No. 98 – A Little History of Communication Platforms

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by in Effective Communication, Professional Growth

With the myriad audio, video, and digital communication platforms we have today to immediately disseminate more information than ever in history, it’s kind of interesting to look back on how man achieved the same desire to share information….

During an excavation of a medieval road near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian archaeologists recently unearthed a birchbark letter dating to the fourteenth century. They believe it was written by a servant to his master to describe unforeseen travel expenses on a debt collection journey.

For many years I’ve collected religious artifacts. One of my most treasured items is the teachings of the Bible written in Sanskrit on banana tree leaves bound together by a cord so they can fan out and be read as a learning tool.

Before the birchbark or banana leaves, the Incas in Peru encoded and recorded information with cryptic knotted strings known as khipu. Dr. Gary Urton, of Harvard, writes, “The knots appeared to be arranged in coded sequences analogous to the process of writing binary number (1/0) coded programing for computers.”

And before that, there were petroglyphs etched into cave walls. Petroglyphs, then knotted strings, then birchbark and parchment were “technological” advancements in communication for their times.

What will be interesting to see are the technological advances still waiting for us. An email in the future might seem as old fashioned as the birchbark.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 97 – The Similarities In Our Differences

Today’s workforce is made up of mixed generations from boomers to millenials and from a multitude of demographics. Despite the differences we are more similar than dissimilar.

I’m an avid cook, and was wondering about a new use of a package of wonton wrappers that I had left over after making dim sum. In a Saturday morning of research I found recipes to use the same “Chinese” wrapper to make maultaschensuppe (a German dumpling), Russian Ramen, Tibetan Momos, Georgian Khinkali, Jewish Kreplach, Sichuan Chili wontons, Pierogi, Ukranian Manti, Slovenian dumplings, Italian Tortellini, and Montreal Peanut Butter Dumplings.

Each recipe had the same “outside” but the insides changed a little with geography, history, culture, tastes, available items, etc. All recipes achieved the same goal of satisfying taste and providing nourishment: the same outside wrapper but different inside the wrapper techniques and ingredients.

There is an analogy to today’s work force. We are humans who are made up of differences on the inside, but with the same outside goal of the pursuit of happiness – whether with food or a career.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 96 – How to Handle A Headhunter’s Call

Posted on September 21st, 2016 by in Speaking Professionally

First, you want to check if they are retainer or contingency. You want to work with retainer only.

Next, tell them you will call them back.

Do call them back when you are at a comfortable place to talk to them. Let them tell you enough about the job so you can be sure it’s not for you BUT so you know enough to be able to refer a name or a source for a name. They like that a lot and they will remember you.

Something like, “I receive these calls frequently, as you can imagine ….I will always listen to your opportunity to see where I can be of help….I’m very happy here, working on ____ and ___…. As you explained the job specification, I’d suggest you talk to Jill Jones as she could be a candidate or know someone who would be. I’ve already done that job. My next move inside or outside of an organization will be (next level up) so that is where I’m headed….for now, I’m being rewarded for my contributions and very happy where I am….”

You always want to listen, be pleasant, be helpful. Then you remain in touch every six months of so with an update of new things you are doing and the offer to help by giving them other names in your network. (And that’s why you keep building your network or connections so that you do have people to suggest!)

~Debra

P.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 95 – How to Keep Your Good People

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by in Best Leadership Practices, Executive Coaching
Companies have long recognized the importance of smart employee recruiting. Now they are discovering that it’s just as important to spend their time on retention. This may involve financial factors, of course. AON Consulting studied 1,140 high-tech workers and found that 56 percent would stay at their current job longer if offered a similar job with slightly higher pay.
But issues related to job satisfaction are at least as crucial as financial incentives. “You rehire your employees every single day,” says Gloree Parker-Roden, senior vice president of Enterprise Services at Pearson Technology Centre. “We had no problem with retention until a time period where we went into a maintenance program without a major initiative going. Things felt slow to people. We found that the same people who complained about long hours and overwork really didn’t want to underwork either.” In other words, high retention of valuable employees requires keeping them challenged and interested as well as rewarding them financially.

In a research project, Watson Wyatt Worldwide found that the number-one driver of employee commitment is trust in senior management. If a manager fails to provide the necessary leadership, then people leave. Gloree Parker-Roden speaks for many when she says, “The important thing to me is being able to work with managers I respect and trust. If that was broken, then I would go.”

The Watson Wyatt survey identified other factors that caused people to leave an employer. Here they are, starting with the most commonly cited:

  • Higher salaries offered by other organizations
  • Dissatisfaction with potential career grow
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Rising acceptability of job-hopping
  • Difficulty balancing work/life issues
  • Burnout
  • Benefits offered by other organizations
  • Perceived lack of job security
  • Conflicts with supervisor or co-workers
  • Viability of the organization
  • Conflicts with the organization’s mission or values

Salary is clearly an important factor, but it’s far from the only one. Any manager who has a high turnover rate shouldn’t blamed the company pay scale alone; instead, the manager should examine his or her own practices in the work environment.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 94 – Job Termination Turnaround Success

Whether it’s “your fault” or not, being let go is a traumatic experience. It invariably produces emotions ranging from disbelief and rage to guilt, shame, and depression. It generally creates financial stress, which can lead to serious anxiety and conflicts within families. And the sense of uncertainty and loss of control that goes with being fired can make it more difficult to manage a job search in an intelligent, energetic, creative fashion — if you let it!.

There are entire books that focus on the trauma of job loss, along with career counselors and psychologists who specialize in helping layoff victims cope and regroup. Clearly, all the issues associated with job loss can’t be addressed in a few paragraphs. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions.

First, remember that in today’s job market, the stigma of being let go is much, much less significant than ever before. The continual waves of mergers, spin-offs, company launches and closings, downsizings, expansions, and re-engineerings that have marked world industry over the past three decades mean that a lot of people have been laid off at one time or another. And those who haven’t been fired are well aware that they’ve escaped the ax only by good fortune. As a result, no one really looks down on people with one or two layoffs in their past. Instead, layoffs are viewed as par for the course. Try mentioning being fired the next time you’re at lunch with half a dozen other working friends. Rather than glances of disapproval, you’re more likely to see nods of understanding and hear comments like, “I’ve been there.” Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’ve been fired repeatedly, or for a cause like lying, stealing, or punching your boss. But most people who are one-or two-time losers in the job wars have little difficulty moving on to their next opportunity if they don’t take it personally and understand it’s just business.

Second, you can minimize the psychological and career damage of being laid off by handling the process intelligently. Here are some of the steps to take:

Negotiate a fair severance package. Rather than simply accepting the company offer, request a couple of days to consider it. Then talk to peers and former bosses and colleagues. You may find you can get the company to increase your final pay package, extend your health and life insurance benefits, or provide you with services such as career counseling.

Try to analyze objectively what you did right and wrong. Examine your history with the company. Could you have handled your job better so as to extend your tenure? Were there warning signs you ignored? Make a list of work and people skills you intend to improve in your future jobs.

Start your next job search promptly. Don’t spend weeks binge watching NetFlix or feeling sorry for yourself, or spending your savings on a vacation or some other consolation prize, even if you can afford it. The loss of psychological momentum you’ll suffer can be harmful.

Don’t be embarrassed about losing your job. Develop a simple, neutral, accurate, one-sentence explanation for why you lost your job. For example, you can say, “The company reorganized, and mine was one of several positions that were eliminated.” Using this or a similar sentence to spread the word among your friends and acquaintances will maximize your chances of hearing about a worthwhile opportunity.

The great automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford (and many others over time with their own version) said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” His words apply to getting fired. Don’t waste time and energy bemoaning what you’ve lost; focus instead on the new horizons in your future.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


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