The Chaos of Long Term Unemployment, the Optimism of Community and a Lesson of a Lifetime….

The Chaos of Long Term Unemployment, the Optimism of Community and a Lesson of a Lifetime…..

The Chaos of Long Term Unemployment, the Optimism of Community and a Lesson of a Lifetime….

The long-term unemployed; the title says it all, it is a harsh reality that being unemployed has a defining affect that interrupts the lives of millions. In most instances, there is a hostile take over of emotions that clash within ourselves as personal feelings of disappointment, loss and desperation sets in like the “coupe de grace” of battle. There is no one certain method for our loss; we have been released from work in many ways; a lay off, company shut down, being fired, or just making way for replacements that have taken over your own tasks you once held at the business.

As an unemployed management professional who has been unemployed for over 15 months, I have faced more than my fare share of ups and downs while seeking employment. There are lasting effects of being unemployed and like any other mental health issues, unemployment has its own set of symptoms that are mentally and physically interruptive and can affect behaviors associated with professional and personal lifestyle.

Riding a roller coaster of emotions – You may fluctuate between feeling relieved and excited to phases of fear, denial, sadness, anger, confusion, and shock. Experiencing a wide range of emotions is a typical cycle that most people go through. Eventually, you’ll reach a stage of adaptation. Don’t go it alone – you can get help navigating the grief-like feelings and help creating a plan to move forward. If your sadness explodes into full blown depression, be sure to seek professional guidance immediately.

A Most Difficult Circumstance

It really does not matter if we have spent what seems to be a lifetime of dedication toward a company or industry. The many people that I have met who are unemployed have worked for many years at one job, or like myself have worked many years with several companies over the span of a lifetime. We all have one thing in common; we are the survivors of corporate war and are the casualties of a lost economy and now face the harshest job we have ever had to face, finding valued employment.

I have had 15 interviews over the past year, formal, non-formal, panel interviews and adaptive interviews. One thing I can say for certain is that there is no such thing as a “Standard” interview. Each interview was different than the other and questions related to the job are never the same. The one thing that I have noticed is that interviewers often are just as confused as the interviewee and are not prepared to ask questions that relate to a specific job function. This becomes challenging for a professional looking for that “dream job”, especially when a company is fishing or already has decided to hire within the company and are functionally just going through the motions related to a set of guidelines of the agency.

Turning down a job offer is difficult and I have turned down more than one job offer for separate reasons. Without going into a lot of detail, one offer was financially unsupportive while another gave me a bad feeling about the company culture and values related to their employees. Is making something better than making nothing? While for some who have no income this answer may change from person to person. In my own opinion finding a temporary position or part time work is fine, but falling into a trap where all of your time spent at a low wage job does take away from your job search and for some this becomes more damaging in the long term for many reasons.

Look at mistakes as learning opportunities. According to David Burns, Ph.D., assistant professor at Stanford University, and author of Feeling Good, “the quickest way to find success is to fail over and over again.” For example, I was once 30 minutes late for an interview. I did not get the job and I became very self-critical of my tardiness. Once I asked myself “what is the lesson I learned?” I quickly calmed down and applied this lesson to future experiences; which is harder than it seems especially if we are used to being in control of our own thoughts and experiences.

It is difficult not to sweat the small stuff, but the way I see it, it is the small stuff that at times really get to me. When ever I am treated unprofessionally by someone else; a clerk at a store, customer service, value of purchases and the faults of others, I am quick to notice what the problem is and automatically make a judgments based on first impressions and I often think to myself, “Why is it that you have a job and I don’t?”

So what is causing the frustration? Reflecting on past and even current experiences can be helpful in problem-solving and overcoming dilemmas, but brooding rumination takes this to the next level. It offers few new insights and often serves to intensify our negative feelings. We become narrowly focused on the things that are not going well instead of seeing the larger picture. These ruminative thoughts can keep us up late at night overanalyzing every situation.
Loss of concentration and focus: We spend so much time thinking about past mistakes or worrying about future events, that we spend very little time in the here and now. A good example of this is every time we find ourselves on “autopilot” while driving a car. The practice of mindfulness is a great way to reduce our “thinking” selves and increase our “sensing” selves in the here and now. For example, ask yourself what you hear, feel, smell, see and taste. This can help ground you in the present moment. Mindfulness is an important skill for enjoying the significant moments in life. Enjoying coffee with a friend can be disrupted if we begin thinking about all the things we need to do that day.

No one that I have met, who is unemployed, expects to be handed the golden key to being employed. As a matter of fact, the people who I have met have never worked harder to find work and to establish themselves as professional candidates for organizations looking to expand business and succeed through determined dedication of their own employees. They, like myself, do not want hand outs and are not looking for an easy way out, but rather have given all of their time as professionals toward the greater good of community and personal involvement.

Volunteering, Education, Professional Assistance and Organization:

Don’t engage in self-defeat – Avoid regressive behaviors that will keep you in a cycle of negativity. Don’t sleep all day – get up at a regular time. Don’t isolate yourself – get outside, seek out adventure and fresh air. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who support and inspire you – avoid those who continuously harbor anger.

Keeping yourself busy is a great way to refocus your attention; it is also a way to rediscover yourself. ProNet Reno is a member-run, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that prepares unemployed professionals to re-enter the workforce. Members are trained in the areas of resume writing, interviewing, networking, and overall job hunting, but that is only a small part of what these professionals do on a daily basis. Over 85% of members dedicate themselves in one form of capacity or another. We not only expect ourselves to participate, but we encourage other unemployed professionals to donate their time and efforts within the organization and in the community as volunteers.

As an ASL sign language interpreter, I often donate my time assisting the needs of the hearing impaired by interpreting at job sites for meetings and individual conversations needed between the employee and the employer. Other unemployed professional donate their own time volunteering for the Food Bank and Community Programs throughout the City of Reno and Carson City. At least once every two months most members participate in donating blood, while other professionals donate their time dedicated to helping other unemployed professionals increase their knowledge and education by performing committee task within the organization.

(On a side note): The thought, or misguided opinions that have been vocally given by some of our members of Congress are shamefully untrue when it comes to the long-termed unemployed; if anything the long-termed unemployed have done more for our community than our own congressmen and women in office who continue to vote against extending unemployment benefits to those who deserve it and who work painfully hard toward the giving of themselves and to others in the community.

The Reality Bites Club is a small group of professionals that meet weekly at various restaurants in Reno. They are all long-term unemployed and all but have given up on the expectations of finding valued work within Reno. Now I say Valued Work because there is a difference of working just for the sake of working or making minimal wages and finding professional employment. As managers and esteemed professionals the expectation of employment has been diminished due to the circumstances of a ruined economy. By the way, they also acknowledge that the unemployment rate is much worse than our government agencies tell us. They have not given up, but rather have focused on each other in how they can help each other locate work, discuss topics such as trends in employment, which company is hiring and to give advice that helps each other cope with the difficulties of being unemployed.

The simple fact is, nationwide, people and organizations are providing more than social interaction, they are forming community based programs designed to assist others and develop new concepts when it comes to strategic planning regarding unemployment. There are millions of individuals who want nothing more than to be a part of something larger than themselves. While they are the causalities of a lost economy, they are true leaders within their own right often giving more than what is expected and expecting nothing in return. Imagine if our Congressional leaders took the same view…

There is no easy way to find employment; since 2013, I have done everything to keep myself busy while looking for work. I have networked to the point where my name covers almost two pages of Google search. I have involved myself in many different extended studies, obtained certifications, revamped my resume at least a hundred times and have applied to over 300 jobs during the past year while networking continuously.

Like so many others in the United States who have not given up the fight, I will still continue to help others and be involved with my community. The one good thing that I can take with me to my next job, or the experiences that I could share with others is the overwhelming kindness of others that I have had the opportunity to meet over the past 15 months. In all the time I have been employed, I have never experienced what it means to be a part of community and what it really means to give of oneself toward others. I can also say that the hardest job I have ever had is being unemployed and that is something that I will never forget as I begin my new career, (Where ever that might be)….
Chadwick Buchanan

Healthcare; Signing up is not as bad as you may think.

Healthcare; Signing up is not as bad as you may think.

It is said that the more you hear something, the more you tend to believe that what you hear is the truth. In a recent interview with channel 8 News, I was invited to speak on behalf of The Community Health Alliance and my experience of the Healthcare enrollment process. In the past six months, I was worried that signing up for the Affordable Healthcare Act would be my worst nightmare. Instead, I found that signing up was easier than any other government agency, and I found myself signed up and ready within 30 minutes. With the assistance from the Nevada Health Link and the Community Health Alliance, all of my questions regarding personalized healthcare were answered and I left feeling comfortable and with a piece of mind.

The simple fact is that most Americans or at least a large percentage of people have been misinformed. Since the Healthcare Initiative was approved by Congress, there has been a strong resentment toward the Healthcare Act, (Obama Care), which has had a strong negative effect that has invited misinformation by Conservative organizations, Media and Congressional Representatives who have opposed the implementation of the Healthcare Act itself.  With so many outlets of misinformation many people are lead to believe that signing up will be something that will cause reputable harm toward personal healthcare.

The misconception is not necessarily to blame solely on the misinformed, but rather the initiatives own advertizing and facts related to the Healthcare Act itself.  There are literally thousands of social media outlets, advertizing formats and websites that could have been the link missing from the implementation of the Healthcare initiative.  For every 100 negative stories or misinformed media about Obamacare, only a fraction of facts and positive stories regarding the initiative have been advertized, which unfortunately has tipped the scales in favor for those seeking to misinform the public.

I am not certain who is responsible for the advertizing campaign in regards to the Healthcare Act, but I most certainly want to know why the lack of factual information and positive portrayal of the initiative is not being advertized successfully. I would also ask why the same person or organization is still employed as the advertizing agent.     

As with any new federally sponsored agency or initiative it takes time to develop; Social Security, the food stamp program, unemployment and Medicare all took time to develop and none of which were very successful when they were first enacted. After years of implementation of these programs, they still are not 100% satisfactory with 100% of the public either, but are there any programs that are run by the state or are federally funded which are 100% effective? (I think not).  

 I am not certain where the Healthcare program will become an overwhelming success, or if it will be successful at all, but I know that this is just the beginning of something that I hope will lead to a better system of medical care for all Americans. The fact that over 47% of all Americans have little or no healthcare is not being responsible for our citizens and leaving the way medical care was prior to this initiative is simply inhumane for the millions without any healthcare at all.    

 

Chadwick Buchanan

 

Being Bi-Lingual Should Not Be Required…

Technology most certainly has had its fair share of uses and has had both beneficial and negative impacts on economic and industrial markets. In the environment of global trade and technology systems, corporations and high-tech industry has evolved over the years into fully integrated systems that have replaced labor forces, increased production while providing record profits. While the shift in demand for labor forces is re-directed toward service industries. There is more of a demand for highly skilled workers, the technology service and repair industry, data and computer logistics system analysis, financial and protective securities, medical applications and a number of operational marketing and development applications geared toward the global markets.

 

Additional requirements such as experience and broad-based knowledge in several applications are now what companies are looking for when selecting managers and supervising staff to instruct and lead their team while maintaining increased growth and production processes. In the age of multi-cultural business, the demand for multi or bi-lingual managers has increased, leaving a shortage of managers and supervisors with experience in their fields that are multi-lingual capable. Another problem with multi-cultural companies is the mix of teams that have communication barriers that often prevent teams from working together successfully; additional time, errors and internal problems have often lead to negative results that effect production, profits and functionality of the operation.

 

If you have found yourself wondering how to approach this concern related to multi-cultural and multi-lingual problem, you have not been paying attention. Technology has been available and in use by many organizations to resolve the communication barrier through a wide variety of translators that have improved greatly over the years; Google Translator, Microsoft Droid, Apple and a number of other systems are narrowing perfection in the multi-language barrier. Hand-held devices are now able to download applications that recognize voice commands and sentences that are translated in virtually any language and if you are not using these applications yet, then you are behind the times and your company is suffering because of it.  

 

In a previous management position that I held in a production company, approximately 40% of my team did not speak, or spoke very little English. Production was down and communication was very slow even though I had someone interpret the language during general and team-based meetings. It was difficult to have a one-on-one conversation and usually involved personal discussion related to work and other aspects of job requirements. After a few weeks I installed an additional computer system in my office and yet another system that was centrally located in the production area and then downloaded Google Translator to both systems. Within hours, I was able to communicate effectively with all my employees and non-English speaking employees were able to communicate effectively with their English speaking only counterparts within the team.  

 

In a few short months, production increased 20% and within one year employee moral, teamwork and production increased by 40% due to all employees being able to provide input and narrowing the communication gap that once separated a non-effective team. Now many of those employees use hand-held applications for translating languages which has additional voice recognition and translating through audio that even decreased the time it takes to have conversations while effectively developing your team.  While some of these devices are not perfect, it will not be long until the “Universal Translator” becomes a reality….

 

 

 

The Spreading Epidemic in America; Bullying in the Workplace.

There is a growing epidemic in America and for many workers in all industries are beginning to experience. The escalation of this epidemic is a of a form of harassment that is quietly affecting our ability to maintain production while loosing millions each year in employee turn over rates, absences and bottom line profit numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in the United States still remains at 7.6% and depending where you live, the rate may be as low as 5.9% or as high as 19% in some parts of the Nation.  While unemployment rates are still questionable, the general feeling of many Americans is that unemployment is the number one concern that most people are fearful of and are lacking in confidence in any foreseeable turn-around of the economic condition. While unemployment is not the only reason for bullying in the workplace, it does have an affect on people who seek to protect their job and prevent others from recognition or succeeding within an organization.

The Rules Have Changed

When times are good and unemployment is not a driving factor, jobs are plentiful and people are not concerned about not having a paycheck. People generally do all of those things that have other importance in their lives; careers, family, making a home and being a part of the economic picture of prosperity and “living the dream”. Then all of a sudden, with little or no warning, many Americans faced unemployment that shattered the hopes and financial independence that affected 15-20% of the total population. Jobs of course became scarce and hundreds of thousands were left with little or no assistance from savings and unemployment assistance that could barely pay for monthly expenses.  People lost more than their jobs; they lost everything that they considered to be important in their own lives.

So Who Survived?

The corporations and industries who survived the economic downturn all of a sudden had an overwhelming source of labor and experience. At low rates of unemployment, (between 1990-2005), the lack of available workers, managers and high-skilled labor was high in demand and there were not enough of these skilled labor forces to fill positions that companies needed to increase revenue, or run the business effectively in operations and production. Average wages for skilled and non-skilled workers increased in order for companies to obtain or keep the most valuable employees while developing programs that enabled focus on employee satisfaction so employees would stay within the organization.  After the economic crash, those companies that survived all of a sudden found a complete reversal of the labor force. There was now an over abundance of labor and the supply of skilled and unskilled labor was now available. Like the rule of “Supply and Demand”, labor was and still is in abundance, wages dropped and for the most part entertaining the idea of employee satisfaction is no longer on the priority list of many companies.

Fear Trumps Teamwork and Self Preservation is Placed in the Drivers Seat…

The unemployed have faced many problems and much of them continue to struggle in hope of finding a job that pays a decent wage. If you are unemployed, or have been unemployed then you already know that wages in the United States has dropped by as much as 40%. That is a production manager who was making 75-80k in 2005, now is probably making less than 50-60k now in some states. Even worse for non-skilled workers, once making 15-16 dollars an hour, now are making between 10 and 12 dollars and hour.

In May, 2013 the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged at 4.4 million. These individuals accounted for 37.3 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.0 million. (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013).

The simple fact is that anyone looking for work, or has found work is probably more concerned with losing their job or there next job by the simple equation of people who seek employment for less. In this day and age, people become desperate and will accept huge decreases in wage earnings in order to get their foot in the door. The hope is to rise up within the ranks, or at least be able to keep a position in a company for a long duration of time. There is a fear factor with many employees who have experienced long-term employment and for some, prefer never to be placed in the same position again.

What are the Results?

Self-preserving internal structure and bad management of employees is increasing within the ranks of businesses and in many instances a manager or supervisor may be leading your business down a path of bullying within the company. According to Psychology Today, “Workplace bullying has become a silent epidemic North America, one that has huge hidden costs in terms of employee well being and productivity. Also known as psychological harassment or emotional abuse, bullying involves the conscious repeated effort to wound and seriously harm another person not with violence, but with words and actions. Bullying damages the physical, emotional and mental health of the person who is targeted.” (Ray Williams, 2011)

Additionally, performance levels for employees who work under these types of stressful conditions have an average decrease in productivity as much as 50% and the cost to employers is estimated to be $200 Billion per year in lost production nationwide. With this much revenue being lost, it is a challenge for most employers who do not recognize bullying as being a problem but view it as healthy competition, or a generalized culture within the organization that does not affect the overall big picture. In reality, bullying creates hostility within the organization like a virus. It infects teamwork, quality, and production while increasing employee dissatisfaction that directly impacts customer sales.

As a manager at a previous employer, there was a sudden decrease in production numbers in one of the departments within the organization. My first responsibility was to find out why production levels had dropped by as much as 25% within five weeks and carefully reviewed all processes within the department. When I could find no reason, or change that affected process guidelines, I turned to employee observations and reviewed the team I had in place. After a few days I began to notice that several employees were seemingly unhappy by noticing their personal actions and interactive behaviors with others in the department. After making several inquiries with those employees, I had found that my supervisor and one or two additional employees were making threats and actually manipulating data; at times sabotaging a subordinate’s work in order to look good by seemingly catching the mistake and directly blaming other employees.

I was very surprised and caught off guard with the revelations of what I had found out and could not understand why employees with the company would resort to such tactics as bullying for the self-preservation of their own job.  “Contrary to conventional wisdom, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees. And making them targets makes it harder for them to get notice or reprieve. Independent, experienced workers pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.” (Ray Williams, 2011)

In another instance, I was able to observe several employees grouping together and causing another employee to make mistakes and generating discontent by using specific language that targeted the employee’s morale. Within these types of groups employees often go after those who are different, or do not fit within their own group because of personality clashes, or behaviors that are seemingly unacceptable within the group. Additionally, culture plays a huge part in bullying; religion, race, gender and many other examples of social stigmas takes shape in the form of harassment in the workplace. If managers are aware of these behaviors taking place, it is your responsibility to confront the problem and even report bullying as a concern to Human Resources. However, approximately 35-40% of bullying in the workplace are often not reported and often pushed aside as minor problems, which can have dramatic negative effects that can disrupt your production team and your business.

So what are Important Steps to Prevent Bullying?

There are ways to confront bullying and prevent hostilities from escalating within your business. Having strict guidelines regarding harassment is usually a topic that is detailed in an employee handbook, but usually does not cover topics related to bullying. Involving Human Resources and key management personnel should work together and identify a general outline of bullying and focus attention toward preventive measures.

“Assisting an employee who seeks help after describing an abusive situation can be tricky. The HR professional must be able to distinguish a “bully” from an earnest but perhaps difficult or even troubled supervisor. In all honesty, the employee must be able to appreciate the difference between what might feel like “harassment” from what is actually professional counseling and oversight.” (R. Mueller, 2007)

As a manager or supervisor, leading your subordinates toward the direction of positive teamwork establishes trust and builds strength within your ranks. Empowering employees to lead and be a part of the team is always a good way to keep motivation and morale in check. Standardize communication as a key concept between management and employees that share information and work together in a way that generates positive feedback, constructive criticism and improvements that increase productivity and teamwork.

  • Make sure to keep in touch with your employees; always keep your door open and listen to your employees. In many instances employees will tell you directly or indirectly that they are having difficulties. Do not disregard what they say as a general gripe or complaint, but consider what they say as having an affect that jeopardizes productivity and offer your time to help resolve any issues that you think may be associated with bullying.
  • Invite teamwork and delegate responsibility: move toward a cooperative based environment by paring up individuals and asking them to perform task that involves working together to achieve a goal. Cross-train your employees so that they understand each and every position that affects their own job requirements.
  • Professionally approach a condition of bullying and immediately resolve issues. Observe and recognize the source of bullying tactics; take notes, document patterns of abuse, have discussions with the violating employee and make sure that everyone understands that bullying will not be tolerated by remaining consistent with your harassment policy.
  • Designate or set time aside for personal one-on-one discussions: it is not easy if you have many subordinates within the organization, but if you set aside a little time each week, schedule your employees just to catch up. Let them know how they are doing, provide positive feedback, offer constructive criticism and let them know that they are valued within the company. It has been said that the quietest employee is the best resource of information that may be key in discovering that bullying is taking place within the organization.
  • Doing nothing is not an option: Human Resources should look into developing awareness presentations and performing annual courses that involve harassment behaviors and informing employees how to report such abuses. Involve all employees, including the CEO and upper management teams so that everyone gets involved in maintaining diligence and consistency in the program.
  • There are new laws in at least 20 states that now prohibit forms of bullying in the workplace and it is recognized as harassment that has legal ramifications. While many states do not have regulating laws that cover bullying as a form of harassment and legal steps are slow to enact; it should be recognized that a corporation or company is at risk of damaging their own internal well-being and causing disruption of production that affects profit margins and overall sales. Some companies have taken steps to prevent bullying as a form of harassment and are successfully achieving teamwork concepts that increase productivity and even are surpassing overall sales objectives.  One thing is for certain, that bullying affects all businesses in some form or another and is on the rise. Without recognizing bullying as a form of harassment companies face an uphill battle of achieving success unless steps are introduced to prevent continued bullying in the workplace.

    Resources:

    Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), Overview of BLS Statistics on Unemployment. Retrieved from the United States Department of Labor online at http://www.bls.gov/bls/unemployment.htm

    Mueller, Robert L JD, (2007), Bullying Bosses: A Survivors Guide. “How to Transcend The Illusion Of The Interpersonal.” Retrieved 07/02/2013 at http://bullyingbosses.com/management/hr_tips.html

    Williams, Ray B. (2011), Wired for Success; The Silent Epidemic: Workplace Bullying. Retrieved from Psychology Today online at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201105/the-silent-epidemic-workplace-bullying

Something Missing?

If you are in management or even if you run your own business, your time is one of the most important things that needs to be constantly monitored. With so many responsibilities within the workplace and the consolidation of positions in today’s work environment, having the time to master details about a certain project or finalizing the documentation of a key operations plan may leave you with little time to focus on other important factors of your business. Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a specific job description; if you are a warehouse manager, chances are that your responsibilities have expanded into other fields that once were categorized as other titles within the company. A Warehouse Manager also means handing the tasks of the Facilities Manager. Safety Manager, HR Assistant, Logistics Rep and Production Manager all wrapped up into one title; which can really swallow up valuable time that you no longer have to master the job of mentoring and monitoring your employees.

8324652 If job seekers have not noticed, the world of Human Resources has not escaped the consolidation of job titles; a corporation may have one central location that handles all HR functions for several distribution centers nation wide and may include Risk Management, Benefits, and acting as travel agent for literally hundreds of employees with little or no assistants to help maintain the vast responsibilities of Human Resource functionality. Additionally, corporations and even smaller companies now use computer software programs and outside sourcing for hiring employees which has at least in my own opinion removed the human representation of a company culture by taking away the personalization of employee interaction and finding the best person to fit within the organization.

Progress is not like a box of chocolates…

ATS or the dreaded Applicant Tracking System removes any human involvement in deciding who the next employee will be for the company, no matter how much experience you have as an applicant. You can be the worst manager for the job, but you may be selected for the position if your resume fits the job description that has been selected through an ATS program. Does this sound unfair? Until software can read minds, a modern ATS does what it can to keep hirers sane and save valuable time for an HR manager. Some unfair examples exist, but they exist much more often in email and human error. For many, I find myself wondering if there is something lost instead of something gained using an ATS system and find it frustrating that my future is being decided by a software program. Perhaps I am being naïve, but are humans so inept that they can no longer function without programs such as these? Personally it all leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth and that’s not chocolate I am tasting…

Handling stress while performing all of your functions:

If you ever wondered if your employees know when your are stressed out, chances are they have a few things to say but wont approach you with what they see. There have been times when my subordinates have called me a few names and most of them ending with the last four letters “HOLE”. The hole is a place where things often get lost and when you are stressed out this is where your leadership mentality and values go for a short time and you find yourself feeling guilty that you temporarily lost what people find the most valuable about you. In essence there is something missing and you have decided that for what ever reason, to forget about what is most important to you and what is the most important to your team. It’s not easy to reduce stress, but there are ways to handle stress and focus on what you do best.

• Manage effectively: Resist perfectionism. No project, situation, or decision is ever perfect, so trying to attain perfection on everything will simply add unnecessary stress to your day. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself or try to do too much, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. Aim to do your best, no one can ask for more than that.

• Clean up your act. If you’re always running late, set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time. If your desk is a mess, file and throw away the clutter; just knowing where everything is saves time and cuts stress. Make to-do lists and cross off items as you accomplish them. Plan your day and stick to the schedule — you’ll feel less overwhelmed.

• Flip your negative thinking. If you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you’ll find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.

• Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things at work are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

(Source: Tips to Reduce and Manage Job and Workplace Stress: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/work_stress_management.htm

As management professionals; we have a responsibility toward our subordinates and the people we are dedicated to serving. It is not just the company we are dedicated to, but the details and ownership of making sure that you motivate your employees and encourage development that invites taking over certain responsibilities that you no longer have time to fulfill. It is important to involve your production team in the development and improvement process so take the time to advise, inform and mentor your employees toward the direction that you want your business to function. Listen to your employees as well as your management team to assure that proper techniques are applied to the development and production requirements that are crucial in maintaining your guidelines for operational success. Delegate and have trust in your people to handle task that are capable of being handled by others in your department, or your business. If there is something missing, chances are you have lost your ability to recognize that you have left it in a hole somewhere and the only way to find it is to crawl in and get your hands dirty. Do not let stress and responsibility stop you from being the leader that you have chosen to be, but rather face it and make the appropriate changes so that you can get back on track to effective management and mentoring those you are responsible for leading.

A Personal Approach to Employee Management & Recognizing the Mistakes of Leadership

In the ever-increasing development of employee management and high production output, the most difficult task for a manager or supervisor is maintaining the motivation of employees that provide first-line services. In many instances of employee management it is often said that a successful manager or supervisor is 70% direct employee relations, employee mentoring, motivation and employee development, while 30% of your time is managing all other aspects of the business that you have been hired to do. In most instances, failure to manage employees takes shape when a manager or supervisor becomes complacent, has reached his or her own potential, or is unable to change their own idealistic views that no longer apply in the current structure of employee developmental strategies.

As a manager and a supervisor, it is inherently responsible that we provide leadership and motivation that increases productivity, often changing how we apply our techniques in business processes and employee development. Ask any manager how many times they have approached an issue or problem and they will tell you that they have made mistakes along the way. I would agree that I have made several mistakes over the years, and some of those mistakes have had disastrous results; in one instance, putting friendship above management and jeopardizing my own career for the sake of others that I was meant to lead. What I have learned from that experience was in fact a wake up call that allowed me to see where I had made those mistakes and recognition of what had transpired to get me to that point where I had lost my direction of leadership and replaced my own management strengths with the fear of losing momentum and overwhelming complacency. I had also recognized that not only did I let myself down; but I let my own team down and the people who respected me as a leader.

“Managers should act as if they are part of the team, not just the boss of it. They should minimize the trappings of office, and reduce the emotional distance between themselves and the rest of the workforce. People need to feel that management is part of “us,” not “them.” Dig in, routinely help with the work, and be readily available to anyone who has a problem, whether work-related or personal. Wash your own cup. Above all, ensure that you stand for something, have uncompromising principles and stick to them.” (David Maister, 2013)

One of my greatest strengths is learning from those mistakes and recognizing that what I do as a manager or supervisor directly influences not only those that I am responsible for leading, but also influences my own management style. The mistakes I have made provides a clear understanding of how I influence myself to do a better job and the approach to how I manage my employees that define who I am as a leader, a mentor and decision-maker that can acknowledge not only my greatest successes, but can also admit where I have made my greatest mistakes, which is one of my own personal achievements that I will take with me throughout the rest of my career.