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Training and Productivity Tips

Career Assessment Advice

Each year we move our clocks forward and backward by one hour. For some people, the time shift induces a time lag that makes starting work on Monday harder than usual. I promise you’ll adjust to the time. I’m not so sure you’ll ever adjust to feeling that your job is hard.

Spring is a good time to assess your job, your career, and your teams. With the economy still growing (virus fears aside) there are opportunities to explore. This month, I want to talk about career assessments. Dig deeper than the performance review. Really rate levels of satisfaction.

  • Are you satisfied with the work you are doing?
  • Are your co-workers satisfied with the work you are producing?
  • Are you satisfied with the people you work with?
  • Are the people around you happy?

It’s fine, normal even, for people to not love everything they are asked to do. You assign a recurring project to a particular staffer and he grumbles. Is he grumbling over the assignment or is it deeper? Does his attitude and work product spill into other parts of the department? Maybe he needs a new assignment or maybe he needs a new job.

Career Assessment

If waking up and facing the day is hard for you, evaluate why? Is it the commute you hate, a particular co-worker, or is it the job itself? Issues like commutes and communication in the office can be dealt with. Larger issues of not liking your career need larger solutions.

It’s natural for managers and leaders to feel as if they are responsible for keeping teams on track. But who keeps the leaders on track when they are unsure of their jobs and satisfaction levels? Sure, there is always someone above you. Even C-suite jobs report to boards and shareholders. It’s unlikely though, the chair of the board will sit down with you and say, I noticed you don’t seem happy with your job lately.

It’s important to recognize signs of career burnout in yourself and in your teams.

  • Are you still learning new things at work and from others?
  • Do you care about learning new things?
  • Are you working in a particular industry because you’re fully invested in it – school, training, expectations? By this I mean you went to business school, and earned an MBA but really want to raise alpacas.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, seeking outside support such as mentors, career and business coaches, and even professional peers can help. This is good advice for your teams as well. You may have a high performer who is unhappy. Pairing her or him with a mentor, potentially in a different department or even outside your business, could be the difference between replacing someone who leaves or retaining a valuable member of your team.

We lead busy lives, so busy we don’t stop enough to examine if we are satisfied with the work we do or if we are simply stuck in our jobs. Sometimes we need to deal with stuck because stuck comes with a comfortable salary and essential benefits, like health insurance or teleworking. We can also move ourselves and our teams forward with training for new positions and roles, explore how to expand jobs and responsibilities. You may just discover, you do like coming to work, even on a Monday.

I welcome your feedback, ideas, and the chance to connect anytime you want to say hello. Contact me with your questions and goals for the year ahead.

Business Skills Training Professional Development

Can You Have Trust Without Being Vulnerable?

Brené Brown is a research professor at University of Houston. Over the last decade, she has spent her time studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. In her TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability, she engages her audience with insight and humor. She delves into the understanding of what people who allow themselves to be vulnerable have in common.

One of the elements of vulnerability that Brené explores is that people who allow themselves to be vulnerable have an underlying quality of worthiness. They believe in who they are and all their imperfections. With that worthiness comes courage, compassion and connection.

Trust and vulnerability are intertwined. In order to learn to trust each other, individuals must allow themselves to be vulnerable with those same people. Even the simple act of believing that someone will do what they say they will, is making oneself vulnerable and open to the possibility that they may be let down. The more that trust is developed, the more individuals will gradually allow their vulnerabilities to show through, thus creating opportunities for growth. Developing trust and exposing vulnerabilities in the work place are critical for a team to develop and meet the mission that they were all brought together to fulfill.

It may seem counterintuitive to expose vulnerabilities during professional team building exercises, but with a strong facilitator, team members can grow and learn, and together strengthen their weaknesses. Trust is the foundation and underpinning of any successful team. Without trust and vulnerability, teams will falter and fail.

With openness and honesty, an environment for creativity and innovation can be fostered. When individuals are taught to be open to honest solutions, they will find growth in their roles within an organization and improve both in their skill sets and in their comfortability within the framework of their position.

Leadership coaching programs conducted by trained facilitators, help foster trust and creativity while understanding vulnerability and courage in the workplace. These programs also allow participants to begin understanding emotional intelligence and the need for this within any social setting particularly in the workplace. A strong program may start with EQi-2.0 or EQ 360 assessments to provide each individual with a baseline from which to begin building upon their individual strengths.

The bottom line is that trust must exist in order for team members to successfully offer solutions, take constructive criticism, be open to disagreement, and work through potential conflict. Respect is an important aspect of allowing one’s self to be vulnerable. When mutual respect is fostered and exhibited, ideas and opinions can more freely flow. Without that respect, trust will not occur between individuals in the workplace. Instead, elements of systematic, organizational dysfunction will begin to impact team performance and mission success leading to an environment rife with high staff turnover and major financial implications.

How do you develop trust in your organization?

Career Development Personal Development Professional Development

I’m not good enough for this job. What happens when I’m discovered?

I feel fortunate that my work takes me around the world to work with high-ranking military executives, technical experts, C-suite executives, technical experts, project managers, and all variety of men and women who have a spark to succeed.

One issue many people reveal to me is that they feel like a fraud. It’s a belief, and sometimes a gripping fear, that they haven’t earned their position, and when they are found out, the consequences will be devastating.

This Fear is Imposter Syndrome

  • I only got the promotion out of luck.
  • I don’t know enough to do this job.
  • If I’m not perfect, it will show and be my downfall.
  • I find this work too hard for me and I will fail.
  • I was part of a team. Why am I the only one earning the rewards?

Does any of that sound familiar? It’s more than healthy self-doubt. It’s negative thinking that can derail your success.

What’s Healthy about Self-Doubt?

In a normal day, we question our activities. I don’t think I’ll make the meeting in time. I’ll call and let everyone know. I don’t know if this presentation is right for the client. I’ll ask someone to review it. And so it goes. As you question what you do or don’t know, you seek answers.

Imposter syndrome shuts down the internal conversation and derails your success.

People who fall into one or more of these five competence types have a tendency to struggle with imposter syndrome issues. Do you see yourself on this list?

  1. I’m a perfectionist – 100% or nothing. You overwork setting standards for yourself that no one else has.
  2. I must be an expert before I try to accomplish the task.
  3. If I didn’t do the work alone, it’s not my accomplishment. Me, myself, and I – a team of we.
  4. I am a superhero. If everything in my personal and work life isn’t perfect, I am failing.
  5. If I don’t understand something the first time, I’m an idiot.

What’s also interesting to note is the more success people have, the worse the condition becomes. The higher you are, the harder the fall.

Imposter syndrome leads to bad outcomes. People procrastinate for fear of failure. People don’t seek out promotions or interesting new jobs. Some become socially isolated and may turn to destructive behaviors. When you avoid the fear, it builds.

The Imposter Thrives in Isolation

Here’s a truth bomb: your thoughts are not always fact. Failing to close a deal, coming short on a presentation, missing a flight or missing a meeting, is life. It’s human.

Don’t compare yourself to your peers’ greatest hits on social media. Your friend posts pictures of a beautiful beach day with his family. You call when he returns. Looks like your vacation was amazing. He confesses he had a fight with his wife, his kid got food poisoning, and it rained for most of the trip. What others show to the world is not true. Your Facebook life vs your real one!

A rival wins an award and social media is lighting up with the event. You only see the result. You missed the squishy middle where her five previous attempts went nowhere.

The way through imposter syndrome is to move past competence type #3 – if I don’t do it alone, it’s not my accomplishment. Talk to people. Share your concerns and soon you’ll see you are not alone.

Recognize that not every day is your best. When you do feel down, you tend to skew toward the negative.

Back in March, I devoted this newsletter to the concept of luck. It may be bad luck your car skidded on black ice and you landed in a ditch. But it’s not good luck that you didn’t. You have experience driving, you were warned that road conditions favored black ice and you took precautions. It wasn’t good luck you got your great job. It may have been by chance you saw the opening, but it was your talent, networking, experience, and the fact you applied that landed the position.

I’ve included references to two interesting resources from social scientist Amy Cuddy. Her ideas on body posture and body language can change your outlook on your confidence. She has the saying, fake it until you make it. This means even if you don’t feel competent at a task, keep your head down and move forward until you do.

You may be alone with your thoughts but your feelings are universal. Take a step outside of yourself and engage.You are not alone.

Contact me with your leadership and team questions. I’d be happy to build an offsite learning or training program for you.

Government Agency Training

Wise Ways Awarded GSA Schedule

Wise Ways Consulting, inc. is pleased to announce that they have recently been re-awarded their GSA Professional Services Schedule (PSS) (GS-02F-0088X) This was formerly the Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS) Schedule. Wise Ways Consulting has maintained this schedule since 2011 and looks forward to continuing to assist US Federal Agencies by providing a variety of business consulting services.

Wise Ways Consulting

This is an Election Year and a Census year

You Have to Participate to Lead: Vote!


I was speaking with a colleague the other day about the importance of voting in a democratic society. He mentioned that his eldest had chosen not to vote in the last federal election. As a result, he and his wife told her that she was not allowed to complain about the current administration around them – and if she didn’t vote in the upcoming mid-terms, she wasn’t allowed to complain about that either. Needless to say, she has registered and has already taken part in early voting.

What does this have to do with leadership, you’re wondering. Plenty! In order to lead in your organization or your community, you have to participate throughout the process. That means looking at future direction, considering your ideas and where you think the organization/team should go, discussing possibilities with others, and eventually making up your mind before taking action.

People can be overheard saying, “Well, my vote doesn’t count. Why should I bother?”

All politics is local. Get involved with your own community. Participate in your local HOA. Be a part of the school board or the county board of supervisors. Support a candidate. And if you don’t want to show which party you support, participate in a local Get Out the Vote campaign.

Before you decide upon the candidate you’re going to support, turn down the news and negative campaign ads and consider the following:

  • What are the issues that are important to you?
  • What are the views from the candidates who are running?
    • Make an appointment to speak with them and learn about their platforms.
    • Attend an all-candidates forum if one exists.
    • Read their website and the information that is listed.
  • What do others around me think?
    • Engage in civil discourse with your friends and others. Ask them what is important to them.
    • “Help me understand what platforms are important to you. What is it that candidate X says that really connects with you? What do you want to see them do?”
    • “In what kind of a community do you want to live?”
    • “How do you want people to treat one another? Engage with one other? How do we work together to create that type of community?”
    • How does this fit for me?
  • Weigh all of the information you’ve gathered, balance this against your own values, views, and goals… and make an educated decision.

I heard someone saying today that if people can stand in a line to buy a Power Ball ticket, surely, they can stand in line to vote and engage in the democratic process.

As my mother always says, “You give up complaining rights if you don’t vote!” Make sure you exercise your right to vote, every time you have the opportunity – people have died for you to have that. And many around the world are still dying to be able to have that right in their own country. Never take it for granted.

This article first appeared in Prince William Living Magazine.

Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work. She resides in Prince William County and runs Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training. She can be reached at [email protected] or through wisewaysconsulting.com

EQ-i 2.0 Leadership Development Leadership Skills Training

How Do We Build Trust in a Team?

“Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.” – Isaac Watts

One of the key components of effective team building is developing trust amongst the group members. An absence of trust in the workplace can make productivity an uphill slog and hamper progress on projects and performance.

Trust means that you rely on someone else to do the right thing and you are willing to put yourself on the line in the belief of someone else. Without this sort of dependence within a team or organization, members can find themselves working at cross-purposes with each other.

As a manager, how can you build trust amongst your team and foster a strong bond that will enable productivity and cohesion?

The first step the leadership of an organization can take is to develop Emotional Intelligence. Taking the time to bring in a knowledgeable consultant such as Wise Ways Consulting, trained to administer EI testing such as the EQ-I 2.0 and EQ360 can help accelerate trust-building in the workplace.

Through self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation, and building social skills – the five categories of Emotional Intelligence – team leaders can properly develop and motivate their teams.

Once leaders know themselves, it is easier to find the strengths and areas for growth in others and work to develop those. The simple act of getting out from behind one’s desk, greeting people, and talking to team members while showing genuine interest in learning who each person is, will go a long way toward building trust.

When team leaders take steps to recognize successes, share failures, applaud people’s positive behaviors and individual growth, and respectfully address negative behaviors with constructive ways to improve, they set their team up for success by demonstrating the simple act of trust.

Can vulnerability build trust?

Absolutely! We have already discussed the intertwined nature of trust and vulnerability. The simple act of trusting that someone will deliver what is expected without micromanaging the process is an act of trust and vulnerability. Learn to sit with discomfort and allow team members to take the reins and prove they are worthy of that trust. Remember that they were hired because they are good at their jobs – allow them the autonomy to show you!

Being vulnerable is synonymous with learning to “sit in the discomfort.” This may simply be the discomfort of letting go, stopping controlling all aspects of the team’s mission, and giving ownership to the team in order to empower them in their roles within the organization. As control is released, teams become stronger as a whole and leadership are able to remove focus from day-to-day activities instead working toward shaping the organization’s long-term vision and strategic plans.

By employing techniques learned through completing the EI assessment, learning the concepts, and training the organization can work toward building trust and empowering a team.

EQ-i 2.0 Personal Development Professional Development

What’s Getting in the Way of Growth? Is it You?

As we set our goals and identify areas of opportunity, and potential growth it is important to look at how we prevent ourselves from achieving those goals. It’s critical that we examine this so that we sidestep the same pitfalls we sometimes find ourselves in as we ease into the coming year.

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. An important goal should be to break the cycle and figure out what is preventing you from making the changes you’ve identified during goal-setting exercises in order to be successful.

When we put together leadership coaching programs we help individuals and teams identify obstacles that prevent change. The first step is looking into whether or not obstacles are within the individual or part of the environment. Sometimes an obstacle may seem like it is environmental when in reality it is created by the mental attitude in which you dwell in your own circumstances. Will changing your attitude and your mindset change the way you are perceived or the way you see others?

It can take a lot of courage to admit that your own decisions and behaviors are what create a certain working environment. Regardless of the position you hold in an organization, you have the ability to affect change just simply by deciding what attitude you will bring to your daily interactions.

With regard to goal setting, ask yourself “What do I have to do on my end to make these changes in the workplace? What result would my transformation have on my immediate team, leader, or subordinates?” When you start thinking about the organization as an organism that operates with the emotions, strengths, and weaknesses of the entire team, you start to realize that you can be the brain, the heart, the lungs, or the moral compass of the whole simply by the role you choose to play within the workplace.

Once you begin to identify whether or not you are getting in the way of your personal and professional growth and success, you will begin to realize how much power you have to make changes. You truly are in charge of your own growth!

Effective Communication

Aren’t There Powerful Ways To Transform Your Organization? [Podcast]

Listen to this inspiring podcast featuring Melissa Davies with author Andi Simon.

Hear how change can keep your business moving forward!

At times we are introduced to people by chance, only to find that they are amazing individuals whom we want to be part of our world. This was how I felt about Melissa Davies when we met, and why we wanted you to know more about her and the work she does to help others change. Founder of Wise Ways Consulting, a leadership development, and executive coaching firm, Melissa helps clients become better leaders so they can build more productive and effective teams. Like me, Melissa is a culture change expert, so you can guess we had a lot to talk about!

Being willing to change is a key attribute of strong leaders

Melissa’s world travels have taught her a great deal about cultural similarities and differences—those things we all share and that all organizations have in common, as well as those unique cultural customs that are trademarks of the “way we do it here.”

Similar to what we do at SAMC, Melissa and her team work to bring about change in individuals and organizations. And what she has found over the years is that businesses’ training and coaching needs are constantly evolving to reflect increasingly diverse workforces, remote offices, and technology. This means that what she and her team are offering also needs to be constantly changing and evolving.

3 areas of mutual interest that Melissa and Andi spoke about:

  • How hard it is for people to see themselves honestly, and to understand how their organization is operating, truthfully. People see things with willful blindness, only noticing what fits their own perception of their realities.
  • When people finally have an “aha” moment, they really can change.
  • Methods and tools which can help companies make the needed transformations that keep them moving forward.

Click here to learn more about Andi Simon and her award-winning book: On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights”

Training and Productivity Tips

Transition, Boundaries, and Fear

Welcome to summer. Warmer weather, longer days, pandemic, economic distress, riots and protests, and nary a Clorox wipe still to be found. I don’t mean to take any of that lightly. There are a lot of issues to be concerned with now, as well as much change and progress ushering in hope.

Scientists have kicked into high gear, collaborating across the globe like never before, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. With 100 trials on-going, the medical community is confident we will have a vaccine sooner rather than later.

The economy here in the United States and in other parts of the world is opening. While we should expect on-going uncertainty in the job market, we are moving again.

True social justice and change is crossing the nation with sweeping police reform now being considered across the country. America’s cries for change are being echoed globally as well.

World supply chains are shifting as globally it is seen how a reliance on China for cheap goods and labor is not good for home markets. Internally, the inability to flex and redistribute our food supply and other essential goods needs to improve.

Yet, at kitchen tables across the nation where people have set up their home offices and home schools, there is a lot of worry about a return to work. What does the 2020 office now look like? Is it safe? Is it empty? Are you the one to stay home or the one designated to return? What happens if you don’t feel safe or a co-worker becomes ill? What does company travel look like? Hazard pay?

When you do return, you will have a different view of your co-workers. You’ve interacted with their families and their pets. You’ve spied on their desks and homes and laughed at their choice of Zoom backgrounds. You’ve also worked in a more connected, round-the-clock environment. With everyone ordered to stay inside, many companies have been surprised at the amount of work that has been completed. For others, it has exposed issues and concerns they didn’t know they had.

Reclaiming Work-Life Balance

Change is coming. We must factor in commutes, perhaps longer in traffic as people shy away from public transportation. Employees may use more sick days electing to follow public health advice and stay home. People will vacation again. Our hyped-work environment will change and managers and leaders must help themselves and their employees establish boundaries between work and home once again.

Change is hard. We’ve had so much of it this year with much more predicted. There’s an election in fewer than 150 days.

This issue of Wise Words is devoted to resources to help you navigate the boundaries and transitions that are now coming slow and steady as the workforce returns to physical office space. At least some of it. Work from home and shared work spaces with family will continue too, building a new hybrid work culture.

No matter where you land, remember the power of communication, education, and training. Wise Ways Consulting will always have current resources and programs to see you to your new normal.

I welcome your feedback, ideas, and the chance to connect anytime you want to say hello. Contact me with your questions and goals.

Training and Productivity Tips

Thank You for Staying Home

Let me tell you a little secret… I’m tired of staying home. I’m tired of hearing how people feel about staying at home. And, I’m tired of being upset when I don’t see people staying at home on the news.

What my mood tells me is an old lesson, the type you need to constantly relearn, concentrate on what you can control.

As we start a new month, no matter where you live, there will continue to be some level of restrictions. If your government says you can go bowling, get a tattoo or massage, and eat at a restaurant, you still control if you choose to do that. You can, and you should, control how you manage your health and your potential exposure to COVID-19 and that of your family.

I’m staying home. That means more Zoom meetings and facilitating virtual training sessions using whichever platform my clients are using. It means adapting to my client, employee, and partner needs. Personally, I’ve been really impressed with the level of innovation and motivation that I’ve seen. I don’t know when the restrictions will be lifted or the virus threat will end; I can predict it won’t be this month. Maybe not the next either.

What I can predict is that many of the innovations and lessons in home office and online communication will become a new, growing industry. Work at home will no longer be a perk. Online communications and meetings will save thousands of hours and dollars in travel time and expenses.

I also predict some less than positive results. Employers will expect their remote employees to always be working and available beyond normal business hours. Online productivity and tracking software will have a Big Brother presence in our lives. And while online communications and meetings will save time and money – they will also result in the loss of connection as well. While some individuals profess to not need this, many others do. The loss of face-to-face communication may further degrade the interpersonal communication skills of Gen Y and Millennial populations.

I also know we will adapt, improve, and become better people for it.

Another prediction I have is we will learn to set better personal boundaries. We all know individuals (maybe it’s yourself) who are struggling now. The put-together person who really isn’t. The person unable to sleep at night and who is also having crazy dreams. It’s not your imagination, well…it is, but you’re not alone.

Many companies and colleagues are learning to treat their employees with more kindness. If you’re sick, seriously, don’t come to work. We’re not at our best, poor video conferencing lighting and lack of haircuts aside. We can see it on each other’s screens. We are learning to share our feelings and set limits on our time, simply because we must.

As we move into another month of government ordered stay-at-home orders and eventually, personal-choice orders to limit our exposure, remember – control what you can. This virus is here for a while longer. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t learned to knit or bake bread. You have learned to adapt and survive. Be proud of yourself. Thank you for staying home.

I welcome your feedback, ideas, and the chance to connect anytime you want to say hello. Contact me with your questions and goals.

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