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How to Avoid Fire Drills: 3 Steps to Plan the Urgent and Important into Your Life

Have you ever had a situation at work where you have to drop everything you are doing due to the urgency of the item at hand?

How about at home?

Do you feel like you are constantly taking care of the crises that arise on a daily basis?

I know there have been many times that the urgent items in my day overtake the important and it feels like I am constantly scrambling.

Take Sunday night for example.

The urgent items of getting everything ready for my child to start pre-k overtook the items that I deemed important. I had planned on writing that evening. Instead, I prepped lunches for the week and filled out registration paperwork for 45 minutes. In retrospect this was important for me to do, but it became urgent when I didn’t plan out my time appropriately.  This was both important and urgent for me to complete.

Often we confuse what is important and what is urgent.

Urgent items require immediate attention. They have to be accomplished or taken care of within a certain timeframe.

Important items help you move towards accomplishing your goals and vision. When you schedule the important it creates a level of intentionality in your day and week.

Schedule the Important and Urgent. This isn't an exact science, but an art. It will help you move in the right direction. Click To Tweet

Decision Matrix

President Eisenhower developed a decision matrix that was made popular by Steven Covey. It helps one distinguish the difference between what is urgent and what is important. There are four quadrants as listed below:

Important and Urgent: These items can be foreseen or unforeseen, as stated above. I had an important and urgent task to complete. In hindsight, it was so important that I should have scheduled it into this category to begin with.

These tasks can be deadline driven, crises, or problems.

Important and Non-urgent: These items help you further your goals and mission.

These tasks could include personal and professional development as well as recreation.

Non-important and Urgent: This area is what I like to refer to as the “fire drill” zone. It is a phone call or email that has to be taken care of immediately. If you do not have scheduled time to focus on the other areas, everything can begin to be lumped into the non-important and urgent.

These tasks include meetings, activities, and any interruptions.

Non-important and Non-urgent: The items that fall into this category are normally time wasters. It is ok to relax, watch tv, or play on your computer, but you can still be intentional about the time you spend doing such things.

These tasks include time wasters, trivial matters, and busy work.

How does this play out in real life? There are three ways you can approach this; your work life, your home life, or your whole life. The good news is, whichever approach you take, you can utilize these 3 steps to plan the urgent and important into your life.

Urgent and Important

1. Think Through Your Life in light of the Matrix

Think through your life. If you want to focus only on work, think through a typical day and week. If you want to focus on hours outside of work, think about your home life. I would suggest you think through this exercise in a whole life approach, especially if there are people and goals that are important for you to accomplish.

2. Place Items in the Appropriate Boxes

Now that you have thought through your specific areas, write them down in the corresponding quadrant.

The items that fall into the first quadrant, important and urgent, do those.

The items that fall into the second quadrant, important and non-urgent, plan to do those.

The items that fall into the third quadrant, not important and urgent, delegate those tasks (if possible).

The items that fall into the fourth quadrant, not important and not urgent, drop those tasks.


Urgent Non-Urgent







3. Schedule It

This is the most important step. Pull out your calendar and place the items on your calendar that fall into quadrant one and two. Those are the items that have to get done. You really want to schedule time for the important and non-urgent, as those are the items that are important but often are overlooked because of the urgent items that come up.

In Conclusion…

Life can seem like a giant fire drill. Knowing where your different responsibilities and priorities lands in regards to important vs urgent can help you plan out your day and week. It all starts with an understanding of the decision matrix, thinking through your life, and then planning according to the important and urgent, also known as your priorities. This isn’t an exact science, but an art. It will help you move in the right direction.

Have you ever completed this exercise? If not, what is stopping you? Share below!

Here’s to the Journey!

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6 Steps to a Successful Training

As I sat listening to my boss give an overview of the training that was about to take place, I looked at the faces of my co-workers and new immediately none of them cared about what was about to take place.

The reality is the training I was about to do in conjunction with my boss was very important. Working with patient information, we were obligated to follow HIPAA (keeping your personal information private). We were about to teach nurses, office assistants, and admitting interviewers a very simple, yet important task. It would add to their already packed workload. I knew the importance of the training as did my boss, but in the end, I wasn’t so sure.

No One Likes Trainings

The last thing any staff member wants to do is sit through another training. This is especially true when the employee feels like they are in meetings all of the time or they have a heavy workload.

Learning a new process when you have already learned an entire system can be frustrating. Your employee believes the program they use works just fine. The process in place is great. Learning an entirely new system can be, frustrating. It becomes even more frustrating when you switch systems just to go back a year later to the system you were previously using. This happened with the company my husband works for.

If you work for an innovative and thinking organization, odds are that you look for the most effective tools available. Sometimes there is a change in technology that the industry must take into account and staff must be trained. This can mean changing systems more frequently than you anticipate. If you make a change for change sake, you are going to have disgruntled employees.

No one likes to go to trainings, especially when they do not understand the value of what they are learning. Engaging the staff with different senses during the training will help them retain the information better. Here are 6 steps to a successful training, 6 ways you can make the training worth your employee’s time.

6 Steps to a Successful Training (1)

1. Cast Vision

One of the main problems with the training that day is vision was not properly cast. The new process was in place because of a law. We all understood that. It was presented in a dry, straight forward manner, which left the staff annoyed at the new process they were learning.

To create buy in, my boss should have shared the bigger picture. Some simple, true statements would have been:

“When we follow x, y, and z, we ensure that Billy’s very important information is kept safe and secure.”

“We would be showing a greater level of care for our client’s.”

“Stolen identities are on the rise. This procedure will help us keep our client’s information safe.”

“If this was your or your child’s information, wouldn’t you want to make sure it was being handled with extreme care?”

Telling your staff how this new procedure or software will help them, the organization, and potential clients help to create buy in to what you want to put in place.

2. Explain the New Process

After you cast vision, but before you dive into the information, explain the new process. Giving an explanation, an overview, of how the new process will fit into their workflow will help them see another piece of the puzzle.

3. Show the New Process or Software

Now that you have explained the process or software and what it can do, show them. I was able to walk the staff through each step. I had them watch me do it the first time. I explained what I was doing with each click of the mouse.

I asked the staff to keep questions until the end, until they had a chance to do the process on their own. This isn’t always what I would recommend. In this instance, I knew that once they started doing the process themselves, it would begin to click for them. If it didn’t begin to click for them, then I would be happy to help.

4. Let the Staff Do it

Once you have shown the staff, the staff needs to do it. This is where each staff member having their own laptop or access to a computer lab comes in extremely helpful. For many people, the new information will not click until they start doing it. Having a hands on experience allows your staff to interact with the information in a new way.

If you include a handout with the new process or software (which you should), make sure to hand it out at this point so they can review the document, reading and engaging the information on their own, as they move through the process.

5. Never Make Staff Feel Stupid

This happens more often than you could imagine.

Not all people learn at the same rate. Some read slower than others. Some older individuals are not as quick on the computer. Some simply have a hard time navigating the new process/software.

Walking alongside your staff while they are learning this new information is the epitome of servant leadership. We should never ask our staff to do something we aren’t willing to do. Helping them process and digest this information is what we are supposed to do as leaders.

Eye rolling and snide remarks when a staff member is having trouble with the process will not help with staff engagement.

6. Offer the Opportunity for Questions

At the end, never assume that all questions have been asked as staff are going through the process on their own.

If the training permits, asking your staff along the way if they have questions opens up the lines of communication. It gives them a chance to speak up when they may have kept quiet previously. Telling staff there are no stupid questions and reinforcing that you want them to leave the training with a good grasp on the information will also open up the lines for communication.

In Conclusion…

Trainings can be dry and difficult to teach. The reality that most of the staff don’t care makes it difficult for them to become engaged with the information. Cast vision from the beginning to help hook them in. Although I am unsure of the accuracy of this quote, I found it fascinating:

We retain 10% of what we read.

We retain 20% of what we hear.

We retain 30% of what we see.

We retain 50% of what we hear and see.

We retain 70% of what we say.

We retain 90% of what we do.

~various attributions


What else can you do to ensure a successful training? Share below!

Here’s to the Journey!

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11 Leadership Quotes to Make You Think

Quotes from individuals who have gone before us down the path of life are inspiring and instrumental in shaping who we are. They shape who we become. When we read and digest information, it helps shape our worldview on that particular subject.

I wrote a book on servant leadership as my final project for my Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership. To date, it was one of the most difficult projects I have taken on. Instead of it sitting on my hard drive, I have decided to have the book edited to self-publish on Amazon. I have had the draft edited but have not yet done the revisions. I guess it is time for me to take my own advice, make appointments with myself, and begin to work on those revisions.

In the book, I discuss the difference a leader can make by being a certain type of leader. I talk about the difference between leading and managing. Communicating clearly, empowering followers, and showing the way are what set apart mediocre leaders from great leaders. I think the book is chalk full of good information and hope you do to.

Those in positions of leadership need to be intentional about their own development as well as the development of their followers. Being a leader is not a position that should be taken lightly. Unfortunately, we have all seen the individuals who have somehow made their way to leading organizations who probably should have minimal interaction with the others.

The task of the leader is to get his

Leadership quotes can inspire us to be better leaders. Below are 11 leadership quotes to make you think. Some of these are in my book, others will be added.

11 Leadership Quotes to Make You Think

  1. Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey
  1. You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. —Multiple Attributes
  1. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower
  1. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
  1. Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. —Norman Schwarzkopf
  1. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
  1. What you do has far greater impact than what you say. —Stephen Covey
  1. You manage things; you lead people. – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
  1. You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey
  1. The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. – Henry Kissinger
  1. The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

These quotes are all great. However, a quote is no good unless we understand how to apply it appropriately in our leadership context.

In Conclusion…

There are so many great leadership quotes from many great leaders. With the internet, quotes are available at our finger tips. As I go back over my first draft, I undoubtedly will add more quotes as they fit into the text.

Do you have a favorite leadership quote? Share below!

Here’s to the Journey!

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What I Learned from Sheriff Callie

If we define leadership as anyone who has influence, we can define leadership in the same way for cartoon characters.

I have a three-year-old which means we watch a lot of Disney Junior. Some of the shows are educational, and some are just downright horrible to watch. It is amazing to me how many now have a leadership principles as the main lesson in the show.

Leadership Lessons in Unexpected Places

The other day we were watching Sheriff Callie on our AppleTV. The best thing about Apple TV, no commercials. No commercials means the child does not desire all that is advertised. But I digress.

My husband says what he has learned from Sheriff Callie is everything is better with a magic rope. While this may be true, most of us will never have a magic rope.

In one episode of Sheriff Callie, Hike to Wish Mountain, Deputy Peck says he knows the way to the top of Wish Mountain “like the back of his wing.” They all wanted to make it to the top of Wish Mountain in time to see the meteor shower and to make a wish.

Sheriff Callie: “Well, you can be our leader then.”

Deputy Peck: “You mean the leader leader?! Woo hoo! I mean, that sounds nice.”

Clearly, Peck was thrilled to be able to lead his friends up to Wish Mountain. As they start on their journey, it becomes obvious that Peck doesn’t quite remember the way to go. Or how to keep them all safe.

He is so excited to be the leader that he isn’t willing to tell them he doesn’t quite know the way.

He falls off a cliff and Sheriff Callie saves him. Then this happens:

Peck: “We made it, we really made it. I never thought I’d see the ground again. Never ever ever. And all because I took the wrong path.”

All: “Gasp”

Sheriff Callie: “What was that Deputy?”

Peck: “What I said was, well, um, I made a mistake. We are on the wrong path”

All: “The wrong path?! Why didn’t you tell us Peck?”

Peck: “Because then you wouldn’t think I was a good leader.”

Sheriff Callie: “Peck, there’s no shame in admitting when you’re wrong. In fact, a good leader always admits when they don’t know something.”

Peck: “Really? I didn’t know that.”

A good leader always admits when they (1)

What I learned from Sheriff Callie: A Good Leader Always Admits When They Don’t Know Something…Sometimes

How I wish that statement was true across the board.

I have followed many leaders who acted like they knew it all, even when it was clear they didn’t. They would not listen to anyone’s suggestions regarding the situation in which they believed they had all of the answers.

There is nothing more discouraging than working for someone who is the smartest person in the room. The person who is never wrong. The leader who makes up an answer even if it isn’t close to being correct, simply to have an answer. A leader who diminishes others abilities and thoughts.

When a leader never admits they are wrong they:

Lose credibility

Lose the respect of those they lead

Do not seem as honest and trustworthy

Admitting Mistakes = Respect

I have worked for both types of leaders. The one who is never wrong and the one who admits when they make a mistake. When my leaders have admitted they are wrong it makes them human. It makes them more approachable in general, but especially when I have made a mistake.

Work on becoming the leader who is open to suggestions.

Work on becoming the leader who is approachable, for both the good and bad.

Work on becoming the leader who admits when they don’t know something.

You will be amazed at the correlation between admitting when you don’t know something and the level of respect and loyalty among your followers. There is power in the phrase “I am not sure, but I will find out.” My level of respect for individuals increases when they are able to say “I was wrong” or “I am sorry for…”

If you have never been a leader who has admitted mistakes before, the apology may seem like a one off and cause some mistrust at the beginning. However, when a leader chooses to put their own comfort to the side and admit when they are wrong, they begin to change the culture of the organization.

The best piece advice (after admitting you were wrong or don’t know) is to invite those you lead to find the answers or gather everyone together to brainstorm the answer. Create buy in. People want to be engaged in their jobs. Help them.

In conclusion…

I am thankful for the leadership lesson, for what I learned from Sheriff Callie that day. It was a great reminder for me as I navigate leading that I do not have to know all of the answers. Admitting when I don’t know something, when you don’t know something, can change the culture of your organization. It eventually equates to greater respect. This in turn gives us a chance to utilize our followers to find the answer. Empowering employees will make them feel more valuable to the organization, creating greater loyalty. People want to feel useful, not that they are being used.

Has there been a time when you pretended like you had the solution to the problem even though you had no idea what you were doing? 

Do you think a good leader admits when they are wrong? Share below.
Here’s to the Journey!

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4 Steps to Help You Get Unstuck in Life

I like to think that I have it all together and can conquer it all. The reality is, that I am far from what I could potentially be.

This is due to my own mindset. I often doubt how smart I am or compare myself to what others are accomplishing, and I put myself in a box. Thinking outside the box is difficult when you are stuck with your thoughts all day and not engaging with articles or individuals who help you expand your thinking.

Often it is our own worldview, our own small thinking that keeps us stuck in the position we are in. We are stuck in our own paradigm and can’t figure out how to create a paradigm shift in our circumstances. To help us think outside the box we have created.

I have had co-workers tell me they dislike their job. I always encourage them to begin seeking out new opportunities. Some do. Others do not. Those that do not are keeping themselves in this place of misery.

I came across this quote the other day in the most unlikely places…

quote-braver than you believe (1)

You are most likely braver, smarter, and stronger than you give yourself credit. Don’t let your mindset turn into a ceiling to what you can accomplish.

If you find yourself stuck in a certain area of your life, either personally or professionally, you need to find a way to move forward.

Here are 4 steps to help you get unstuck in life

 Think through your current situation.

What is it about my current situation that I do not like? Is your living situation horrible? Are you in a relationship that is ok but not great? Are you in a job that you hate going to, but have to go since it pays the bills?

For me, I seem to not have time to work out. When I don’t have time to exercise, I feel off in other areas in my life.

Write down exactly what it is that you feel stuck in.

  1. Think about where you want to be.

If time or money was not an issue, what would your current situation look like? Where is it that I want to be?

This exercise is difficult due to the fact that we have trained our brains to think a certain way and react to circumstances in a particular manner. Let yourself dream a bit. If you could change your current situation, what would the perfect situation look like?

If I had all the time in the world, I would work out 5 days a week doing an intense workout program such as Insanity Max. I would also hire a personal trainer.

  1. Find resources to help you get there.

If you are looking to make a career jump and need resume help, contact someone who can help you spruce up your resume. If you want to become healthier, to make better food choices and exercise, read articles on nutrition to make the best choices.

We are making some healthy lifestyle changes (I hate the word diet). I plan on reading up on nutrition and what amounts of each food group we need to be healthy.

  1. Make a plan to make a change

This is the most difficult step. Remember my co-worker who kept saying she hated her job but would never do anything about it? She is choosing to not make a plan to make a change. Making the plan is scary. It means you have a goal, and what if you don’t achieve that goal? The plan you make to make the change you want needs to have bite sized steps to it. When we set the big goal to begin with, we become frustrated when we don’t see the major result in a short time frame. Breaking it up into small goals will help motivate you to continue on.

My big goal that would end up making me frustrated is to say I am going to lose 20 lbs. Instead, I am going to focus on the first 5. To get there, I am going to work out 3 times a week and eat healthier.  Meal planning allows for us to make better food decisions.

In Conclusion…

We often get stuck in one area of our life once in a while. That is ok, as long as you can recognize it and make a plan to move forward. Hiring a coach may be a good next step for you. I am in the beginning of launching my coaching business and will be offering services at an introductory rate. If you are interested in learning more about coaching, please contact me at stephanie@www.stephaniegerman.com.

You only have one life. Make sure to make the biggest impact possible and to live it to the fullest.

Is there an area of your life, personally or professionally, in which you feel stuck? Share below!

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

How Being a Parent is Similar to Being a Leader

When I go to work, I look to my boss, who is supposed to be the leader, to be an example. It often happens that what is said and actions displayed do not match up. When that happens, my level of respect goes down for my supervisor.

I have found that this is true for me being a parent as well. My daughter has a way of reminding me when my words and actions do not match up. She is only 3, so it’s not as detrimental as it will be when she is 16.

Thinking through these two scenarios, I have found great similarities between the times I have led a program and when I have led my kids as their mom.

Leader vs Parent

Here is a brief breakdown of how being a parent is similar to being a leader…

As a leader, you have people under you. These people are called employees, or followers. They watch everything you do and say. Sometimes they ignore you completely. In a business, those that are disobedient are reprimanded. And eventually fired.

As a parent, you have people under you. These people are called your children. They watch everything you do and say. They let you know when what you say and what you actually do does not match up. Sometimes (most of the time) they ignore you completely. In a home, those that are disobedient are reprimanded, and there is usually screaming involved, because timeouts are clearly the worst thing in the world (amiright?).

What’s the point?

It’s about integrity.

When we ask our followers to do something, they are watching to see if we are going to act in the same manner we are asking of them. As a leader, if I don’t show the way, they will do as they please. This is true in my home as well.

My three year old, who is going on sixteen, has begun to repeat the words and tone I use.

All too often I do not like what I hear.

Show the way is to guide

Changing the Story

To change the story being told in our house, I have to change the way I speak to, and interact with, my three year old. This doesn’t mean I let her do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Clear boundaries need to be set. However, there is nothing more telling than hearing your child repeat the words you have spoken to them.

To the change the story in your organization, you as a leader need to be willing to serve those you oversee. If you are not willing to do the work, why should those you lead willingly go about doing it? You begin to take long lunches, your employees see that and follow suit. You sit in other offices gossiping, others notice and follow suit. You should not expect your employees to behave in a manner that you are not willing to behave in yourself.

To show the way is to guide followers in the way they should go.

Shown integrity leads to a higher level of respect and loyalty.

Shown integrity leads to a higher level of respect and loyalty. Click To Tweet

In conclusion…

Integrity and honesty are shown time and again as the two highest qualities employees and followers desire out of their leaders in studies conducted. There is a higher level of respect when you as the leader do what you say and show the way. Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the CEO of your home with 5 little ones around you, make sure you are showing the way. Eyes are always watching.

In what ways are you being a person of integrity with those you influence?

Here’s to the Journey!

Redefining Success

I’ve been struggling lately with the definition of success. My definition of success. I wonder if it’s time I start redefining success.

We are told that the definition of success is graduating from college and establishing a great career. I graduated from college, started what I thought was going to be a career, have made several detours, earned my Masters in Organizational Leadership, and am currently working a job that has nothing to do with my degree or strengths.

I am now in a place where I think I should have a career established. Instead, I have a job.

Doesn’t everyone have it all together and figured out by the time they are 30?

I have my Masters degree.

I have had multiple jobs.

But no set career path.

Definition of Success

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; achieving a goal you set. From the time I could remember, my goal was to work for a corporation in business and become an executive.

I was indoctrinated with the idea that I needed the high salary, big title, and large house. Besides, that is what is emulated in the world.  I know that I have bought into that. Being an achiever has allowed me buy into it. And my head believes this definition of success.

The other day, in an online community I am a part of, one of the participants was bummed due to the fact that a product he was wanting to launch was launched by another company/individual. He was reminded by several of us that due to who he is, he will connect with a different audience than this other company. He has his own worldview, personality, and experience that will connect to a specific audience.

If you are an entrepreneur, we are told that to be a “real” business you must have a Facebook page and twitter handle and now periscope with thousands upon thousands of likes. The reality is that is not true. One can be successful with a couple hundred likes or followers if they have connected with the right audience.

Redefining Success

What if we changed the conversation around the word success?

What if we redefined success as the legacy we leave behind?

Redefining Success

This new definition of success does not have to do with the big title. Or amazing office. Or the great perks associated with a corporate job. The items that no longer matter once you are not around.

What if the new definition of success included the impact that you made on the lives of those around you that spanned for generations? When we live out our purpose in this life, we will be successful. We need to learn that when we invest time and resources into what matters, into what is eternal, we have become successful.

My new definition of success is whether I am living out my purpose or not where I have been placed. When I live out my purpose in this life there is great joy and fulfillment.

As For Me

I can make a difference where I am, even without the large office and big title. I can influence those around me by engaging in positive conversation that moves the organization forward. I can challenge the status quo to make the organization run smoother.

Where my definition of success has changed the most is how I am investing in my family and kids. I know I need to be available for doctor appointments and conversations at the end of the day. My definition of success is investing in the time my three year old needs of me, including the thirty questions that somehow made it to right before bed time. This means I put aside the things that do not matter, the things that the world says matters, and live a life that allows me to be fulfilled in my new definition of success.

In Conclusion…

I still struggle with which definition of success I want to follow. The definition that says I need to look important to the world and the definition that says the greatest job I will ever have is raising my little ones. This is another step in the balancing act of life. One thing I know for sure, is I want my kids to know without a shadow of a doubt that they come first.

How do you define success in your everyday life? Do you think you can have it both ways?

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

Keeping the “Nine to Five” from 9-5: How Technology Creates a Work-Life Balance Struggle

With the use of technology today, we can work anywhere, anytime. This provides more flexibility in how our jobs are accomplished, and when they are accomplished. This can be a great asset.


Photo Credit: Janitors via Compfight cc

Without the appropriate boundaries, we can see technology slowly hurting our families. There was a study done two years ago by Accenture stating technology allows employees to be flexible with their schedule and that flexibility is extremely important to their work-life balance. However, 70% say that technology has allowed for work to be brought into their personal lives. That is a large percentage of individuals who believe technology creates work-life balance struggle.

Technology blurs the workday boundaries that used to be clearly defined.

Technology blurs the workday boundaries that used to be clearly defined. Click To Tweet

Several years ago, I was promoted at work and was given another person’s job on top of my current job. This led to extremely long work hours and taking work home with me. I was near burn out when I realized I did not have boundaries in place that helped me to thrive at work and at home. I checked my email at night, took my computer home with me every night, stayed late at the office, and even checked my email, while on vacation, in Hawaii (seriously, what was I thinking?!).

I read a book that described me; Mad Church Disease: Avoiding the Burnout Epidemic.

And it freaked me out.

I realized if I continued down the path I was on, I was going to burn out very quick.

I made a list of what I could do to create balance in my life realizing technology was here to stay. I realized that a big issue was having the technology at my fingertips. I also needed to be realistic about the use of technology when I had a heavy workload.

Here are 4 actions I took to leave behind the work-life balance struggle in light of technology and to leave the “nine to five” from 9-5 in light of technology:

  1. Turn off your email

If you have your smart phone connected to your work email, turn off your work email daily. As I drove home from work every day, I turned off my work email on my iPhone. It was as easy as going into settings, mail/contacts/calendar, selecting my work email and sliding the green button over. This way, I didn’t have the urge to check my email all evening. I didn’t have the constant dings letting me know a new message had arrived.

  1. Leave your computer at work

Don’t bring your lap top home. Seems easy, right? I struggled with this one, especially the first few weeks. I fought the urge to bring it home. I thought to myself “I will only finish that one ______ if I take my computer home”.  Leaving your computer at work ensures that you will not do work that you can only access from your computer.

  1. Review Your Upcoming Week

Looking at the calendar at the beginning of the week will help you gauge what to expect in the week ahead. Do you have meetings in the evening? A big work project that will take extra time? Knowing in advance can help you plan out your week.

On Sundays, my husband and I discuss our upcoming week. We talk about both work and family obligations to make sure we are on the same page. This allows us to discuss any work obligations that do not fit into our normal routine that would cause one of us to work late or have to bring unwanted technology time into our home.

  1. Don’t carry your phone everywhere

Your cell phone may be the only phone you have at home. You may not have a land line. We have not had a land line for 6 years. This does not mean you have to have your phone on your hip every second of the day. Set your phone down, turn the ringer up, and be free from technology for the evening.

Only 15 years ago the majority of the world did not have cell phones. When you called someone’s house and they were not home, you left them a message. Many did not have answering machines 20 years ago. Delayed gratification was still in place. And everyone survived.

You do not have to be available 24 hours a day.

In Conclusion…

This is how I was able to ensure that technology didn’t take over my life 24/7. I made sure I was fully present at work during work hours and fully present at home when not at work. This made all the difference in the world for me and my family. These are boundaries that are still implemented years later.

Does technology impact your work-life balance? I would love to discuss below!

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

6 Ways to Engage Employees from Day 1

*This is part 2 of a 2 part series on employee engagement. Check out part 1 HERE.

We have all seen the reports that show most employees despise going to work. There is some employee responsibility but there is also a great responsibility on the organizations shoulders. Most employers want to get the most out of their employees, yet fail miserably.

The best time to help employees become engaged in their workplace is the day they start.

In one of my jobs, I was eager to learn. I had never worked in this sector before, but believed it could be a great fit for me. It only took two weeks for me to realize the organization was barely surviving. Morale was low. I was unsure about my role and did not understand expectations. My engagement level waned at an increased rate as the days went by.

Think about your past jobs or when you started at your current job. You were most likely excited for a new opportunity and eager to learn. If you didn’t become engaged at the beginning of your employment, odds are you became disengaged rather quickly. Going from a place of a disengaged employee to an engaged employee is difficult.

employee engagement

How can this be rectified?

Supervisors and organizations at large need to begin to engage with their employees on the first day of their job.

Here are 6 ways to engage employees from Day 1:

1. Share the Organizations Vision

When a new employee starts, cast vision for the employee. What is the organizations mission? What problem is the company there to solve? How does the company make the world a better place? Then share why their job is important to the mission of the organizations. Without their piece of the puzzle, “X” doesn’t happen. This will help the employee understand why their job is important.

2. State clear expectations

There is nothing worse than not knowing what is expected of you at your job. Within the first few days of a new employee starting, make sure you have a conversation regarding expectations. This includes attire, work habits, use of technology while at work, and general job duties. This is a great time to discuss expectations of your role as their supervisor. This can include the type of interaction you will have as well as what duties you expect them to accomplish on their own and which duties you want to be kept in the loop on.

3. Create buy in and ownership

Want your employees to be advocates? Create buy in, or give them some skin in the game. When making decisions, get employees together, brainstorm, and get their opinions. If the opinions are good, use them, and give them credit.  If the opportunity arises for this in the first few weeks, even better. They will sense they get to be a part of the solution and will be eager to help out in the future.

A great example of this is when a supervisor wants to streamline a process. The potential changes you want to make will effect staff. Gather those staff members together and share your concerns, discuss the problem. Ask them if they see the problem. Then ask them for potential solutions. You may have a solution in mind, but a solution may be suggested which you have not thought of. When you incorporate some of their solutions, you create buy in and ownership.

The best time to help employees become engaged in their workplace is the day they start. Click To Tweet

4. Discuss their professional goals

Your employee might be starting out in the workforce as an office admin. If it’s their first job, odds are they are not planning on staying in that role for their career. If they do, you may have the wrong employee.  Ask them their professional goals. Ask them how you can help them learn a new skill which may help them move on to the next step in their career.

A simple, yet great example occurred in my workplace. A supervisor asked an employee her professional goals. She said she wanted to become better at typing. A program was purchased to help her become a better typist. This helped the employee to do her job better, typing faster, allowing her to get more work done. And she felt valued in the process. Michael Scott from “The Office” would call this a win-win-win: You win, she wins, and the company wins.

5. Let the Employee Meet with Others Who do Completely Different Jobs

An office assistant was hired at a marketing firm. He knows very little about marketing, but knows he needs a job. Have him meet with others at the company who are doing the professional work. Those who are working with clients, those who write copy. Let the new employee see a glimpse of what others are doing to fulfill the organizations mission. This may also help him to understand portions of his job better. It may also give him a career goal to shoot for.

6. Offer Development Training

Does your employee know their personality type? Do they know how to interact with others with completely different personality types? Do your employees know how to work in a team and the benefits of working as a team?

Training your employees on the soft skills of business will not only help them, it will help them help you fulfill the mission of the organization. On-going training helps with continued employee engagement.

In Conclusion…

An organization can only do so much to ensure the employee is engaged. It does take effort on the part of the employee as well. However, when an organization is healthy, it can create a culture that encourages employee engagement from Day 1.

If you are a leader, how are you engaging with your employees? Do you think they are engaged with their work or doing the minimum to get by? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

Why Employee Engagement is a 2 Way Street

*This is part 1 of a 2 part series on employee engagement

The term employee engagement has been thrown around a lot in the business world as of late. It is said that employee engagement is good for the organization. For employees to be engaged, there has to be a benefit to them as well.

Employee engagement can be described as the level of commitment an employee has to an organization. It is the emotional commitment to the organization’s mission and goals. It has to do with how motivated they are to contribute to the vision of the organization. All the while, they must have a sense that by being committed to the organization, it will benefit them as well.

If you are a for-profit business, then the ultimate indicator of success is your bottom line. However, you need people to accomplish that goal. Most organizations do not realize this. Are you ready?

Your people are your greatest resource.

Your people are your greatest resource. Start treating them like it. Click To Tweet

Without people, you will not have a company. You need good people to help you be profitable.  Below are several benefits of employee engagement for the organization and the employee. Let’s discuss why employee engagement is a 2 way street:

Benefits of Employee Engagement for the Organization

  1. Improved Performance

If your employees feel a high commitment to the organization, they will want to learn new skill sets that will take them, and your organization, to the next level.

  1. Increased Productivity

Committed employees will spend less time messing around in their day and will have a higher productivity rate. They will be more focused on the tasks at hand. Engaged employees are also less likely to call in sick.

  1. Greater Retention Rates

Engaged, committed employees will stick around. It takes a significant amount of money to train new employees. Creating a high level of employee engagement ensures that your employee turn around is low.

Benefits of Employee Engagement for the Employee

  1. Job Satisfaction

Engaged employees are satisfied with their jobs. They feel as though they are making a difference through their role in the company. Ultimately, job satisfaction usually means a happy, productive employee. When I am satisfied in my job, I am usually less stressed and healthier.

  1. Feel Empowered

Engaged employees feel like they have a stake in the company. They are given the tools and are empowered to accomplish the tasks set before them. A feeling of empowerment often leads to feelings of being esteemed. Which is one of our needs as people.

3. New Skills Learned

Organizations that understand the value of their employees provide teaching and training. There is a level of personal development that the employee benefits from in these organizations. These skills can be technical, directly related to their job, or can be described as the soft skills in business.

In Conclusion…

Employee engagement is relatively new but is a powerful tool in creating a healthy business. It is not about creating happy employees. However, happy employees tend to be at work on time and productive, which helps the bottom line of the organization.

In the next post, we will discuss 6 ways to engage with employees from day 1.

In your organization, are you engaged? As a supervisor, how can you create employee engagement?

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)