March 13, 2014

How smartphones make us ignore our kids

 

Smartphone
Have you ever ignored your kids because you were on your cell phone?

I hate to admit it but I definitely have done it. It's so hard to balance work and family and stay off your phone when you're around your kids.

ABC reports that researchers from Boston Medical Center went undercover in 15 local fast food restaurants to observe nature's parenting playground. Watching silently from a distance, they observed the interactions between family members, noting in particular the reactions children had when mom or dad punched away at the portable keys.

 

"It's just like people watching, basically, except we were taking very detailed notes about observations," said Dr. Jenny S. Radesky, a fellow in developmental behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and lead author of the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

 

Parents in 40 of the 55 families observed were absorbed in their mobile devices, according to the study. They seemed more distracted when they were typing and making swiping motions with the fingers than when making phone calls. And almost a third of the parents used their devices continuously throughout their meal.

 

Now, what I think is interesting is that some kids didn't even notice while others acted out to get their parents' attention. Our kids shouldn't have to fight for our attention when we're right next to them. We should be able to eat in a restaurant without using our smartphone.

My big concern is the message we're sending to our kids.

How many of you have seen teens at restaurants on their smartphones? I just raised my hand.

When parents do it, kids do too. We're sending our kids the message that it's okay to ignore us. 

The reports authored noted: "The conclusion I wouldn't draw from the study, is that we need to completely remove these devices when we are with our children," she said. "But it does raise the issue that we need to create boundaries for these devices when we are with our children."

 

So parents, are we trying too hard to balance work and life that we've let our smartphones interfere with family time? 

 

 

 

March 12, 2014

Managing a business through personal challenges

A friend of mine recently lost her mother. She confided in me that some mornings, she's so grief stricken, she can't get out of bed. It's a problem because she runs a business and relies on it for her income. When we think about work life balance, many of us tend to think it's all about juggling work and children. But sometimes, it's about juggling a business with unforeseen events in one's personal life. 

I tackled the topic in my Miami Herald column today. The biggest take away for business owners: learn the art of delegation!

 

For entrepreneurs, life events can disrupt business, too

 

 
Jackie Velazquez is a business owner who is just returning from surgery and now continues her busy schedule.
Jackie Velazquez is a business owner who is just returning from surgery and now continues her busy schedule. 
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
 

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

There’s nothing more exciting than breaking free of a cubicle and starting your own business — until you discover the drawbacks.

While entrepreneurs make their own rules, set their own hours and decide how they want to do business, they almost inevitably discover they lack a safety net when their personal lives get challenging. Many tackle divorces, medical setbacks, childbirth and loss of loved ones while still handling deadlines, tackling customer issues and making payroll.

Earlier this month, Jackie Velazquez tried to keep her 13-year business operating while undergoing surgery to prevent breast cancer. “The first thing that goes across your mind is how can I accomplish this and not miss work.”

Velazquez, owner of Miami-based Smarttarget Marketing, planned ahead for her business, creating targeted direct marketing lists. She asked clients to place requests by a specific date and informed them that she would be hard to reach for four days. She will do the same for an upcoming surgery with a longer recovery.

Meanwhile, she tried to adjust client expectations and answer email as much as possible from her hospital bed. Still, she says, she worries that clients will go elsewhere, or tasks will go unnoticed. “There is never a good time to be gone from work when you are a business owner. If your phone is ringing and you’re not answering it, money is not coming in.”

Undoubtedly, running a business, especially in today’s economy, is not easy and comes with stress. Most entrepreneurs say that they work long hours — an average of 55 hours or more — and 97 percent work on weekends, according to a 2013 Small Business Pulse survey by The Alternative Board, a business consulting firm. Handling life’s upheavals can be a serious concern for entrepreneurs whose jobs extend well beyond 9-to-5 hours.

One such challenge is childbirth. Even with the flexibility of working for themselves, few women entrepreneurs report giving themselves the luxury of three-month maternity leaves. “When you are dedicated to your business, you simply cannot in good conscience check out completely,” said Jessica Wilcox, founder of MoneyClip Direct, a direct mail advertising publication for businesses in South Miami-Dade.

Wilcox quickly learned that juggling isn’t just a metaphor. After giving birth, she gave herself a short one-month maternity leave before returning to sales calls with baby in one hand, invoice in the other. “If I’m not working, money is not coming in and the company is not growing,” she said.

Most importantly, she adjusted her expectations to sustain the business rather than build on it, holding on to existing advertisers rather than courting new ones. She worked just enough to handle “all those little things that can fall by the wayside if you’re not paying attention.” Now that her son is 1, she has hired child-care assistance and recommitted to expanding her business.

The larger the small business, the more challenging it can be to balance the rigors of running it with the demands of life and unforeseen events. A 2013 Small Business Annual Survey by U.S. Bank found that owners with employees are less likely than solo entrepreneurs to have enough time for friends and family and more likely to have their life defined by their business. But the successful ones understand the role their team plays.

Lisa Cann said her team is the only reason that her Pembroke Pines cupcake/dessert business remains open. For the past few years, she has juggled marriage counseling, health issues and financial concerns. “It has been so stressful,” she says. Throughout, she has relied on her employees at Royal Treatz to handle the day-to-day tasks while she focuses on the higher level work.

“I had to get them to realize we’re a team. I don’t want clock punchers. I want employees who are happy to be here and want the business to survive.”

Cann said she scaled back some, closing a kiosk in the Pembroke Pines mall. She continues to operate her storefront/party room with eight full-time staff, whom she relies on to handle sales, communicate about inventory and decorate cakes. “I’m one person wearing lots of hats. But if you hire well, train them right and build trust, your employees will run the business when you can’t.”

Read more...

 

Click here for the full results of The Alternative Board Survey.

March 11, 2014

Dealing with Workplace Drama

Have you ever dreaded going to work because you don't want to deal with the drama going on at the office? 

One day, riding to the office, I just knew there was going to be a big scene because my co-worker was going to publicly tell another colleague that she had enough of his slacking. Of course, the slacker was someone she had dated who had dumped her. Such drama! 

Expert Marlene Chism says those who say, “I don’t do drama,” usually have the most drama. She also says drama manifests in different forms, and all of us experience our fair share of it. Ignoring, avoiding or denying drama only increases its power, she says.

Today, Marlene is my guest blogger. She is an international speaker, consultant, leadership coach and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley 2011). She is currently working on her next book, From Drama to Enlightenment, Leadership Skills for Transforming Culture. Marlene, whose website is stopworkplacedrama.comoffers advice that all of us can use. 

Marlene

Improving Workplace Relationships: Three Responses to Dealing with Drama

There are many habits that can contribute to workplace drama.

One habit is taking the bait. It’s those times when you put your foot in your mouth, or you get drawn into an argument or communication exchange that you later regret, yet it happens again and again. It’s like you are a big carp swimming in a river and you see this juicy worm and you bite the hook. The other person is the fisherman who reels you in.

Even when you learn to identify the bait and swim right past that juicy worm, a few miles downstream you see a juicy piece of cheesecake and before you know it, you are being reeled in again.

It seems those who love to pull our triggers know just what bait to use. If you get wise to the worm, they figure cheesecake will work.

You mother knows how to bait the hook. When you call her, she answers with “Well hello stranger!”  Her innuendo of calling you “stranger” is manipulation to make you feel guilty for not calling more often. Yep, she knows just how to reel you in. It works every time.

In your professional life it’s the employee who shows up in your office with yet, another major life catastrophe that keeps her from performing. You feel sorry, offer some leniency and your kindness backfires. She calls in sick the next day.

If you want to stop being reeled in, here are the steps for improving workplace relationships:

1. Awareness
You must first recognize the trigger. If you can recognize the pattern, you can be prepared for the next time.

2. Offer No Reaction

Avoid the temptation to get the last word or to prove the other person wrong. Don’t resort to sarcasm or defensiveness. Simply take a breath and offer no response.

3. Listen and Acknowledge
To listen so the other person feels heard, acknowledge their emotion without agreeing with the content. Here are three examples:

*Wow. That must feel terrible.

*It sounds like you are frustrated with me. (Breathe)

*Sounds like you need some space.

In the workplace, it helps to have the compassion to listen but the wisdom to not get drawn into drama.

 

 

March 05, 2014

Can Candy Crush help with work life balance?

 

 

I love playing Sushi Toss on my iPad. It's uncomplicated fun! However, I'd rather spend my time hearing about my kid's day or catching up on phone calls with friends. So, I keep my game playing to a minimal.

Still, I can see the mindless appeal and I could see how it helps some people create a better work life balance. This week, I interviewed a few gamers and had to laugh when I hung up the phone. Boy some people really get into playing online games! I could hear the excitement in their voices as I conducted the interview and they explained the appeal of Candy Crush, Mafia Wars or World of Tanks and why they spend hours playing them. Sure, some of these people may be addicted, but as long as gameplay does cause harm to their home lives or careers, I say "enjoy!"

 

Here's my take on online gaming from today's Miami Herald. Do you think playing online games is a waste of time?

Are online games a waste of time or relief for the mind?

 
 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">FUN AND GAMES:</span> A smartphone user plays the ‘Candy Crush Saga’ puzzle.
 

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

 

After a day of negotiating legal contracts, Gail Serota sinks into her couch with her iPad and immerses herself in playing Candy Crush. The Miami real estate attorney finds playing the mobile game relaxes her. "It's a good stress relief."

Whether for relaxation or diversion, full time workers are squeezing time into their schedules for mobile games. They are launching flying birds, flicking onscreen candies and building words on virtual boards using their smartphones or tablets. Spil Games reports about 700 million people play online games, or about 44 percent of the world’s online population. And those numbers are expected to rise.

The habit can be addictive — and not just for actor Alex Baldwin, who was kicked off a plane for refusing to turn off his phone in the middle of a Words with Friends match. Other players admit to being so immersed they have left their children stranded at sports practices, gone late to work and even injured themselves as they tried to reach new levels of play.

Serota of Weiss Serota Helfman reluctantly acknowledges that at times, she has become so caught up in completing a level of Candy Crush that she has arrived late at an event. “When you’re in the moment, you’re focusing on the game and you’re just not thinking about other things.”

Not long ago, most gamers were young men playing on at-home consoles. Now, the advent of smartphones and tablets has changed gaming so much so that 46 percent of players are women, according to Spil Games’ 2013 state of online gaming report.

“We have so much on our minds and just want an escape,” says Marci Siegel, a medical recruiter and working mom who enjoys Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Siegel estimates she spends about seven hours a week playing the games on her phone. “Sometimes, my day is so crazy that I need a little guilty pleasure.”

Critics contend online games are a time waster. Gamers argue it brings balance to their lives by offering entertainment, stress relief, social connections and mental stimulation. For players that log in with Facebook or Google Plus, the games allow friendly competition and social interaction.

Recognizing the appeal, employers have begun finding ways to leverage gaming in the workplace. Tapping experts, they are designing games to motivate workers, recruit talent, teach new skills, boost performance and encourage wellness.

Read more...

 

 

March 04, 2014

Women In the Workplace: Then Vs. Now

 

Career woman

 

Some good news for women!

Equality in the workplace is the best it's ever been. At least that's what the numbers say.

But look around your workplace and tell me if you agree. Are women in the top jobs? Are they making as much money as the men? Do they get respect in meetings?

Research from Humanresourcesmba's Women in the Workplace study  shows millennial women are leading the charge in breaking down barriers to women's advancement in the workplace.

Let's look at the good and bad between 1980 and today. 

The bad:

Women still are liklier to be passed over for high profile assignments.

Men's Budgets are two times larger than women's.

Unpaid work takes much more of women's time than men's -- 21 hours vs. 13 hours.

Now the good

Millennial women are more concerned with career success than men

More women than men have a four year degree

Women are now 40 percent of managers.

Women now earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, compared with 55 cents 30 years ago.

Now the great news:

Both women and men millennials say changes are needed to enhance gender equality in the workplace. As Humanresourcesmba.net points out: With millennial women leading the charge, there’s no telling what another 30 years will bring!

Now the global outlook:

Coincidentally, Catalyst just put out its Women in the World report and found globally, though women have advanced, progress toward equality has slowed.

I LOVE this statement by Deborah Gillis, President and CEO, Catalyst. “To effect the transformation we all seek, we have a responsibility to change the world for women so that they are poised to advance and help shape our future."

HERE'S THE BEST PART OF HER QUOTE..."It’s essential for women to be as educated, as capable of earning money, and as in control of their physical lives as men—not just because it’s fair, but because empowering women raises everybody’s standard of living.”

So readers, women are making some progress in US workplaces and slow progress around the world. What's the key to boosting the numbers? Do you foresee a day where most women earn the same money for the same job as men?

February 28, 2014

When your boss works late, should you?

It was dinner time. I was hungry. My new husband already was home and I was still in the office, waiting for my boss to leave. It wasn't the first time or last time I stayed at the office just to look committed. Years ago, early in my career, I was uncomfortable leaving before my boss. I thought it made me seem like I was a slacker. At the time, I had to prove myself and I wanted to seem ambitious. But after weeks of staying late for no reason, my new husband insisted I was being foolish. So, I quietly slipped out around 7 p.m., leaving my computer on to look like I might still be around.

It's tricky when your boss puts in long hours. Most of the time, her or she gets paid big bucks for that committment. I enjoyed reading a Wall Street Journal article this week titled When the Boss Works Long Hours, Must We All? In the article, Sue Shellenbarger asks, "Every night, your workaholic boss is still glued to the computer when you need to leave. How do you go home without looking like a slacker?" The article urges workers to check their assumptions, claiming that sometimes people make guesses about managers' expectations that are just wrong, 

In my former job, while I was worried about leaving earlier than my boss, I realized he could see my commitment in my productivity. I bet my former boss never even realized I was waiting around for him to leave.

On the other hand, if you leave at 5 p.m. every day, hours early than your boss, and you complain of having too much work, your boss will think you are a slacker. I have had bosses tell me they can't believe when employees want more money and more authority, but still want to leave at 5 p.m. on the dot.

Sue gives some great suggestions for how to handle a boss who toils long hours at the office: shift around your work hours, leave at the normal time but call attention to your productivity, offer reassurance that you are meeting deadlines, ask your boss if he or she expects you to stay late. That last suggestion might seem intimidating but it's probably the most effective.

Do you feel like you need to stay as late as your boss? How do you handle leaving the office at a decent time? Have you ever had a boss that wants you to stay late but doesn't set the example himself?

 

 

February 26, 2014

What really keeps employees engaged at work?

Do perks keep you engaged at work? Do good managers? How about the people you work with? Trying to figure out the secret formula is critical for companies because only a mere 30 percent of the US workforce is engaged and putting in extra effort at work. Today in my Miami Herald column I attempted to give employers some guidance at at time when so many of them are clueless. I'd love to hear from you, what motivates you to give your job your all? 

Great place

 

When it comes to employee engagement, career coaching beats a free lunch

It has become one of the most perplexing workplace questions of the century for businesses worldwide: How do you keep employees engaged and emotionally invested in their jobs?

Some employers have taken the free lunch approach.

At her workplace, Deborah Beetson can count on catered lunch once a month and regular bagel breakfasts. She also can invite clients to the wine bar at her West Palm Beach office. Those are just some of the perks that have landed her employer, DPR Construction, on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work.

But, Beetson says it is not the wine bar, free meals or even the bring-your-dog-to-work days that keep her engaged. “The perks are there to make it a fun place to be, but if you don’t believe leadership cares about you and values your opinion, then perks lose their meaning.”

Offer employees free lunch and you will see a stampede into the lunchroom. But ask those same workers if they feel engaged and you will discover perks are not enough to keep them loyal or inspire them to put in extra effort on the job. “Perks can attract people and make them feel content, but they won’t get employees to a high level of engagement,” says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and well-being.

Some consider the lack of employee engagement an epidemic. Despite more awareness, the low rate of engagement hasn't budged in more than a decade. According to the Gallup Organization, the number of “actively disengaged workers” continues to be twice the number of engaged employees, defined as emotionally invested in their organizations.

Those engaged employees are the ones that work hardest, stay longest and perform best. Of the country’s roughly 100 million full time employees, an alarming 70 million — 70 percent — are either not engaged at work or actively “checked out”, Gallup found.

Harter believes employers need to shift their focus from pampering, which can create a sense of entitlement, to making employees feel like partners. A good manager drives that connection, he says. “If you’re offering perks and not putting energy toward hiring and developing excellent managers, you’re going about it the wrong way.” If a bad manager creates a disengaging environment, you can’t free lunch your way to engagement. “You can’t cover that up.”

To get the most from a worker, scrap the jeans day, forego the latte machines and think about what workers truly want to feel connected to their work and their company. In studying “Great Places to Work,’’ researchers found employees want to feel the work they are doing is important and to trust their managers care about them as individuals.

“Managers can’t forget that these are people who have a life outside of work they are actively trying to manage,” said Jessica Rohman, program director at Great Place to Work Institute. Even employees at companies considered great places to work report disengagement when bosses don’t understand how accommodating unplanned life needs affects work commitment. “It’s that understanding that fosters a sense of trust,” Rohman says.

Increasingly, employers are realizing that what attracts talent differs from what keeps strong performers engaged.

Working at a nuclear plant is more intense than a 9-to-5 job, but Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant has lured 700 full time employees through benefits like on-site daycare, a fitness center, softball league, boat ramp and picnic area and a work schedule that provides every other Friday off.

FPL vice president Michael Kiley knows the benefits are just one component. An ongoing interest in employees’ career path and a sense of team work are what inspire discretionary effort from employees, he says. “They don’t want to let down their peers.”

Even financial incentives such as bonuses don’t have a long term affect on engagement, he has discovered. “Engagement is really about what you do every day to make employees feel part of a team. They need to know how they make that team better every day.”

Engaged workers are clear on expectations, feel accountable but also receive the freedom — possibly even flexibility — to get their work done, says Gallup’s Harter.

Beetson, DPR Construction’s regional leader in West Palm Beach, has found that to be true at her national commercial construction company. On each construction site, the manager discusses goals, inquires about expectations at home, and decides on work schedules that accommodate individual needs. “Letting the team work it out definitely helps with engagement,” Beetson says.

Get the formula right and workers at all life stages will stay engaged.

Ten months after giving birth to twin daughters, Jodi Santos says she remains among the 30 percent of U.S. workers who are engaged with their jobs. Santos, a nuclear oversight inspector at FPL’s Turkey Point, credits a combination of influences. She enjoys having her girls at the onsite daycare and uses the flexible work schedule that allows every other Friday off. She likes the camaraderie and team work that is encouraged through picnics and events.

But mostly, she stays engaged because her supervisor has worked with her to create a career path that allows growth while providing her work life balance. She recently changed departments to a quality assurance position that doesn’t require her to deal with middle-of-the-night emergencies: “I still have the feeling of being part of the big picture.”

Boosting engagement, particularly at stagnant organizations, is no easy task. But Gallup research shows attempting to reverse the worldwide trend is well worth the effort. Organizations are more profitable when their employees are more engaged, and employees benefit, too.

Gallup has discovered that engagement has a larger affect on employee well-being than any other benefits, such as wellness programs or vacation time. “Employees who are engaged are more than three times as likely to be thriving in their overall lives,” Harter says. “They are happier, healthier and more interested at work.”

 

 

February 25, 2014

Can you go too far with weight loss?

Poor Rachel Frederickson. She has been a topic of discussion after winning NBC’s The Biggest Loser  and revealing a staggering weight loss on national TV. The pop-culture universe is publicly asking: Did she go too far?

After stunning the audience by losing 155 pounds, 60 percent of her body weight, some believe the show sparked an eating disorder in her. Rachel revealed that she's been spending 6 hours a day exercising. My reaction: Holy moly! Who has that kind of time to devote to exercise? Yes she probably did go too far. But while the public is worried that she's too thin now, I doubt she will be able to sustain that kind of effort to stay thin. Think about it, that's 42 hours a week devoted to exercising! I'd rather be sleeping!

As someone who has been thin all my life, I have had people comment  on my size. Sometimes, it's downright mean. They will say, "you're soooo skinny." How do you respond to that? Of course, as I get older I'm battling the belly bulge so I'm finally experiencing the struggle others go through to keep weight off. I've finally learned the challenge of balancing dieting, exercise and work. It ain't easy!
 
For me, the late afternoons are tough. That's when I start stressing over all I have left to get done and I crave sugar, coffee and snacks. I'm sure there are other workers out there who are stress eaters, too. Sometimes, I start fantasizing about how great life would be if my job was an exercise instructor and I got paid to work out. 
 
A few weeks ago, I ran into Donna Goldstein at an event. Donna looked great and was smiling from ear to ear. She has slimmed down, sustained her weight loss, and recently got married. Donna is a psychologist and Certified Health Coach with Take Shape for Life. She  has helped over 1,000 people achieve their health and weight loss goals. Most impressive: She has sustained her own 70-pound weight loss for six years, after a lifetime of struggle. 
 
I asked Donna to write a guest blog post on what's realistic to set as our goals when we're trying to stay fit, lose weight and hold a full time job. Obviously, we want to look good and feel good without spending 6 hours a day working out. Of course, our goal is to look good, NOT to have people wondering if we have gone too far! Below is Donna's photo and her suggestions.
 
 
  Donna

 

Many people set unrealistic goals for 2014 involving two-hour  gym work outs or starvation diets. These have likely already failed, as they are not sustainable components of a long-term healthy lifestyle.  What does a busy,  stressed  out person, who can’t get to the gym, do? If  you  are overweight,  like 65% of us in the U.S. are,  or just want to have more energy, here are five simple  tips:

1. Frequent fuelings – I know it sounds counterintuitive,  as “diets” always seem to suggest you  eat less, not more, and  then you feel deprived, hungry and exhausted! Adopting the habit of eating 5 to 6 small protein rich “mini meals” will do more to help you lose weight and maintain a consistent energy level than anything else. Some healthy choices you can eat at work -an oz. of low fat cheese and an apple;  1 Tb. of PB and a few whole grain crackers; a protein bar or meal replacement protein shakes, or a small handful of nuts, seeds and raisins.
 
2. Take more steps – stand up every 45 to 60 minutes to take a short walk around your office and or to do some stretching, use the stairs, try some chair yoga.  This will  increase your productivity too.  Researchers at Stanford found that just one minute of stretching can increase your brainpower and  energy by 45% for an hour!
 
3. Get rid of your candy dish at the office. Also, take a pass on bagels, donuts or pastalitos in the break room or at staff meetings. This only causes your energy to spike and then crash, and then you crave more! Carlos Martinez, the Miami-Dade County Public Defender, who lost 100 pounds on my program, and now routinely runs half marathons,  used to bring these type of “sweet treats” to his staff- now he brings fruit.
 
4. Schedule appointments with yourself. Set aside time for walks, gym time, meditation or exercise classes, and make these a priority. I put my 3 times weekly yoga and Pilates classes immediately on my calendar right after any recurring business meetings-it works!
 
5. Get accountable. Just as a coach in sports can help athletes accelerate their performance, using the services of a health coach, will make it 3 times as likely that you will achieve your health and fitness goals. Find someone to teach you new strategies and hold you accountable.

 

While Donna's advice is practical, I'm wondering about your thoughts on Rachel Frederickson. She pocketed $250,000 from winning The Biggest Loser. Do you think she went too far with her diet and exercise routine?

 

Rachel

 Rachel Fredrickson

 

February 21, 2014

How to handle work life conflict

A decade ago, my friends would complain about how work often conflicted with their little ones activities. One close friend cried to me for 20 minutes on the phone when she had to miss her son's first day of kindergarten because of business travel. At the time, all I could say was, "That really stinks!"

Through the years, I've discovered that work life conflict continues, regardless of your stage in life.

Now, as I approach 50, some of my friends are balancing different work life conflicts. Unfortunately, they are juggling their jobs and cancer treatments.  What may make this work life conflict different is that often continuing to work isn't optional. They need to keep working because they need the health insurance and/or income to cover medical expenses.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Jackie Velazquez, a reader and business owner who faces this work life conundrum. 

Hi Cindy, 

As  a reader of you articles & blog, I thought of you this morning. Today I scheduled to have a double mastectomy due to having previous pre-cancerous lumps removed and now testing positive for BRAC1.

Being a business owner the first thing that goes across your mind is how can I accomplish this and not miss work.

Well, the answer is pretty simple...I can't.

I run a direct mail company, which my clients never know if they will need to get a mailing list all of a sudden, so trying to prepare for the workflow is completely impossible. Trying to balance work out, is almost like saying will have a baby when we can afford it. There is never a good time to be gone from work when your a business owner.

Some of the work I do for my clients is so hands on, trying to get someone to do it while your gone is impossible to teach in such a short time.

So here I sit saying ok, I can do this on Friday, will I be able to check emails by Monday?? Its difficult to say you have to put yourself/health ahead of business. That's hard because in our business, if a client calls and can't get what he needs, it puts everything behind and the mailing can be very time sensitive.

 Also, being a business owner you juggle with the fact of do you even tell your clients?

  Looking for any thoughts you may have on this one.

 

By now, I have a little more experience under my belt and can offer a little more advice to Jackie than just the sympathy I offered my friends years ago. The biggest lesson I've learned is there will ALWAYS be work life conflicts. The solution is rearrange your schedule when you can and let go of the guilt when you can't.

I also learned there is ALWAYS something you can take off your plate to help with the juggling act. If you have limited time and energy, focus on what absolutely can only be handled by you. There is no shame in delegating. Sometimes you just have to think more broadly about who can take over a task. Most business owners feel the need to do everything themselves. But if you physically can't, accept it. Consider hiring a virtual assistant.

Remember, customers, clients and bosses may be sympathetic but they are  more concerned with how their needs will be met. When my friend cried to me on the phone about business travel, I listened. But if she went to her boss, do you think he would care?

What co-workers, clients and bosses respond to is solutions. I think Jackie should be honest with her clients and let them know that she will try her best to handle their concerns despite the fact that she may need some time off. She can let them know that her assistant will take over some tasks and she will handle the high level matters as much as possible.

That's my thoughts. Readers, Jackie and I would love to hear yours. What advice would you give someone who owns her own business and needs to take time off for personal reasons?

 

 

 

February 19, 2014

Social media can help strengthen workplace friendships

The other day, a colleague of mine posted a photo of himself with his young baby on Facebook. I immediately hit "Like". For the first time, I saw this guy in a different light. Now, he  was a dad instead of just an editor. I love bonding over kid stories so this guy's post gave me a talking point to start a conversation with him on a more personal level.

Sometimes, getting a friend request from a co-worker can be a little scary. I have asked myself, "Do I really want this person to know my personal business?" But so far, I haven't regretted accepting any of my colleagues as Facebook friends. For the most part, letting co-workers see the real me -- a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a reader, a movie goer -- helps to create a bond I otherwise wouldn't have had.

Whether we like it or not, the lines are blurring between our work and personal lives. If you're on social media networks, its a great opportunity to build workplace friendships -- if you're smart about it. See my Miami Herald article below:

Social media helps coworkers bond

Facebook lives are spilling into the workplace. And that, say experts, is mostly a good thing.

 
Account Director Maria Andreina Garcia, left, and CEO Carlos Garcia, right, of Nobox, inside Nobox’s Midtown office on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. Nobox encourages employees to be friends through the use of social media sites such as Twitter.
Account Director Maria Andreina Garcia, left, and CEO Carlos Garcia, right, of Nobox, inside Nobox’s Midtown office on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. Nobox encourages employees to be friends through the use of social media sites such as Twitter
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

When Brian Goldberg learned on Facebook that he and a coworker had a mutual love of craft beer, he invited him to lunch at a sports bar where his own favorite brand was on tap. While gobbling burgers and throwing back cold brew, Goldberg snapped a picture with his new buddy, posted it on Instagram and tagged it #bestlunchever. “It’s great when you find coworkers who have interests aligned with yours.”

Social networking has made it easier to form personal relationships with coworkers. On sites such as Facebook and Instagram, where people share their likes and dislikes, family photos and new hobbies, people gain insight into colleagues that could provide the basis for forging stronger workplace bonds.

“In some ways, [social media] has replaced team-building events that used to take place off-site,” says Carlos Garcia, founder of Nobox, a social media marketing firm in midtown Miami. “You get to know the people you work with on a deeper level.”

An online poll released in January found workers reported that social technologies in the office simplified communication, fostered stronger relationships and increased collaboration. Jim Greenway, executive vice president of Lee Hecht Harrison, the global talent mobility consulting firm that conducted the poll, believes those benefits to office relationships positively affect how much we like our jobs and how loyal we feel to our workplaces.

“Most of us want to be friends with coworkers,” Greenway says. “When you look at hours you spend in the workplace, it’s often more than at home. The more relationships are built and fostered, the more productive the environment.”

Indeed, research by Gallup found that strong social connections at the office can make employees more passionate about their work and less likely to quit their jobs. Social media connection that opens the door to face-to-face conversation can play a role in deepening those friendships.

As the number of adult users on social networks increases, so does “friending” co-workers. The typical Gen Y Facebook user has an average of about 16 friends who are co-workers, according to a study by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. In addition, a 2012 HRinfodesk poll of readers found 40 percent connect with co-workers on social networks through personal or professional accounts.

How much social networking contributes to building friendships may depend on organizational support. Some businesses ban all social media use in the workplace and block access to social networks through the corporate information technology system. Others have launched their own internal social media platforms, formed groups on Facebook or posted company updates on LinkedIn or Twitter.

At Nobox, Garcia not only welcomes social media, he has woven it into the office culture. Garcia allows his 40 employees to bring pets to his office and encourages them share photos on Twitter and Instagram, and to tag them #noboxpets. “It has helped bring people closer within the company,” he explains. “It also benefits our brand because people see us as a place where co workers are friends.”

For his mostly millennial staff, combining work and personal life via online social networking creates deeper engagement, Garcia says. He notices his workers follow each other’s status updates and comment on pictures and videos about their travels, favorite restaurants or family events. “It breeds opportunity for in-person conversations.”

Some find connecting on social media opens the door for bonding with colleagues outside the office. Maria Andreina Garcia, digital account director at Nobox (and no relation to Carlos) said she noticed a co-worker was a fellow foodie and regularly posted photos of scrumptious-looking meals at interesting local restaurants. Now, Maria Andreina asks to join her on occasion. She also shares recipes with her on Pinterest.

In January, Maria Andreina went cold turkey off social media for a month as a personal social experiment. She noticed it affected her work life. Co-workers would talk about posts or information they had shared online that she hadn’t seen. She has now returned to the cyber scene. “Social media definitely adds value to office relationships.”

Sharing with co-workers on Facebook or other social networks can have other benefits. A Fort Lauderdale law office manager who is single found that by sharing pictures online of herself with her elderly mother, her coworkers learned she had family responsibilities, too. “They had no idea how much I was balancing,” said the manager, who asked not to be named. “When they see you as a whole person, they can give you more emotional support.”

Creating ties on social media platforms can also bridge generational gaps. At a time when two out of five people work with colleagues spanning all four generations, social networks offer a way to break down barriers and make others seem more approachable.

Greenway at Lee Hecht Harrison says that when he was assigned to mentor a younger manager, he went right to Facebook, friended him, and learned he was a drummer in a band. “It opened the door for good conversation, and I was able to develop a relationship on a different, more personal level.”

Of course, letting coworkers into your personal life carries risk.

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