5 Tips to Keep Your Hair Zoom Meeting Ready
LinkedIn
black woman looking at monitor happily with hands raised in excitement

Linda Husser is no stranger to caring for her natural hair during challenging times. While stationed in England as Senior Airman in the Airforce, she had to learn to care for her natural hair without access to the biweekly trip to the hair salon that she was accustomed to before enlisting.

“I would basically just put my hair into four or five cornrows because our hair had to always comply with service regulations and be above the neck,” she explains. From there, Husser began to use different products to style her hair from the limited options available for black hair at the PBX in England. As she got creative with hairstyles, others began asking her to do their hair and her new career as hairstylist was born. Thirty years later, she owns one of the most successful hair salons specializing in Black Hair in Orange County, California – Linda’s Hair Affair.

Before the salon closures, the majority of Husser’s clients would schedule every two weeks for their hair to be washed, blow-dried, straightened and styled in a ponytail or loose curls. “A lot of them didn’t think that staying at home still meant they had to look Zoom Meeting Ready’, and have been reaching out to me for advice,” she shares.

Here are her top tips to keep your hair healthy and Zoom ready during quarantine –

  1. Do your hair as if you were going to the salon. Wash and deep condition every two weeks.
  1. Don’t worry about straightening your hair. The new growth that’s coming in will be a different texture and your hair is more prone to breakage as a result. Blowing it out with a blow dryer or putting it in two cornrows is best.
  1. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize. Use this time to love your hair with oils and butters and conditioners. Use a silk or cloth scarf to seal it in on your braided hair.
  1. Use YouTube as a resource to learn how to flat twist, corn row, or experiment with other natural hair styles.
  1. Wigs are a stylish, easy, and quick protective hairstyle option that actually gives your hair a break if it is thinning from weaves or braids.

Ultimately, life will go back to face to face meetings and twice a month salon visits. Until then, use these time-tested tips from a former Airman turned Hair Stylist to get by in style.

Tracy Yassini
Black EOE Journal contributing writer

Resume and Skills Refresh: Don’t Waste Your Pandemic
LinkedIn
woman holding her resume in her hand smiling

By Greg Stuart

While I’m not that old, just over 40, I can’t remember living in a crazier time. This pandemic has affected how we go about our daily life in so many different ways.

The closest thing I have to compare to this crazy time is the post 9/11 era. While COVID-19 has changed all of our travel plans, it has also changed how we function in the everydayness of life too. Most prevalently, the way in which we work and communicate has drastically changed. Remote work filled with Zoom meetings and Webex presentation have become the norm. I have enjoyed working from home because it has allowed me much more flexibility. No sitting in traffic or heading back and forth from the airport (I travel a lot for work). When I’m done for the day, I’m left with time that I normally don’t have. So, what should we do with that time? It’s a perfect time to refresh your skills and update your resume.

Remote Work Is the Best Time to Refresh Your Resume

Since the shift to remote work, I’ve taken three certification exams and added them to my resume. My skills are growing because I have time to do a lot more self-study than I had before. Here are some ideas as to how you can use this quarantine/pandemic to refresh your skills and update your resume.

Study & Learn

There is no better time than now to get online and learn something new. If you have ever thought about learning coding, there are free online resources for that. Try Code Academy. They have a large library of practice labs and exercises to teach you how to code. They offer classes in Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, and more. If cybersecurity is your thing, you can go to sites like PluralSight and Udemy to learn about the latest cybersecurity initiatives and training. Maybe being online all day for work and then staying online after work to study isn’t your thing. I get that. I prefer to crack open a book and study up on my next certification goal.

Grow Your Network

Having extra time on your hands will give you an opportunity to reach out to people within your professional network and catch up. Reaching out to someone within your network gives you an opportunity to update them on what you have been up to and find out what they are doing. Maybe you are working on projects of interest to each other and you can swap notes and ideas. In the event you are planning to be back on the job market, refreshing your professional network helps to keep multiple sets of eyes out for the best next opportunity for you. Updating your professional network helps to grow it and keep it strong. The best thing you can do is cultivate a strong professional network that you can call on for help and/or guidance from time to time.

Build a Home Lab

If you have extra time and extra money lying around, build yourself a home lab to keep up to date on the latest and greatest technologies out there. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra money, you can always download a trial license of VMware Workstation and start building yourself a nested lab that you can use to build virtual servers and appliances to further your learning. Find an older PC that you might have lying around and throw Workstation on it, and you are off to a good start. Some companies even give a lab allowance to their employees for licenses and hosting.

Attend a Virtual Event

Lastly, with this pandemic still going strong, there are many opportunities to attend a conference virtually that you might not have been able to physically. VMworld 2020 has gone virtual and has opened registration up to anyone for free (no, you don’t get a backpack!). There are other events you can attend as well, such as networking events in which you join a Zoom meeting to sync up with others in your field and learn from one another.

Balancing Personal Life with Resume Refresh Goals

There are so many things you can do to optimize your time during this phase so you are ready for a resume refresh. Find something you can do to balance learning and growing your sphere of influence within your field. At the same time, remember to enjoy your family and friends and be safe.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

This Is the Biggest Career Mistake You’ll Ever Make, Experts Say
LinkedIn
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We’ve all had a lot of time to ask ourselves big questions about our lives these days, including what we wish had gone differently, whether it’s in regards to our relationships, our health, our families, or our careers.

But when thinking about why our professional lives may have gone awry, we tend to focus on things we actively did wrong—like the deadlines we missed or the bridges we burned.

However, experts agree that when it comes to career missteps, we should be thinking about what we didn’t do instead.

So, what’s the biggest career mistake you’ll ever make? Giving up on learning something new. Read on to find out why, and for another regret you don’t want to live with, check out The One Thing Experts Say You’re Doing Every Day That You’ll Regret.

The career experts at Monster note that in order “to continue to advance in your field and attract new potential employers, you need to stay current. Unfortunately, it’s easy to let your skills development lapse.” And that, they say, is one of the biggest career mistakes a person can make. To combat this, they suggest that you “take an online class, attend seminars, research available certificates in your industry—just don’t let your brain gather dust.”

Similarly, in her article for The Muse on the biggest career mistakes a professional can make, career acceleration expert Olivia Gamber explains that after a decade or two in the work force, people tend to “stop hustling and stop gunning for future promotions and breakthroughs.”

If you don’t want to fall into that rut, Gamber, author of The Career Upgrade Roadmap, suggests that you “take proactive steps that would qualify you for advancement like taking classes [or] learning new skills.”

The results speak for themselves. When Coursera conducted a survey of 52,000 learners across a wide range of subjects, they found that 72 percent of participants reported career benefits from taking online classes, including increased efficiency, success at finding a new job, or receiving a raise.

That’s why, in Fast Company’s report of what makes people the most proactive professionals, “Never stand still” tops the list. “People who do the things the way they have always been done will in the best case get the same results all over again,” writes leadership and coaching professional Anush Kostanyan. “You should constantly search for new solutions and more effective approaches.”

Seeing through the learning process itself, nixing some old bad habits, and forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone mentally is what will give you the edge in your career. For more mistakes you may be making, according to the experts, read on.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

Avoid These Mistakes When Applying Online
LinkedIn
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By Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC

The resume black hole. The abyss. The void. The applicant tracking system (ATS) creates all kinds of stress and irritation for job seekers. Candidates almost universally loathe the experience.

The ATS requires them to copy and paste sections from their resume into tiny boxes and answer questions that could be easily discussed in a quick phone call, adding to what is already a user-unfriendly, often tedious experience. While they are far from perfect, most companies are using them, and they appear to be here for the foreseeable future. Decrease some of the angst by being alert for the following common mistakes people make when applying to jobs via the ATS:

Important details in the header or footer. Some ATS systems are sophisticated. Some are clunky. The clunkier they are, the pickier they are. If you have critical information in the header or footer of your resume, there’s a real chance that it won’t translate into the system.

You don’t bother with keywords. Keywords are king. There is no way around it. The ATS allows employers to search for candidates by select keywords. Ensure that your resume is optimized for this purpose.

Wrong file type. Most ATS systems accept Word and PDF files. If your resume is in a format other than these, you will find yourself filling in each field manually.

Being overly creative or “original.” Most applicant tracking systems are unable to read charts or embedded graphics. Stick with text and standard characters only.

Functional resume format. The functional resume format is one which is organized by theme—key skills, major achievements—instead of chronologically. Recruiters and hiring managers hate them because they make it impossible to understand career progression. Applicant Tracking Systems only accept information in reverse-chronological order. Stick with that format.

Wonky fonts. ATS systems are very finicky when it comes to font, so keep it simple and use a standard serif font.

Spelling and grammatical errors. Just as you want an actual human to understand what you’re talking about, you also want to ensure that what you upload is digestible by the ATS. Incorrectly spelled words and overuse of acronyms can land your resume in the digital trash bin.

You don’t bother with the cover letter. If the ATS gives you the option of submitting a cover letter, by all means do it. This is the opportunity to address your skills and experience in narrative form.

The objective statement. ATS applications are often limited to a certain number of characters. Do not waste any real estate with an objective. Instead, summarize your career and its highlights.

You don’t review before hitting “submit.” There’s a decent chance that despite your best efforts, something wound up in the wrong field or is otherwise incorrect on the ATS. Review scrupulously before you submit.

Source: careersdonewrite.com

How One Woman is Reinventing the Wedding Industry
LinkedIn
Amy Grace decorating for an outdoor wedding while looking at the camera

Amy Grace Collins loved her work through Amy Grace Events. She was doing incredible corporate events and weddings for organizations and couples at the most amazing venues in California and Michigan, with the very best in everything—food, flowers, music, photography, videography and more.

But she saw a trend that concerned her with the dream weddings she was helping California brides make a reality: They wanted $60,000 events when they could barely afford $15,000, so they were headed out of Santa Barbara to less expensive destinations, like the dessert of Palm Springs.

“My background is in finance, so I’m acutely aware that the money goes where the trends are,” said Collins, a NAWBO-Central Coast California member, who currently resides with her family in Michigan but works in California as well. “I started looking for an option to keep Santa Barbarians in their local town.”

Part of an international mastermind group of wedding planners, Collins began sharing her thoughts on calls. She learned that a fellow planner in Australia was in the process of implementing pop-up weddings. The concept was that several couples would have their wedding at the same location, on the same day, enjoying the same vendor resources—just in their 3- to 5-hour window and with a small group of friends and family in attendance.

While the concept would take some time to tweak for the American market, Collins knew she was onto something big.

“I reached out last summer to all my vendor friends saying, ‘I have this crazy idea…’ We talked about it and I ran every financial number I could,” says Collins. “There are a lot of models out there that undercut the vendors, so they only do the events on off-days.

“But couples want a Saturday or Sunday wedding for less, so we created these and started working on marketing them in February.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “There were brides booked for March and April who were stuck in contracts and out $60,000,” said Collins, adding that the biggest engagement season is between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day and brides usually start reaching out to wedding planners in the spring…and it’s been silent.

Collins’ thoughts immediately turned to the women who are part of MasterBrides—her other business, which is a free, online community for brides to learn about weddings from an industry veteran. She knew these women didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to lose. Also, would it even possible for them to plan their weddings in the age of Coronavirus with so many unknowns from state to state, especially in California and Michigan, that tend to be among the strictest? Amy began sharing her research and expertise in blogs like, How Do I Know If I Should Cancel or Postpone My Wedding? and The Phased Strategy to Open America: What Does This Actually Mean for My Wedding? By the response she received from brides, it was clear it was time to pivot and focus on pop-up weddings. Her own industry, on the other hand, wasn’t so thrilled about what she was putting out there, but Amy felt strongly it was the right thing to do.

Today, that honest, timely communication has paid off. Amy is now offering pop-up weddings where she leverages the cost of a $60,000 wedding and distributes it three ways between couples so they can have stunning weddings for a fraction of the price. These are all-inclusive, with 90 percent of the decisions already made. She just helps each couple finalize the personalization aspects to make it their own event.

There are other advantages to this model, too. For one, it’s recommended that the guest list is small with just 40-80 people. In this time of social distancing, that’s the perfect size. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Whereas before, thousands of dollars on everything from flowers to food would go to waste after one big event, now several couples are taking advantage of the same resources.

“I think this will completely shift the mindset of brides,” Collins says. “To see the couples’ expectations from 2002 when I first started, to 2020 is mind-blowing—it’s the same amount of money with way different expectations. This is really resetting the industry so that couples are having a wedding within their means.”

Collins is equally excited about another outcome: A focus on the ceremony more so than the party. “I have always been frustrated by the lack of reverence given to the ceremony portion of the wedding,” she explains. “To have people now see the importance of the actual ceremony and license and how it affects so much in their life, from health care to taxes to immigration. It’s so much deeper and I think we, as an industry, will be appreciated in such a different way. I look forward to that.”

Advice for Business Resilience from Top Companies
LinkedIn
A collection of signs reading "help", "support", "advice", and "Guidance"

The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), in collaboration with American Express, recently released the 13th annual ranking of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies. The companies on this year’s 50 Fastest list span a range of industries, including healthcare, technology, and consulting. From January to December 2019, the 50 Fastest generated a combined $3.8 billion in revenue and collectively employed more than 17,000 people.

“The 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies are a trailblazing group of women who are leading some of the most successful businesses around the globe,” said Jessica Ling, Vice President and General Manager, Marketing Strategy, Content and Experiences at American Express. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with some of these business owners and learn more about the creative ways they’ve pivoted to not only keep their businesses running but also to support their employees, customers and communities through these trying times.”

At the annual WPO conference, held virtually on July 22 and 23rd, Jessica spoke with four of the 50 Fastest Awardees for a fireside chat on the topic of resilience and leading in uncertain times. Asma Ishaq, CEO of Modere, Patricia Bible, Founder and CEO of KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc., Jenelle Coy, Founder and Managing Partner of Spero and Sujata Stead, CEO of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, shared their advice for navigating these unprecedented times.

When asked what advice they would give business owners that are looking to grow, especially in today’s climate, each provided key insights and personal anecdotes for growing and remaining resilient through the pandemic.

Asma Ishaq of Modere, ranked third on the list, said that it’s important to double down on existing customers.

Headshot of Asma Ishaq

“This is a time when you can develop a deeply impactful impression on customers. We have done everything we can to show our customers that we’re in this together, and they have gone to great lengths to reciprocate their loyalty,” says Asma.

“It is more efficient and less costly to retain customers than it is to acquire them. We felt a need to prove to our customers that we value their business and well-being.”

When asked the same question, Jenelle Coy of Spero, number seven of the list, said, “Passionate optimism and confidence are must-haves no matter what current circumstances you’re experiencing. Have a Deja vu mindset that you’re starting your business all over again and reevaluate your strategy, staffing and operations from the ground up to compete and thrive in the new normal.”

When asked the same question, Jenelle Coy of Spero, number seven of the list, said,

Headshot of Jenelle Coy of Spero

“Passionate optimism and confidence are must-haves no matter what current circumstances you’re experiencing. Have a Deja vu mindset that you’re starting your business all over again and reevaluate your strategy, staffing and operations from the ground up to compete and thrive in the new normal.”

Patricia Bible provided insights into what KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc., number 10 on the list, is doing to support both staff and customers in this challenging time. “KaTom has taken on the approach of looking internally first,” said Patricia.

Headshot of Patricia Bible

“We look at all our associates as customers first and if they are happy then our customers are happy. We’ve taken extreme measures including additional training for staff to help mitigate the fears that so many are struggling with and to also give them confidence when speaking with their customers. We have found that investing in employees pays tremendous dividends.”

Patricia went on to explain how impactful her staff has been. “With 53 percent of our operating force being millennials, we do a lot of listening as they bring invaluable direction.”

“Firstly, you need to have passion and believe in your business as well as what you stand for and the value you offer to your customers,” said Australia-based Sujata Stead, ranked number 15 on the list.

Headshot of Sujata Stead

Building an organization and turning it into a profitable and sustainable enterprise requires a phenomenal amount of hard work so you need to love what you do – whether it’s your product or service, customers or staff – this will make the journey worthwhile.

“Secondly, it is important to build organizational resilience and agility. We are living in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This means we need to be able to pivot at short notice and have the ability to evolve. As an organization, you have to have passion for what you do, the community you serve and the ecosystem you’re part of.”

The businesses on the 50 Fastest list have demonstrated the true meaning of resiliency during the current climate.

For more information on this year’s 50 Fastest, click here.

Attracting, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Energy Workforce
LinkedIn
Woman on an energy industry site, looking at her laptop while wearing a hardhat

The energy industry is one of the largest in country, and employs millions of people around the world. In addition, energy is also wide ranging and includes not just oil and gas, but also renewable sectors, like solar, hydrogen, wind and other emerging technologies. Yet, it is also one of the least diverse, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), who reports that nearly 75 percent of employees are white.

This is especially true in the highest levels of management at the utilities and major oil companies. Alternative industry fairs slightly better with middle management and below, but has the same representation of women and underrepresented groups as traditional oil and gas, where nearly 90 percent of leadership is white.

But these numbers are not news, and the lack of diversity in the energy sector has long been reported. Still, not much progress has been made in terms of the hiring and promotion of women and people of color. Many mature industries find it difficult to adapt to changes in the workforce, often struggling to find the optimal balance between entry level and experienced workers. For the past several years, Energy has had a particularly challenging time attracting new talent. Years ago, companies like ExxonMobil had their pick of the top candidates from the best schools—now these graduates are more likely to work for Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook, or create their own startup. Whenever the largest companies are having a hard time finding talent, you know there is a problem. Perhaps making things even worse, is the Great Crew Change, which refers to the large age gap in the workforce brought on by the upcoming waves of older workers reaching retirement age and the scarcity of workers under the age of 35. Many young people just don’t want to work in the same industries as their parents and grandparents. In addition, energy has seen more than its share of problems dealing with both racism and sexism, both contributing to why young people shy away from jobs in these fields.

So, what is the solution? First, the energy industry has to come to terms with the fact that their lack of available talent is their NUMBER ONE barrier to future growth. Innovation in the areas of emerging technology demands more workers than are currently available. To fill these jobs, we must hire or train to be hired, more women and people of color. Simply put, our current efforts are not sufficient for future needs. The next step is to invest in organizations that are successful in doing this right now. Millions have been spent talking about the lack of diversity, now it’s time to spend money on creating sustainable solutions to fix this problem. That means looking at the ENTIRE talent pipeline. While it’s critical to address the issues of attracting new workers to the field, if we don’t solve the problem of why underrepresented people don’t stay and are not promoted to senior levels, then we really haven’t accomplished much, especially since we don’t have the luxury of failing at this. How much untapped talent is being lost because of systemic discrimination keeping people from reaching their highest potential? What innovations could be discovered if this industry supported EVERYONE at the same level?

Because the fields are wide open, there are tremendous opportunities for women and people of color to advance in the clean energy and renewable sectors. Thanks to the effects of COVID and geopolitical instability around the world, oil and gas will undoubtedly never be the same. Many of the jobs lost are never coming back. A large number of workers will need to pivot to other types of jobs to stay employed. As the needs for the products they produce continues to decrease, others like biomass and hydrogen fuel cell, will rise as they continue to get cheaper and easier to produce. Partnerships between industry, academia and government can play a large role in educating new workers to these fields, but they can’t do it alone. Grass roots efforts via non-profit participation (and funding thereof) are key to helping to promote these opportunities to underrepresented communities. They can also work to ensure there are clear, distinct and attainable paths that exist to not just senior leadership in energy, but entrepreneurship as well. The future of energy is dependent on harnessing this untapped potential.

Risk Intelligence solutions are powered by BWise technology and support companies of all sizes through a wide range of deployment models, from on-premise implementations to out-of-the-box SaaS solutions streamlining single initiatives to complex integrated GRC projects. BWise is proud to be the GRC vendor of choice for many diverse energy and utility companies. This includes regional utilities and energy suppliers, pipeline and distribution business, oil and natural gas exploration, and large, multi-national gas and oil suppliers.

Kristin Malek: Redefining Supplier Diversity at CDW
LinkedIn
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As the senior manager of Supplier Diversity at CDW, Kristin Malek drives CDW’s strategies to achieve supplier diversity objectives. She is responsible for CDW’s $2+ billion annual Supplier Diversity spend initiatives. Kristin is the architect of the CDW’s diverse supply chain, which today is defined as more than 1100+ suppliers that serve the needs and offers solutions to CDW and their customers.

She is a member of the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC), Board Member of the Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) and TIG (Technology Industry Group), sharing her voice and best practices on inclusive business strategies.

 Under Kristin’s leadership at CDW; the supplier diversity program at CDW has been named a finalist for Corporation of the Year with NMSDC in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, the supplier diversity program was named the Best of the Best Supplier Diversity Programs for veteran-owned businesses.

 Earlier this year, Kristin was named one of Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity. Under Kristin’s leadership, CDW was inducted into the prestigious Billion Dollar Roundtable in October.

Professional WOMAN’s Magazine (PWM) spoke with Malek about her career.

PWM: Describe a moment you felt like a Wonder Woman and made a difference.

Malek: To describe a moment in which I felt like a Wonder Woman is hard to define, as every day I hold myself to high levels of accountability, being available to my family, teams, customers, and friends, and live with integrity. To find a day in which I perhaps elevated myself and pushed myself out of my comfort zone presented itself this spring when the world was sheltered in place. I found myself being tasked to support my third-grader with learning from home and getting her through fractions, having the responsibility to be a special education teacher for my fifth-grader who while in school received 1:1 paraprofessional support and lost that when distance learning presented itself while leading the Supplier Diversity program at CDW. Many days, I felt it was an overreach for me, but staying true to asking for help, staying honest with my capabilities and being able to set boundaries maybe made me Wonder Woman for the day – title or no title, it’s OK to ask for help.

PWM: What values do women bring to the workforce?

Malek: Competitiveness, leadership, empathy, solution thought leadership, and perspective, but I think men bring the same things; the more we separate skills by gender the farther we get away from inclusion.

PWM: What are your tips to keep growing professionally?

Malek: Take opportunity of changes; changes create needs, and needs create opportunities. Embrace Change. Second, compete with yourself only.

PWM: What are some things you think women can do to advocate change in the workplace?

Malek: Advocate from a place of respect, authentic gratitude and confidence in your abilities.

PWM: What lessons have you learned that you would like to share with our readers?

Malek: My lesson that has come to be reoccurring is that courage doesn’t always roar but can be the quiet voice that says I will try again tomorrow.

The one characteristic that will make you an all-star according to science
LinkedIn
Smiling young African American businesswoman leaning on a table in her office

By Amy Stanton

A few years ago, an interesting study came out of Harvard Business Review titled “The Business Case for Curiosity.”

In the study, HBR reported how an increase in employee curiosity led to a dramatic increase in company-wide creativity; how curiosity leads to empathy, which leads to reduced conflict among team members; and how “Google identifies naturally curious people through interview questions such as these: ‘Have you ever found yourself unable to stop learning something you’ve never encountered before? Why? What kept you persistent?’”

And then a few weeks ago, I came across a piece on Medium titled “The 2-Word Trick That Makes Small Talk Interesting.”

What are the two words?

“I’m curious…” before asking a question.

Whether we realize it or not, curiosity is one of the most appealing qualities . . . in a friend, an employee, a boss, or a leader. Curiosity leads to improved problem-solving—in just about every capacity (logistically, emotionally, financially, etc.).

As the HBR study goes on to explain, “To assess curiosity, employers can also ask candidates about their interests outside of work. Reading books unrelated to one’s own field and exploring questions just for the sake of knowing the answers are indications of curiosity.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I was starting my company, originally focused exclusively on female athletes and women’s sports, a number of people told me, “There’s no money in women’s sports.” And the reason I pressed on regardless was that I was curious. “Is that true? If it is true, why? And shouldn’t we change that?” Those questions and my curiosity started the Stanton & Company journey (thank goodness!).

And then a few years ago, when I decided I wanted to write a book about femininity, I was curious about my behaviors, feelings, and ideas—was I experiencing something unique, or were my feelings and human responses part of a larger societal reality? (The answer turned out to be the latter.)

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

How to Stay Focused When Working at Home
LinkedIn
woman working from home with child and dog nearby

 By Jennifer Parris

Regardless of where you work, there can be distractions. In office environments, water cooler chats and nearby conversations can disrupt focus. On the flip side, working at home can present challenges with structure and discipline.

If working from home is temporary due to the pandemic or even if you’re a seasoned remote worker, there’s a chance you’re having some difficulty staying focused and productive during these uncertain times. Don’t fret. Here are some tips to stay laser-focused when working from home.

Know Thyself

Some of us are morning larks, and some of us prefer a late start to the day. Regardless of your preferences, take some time to figure when you’re at your best. Betsy Andrews, Career Coach at FlexJobs, advises everyone, no matter where they work, to “learn which time(s) of day you are most productive and schedule the tasks that take the most focus during those times. Prioritization of tasks can be key.”

So, if you know you do your best work between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., schedule your most “important” tasks during that time, and save the less taxing tasks for later in the day when you’re feeling less productive or focused.

Make a List

Lists may seem a little old school. But, keeping track of all your to-do’s will help you stay focused while working from home and also provide you with a starting point at the beginning of each day. That list will serve as a daily reminder of what has to get done.

FlexJobs Career Coach Toni Frana advises workers to “write your to-do list right before you end work for the day. This helps in two big ways: It provides closure to the current workday, allowing for an easy transition from your home office to life at home. And the next day, you can begin your day with a laser focus because you’ve already identified your tasks and goals for that day.”

Create a Home Office

In most cases, working remotely allows you to work from anywhere. And while this freedom is typically one of the benefits of a flexible job, setting up a home office is still highly recommended.

If your work-from-home arrangements are temporary and a full-on office isn’t realistic, try to create a dedicated workspace that allows you to focus while working from home.

Structure Your Day

Start with the time you know you’re the most productive and focused then establish your work hours around those times. That means setting and sticking to boundaries. This is critical to staying focused while working from home.

Let well-meaning family members and friends know that even though you’re home, you don’t have time for unlimited socializing. Instead, chat with them briefly during one of your breaks for a quick boost. And stay on schedule by truly working the hours you’ve dedicated to your job. For more advice, read up on how to talk to your friends and family about boundaries when you’re working at home.

While you’re working from home during the pandemic, you might have kids at home, too. Unfortunately, kids aren’t the best at respecting boundaries, even in the best of times. An age-appropriate conversation is a good place to start (‘I have to work’; ‘You have school or other activities to do’).

Limit Media Consumption

This is good advice for any time. It’s easy to get distracted by the constant influx of breaking news notifications, even on a slow news day. These days, though, it seems like something new is happening every few minutes.

Checking out what’s happened every time your phone beeps can divide your attention, making you a less productive worker. However, during the pandemic, these constant checks can also make you anxious, which, in turn, can make you lose focus on your work. To avoid these pitfalls (and maintain your mental well-being), try these tricks.

Set a Timer on Your Phone

While you are sitting at your desk, it can be tempting to pick up your phone—especially when it’s constantly pushing alerts at you.

To stop you from being distracted, set the timer on your phone for 90 minutes, turn off push notifications, and then put it out of sight.

Not only does the timer help structure your time, it is also a reminder that you’re not supposed to be looking at your phone.

Block Time-Wasting Sites

Now that you’ve blocked your phone don’t forget to block your browser, too. It’s tempting (and easy) to fritter the day away on your computer. So, use browser extensions to block yourself from social media, news sites, and anything else that will tempt you.

Just like on your phone, set a timer to unblock them during your breaks or after hours. Then, have them “re-block” those sites when it’s time to get to work.

Create a Calendar

If you don’t know what to focus on, how can you stay focused? Post a calendar in your home office so you can see what tasks you need to work on. The more organized this calendar is, the better.

Prioritize daily what work needs to get done for you to hit your deadlines and then write it down. You could use a whiteboard, a planner, or an online calendar.

The objective is to have a visual of what you need to focus on so that when your mind starts to wander, you see the list, and you get back to work.

Take Scheduled Breaks Often

Some people believe that every 90 minutes we need a break from our work. Staying focused while working from home can be tough because we don’t always the mental references that in-office workers have, like people leaving for lunch, grabbing coffee, etc. These breaks are just like you walking to the break room or stopping by someone’s office to chat.

Before your day starts, plan when you can take breaks based on your meeting calendar, workload, and priorities.

Stay Active

Physical activity is important, even if it’s just a quick walk. Lack of movement is not only bad for your body but also your mind, as it can cause your brain to become sluggish.

Frana says, “Don’t be afraid to schedule in a workout or some sort of movement in your day. This not only keeps us physically well but also allows for a mental refresh so we can maintain focus throughout our workday. This is hard to achieve when we don’t allow ourselves to take breaks to move during the day.”

So, take a brisk walk in the morning or walk the dog on your lunch break. Bad weather by you? Stream a workout for a quick 10-minute fitness boost, or even do some stretching. Your thoughts will become clearer, and it will help you to be more productive for the rest of the day.

Don’t Graze All Day

Just like you want to stay focused with your work productivity, you’ll also want to create boundaries with food intake. That said, you still have to eat. And, the advantage of working at home is that you can create your own fresh and healthy meals without relying solely on the microwave. Check out some of these simple and easy work-from-home meal ideas that even the most inexperienced home cooks can master.

Stay Focused, Stay Productive

You will get distracted from time to time, and that’s OK. Be easy on yourself. Staying focused while working from home can be a challenge, but with a little restructuring—and a little persistence—you can become more productive and effective. Incorporate these tips a little at a time, and you’ll see how much more you can get done during the day.

Source: flexjobs.com

Avoid These 11 Things When Giving Feedback to Employees
LinkedIn
woman on zoom meeting giving employee feedback to group

By Gina DeLapa

As a manager, you have the opportunity to inspire your team and bring out their best. One of the most powerful tools you have for this purpose may also be the one for which you received the least formal training: how to give constructive feedback—or how to give feedback, period.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to strengthen this skill. The more you practice, the better and more confident you will become. And you won’t have to wait years for your employees to notice and appreciate your efforts.

The first step is to make peace with the word “feedback.” Notice how often it has a negative tone. I have this theory that if feedback were always pleasant or helpful, we wouldn’t have to soften it with the word “constructive”—as in “Hey, can I give you some constructive feedback?”

Most people will head for the hills.

And while employee engagement also depends in part on positive feedback, it is not the realm where most managers and employees clash. So, let’s focus for now on how to turn the dreaded constructive feedback into an opportunity instead.

It starts with avoiding these 11 common pitfalls:

Pitfall #1: Escalating the conflict. Examples of how this happens: patronizing, digging up the past, or launching into a tirade. In the words of Groucho Marx, “If you speak when angry, you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

Pitfall #2: Tearing down the person. If you want the best chance of being heard and respected, stay focused on the issue—that means no criticizing the employee or generalizing the issue to their entire worth or existence.

It’s the difference between “Why are you so unreliable?” and “Help me understand the no-show to yesterday’s meeting.” Notice how the latter approach invites dialogue and communicates “We’re on the same team” (even if you’re not happy with the no-show at the meeting).

Pitfall #3: Overfocusing on the problem. Instead, move the conversation as quickly as possible to the desired solution. What is the conduct or performance standard you need to see instead? To put it more simply, “Don’t correct, redirect.” You’ll save time and let your employee save face.

Pitfall #4: Making it public. Show respect by taking the feedback behind closed doors. In fact, the more serious or sensitive the feedback, the more it helps to give the other person a say. Example: “Monique, I need to speak with you today for about 15 minutes. Would you prefer to meet right before lunch or right after?” Now you’ve shown Monique some respect and dignity by allowing her to choose her preferred time. It also ensures she’ll be in the best frame of mind.

And if the meeting is held in your office, make sure to silence your phone and remove any other distractions. (I once sat in my pastor’s office and watched the blobby, undulating screensaver on the computer screen behind his head. I don’t have words for how awkward that was.)

Pitfall #5: Ignoring context. Compassionate leaders know that the company holiday party, the team golf outing, or the employee’s birthday are not the time to get into sticky subjects.

Pitfall #6: Implicating the whole group. Example: One person on the team has a performance issue. Rather than issuing a group statement, hoping someone will take the hint, an astute leader takes it up with the individual.

Pitfall #7: Procrastination. The sooner you address someone’s performance, the sooner they can correct it—and the less damage it will do to the rest of the team.

Pitfall #8: Disregarding their own role. Courageous leaders ask questions like “Did I set out clear expectations?” and “Have I done my part to set the employee up for success?”

Pitfall #9: Ambushing the person receiving it. For example, everyone knows a performance review is not the place to bring up a new issue. Yet it happens all too often. The best leaders make sure their feedback is timely. They don’t simply “save up” and share it once a year.

Pitfall #10: Vagueness. Before you sit someone down to address an issue, get clear on the behavior you need to see instead. Make sure the other person is clear on what’s expected. Wherever possible, collaborate on a mutually agreeable outcome.

Pitfall #11: Ignoring consequences. Look for ways to build in accountability. What results are expected and by when? How will you know if the results have been achieved? What happens if they aren’t? (Shout-out to my mother who always lovingly enforced consequences with her four offspring.)

Finally, when you’ve done your part, promise yourself you won’t internalize your employee’s response. If they react poorly at first, let them simply have their reaction. What counts is what they do with the feedback after they’ve had a chance to take it in.

This is yet another way to show your strength and compassion as a manager. When you deliver constructive feedback with respect, you will be regarded not only as a leader, but a strong leader who expects the best from her team and gets it.

Gina DeLapa is the owner of Thriving Cultures LLC, which helps companies transform their culture so employees engage. Sign up for her tips on leadership and company culture by visiting GinaDeLapa.com.

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