Categories for Work

What to Do When You Are Overwhelmed at Work

According to research conducted by Deloitte and reported on Forbes.com, “two-thirds of today’s employees feel ‘overwhelmed.’” Because of the “proliferation of technology,” work-life balance has disappeared and the barriers that traditionally kept work and home separate have broken down. The study identified the following key factors as contributing to feeling overwhelmed at work: • Working too hard (40% of men work more than 50 hours per week) • Distraction/multitasking (i.e., checking phones 150 times per day, literally) • Information overload including: emails, conference calls, meetings and other distractions If you are one of the two-thirds of employees feeling overwhelmed and... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2015 1:05 pm
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The Myth of Multitasking

According to Forbes.com, multitasking is a dangerous pursuit: “You’ve likely heard that multitasking is problematic, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain.” “Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” Fast Company takes it a step further: “Clifford Nass, a communication professor... Continue reading...

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March 4, 2015 11:00 am
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Misconceptions about Finding a Career Direction

I continue to have the opportunity to provide career coaching for a number of individuals — from high school students, to college graduates, to adults considering changing their career path (and almost every stage in between). I thought I would share some repeated misconceptions I hear in working with career-seeking individuals in our culture. Here they are: *MISCONCEPTION #1: The first thing to do is to figure out what you are interested in. WRONG: Nobody (except your mom) cares about what you want to do or are interested in. Ask any art history or English literature major still looking for... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2014 9:11 am
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So You Want to Work at Google? How to Make Your Workplace “The” Place to Work

So you want to work at Google? Or Apple? Or one of the “cool” places where they have free food, flexible work hours, and an informal work environment?  But the challenge is – you don’t live near Silicon Valley or have the skill set they require. (The second issue is the real limitation, isn’t it?) So what can you do where you work currently?  Even though you may not be the owner of your company, or even a high level executive, you can help make your workplace become “the” place to work.  Really. It is all about influence. We all... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2014 8:39 pm
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Do 70 Million Workers Really Hate their Jobs?

     This past week headlines of newspapers, website posts, and the talking heads on TV screamed about how U.S. employees hate their jobs (and that it is the fault of their managers).  Here are some actual titles: Millions of Bad Managers Are Killing America’s Growth (The Chairman’s Blog) Workplace Morale Heads Down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs   (Subtitled: “Bosses from hell’ are giving U.S. Worker the Monday blues.)  (NY Daily News) Most Americans hate their jobs or have ‘checked out’ (LA Times) So the headlines and news reports went last week, about a recent report released by Gallup... Continue reading...

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January 2, 2014 8:19 am
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How to Give a Meaningful Gift to Your Boss (or Colleagues)

Now is the time when many of us are starting to think: “I’d like to get my boss a gift for Christmas — just a little something — but what?  I don’t want it to look like I’m trying to gain her favor.  But I don’t want just to give her some token ‘something’ that will look schmaltzy.  (And I don’t want to spend a lot on it.)  What could I get her?” I think I have a good option for you.  But, first, let me frame the scenario: Most of us don’t need another “thing” (or the “things” we... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2012 8:32 am
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5 Tips for Improving Your Workplace

Labor Day used to be a day to recognize the benefits of organized labor and, more broadly, celebrate the American work ethic. More recently, however, it serves as a painful reminder of the deterioration of the American workplace. The national statistics, with unemployment between 9 percent and 17 percent depending on whom you ask, are bad enough. But even for the employed, work has become a barely bearable chore, with only 45 percent of workers in a recent survey saying they were happy with their careers. Many companies have withheld raises and bonuses over the past two years while reducing... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2011 12:26 pm
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Reflecting Reality — Sometimes Means Telling People Things They Don’t Want to Hear

When working with people in my role as a coach or counselor, I often tell them that part of my role is to “reflect reality” to them — to give them objective and honest feedback on how I see their situation, and what choices they actually have (versus the choices they wish they have). Some examples include: *Helping family business owners come to grips with that they have very different views of where the future of the business should go and how the business should be run — to the point that unless someone drastically changes their viewpoint, working together... Continue reading...

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October 24, 2010 1:55 pm
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“How Will You Measure Your Life?” + Some Observations

Sometimes someone writes an article, or gives a speech, that is noteworthy. Their thoughtfulness and manner of communication is remarkable. And you really can’t add much to what they have already said. But you want to share their thoughts with those important to you. Such is the nature of the article, based on his commencement speech to the 2010 graduating class at the Harvard Business School, by Clayton Christensen. He is a professor at the school and was asked by the class to speak at their graduation ceremony. I will briefly highlight some of his points — primarily to entice... Continue reading...

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August 1, 2010 11:24 am
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Successful Teams with Highly Talented Team Members

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work closely with business teams comprised of highly talented and successful professionals. Some of these high-powered teams work together well and achieve amazing results, while some of the teams are struggling a bit in working together effectively. And one of the teams had to reorganize because the team members couldn’t figure out how to work together. I’ve made some observations as well as pulled some information from other sources, about what needs to happen for a team of All Stars to be successful as a team. Characteristics of Successful... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2010 5:51 pm
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Similarities and Differences Across the World

I just returned from a week in Istanbul, Turkey, speaking at a conference, meeting with families, and doing some sightseeing. And I was struck by the similarities of issues that exist half away around the world, within cultures that have incredible differences. First, I need to let you know that Istanbul is a beautiful, beautiful city with incredible history, architecture, and stunning visual images. It is the only city that spans two continents — Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus river (a salt-water river that joins the Black sea to the north and the Aegean Sea to the south).... Continue reading...

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March 22, 2010 6:18 pm
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Trust and Business Relationships — Some Common Pitfalls

Recently, in a variety of settings I am observing the issue of trust impacting business relationships. Obviously, trust is at the foundation for business transactions — that the vendor will provide the goods or services purchased, that the goods or services will be at the quality level described initially, and that the customer will pay for the goods or services in the time frame agreed upon. Another area of business where trust is impactful is in the employer / employee relationship — where the employer follows through on commitments communicated to the employee and the integrity level of employees to... Continue reading...

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February 9, 2010 10:01 pm
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Five Observations from Businesses Who Succeed (or Don’t) in Difficult Times

Given that I have the opportunity to interact and observe with businesses across the country, it gives me the potential to learn from those whom I serve and interact. In preparing for a presentation to a chamber of commerce luncheon, I decided to share some of the observations I have gathered over the past months. I have seen businesses who are doing relatively well and those who are not (or who have closed their doors). And these are the patterns I have seen. Businesses who do well in difficult financial times: Are able and willing to make and implement tough... Continue reading...

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October 22, 2009 7:43 pm
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Characteristics of Healthy Workplace Environments

Recently, the American Psychological Association recognized 14 companies as leaders in creating healthy workplace environments. Besides just helping their employees “feel good” (the ubiquitous reply to anything psychologists do), there are some practical economic benefits for the companies as well: One company has reduced absenteeism by 34 percent The average employee turnover for the top five award winners was 11 percent, in comparison to the national average of 39 percent At these companies, 85 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs, in comparison to only 61 percent nationally And only 5 percent of the employees indicated they intend... Continue reading...

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May 5, 2009 6:55 pm
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Dealing with the Impact of the Economic Downturn

Almost all of us in the United States are now starting to personally experience some aspect of the global and national economic crisis.  Whether it is through a personal or family job loss, friends and extended family members who have been laid off, a slow down in your business, or projected reduced sales for next year — the impact is now personal.  This is different than hearing it on the news or reading statistics in a publication. I resent the frenzy and panic the media seems to want to whip up, because this type of communication doesn’t help anyone.  We... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2008 2:17 pm
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Learning from the Best: Musings from a Successful Top CEO

This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a conference for major donors of a charitable organization. It was a beautiful setting in Southern California, and my wife accompanied me, which was a treat. The other keynote presenter was Carlos Sepulveda, who is the CEO of Interstate Batteries, and a dynamic presenter. In addition to his presentation, Mr. Sepulveda had a follow-up question and answer session in which he expanded upon the concepts he shared. I thought I would share some of his thoughts which were thought provoking to me: “There is no such thing as business ethics.” He... Continue reading...

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October 20, 2008 6:02 am
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Learning about Marketing — and Community

I want to write about some things I have been learning about “marketing” but I don’t know how to frame the issue and information in a way that doesn’t turn people off. That, historically, has been my reaction to “marketing” — makes me think of either high-dollar, high-glitz Madison avenue advertising campaigns or a slick (possibly slimey), fast-talking guy who gives you tips on how to sell people services or goods they don’t need and don’t really want. (My apologies to my marketing consultants who are wonderful, warm people that don’t come anywhere near close to this description.) But this... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2008 9:54 am
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Perseverance — It’s not pretty. It’s not fun. But it works.

Endurance. Perseverance. Persistence. Patience. They are words I hear a lot when individuals who are successful in their field describe how or why they succeeded. And yet perseverance is not a word nor a concept that we are especially drawn to. It is almost one of those characteristics that we look back on and view positively, but not one that leadership speakers frequently preach to us. The definition is interesting to me. “Perseverance: Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.” Perseverance is not just blind repetitive action — doing the same thing... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2008 7:41 pm
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How to Create Problems in Your Life: Avoid Conflict

I have observed a common pattern across many areas that I work (and live) — people avoiding dealing with tense or conflictual situations in their relationships with others. And almost always, not dealing with the situation creates additional problems or makes the conflict larger and more intense (often involving more people than were originally involved). And it happens in lots of settings: in family businesses, between family members working together in office settings, between coworkers who can’t get along in marriages, between spouses in extended families, between parents-in-law and their children’s spouse in schools, between teachers and parents of the students... Continue reading...

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July 14, 2008 5:16 am
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Lessons Learned from My Grandfathers

On this Father’s Day, I thought I would reflect some on the lessons I learned from my grandfathers. My Grandpa White was the only child in his family and his father died when my grandpa was 16 years old. As a result, he became in charge of the small family farm and the “man of the house” at that young age. I heard stories growing up how my grandfather was a creative problem-solver. For example, he set up a water supply system from the spring on the farm to a storage tank in the farmhouse. He also was frugal, but... Continue reading...

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June 15, 2008 5:35 pm
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Good News! Research Verifies “Work is Good for You”

Although I am a psychologist who has published research myself, and reviews and uses research findings in my everyday work, those of you who have known me for a while also know I have a bit of a skeptical (and sometimes cynical) view of claims made by researchers (and even more so, claims reported in the mainstream media). Part of my skepticism is based on experience of seeing research questions, designs and results skewed by the researchers’ a priori biases (i.e. the beliefs they held prior to the research, which affected how they looked at the problem). And part of... Continue reading...

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June 2, 2008 7:57 am
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Trying to Apply Leadership Principles — Being Prepared, Adjusting to Circumstances & Learning

I write about the principles of leadership that I either observe in successful business owners and managers, or what I read in books and articles on leadership. So it makes sense that I should try to apply these principles, as well. Here I am, waiting in an airport, delayed due to weather in Chicago (where I am hoping to go). So I am trying to apply a couple of principles I frequently hear about — be prepared, and be willing to adjust to life’s circumstances. I have traveled enough over the past several years to know that there is always... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2008 5:32 pm
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When Is a Problem Really a “Problem”?

A fair amount of my time professionally is listening to individuals, families and organizations who are experiencing some challenges that they are trying to manage successfully. They describe to me a variety of problems and are looking for insight on what to do. The issues range from individual behavior and feelings — anxiety about life, problems with anger management, patterns of communication which are viewed as condescending by others, uncertainty about one’s future career path — to problems solidly planted in the midst of relationships (marital conflict, a teenager or young adult who is demonstrating behavior problems and the parents... Continue reading...

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February 10, 2008 5:52 pm
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4-1 = 0, The Confusing Truth of Emotional Intelligence and Finding Good Employees

When I have the same issue repeat itself three times in one week in different settings, I reach the conclusion that I better write about the issue. A growing issue for businesses is the challenge of finding quality employees. And, as we have discussed previously, it is currently equally difficult for individuals seeking work to find jobs which are a good match for their abilities and values. As I shared this week with various employers, managers, and family business owners, there are four characteristics needed for a person to be successful in their career. And these characteristics are true, regardless... Continue reading...

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February 3, 2008 1:20 pm
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What Do You Do When You Are Overwhelmed?

Ok. Confession time. I am feeling overwhelmed. It seems like I have more work (and other life tasks) to do than I have time and mental (or emotional) energy. [I can hear the thoughts now: “Physician (or psychologist), heal thyself!”] Let me explain the reasons for my current condition (from my perspective, that is; my wife will probably have other factors she would add). I believe my “overwhelmedness” is a combination of both: (a) lifestyle, and (b) a convergence of circumstances. On the lifestyle side, I tend to run at a fast pace, pack my days and weeks quite full,... Continue reading...

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January 29, 2008 3:53 pm
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Doing the Daily Speel

As one of my friends often says, “Life is daily.” And this is the time of year that proves the point. Mid-January, February, and March is the time of year where we often have to just “gut it out” on a daily basis. The holidays are over, most vacations are done, and now is the time to get stuff done. This is true for students, in work, in physical fitness, and all parts of our lives. Another friend of mine has observed and commented that some people are good at the daily discipline of life, others do well in making... Continue reading...

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January 13, 2008 4:40 pm
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Networking Can Maximize the Search for Good Hires

Networking Can Maximize the Search for Good Hires I was talking to a friend who is the vice president for business development at his company. He was looking for a new project manager. “If you hear of anyone who may fit the qualifications, have them contact me,” he said. I asked him why couldn’t he find someone through the regular processes — the classifieds or employment Web sites. “Finding good people is tough,” he said. “You get hundreds of resumes from the online sources, but over 50 percent aren’t even close to being qualified. That still leaves 80 to 100... Continue reading...

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October 25, 2007 11:38 am
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The Dark Side of Wealth: Risks associated with growing up in an affluent family — Risk #2: No sense of direction or purpose in life

Following up last week’s entry on the risk of drug and alcohol abuse in wealthy families, the second risk from growing up in an affluent family I see among second- and third-generation family members is an overall sense of being “lost” in life. I frequently “interact with” individuals who have been raised in a wealthy environment, and they really don’t have a sense of purpose or meaning in their lives. Sometimes they are just “floating” and sort of hanging out. Other times they want to “go somewhere” and do something meaningful, but can’t find the right direction. I have some... Continue reading...

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October 13, 2007 8:58 am
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Business Lessons from Music

Music, and how it is performed, seems to serve as an interesting analogy to business. A solo features a single, star performer – and in the true sense of a soloist, they perform totally by themselves (although they may sing while accompanying themselves on an instrument). Truly talented soloists are entertaining and able to maintain the audiences attention. But less than stellar soloists become rather boring and repetitive after a while. More interesting is a soloist with some back-up musicians. The soloist is still the featured performer and the focus of the performance, but with additional support musicians (piano, guitar,... Continue reading...

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September 29, 2007 1:05 pm
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Work / Life Balance and the Superball

This week I have been asked to present to my local Chamber of Commerce on “Work / Life Balance”. After thinking about it for a while, I chose to use the Superball as an object lesson. Now for those of you who are young and don’t know much about the Superball, let me fill you in. The Superball was marketed by Wham-O (who also sold Hula hoops in the early 60’s, and the Frisbee in the 70’s). Introduced in the summer of 1965, by that Christmas they had sold 7 million balls (for 98 cents each). What was amazing about... Continue reading...

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September 13, 2007 8:26 am
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