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Stop Trying to Shortcut the Hiring Process

By Dana Borowka

If they hadn’t gone on a “shortcut,” the world probably wouldn’t know who the Donner party is today. There is a lesson in this infamous tragedy for all hiring managers.

For the wagons of the Donner party, a group of 81 westward-bound pioneers who were stopped by a blizzard at the gateway to California in the fall of 1846, getting over the Sierra covered wagonsummit proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. In a 2008 book, Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West, journalist Ethan Rarick chronicled the misadventures of the infamous group.

Rarick argues because of an ill-advised decision to take an untested shortcut earlier that summer—the wagon train, named after its leader, George Donner, was trapped by a severe fall storm. When their food ran out, they roasted shoestrings and ate animal hides to stay alive. Finally, snowbound, with little hope of rescue, they started to eat those who died by starvation. The 45 survivors were rescued in February of 1847.

But why did it happen? The members of the Donner Party listened to some hucksters on the trail who had an idea of a straighter route to try. The problem was that the shortcut went over the Wasatch Mountains and through the Great Salt Lake desert; however, these two barriers meant that straighter was not really shorter. The three-week delay led to disaster.

The Donner party was not a military expedition, band of gold seekers, or a group of explorers. These were ordinary people trying to find a better life. The tragic mistake was being duped into believing there was an easy shortcut.

Beware of Shortcut Hiring Hucksters Today

Not to alarm you, but don’t take choosing a personality test lightly. There are many services that boast a quick and easy way to profile a job candidate with personality testing. Taking these shortcuts can result in bad hires that have a negative impact on your bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.maze cutting

According to the research in my book, Cracking the Personality Code, today there are around 2,500 cognitive and personality tests on the market. So how do you decide which one to use? An organization risks lawsuits if it fails to do proper due diligence in test selection. That’s because there are a multitude of assessments available out there and the industry is totally unregulated.

To understand how to choose from the plethora of personality tests, it is helpful to understand the origins of these instruments.

The quest began in a mental hospital in Minnesota during World War II. A test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was created to diagnose mental illness with yes-or-no responses to a series of questions. In an attempt to put some science into the hiring process, many companies start employing psychologists who in turn used this existing MMPI psychopathological test to screen job applicants. The test includes true-false questions like “I never indulge in unusual sex practices” and “I feel sure there is only one true religion.” Of course, this seemed strange and intrusive to most job applicants who took the test over the next six decades.

Meanwhile, a Harvard University instructor and psychologist named Raymond Cattell working in the Adjutant General’s office devised psychological tests for the military. After the war he accepts a research professorship at the University of Illinois where they were developing the first electronic computer, the Illiac I, which would make it possible for the first time to do large-scale factor analyses of his personality testing theories.

runs with computerCattell used an IBM sorter and the brand-new Illiac computer to perform factor analysis on 4,500 personality-related words. The result was a test to measure intelligence and to assess personality traits known as the Sixteen Personality Factor questionnaire (16PF). First published in 1949, the 16PF profiles individuals using 16 different personality traits. Cattell’s research proved that while most people have surface personality traits that can be easily observed, we also have source traits that can be discovered only by the statistical processes of factor analysis.

In 1963 W.T. Norman verified Cattell’s work but felt that only five factors really shape personality: extraversion, independence, self-control, anxiety and tough-mindedness. Dubbed the “Big Five” approach, this has become the basis of many of the modern personality tests on the market today. There have been hundreds and hundreds of studies validating the approach.

The five decades of research findings has served as the framework for constructing a number of derivative personality inventories. This is a topic that’s been researched extensively by the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Some clear dictates of what to do and what not to do have emerged.

Five Dos and Don’ts

Some personality testing services simply deliver a test score and guidelines. Others provide a superficial level of analysis that is not much to go on. What hiring managers really need is an in-depth analysis of the test in the context of the job description and the candidate’s resume.

Here are my top five shortcut don’ts:

• Don’t use a basic personality screening that takes 20 minutes or less as a final screening tool.
• Don’t skip a phone interview.
• Don’t try to shorten multiple face-to-face interviews.
• Don’t skip background and reference checks, and never skip financial background checks when appropriate for the position.
• Don’t skip giving someone homework during the interviewing process.

Here are five dos:

• Do use an in-depth work style and personality assessment.
• Do look for red flags in the results concerning behavioral issues.
• Do use testing to identify how team members are likely to interact.
• Do use testing to ensure you have the right people in the right positions.
• Do use a trained professional to review the testing results with you – they should have a copy of the candidate’s resume and job description for the debrief discussion.

The testing procedure that a company follows can send a message to candidates that the company leaders are serious about who they hire. Successful people want to work with other successful people. In many cases, the candidate may accept a position from the organization they perceive to be more thoughtful during the hiring process.

Conclusion

The astounding thing is how many companies undertake such huge investments in hiring and do not pay attention to what is known about using personality assessments to pick out the people who are going to be the best. An in-depth assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. Armed with accurate and quantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. When it comes to limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions, there really is no shortcut.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2019 

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Hire Right The First Time: Are You Tired of Not Knowing Who You are Hiring?

By Dana Borowka, MA

In this day and age, making the wrong hiring decision can cost a minimum of 2-3 times the annual salary! That’s a high price to pay, and it’s a conservative figure when you factor in the emotional pressures of training, evaluation, termination and then starting the hiring process all over again.  By refining your hiring process, you can turn hiring into a profitable and successful venture.

Creating An Effective Recruitment Program

There are several steps to creating an effective recruitment program. The first starts with the basics – the job description. Many companies don’t even have job descriptions for their bizmen on moneypositions and that’s one of many hiring pitfalls. It’s very difficult to describe a position to a candidate, without having it completely defined. The next problem with job descriptions is that they are usually not definitive enough. It’s important to detail the expected job performance outcome, and be very specific in what is needed and expected. The job description should have 30-, 60-, 90- and 180-day objectives, so the candidate has a clear understanding what is expected for the job. Be sure to review and update job descriptions regularly, as company needs and expectations for a position are bound to change.

The next step is to define where to recruit candidates or target your recruiting process. Now that you have an idea of what you need and expect for the position, where do you find this treasured person? There are many resources: Referrals, recruiters, ads, college placement centers, .com listings, etc. Of course, referrals are usually one of the best sources for candidates and giving out the job description to business associates and friends may reveal the perfect candidate. When working with recruiters, it is very important to be as specific as possible to avoid your time being wasted with unqualified candidates.

According to Arnie Winkler of the Northwest Public Power Association, “Organizations must be specific in understanding what they want in technical competency, cultural fit and behavioral characteristics.” The same is true for ads so that the ad is as definitive as possible. College placement centers are not only good for recruiting college grads, but usually have facilities to list positions that require extensive experience too. They can be especially helpful if they are in close contact with the alumni association.

In today’s environment, we all need to do more than just post an ad. An example of this would be if you post something with a university. The next step would be to reach out to the dean of the department and any clubs or fraternities or sororities on campus. The schools want to help their students get placed so you just need to reach out and ask and then follow-up… follow-up and follow-up again. This is the nature of our environment today. Everyone needs to think outside of the box as to where to find the candidates then be very proactive to find the just right person that you are looking for. Also, never wait until the need arises – you need to have a pro-active recruiting program year round. If you haven’t read the book,“You’re Not The Person I Hired”, please get a copy. It’s the bible of hiring and is filled with ideas that will help for the full recruiting cycle.

Resumes & Interviews

Soon in your hiring process, you will be faced with a big pile of resumes. Look for resumes that are specific to your needs and notice the presentation style, which will tell you athe interview great deal about the candidate. It is helpful to decide what the priorities are for the position and look for those first in the resumes. Once you have settled on a few resumes, we suggest the two step approach to interviewing. The first is the telephone interview, which can save you valuable time and effort. Ask the candidate a set of specific questions, such as: Why are you interested in this position? Please describe three key attributes that you have to offer to our company? Give me one significant program that you had an impact on in the last six months? Listen carefully to the candidate to see if the response fits the job description. This process allows the candidate to earn a face-to-face interview.

When interviewing in person, it is important to listen and not let emotions take over. The candidate should talk about 80 percent of the interview and the interviewer only 20 percent. The goal for interviewing effectively is to note their thinking patterns, and not get caught up in appearances, impressive schools or companies. During the interview, questions that are more specific are helpful in making successful hiring decisions. Some examples are: What significant impact have they had at three or more companies on their resumes – ask for specifics, percentage of change; Please describe in detail what brought about the change; What was their process, from A to Z? and ask how the candidate would handle a specific problem that you have seen in the position.

Reference Checking & Work Style Assessment

Once a candidate has been selected to be hired, then the most difficult part of the hiring process begins – reference checking. Most firms find professional organizations helpful when making background checks. We highly recommend doing a very thorough check including verifying education, job history, criminal (local, state and federal) and credit if it applies. Background and reference checks should be a part of your hiring process.

Yet, as the old saying goes, “You never know someone until you work with them, travel with them or live with them”. Through in-depth work style and personality assessments, you can reduce the possibility of making a hiring error if the appropriate assessment is selected.

When researching profiles, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Training or degrees of those who are providing the debrief/interpretation of the data.
  2. A copy of the resume and job description should be supplied to the testing company.
  3. Number of actual scales (minimum of 12)
  4. Scale for “Impression Management” (minimum of 164 questions in the questionnaire)
  5. What is the history of the profile?
  6. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance & gender, culture & racial bias?
  7. Does the data provide an understanding on how an individual is wired?

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.

Legal Guidelines

A common inquiry from companies and organizations is about the legal guidelines in providing assessments to candidates. Since industries vary, it is always best to check with a trade association or a legal representative. The general rule is that a test or any set of hiring questions needs to be administered to all final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not taking place. More information may be found at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section:
http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/guidance-inquiries.html#2

Another question is how do new hires usually feel about taking an in-depth, work style assessments. It shows that a company is serious about who they hire. If the company presents the testing program as a method of assuring both parties that they are making the right decision, the individual usually responds very well. The bottom line is that hopefully turnover is greatly reduced.

Benefits of Assessments

In-depth assessments can be very helpful for personnel development and succession planning. As a hiring tool, they can be used to develop additional questions for interviewing and confirming the interviewer’s intuition that might be overlooked. This process gains more reliable and accurate data in order to effectively manage individuals to make hiring and personnel decisions a win-win for everyone.

If you are a hiring manager and would like to see a sample of an in-depth assessment, please give us a call or email us. For more information, please contact Dana Borowka at Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, (310) 453-6556, extension 403 or email dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

As you have seen, a successful hiring program requires many components that work together to provide the needed information for difficult personnel decisions. Combining a well-defined job description, targeted recruiting and focused interviewing with an effective personality evaluation program, turns hiring into a profitable and rewarding process.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2019

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Keep What You’ve Got: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

By Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

During the next ten, twenty, and thirty years, finding qualified sales and customer service people is going to get more difficult, thanks to a shrinking workforce and a maturing population. Therefore, retention of your top people is more important than ever.

Attracting talent, retention, and training (or onboarding individuals) all fall into one big melting pot. Finding, supervising, and keeping employees are not stand-alone items — each affects the other.

Ten years ago the shot heard ‘round the recruiting world was the McKinsey & Co. declaration that better employee talent is worth fighting for. The 1998 bombshell article in the McKinsey Quarterly titled, “The War for Talent,” predicted a battle that would last for decades.

Publications like Fast Company quickly spread the news from the boardroom bunkers to the cubicle trenches. The reason was demographics and the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. The battle cry was to not only improve hiring practices, but to work harder to retain your best employees.

McKinsey’s supply and demand predictions have come true with a vengeance. The U.S. workforce, which grew by 54 percent from 1980 to 2000, is only expected to grow by 3 percent from 2000 to 2020.

During the past decades, companies have proven that you can’t win the war just by spending more. When it comes to finding and keeping employees, pay is secondary for top talent. But if you build up an outstanding reputation, people will line up to work at your organization.

You have to realize that reputation matters. People talk. Images get established. Web postings take place. Today, no organization can afford to have a bad reputation. A number of MC900231004[1]years ago, the airline industry did a study that showed that a bad experience was communicated to around 300 people and a great experience was shared with only 30 or less.

So, where do you start in order to build a positive reputation from within and without? It all begins with taking the time to uncover, identify, and understand how the team is communicating. No matter how high tech our world has become with instant messaging, emailing, and cell phones, the biggest problem we all have is still communications.

To illustrate, think of a whale. Probably everyone reading this article visualized something different. Some are seeing in their mind’s eye a peaceful pod of gray whales migrating south. A few think of a friendly Shamu jumping out of the water at Sea World. While others picture a scary Monstro swallowing Pinocchio. How often do you discuss a topic with someone in the workplace and they completely misunderstand what you wanted?

Communicating with prospective employees begins way before an application or interview. A number of years ago a client of ours identified some traits they wanted members of their team to have. The company realized they needed to position themselves in their narrow marketplace as the place to work. Whenever a company executive gave a speech to an association group they always ended the talk with mentioning that they are the Rolls Royce of organizations to work for. If anyone knows of A players who want to work at the best place to use their skills and talents, then have them give the company a call.

MC900437519[1]Fast forward a number of years. My firm conducts personality testing for all of this company’s final candidates. For certain levels, we also do phone interviews, always asking how they heard of the organization. Consistently we have heard it was because of their reputation in the industry for being the best place to work for utilizing skills and talents.

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. So what does all of this have to do with retention? It’s about setting your people up for success, and this takes active management and mentoring.

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Dealing with Loss & Change in Your Life

By Ellen Borowka

We face loss and change frequently in our lives whether it is a death in the family, losing a job or change in life cycle like retiring or moving out on one’s own. Loss comes in many shapes and forms, and in a way, change is a loss. When we get a new job or have a child or get married, we lose a familiar way of life. Even when the change is good and welcomed, it creates feelings of anxiety for we face something different, something unknown. Here are some ideas of how to handle things when change and loss come into our lives.

mountain vista

Take time to say good-bye

Take some time and in your own manner, say goodbye to the familiar way of life, or to the person or object that has left your life. It’s important to deal with the feelings and not to dismiss or judge these feelings as silly, stupid or insignificant. And it’s important to give yourself space to deal with the loss and change, to mourn and grieve, and to acknowledge and accept feelings of pain, hurt, fear, anger, sorrow, … in your own time.

Reach out to others

Support is strongly needed during periods of loss and change. Those who reach out to others find they can better handle difficult situations. They feel heard and cared about, which strengthens and nurtures them. Reaching out to family, friends, self-help or support groups, counselors or clergy can provide the warmth and support that one needs during these difficult times.

Taking care of yourself

This is one of the most important ways to deal with loss or change. When dealing with difficult situations, be sure to take care of yourself. Eat well or have someone help you to eat by ordering or bringing in food to you or reminding you to eat. Take care of your body with warm baths or saunas; provide yourself with enough sleeping and resting times; and get enough exercise or hikes or even just walks around the block. Walking along the beach or on some nature trails can be very comforting and peaceful. Plus, these walks can be helpful towards finding any needed answers to the hard questions one finds within. Sometimes during hard or fearful times, we forget to attend to our needs or think of them as unimportant. It’s important to understand that feelings brought up by loss causes wear and tear on your body so you need to provide the nurturing and care your body needs.

Caring for your mind and spirit is important too during times of change and loss. Journaling, writing poetry, drawing or creating a collage are helpful ways to work through painful feelings and gaining an emotional release. I have found drawing in which I simply put colors, shapes and lines down on paper with crayons or colored pencils to be very helpful during stressful or difficult moments. Research has also shown that writing can help not only your mental well being, but also your physical health as well. Writing helps to explore feelings and situations in more depth. Other things that can help to nurture the spirit is mediation or visualization, spending time with a pet, prayer, reading poetry or an inspirational book, giving & getting hugs, listening to music or watching a favorite movie. During difficult times, it may be hard to care for yourself, but this is a crucial time to love yourself. If you need help doing this then be sure to reach out for help.

Life Finds A Way

By Berkeley Hall School’s 1995 Graduating Class

John-Michael Hayward, Katherine Lewis,
Christina McComas, Bonnie Paul & Andrew Wyly
Soil washes off the hill;
A seed is left close behind.
A breeze picks up speed,
Carries the lonely seed,
And leaves it on the rock… confined.bridge
And the light shines upon the rock
Out from the sky’s misty gray.
As it passes every day,
Life finds a way.
The seed knows it must take root.
Life will not be mocked!
The power within the tree
Becomes the unlocking key,
And the tree stands firm with the rock.
And the light shines upon the tree
Out from the sky’s misty gray.
As it passes every day,
Life finds a way.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and her organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Ellen has over 20 years of data analysis and business consulting experience and is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

 

Managing Stress in Our Lives

By Ellen & Dana Borowka, MA

As the economy continues to ebb and flow, we all need to be thinking as clearly as we can in order to stay a step or two or three ahead of the curve. The stress or “fear” of the future can prevent individuals and organizations from seeing opportunities that could be staring right at us. Life always seems to be filled with hectic schedules and looming deadlines. So, how do we deal with the daily pressures and stresses at work and home? Let’s first take a look at what stress is and what causes it.

Definition and Causes

The dictionary has a few definitions that we found to be helpful in exploring what stress is all about. One definition is a force that tends to distort a body. We like to think of stress like hands pressing against a blown-up balloon, causing the balloon to have a distorted shape. Sometimes we may feel like there are invisible “hands” or forces that push and pressure jugglingus, so that we feel twisted out of our normal condition. What are those forces? What makes up the forces that tend to control our lives? Other definitions of stress are: A factor that induces bodily and/or mental tension; and an automatic physical reaction to a danger or demand in the environment. What kind of dangers or demands is there in your daily routine? Perhaps it is when the bills come in the mail or when someone puts another project in your in-box.

There are many different causes of stress, but we’ll just cover a few here. The first is the fear of failure and making mistakes, like when we take on an important project or job that we want to do well on or when we have to take a test that has an impact on our lives. Failure and mistakes can be very hard on one’s self-esteem. Another stressor that impacts our self-worth is fear of rejection, like when a friend doesn’t return a phone call or when we are not included in a social event. This kind of stressor encourages some to not reach out to others and remain distant and isolated.

Another stressor is changes. Changes, even positive ones like getting a promotion, are difficult, because suddenly we are in unfamiliar, unknown territory. Other difficult changes are when we experience loss of a friend or relative, money problems, illness or injury, and career transitions. Unrealistic expectations from one’s self and others also causes stress, like when we expect ourselves to do more than we can or when a supervisor expects a project to be completed in a different, yet unstated, manner. Finally, life pressures cause much tension for us, like deadlines at work or taking care of one’s children or relatives.

The Effect of Stress

Stress can have a snowball effect, passing from one person to another until there is an environment full of fear. Stress can become like a spiraling blizzard, and if not taken care of then it can impact all aspects of our lives. An example might be if someone has some personal issues going on and they start yelling at people at work or seem really edgy and curt paperoverflowwith others. Many times the issue has nothing to do with our co-workers… yet what we may be going through can affect others.

While we don’t hear this often, there is a positive side to stress too. Stress gets one to make movement to face difficult challenges, to find solutions to problems, and push ourselves to achieve our goals. So, we need stress to do the things that we need to do in life. What is important is to find a balance with stress – to use it as a tool to manage life, yet to not let it take over our lives.

An example of someone, who was not managing stress well in his life, was a furniture manufacturer who participated in a major university study on the physical impact of stress and fear. This businessman had a full physical one day, then had a heart attack the next. He agreed to let the university medical staff run some tests to see if they could figure out how someone could seem to be so healthy one day and suffer a heart attack the next day. In the video we saw of this study, they filmed a psychiatric nurse asking this man a series of questions while being hooked up to a machine that also allowed the researchers to see a picture of what his heart was doing at the same time. The nurse began by asking him what he does and how were things going for him, his heart showed little change. When she asked questions that were more specific about his company, like how many people work for him and when payroll was due, his heart began to beat faster. Then she asked him even more detailed questions like if there was enough money available to meet payroll and how was he going handle that, his heart muscle actually shifted and they had to stop the interview as the man came close to having another heart attack. So, considering this story – How does stress impact you?

The Physical & Psychological Impact

What is the physical impact of stress? First, since stress is a similar emotional response to fear, it helps to look at how animals respond when dealing with a fearful situation. For example, a zebra meeting up with a lion on the Serengeti Plain would exhibit what would be termed, the “Fight or Flight” survival response. The zebra would experience certain bodilystressambulance changes. Hormones would rush through his body to speed up the heart rate, he would eliminate waste to be lighter when running, muscles would tense up for running, pupils would dilate and eyes would tear to see clearly, and the mouth would get dry to prevent gagging. Does any of this sound familiar? We experience similar changes when stressed and anxious. The physical impact on humans is increased heartrate, surge of adrenaline, diarrhea, neck and stomach tension, lack of energy, headaches, rashes, back pain, and cold hands and feet. Long-term stress can create ulcers, allergies, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke.

Stress impacts us at a psychological level too. Stress colors how we think and feel about others the world and ourselves. Stress attacks our self-esteem and positive feelings of self-worth. It makes it harder for us to relate to others in the way we would like. It influences how we view and interact with the world. It becomes a filter that can distort how we see the world and the messages we send to and receive from others. For example, someone who is under a great deal of stress, may tell their spouse that they love them, but all their spouse hears is the irritation or frustration in their voice. Plus, stress depletes our energy we need to participate in activities and events around us. Some psychological signs of stress are confusion, depression, crying, mood changes, changes in sleeping, eating and sexual habits, and increased use of alcohol & drugs.

In fact, many people facing chronic stress or anxiety have trouble finding a way to deal with it. Some, when faced with such a stalemate, will search out ways to numb out the fear and turn to various substances. Man is the only creature on earth that makes an effort to shut off fear – through drinking, drugs, or other forms of addiction. It’s ok to be scared, but it’s vital to find a better, as well as healthier, way. If you are struggling with an addiction – first, don’t deny it and next, seek out help immediately. Addictions only get worse as time goes on.

How stress is handled determines how much one is impacted by stress, and if long-term problems will result from the stress. Successful people handle fear and stress much like chimps and many other animals. They run to each other for support. Perhaps we should learn from the other creatures how to support each other. Reaching out for support is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety. So, what are some other ways to manage stress?

Three Steps in Managing Stress

  1. Acknowledge & accept it. Be aware of when you are stressed and take the responsibility to make a change. Some people ignore, minimize or don’t realize that they are stressed, until they get sick or overwhelmed. Don’t try to deny or suppress your stress. It’s important to deal with the situation. How do you suppress it? By eating, drinking, smoking, shopping, fighting…? The first thing to do is to become more aware of stress by monitoring yourself and short circuiting your personal stress cycle. A good way to do this is to ask yourself, “How do I express my stress?” Become familiar with how you react to stress and find ways to interrupt your cycle. For example, someone might first feel worried and confused over an upcoming project. That person might have some queasiness in the stomach, begin to bite their nails, then get some tension in the neck and shoulder muscles that may turn into a painful headache. This person might try going for a walk or meditate as soon as he or she recognizes the stress symptoms.
  2. Pinpoint the source of the stress. Look at what is going on underneath the fear and tension – Ask yourself, “What am I stressed about, and why am I so stressed?” Since managingstress is basically a low grade anxiety, it might be helpful to consider if there are any fears involved. Review what emotions you are having about the stress. If you feel anger then you may have to search beneath the anger, and usually there is some hurt or pain. Many people accuse someone or something outside themselves when they get stressed. Who or what do you accuse when you get stressed? Since we have much more control over ourselves then others, it’s important to consider what you can do to make changes to reduce the tension.
  3. Make an action plan. Once you know the source then brainstorm to manage the problem. How can you deal with the situation differently than ever before? Most people are uncomfortable with making changes. Changes are hard and unknown – even a difficult situation is at least familiar. An effective way to make successful changes is to take small steps of change. Think of some small steps that you can take to make changes in your life. Start with one little change and once you become comfortable with that change, then you can move to the next. An example of small changes is someone who is shy and wants to become more comfortable talking with others. That person may first say hi to neighbors, co-workers, etc., then begin to have small light conversations with perhaps the cashier at the supermarket, and ultimately, move on to participating in a club or organization. The key is small, baby steps to making changes.

Helpful Ideas for Dealing with Stress

• Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your relationships at both home and work.
• Work as a team at home and work. Reach out for support when dealing with difficult problems.
• Prioritize your work. Ask your supervisor and co-workers to help you organize your work. Break large projects down into smaller parts.stress4
• Don’t try to do more than you really can. Say no when you need to.
• Prepare as much as possible for stressful events.
• Realize this is a difficult time and you must take care of yourself: Eat healthy, drink enough water, regularly exercise or take walks. Keep fruit bars, fruit, and crackers in your work area. Take 5-10 minute breathers to the water cooler, window or outside. Take time during the day to stretch and/or do some deep breathing exercises or meditation.
• Find ways to relax, like taking warm baths or listening to your favorite music or nature tapes. Get away from stresses by participating in group and individual sports, social events and hobbies.
• Work to resolve conflicts. Deal with anger and conflict by taking 30-minute timeouts before responding, and listen with empathy. Try to understand why others feel the way they do.
• Say to yourself during the day, “I don’t have to be perfect.”
• Seek help when stress gets out of control.

Some of this may sound like common sense. Yet, if common sense was so common, then we wouldn’t find ourselves in the trouble we do. Many times, we just want to get rid of stress5stress, much like we try not to feel sadness or anger. However, stress and fear are a natural and necessary component of life. Stewart Emory once said, “The absence of fear is not an option that is available to most people. People are looking for that, but that is just not an option. The difference between people who are really making it in the world and the people who are not is simple: The people who are making it in the world are making it and they have fear.” We can’t eliminate stress, but we can find ways to balance and use stress to achieve our goals and dreams in life.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017  This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Why Exit Interviews Make Sense

By Dana Borowka, MA

Recently a strange occurrence got me thinking. On a personal note, I love to sail. After being members of a boat club for over ten years, my wife Ellen and I decided to move to another club. When we informed the club we were leaving they were highly efficient in deactivating our gate codes and privileges. No surprise there.

But it was what they did not do that surprised us. No one asked us why we were leaving. In talking to members at the new club as to why they didn’t join our old club we discovered there was a common complaint and it had nothing to do with boats: they did not like the food at the club.

This organization is needlessly losing customers over something that could be fixed. If only they had a process of conducting exit interviews.

For many a business, the exit interview has fallen out of favor. But in April 2016 the Harvard Business Review published an article singing the praises of exit interviews titled “Making Exit Interviews Count” by Everett Spain of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Boris Groysberg of the Harvard Business School.

The authors made their case in the article’s opening abstract:

An international financial services company hired a midlevel manager to oversee a department of 17 employees. A year later only eight remained: Four had resigned and five had transferred. To understand what led to the exodus, an executive looked at the exit interviews of the four employees who had resigned and discovered that they had all told the same story: The manager lacked critical leadership skills, such as showing appreciation, engendering commitment, and communicating vision and strategy. More important, the interviews suggested a deeper, systemic problem: The organization was promoting managers on the basis of technical rather than managerial skill. The executive committee adjusted the company’s promotion process accordingly.

“In today’s knowledge economy, skilled employees are the asset that drives organizational success,” state Spain and Groysberg. “Thus companies must learn from them—why they stay, why they leave, and how the organization needs to change. A thoughtful exit-interview process can create a constant flow of feedback on all three fronts.”

Why Some Experts Are Cool to Exit Interviews

“I am not a fan of exit interviews,” says Beth Smith, president of A-list Interviews and the author of Why Can’t I Hire Good People: Lessons on How to Hire Better. “I think it is a matter of too little too late.”

A horrible hiring mistake led Smith to create a company and write a book to help improve hiring results. Here is her take on the drawbacks of exit interviews:

Exit interviews are specifically designed for the employer. They do not help the exiting employee at all, because the exiting employee usually needs a reference from the company they are leaving. Telling the truth about the company doesn’t help the employee get that reference, and in certain circumstances, the information gleaned from the interview could be used against them. In addition, if there is negative feedback given, it is sometimes dismissed by the interviewer. “Well, that employee is just mad, so their feedback isn’t accurate.” My belief is that if an employee is leaving the company, they have attempted to tell someone in the company why. Whether it is a review, a conversation or a complaint, most employees don’t just up and leave without some sort of a notification.

Smith’s work is about interviewing right when hiring (something I agree with and advocate should be supported with proper in-depth workstyle and personality testing). Understandably, her coolness toward exit interviews echoes the view of many in business.

Smith’s belief is that if an employee is leaving the company, they have already attempted to tell someone in the company why. Who wasn’t listening to the employee when they were there?

Taking a Fresh Look at Exit Interviews

True, exit interviews have their shortcomings; however, in my opinion, it is a miscalculation to not conduct exit interviews because of the inherent faults. The research of Spain and Groysberg detailed in the Harvard Business Review supports this:

Though we are unaware of research showing that exit interviews reduce turnover, we do know that engaged and appreciated employees are more likely to contribute and less likely to leave. If done well, an exit interview—whether it be a face-to-face conversation, a questionnaire, a survey, or some combination of those methods—can catalyze leaders’ listening skills, reveal what does or doesn’t work inside the organization, highlight hidden challenges and opportunities, and generate essential competitive intelligence.

Other HR experts advocate a return to exit interviews—if they are done right.

“If an organization is a revolving door and it doesn’t care why, then exit interviews are a waste of their time and money,” says Claudia Williams, former associate general counsel, Global HR & Litigation, for The Hershey Company. “Most organizations, though, want to know why people are leaving and going to their competitors or elsewhere, especially when the attraction and retention of great people is a top, if not the top, concern for CEOs in the U.S. and globally.”

Williams, founder of a consulting company called The Human Zone and the author of the upcoming book Frientorship, argues an exit interview gives the employer a chance to get raw, candid feedback on what it does well and what it needs to improve – what’s keeping employees there and what’s causing them to leave.

“Time and again I’ve seen leaders surprised by the results of an exit interview, which means they don’t have their fingers on the real pulse of the organization,” says Williams. “An employer might be able to stop a great employee from leaving if it knows the real reasons behind the employee’s decision.”

The Value of Exit Interviews

“I valued and conducted exit interviews often in the army, individually and through the Army’s initiatives enterprise wide,” says Brigadier General Jeffrey Foley, U.S. Army (retired). “In the army, I often conducted exit interviews when people were transferring out to other army organizations when their tour of duty was up.”

“I valued and encouraged the conducting of exit interviews in the army, individually and through the initiatives sponsored by the army enterprise wide,” says Brigadier General Jeffrey Foley, U.S. Army (retired). “In the army, we often conducted exit interviews when people were simply transferring out to other army organizations when their tour of duty was up.”

Foley, who now runs a leadership consulting practice named Loral Mountain Solutions and is the coauthor of the book Rules and Tools for Leaders, offers his views on the four major benefits of exit interviews:

1. You may learn the real truths about your organization. You will likely learn what you may know or should know about typical challenges like money, opportunities for growth, shortfall of benefits, etc. You may also learn more profound truths like distrust of supervisor, harassment, illegal or unethical conduct that people were reluctant to report for whatever reason.
2. You set a great example for the entire organization that the leadership cares. The word will get out that the losing organization leaders cared enough to at least ask. If there is a standard practice of exit interviews and things changed in the organization for the better as a result of what was learned, there can be great benefit to the organization.
3. You may learn insights into your competition. Great information can be learned about what the competition is doing or offering that might affect your organization.
4. You can learn how to help those departing be successful. For the good people departing, it offers an opportunity for the losing organization’s leadership to help the person be successful in the next chapter of their lives. This support can be provided by letters of recommendation, references, or something unique based on an extraordinary event that caused the departure, such as serious sickness or tragedy that occurred that may have been previously unknown.

Williams offers a final warning:

“But proceed with caution,” she says. “Employers have to be ready and willing to act upon the information they receive, both to harness their strengths and to fix what’s broken (which sometimes means a workplace investigation into allegations of individual or corporate misconduct). Otherwise, the exit interview is a bunch of meaningless words.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching, skills testing and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

 

 

Why Breaking the Team Building Code is So Important Today

By Dana Borowka

There is certainly a lot of interest in team building. Try searching for “team building help” on Google and you’re presented with 62.9 million search results! Search for “team building activities” you’ll see another 38.9 million results. The information and solutions available are mind boggling.

Unfortunately, we’ve talked with too many companies that tried team building exercises only to see the results, if any, fade quickly. That’s because team building is much more than going zip lining together. (And we love zip lining!)

In the sports world, championships are frequently won not by teams with the most star players, but by the teams that play like a team – not by a group of individuals. As business managers, we understand this concept. Few of us have the resources to attract only the very best employees in their respective fields. Yet, if zip lining doesn’t pull the team in the same direction, what will?

In this article I’ll provide a list of team-member attributes for your reference; give a great example from the Ritz Carlton on what’s possible when the whole company is focused on the same goal; and explain how we work with clients to build or tune teams for higher levels of performance.

Do Your Teams have the Right Stuff?

It can be difficult to know why a team is performing or not. It helps to take note of all the attributes (positive and negative) that are present on the team.

To assist you we’ve compiled a list of 100 attributes that can be used to assess each member of a team. This isn’t perfect, by any means, because it can be subjective – you be the judge. However, it can reveal problem areas. Warning signs can be silos, poor listening skills, lack of cooperation between departments, defensiveness, lies, sabotaging projects, etc. If your team exhibits more negative attributes than positive ones than that needs to be addressed and resolved quickly.

The Age-Old Challenge: How to Get People to Work Toward a Common Goal

Successful coaches and managers are adept at melding different personalities and skills into a single unit with a common objective.

An unyielding focus on the customer should be a goal shared by everyone in a company. Creating a “closed-loop” culture really helps put everyone on the same page. Here are two articles on the topic of closed loop cultures: How to Create a Closing the Loop Culture and How to Hire Loop Closers.

Learning at the Ritz

For an example of how a large company builds a unifying focus look no further than The Ritz Carlton chain of luxury hotels. Here is the company’s credo, list of service values and the employee promise.

As you review this example, think about the ways you can build a genuine customer focus in your company.

The Credo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

By PortoBay Hotels & Resorts

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

Service Values – I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

The Employee Promise

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.

By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.

The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

Breaking the Team Code is Hard

The difficulty of the team challenge is one reason we’ve seen a big uptick in call volume from our clients who have gotten frustrated with the lack of observable results from team-building consultants and team-bonding exercises.

Putting Data where Our Mouth Is

We’ve been receiving these calls because our clients know that we excel at assessing work style personalities. They figure if we’ve done a great job over the years of helping them hire or promote the right individuals, we can have the insight to make a positive impact on team performance, too.

They are correct, or course. Since 1994 we’ve been combining behavioral science with human resource management principles to help our clients outperform their competition through periods of growth and recession.

For boosting team performance we’ve created a fast, effective and affordable service called the Lighthouse TeamView Service™.

Insight that Leads to Better Team Performance

We like to say that TeamView cracks the team building code. The essence of the program is that it helps teams of all types communicate powerfully, clearly and effectively. This is critical because the cause of all team failure is rooted in communication.

How do we crack the code and unlock the full potential of teams?

We start with having each team member complete an in-depth work style and personality assessment test. It’s not your run-of-the-mill test that has only 4-8 personality characteristics. Years of experience has shown us that having 16 primary characteristics are required for accurate insight.

Using Data to See the Dynamics of a Team

After the test results are in, we map the data using our proprietary Thought Flow Chart™. Like any good graph or chart helps visualize a situation, this chart helps to visualize the dynamic nature of the team based on how individuals prefer to receive and give information. Later in this article I go through an example based on an actual assignment.

You don’t have to figure out the Thought Flow chart by yourself. An LCS principal meets with you to review the test results. Together we create the right strategy to achieve ideal team functionality. Now you have a plan for how to go forward — a plan based on deep insight of the personalities of team members.

Involving the Team in Their Own Success

With the strategy and Thought Flow Chart in hand, LCS conducts a workshop for the team members (in person or remote). We reveal the results of the work style and personality tests. Everyone gains an understanding for the strengths of the other team members and how best to communicate with them.

Besides improving trust within the group, the workshop facilitates a process whereby the team and individuals commit to the actions and behaviors necessary for team success.

LCS recommends that management follow up with the team at least twice during the ensuing 60 days to make sure the commitments are being met.

Using TeamView to Build a New Team

While most of our assignments involve helping to tune an existing team for high performance, it’s not unusual for a client to ask us to advise them on building a team from scratch, or adding the right players to a team.

LCS follows the same TeamView process except that we consider what personalities need to be present on the team for it to achieve its objective, so there is direction for hiring and assignments. This could be assembling a project team to work on a big project for a troublesome customer. It could be filling a missing slot on an executive team that is already running smoothly.

TeamView to the Rescue

Here’s a fictitious example loosely based on an actual TeamView Service assignment.

The ABC Company was floundering. Due to recent turnover in the executive staff, the CEO, Hank, felt his team had lost its chemistry; its ability to work together to solve tough problems wasn’t what it used to be.

He called LCS and we immediately implemented our TeamView Service.

The Thought Flow Chart that resulted from our analysis of the work style and personality tests was immensely helpful to Hank and the team.
The data in the chart revealed that the executive group was very well-balanced. That reinforced what Hank believed. He knew the team had the right stuff, it’s just that they weren’t working smoothly together.

You can see an example of the Thought Flow Chart™ in our brochure.

In the workshop LCS exposed the team members to their individual work style and personality assessments. Everyone achieved a better understanding of what made the others “tick”. There was universal appreciation and understanding for the strengths of each personality.

What really made the difference for this executive team at ABC Company, is during the workshop LCS gave each person tools and tips for how best to communicate with each of the other members.

Understanding, respect, trust and clear communications were established in the team. After just 60 days, Hank was pleased to report that the team was performing at high levels once again.

Talk to Lighthouse

You can learn more about TeamView by visiting our Web page, or simply giving us a call at 1.310.453.6556 x403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

It’s Ok To Be Imperfect

By Ellen and Dana Borowka

So many times we don’t allow ourselves to be imperfect. We hold ourselves up to impossible standards, then criticize ourselves for not meeting those standards. We graciously accept for others the same flaws we berate ourselves for. So, how do we challenge this issue? Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs had an idea that he called “the courage to be imperfect”. When you have the courage to be imperfect, you can begin to let go of the past and focus on your talents today.girl with flower

You can:

♦ Constantly encourage yourself through positive self-talk, and don’t expect perfection. Positive self-talk is giving yourself encouragement rather than discouragement or criticism. Some examples could be, “I know I can do this”; “I am capable and effective in my work”; “I believe in myself”; and “I like who I am”.

♦ Monitor discouraging self-talk that may begin with absolutes like, I must, I should, I have to or I always and I never. These place judgment and are often unrealistic expectations.

♦ Challenge discouraging thoughts by asking yourself questions like, “Is this realistic and reasonable?”; “Why am I thinking this way about myself?”; and “What is really true about myself?”

♦ See mistakes as part of the learning process, not failures since everyone makes mistakes.

♦ Strive to express your talents and qualities fully, rather than to be better than others.

♦ Do what you can, and say no when you need to.

♦ Accept and value your efforts and yourself.

♦ View tough situations as challenges, rather than problems to overcome.

♦ Explore and love your imperfections as well as your strengths and good qualities.

I discovered a wonderful story that I think says it all:

“A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him. Finally, he wrote to the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?” In due course, the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.”

– Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird

plant twinLike the dandelions, we need to learn how to love ourselves with our imperfections, and not let the flaws take importance and attention away from our strengths. After all, perfection is all relative and is based on a perception of what we behold as being “perfect”. When you find yourself striving towards that model of perfection you may want to ask yourself several questions like , “Why am I holding out this model as being better than my current “self”?; What are the underlying reasons for wanting to change?; and “What small steps can I make in order to revise this goal to be more realistic?”.

Remember, life is filled with opportunities for learning and growing. The first step is to appreciate yourself right here and now with all your “imperfections”. The more you explore and challenge negative beliefs, the stronger you will feel. Then your courage will grow, and you’ll find that it’s ok to be imperfect.

For a long time it had seemed to me 

that life was about to begin – – real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way.

Something to be got through first,
some unfinished business;
time still to be served, a debt to be paid.
Then life would begin.

At last it dawned on me that
these obstacles were my life.

Bette Howland: Life in the Snake Pit, 7/90

This article contains some modified concepts from the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting Program, developed by Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., Gary D. McKay and Don Dinkmeyer, Jr.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017  This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

The Masks We Wear

By Ellen Borowka, MA

Masks have long been a part of daily life. From the past when tribal dancers wore them to worship their gods, to the present where children wear them for special holidays like Halloween. Our ancestors used masks for a variety of reasons. Some were worn to portray spirits, gods or animals; and others were used to protect and guard against misfortune and disease. There were masks to maintain contact with the dead through burial rituals or in ancestor worship; tomask2 represent characters in theater; and to celebrate the change of seasons and festivals.

Masks in Everyday Life

We use masks in everyday life too. Usually not made of wood, clay or stone as in primitive times, but one that seems invisible though it too conceals our true nature. This mask is the image or facade we present to others. It is our false self that was developed in response to an unsafe and demanding environment. We have different reasons for using this type of mask. We may want to protect ourselves from getting hurt or rejected by others. We may want to become what others want us to be, in order to be accepted by them. Perhaps we feel no one would like or love who we truly are, so we hide our true self. Or we might not like ourselves so we try to pretend to be like someone else.

Yet, I think the core issue is not feeling loved by others and ourselves. This seems to fuel our insecurities and we may find ourselves willing to do anything to be loved by others. Even denying our true self – who we are – our beliefs, our values, our desires, our needs. If we don’t love ourselves, then we depend on others to provide that love and make us feel worthwhile. Yet, they may look to us to provide the same thing! That makes for a very unstable foundation for our relationships as well as for our psyche.

How Do We Cope?

Coping mechanisms, like pleasing others, are based in these insecurities. We seem to develop our mask as a way to handle our fear of rejection and other painful feelings. Those who wear masks on Halloween are in disguise – pretending to be another person or creature. If we are conscious of our masks then we know we are not what we pretend to be. Many are not aware of the mask they present to others. Like the tribal dancer, we can in some ways become the mask we present. The facade can take over where we may feel we have little control over our lives. Whereas our ancestors may have believed that one’s religious or magical powers are released by changing identity and becoming another being, we actually lose our power when we allow our mask or false self to take over our lives. If we can’t be true to ourselves then we deny our expression, our soul, and we deny the light we bring to this world. I believe that each of us is here to not only discover and accept our unique qualities, but also to share them with others. That is the healing process when we touch heart to heart.

What’s Our Mask?

So, what kind of masks do we wear? I would say that our mask changes to meet the demands of the environment. In other words, our mask or false self depends on our external world whereas our real self relies on our internal world. Our mask reacts to the demands of our environment and our true self responds to our needs and desires. There are many different masks or coping mechanisms we take on. We may push ourselves to be perfect in how we look and/or how we act. We may deny our feelings of sadness or anger or fear, because we may have learned these feelings are “bad” or unimportant. We may feel we must always be right or good or knowledgeable. We may feel we have to care for everyone else to be loved and needed. Or perhaps we think we exist only to make others happy. These are just some of the masks we wear.
mask1What kind of mask do you wear? What are some expectations you put on yourself or false concepts you have of yourself? Do you think you “have to” or “should” or “must” do or say or be a certain way to be loved and accepted by others? If so, that might be part of your mask. A good exercise to learn more about your mask is to create a mask that represents the qualities of your false self. You can draw with markers or crayons and/or use parts of magazine pictures and words to create a life-size mask. Clay or paper mache with acrylic paints is also a good medium, and symbols are helpful to give your mask depth. Or you could write about it.
One might think it is necessary to get rid of the mask to allow the true self to be seen. Yet, actually we need both to live in this world and as our world becomes safer then we may need our mask less and less. George Washington once advised, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” So, we need our mask to protect our inner self. What is also needed is to have a balance between the two – allowing our inner light to shine out to others, while protecting it from those that cannot appreciate it. Our masks are not bad, but it just comes down to choice. The real self has choices of how to be, but the false self depends on others for how it should be.

Finding Balance

How do you find a balance? Some ways are to explore your inner world, and learn more about your true and false self. Begin to distinguish between the two, and discover all you can about yourself – not only your good qualities, but also your “bad” qualities or what Jung would call your shadow. The shadow contains our dark side and it’s important to explore the darkness and find healthy ways to express it. Work to appreciate and accept your qualities, your style, your strengths and your weaknesses. Support your realness to come to the surface while still acknowledging the need for your protective mask.faces

Being Real

Allowing your inner self to come forth is scary as it risks rejection, so you might want to take small steps in your risktaking to feel safer. Some may have so much pain and anger from past rejections or betrayals that assistance may be needed. When the past needs to be healed first, I suggest turning to a counselor or clergy for help. Norman Cousins once said, “The great tragedy of life is not death, but what dies within us while we live.” Don’t let your mask suffocate your inner light, but rather use it to create safety and security so your light burns brightly to the world.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and her organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Ellen has over 20 years of data analysis and business consulting experience and is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

8 Ways to Manage Your Time Effectively

By Dana Borowka – An excerpt from our book, Cracking the Business Code

Time management is usually a challenge for most people. We’ve put together a step-by-step approach so you and your team can begin to put together a time management plan of action.

Time Assessment

To improve your time management skills, first do a time assessment:

  1. For three days, keep a log of everything you do and how much time it takes, including both work and non-work activities. You can break your day into sections or track activities on an hour-by-hour basis.
  2. After three days, add up the time spent on each activity. When complete, the results should give you a good indication of which tasks you spend the most time.

Setting Goals

Goals help us to stay focused and make successful changes. After your time assessment is completed, think about what goals would be of personal and professional value to you.

On a regular basis, set concrete, realistic short and long-term goals, perhaps once a month.

Time Management Techniques

Once you have assessed your use of time and set some goals, you can implement some techniques to improve your time management skills.

  1. Prioritize: Each day, organize your tasks on a “To Do” list in order of importance. Concentrate first on essential and high priority tasks, and then later on low priority tasks. Incorporate your goals and deadlines into your “To Do” lists. At the end of the day, evaluate any incomplete items and see if any can be eliminated from your list. It’s important MC900367508[1]to be realistic when creating a “To Do” list. Don’t try to do more then you actually can.
  2. Delegate: Assign routine duties or special projects to others when you can. This will free you up to do more important tasks.
  3. Learn to Say No: I would venture to say that saying no is the most important part of effective time management. Many people constantly over-commit themselves to projects and tasks, rather than having quality time for themselves and their family. If you have problems saying no then you might want to get some assistance to further develop this skill.
  4. Break It Down: A very effective method to starting difficult projects is to break it into smaller, more manageable tasks. This can help to avoid procrastination, and transform overwhelming projects into easier tasks. If procrastination has become a chronic habit for you, dig beneath the surface to find out what is stopping you from getting things done. Some people procrastinate, because of some fear, like failing to do the project right or perfect. Discovering the source helps to heal the problem. Again, get help when needed.
  5. Organize Thyself: Strive to eliminate clutter from your workspace by creating an easy to access filing system and keeping your work areas cleared off. Don’t let reports and papers pile up — either file or dispose of them as soon as you can. File trays, horizontal or vertical, are very helpful to store paperwork that is currently being worked on or there are many electronic filing systems available.
  6. Throw It Out: Every two to three months, set a day aside and purge your files — both computer and regular files. Put this day on your appointment book and keep your appointment with the trash can. You’d be amazed how much stuff can be tossed or deleted and how good you will feel!
  7. Quiet Time: Designate a quiet hour or so to work on major projects. If possible, close your door and post a “Do Not Disturb” sign or make sure everyone in your area knows not to disturb you to avoid interruptions.
  8. Treat Yourself Right: Be sure during the workday to take walks, get something to eat or close your eyes for a few minutes. Also important is a healthy diet and an active exercise routine. This will help improve your concentration and productivity.

Time management is an opportunity that we all can work on. Start with some small steps and you can begin to measure your progress. Soon you will find you are controlling events and tasks that are within your power, rather than them controlling you.MC900252687[1]

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.