8 Easy Ways to Encourage Introverted Employees to Engage

Show respect, be considerate, and encourage participation

Your more introverted team members willSometimes it’s like working with Eeyore.

You are trying your best to be friendly to that introverted coworker..to include him or her in teambuilding activities, to invite him to lunch, or to consider her opinion on projects.  But no matter what you try, they seem to prefer working alone, and can come across as moody. Why bother?  Before you throw in the towel, try these tips:

Consider his/her personality. Some people are just naturally more cautious, private and contemplative. This doesn’t mean they are a full-fledge Eeyore. They simply aren’t going to jump into activities right away and don’t mind–in fact even enjoy–being loners. Be careful about demanding they participate in all team initiatives with the same enthusiasm your outgoing team members will display.

Use variety. Don’t always default to high energy team building activities or require full participation all the time. Keep some initiatives low-key. For example, try this activity using a puzzle.

Talk one-on-one. When you can, spend some time with this team member in private and ask his or her advice or feedback on a project.

Avoid praising publicly. Some quieter team members hate to be publicly praised. Find what works for them–a thank you note or gift card left on their desk is appreciated more than having to get up in front of a crowd to accept a bouquet of flowers.

Don’t put him on the spot. You might think it is best to ask them, “Drew, what do you think of this?” but this may backfire on you. Again, talk privately, as in, “Drew, I think you may have a good idea about what we talked about at the meeting earlier. What do you think?”

Establish some expectations. While you don’t want to alienate these folks, don’t let them control your efforts either. From time to time, there will be required events for the entire team and as a leader, you may have to be firm about expecting participation.

Be considerate of personal time. Some employees are resistant to activities that cut into “their” time even if most perceive it will be fun. For example, I know of people who didn’t care to do an overnight retreat even though it was at a great location and costs were covered.  Since you don’t know the personal life of all your employees, avoid making “off time” events required. In turn, you may talk with the employee about an agreement that if you don’t require them to attend off hours functions, you would like to see their full participation in activities/initiatives that do fall within their normal work time.

Be sensitive to workloads. Some team building activities/meetings are seen as an unnecessary interruptions to an already heavy workload. Don’t add more stress by ill-timed meetings. There are other ways to show appreciation and build teamwork during especially heavy seasons.

In the end, as the leader, you will have to determine if this employee’s resistance is something you can work with or not. Being a team player is important, but having some grace with your employees is, too.

Is Your Computer Clean?

A guest post with a helpful cleaning calendar

SingleHop_Calendar

Today we welcome a guest post from Rick Talaver of SingleHop. Thanks Rick for submitting helpful content for my readers.

When was the last time you cleaned your computer. A week ago? A month ago? A year ago? For some people just the prospect of cleaning out their computer can be exhausting. They wait until their files are impossible to find, or worse – their computer becomes virtually unusable due to the extra glut of old files. If you’re one of those people, never fear! Here is an easy, 5-step guide to keeping your computer clutter free:

Delete

  • First and foremost, remove applications from your desktop that you never use.
  • Do a quick scan of your desktop and get rid of those programs. Not only are they taking up space where you can see it, but they’re also slowing down your computer by using hard drive space.

Organize

  • Create an easy-to-use system to organize your computer’s folders and stick to it!
  • Use the system to organize everything from your downloads, to your pictures, to your documents.
  • Make sure this system is easy for you to use. The easier it is for you to organize, the easier it’ll be for you to stick with it.

Protect

  • Make sure your virus scan products are up-to-date.  If your computer is not secure, anyone could gain remote access to your files or the data that you submit or store on your system, like credit card information.
  • Confirm that all of your current applications and programs are up-to-date to prevent hackers from exposing old security loopholes and, if necessary, invest in additional virus protection.

Back-up

  • Regular file backups prevent you from losing all of your important files in the event that your computer crashes, saving not only your most valuable files but also the time it’ll take to restore your computer once it’s fixed.
    • Make sure your backup plan follows the three cardinal backup rules: backup securely, redundantly, and reliably.
    • External hard drives are tried-and-true options in terms of redundancy and security, but have the risk to malfunction or break over time, which makes them a less reliable option.
    • An option like a hosted private cloud covers all of the cardinal backup rules. As a bonus, cloud storage is also incredibly accessible, allowing you to add, edit and access all of your important files from any computer.

Prioritize

  • Finally, prioritize what’s important by deleting files you know you’ll never access again, keeping files you use regularly on your hard drive, and uploading those files you need to save, but not necessarily access on a daily basis, to the storage option you chose.

All of these steps are covered in SingleHop’s three week “Clean Computer Calendar” with easy day-by-day steps (see above.)A  SingleHop is a cloud computing company that focuses on complete security of your data and wants to help you accomplish your organizational goals.  Each week on the calendar is paired with a theme and has questions to compliment your organization efforts.  If you want to declutter your computer and declutter your mind, this is a great guide to follow.

Pointers for Professionals: Tips for preparing for a trip

Getting ready at work before you take your vacation

Relax

Some of you are looking forward to a vacation that’s coming soon.

Others of you can’t wait to go on another one.

Whenever your next trip happens to be, it takes some work–at work–to properly plan to take a vacation.  Here are some tips from professionals like you!

Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting   makes sure all her deadlines have been met and looks into what may be coming up to see if she can make a jump start. She also sets her email to respond with when she will return and if she plans on checking her emails etc. Connect with Jessica.

Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com shares that since she does client work, she makes sure her clients have plenty of prior notice that she will be going on vacation. While I do handle some work while on vacation, she makes sure that she completes any project work before she leaves.  Connect with Meredith.

Lori Schofer  (@LoriSchofer) of Level UP Now Coaching advises to delegate everything you can well in advance of your vacation. Be sure the major responsibilities are covered and communicate that to your boss.  Connect with Lori.

And a few from yours truly:

  • Since my tasks are established in Outlook and assigned to certain days (whether standalone or recurring) I can look ahead for days I’ll be gone and try to do some things that I could work on ahead of time. I love to return to a zero task list that picks up with the day I’m back to work.
  • Consider what tasks could simply be suspended altogether while you are gone. There are some things (i.e. office supply ordering) that don’t really have to be done EVERY week.
  • Try to truly unplug–or at least be hard to reach. Being a little less available may help coworkers and bosses stand on their own feet while you’re gone for a few days. Sometimes our penchant for checking in is really a cover for the security of feeling irreplaceable (or wanting to feel indispensible.) Life–and work–will go on while you’re out!

Also, you may want to check out this great post, The Go-to Strategies to Prepare Yourself the Week Before Vacation.

Whether you have a trip coming soon, or are already planning your next vacation, I hope it’s refreshing and restorative.

Thanks again to our contributors to this collaborative post. Pointers for Professionals will be on hiatus now until the fall. Watch for your opportunity to contribute again later this year!

Now you: What’s your best tip for preparing at work before going on a vacation?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

10 Tips to Help You Need Less Sick Time

Take care of yourself!

Cough. Sore throat. Low-grade fever. Should you go to work?

Let’s face it. Nearly everyone gets sick here and there and needs to take a sick day from their job (or allow themselves a low-key day if they run a business from home.)

But there are things you can do to boost your immune system to reduce the need for sick time in the first place. Here are a few tips, many of which have been working for me. (Please note…I am not a medical professional so please always consider your unique makeup, advice from your health care provider, etc. before adopting a regimen.)

Sleep and rest. Find out what you need in terms of hours per night and block off that time more nights than not. Take a day off each week from your regular routine of “rush rush get things done” and take a nap if you can. The world will survive.

Consider using essential oils. I use oils from a variety of manufacturers. I diffuse some in the bedroom at night and we also apply topically. There is lots of information on this…research for yourself. (I don’t sell them directly, but have added some of my favorites to my Amazon store.)

Eat an 80/20 diet (as in 80% whole foods and 20% processed, not 80% fast food and 20% dessert.) Unless you are ultra-disciplined, you probably can’t avoid processed foods altogether. It actually seems to work better for me to have some processed foods once in a while. But over time my diet has become more and more whole food based and I haven’t seemed to get sick much. I’m a regular subscriber to Blue Apron boxes, which allows me to get more whole foods into my diet. (If you are interested in a free box, contact me.)

Drink a lot of water. Start carrying water everywhere you go and sip throughout the day. My son gave me a fantastic flask for my birthday.  This is the BEST flask I’ve ever carried. It amazes me how the water stays cold all day even if it’s been sitting in a hot vehicle. It’s my go-to flask to keep by my bed at night so I have refreshing water to drink when I first get up, and to leave in the car to sip on throughout the day. (Interested? It’s in the Amazon store too.)

Consider taking supplements. I’m becoming more of a believer in getting your vitamins from food first, but I’ve taken some sort of supplements for years as well. Find what works for you…it may take some experimenting, but it can cooperate with a healthy eating plan.

Get probiotics in. I take a probiotic supplement every night before going to bed, plus use Kefif and Greek yogurt regularly. Studies have shown the value of good “gut bacteria” and I don’t seem to get sick very much since doing starting this regimen.

Exercise. Right now, I track steps daily and find that this is a good way to get in exercise rather than having formal, intensive workout plans. I’m also trying to stand more often during the day. Exercise has lots of benefits, including boosting your mood and immune system.

Develop a thankful and generous spirit. Sometimes I’m around people who have an “Eeyore” mentality and don’t even realize it. Their words, body language, and expressions give off a spirit of frustration, sadness, etc. I’m not discounting emotional issues that need to be dealt with. But in general, if we realize how very much we have, instead of what we feel entitled to, we can become happier, and possibly healthier.

Feed your spiritual life. Spend time to build your faith and realize life is much bigger than just about you. A widened perspective can energize us to diminish focus on not feeling so well.

Get help–and take that sick day–when you need it. Whether it be medical, emotional, or educational help or coaching to help you go forward positively–realize when it may be time to bring in a professional.  For example, I’m on the board for Life In Abundance that offers biblical-based counseling and coaching. I also provide services as a virtual assistant/consultant to help you stay on track with projects and business plans and alleviate some of your stress! And, if you feel sick, take a sick day!

A few healthy habits can help toward building your immune system and perhaps reduce the number of sick days you need to take. And employers, the following infographic from Sure Payroll shows YOU why it’s wise to offer paid sick time to your team.

Now you: What steps do you take to keep your immune system stronger?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

What I’d Look for in a Social Media Manager

A fictional job description for a real-life challenge

CA-social media.jpgTo begin…a personal confession: I’ve been on social media for about 7 years now. It’s a way of life for many–it certainly is part of mine and my business. But it has also probably been the single biggest contributor to my struggles with anxiety. Without going into lots of detail, suffice to say that certain posts or topics have the possibility of  “triggering” my mind to go down into worrisome, unsettled, and unhappy paths.

While knowing social media is not good for me all the time, I love parts of it. The lively and respectful conversations. The helpful hints. Praises for local businesses. Learning about fun activities. Being able to greet someone in person a little more warmly because I recently saw their post on social media. Trying to be an encourager of others. And, using it both for my own business and for those I support in business. So, I’ll not leaving it any time soon.

So what’s this professional–and human being–supposed to do? How do I balance the good with the not so good?

I’ve decided to start by creating a job description for a “social media manager”–for Beth Beutler. What would I look for if I were hiring someone to do my social media for me?

 

Title: Personal Social Media Manager

Objective: to use the tool of social media to improve the lives of readers, specifically overwhelmed professionals

Skills and attitudes desired:

  • Creativity
  • Writing skills
  • Ability to maintain objective distance
  • Positive outlook
  • Desire to Collaborate and build friendly relationships
  • Focused, able to control distractions

Specific roles/anti-roles

Dialog prompter, but not cultural commentator: Shares thought-provoking questions that are not directly related to whatever the latest trending gossip is.

Helper, not savior: Shares items that can be of service, primarily to overwhelmed professionals, but also to people in general. Does not feel the need to encourage every person who expresses a need or a prayer request, yet does provide support at times.

Boundary keeper, not nosy Nellie: does not click on links that she knows cover topics that will make her depressed, angry, scared, or nervous, or otherwise fall into negative emotion. Refuses to engage in pointless dialog where each side is very set in their ways.

Bearer of good news/not complainer: makes a point to share positive observations and news and rarely uses social media to whine or complain

Positive influence, not political strategist: generally refrains from sharing her political opinion but uses the energy instead to see good in our country and pray for our country’s leaders

Self-indulgent, not selfie-indulgent: has fun sharing occasional updates of her activities or even her photo, but keeps the ratio of selfies to a degree where “less is more.”

Bridge–not wall–builder: Considers each post’s ability to build, rather than tear down relationships and people and to connect people to other people and services and information that would truly benefit or bless them.

Implementer not infuser: carries out client’s wishes for their social media without feeling the need to absorb all that information into her own thought processes.

Specific Duties

Create meaningful, entertaining, and friendly content.

Filter all posts through the following criteria before posting:

  1. Will this post contribute toward positive relationships?
  2. Will this post invite healthy dialog even if people disagree?
  3. Is the information to be shared true/verified?
  4. Have I shared too many posts already today?
  5. Is there a reasonable balance of what I’ve shared about my personal life vs. what can be helpful to others?

And other duties as assigned. :)

Most job descriptions are fluid, as is this one. But I like where my mind is headed on this.

Now you: What would you want in a social media manager for your personal social media channels?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

An A-to-Z List of Important Character Traits for the Workplace

How would you like to be described by your coworkers?

if i asked

 

If I asked one of your coworkers to describe you at work, what words would they use?

Would they be words like these, which come from several of my Facebook friends as well as my own thoughts?

A – Affable, attentive

B – Benevolent, balanced, brave

C – Considerate, caring, customer-oriented, character driven, creative

D – Diligent, dedicated, dependable, detail-oriented

E – Efficient, excellent, eager

F – Flexible, friendly, fun

G – Gracious, genuine, goal-oriented

H – Hard-working, honest

I –  Integrity motivatedCA-ABC.jpg

J – Joyful, just, judicious

K – Kind, keen

L – Listener, loyal, leader

M – Meticulous, mindful, mighty

N – Nurturing, neat

O – Organized, optimistic, obliging

P – Persevering, professional

Q – Quality-motivated, qualified, quiet

R – Reliable, respectful

S – Servant-leader, skilled

T – Trainable, trustworthy, thorough

U – Understanding, uplifting, ubiquitous (available)

V – Visionary, Value-driven

W – Willing, wise, watchful

X – Xenial (hospitable, especially to visitors)

Y – Young-at-heart, yearning

Z – Zealous, zany

Question: Now you: What would you add to the list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Four Ways Criticism is Good for You

Not fun, but good

Receiving an insult

CA-criticism

I still remember being called into the Dean’s office in college.

This goody-two-shoe gal, who rarely got in trouble, was being scolded by the Dean of Women for gossip.

It isn’t fun to be called on the carpet–criticized for how you behave. Even smaller criticisms can zap the energy from your day–that snide comment you overheard about how you handled the project or that email from a disgruntled customer. We’ve all experienced it, and if you are in any position of leadership or influence, you’d better be prepared for a higher dose of it than some.

But criticism can actually be good for you–if you handle it right. Here’s why.

Criticism humbles you. Pride is a dangerous thing. On the one hand, being appropriately pleased at a project you have accomplished or something someone you supervise has done can be a healthy element of team building. But thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to can lead to bad feelings and embarrassment eventually. Criticism can be a helpful early warning sign that you think too much of yourself while others don’t feel the same way.

Criticism might contain some truth. Yes, some criticism is completely unreasonable. But most “jabs” do have at least a small element of truth to them. For example, a very friendly person can be a great asset to your team, but could also be too talkative. A criticism of “She just dominates the conversation all the time,” could hurt, but may very well be true. When you receive a criticism, ask yourself what part of it you can actually benefit from. The lesson in the Dean’s office helped steer me on a journey of learning discretion…one that would still take time to learn, but led me to many years of trusting, professional relationships later in my career.

Criticism can open dialog. Often a critic doesn’t welcome face-to-face dialog about the problem, especially if he/she has used a protected means to take the jab (i.e. email, Facebook comments, voice mail message, etc.) If you are courageous enough to confront the critic with sincere questions and a teachable spirit, you may actually build a deeper relationship that greatly improves from where it started.

Criticism can help you improve how YOU give feedback. If you’ve ever received a harsh, unfair criticism, let it remind you not to give criticism in the same way. We often don’t realize how we approach things until we’ve received the same treatment ourselves.

No one enjoys criticism but there’s plenty of it to go around. While it is unorthodox to consider it a gift, it really can be one.

Now you. Share about a time a piece of criticism worked in your favor.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Quick Tips for Organizing Your Cash

You work hard for the money, now organize it

Cash for blog

You do it for the money, right?

Oh, I know you work to serve. To use your gifts. To fulfill a calling.

But deep down, “make a living” or “bring home some money” IS a key reason you have a job, right?

It’s okay to admit it.

And managing that money takes some savvy thinking, much more than the intent of this blog and blog post–it’s not a money management blog. For that, feel free to visit Crown Ministries or Financial Peace for great resources.

I’m here instead to help you with a few practical tips for organizing that money-related stuff you carry around every day…the stuff that clutters your wallet or purse, or the console of your car.

Tip 1:  Consider using separate change purses, money clips or sections of a wallet as an “envelope system.”

Keep your most used cards in a handy part of the wallet and consolidate less frequently used cards into another section or even a separate change purse or clip. That way you don’t have to sort through a pile of membership/debit/credit/health/library cards to get to the ones you use most. Keep cash for personal expenditures, gas, eating out, groceries, etc. in separate sections. I use a wallet from Savvy Cents designed for this purpose.

Tip 2: Have a set place to put your receipts, either in the wallet or in the same section of your purse.

Put your receipts in the SAME place every time. Enough said.

 Tip 3: Empty your wallet when you get home.

Well, not all of it. Just take out the day’s receipts and coins and store accordingly. For example, I put receipts in my monthly receipt box and take loose change and put it in a container for myself or the household, depending on how the original cash was spent. (I keep the cash in separate pouches.) Then, every few months, I use the coin machine at the credit union to deposit the money back into our accounts.

Tip 4: Refill your wallet as necessary.

I try to live guided by a budget so I have a certain amount of cash for spending each month. I choose not to carry the entire month’s cash at once, so I replenish as necessary when cleaning out my wallet. Once a week, I replenish a couple of sections with cash as a sort of “mini” paycheck.

If you get in the habit of cleaning out your wallet/purse regularly, before long it will be second nature.

Question: Now you: What tip do you have for keeping money organized? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Pointers for Professionals

Savvy pros share their tips for calendar management

Time is a gift

Do you find it challenging to maintain an accurate, helpful calendar? Take a look at these suggestions from professionals like you! Thanks everyone and also the Frontline Festival series over at Let’s Grow Leaders, upon which this post series is modeled.

Read on, click on links, support our contributors, and see below what our next topic will be.

Jeff Baker (@jeffbbaker) of Shoes Optional currently uses a combination of apps and browser extensions for Calendar management. Any.do provides a quick way to setup a task or to-do list that can be scheduled or assigned to others. His go-to app for calendar on his phone is Cal (by the same developers as any.do). The any.do extension for Chrome provides quick access to upcoming tasks and an easy way to check things off.  Connect with Jeff.

Jackie Beyer (@organicgpodcast) of Organic Gardener Podcast has found that Schedule Once is the best investment she could have made for scheduling interviews for her podcast. It’s easy for guests to pick a time at their convenience. It’s simple to use and integrates with many platforms like Google, ical, etc. Connect with Jackie.

Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting  uses the calendar that comes standard on her computer. Events are displayed of the screen automatically. Less chance of missing something! Connect with Jessica.

Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com   uses Google Calendar to manage her calendar. She loves that it is accessible and synced to every device she owns and she can section out the different areas of her life to share her appointments with those that need to see it.   Connect with Meredith.

Holly Payne  (@hollyreneepayne) of HollyReneePayne.com has found that setting reminders in her calendar keeps her on task. After all, she can only keep appointments she remembers she has! Connect with Holly.

Amy Porter (@amylynn_porter) of Amy Gets Things Done  breaks her day into time blocks, giving her day structure as well as flexibility. Connect with Amy.

Suyenti Sunarto (@YentiSunarto) of Day 2 Day Concierge Service uses her most frequently used device (her phone) to manage her calendar. She consolidates all her calendars on my phone and is sure to enter any appointment, to-do, important dates, etc. to it. Connect with Suyenti.

Thanks again to our contributors!

Next topic: Tips for preparing for a vacation from the office

Deadline: June 19

Contribute at this link. New contributors welcome!

Question: What’s your best tip for calendar management? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Four Things Your Team Needs from You

A reminder for busy team leaders

CA-teamwork

If you are a team leader, there are two facts about you. You are busy. And you have followers.

To do your job well, keep your sanity, and develop your team, you have to provide them with some important things that ironically, will also ease your stress. Here are four of them.

Clear expectations. It is difficult to read someone’s mind. When you clearly share what needs to be done and what the priorities are, your team members can plan their work accordingly and may not have to ask as many questions later. When in doubt, spell it out. Warning: don’t be patronizing.

A listening ear.  You can learn a lot by listening to your team members. Prompt discussion. Ask questions. Find out how things can be better, from their point of view. If they feel you care, they will go to bat for you.  Warning: have healthy boundaries so that discussions don’t turn into rambling detours…example, have 30 minute meetings or take someone to lunch so there’s an expected end time for the discussion.
 

Time. Particularly if you are new leader, your team will need time to learn how you like to do things. Don’t expect them to adjust to your preferences overnight. Once they do, you’ll be saving time and stress. Warning: find a balance between being specific about your preferences, and being unyielding or fussy.

Space. Micromanaging doesn’t help anyone. Give your team members some authority over their projects. For example, allow reasonable freedom in writing and formatting documents. Allow them to suggest changes to a long standing task…you might find a much more efficient method to getting it done! Warning: even the most proactive team members need some guidance. Don’t throw them to the wolves, but don’t require them to report on every step they take, either.

Now You: 

Question: What do you want out of your team leader? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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