Mentors Are Your Personal Board of Directors

As students return to school and the hot summer days of baseball, barbeques, water slides and vacation fade, we begin to feel the enticement of shifting directions. The wind whispers promises of cooler breezes, leaves transform to gold and the holidays are tiptoeing around the corner. Autumn is a wonderful time to revisit personal goals and evaluate where we are and what we can do to move forward.

No matter what age or what stage we’re at, we don’t have to reach for our aspirations alone. A software executive at General Electric said, “We tend to think of mentors purely in context of work, but work is just part of your whole life. You need mentors for each part of your life – who, together, represent a personal board of directors.”

By thinking “life,” not just career, we can expand our selection of mentors who serve as teachers, coaches, and guides into a board of directors that jointly oversees our personal growth. Here are some tips on choosing mentors and being a great protégé:

Find the Balance

Make a list of what is important to you like work, family, financial security, a new career, community, spirituality and hobbies. Have you placed too much emphasis on any one or two areas? Which area(s) do you need to spotlight and explore finding a mentor?

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Choose mentors wisely. Find someone who is committed to your connection, will invest time, doesn’t see you as a threat, and wants you to succeed. While we all appreciate hearing when we’re brilliant, be prepared for candid feedback, tough truths, and grueling learning lessons.

Surrounded by Winners

Mentors and protégés are people we can learn from and gain insight. It’s a two-way street. Look for and be a person that never compromises integrity, maintains professionalism, and displays intelligence.  Consider that character development includes mature accountable behavior. Winners are never afraid to ask anyone for help, especially when striving to enrich life. 

Mentors Aren’t Fairy Godmothers or Fathers

Over expectation is an acute problem and one of the reasons mentor/protégé relationships fail. Focus on your responsibility to learn new tasks, new thinking patterns, and new performance standards. Remember you are the captain of your dreams and the soldier of your goals.  

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Resolution Revolution

According to Wikipedia, the ancient Babylonians were the first to record kicking the year off with resolutions by making promises to their gods. The Romans continued the tradition by making promises to their god, Janus (for whom the month of January is named.) Making resolutions at the fresh start of a year continued during the medieval era and by, the end of the Great Depression about a quarter of American adults practiced the custom.

Surveys and studies confirm a very low success rate for those who set New Year’s resolutions. We often find the same people setting the same goals year after year and still failing. We browbeat ourselves and our peers with discouragement like, “Where’s your willpower? Toughen up, force yourself to do better!” We grit our teeth, tighten our spines and slug our way through the obligation. If we succeed, we are not always happy and sometimes find the success short-lived.

Habits and impulses do not change and are not conquered by determined resolutions, promises or bullying. When our commitments or goals feel like a fight or a battle, then we set ourselves up for internal hostility, conflict and loss.

Time for a revolution! Change the focus of force by “willpower” to “I will power.” Switch from “I won’t” to “I will.” Substitute the positive for the negative. Commit to a goal because you will find joy in the journey and love the reward.

Recognize that attaining a goal is a process of hard work. Face it and accept that when you try to change your ethics, a lifestyle or life-long habits, there are no miracles, quick fixes or phone applications that will get you an end result without effort and action.  

Soul search and know that your goal is truly your goal. Own it. Create your resolution by discerning whether it originates from your desire or someone else. Where does your choice come from and what pressures are giving rise to change? What good will result from sticking with a plan to succeed?

No matter what your goal, take small bites and chew slowly. Avoid the trap of working on all your issues with all your energy at once. Think Thoroughbred vs. Quarter Horse. A quarter horse mentality will expend too much effort in the first stretch, leaving you depleted and wishing you had paced yourself like a thoroughbred that has stamina and endurance to get to the finish line.

Timing is everything. When you are ready to make a commitment, you will find the desire, the strength and the “I will power” to take the steps needed that guide you to achievement. Fresh starts are not exclusive to a new year; they can begin anytime, anywhere, and any place, even today.

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

This Season’s Hottest Workplace Accessory

Trendy men and women are rocking a classic look this season.  Move over Dooney & Bourke, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton – health conscious employees in workplaces across the country have been spotted toting the Brown Paper Bag.

You’ve heard it before from a wide array of media sources; the brown bag lunch is one sizzling food trend.  What’s not to like?  Whether you pack your lunch in a paper bag, a sleek and stylish Laptop Bento box or an old school vintage lunch pail the benefits are more than Ho Ho Ho-Hum. You:

  • save money.
  • eat healthier.
  • save time on your lunch break.

Here is what the fashionable employee knows about successful and festive brown bag accessorizing:

Motivation

Set a goal that engages and looks good to you. Want to save money for Christmas gifts, vacation, college or clearing debts? Take off weight or improve your health? Perhaps your greatest desire is spending time in stress-busting activities like walking, reading or visiting the gym during your lunch break.

Commitment

When you are devoted to succeeding, nothing stands in your way. Write your goal on several sticky notes. Post the reminders where you’ll see them daily – bathroom mirror, car dash and at work. Photoshop a picture of you at your favorite vacation spot or college and hang it on the refrigerator, in your car and at your workplace.

Planning is Essential

Check out websites like Rose Reisman’s The Art of Living Well and MSN’s Money Take the Brown Bag Challenge for tips on planning ahead to avoid same day workday lunch prep.

Become an Apple Connoisseur  

Its pectin helps with cardiovascular and digestive health, may lower incidence of cancer, is high in potassium with no sodium and in its whole form is high in fiber slowing insulin response. There is a reason for the saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Purchase several varieties like Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith and my personal favorite Honeycrisp. Bring enough for coworkers and have an apple tasting.

Share

Remember when you were a kid and traded lunch items with classmates? Sharing makes packing lunch entertaining and interesting. It encourages coworkers to get on board and copy your trend setting style.

By the way, I’d love to see Jim Annis, CEO of The Applied Companies, walk into the office sporting a Mighty Mouse vintage lunch box. How fun is that? More importantly . . . I hear Gini Annis is a fabulous cook.

 

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Part 2:  A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Workplace Meltdowns

September 8, 2011 the GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck came to The Applied Companies. The melts truly are yummy and the sweet potato fries incredible! Staff, clients and friends enjoyed visiting and eating delicious comfort food.

Jack & Carol Eastwick waiting for their GourMelt goodies. 

Last week we posted part one of our two part series addressing common workplace scenarios that could trigger emotional meltdowns resulting in suffering, illness, and loss of joy and productivity. This week’s blog continues A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Workplace Meltdowns:

Mergers & Acquisitions
 
Usually served with a choice of take it or leave it. 

Employee: Try not to assume the worst. Be pro-active, flexible and grow with the transition. Maintain your value to the company. Be willing to learn new systems and educate yourself about the organization and its new directions. Talk to management about opportunities where you can use your skills and talents to move the company forward. 

Manager: Protect the company’s greatest asset – its people. Take responsibility for your team and their concerns. They want to be informed whether the news is good or bad. Communicate constantly and honestly. Maintain credibility. Treat employee’s well, help them deal with the changes and offer outside resources if needed. Create or obtain a due diligence checklist. Members can access merger and acquisition resources on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website.

Holiday Stress Express
  À la carte variety of anticipation featuring strained peers.

Employee: Share the importance or unimportance of holidays with your manager. Your manager should understand your expectations and those that are close to you. Let your manager know you have kids out of school, visiting relatives or out-of-town trips planned. Schedule time off in advance. Be respectful of coworker’s beliefs. 

Manager: Be close enough to your team to understand their expectations. Understand your employee’s distractions and help them focus on the job. Do employees need skills training in how to deal with heavier foot or Internet traffic? Do employees need refresher courses in how to deal with stressed clients who are feeling holiday pressures or have over indulged?

Written by Tom Miller, Director, Staffing & Recruiting Solutions and Susan Fix, Community Liaison Partner. Tom has over 30 years human resource, management and recruiting experience. Susan has 15 years staffing experience with a dash of social media.

Part 2:  A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Workplace Meltdowns

September 8, 2011 the GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck came to The Applied Companies. The melts truly are yummy and the sweet potato fries incredible! Staff, clients and friends enjoyed visiting and eating delicious comfort food.

Jack & Carol Eastwick waiting for their GourMelt goodies. 

Last week we posted part one of our two part series addressing common workplace scenarios that could trigger emotional meltdowns resulting in suffering, illness, and loss of joy and productivity. This week’s blog continues A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Workplace Meltdowns:

Mergers & Acquisitions
 
Usually served with a choice of take it or leave it. 

Employee: Try not to assume the worst. Be pro-active, flexible and grow with the transition. Maintain your value to the company. Be willing to learn new systems and educate yourself about the organization and its new directions. Talk to management about opportunities where you can use your skills and talents to move the company forward. 

Manager: Protect the company’s greatest asset – its people. Take responsibility for your team and their concerns. They want to be informed whether the news is good or bad. Communicate constantly and honestly. Maintain credibility. Treat employee’s well, help them deal with the changes and offer outside resources if needed. Create or obtain a due diligence checklist. Members can access merger and acquisition resources on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website.

Holiday Stress Express
  À la carte variety of anticipation featuring strained peers.

Employee: Share the importance or unimportance of holidays with your manager. Your manager should understand your expectations and those that are close to you. Let your manager know you have kids out of school, visiting relatives or out-of-town trips planned. Schedule time off in advance. Be respectful of coworker’s beliefs. 

Manager: Be close enough to your team to understand their expectations. Understand your employee’s distractions and help them focus on the job. Do employees need skills training in how to deal with heavier foot or Internet traffic? Do employees need refresher courses in how to deal with stressed clients who are feeling holiday pressures or have over indulged?

Written by Tom Miller, Director, Staffing & Recruiting Solutions and Susan Fix, Community Liaison Partner. Tom has over 30 years human resource, management and recruiting experience. Susan has 15 years staffing experience with a dash of social media.

Part 1: A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Workplace Meltdowns

The GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck is coming to The Applied Companies, September 8 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Please stop by, purchase lunch and visit with our staff. Those yummy melts of warm comfort makes a body feel good, an obvious contrast to emotional meltdowns that cause suffering, illness, and loss of joy and productivity. This week’s blog is the first part of a two part series:  A Menu of Five Scenarios with Tips to Avoid Meltdowns:

The Computer Failure
  Served with a side of fresh deadlines, a nonresponsive server and fried nerves.

Employee:  Take a deep breath. Ask yourself “When I’m 92 will this moment matter?” A few minutes reflection stops the cycling emotions and exasperation when circumstances are working against you. Share challenges with your manager and I.T. personnel. If the problem is central to your computer, are other computers or laptops available in the office? Can you work from a home computer until the issue is resolved?

Manager:  Empathize. Let employees know to get done what they can and that you understand their frustration. Help them determine priorities. Approach other managers on the employee’s behalf if needed. Pinpoint computer problem areas; is it an isolated one or does the whole system need an overhaul or update? Investigate how to alleviate reoccurring problems.

An Intelligence Transfer  (Commonly referred to as “Upgrade!”)
 Flambé medley of grilled conversions and toasted websites with software over-hard.
 Additional add-ons extra.

Employee:  Stay calm. It is common to have a little anxiety, as your usual work production will slow when habits are interrupted by changes. Have confidence in your ability to learn. Approach what you know with assurance and gather what you don’t know. Make a list of questions and ask the right resources for the answers. Offer to take classes to learn new software or how to operate a new website. Take copious notes and refer to them often while you create a new routine.

Manager:  Lead by example; stay calm. Ensure training is offered in advance of any conversion, including guidance on how to deal with annoyed clients. Help your talent focus on “learning mode” not on panic mode. Make sure the workload is spread out. Operate as a team. Know your team – their strengths and weaknesses – in order to target assignments appropriately. Reassure them; while you want them up to speed quickly, you understand there may be delays.

Burst in Business Bonanza
  A full plate of seasonal production piled high and dished up open-faced.

Employee: Approach increased work demands or seasonal industry fluctuations with a “can do” attitude. Ask questions. Learn. Keep yourself informed. Participate in company discussions. When appropriate, offer solutions for balancing workloads. Be committed to being part of the company’s success. Manage stress and take care of your health.

Manager: Keep your team posted on approximate influx dates. Have a plan in place to staff up using resources applicable to your needs. Can you utilize family, friends, interns, temporaries? Look into cloud computing for occasional spikes in website traffic. Surprise the team with random fun activities and healthy snack and/or lunch breaks.

“May a GourMelt grilled cheese sandwich be the only meltdown you experience.”  TAC Authors   See you next week for Part 2!

Written by Tom Miller, Director, Staffing & Recruiting Solutions and Susan Fix, Community Liaison Partner. Tom has over 30 years human resource, management and recruiting experience. Susan has 15 years staffing experience with a dash of social media.