By Bailey Penrose
“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”
– The Animals (Cover, 1964)
Everyone just wants to be heard. I don’t think anyone would dispute that point, especially in an age where it’s easier than ever to broadcast to a larger audience – a blog post, a YouTube video, a Tweet. However, in this new world of instant communication and sharing, there seems to be a growing sense of isolation as we focus more on screens than each other.
That feeling of isolation can affect our working lives too. Have you ever run into the situation where you send an email that seems friendly yet direct, but is received like the opening salvo to an office equivalent of WWIII? I have been the culprit on more than one occasion. An email just seemed so much cleaner, more efficient. If I’d actually spoken face-to-face with my coworker (the email recipient) in the last week I would have learned that they were buried in work or going through a rough time personally. That email that I thought was phrased so nicely hit a nerve and now we needed damage control.
Because of this scenario, I am huge proponent of responding to that occasional maddening email sitting malevolently in your inbox with a phone call, “Hey, good morning! Yes, I got the email. I think I hear what you need, but I’m not sure I understand the tone. Can you help me with your goal and deadline on this?”
Instant communication is a tool and it’s one that has revolutionized the world as well as our workplaces. This revolution comes with some new challenges though. Work email is easily accessible from personal devices, response time expectations are speeding up, and coworkers are spread across the country or even the world. How can you keep up with the work and still have time to ask your coworkers or customers how their kids/dog/sick-aunt are doing?
I don’t have an answer. There is no one-size fits all answer to that question. All I’m saying is that I think it’s important the we try.
Companies focus on employee engagement to boost production, vendors focus on customer experience to expand their market, and teams focus on cohesion to accomplish goals. These things are only possible if we listen to one another and seek to understand. This is not the Matrix; people are still important.
By the way, how are you today?
By Tonya Mott
Why am I hanging with Alaska Waste? A couple of reasons:
1. Servant Leadership – I’m on a mission to learn how to be the best leader I can be and help others do the same. As you read, you’ll find out why I would be learning this from employees at Alaska Waste.
2. Safety, from a risk management perspective – According to the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries the garbage collection industry is the 5th most dangerous in America. Of course, that means I must go for a ride on a garbage truck, living on the edge!
The primary reason for my visit was to learn about Alaska Waste’s management style, Servant Leadership.
About a year and a half ago, I bribed my good friend Josh James to be a guinea pig and test our new process called the BHIQ (Business Health IQ Profile). The profile brings awareness to various operational risks and then in return business owners and leaders can come up with a plan to prioritize and tackle those risks.
The risk categories that we were focusing on with Josh was Human Resources, leadership, safety, compliance, employee benefits, productivity, and technology.
First, let me provide a little info about Josh’s background. I have to admit during our 20 years of friendship neither of us ever discussed in depth what we do for a living. I knew he worked for Alaska Waste for the last 14 years and was in a management position. I recently confirmed that he started as a roll-off driver, picking up the large open top containers you see at grocery stores and construction sites. The next 2 years he drove a rear load recycle truck, servicing roll-carts in residential areas. From there he moved on to driver dispatcher managing 2 channels, with 20 drivers on each channel. Then he was promoted to operations supervisor and finally, for the past 2 years served as operations manager. As operations manager he manages the operations supervisors and 74 operations employees.
I figured from a management perspective having him test the BHIQ would help us fine-tune our profile. I also did the unspeakable and made assumptions about his potential responses to the questions before we even got started. I stereotyped him based on the industry and this hilarious video clip that some of you may recognize, made many years ago by a previous Alaska Waste employee as a joke (45 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sByVwTHYkCE.
Back to the BHIQ – It’s a Saturday night, I bribed my friend with food and to get this job done. Even with my bribe the look on Josh’s face was less than enthusiastic about spending his Saturday night answering 50 or so work-related questions. At this point I’m thinking, he looks bored now, just wait until we start asking him these questions, we’re going to blow his mind, and get his wheels turning on how to make improvements and be a better manager. Well, it didn’t quite go that way, he proved me WRONG! We asked the first question, “Organizational clarity creates increased productivity. What do you have in place to maximize organizational clarity?”, Josh’s response nailed it. Without a doubt, his team, hands down has organizational clarity, they live and breathe clarity EVERY DAY. From there the rest is history; every response blew us away. We obviously had a lot to learn from him.
As we moved through the BHIQ, he kept saying, as a “Servant Leader….”. Finally, I asked, “Josh, what the heck is a servant leader”? Let me pause here for second and ask, have you ever met someone that talked about their job as if they were the owner, as if they built it from the ground up, and was so passionate about their job that they would do anything for the company and the employees that they manage in an effort to support their success? Notice how I said “THEIR” success, and not their own success. It’s sad to say but I’ve only met one person in my lifetime with this much passion about their job and that’s, Josh. Could you imagine a world where all employees felt this passionate about their jobs? Seemed unheard of, until I learned the term Servant Leadership.
I could write forever about my conversation with Josh, so I’ll leave you with this article to learn more about Servant Leadership and how it can help you become a respected leader: https://howwelead.org/2018/02/07/lets-clear-up-some-misunderstandings-about-servant-leadership/. After meeting with Josh we immediately adopted Servant Leadership. You can start as simple as turning your organizational chart upside down. We realized our team members on the front lines, closest to our clients, are the most important people in the company and we need to support them.
Bottom line, if you are looking to change up your leadership style or improve safety, reach out to Josh James at Alaska Waste (yes, Josh, I’m putting you on blast).
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where I’ll write about my first-hand experience going for a ride along in a garbage truck. Learn how Alaska Waste’s management style ties in to the safety of their employees and the general public.
By Nicholas Wiandt
Your gut is telling you something, and I don’t mean its lunchtime. No one knows your business better than you do, so it’s no surprise that you will often have a gut feeling or a hunch about what’s going on in the undercurrent.
Often these feelings are spurred on by analyzing our own in house data, such as the amount of leads we have received lately, the kind of feedback we get from clients, or our current results as compared to previous years.
The trouble with data though is that there is so much of it that it can quickly turn into noise. So, how do we ensure we pull real value out of our data? I hope you enjoy the attached article, as it lines out 6 key ways we can transform data into something that is truly ‘actionable’.
By Bailey Penrose
Have you ever read something that changed your outlook on life? Maybe the change wasn’t drastic (maybe it was), but the Rubicon had been crossed and there was no going back. The book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switlzer did that for me.
When I thought of the term ‘crucial’ before diving into this book, I always thought it meant events of apocalyptic proportion; something you might see in a movie where alarms are blaring and groups of tense people in suits shout at each other in small huddles. That is not quite the scenario that Crucial Conversations envisions. The authors’ definition of ‘crucial’ seems to focus on the positively mundane – a ‘Crucial Conversation’ involves the intersection of only three criteria: 1. Opposing Opinions, 2. Strong Emotions, and 3. High Stakes.
Typically, when confronted with a tense conversation, we immediately jump into ‘fight or flight’ mode. No one involved in those situations comes out feeling very happy or accomplished. However, if you had the tools to deal with that discussion with a co-worker, boss, or family member and walk out of it with everyone feeling resolute and committed, wouldn’t you use them?
When you look at hard conversations as opportunities to improve communication, relationships, and outcomes, you will create positive change in both your personal and professional life. Not only will you benefit from the change, but so will everyone around you.
You can find a copy of ‘Crucial Conversations’ through your local library in either book or audiobook format:
By Tim Maudsley
As Alaskans, we have witnessed one of the more difficult economies this state has endured since the 1980’s oil crisis. While it is well documented that Alaska’s economy is much more diverse today than it was thirty years ago, when the demand for oil stutters our whole economy feels the effects. That’s why it’s important to strategize managing your insurance program during difficult economies, so that you’re prepared for worst while offering the best benefits possible.
Manage Your Exposures:
Perform bi-annual updates with your insurance professional to go over anticipated sales revenue and payroll amounts. These exposures have direct premium impact on multiple lines of coverage. Many insurance companies will allow for midterm adjustments in exposure, thereby more accurately calculating your premium.
If you are comfortable in managing your exposure with a higher deductible, many lines of insurance including general liability, automobile, and workers compensation can be amended to include a deductible. In many instances, business owners only consider deductibles to be an underwriting tool or a punitive function due to past losses. However, adding a deductible could significantly impact premiums on multiple lines of insurance.
Manage Self-Funded Exposures:
Have you considered adding cyber liability to protect you from losses associated with electronic hacking, loss of use, or computer-related fraud? Are you covered by an Employment-Related Practices Liability policy to cover issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, failure to promote, or discrimination? Are you protected in the event a pollutant is found in the ground at your business location? These type of exposures are prevalent in nearly every work environment, and, if you do not transfer your risk, you are likely self-insuring and not realizing a claims potential impact to your bottom line
By Tonya Mott
We have all taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test at one time or another. It goes something like this:
- Take the test
- Get the results, okay, so I’m an INFJ
- What does this mean and what do I do with this info?
- Confusion sets in and you move on
5 Voices, How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone you Lead helps simplify and understand the 16 different personality types by narrowing them down to 5 categories. Listed below from softest to loudest voice:
- Pioneer (I’m a Pioneer)
Click here for a link to a cool chart with more detail.
The assessment is free and easy: https://5voices.com/assessment/
If you are not much of a reader, the founders have a podcast, “The Liberators,” available via their website: https://giantworldwide.com/liberator-podcast/ or on Apple.
What have I learned from this?
- Self-awareness – A better understanding of my conscious and unconscious positive and negative tendencies. Understanding how my actions and reactions affect colleagues, family, friends and myself.
- Understanding people around you – Mindful and meaningful interactions with others
- Conflict Resolution – Less fearful of addressing conflict. When you understand who you are and those around you, it is easier to talk through issues verses sweeping them under the rug.
By Ashley Snodgrass
When you Google search “How to say no at work” you’ll find 2.5 billion results.
These are articles packed with “How To’s”, “Don’t Do’s”, and all the “best kept secrets of getting ahead in the workplace”. Logic tells us that the more results you get for a search, the more popular a topic would be. To put 2.5 billion results in perspective, when you google Ariana Grande, she only has 330 million Google Search results. Kim Kardashian has 292 million Google Search results. Elvis has a mere 144 million Google results.
Trying to figure out how to say “No” at work is more popular than Kim, Ariana, and Elvis combined. In a competitive workplace, it may feel impossible to say “no” when asked to tackle a project because you want to stand out or be seen as a team player by your colleagues. Always saying “yes” is one trait that may help you get promoted… or burnt out.
However, saying “No” to a project or additional work in certain situations can be more beneficial overall to the team than if you had said “yes” and failed to complete the project, or didn’t complete the work well.
Here are a few suggestions on when you should be saying “no” to additional work (taken from this Forbes article)
- It hinders your ability to accomplish your responsibilities
- It doesn’t align with your long-term and short-term priorities
- You disagree with the decision
- It doesn’t accomplish a key goal
- It conflicts with your values or you can’t deliver results
Now for the “How”… I recommend this article, which includes the below tips on how to diplomatically say “no” when it is the best option for you and your team’s goals:
1. Have a list of responses ready
2. Prepare a simple explanation if it’s needed
3. If you can’t say “no” flat out, negotiate
4. End the conversation on a confident note
As Suzy Welch says, “save your ‘yes’ replies for “tasks that really count”!
By Tim Maudsley
One of our clients reached out to us about a troubling incident with the IRS. The IRS notified the group directly that two new EINs were created for their business, a red flag, because the group had not initiated these themselves. Someone had taken the time to fraudulently complete forms SS-4, which prompted the IRS to send mailed notices of the two new tax ID numbers. Our client did their due diligence, and notified the IRS of the fraudulent IDs so that the agency could investigate.
In this case, the group took the correct steps to rectify the situation quickly. But what if this had gone further? Is there such a thing as business ID theft insurance?
Most cyber liability policies contain business ID theft insurance coverage. It’s important to know if you’re covered, and to know what types of threats are out there. The article below describes many scams you need to be familiar with in order to protect yourself or your clients from cybercrime.
By Natasha Kwachka
Recently, I was listening to the EntreLeadership podcast, and came across an episode that inspired me: #97: Jack Welch-Winning the Game. The wisdom in this episode provoked a change in perspective that I would like to share.
All teams go through steps to develop trust and understanding on the way to becoming a strong team. In the workplace, it is common to experience disruptions such as conflict, disagreements, process changes, workflow changes, employee changes, etc. These workplace difficulties and constant changes can make it impossible to foster a culture of trust, both between employees on a team, and between all teams that make up your company. How important is a culture built on trust, you ask? Building trust within a company is the only way an organization can reach its highest potential.
Back to the podcast! There was a statement that particularly struck me:
“You receive truth when there is trust.”
I considered some of the difficult conversations that have occurred in my workplace over the years, and reflected on my perception of these exchanges. I came to a real understanding that if any member of your team felt comfortable enough to approach you with a difficult conversation, that must speak volumes of the level of trust you share. It is amazing to consider how my thought process has changed.
I want to work at a place that fosters trust. A team with trust is a team that can reach its highest success. With trust, we are all free to have positive and negative thoughts, as well as useful and maybe-not-so-realistic ideas. Trust allows a company and its team members to communicate effectively and openly through any roadblocks. With trust, we can direct our focus and energies on forward thinking, positive solutions and keeping the passion for our success alive.