Use strategies like positive self-talk and weekly, daily, or even hourly to-do lists to ensure you get the job done in a timely and acceptable manner.  (Posted May 3, 2020)

Surround yourself with positive people, starting with yourself. Give yourself permission to celebrate big and small victories, which might include finishing a project or simply getting out of bed and showing up. Take pride in what you accomplished, even if you think you could or should have done more or better. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions! (Posted April 26, 2020)

The right time to offer assistance is not after you watched someone struggle and fail. Shaming employees or relying on, "I told you so" is not helpful. Instead, take note of how your employees are doing. When you notice an employee is struggling to be productive or to sustain productivity, work with them to identify, understand, and address the problem. (Posted April 19, 2020)

Rarely do plans go exactly the way you want or envision. Instead of being angry and frustrated, take the time to see what you can learn from the experience. Don’t be so rigid with your expectations that you hold on to the negatives and disregard the positives.  (Posted April 12, 2020)

Don't allow the uncertainty of the future to stop you in your tracks. It's perfectly normal to want to know when things will get back to the way they used to be or to grieve the loss of work-related routines that created structure within your workday and camaraderie with your peers. Learn to identify and appropriately share feelings of fear, anger, and frustration, but don't get stuck in the negative. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your work that you can control, such as learning how to use new technology to effectively communicate with your coworkers or refining work processes to help improve your effectiveness. (Posted April 5, 2020)

Don't let the new reality of social distancing give you an excuse to set aside your professional development goals. Everyday strive to learn something new! At the beginning of the day, identify (and put in writing) your goal for the day. It can be as simple or complex as you desire. Keep it visible throughout the day, so you have a constant reminder of what you want to achieve. At the end of each day, assess your progress toward meeting your goal. Either congratulate yourself on a job well done or commit to doing better the next day. (Posted March 29, 2020)

When someone asks how we are doing, “I’m fine” tends to be an automatic response. Instead of being on autopilot, take time to assess how you are really doing. It’s ok to say you don’t understand, you need help or that you are completely overwhelmed. Sharing your actual status can be the first step in getting the support and resources you need. (Posted March 22, 2020)

During challenging times, understanding and compassion can go a long way. Make time to check-in with your employees, both those you see at the office and those who may be working offsite. Find ways to uplift and assist each other through the trying times, and then make it the standard for your interactions going forward. (Posted March 15, 2020)

Is your employee handbook keeping up with the ever-changing landscapes of employment and labor laws? Federal and state legislation often change in response to societal changes such as the legalization of marijuana in some states or to new rulings from the National Labor Relations Board, e.g., employers’ ability to require employee confidentiality during the course of an investigation. Ideally, you should update your handbook as legislation changes. If that’s not doable, review and revise it minimally on an annual basis. (Posted March 8, 2020)

Having a plan only in your head may be the equivalent of having no plan at all. If you fail to plan or to communicate your plan, don’t become angry if your employees can’t or won’t deliver your expected outcomes with little to no notice. Make time to develop cohesive and comprehensive plans with input and feedback from your employees. Implement, assess, and refine them as needed to achieve desired outcomes. (Posted March 1, 2020)

Different communication styles and preferences (in-person, phone, email, messaging, etc.) are common in the workplace. Don't get so locked into communicating your preferred way that you lose valuable opportunities to connect with others. Mix it up and learn to appreciate how much you can gain from stepping outside your comfort zone!  (Posted February 23, 2020)

Are you standing in the way of your own success? Do you fill your brain with negative thoughts that sabotage your ability to accomplish tasks or tackle new challenges? Always keep in mind that the voice in your head can help you to soar or can cause you to crash and burn. If negative self-talk is a problem for you, immediately take steps to stop it in its tracks! Commit to rerouting to more positive, can-do thoughts. (Posted February 16, 2020)

Use your words and actions to set appropriate professional boundaries. Be clear about what is acceptable and what isn’t. If you believe someone’s behavior crosses the line, let them know immediately. Be clear and direct and get a commitment from them that their actions will cease and not be repeated. If problems persist, do not hesitate to move your concerns up the chain of command. (Posted February 9, 2020)

When the sun shines, it tends to have a positive impact on our outlook and mood. Strive to be the sunlight in your organization! When your employees or your leadership team see you coming, they should not only welcome but look forward to the interaction. If you notice them consistently looking for ways to avoid contact with you, your “light” might not be shining as brightly as it should. Don’t wait for darkness to fall before you make some improvements. (Posted February 2, 2020)

Living your best life should mean having a healthy balance between your work life and your home life. It's doubtful that anyone will ever consistently achieve a 50-50 split. In whatever role you are functioning, strive to be present. When at work, stay focused on the tasks at hand. When with family, enjoy and stay engaged in the moment. Minimally on a weekly basis, do a self-check and adjust as needed. (Posted January 26, 2020)

As leaders, sometimes sacrifice is necessary. You may have to sacrifice your pride and admit to mistakes. Sacrifice might come in the form of time, e.g., delay what you planned to do to assist one of your employees. Your sacrifice could also be giving up your daily (and delicious) coffee drink so that you can invest in your professional development. Whatever sacrifices you ultimately make, ensure that they align with your goal of being the best leader you can be. (Posted January 19, 2020)

Make each day the best day ever for you and your employees! As a leader, how you approach the day determines how your employees cope with challenges and setbacks. Starting the day with a "can-do" and "we're in this together" attitude results in employees who are not afraid to make mistakes, and in fact, use those mistakes as opportunities for growth. On the other hand, if you start the day by complaining and being resentful of the work ahead, your employees will follow suit.  (Posted January 12, 2020)

Don't be afraid to start the new project, go for the promotion, finish your degree, etc. Let the new year bring new opportunities for personal reflection and growth. Don't waste time beating yourself up about what you did not accomplish in the past. Instead, start each day with a positive attitude and a realistic plan of what you will accomplish. Next focus on the steps you need to take to make progress. Finally, jump in and make it happen! (Posted January 5, 2020)

Weekly business tips will resume the week of January 5, 2020.

Wishing you a joyous holiday season with peace & cheer in the New Year! (Posted December 22, 2019)

In the business success equation, don’t forget the importance of the people who make “it” happen. While the bottom line (profit, service delivery) is usually the most important deliverable for any business, and it may seem as if your business can run by itself, don’t be fooled! Business success is the result of the skills and commitment of competent employees who complete and manage all the large and small tasks needed for optimal business operations.  (Posted December 15, 2019)

Note: No business tips will be posted the weeks of December 1 & 8, 2019.

As Thanksgiving approaches, take time to reflect on things you have to be thankful for, such as your health, your family and your job. Acknowledging the goodness in your life and expressing gratitude are powerful tools to assist you in good and bad times. Never let yourself get too busy to appreciate the people and the experiences in your life that bring you joy and contentment. (Posted November 24, 2019)

Work issues that you think are the most important in the world take a back seat when your health fails. You can’t put a price tag on good health; if you lose it, it can be challenging to get it back. Commit to a self-care regimen that improves your odds of developing and maintaining a healthy mind and body so that you can continue to make and weigh in on critical organizational decisions. (Posted November 17, 2019)

Integrity is not situational. You either have it or you don’t. If your team trusts you to be honest, fair and just, they will follow you even when times get hard. If they don’t consistently experience these qualities when dealing with you, when challenges arise, they will scatter like leaves during the fall season. (Posted November 10, 2019)

There are times when you may need to give more than you get. Give direction when requested. Give support when needed.  Give praise when warranted. When you give freely, you invariably get back more— a work environment where everyone thrives—than you gave. (Posted November 3, 2019)

Being a leader does not mean you have superpowers and can run a fully functioning organization all by yourself. Oftentimes, even superheroes need help to save the day. If you intend to be an organizational hero, make sure you identify, nurture, and utilize your employees' powers as well! (Posted October 27, 2019)

Laughter is good for the soul but not at the expense of others. It’s not ok when jokes or humor are used to embarrass, hurt, or put someone in their place. While you might think you're being clever, they could be suffering in silence. Make sure you’re clued in to not only how individuals are responding verbally, but to their facial expressions and body language as well. (Posted October 20, 2019)

Don’t burn yourself out because your level-of-importance scale is unbalanced. Everything you do is not a “10.” As such, they should not receive the same level of energy and effort as those things that are. When you feel completely overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of you, pause, check your scale, and assess how important they really are. (Posted October 13, 2019)

Don't let a moment of poor judgment on social media be the start of your professional downfall. Be mindful of how you present yourself.  Don't be lulled into a false sense of security because your "friend group" is small. Keep in mind that social media posts are not secret. To minimize problems, hold yourself and others to the same standard of respectful behavior that you expect when interacting in person. (Posted October 6, 2019)

As a leader, if you spend a significant amount of time looking over your employees' shoulders, you have a problem. Talk to your employees to determine how you can best support them. Also, evaluate your hiring practices to determine if you are hiring qualified individuals. If qualified employees are underperforming, ensure that your onboarding and training practices are sound. Finally, back away and let them do the jobs they were hired to do! (Posted September 29, 2019)

As the daylight lessens and the temperatures fall, pay attention to how you are feeling. Are you happy and sparky or moody and snarky? Be a role model; find strategies and activities to avoid or minimize the winter blues. Remember your mood and attitude, good or bad, shape the work environment. (Posted September 22, 2019) 

Are employees in certain age groups in no win-situations? Are younger employees’ opinions blown off because they “don’t have enough experience” to offer sound counsel? Are older employees not heard because they “just want things to stay the same”? Don’t throw away the potential innovation and wisdom you can gain from respecting and incorporating feedback from different generations. (Posted September 15, 2019)

Emergency drills are critical components of workplace safety protocols. Don’t moan and groan because you have “more important” things to do. As a leader, your attitude can determine how seriously drills are taken by your subordinates. Learning what to do during a real emergency situation can potentially save your life and the lives of others. (Posted September 8, 2019)

Interrupting others before they can complete their thoughts and “yes, but” are strategies that are detrimental to good, two-way communication. Unless there is a true emergency, give individuals the time they need to express themselves, and then listen with an open mind. When you actively focus on what individuals are communicating, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you learn. (Posted September 1, 2019)

At times it may seem that you are out of sync with other team members. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Your voice may give others the courage to speak up and may sway the team to consider new or additional options. (Posted August 25, 2019)

If you feel guilty for enjoying non-work-related activities, stop that faulty thinking! Don't let family, work, leisure and other aspects of your life suffer because you fail to practice self-care. Say "yes" to a lifestyle that supports your physical and mental health. (Posted August 18, 2019)

Plotting and planning payback for something someone said or did to you is a waste of time. No one is in elementary or middle school, and the work environment is not a playground! Use your time and effort to identify the issue, work to resolve it, and then move on. (Posted August 11, 2019)

When adversity comes knocking at the door, you can ignore it, pretend it’s not there, and hope that it will go away. Or, you can tackle it head-on. If you choose the latter, use the resources available to you—you and your team’s knowledge, internal policies and procedures, and when called for, the law. (Posted August 4, 2019)

Success breeds success. Don’t just tell others how to be successful; be the example! If you push your employees to be better, but you stay in a rut, which message do you think they will respond to? (Posted July 28, 2019)

Does your quest for perfection cause you to delay starting tasks or leave you feeling defeated and unsatisfied? Don't waste time trying to attain the unattainable. If you instead strive for excellence, you may achieve more and feel better about desired outcomes. (Posted July 21, 2019)

You have the power to choose how to act when confronted with highly stressful situations. During uncertain times, many emotions come into play, including anger and tears.  Don't exacerbate problems by beating yourself or others up. Instead, take time to share and listen to concerns, and then strategize on how to address them. (Posted July 14, 2019)

Deliberately sharing outdated, incomplete, or incorrect information is unacceptable. Knowledge truly is power. Don’t let laziness, incompetence, or a desire for unchecked power cause you to neglect your duties of loyalty and care to the organization or its employees.  (Posted July 7, 2019)

Don't wait until stress shuts you down. At times in the workforce, events occur, or actions are taken that are beyond your control. There is no shame in reaching out to your network of family and friends to get assistance and support when you need it.  (Posted June 30, 2019)

Don't be so distant that you sacrifice meaningful interactions with your employees. Constantly displaying your poker face can create unnecessary stress and confusion. Employees need to see your facial expressions and other body cues in order to gauge your level of interest, engagement, and understanding. (Posted June 23, 2019)

Is the work environment that you foster so sterile that there is no room for people who look, think, or process differently? Don’t miss out on hiring and retaining good people. Failing to truly appreciate diversity and inclusion could lead to you losing the opportunity to identify and utilize the unique talents that everyone has the potential to bring to the organization. (Posted June 16, 2019)

How often, if ever, do you take time to reflect on your growth as a leader? At least annually, assess and celebrate areas of growth and identify areas in need of improvement. Throughout the year, do mini self-checks to ensure you stay on track with your improvement goals. If you follow this plan, you and others will benefit from the strength of your leadership and contributions to the organization. (Posted June 9, 2019) 

Outside “packaging” matters. As a leader, do you take time to ensure that your dress is professional and appropriate for the workplace? If you aren’t setting the standard, don’t be surprised when the bar for professional attire lowers to the point where it’s a clothing (or lack thereof) free for all! (Posted June 2, 2019)

If you are in charge of your budget, don't relinquish that responsibility to others. Not being a "numbers person" is no excuse for not understanding how revenue and expenses relate to the overall management of your program, project, or department. Ask questions and seek clarification when you need to, but don't minimize or neglect your duties. (Posted May 26, 2019)

The intuitive way to handle a personnel matter and the legally compliant way may not be the same. While following your gut may serve you well in some cases, make sure you don’t run afoul of the law. If you are unsure, seek out additional information and guidance before you proceed. (Posted May 19, 2019)

If being right is your most important objective, check yourself.  Make sure you're not throwing people under the bus to make yourself look better. Being the "best" doesn't necessarily equate to being right all the time. Being the best means you are living up to your full potential. If you are being the best you that you can be, positive recognition will naturally follow. (Posted May 12, 2019)

Leadership is not like a coat that you put on and take off based on environmental conditions. Great leaders are those who are steadfast in their convictions and who consistently relay expectations and provide appropriate guidance and support even when they don't feel like it or are having a bad day. (Posted May 5, 2019)

How do you handle yourself when the person up your chain of command is creating or exacerbating problems? If you are in a leadership position, it is not an option for you to ignore the concerns and hope they go away or resolve themselves. Be brave! Schedule a time to discuss your concerns and be prepared to offer input on how they can be addressed. Most reasonable individuals are open to ways to improve. (Posted April 28, 2019)

Do you know what your professional non-negotiables are? Take time to figure these out before you are in the heat of the moment. It's better to have identified and communicated your values before you are put into a position to have to defend or compromise them or to make a choice to walk away from your job. (Posted April 21, 2019)

Do you trust your decision-making or are you always second-guessing your decisions? Not having a clear direction can create unnecessary confusion for employees. While no decision is ever set in stone, make sure you do your research and seek input, as needed, before relaying plans that constantly change. (Posted April 14, 2019)

Assistance should not be provided with a dose of disdain. If you can’t be gracious, it’s better to decline. Making someone feel less than, when they ask for assistance, is a guarantee that they won’t seek help and guidance when they really need it. (Posted April 7, 2019)

While you may believe that you are a “natural” leader, don’t lose sight of the fact that every leader has room to grow. Don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, continue to seek out resources that help you to grow professionally. You also have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who are new to leadership positions have access to ongoing training and support as they develop their skills. A good investment for any leader is to hone your communication as well as conflict management and resolution skills. (Posted March 31, 2019)

Strive to incorporate strategic thinking and actions into your leadership toolbox. Be deliberate in scanning your external environment for changes that may have a significant impact on your organization. If you only focus on the day-to-day, you may miss new opportunities and impending threats. (Posted March 24, 2019)

If an employee's behavior, demeanor or performance has noticeably changed, don't turn a blind eye.  Check in with them to see if there are appropriate supports that you can provide.  While you should never play armchair psychologist, being aware of employees’ mental and emotional health may help prevent more severe problems down the line. Finally, if you have an employee assistance program (EAP), spring is an excellent time to remind all employees of its availability. (Posted March 17, 2019)

If you have an immediate and intense negative reaction to an individual with whom you interact in the workplace, take time to identify the root cause of the issue.  If something needs to be addressed, do so quickly and professionally. It is not acceptable to ignore, demean or otherwise potentially treat someone unfairly because you don't care for them. (Posted March 10, 2019)

Sloppy hiring practices can lead to significant problems down the road. Ensure you are consistently following your organization's written recruitment and hiring policies and procedures to avoid mistakes such as failing to check references, making inappropriate comments during the interview or on applicant materials or discarding applicant materials prematurely. Better to take your time on the front end rather than have a mess to clean up on the back end. (Posted March 3, 2019)

If you believe that your contribution to the organization is undervalued, don't sit and stew about it! Ask for what you need or for what you think you are worth. Be prepared to explain why you believe you deserve better compensation, benefits, recognition, etc. If you don't advocate for what you want or need, the blame rests with you. (Posted February 24, 2019)

How you bounce back from professional setbacks, sets the tone for the work environment. If you sulk and complain, your employees will follow your lead and soon everything is doom and gloom. If you are resilient and bounce back with new and better ways to tackle challenges, employees will be more likely to embrace and contribute to the new direction. (Posted February 17, 2019)

Be true to your personal values. Even if you feel compelled internally or by others, don’t compromise your integrity. After all, when all is said and done, you have to live with the decisions and their consequences. (Posted February 10, 2019)

Respect is a two-way street. Take time to assess if you are giving the same respect that you expect from others. If you can’t answer in the affirmative with absolute confidence, determine what changes you need to make. Remember that respect can't be mandated; it must be earned. (Posted February 3, 2019)

When a problem seems insurmountable, and you’re tired and fed up, pause but don’t quit. You are more than capable of finding and implementing a solution. Think of the satisfaction you’ll experience when you resolve the issue! (Posted January 27, 2019)

Don't let fear of change stop you from having the future you desire. The start of a new year is an excellent time to do a realistic assessment of your career goals. Are you doing work that feeds your soul? Do you have the education and credentials you need to feel confident in your abilities, perform at a high-level, or to advance in your chosen field? If not, now is the time to make changes and take steps to reach your goals. (Posted January 20, 2019)  

Don’t neglect to express your gratitude on a regular basis for the work that your employees do. A sincere "thank you" helps to boost employee morale and dedication. When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to try harder, encourage others, and go the extra mile. (Posted January 13, 2019)

Strive to surround yourself with knowledgeable, self-confident individuals who are not only encouraged, but expected to challenge the status quo. Independent thinkers will serve you and your organization much better than blind followers. (Posted January 6, 2019)

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)

December is a good month to practice inclusion in your thoughts and actions. Make an extra effort to be open to and respectful of the many different ways your employees choose to celebrate the holiday season. (Posted December 17, 2017)

Loyalty inspires loyalty. Generally, if your employees can count on you, you can count of them. Employees who experience consistent support from their supervisors tend to view their supervisors more favorably and utilize their critical thinking skills for the betterment of the organization. (Posted December 10, 2017)

 Supervisors, your team should be able to fully function in your absence. They should be empowered and have the confidence to make sound decisions. If your presence is always required in order for work to be done correctly, take a step back and assess your leadership abilities and the quality of your training programs. (Posted December 3, 2017)

As a supervisor, how important is it that you receive the credit for the things that go right in the work environment? When things are going well, look around and recognize that others deserve praise for their efforts. When things are going poorly, don’t look to blame others. Instead, pull your team together to determine how to tackle the issues at hand. Playing the blame game usually does nothing to solve problems. (Posted November 26, 2017)

When the work environment is stressful and chaotic, one of the most important things you can do is pause and pay attention to the needs of your employees. Focus on what you can do to lessen the stress. Sometimes, all it takes is a willingness to listen to concerns and to consider new approaches to problem-solving. (Posted November 19, 2017)

Theory vs. practice. How much trouble has the disconnect caused your employees, customers, and other stakeholders? Build into your business practices a regular check of your procedures vs. what employees actually do. Align as needed to avoid confusion and ill will.  Want more information? See Weeks of June 11 & July 23 business tips! (Posted November 12, 2017)

Your way is not the only way! One guaranteed method to kill employee motivation and initiative is to micromanage. Equip your employees with the training and guidance they need to succeed, and then trust them to get the job done. (Posted November 5, 2017)

What’s your communication style? Do you speak clearly, directly, and in a respectful manner? Do you expect employees to read your mind? Do you use negative words or tones that make it difficult to receive your message? Assess and adjust as needed to improve two-way communication! Want more information? See Week of October 1, 2017 business tip. (Posted October 29, 2017)

Supervisors, if your employee's work product is not consistently being completed to your satisfaction, ask yourself the following: Are my expectations reasonable? Have I clearly communicated my expectations? Have I followed up to ensure my directions were understood? Have I provided support if it is needed?  If the answer to all questions is yes, you may have a performance/conduct issue that needs to be addressed. (Posted October 22, 2017)

When dealing with personnel matters, remember that all information is not for public consumption. Treat matters as confidential, sharing on a need-to-know basis only. (Posted October 15, 2017)

Conflict, when mismanaged, can create or exacerbate problems in the workplace. When conflict arises, don't explode or attempt to minimize or avoid concerns that are expressed. Instead, commit to recognizing, understanding, and responding to what matters to the other person. If conflict resolution is a priority rather than "being right", you are more likely to maintain a healthy and productive work environment. (Posted October 8, 2017)

Be mindful of how you speak to employees and what you say. Off-color language and/or dismissive or patronizing tones can lead to employees feeling disrespected and undervalued. Use your words to encourage those with whom you work and to create a professional and inclusive work environment. (Posted October 1, 2017)

Embrace diversity throughout your organization--age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental abilities, communication styles, work habits, etc. Watch employee performance and customer service improve when you appreciate, learn from, and build upon differences. (Posted September 24, 2017)

Employees should never be surprised by the information in their annual written performance evaluation. The performance appraisal process should be more than an annual "one and done." Throughout the year, communicate with your employees about the good, bad and ugly of their performance. Help them to celebrate their successes and work with them to shore up their deficits. (Posted September 17, 2017)

Work to build strong teams with shared values of excellence and respect. Foster teamwork and collegiality, and shun negativity and backbiting. Together, you can experience many successes that everyone can feel good about. (Posted September 10, 2017)

Don't take yourself too seriously.  Be proud of the titles and degrees that you earned. Use them to build bridges, not to create borders. In the workplace we should all act as, and be treated as, responsible adults. (Posted September 3, 2017)

Don’t make a bad situation worse by blowing up when work pressures build.Before stressful reactions overtake a situation, practice techniques such as deep breathing, reflective thinking, and timeouts to gain control over your emotions and actions. (Posted August 27, 2017)

Build "think time" into your daily schedule. Each day, schedule 15-30 minutes to meetings, no phones, no emails. Regroup and review what you have already accomplished, and then prioritize items that are still on your daily "must do" list. (Posted August 20, 2017)

Take time to examine what attracts you to being a supervisor. Money? Power? Control? Desire to mentor, guide, or nurture others? Whatever your reasons, having a good understanding of the "why" can help you filter your decision making through the appropriate lens. (Posted August 13, 2017)

Spare yourself from embarrassment and hard feelings by getting into the habit of double checking the "To" line when sending or replying to emails. There is nothing worse than mistakenly including someone in an email response that was not meant for them! (Posted August 6, 2017)

Don't be afraid to respectfully speak up if you don't agree with or have concerns about a decision. Others may appreciate a different viewpoint, especially if it provides them an opportunity to more thoroughly vet an issue and helps them to prepare for similar questions or concerns from others. (Posted July 30, 2017)

Keep your business on track with written policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated, as needed. Lack of written procedures can breed inefficiency because employees may be forced to "make it up as they go." Unwanted changes to established (and correct) practices can occur when employees do not have written documents that establish operational expectations and that guide decision-making. (Posted July 23, 217)

Supervisors should set an example of work-life balance. Employees need to see and believe that it is not only okay to practice self-care, but expected. Employees who achieve and maintain balance are happier, healthier, and more productive in the workforce. (Posted July 16, 2017)

Don't shy away from admitting you made a mistake. Learn and grow from your mistake by taking responsibility and having a plan to address it. These actions build credibility and engender respect from those around you. (Posted July 9, 2017)

Supervisors, don't be afraid to compliment employees for a job well done! Honest feedback does not negate your ability to address performance concerns should they arise at a later time. Employees need to hear from you when they do a good job just as much as when they have challenges with their performance. Strive to be balanced and sincere when providing performance feedback.  (Posted July 2, 2017)

Supervisors, be authentic in your dealings with your employees. Employees should not have to wonder which personality (positive or negative) they will encounter when interacting with their supervisor. Most employees value predictability from their supervisors as well as a sense that they, as employees, are being treated respectfully and fairly. (Posted June 25, 2017)

Strive to start your day with an organized work area. At the end of each workday, pretend that you have a meeting with a big client early the next morning. Before walking out the door, determine if your desk area paints a picture of how you want to be viewed. Simply taking time to neatly stack papers can make the difference between looking professional and prepared, versus looking and feeling disheveled and disorganized.  (Posted June 18, 2017)

Stay in compliance with your organization's policies and procedures. Minimally on an annual basis, schedule time for employees to review key organizational policies and procedures. Employees benefit from the refresher and organizations can determine if changes are needed to align practices with written procedures. (Posted June 11, 2017)

Do you have sticky notes, phone messages, and other random pieces of paper in your work area? If so, a composition book can help you keep and organize information, which you might need later, in one location. Stick or tape papers in the book as you receive them.  If an action is needed, place a big check mark on the item after the action has been taken. On a daily basis, look through your composition book to determine what has been and what needs to be completed. (Posted June 4, 2017)

Don't assume that supervisors are born with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful…even if they were great workers. Allocate resources to their supervisory growth and development in the same manner as you would to their technical skills development. Structured training and support help them to establish and to maintain professional and productive work relationships with those they supervise. (Posted May 28, 2017)

Be prepared when employees leave the organization. With a two-week or even 30-day notice, years to decades of organizational knowledge can walk out the door. Establishing and maintaining an organizational knowledge management plan can help organizations document and keep track of critical information that may only exist in the memories of one or two employees. Formalize what information needs to be retained, how it will be retained, and who is responsible for maintenance. (Posted May 21, 2017)

Can't meet a deadline? Timely and honest communication is key. It is better to communicate up front that you are not going to meet a deliverable. If necessary, ask for an extension rather than miss the deadline and wait for the fallout. (Posted May 14, 2017)

Address employee performance issues as they arise. Don’t bury your head in the sand in the hopes that performance concerns will take care of themselves without timely and appropriate intervention. Be clear on your expectations and work with employees to develop concrete plans to improve performance. Follow your organization's written policies and procedures, and be consistent in your dealings with all employees--those you favor AND those you don't.  (Posted May 7, 2017)

Don't let disorder in your work area hinder your productivity. When you have stacks of unorganized papers, files, and folders on your desk, medium to large sticky notes can be your friend! Take 10 minutes to do a one-touch process. The key is to touch each item only once, by either dealing with it (if it takes 30-45 seconds or less) or writing on the sticky note what action needs to be taken with a deadline. Group similar items, and then each day endeavor to take care of at least three (3) items until your pile disappears. (Posted April 30, 2017)

Good employer-employee relationships are a key component of business success. Leaders should take time to introduce themselves and get to know employees when they come on board. Building positive relationships early on can lead to greater civility and productivity in the workforce. (Posted April 23, 2017)