February 01, 2017

Here's How to Leave Work On Time

 

Leaving

 

One evening at the office, I had packed my laptop, slung my purse over my shoulder and stood up from my chair to head home. At that moment, a co-worker sauntered over to my desk asking for help on a project.  I noticed earlier in the day, she had been chatting away with another co-worker and had wasted about an hour shooting the breeze. Now, she was stuck staying late at the office and if I helped her, I would be, too.

Most of us find it is hard to leave work on time. A quick peek at email before heading out the door can turn into a half-hour delay. And then there are those last minute requests that push us into overtime. Many of us fail to prioritize and find ourselves staying late at the office finishing something we could have done earlier.

Whatever the reason you're leaving late, it’s possible to do a better job getting out of work on time. Here’s how to make it happen:

Ramp up communication. I often have scrambled out the door way past the time I was supposed to stop working. One year, I resolved to leave by 6 p.m., which required starting my day promptly. I talked to my manager about my plan. By doing so, rather than just trying to bolt when no one was looking, I got his buy in. He understood my goals and changed his habits of making late afternoon requests. Managers, customers and co-workers become less likely to drop to-dos on your lap toward the end of the day when you establish a pattern of leaving on time and communicate your schedule.

Understand the consequences. Many times, I have spent double the amount I should on something because I started it when I was tired. Research shows working longer hours doesn’t contribute to higher productivity. In studying a variety of research, the Harvard Business Review found working more than 40 hours a week could make some workers less productive, put them at risk for making mistakes, and create the appearance of poor time-management skills.

Plan your day before arriving at work. I have learned the hard way it’s easy to get distracted by email, social media or talking to co-workers during the day. If you want to leave after eight hours, you need to be efficient within those hours. Rather than go with the flow of the workday, know what you need to get done when you walk in the door. When you plan your workday before you arrive, you should make a psychological commitment to that departure time. Some days may not go as planned. Many will.

Give yourself a 20-minute window for departure. If you wait until 6 p.m. to start packing up, you likely will get delayed by distractions. Once you’ve set your departure time, block out the 20 minutes prior to that time on your calendar to clean up any last daily details.

With some change in habit, you can actually get out the door on time. Of course, you have to believe it is possible -- and resolve to make it happen.

For more, read my Miami Herald column on leaving work on time.

 

January 27, 2017

Tools to help with work life balance

I am making my to-do list when I start to think about whether I am using every tool possible to keep my life in order. Many days, I feel overwhelmed. I know there are all kinds of tools out there to help, but what are they?

Today my guest blogger is Robin Wright, EVP, HR & Corporate Operations, GENBAND, a Plano, Texas-based company that makes software for telecoms and cable TV operators. Robin has people skills and tech skills, which makes her uniquely prepared to share her insight on tools that can help us keep our lives together more efficiently.

 

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Here is Robin's perspective and tips for better work life balance:

As we move forward in the new year draws, we are generally full of resolve to make things better. In my role as head of HR and other corporate operations at GENBAND, this is an issue I talk about with a lot of people. As a former consultant and entrepreneur myself, I’m always interested in the different options and tools available to help manage our time and make the most of what we’ve got.

 

Luckily technology, which often feels as if it is overwhelming us, can also help. Here are some unique and effective solutions that can bring you one step closer to the ever-hoped-for work/life balance, remembering, of course, that progress, not perfection, is how we get to where we want to go.

 

Routine Tracking

 

You can’t change something you can’t measure – getting a sense of how much time you’re spending working, exercising, seeing the family, doing chores and everything else will help you see patterns and give you a sense of what adjustments you may need to make.

 

Apps like TimeTune for Android and ATracker for iOS follow routines and provide data so that we can analyze how we actually spend our days. With that knowledge in hand, it gets easier to work out how we can shift toward a more realistic ratio of working to relaxing. Because chances are high that we’re doing way more than we even realize.



Organization Tools

 

It can be a challenge to stay organized while juggling all the various facets of life. Staying on top of things now can help to ensure that we will not be buried by it all before the year is over. While studies show that 89 percent of the workforce uses outdated technology, most of us also have access to smartphones or smartwatches. Simple but powerful tools like reminders, calendar markers, to-do and shopping lists, journals and even recording memos/conversations (with everyone’s authorization) can go a long way towards regaining some control.

 

Cozi helps alleviate scheduling concerns by putting all of these lists in one place. It includes a calendar, to-do list, shopping list, journal, and even a recipe manager. It’s cloud-based so that everyone in your household or family can access it easily. Gone are the days of frantic whispered phone calls at work to coordinate schedules, set up doctor’s appointments or even select the evening’s menu.

Another helpful app that goes beyond calendar reminders is Fantastical 2. It combines both and includes natural parsing language so that simple commands (typed or dictated) can be scheduled on your behalf. All events, reminders, alerts and to-do lists appear in one main feed. Simply tap to edit, copy, move or share an event or reminder.



Hour Planning

 

Focusing on a task requires having the time to do so and that’s where scheduling can help. This might include planning a 30-minute prep session, dedicating 15 minutes to relaxation before heading to a client meeting, or getting started on a slide presentation. Plotting out time allotments at the beginning of each day, including mental health breaks and time for managing interruptions, can be a huge boost. Apps like Hours Time Tracking help us to stay on track and alert us when it's time to redirect our attention to the next task. Keeping to our allotted times can help with focus and productivity while keeping to our schedule will mean we can make it home on time.  



Keep in Touch

 

Ernst and Young also reports that more employees are forced to work “flexible hours”, meaning they're expected to be on call whenever the company needs them. And we know that for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the line between work and non-work hours has always been blurry.  Our mobile phones mean that we’re no longer tied to a desk for fear of missing an incoming call. But our phones have also become a critical part of our daily lifestyle, both personally and professionally, and we often have a hard time not answering, even if it’s not the right time.

 

Adding a business line to our personal phone can help by providing the option to switch back and forth between business and personal when we need to. For example, our own Business Phone by Kandy allows us to have two completely separate phone numbers (and voicemails) on one phone. We can share the business line with co-workers, and it will ring out on their phones too if one of us can’t pick up. There is also an “out of hours” setting so we won’t be disturbed when we’re on our own time.

 

To help keep up with our social lives, the Connect app makes getting with friends as simple as a few clicks. It puts us in touch with our contacts from our phone, email addresses, or social media accounts, shows us when someone is visiting nearby, and lets us quickly make plans for the evening.

 

Here’s to more balance in 2017, for all of us. And if you have any of your own tips, please leave them in the comments below.

 

January 25, 2017

Inspiring Scenes from the Women's March

Like thousands of other women, men and children, I attended a Women's March on Saturday. The one I attended was in Miami. I went because I believe in democracy and because I write about work and family. I went because I believe in paid leave and sick days so all parents can keep their jobs and have families.

I have watched as many women's organization have worked tirelessly to advance the causes that will make the lives better of working mothers and their families. I want to see that continue. I want us to march forward as a nation toward improving the lives of the people who are working hard to support their families.

According to Time Magazine, millions of people participated in the women's marches that took place across the country and around the world on Saturday. Exactly how many millions is difficult to pin down since large crowds are notoriously tough to count, but a pair of researchers place the figure at at least 3.3 million just in the U.S., based on hundreds of news reports and Facebook data.

Regardless of how many people attended women's marches, by far, what inspired me most was young girls who marched and the signs they carried. I am completely convinced our nation is in good hands in the future after seeing the passion and purpose that young people expressed through their presence, their signs and their positive energy. 

Here are a very reasons I am inspired by the next generation: (These photos are from the Miami Women's March and Rally)

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These photos are from the D.C. March via Working Mother Magazine. Click here for more of Working Mother's photos.

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So, are you inspired too? Do you agree that the future of women and families is in good hands?

 

January 19, 2017

Brenda Barnes: A Working Mother We All Should Mourn

 

A few nights ago, I was late to pick my son up from sports practice because of a business event. When I pulled into the school parking lot, he was sitting alone on the curb looking exhausted. I knew had still had hours of homework ahead of him and I felt awful for being late. I know in the big picture, no one would accuse me of being a horrible mother, but at that moment, I felt like one.

Some days, juggling work and family is more difficult than others. Brenda Barnes knew that juggling act well. 

BarnesI had just started writing about work and family when I met up with Brenda Barnes. She was the first female CEO of PepsiCo and a working mother of three. Brenda Barnes did something few women at her level in business had dared to do. In 1997, when Brenda was president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America, she resigned after 18 months to become a stay-at-home mom. Her children were then 10, 8 and 7 years old. She told the New York Daily News at the time that "You have to make choices. Maybe I burned (the candle) at both ends for too long."

The backlash from Brenda’s resignation was loud. Many women didn’t approve, and her actions fueled the “Can Women Do It All?” debate over the extent to which family duties keep women out of executive suites.

I spoke to Brenda about the time and she told me she was still engaged in the business world and was sitting on corporate boards. But she was also driving her children to soccer practice and the movies. She sounded happy.

Years later, Brenda did something equally as noteworthy.Not many women return to the highest ranks after taking time off, but in 2004, with her children teenagers and preparing for college, Brenda went back to a full-time job at Sara Lee Corp. She became CEO, and then added the chairman title a few months later. She accomplished the tough task of renaming the company and making it profitable. It was as if Brenda proved that spending time with her children didn’t make her any less of a capable businesswoman.

Unfortunately, in 2010, Brenda suffered a stroke while working out at a gym near her home. She resigned as CEO of the company when it became clear she faced a long recovery. Brenda spent the last 6½ years working on her recovery until recently when during her sleep, she had another stroke that took her life.

When I learned of Brenda’s recent death at 63, it hit me hard. I wanted this strong woman to succeed at everything she did. By my standards Brenda succeeded at the most important job she held, being a mom. Her daughter Erin Barnes told the Sun Times she remembers her as “the best mother you could ever imagine." Erin also spoke to the importance of family in her mother’s life. “Family is what she lived for,” she said.

To me, Brenda Barnes represented the juggle we all do and the tough choices we face trying to be there for our children and our jobs. To me, she was a role model who exemplified that it’s okay to put our family first at times, and our jobs first at other times. I will think of Brenda’s efforts at balance often, and give myself a pass when I fall short of the expectations I place on myself. I hope you will, too.

 

 

Video clip from Interview with Fortune Magazine

January 13, 2017

Why working mothers need to pay attention to what's going on in D.C.

                                                Mom

 

As a mother, I'm concerned. As a women, I'm concerned. As someone who writes about work and family issues, I'm concerned.

There's a lot at stake in the next four years. I need to pay attention. So do you.

In recent years, we have seen progress in benefits offered to working mothers: More companies began offering paid maternity (and paternity) leave or extended the time off. More cities and states passed paid leave and paid sick days laws.  More women and families gained access to healthcare. The issue of equal pay became front of mind. Lastly, minimum wage increased in 21 states, a crucial boost for families living paycheck to paycheck.

Yes, we've seen progress. But don't get too excited yet. Changes are afoot that threaten some of the advances that make a difference in the lives of working mothers. We need to ensure all working mothers receive crucial workplace protections and medical benefits.

Here's what we need to watch and weigh in on:

1. Repeal of Obamacare and its replacement. Republicans in Congress want to take away healthcare from tens of millions of people without offering a comprehensive, transparent or vetted replacement plan.

Debra Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families, made this statement: Senate Republicans demonstrated blatant disregard for women’s health and economic security by voting against amendments designed to prevent insurance companies from charging women higher premiums than men and denying coverage to women simply because of their gender; ensure access to affordable birth control; and preserve Medicaid expansion and the Medicare program as we know it.  As the budget moves on to the U.S. House of Representatives, on behalf of the millions who stand to lose health care, we demand that House leadership stop playing politics with our health care, especially women’s health, including reproductive health, and instead make it a priority." 

It's tempting to think our voices don't matter on this issue that affects millions of people. Working mothers can't afford to ignore access to medical coverage that saves lives and prevents bankruptcies. 

2. Paid sick leave.  People are more likely to go to work sick or send a sick child to school if they don’t have access to paid sick days. Ivanka Trump appears to be a proponent of some type of legislation around this issue.  The Healthy Families Act, floating around Capitol Hill,  is an important piece of legislation that could make a difference for many families by putting a national paid sick days standard in place; The National Partnership for Women & Families wants us to show our support with a message: "Pass a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It's the right thing to do." Here's the link to get your voice heard. 

3. Equal pay. There won’t be a female commander-in-chief this year, but women made big gains in other areas of government and business. Eleven of the top nation’s courts will have a majority of justices who are women in 2017. As Working Mother notes: Women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, but several executive actions signed by President Barack Obama will help increase transparency in pay—a crucial step toward eliminating the wage gap. Now, all of Obama's executive actions are at risk. We need to keep a close eye on this important step in the right direction for working women and working moms, and fight in our own workplaces for more transparency, too. Here's the link to encourage members of Congress to support fair pay.

4. Workplace Fairness. You should not get fired or lose a promotion because you’re pregnant. And you should never have to experience sexual harassment at work. It’s not right, but discrimination is common in the 21st century workplace. There are efforts going on to quash the nomination of Trump appointees who have a disregard for equality. I urge you to support those efforts.

5. Women's March on Washington. On January 21, millions of women plan to march on Washington to protect our rights, our safety, our families, and our democracy, and to say NO to hate. You can keep up with developments @womensmarch or #womensmarch. Also, MomsRising does a great job of keeping the public up on key issues of importance to moms.

 

March

What else we need to watch:

  • Millennials today earn 20 percent less than their boomer parents at the same age. With student loan debt and high childcare costs, young families are moving in with parents. Great article in USA today about this trend. 

 

This is an important year to keep up with the news and let your voice be heard! We can all play a part in keeping the momentum going in a positive direction! 

January 04, 2017

The surprising question that will lead you to work life balance in the new year

                                         Mcfamily

                       (Billionaire Mark Cuban wants to spend more time with his family in 2017)

 

 

While hitting the post-holiday sales with a friend, she told me all about her resolution for 2017: “This year, I’m going to have a better work life balance.” Her declaration didn’t surprise me. This is the time of year my friends tell me that they work too much or they want to find a new job. Just this morning, I watched Live with Kelly, guest hosted by Mark Cuban. Mark told Kelly his resolution for 2017 is to spend more time with his family. I guess even billionaires have trouble balancing their lives!

At the start of a new year, it is typical to contemplate our work and home lives and rekindle our desire to find the work life balance. After many years of setting resolutions in which I fell short, I now realize that there is a simple question to ask when we want to take charge of our lives or set new goals:

How can I be happier?

Answering that question requires introspection. When we ask ourselves, “How can I be happier?” we aren't considering what goals we should achieve. We aren’t comparing ourselves with friends or co-workers.

Here is my suggestion: Before making your resolution for 2017, picture yourself with a smile on your face. What are you doing? What do you look like? Where are you living and working? Who is by your side? Now, think about what you need to do to be that person with a smile on your face.

Get out a pencil and paper and write down your plan. When I took out my pencil to make my plan, the results surprised me. Last year, I enrolled in graduate school. I took one class and loved it. I had planned to make my resolution for 2017 about getting through my grad school program as quickly as possible and loading up on classes this year.

When I sat down and thought about how I could be happier, I realized that enjoying family time with my son in high school before he leaves for college is what I want. So, instead of loading up on classes I am going to take one or two at a time and spend some quality time with my son on the weekends.

I asked my husband what would make him happier in 2017. At first, he spoke about promotions at work and financial goals. But when I pressed him harder, he admitted he would be happier figuring out a plan to ensure a comfortable retirement. His plan is more about rethinking our current spending and savings than putting in more hours at work to make more money.

So before you resolve to exercise more or get organized or make more money, think about how - and if – your goal will make you happier. Then, create a path to gain more enjoyment from your life. Keep a picture of a smiling you on your computer or cell phone screen and replace it with new ones throughout the year.

Wishing you a fantastic 2017!

December 20, 2016

How busy people keep up their holiday stamina

Last night I picked my daughter up from the airport and found myself yawning the entire ride home. I wanted to hear about her semester at college, but I was just too darn tired to really pay attention. For the last few weeks, I have tried extra hard to keep a work life balance as I juggle work deadlines with holiday/charity events and shopping. 

I love this time of year, but it takes stamina to stay happy, healthy and energized during the holiday season.

Sleep. For me, that requires a good night sleep. I have been trying to power down an hour earlier than usual at night. I also make my to do lists for the next day before I leave my desk each evening. It has helped me have a clear head so I can go to bed without worrying about everything I need to do the next day.

Exercise. There are other ways too keep your stamina up. Recently, I spoke with Randall Vitale, regional Unknown-1
vice president for Hoffman's Chocolates. It's a super busy time at Hoffman's, which has a factory in Palm Beach County and 10 stores in the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach area. Vitale has stepped up communication with his 10 store managers during its busiest month of the year, huddling daily and encouraging managers to make customer interactions impactful and correct order mistakes quickly. “We want customers to come back next year and the year after.”

To stay productive and enjoy the holidays, Vitale, finds pockets of time for stamina-building. He uses odd hours when his seven-month-old wakes up to lift weights, do yoga stretches or stroll the baby around the neighborhood. “Ramping up exercise not only helps with stamina, it also counteracts the extra eating at holiday parties,” he says.

Focus. Some people keep their stamina high by focusing on a reward. Jessi Berrin, a Baptist Health South Florida director of government and community relations, has been to a slew of holiday events and is still going strong. "Even though this is the end of crazy busy year, I continue to push myself knowing I am taking time off next week. It helps knowing the reward is just down the road."

Listen. I have noticed when I listen to my favorite music, whether it's Jingle Bell Rock or the latest from Fifth Harmony it puts a pep in my step.  Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but can put you in a great mood to get more done.

 

Plan. Another way to keep your stamina up is to energize yourself for new year. Julia Aquino-Serrano, Unknown president of the National Association of Business Owners Broward chapter and CEO of business consultancy All Systems Grow of Coral Springs, has set aside four hours  to write a work and life plan for 2017. (Writing it down is the key, she says)  Earlier in December, Aquino-Serrano launched a second company, Tees for Humanity. With two businesses, her 2017 plan will include how she will grow her companies and deal with work life balance. “I will consciously make choices and not carry around guilt.”

Yes, the holiday can be stressful, But they can be fun, too. Stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if your kitchen is cluttered or your inbox is overflowing  Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life and you are sure to finish out 2016 strong!

 

 

December 19, 2016

Pursuing Work Life Balance by Turning Your Have-to into Want-to

It's 7 p.m. and the boss needs someone to stay late to handle an emergency that just cropped up. Who does he ask to stay -- the parent who needs to pick a child up from daycare, or the single person whose evening routine tends to be a trip to the gym?

 As a working parent, I can easily forget that people without children are just as challenged achieving work life balance as those of us with children -- sometimes more so because employers assume they are available all the time. For this reason, I truly appreciate the perspective of guest blogger, Michelle K. Suarez,  a business lawyer with the full-service law firm Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale and a former personal trainer and fitness competitor.   

 

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As 2016 comes to an end, the importance of living a balanced life has worked its way to the top of my list. You see, I am a passionate person. Almost to a fault. I am passionate about my career, my family, my community, my fitness and my friends. But, I am often asked: ‘How do you do it? How do you find the time to practice as an attorney, publish articles, be active in the community, workout, prepare meals for the week in advance, and still have time for your loved ones?’ The truth is, it takes a lot of planning. If you want balance in your life, you have to figure out what you are passionate about, and make time for it, no matter what. To accomplish this, I consciously allocate my time by trying to turn the things I have to do into the things I want to do.  

 

One way that I incorporate these tips into my own life is by making sure to discuss the week ahead with my boyfriend (who is also my workout partner), so that we can schedule our workouts together. Even though I’m not one to talk much during a workout, we have started to use our time driving to the gym and back as a way to stay connected and fill each other in on our day. And, even if we can only fit in a twenty minute weight session when our schedule is extremely tight, we make sure to commit to the gym date and we do it together. It makes our gym dates fun and something I look forward to.

 

Life has a way of challenging us, until we eventually figure out what it is we really want. If what we really want is more time with our family, to work in a profession we love, or to be healthy and in great physical shape, life will keep redirecting us until we figure out how to get closer to that goal. This is where it becomes important to make the distinction between having to and wanting to do it.

 

For example, my paralegal recently complained about needing to lose weight after her son was born but claimed that she just could not find the time to exercise. I showed her the various ways she could do exercises at home, using her two year old son as a weight. This way, exercise would not mean sacrificing time with her son and she could find a fun way to lose weight. The new plan worked and she and her son both love mommy exercise time. By turning her ‘have to exercise’ into her ‘want to exercise,’ she is much happier. She is even preparing healthier meals and has decided to pursue other passions she set aside long ago. And it all started by turning a ‘have to’ into a ‘want to.’  

 

I believe that when people say they want to ‘live a balanced life,’ what they really mean is that they would like to spend more time doing the things they love to do versus the things they have to do. And that starts by pursuing your passions.

 

                                 Ms1





December 12, 2016

What to give your boss for the holidays? Do you even need to give a gift?

 

                                           Gift

 

 

Many people struggle with whether to get their boss  a holiday gift. I have been one of those people who has contemplated this dilemma many times. I don't want to look like a kiss up, but I also want to show a good boss that he or she makes my work life enjoyable.

I try to go with gifts that are a little personal, but not too personal. For many years, I had a manager I considered a friend. He and I spoke regularly about our kids, our jobs and our goals. He helped me to do the best work I was capable of by being supportive of work life balance. When it came time for the holidays, I knew he liked to cook and eat gourmet dishes so I gave him food-related gifts – unique cookbooks, homemade desserts, fun cooking tools. The gifts were always accompanied by a note.

When gift giving to a boss, I think the note is the important part. Some managers feel pressure from above -- all the time -- and appreciate someone on their staff acknowledging that they are good at their job. I've given small gifts like a fun mug with a handwritten short note like: "Happy Holidays! Thanks for being a great boss!" If you aren’t thrilled with your boss, you can tone it down and try to find one thing about him or her that you appreciate and acknowledge it in your holiday note.

Another option is to pool with your colleagues to get a group gift. The group present should be inexpensive but thoughtful. The easiest gifts are consumable or usable --  a food basket or tickets to a show or sporting event. If you have a particularly bad boss,  you still might consider contributing to the group gift to avoid things getting awkward and appear a team player.

Gifts to a boss or co-worker are not mandatory. I think the key is looking closely at the culture of your workplace and reading your boss. A reasonable manager would never penalize someone, even subtly, for not giving him or her a gift at the holidays. On the other hand, you might not have a reasonable manager. Contemplate your own situation, and proceed accordingly. (But know that etiquette is on your side if you choose not to give a gift.)

Also, be careful about getting creative. One year, a manager I know received  giant Buddha statue from his assistant. I guess she was trying to help him feel more zen.  She insisted her boss display it. “Now I’m stuck with it seeing it every day and it irritates me,” the manager told me. “My advice is don’t give your boss anything he has to display. If you miss the mark, a nice thing turns into resentment.”

 When he told me this, I asked him whether he thought his assistant even needed to get him a gift at all. His answer was "it's always nice to feel appreciated." However, I have asked other managers the same question and they have told me they don't want a gift and they don't plan to give their staff gifts.

What are your thoughts on giving a boss a gift? Has it ever made you uncomfortable to give or receive a gift at work? Is it more uncomfortable not to give a gift?

December 07, 2016

Getting through rough patches in business

We all go through rough patches at work, whether we are the employee, the manager or the business owner. Some are more easy to navigate than others. I always appreciate when someone successful talks about a rough  patch and how he or she steered through it.

BethRecently big time corporate executive Beth Kaplan came to South Florida to address a women's organization. Instead of giving the typical "I made it to the top" speech, Kaplan spoke about the rough patches she has hit in her career and how she handled them. To me, that's valuable insight!

Kaplan has hit more than one rough patch. First she worked at Rite Aid, where there was a massive accounting scandal. She managed to leave with her reputation in tact.Next she worked at Bath & Body Works as executive Vice President of merchandising where she spent a ton of time ina different city, away from her family. She left when she could no longer handle the work life balancing act.  Next, she worked as president and COO of Rent the Runway in 2013, a New York-based online company, that loans  designer dresses and accessories to women for special occasions. She left that position in October 2015 and today she is a strategic advisor and board member at Rent the Runway.

In an interview with Wharton's Knowledge@Work , Kaplan explained that a key part of steering through rough patches is knowing how to exit a job with grace.

 “It’s amazing to me that people don’t talk about how to leave an organization. They all talk about how to join one, but they don’t talk about having to leave.”  she told  Wharton. She noted that Bath & Body Works had an extensively documented six-month onboarding process, provided in a large binder to new hires, which made no mention of how people should behave when leaving the company.

She talked with her boss, and together they designed a program with which, Kaplan said, she compiled all her insights and learning, and then “left with grace.” 

Kaplan outlined “certain ground rules” about leaving with grace. Be transparent with your manager, she said. “You go to your boss and say, ‘Look, I found this other opportunity, but I really care about this organization and I’m very thankful for everything you have given me.’ By the way, say that even if you don’t mean it.” Ask your manager how you can help make the situation a win-win, and discuss how much time it will take to wrap things up, she added.

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Kaplan recently shared a few stories and lessons learned from her career with 220 of South Florida’s leading women at The Commonwealth Institute’s Leadership Luncheon at Jungle Island she and had lots of wisdoms to impart. Fortunately, Lisa Cawley Ruiz, (pictured to the left)  a content marketing manager at Kaufman Rossin, one of the top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S., captured  those insights. She originally posted them on her firm blog but allowed me to share them with my readers as well.

 


Here are Kaplan’s top four tips for success:
1. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. It is your personal brand, and  follows you wherever you go.
2. Don't underestimate the impact you have on other people. Our behaviors (positively or negatively) affect those around us more than we realize, which is why it’s important to solicit quality feedback frequently.
3. Make a graceful exit.
How you leave a company is just as important as how you enter.
4. Pick the right partner. “We don’t always agree, but he always has my back,” Kaplan says of her husband. “He reminds me of the things that are most important in my life.”


Kaplan acknowledged that women often feel pressure to conform to expectations, and sometimes have to make decisions that may not be popular. If you’ve given a decision careful thought, you should stick by your choices, she said. “Never apologize for something you’ve thoughtfully considered.”

When the decision in question is whether or not to take a job, thoughtful consideration includes conducting due diligence on a company’s culture. As Kaplan learned the hard way through her experience of seeing Rite Aid nearly collapse in a high-profile financial scandal, culture can make or break a company. (The right culture makes steering through rough patches more doable!)


Recent reports have blamed a mean girl culture for numerous departures at Rent the Runway. However, while in South Florida, Kaplan said culture has been one of the top priorities for the leadership team at Rent the Runway.  The online clothing rental startup recently changed its compensation structure, eliminating bonuses and raising salaries in order to underscore its trust in employees, shift employee focus to long-term strategic thinking that can help scale the business, and create a culture of learning that encourages feedback, she said. Giving your team members “unvarnished, truthful and constructive feedback,” is important. And if an employee is no longer a good fit, address it sooner rather than later.

Kaplan's final piece of advice for busy women: Find a way to unplug and recharge. For some, it may be taking a vacation, working on a hobby or spending time with friends. For Kaplan, it’s ballroom dancing.