Volume 1, No. 4
Dan Robertson, CM
The ability to lead comes naturally, doesn’t it?
Leaders are naturally born; they aren’t trained…right?
I don’t think leadership comes naturally.
Rather, I believe that leadership skills are developed and honed with each experience one has
in their day-to-day activities in dealing with people.
For this issue of MANAGE, I’d like to discuss “Leadership” with respect to the roles that countless
NMA members play as they serve as chapter leaders in their respective volunteer organizations.
Although I’ve already stated my opinion that leaders are
“developed” rather than born, I am sure there are others who could debate this subject and win.
But, let’s just assume that I am right. During the past three years, I have served in many NMA national “officer”
positions and have been able to attend several NMA Leadership Conferences.
There are three each year, one each in the Northeast/Southeast, the North Central/Southwest,
and the Pacific North/Pacific South. I have witnessed
these men and women grow professionally and personally by developing their skills as chapter leaders
in an all-volunteer organization. I have seen this
growth emerge from the time these leaders were merely starting out in their chapters and eventually
evolving from a position such as membership chair to a very confident chapter president.
I am convinced that their roles as chapter leaders required
much more than just stepping into the position and making it happen.
I would even wager that most had some struggles before they were effective leaders in their
assigned areas. The NMA truly provides a learning
laboratory for our members. It allows them to practice their leadership skills in a non-threatening
environment and it provides them with opportunities to practice their leadership skills that will
help them advance within their companies.
The things I notice most about NMA chapter leaders are
· Adaptability to Change
Conflict Resolution and Facilitation Abilities
First, what I notice about
in relationship to being outstanding chapters leaders is that they set goals and objectives and do
what they say they will do. They will follow-up with
their team after each major event or milestone and learn from mistakes and capitalize on successes.
Second, “Adaptability to Change” is where true leaders
excel. I have often witnessed things really going south
and starting to fail, but the leader who can adapt to change can make it all transparent to even the
most detail-oriented person. After all, at the end of
the day, success is measured by the outcome. If the
desired outcome is achieved, one can share these experiences and provide continuous improvement
plans and lessons learned.
Coaching is a vital ingredient to the success of any leader.
A leader must be able to coach their subordinates without stooping to intimidation and fear.
An effective coach educates, mentors and motivates his team while developing a team strategy
and game plan, accompanied by achievable goals and objectives.
The coach sets the foundation by creating an environment of understanding and trust, which
in-turn leads to outstanding ethical behavior by the team in applying business practices.
A good leader must also be able to deal with
Conflict Resolution and Facilitation. Often times, a team finds itself in a stressful atmosphere where it is pressured
to meet a guideline or some major milestone. The leader
must be able to deal with the conflict in a way that the team reaches an agreement or a consensus
and puts together a plan of action that allows everyone to reach a medium ground in order to get the
job accomplished. A leader must possess facilitation
skills to facilitate meetings and reduce the conflict between employees and other team members.
Above all, to fully utilize the skill sets of a good leader,
the leader must be able to adapt to variety of situations and must possesses effective
The leader must be able to adapt to any given situation and communicate effectively to ensure
trust, respect, loyalty and credibility and a motivated workforce.
So you want to be a leader?
You must develop the traits that comprise a leader - the coach, the mentor, the facilitator,
the change agent and the communicator. Still think
leaders are merely born? Ask any NMA member… or most
certainly, a chapter leader!
By Joe R. Limas
So you need to start a small group to take on that project the boss assigned you. The deadline is short, the task is difficult, and the budget is tight; there is no time to spare in getting it wrong and you have never led a group. Finding the necessary skilled people, that’s the easy part. So how are you going to get them all to get along?
To understand what a small group is, one must first understand what a group is and what its dynamics are. A crowd that is simply gathered at a bus or train station by default cannot be considered a group. Although a group is subject to the definition of its interpreter, it occurs at a higher level than just mere composition (e.g. size of the group). In one sense, a group can be defined as two or more persons who are interacting with one another to achieve a common goal or purpose toward a desired and shared outcome. From this perspective, groups may form for a common interest such as lobbying for a cause or to defeat a common foe. The group, whether it is formal or informal and independent of its size, usually embodies a leadership structure to separate it from a crowd. This structure could be as formal as elected officials (e.g. president, treasurer), or informal such as a non-elected spokesperson or leader. Further, leadership of the group should not be assumed to be linear as the members share the responsibility for overall group leadership.
The group in-turn provides its members with a level of acceptance, listens to its members' views, and provides a forum for the membership to express opinions consistent or at times dissenting from the group’s path or goals. A good example that exhibits all the basic ingredients of a group is the U.S. Congress. Within its hallowed halls members exhibit competitive, conciliatory, hidden agendas, dissention, and a host of other individual actions and behaviors; yet the Congress always seems to come together for the common good such as in times of national emergencies.
The definition above only begins to scratch the surface of a group. Let’s dig a little deeper. So far we’ve defined a group as being composed of two or more individuals each of whom has an independent personality, those individual personalities must mold themselves into a cohesive team working for a common goal. Within the group the members yield their personal agendas for the betterment of the whole. It is not necessary for individual members to agree in whole or in part with the decision of the group. Disagreement and dissention among group members is expected and is a normal path that all groups traverse. It is a healthy and necessary counterpoint that gives the group its balance. Although the members at times are working independent of each other, for the group to be effective, its goals and objectives must function as one. A sport such as football offers a good example of independence within a group. Take the instance of the quarterback and wide receiver that working independently of the other must perform competently for each to be successful; if either fails, then both fail.
Just because individuals are part of group and act on their own personality, it does not mean that they are defeating the purpose of the group. Groups have individual members that join and participate for many reasons. Even with the best of intentions at heart, some members have hidden agendas and actively support the group while attempting to achieve individualistic goals behind the scenes. Others are more overt and disrupt the group by introducing a competitive or combative atmosphere that violates trust, keeps information from others, and constantly perceives other members as competitors and not teammates. This works to disrupt the flow and ability of the group to achieve its purpose. Still others are open and genuinely share their views in a positive way that reinforces the goals or objectives of the group.
Cooperation is essential to building trust and the mindset that its sum is stronger and more capable than its individual parts by encouraging the exchange of ideas and open dialogue. For an effective and dynamic group to evolve, members must recognize the interdependence model exhibited by its members and find ways to deal with them for the overall good. Group members must interact, dissent, question, and support one another’s decisions in a way that is positive, that builds confidence and promotes the group’s success. The group must openly and honestly share information; communication is the key to successful interaction, and the lines must remain open with two-way dialogue for the group to function successfully.
The actions of a group are in a constant and dynamic mode because of its individualistic base, as its people and personalities change, so does the group. Change is commonplace and is reflected by the membership’s attitudes as they move from one position to the other. To keep a focused, positive, and stable environment for all members, groups must have a standard of behavior. Groups must behave in a predictable or consistent way that is based on the overall societal beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of its members. This behavior is known as Group Norms. To ensure that the group will be successful at its cause, its members must have a basic understanding and develop the interpersonal and social skills necessary to function within the group. The development and use of proper social skills such as providing positive feedback will promote a higher level of achievement for all members. Consequently, the group’s actions should network in a manner that collectively can achieve more than its individual parts acting alone could hope to do. From the heterogeneity of the individuals a homogeneous focused group should emerge. Authors Johnson & Johnson argue that it is far easier to destroy patterns of interaction than it is to develop them. Remember Rome was not built in a day.
Keep in mind that no group is perfect. The best way to assure that any will be effective, is for group members to
practice common courtesies among each other, support each other, encourage, and show trust and
support for each other’s abilities as individuals and members.
The group should be as diverse as possible to present differing opinions and experiences to
the group. Further, groups should promote an
environment that encourages openness and idea sharing among its members without the fear of ridicule
or reciprocity. Everyone has something to contribute;
the best course to chart is to listen to those individual’s ideas before discounting their worth or
discarding them as irrelevant.
The author has 20 years of management and leadership experience. He is Principal of the consulting firm Limas & Associates in Dallas, Texas, where he specializes in leadership/executive coaching, organizational change and behaviors, professional development, culture assessments, and process improvement. Mr. Limas holds two degrees in aeronautical science. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the University of Phoenix’s Organizational Management in Leadership program. He can be reached at email@example.com
by Marlene Chism
describe a new project to a trainee do they really understand your expectations or do they walk away
confused, foggy and unsure of your expectations? If you want to increase comprehension and avoid the
frustration associated with training new employees or implementing new processes, it’s important to
understand that everyone has different learning styles.
to David Lewis and James Greene in their book Thinking Better, there are basically two kinds
of learners: Stringers and Groupers. Stringers prefer a
systematic methodical approach with a careful plan of action and tend to build progressively with
what is known as ‘basement up learning.’ Stringers often overlook the broad concepts.
Conversely, Groupers have a learning style known as ‘top down’ and need to get the overall view before getting to the details. They enjoy looking for relationships and they excel at overall knowledge but are shaky with details.
With this in mind how should you approach training? By using the basic rules of presentation:
· Reveal the whole picture
· Explain the details
· Recap the process
Also known as ‘tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”
Reveal the Whole Picture
presentations begin with an overview—‘Tell ‘em what you’re
going to tell ‘em.’ By starting with the end in mind
you give your employee, (especially the grouper) a mental and verbal template or map.
It shows them where they are in relationship to the final destination.
For example, you want an employee to create a company newsletter to be sent to 500 employees. The tasks involved might be gathering information for the various parts of the
newsletter, entering employee information in a database and using mail merge to mail the
newsletters. Confusion results if this important step of revealing the whole picture is overlooked.
Not long ago I was visiting with a young married couple, friends of mine who are moving to Chicago as they advance their careers. Neil, a new college graduate is preparing to move up into middle management with a national retail firm. Neil dreads the training period because of his former experiences with on the job training. “They start in the middle of the project taking for granted that I know what they are talking about or that I have been trained in that particular area. I have no idea where they are going or how the parts of the job relate to each other.” Neil went on to explain how there was no order to the conversation and there seemed to be no effort in planning the discussion as to the overall view of the job and the steps to implementing the task. “If they would first show me the end result then I would at least have a mental map of where we are headed.” Now even the stringers can appreciate that as long as they know that you are getting to their favorite part: the details.
Explaining the details is the ‘Tell ‘em’ part of the presentation otherwise known as the body. Using the newsletter example, you might ask the employee if he is trained in using a database program and if so which one. What about mail merge? In other words, do an assessment and ask questions as to the expertise of the employee. Gather enough information to develop a customized training for that individual. Perhaps they don’t need extensive training but only need to know how to use mail merge. Use this time to pause and let them ask questions. The questions they ask will help you determine if what they need to know can be answered in the remainder of your presentation or if there are unforeseen issues you have failed to address.
If you are speaking to a Stringer, make sure she understands how particular details relate to the entire picture. When speaking to Grouper’s, be available to discuss the importance of being detail oriented and the impact of missed details on the entire picture. Now you are ready to recap the process.
Recap the process.
This is the wrap up, or the ‘Tell ‘em what you told ‘em’ part of the presentation that should have the two of you agreeing on the expectations, the process and the vision. This is a good place to recap briefly everything you have talked about, even addressing the questions that have been asked along the way. Then you will ask three most important questions; “
§ What are the requirements of this job?
§ Can you explain to me what I just explained to you?
§ How do the details relate to the overall requirements?
§ What training do you need before you can successfully meet these requirements?”
Listen to their explanation, with the intention of seeing if anything was missed.
Understanding the different learning styles and using good presentation skills helps create
order out of chaos as it empowers your employees to be successful at their assignments.
Marlene Chism is the president of ICARE Presentations in Springfield Missouri. She works with businesses that want to build strong business relationships and with people who want to be better communicators. She can be reached through the web at www.icareconsult.com
executive coach and corporate trainer, I am often asked how one should go about building-value based
relationships (coalitions) and why consistently building value-based relationships influences
positively exponentially how one is perceived within an organization.
My answer to the latter question is simple and direct. Human beings are social “animals”. Groupthink often applies rigorously.
We like to believe we are stoically independent thinkers considering others’ skills and agenda based on objective outcome and performance delivery. However, the reality is subjective and personal commentary made by others about who we are directly contributes to the extent of our individual power and influence within our organizations.
We consciously and subconsciously review, monitor and evaluate others often by what others have to say about the person(s) in our environment. The good news is subjective commentary about your performance and who you are can be influenced with practical, tactical strategies for building alliances, loyalties, and coalitions. Following are suggestions that if practiced every day will strengthen your coalitions one person at a time.
There is a positive correlation between the extent of personal influence
one has within an organization and the breadth/depth of his or her coalitions regardless of their
task-related performance outcomes. Practice the
preceding suggestions every day and you will be well on your way to winning the loyalty of others.
Cecilia M. Sheppard is a principal and executive coach with Corporate Training Solutions, Inc., an Atlanta-based training and career transitions firm to managers, executives, and other professionals seeking to gain results through influencing people. She can be contacted by telephone at 770.218.6727 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Terry Bragg
By Terry Bragg
You build your career on relationships—the right
relationships. A habit of aggravating people will
damage your career. Aggravate the wrong people and your
career is dead. Although this seems obvious, many people go to work (some even go through life)
thinking they can say or do whatever they want despite the impact they have on others.
You build your career on relationships—the right
relationships. A habit of aggravating people will
damage your career. Aggravate the wrong people and your
career is dead. Although this seems obvious, many people go to work (some even go through life)
thinking they can say or do whatever they want despite the impact they have on others.
A common mistake is believing that being “right” is all that matters.
Being right often gets in the
way of developing and maintaining “right” relationships.
You can be absolutely right in your conclusions and reasoning, and absolutely wrong in the
way you express and convey yourself. In relationships,
style matters as much as being right or wrong. Too
often, people who know they are right offend others with their bluntness, arrogance, and
For example, many times customer
service people focus on being right despite how it affects their relationship with their customer. They drive their customers away because they make the customers feel wrong.
Do you want to be right, or do you want your business to grow?
Offending others and damaging
relationships adversely affects your career. I believe
you can be honest without being brutal and cruel. You
can be tactful and diplomatic without sucking up to people.
You can be right without being offensive. You don’t have to aggravate other people to show how important you are.
For example, I know a middle
manager named Joe who complains about his stalled career. His career in a large corporation has
plateaued. Joe is bright and often gets into arguments
where he displays his intelligence by making other people wrong. Although he is very ambitious and
wants to move up the corporate ladder, he’s going nowhere.
Why? Because he aggravated many people in the
past, and he continues to aggravate people who could help or hinder his career.
In business, people have long memories.
Joe often laments his plight and
considers quitting and getting a job with another company.
What Joe doesn’t realize is that unless he changes his behavior so he doesn’t frequently
aggravate other people, things will be the same in any company that he works.
Changing jobs isn’t the solution; changing behavior is.
are some tips to help you avoid getting on the wrong side of people.
• Understand that other people affect your career.
Your success is more dependent upon your people skills than on your technical skills.
You advance your career by learning to influence others, not by bulldozing over people. If you aggravate other people, they will not be there to support when you need
• Treat everyone with respect.
Apply the Golden Rule. Some people try to show
how important they are by putting other people down.
This doesn’t work. Remember, people at the bottom of
the ladder may work their way up, and people at the top were once at lower levels.
You never know who can help or hurt your career.
So treat everyone with respect and dignity.
• Be tactful and diplomatic.
Realize that being right doesn’t justify being offensive.
Just because a “truth” pops into your head does not justify your expressing that truth
discourteously. Influence requires tact and grace.
Someone once said that diplomacy was the art of telling someone to go to hell in a way that
they look forward to the trip. Be honest, but be
tactful and diplomatic.
• Choose kindness and gentility.
If you have a choice between hurting someone and being kind, choose kindness.
• Develop your assertiveness skills.
Assertiveness is the ability to express and get your needs met while respecting the needs of
others. Aggressive people aggravate others because they
only care about themselves. Develop your assertive
communication skills so you can get what you really need without rolling over other people.
• Nurture your relationships.
Look at relationships as assets. Develop them by
helping other people get what they want. In networking,
the principle is “givers gain.” Those who invest in
their relationships gain from those relationships.
Caution: Don’t look for immediate gain, or a one-to-one
return. It doesn’t work that way.
Invest in your relationships without expectation and the return you get will surprise you.
Advance your career by
developing right relationships. Be careful who you
aggravate, and make sure you are aggravating them for the right reasons.
© 2003 All rights reserved, Terry Bragg, Peacemakers Training.
Free stuff: For a free copy of “Sixteen Surefire Ways to Damage and Destroy Your Work
Relationships,” fax your letterhead with your name, address, email address, and the words “DAMAGE
WORK RELATIONSHIPS” to 801-288-9303, or email the information to email@example.com.
Terry Bragg runs a company called Peacemakers Training in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the author of the book 31 Days to High Self-Esteem. He works with organizations to create a workplace where people want to work, and with managers who want their people to work together better. If you want your organization or your people to have more energy, more trust, more respect, and more meaning, please contact him at:
5485 South Chaparral Drive
Murray, Utah 84123
Web site: http://www.terrybragg.com
by Rebecca Barnett
Today there is a movement sweeping corporate
America, a return to the importance of values in leadership. Businesses’ growing interest in values is not
altogether altruistic. It is driven by an authentic
need to attract and use the talents of a shrinking and increasingly independent workforce.
For many companies, the effort to create meaning
at work grew out of repercussions of “rightsizing” which resulted in a dispirited and disloyal
workforce. Some believe values leadership is one more
program catering to the concerns of baby boomers. But
the boomers are not the only ones looking for meaningful work; the search for purpose is even more
pronounced for Generation X.
Hard bitten business veterans place values
leadership squarely into human resources “warm fuzzies” training.
But in the ongoing war for talent, values can become a powerful tool for recruitment and
retention. Company values can provide a common ground,
a foundation on which to work towards a shared purpose.
Employees come into your organization with their
values largely shaped, but companies can benefit by communicating their values and connecting them
to leadership. For Gen X, work may be the only place
they get values training.
As leaders we face the challenge of connecting
company values to a diverse workforce. To attract,
retain and motivate very different generations of workers, we must understand their unique
perspectives and the national events that shaped their values.
To maximize performance, the generations need to work together in harmony, bridging the
generational divide through shared values.
boom to bust
The baby boom began in 1946 when the World War II
veterans came home and lasted until 1964, when the birth rate began to decline.
There are 76.8 million baby boomers; an enormous population bulge which is still being
digested. The youngest of the boomers are just now
hitting their stride, turning 36 this year. They are at
their peak earning, power and parenting years. At age 56, the oldest of the boomers are entering
their pre-retirement years. Boomers in the middle are
facing empty nests and issues of maturation and mortality.
It is Generation X, born 1965-1978 with a
population of only 52.4 million that gives the boomers the most headaches.
The boomers complain that Gen Xers have no work ethic, are disloyal and self-centered.
We gripe that they expect to rocket to the top, to enjoy all the perks of power, money and
prestige without paying their dues. We whine that they
don’t respect their elders - then clap our hands over our mouths, amazed that we sound just like our
parents – amazed that we have become someone’s elders.
We smugly predict Gen X will morph into our boomer likeness once saddled with mortgages and family
obligations, just as the hippies turned yuppies in the 1980s.
Of course, people don’t fall into tidy categories.
They refuse to be neatly defined and packaged by the media.
Rather, the generations overlap. Even a few
years difference in birth date affects perceptions.
Attitudes wash over from one generation to the next.
The combination of maturing boomers, soon to start
retiring and the significantly smaller Gen X presents a dramatically shrinking workforce. When the
economy improves, the talent wars will continue for many years.
The Harvard Management Update predicts that U.S. labor markets will remain relatively tight
for the next 20 years. To recruit and retain the best of Gen X we must speak to and support
– working to live
Gen Xers are unwilling to sacrifice life and family
for a career. They are not willing to climb the
corporate ladder when they feel the rungs are crumbling.
They work to live, not live to work, valuing leisure time, recreation and family above career
success, promotions or transfers. A study by Gross and
Scott found that Gen Xers see little value in material possessions for which their parents worked,
preferring to spend more time with friends and family.
They would prefer to finish in second place if it meant having more time for recreation, travel and
This generation has a strong desire to balance work
and life for a better quality of life. They will push
for a compressed work week, flex-time, telecommuting, leaves and sabbaticals to juggle family
A September 2001 study, by Catalyst, of 1,300 Gen X
professionals asked which of the following values and goals were extremely important.
To have a loving family. 84%
To enjoy life. 79%
To obtain and share companionship with family and friends. 72%
To establish a relationship with a significant other. 72%
To have a variety of responsibilities. 22%
To earn a great deal of money. 21%
To become an influential leader. 16%
To become well known. 6%
Gen X demands interesting work and needs daily
praise and recognition. Since they don’t believe in
climbing the ladder, they want to make a difference from day one.
We must give them a tool kit of skills, offer up-to-date training to make them more
marketable during the next downturn.
We must tap into their talents and give them timely
and constructive feedback, including our expectations for a strong, consistent work ethic.
This doesn’t mean the boomers should pander to Gen Xers’ every passing fancy. It does mean treating them with less exasperation and more recognition that we
don’t have all of the answers. Boomer leaders sometimes become surrogate parents for Gen X – they respond by
becoming remarkably loyal to the leader but not to the company.
To attract and keep the best, regardless of their
generation, we must support their values. It is their
energy and commitment that gives your company a competitive edge.
It seems appropriate to give a Gen Xer the final
word. “My generation’s career goals are not necessarily
to rise within the company or to make the most money as has been the goal of previous generations.
Rather we have a goal to retire at a young age,” says Timothy Davis, 27.
“Although we grew up living in expensive homes and riding in nice cars, most of my co-workers
appear satisfied driving used cars and purchasing smaller homes. They take pride in the fact that they are making large contributions to their
401(k) plans. I see young professionals working long
hours, but they do it with an ending point in mind rather than with hopes for a promotion.
It is almost like we see our career as a band-aide and the quicker we pull it off, the less
painful it will be.”
A former executive at The Home Depot and The Limited, Rebecca Barnett is the author of Winning Without Losing Your Way, Character-Centered Leadership. She speaks to businesses on increasing productivity, morale and loyalty through character in leadership. She can be reached at (270) 843-6994 or online at www.winningyourway.com or Rebecca@winningyourway.com
(How to Have More Than Babble)
Steve Kaye, Ph.D.
It seems so easy. All you have
to do is connect everyone on a phone call. Then they can talk as if they were in the same room
and quickly reach agreements and make decisions. Unfortunately, if you have participated in
such a meeting you know that it doesn't work out quite that easily. The reason is that people
treat a teleconference like an ordinary phone call. Here is what to do to make sure that your
next teleconference ends with results.
First, realize that a teleconference is a meeting. And just like any meeting it will succeed best when preceded by planning. In fact, since this meeting occurs with the handicap of remote participants, extra planning is often necessary. Your planning should include:
1. Write out the goal for the meeting. Then call key participants to check if this goal makes sense to them. Collect their comments on how to best state the goal, what approach will maximize results, and what obstacles may hinder progress.
2. Prepare an agenda that describes the steps that you will take to achieve the goal. Keep the process simple, because complexity will ruin a teleconference. Also, keep the schedule short. In general, a teleconference should last less than thirty minutes. If you have many issues, plan different meetings to work on each of them.
3. Select the participants. In general, limit attendance to eight or fewer because large groups become unmanageable in a teleconference. Select only those people who can make significant contributions to the meeting. Avoid inviting people to attend just so they know what is going on. You can keep them informed by sending them a copy of the minutes.
4. Prepare materials for the meeting. This could include notes, data, spreadsheets, schematics, diagrams, or copies of presentation exhibits. Send copies of these to all the participants so they have them before the meeting.
5. Ask someone to serve as a meeting facilitator (or voice traffic controller). Explain the goal for your meeting and provide copies of the agenda and all meeting materials. Also, advise the facilitator on any special issues that could affect the outcome of the meeting. For example, tell the facilitator if someone opposes your plan.
Conducting the Meeting
Follow these steps to make sure that your meeting moves methodically toward the results that you want.
1. Begin by stating the goal for the meeting and reviewing the agenda. Thank the participants for attending.
2. Then ask each participant to give a very brief (10 seconds) self-introduction, stating name and location. This enrolls everyone into the call and lets everyone associate a name with the sound of the person's voice.
3. Use the facilitator to monitor voice traffic, take notes, and direct the meeting process. If possible, the facilitator can type notes into a discussion page that everyone can watch on the company's intranet or over the Internet. This mimics record keeping on a flip chart.
4. Follow the process or strategy that you planned when organizing the meeting. Avoid allowing a random discussion that leads to nothing. Use questions to focus the participant's attention to your issue followed by summaries to capture results. For example, you could ask, "What should we do about the new requirement for this project?" followed by "It seems that everyone agrees that we should extend the deadline by a week."
5. Use the notes and other materials that you sent to the participants. For example, you can lead the participants through an explanation by referring to supporting items, e.g. "The cost appears at the bottom of the second column in Table 2."
6. Write minutes to document agreements, decisions, and results. Publish these within a day after the meeting and use them to track progress on action items.
Effective Phone Usage
Establish rules for effective and respectful phone usage. This includes:
1. Use the handset (or a headset) instead of the speakerphone. A speakerphone, while sometimes useful, distorts your voice, picks up background sounds (like office equipment), and makes a poor impression on the listener. If you must have both hands free while you talk, obtain a headset. (note: It is more courteous to speak to people through the handset on all phone calls.)
2. Eliminate background noises such as radios, conversations, and office chatter. If necessary, request that participants participate from an empty office, close their doors, or ask their office mates to leave for the duration of the meeting. If someone is participating from home, that person may need to move children and pets into other rooms.
3. Pay attention to the meeting. Some people use the privacy of their office to start unproductive activities during the meeting. For example, some people may read their mail, surf the Internet, or press the mute button to carry on conversations. This effectively removes them from the meeting. Even worse, the other participants think this person is still there, paying attention.
4. Wait until the person speaking finishes before starting to talk. You can have the facilitator select the next speaker or establish a protocol where the speaker signals by saying, "Next" or "I'm Done" when finished. If this seems artificial, then you may find is useful to wait a second or so when you expect that someone has finished speaking before starting.
Teleconferences can provide an effective and efficient means of conducting a meeting. They allow participants, who may be separated by large distances, to gather without having to travel. Use the above techniques to make sure that your meetings earn a profit for your business.
Steve Kaye, Ph.D. assists with strategic planning and teaches leadership skills to produce measurable results. His book "The Manager's Pocket Guide to Effective Meetings" by HRD Press shows how to hold productive meetings. Call him at 714-528-1300, 888-421-1300, or check his web site at : www.stevekaye.com
it Time to Outsource your Business’ Human Resources Activities?
might be time to consider personnel management support for your business if:
got so much paperwork piled on your desk that the custom oak finish is a rumor
know the family histories of your office’s cleaning crew
3. Clients are looking on the back of milk cartons to find out if anybody’s seen you lately
employees tell you, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you” after hearing about your employee benefits
package during the job interview
juggling so many activities that you qualify as a circus sideshow
own family has come to expect the “good night” e-mail
Running your own business doesn’t have to be such a nightmarish experience.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you grow your business while
restoring balance in your personal life.
Outsourcing your business’ human resources functions to a Professional Employer
Organization (PEO) is one such strategy upon which owners of small and medium-size businesses
continue to rely. By delegating these responsibilities
to a PEO, entrepreneurs can focus on their core competencies -- knowing that trained professionals
are handling the administrative and HR activities that often keep you up late at night.
A growing number of small and medium-size businesses are forming a relationship with
a PEO to provide employees with HR benefits typically offered by Fortune 500 companies. These savvy entrepreneurs have found that hiring and retaining good employees is
made easier when a company can offer excellent medical and dental coverage, a 401(k) plan, life
insurance, an employee assistance program, credit union services, and several other benefits. PEOs also make it easier administratively to provide employees with great
benefits – by removing the hassle business owners used to face when constantly reviewing and
switching benefit plans.
addition, PEOs handle payroll processing, tax reports and deposits, personnel records, benefits
packages and help keep the business owner informed about changing personnel legislation. Also,
business owners’ employer-related liabilities are reduced because the PEO assumes many of those
Some PEO offerings are even more extensive. For example, Administaff, one of the
nation’s leading PEOs, provides professionals who write job descriptions, assist with pre-employment
testing, help develop personnel policies and offer professional development training.
Of course, business owners still control their company’s daily core operations and make all the strategic business decisions. With the help of a PEO, they just have more time and resources available to do both. A great combination indeed, especially if buying a sleeping bag for the office almost seemed like a reasonable business decision!
Does Outsourcing Make Sense for Your Business?
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), the PEO
industry’s national trade association, recommends that business owners ask themselves the following
questions when considering outsourcing personnel services to a PEO. How would you respond?
Is employee turnover a concern?
you like to offer improved employee benefits?
Do you ever worry that you are in full compliance with the law?
Would you like a single place to deal with the employer-related needs of your
Are you in a tight labor pool, one in which it is difficult to find good employees?
Is improving employee productivity a goal within your company?
you had difficulty with liability management?
Are you ever challenged with the complexity of payroll taxes and unemployment
Would you like to spend more time on profitable, core business issues and less time
managing human resource and personnel concerns?
Are you ready to take your business to the next level?
you answered “Yes” to at least half these questions, then you might want to consider consulting with
PEO industry is experiencing rapid growth. To select
the best PEO for your needs, be sure to do plenty of homework.
NAPEO offers the following guidelines to companies considering a relationship with a PEO:
your workplace to determine your human resource and risk management needs.
sure the PEO is capable of meeting your goals. Sales brochures and fancy proposals are easy to
print. Meet the people who will be serving you.
Check the firm's financial background; ask for banking and credit references. Ask the PEO to
demonstrate that payroll taxes and insurance premiums have been paid.
for client and professional references. Call them.
to see if the company is a member of NAPEO and/or is accredited by the Institute for the
Accreditation of Professional Employer Organizations (IAPEO).
IAPEO accreditation is a good indication of PEO industry standing and reliability.
6. Investigate the company’s administrative and risk management service competence. What experience and depth does the company’s internal staff have? Have any of the PEO’s senior staff been certified as a Certified Professional Employer Specialist (CPES) or other relevant professional designations?
how the employee benefits are funded. For example, are
they fully insured or partially self-funded? Who is the third party administrator or carrier? If
required in your state, is their TPA or carrier licensed?
how the employee benefits are tailored. Determine if they fit the needs of your employees.
the service agreement carefully. Are the respective parties’ responsibilities and liabilities
clearly laid out? What guarantees are provided? What provisions permit you or the PEO to cancel the
terms of the contract?
If your state requires a PEO to be licensed or registered, make sure the company you are
considering meets all such requirements. The following states currently require licensing or
registration: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.
For more information -- or before people start looking at milk cartons to discover
your whereabouts -- call NAPEO at 703-836-0466, or visit its web site at http://www.napeo.org/.
John Orth is Vice President of Sales for Administaff (NYSE: ASF), which serves as co-employer with more than 4,000 small business clients representing more than 68,000 worksite employees. To contact the nearest Administaff office, call 1-800-465-3800, or visit the company’s web site at www.administaff.com.
by Gary S. Shunk
parks in your parking spot.
A driver cuts you off in traffic.
Your co-worker doesn't have the documents you need in time for the big meeting.
Each of these events is the perfect trigger for anger, as they evoke a forceful energy from deep inside that has the power to hurt and destroy relationships.
When co-workers harbor anger towards each other, the company's success suffers. Angry employees distance themselves from one another, hampering communication and productivity. Before long the anger spreads throughout the organization, eroding trust and respect among the group. As the angry co-workers withdraw from the team, they often miss deadlines, causing the customer's trust in the organization to drop and ultimately the profits to plummet. It's a viscous cycle that plagues businesses daily.
Anger is a protective emotion. When there's a triggering event, such as the documents not being done in time for the meeting, you feel as if the other person has threatened your emotions or ego. That perceived threat causes an imbalance in your natural homeostasis, forcing an emotional force to well up inside. That emotional force is anger.
But anger has a definite and useful purpose. It says, "No," "Stop," "Cease," and it attempts to send the threat away by bringing a sense of control back to the situation. When we understand that, we can experience the other person's anger differently and not react to it, as that's when most communication breakdowns occur. You know the routine: One person gets angry and yells, and the other person gets angry and yells louder. They then withdraw from each other and refuse to speak, causing the trust in the relationship to break down. If the anger is not resolved, it affects other people in the organization, eventually destroying morale.
Before you let anger get the best of you and your co-workers, learn how to diffuse angry situations with tact and ease.
When Anger Rises in You
1. Understand the emotion and what is really happening.
If you feel yourself getting angry, realize that there's some sort of perceived threat in your environment. If someone cuts you off in traffic, it could be a threat to your safety. If a co-worker fails to complete an important part of your project, it may be a threat to your reputation. Whatever it is, acknowledge it and realize that you're either unsafe or that a breech of trust has occurred. Feel the energy welling up inside you. But instead of using that energy to act out with hostility, harness it so you can productively work to make a bad situation good.
For example, in the case of the co-worker not completing a document, you can use your anger to enlist the other person's help, thereby turning your anger into initiative. Channel your anger into the resolution rather than the problem. This does not mean that you should deny your feelings. By all means, let the other person know that you're upset. But rather than dwell on the negative event, focus on the positive solution and use your anger to keep the initiative going strong.
2. Accept your anger.
Once you pinpoint the underlying fear and take steps to fix the situation, you can accept your anger as a natural emotion. Realize that anger is not negative. Throughout the years people have perceived anger as an ugly and bad emotion, but all it's really doing is giving us information about a situation where we feel threatened. Because it's an aggressive emotion, we must be sure to turn that energy into an initiative. Anger is a tool that prompts you to fix a situation where something is not okay.
As you experience anger, be sure not to blame others for your emotions. When you blame someone, you're dependent on the other person. You're giving the other party power and rejecting your responsibility for your actions and emotions. Be responsible for your emotions and the positive outcomes you initiate.
When You Receive Anger from Others
1. Become an active listener.
If someone is
venting his or her anger at you, the last thing you want to say is, "Don't be angry." Such a
statement diminishes the other person's feelings and only makes matters worse. Instead, be an
active listener and validate the angry person's feelings. Ask
the angry person to explain his or her anger in detail and really listen to what the person says
without interrupting and without becoming defensive.
the angry person to explain his or her anger in detail and really listen to what the person says without interrupting and without becoming defensive.
For example, you may say, "I see that you're very upset about this right now. Why don't I give you 10 minutes to think the situation over, and then we can discuss how we can rectify it." This approach gives you and the other person time to prepare for damage control and to cool off. At the same time, it acknowledges the other person's feelings and leaves the angry person feeling validated.
2. Go into the situation with alternatives in mind.
At times, you may enter a situation knowing that your news or actions are going to anger the other person. When this happens, enter the interaction in a proactive state of mind rather than a reactive one. State the news and then be ready to immediately offer an alternative or a solution. Be careful, though. You don't want to offer too many options right away, because by doing so you are not validating the other person's anger, and he or she will tune you out. One option is plenty to start. After a cool-down period, you can both work towards other options if necessary.
Anger and Beyond
When the angry person and the one receiving the anger each do their part to work for resolution, they establish safety in the relationship and therefore trust. And when trust is in intact, people respect each other, they enjoy their interactions, and they feel safe and creative. With that creativity comes higher productivity and an increase to the company's bottom line.
About the author:
Gary S. Shunk is a consultant on human interaction. He serves closely held and family owned businesses around communications and relationship dynamics as well as conflict resolution. He can be reached at (213) 368-8484 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Barbara Hemphill
In the movie “The Net,” Sandra Bullock played
the role of a victim of identity theft. In fact, she was basically erased from the community.
Another woman consumed her identity, taking with it everything Sandra Bullock’s character had -
including her bank accounts, license and social security number, and even her home. It seems crazy
to think this could happen; after all it’s only a movie. But just as fairy tales can come true, so
can your worst nightmare. Theft of identity is happening at an alarming rate. Over 100,000 identity
theft complaints are filed each year.
Identity thieves work in various ways.
One of the most common is to open up a new credit card in your name, using your date of birth
and social security number. They rack up charges, don’t pay the bill and the delinquent account is
reported on your credit report. They can also change the mailing address so that your credit card
will be sent to a false address, giving them more time to make purchases, until you realize there is
a problem. They may also establish cellular phone services and bank accounts in your name, making
costly phone calls and writing bad checks.
Identity theft today is much more than losing your wallet full of cash.
You could lose your entire savings account. Some victims are stuck paying false loans and huge
credit card debt. At the very least victims will lose their good credit rating. Most people spend
endless hours trying to clear up security and financial problems that arise. This can be costly,
time consuming and causes enormous stress to the victim and their family.
Don’t wait to take actions to prevent identity theft. You can be
proactive in reducing your chances of becoming a victim using some simple strategies. Don’t put this
off – you can do it a little at a time and it’s easier than you think – and the irony, is that other
areas of managing your life will be more organized as well!
Here are some tips you can do right away.
Never give out your social security number to anyone – unless the agency requesting it can guarantee confidentiality.
Take your social security number off your Drivers license and checks.
Cancel and cut up unused or “extra” credit cards.
Check your credit card statements for any purchases that seem odd to you – keep track of what you buy!
Watch your phone bill, cable bill, internet bill, etc., for any increase in charges.
If your credit card bill is late or you suspect it is lost, call the credit card issuer immediately.
Check with your creditors on their policy for stolen cards or fraudulently accessed accounts. (You could be liable!)
Mail bills from the post office or official postal box instead of your home.
Keep important documents, (passport, birth certificate, stocks, savings accounts), locked in a safe or file drawer.
Shred old bank and credit card statements, making sure account numbers, passwords, and addresses are unreadable before discarding.
THINK about what you are throwing in the trash. Assume anyone can and will go through it after it leaves your home!
Keep a written record or photo copy (locked away) of the contents of your wallet or purse. Don’t carry your wallet with you when it is not necessary.
Create passwords that make sense to you but are not the usual birth date, anniversary, pet or maiden name.
It is helpful to check your credit report annually as well. You
should request this information from all three credit agencies (TransUnion (800) 888-4213; Experian
(888) 397-3742; Equifax (800) 685-1111) and verify that the information they give you is correct.
Unfortunately, even with extra effort, identity theft can still
happen. We trust total strangers with our personal information everyday – applying for a car loan or
mortgage – writing a check – patient care at a hospital – even stamped on our children’s back pack!
It would be ludicrous for us not to give out this information from time to time, but knowing where
we give it out and to whom is helpful. The key to quick recovery from such a disaster is to notice
it quickly and take immediate action. Here’s what to do if you think you may be a victim of this
Contact the fraud department of all three credit agencies (listed above) and report your findings.
Call your financial institutions or creditors for any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened and close these accounts.
Report the identity theft to the police. Get a copy of the police report to give to your creditors for proof of the crime.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-ID-THEFT, (www.consumer.gov/idtheft.com).
© 2002, Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger’s Taming the Paper
Tiger series and co-author of the new book “Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever.”
Her company, located in Raleigh, NC, assists individuals, families, and organizations to
create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives.
She can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at
This article may be reprinted in its entirety with the inclusion of the credits above.
The cost of a college education has been steadily increasing over the years. The College Board’s most recent calculations show that, on average, an on-campus student at a four-year private college paid almost $26,000 last year.
To help parents, and grandparents, meet this mounting challenge, almost every state now offers a Section 529 plan that encourages investing for higher-education expenses by offering significant tax- and estate-planning advantages. However, the tax law changes that went into effect in 2002 made these plans even more attractive.
What Are They?
State-sponsored college savings plans, known as Section 529 plans, help families save and invest for college tuition, room and board, and other related expenses. Although all 529 plans enjoy the same federal tax advantages, each state’s program offers different investment options, features and potential state tax advantages, so you’ll need to evaluate each state program to find one which best suits your needs.
Previously, the assets in these plans could grow tax-deferred and were generally taxed at the child’s rate when withdrawn for qualified higher-education expenses. But now the earnings are free from federal income tax when withdrawn for qualified-higher education expenses. Most states also exempt the earnings from state taxation.
Section 529 plans allow you to contribute periodically or make a one-time contribution. Each state sets a maximum contribution level, often a significant amount. For example, Maine’s plan allows a maximum lifetime contribution of $250,000.
anyone can contribute to a Section 529 plan, with no restrictions on income level or age.
Most plans have no residency requirements and are open to anyone in the United States.
You can open an account for a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or close family friend,
regardless of the age of the beneficiary.
People saving through 529 plans can use the assets at any accredited post-secondary school, including private colleges and universities, as well as for public institutions, vocational schools, and graduate and post-graduate schools, such as medical schools.
require investment management and administration, so states often select financial firms to manage
their programs. Often, contributions are invested in
portfolios of investments that range from conservative to aggressive.
Because assets invested in Section 529 plans can only be moved between plans once every 12
months, you should make sure that the plan you choose offers flexible investment choices.
An Attractive Gifting Program
Section 529 plans also provide an attractive estate-planning advantage. They offer parents and grandparents the ability to gift large amounts that are immediately removed from their estate, reducing their taxable estate while letting them retain control of the assets. Also, contributions to a 529 plan are considered completed gifts.
Under a special gift tax rule, you can contribute up to $55,000 per beneficiary in a single year ($110,000 for a married couple) as long as you make no further gifts to the beneficiary over the next five-year period. This limit is five times the amount allowed under the existing $11,000-a-year federal tax-free gift exclusion.
participant or account owner of a Section 529 plan, you retain control over the assets.
You can change beneficiaries or even take back the money if you choose, paying income tax and
a 10% additional tax on earnings only. This is a
significant advantage over UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts as any contributions made to custodial
accounts are irrevocable, and the child controls the assets at your state’s age of majority.
Start Planning Today
There’s no way of knowing whether your child, grandchild or other beneficiary will attend college. However, Section 529 plans allow for some flexibility.
If your beneficiary delays a decision about college, you can leave the money in the account to grow. Also, if the designated beneficiary decides not to go to college, you can name another “member of the family” as the designated beneficiary.
You can also take a nonqualified withdrawal from the account at any time, but you will owe regular income taxes and a 10% additional tax on the earnings only. The additional tax does not apply if the designated beneficiary receives a scholarship (for withdrawals that do not exceed the amount of the scholarship) or in the event of the beneficiary’s death or disability.
education may be in the future for your children, grandchildren or other loved ones, talk with your
financial advisor about participating in a Section 529 plan.
1. Before investing in a 529 plan, investors should consider the state tax or other benefits, if any, available for contributions to a plan offered by the state in which they reside or pay taxes.
2. Unless extended, this provision will expire after December 31, 2010, and the laws in effect prior to the effective date of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 will apply.
3. Institutions must be eligible to
participate in federal student financial-aid programs.
Some foreign institutions are also eligible.
Doris Meister is the head of Private Wealth Management and Chairman of Merrill Lynch Trust Company.
E. Kearney, Ph.D.
time-consuming and, therefore, costly when it occurs on the job. Yet, there are ways to
resolve conflict, and when the 26 steps which we will discuss are put into use, it is
possible to recognize the signs and sources of conflict and also successfully manage differences.
Let’s begin with the Upside Communication Triangle.
When the steps of the triangular pattern are followed, it is possible to reduce, if not
ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED
THE PARTY WHO IS NOT MAKING THE STATMENT NEEDS TO CONFIRM OR AGREE
THAT THE ISSUES IDENTIFIED ARE THE REAL ISSUES
ASK FOR CONFIRMATION
SECURE THE CONFIRMATION (A NODDING HEAD IS NOT ENOUGH)
ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS, SOLUTIONS
OR APPROPRIATE CHANGES
ACKNOWLEDGE THE SUGGESTIONS
AND AGREEMENT (OR BEGIN AGAIN)
SELECT FROM THE SUGGESTIONS
SECURE AGREEMENT ON THE
DETERMINE THE TIME FRAME
SET UP CHECK POINTS
Steps Two, Three, and Four: It
isn’t always words that trigger conflict, it may well be tone, inflection, and even body language.
The poet, Robert Burns gave an important message when he said, “Oh, the power o giftie give
us to see ourselves as others see us.”
We send non-verbal messages all the time, and then sometimes wonder why what we say seems to
have a far different impact than that intended.
For example, a loud voice to some means anger and
rolling eyes are used by many to convey doubt, while crossed arms may well be translated as
turned off or hostile. So, monitor and control your tone, inflection and body language.
Concentrate on what’s being said.
We’ve all met, or even been, the person whose attention wanders.
Information is lost, and it is either necessary to pretend you heard (and possibly act in a
way that will trigger conflict) or ask the other person to repeat what was said thereby risking
irritating the individual who now knows you weren’t listening.
Steps Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven: Each of us functions according to our personal value system, and when your values and those of the other person are in sharp contrast, there may well be conflict. It is, therefore, important to be aware of what is important to the other person. The priority level each person gives to Research, Beauty, Affluence, Structure, Interaction, and Control may well result in conflict with another’s. For example, if structure is very important to me, and far less important to you, then we may well upset each other – my report is too vague or yours is too long and drawn out, or if we are very alike in “control,” we may both fight for it or both avoid making decisions. The interesting part about this issue, is that if you “tune in,” it doesn’t take long to see where the other person’s priorities are.
Use the Upside Down Triangle, if necessary, to commit to common
Steps Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen:
Commit to achieving common goals, sharing
skills and knowledge, and sharing resources.
Steps Sixteen and Seventeen:
Focus on issues, not people, and don’t make statements that imply
that there is something wrong with the person when the problem is the work.
Name calling is a child’s way of dealing with what he/she can’t articulate well.
Adults should be able to focus on the issue at hand, and, if necessary, serve as a mentor for
the other person.
Ensure that both process and results are considered important.
Steps Nineteen and Twenty:
Create a non-threatening, non-competitive working environment and
work to ensure that there is both collaboration and cooperation.
Steps Twenty-One and Twenty-Two:
Ensure good interaction with other departments and teams, and commit to achieving common goals.
Steps Twenty-Three and Twenty-Four:
Don’t fall into a “paralysis trap” by
losing sight of the problem or repeating a past that didn’t work.
Steps Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six:
Don’t focus on what’s wrong.
Instead be open to new ideas and approach them creatively.
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is consider the above steps and identify
those you use now. Then determine the process you will
use to begin using the others. Remember, if you only make one change, the “dance step” has to change and conflicts
Elizabeth Kearney, Ph.D., the founder of Kearney & Associates: The Experts’ Alliance, has authored
some 16 books and over 200 magazine articles. Three of her books were Fortune Book-of-the-Month
selections and another was selected by the American Library Association as the outstanding reference
book for the year of its publication. This Johns Hopkins Fellow founded her company in 1983 to
provide custom training and consulting services to clients such as Lockheed, Xerox, Borg Warner, and
NASA as well as mid-sized companies. As a way of
providing her clients more training flexibility, she established Leadership University with its
Just-in-Time Training programs to augment or substitute for classroom offerings by utilizing
streaming video; interactive, self-scoring testing tools; phone coaching; and voice-over CD slide
shows. She can be reached at P.O. Box 1090, San
Leandro, CA 94577, Phone: 510 614 89682; email:
email@example.com, and you are invited to visit her web