Author Archives: Ashley Leisten

Creating Positive Team Energy in Your Workplace

Positive energy, morale, esprit de corps, whatever you call it the culture of your organization is important. An organization’s culture is defined by the common spirit existing in the members of the group. A culture that is inspiring enthusiastic, devoted, with a strong regard for the success and advancement of the group is a model worth striving for. It’s the workplace we all want to be a part of! But how do you curate that type of positive team energy among your workforce? And why?

Quantifiable advantages of a positive work environment

Why is it important to have a positive work environment? Decades of research in positive psychology and neuroscience has found that happiness is the precursor to success. You read that right, first comes happiness, and then comes success. Research within corporations consistently proves that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement. Companies with outstanding performance results often have a competitive edge in what is called the happiness advantage.

The bottom line is that when leaders create an environment where people feel good about themselves and the part they play in the organization’s larger mission, people feel good at work and do their jobs better. Makes sense, customers and partners can tell when your employees enjoy the work they do, and as a result, do it well. Everyone wants their workforce, customers, and partners to succeed. Happy people focused on creating great customer experiences are the very best competitive advantage you have in the marketplace.

Leadership – setting the example from the top

As a leader how can you set the tone for a positive culture that enables a healthy workforce that is engaged in furthering the mission of your organization? Creating a positive and healthy culture for your team rests on a few major principles. In general, it distills down to six fundamentals for having positive team energy in your workplace.

  • Valuing colleagues on a professional and personal level.
  • Supporting each other compassionately
  • Avoiding an atmosphere of fear and retaliation for mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Inclusion that emphasizes the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

As a business leader, how can you foster these principles?

Think about and encourage social connections in the workplace. This is not to say that work takes a secondary role to water cooler chat (or zoom chat in today’s world). Getting the job done is always the first priority, but connecting with the people you spend most of your waking hours with is important as well. A large number of empirical studies[1] confirm that positive social connections at work produce highly desirable results. For example, people get sick less often, recover twice as fast from surgery, experience less depression, learn faster and remember longer, tolerate pain and discomfort better, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job when they have meaningful connections to those around them.

Empathy matters! Your words have a huge impact on how your employees feel. A Cleveland Clinicbrain-imaging study[2] found that, when employees recalled a boss that had been unkind or un-empathic, they showed increased activation in areas of the brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion while the opposite was true when they recalled an empathic boss. Be mindful of how you speak to and with your team. Team members who are doing a good job deserve to be recognized and encouraged. Those who are not meeting expectations deserve respectful conversations with clear maps to improvement. Modeling empathy helps your staff do the same with each other – and with your customers.

Be a part of the team, don’t just manage the team. Team members remember when the boss rolled up her sleeves and got the work done at a critical moment WITH the rest of the team. They remember the supervisor who assigned a project and strategized with them to make it work efficiently. Jonathan Haidt a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business shows in his research that when leaders are not just fair but self-sacrificing, their employees are actually moved and inspired to become “…more loyal and committed themselves. As a consequence, they are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employees, thus creating a self-reinforcing cycle.” [3] Daan Van Knippenberg of Rotterdam School of Management shows that employees of self-sacrificing leaders are more cooperative because they trust their leaders more. They are also more productive and see their leaders as more effective and charismatic.[4]

Encourage people to speak up and ask for help. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a boss who has the best interest of his staff at heart sees an improvement in output and performance.Employees want to feel safe, rather than fearful. Research by Amy Edmondson of Harvard on psychological safety shows that a culture of safety i.e. in which leaders are inclusive, humble, and encourage their staff to speak up or ask for help, leads to better learning and performance outcomes.[5] A culture of fear of negative consequences, in the end, is detrimental to your bottom line. You can indeed drive people through intimidation. But why would you choose that route? People will phone it in to get the work done, but they are not going to pour themselves into their work. Feeling safe in the workplace helps encourage enthusiastic experimentation which so critical for innovation.

When you are leading with a positive attitude in a supportive climate, people will go above and beyond what is necessary. When people feel appreciated, they become more confident and productive. Positive enthusiasm is motivational—and there is virtually no downside.

Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting that as a leader you gloss over the negative. It will happen. You’ll have that one toxic employee who needs special attention, or perhaps punitive action. Even by taking care of a toxic situation quickly, you are showing the rest of your staff how much you respect them and are part of their team. The company culture is affected by what you do as much as what you don’t do.

Doing your part

What if you’re not the boss, but simply a hard-working employee who wants to contribute to positive work culture.According to The Positive Psychology Program,[6] genes are responsible for about 50% of our happiness and our actions and attitudes account for 40%. A positive attitude is innate in some and takes work for others. No matter where you find yourself swimming in the gene pool, you do have the opportunity to make the most of that 40% by focusing on your actions and attitude. How

Start with Yourself! – We’re not talking about being selfish, but being selfless. Try to focus on gratitude, positive thoughts, and personal integrity. Show benevolence and give off compassionate energy. Be attentive to your surroundings and other people’s feelings and needs, and then offer a helping hand when it’s appropriate. Nothing says positive energy more than that. And remember, as we mentioned above, it’s contagious. Win-win for everyone.

Collaborate – You’ve seen the motivational posters, “There’s No I in Team.” Your positive or negative energy is reflected in your team dynamic. Make sure your teammates know that their opinions and suggestions matter. Make it easy for people to come to you for your opinions and suggestions, too! This is especially important as many of us are working remotely these days. Make sure your team knows that you are available and how to contact you. Keep an “open door” or “open contact” approach to be a part of a great collaboration.

Get Involved – Doing something that helps others and makes you feel good at the same time is yet another win-win in the positive team morale game. Nothing gives off positive energy more than doing something that makes you feel good. Figure out a place to get involved that energizes you and helps others. It might be a community food bank, a mentoring program, or a garden club. Maybe your thing is a softball league or book club. Whatever it is, staying actively involved in something you’re authentically passionate about will naturally bring you feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. These feelings will then radiate from you in the form of positive energy! Maybe you want to expand on that and participate in a volunteer effort with your coworkers. It’s a fantastic way to build open lines of communication through trust, participation, teamwork, and most of all, fun! And again, win-win for everyone.

Lifestyle – We couldn’t post an article like this without touching on lifestyle choices. So many things in our daily lives can positively or negatively impact our mindset. The best way to maintain a constant, consistent flow of positive thinking is to make a conscious effort to make positive lifestyle choices.

It can be pretty easy to spot those things that bring us down. It might be a person, a situation, “doom scrolling” through social media, or just eating a boatload of bad for you food. Try not to associate with those things. We know it’s hard especially when the world feels so uncertain! But in the word of the “prophet” Elsa from Frozen “Let it go.” Instead, focus on what brings POSITIVE energy into your life. Listen to uplifting, inspiring music. Go for a walk during your lunch break. Do yoga or meditate in the morning before work. Read more books. Keep a bowl of chocolates by your desk to encourage others to come over for a quick chat during the workday if you’re in an actual office. Give praises and compliments daily. Get a cute dog. Walk your neighbor’s cute dog – they’ll appreciate it! It doesn’t take much. Find something every day to lift your mood and make a commitment to yourself to do it.

Takeaway

We all want to work in a job that fulfills us, with people we enjoy. As leaders and individuals, we can take positive steps to make that happen. A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and creativity. There will be negative experiences and stressors, but a positive work environment can be a buffer making the negative times easier to bounce back from.

There are lots of bottom-line advantages as well. A positive workplace attracts great employees, making them more loyal to the leader and to the organization as well as bringing out their best strengths. When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.

Let’s do it. Let’s make our workplaces the best they can be.

References

[1] https://faculty.sites.uci.edu/pressman/publications/

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1048984311001263

[3] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1540-5885.2009.00344.x

[4] https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive

[5] https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/orsc.1040.0076?journalCode=orsc&

[6] https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-workplace-labor-of-love/

Building Your Skills & Resume in a Time of Crisis

Much of the world has been at a standstill since March, but that doesn’t mean your career has to be. 

This might be a good time for you to work on building your portfolio. An updated resume can show your value to future employers in a more appealing way.  If you’ve been furloughed, had hours cut back, or work in an industry that will be slow to return, this is a good time to reconsider your goals, priorities, and future employment.

A few questions to ask yourself

Do you want to go back into the same field?  Do you have a dream you’ve been holding off on?  Have you hoped to take a new career path?  This may be the time to try something new. 

What have you done during this crisis to pivot?  If you are still working, what can you highlight on your resume about your flexibility in a time of change?

Do you have a hobby that you can turn into a business, or leverage to help an established business?  Can you tutor math, teach piano, turn your graphic design interest into a job?

Skill Certification

This may be an opportunity to get certified in an area important for career advancement. Or it may be the right time to explore a certification outside of your current track to help you break into a new industry. Perhaps this is the time to just master a skill that you’ve been neglecting. 

Pre-crisis your days may have been so full that you didn’t have time to up your skills.  Now, with all of your evening and weekend plans canceled this might be the time to finally learn how to build a great PowerPoint Deck on your own, or learn that new programming language you’ve only dabbled in until now. 

Lots of companies are offering certification prep classes at a discount right now.  Maybe this is the year you finally get that Salesforce Administrator certification or that Project Management Professional certification you’ve been thinking about.

What about that resume?

This is a great time to take a new look at your resume.  Even if you are not applying for jobs right now, it makes sense to take the time to update it.  If you’ve been in a job for a while, it may be years since you’ve updated your resume.  Does your current resume show promotions and increased responsibility?  It should. A good resume shows what you’ve been doing and at the same time highlights your skills, not just job titles.  And go ahead and check it out for typos while you’re at it!  Hiring managers find them all the time.  Make sure they don’t find one on your resume.  Have someone else read it if you’ve looked at it one time too many. 

If you are applying for jobs right now, or plan to in the future keep a few things in mind.  It’s not unreasonable to tailor every cover letter and resume for the specific job that you are applying for.  Remember you are selling yourself.  Be sure to read the job description carefully and make sure your resume and cover letter are reflecting your specific skills and areas of expertise that make you exactly the right candidate for the job.

In this digital age of hiring bots that pre-scan resumes it’s important for you to consider keywords.  In the same way that web pages consider search engine optimization (SEO), you need to use the same principles with your resume.  What skills are needed for the job you are applying for?  What skills are listed on your resume?  It will be to your advantage to use the same language that the job posting uses to get through that first layer of resume screening. In some cases that pre-screening is done using algorithms and artificial intelligence.  Make sure your resume gets seen by a real person – the RIGHT person!

LinkedIn

When was the last time you looked at your LinkedIn profile?  It’s time to spruce that up as well.  Who are you currently connected with and who should you add to your network?  You also should think about the professional groups and interests you are linked with.  It may be helpful to read what they are posting.  Like and repost what stands out to you.  You never know the kinds of connections you may make through what are already natural connections.

This is also a great time to look at the “Intro” and “About” sections of your profile.  Are you highlighting what you have done and what you are capable of?  It might be a good idea to look at the profile of someone in your field that you admire, and model your profile after theirs.  Having an aspirational vibe can work to your benefit. 

Be sure to list your skills and ask people you work with for recommendations and endorsements.  And why not do someone else the same favor.  If someone you know is outstanding at a skill go ahead and give them a recommendation.  It may help them and it shows that you are appreciative of a job well done. 

A few things to remember during this time of uncertainty 

It’s uncertain for everyone.  Those with stable employment as well as those who are furloughed or whose jobs no longer exist are all feeling stress. These are uncertain times for hiring managers and potential employees.  Be patient with yourself. Confusion and alarm abound, and there is little you can do about it.  You can’t be responsible for the worldwide situation but you can be responsible for your reaction to it. 

In the same way that you are feeling the weight of the world, so are those around you.  This may be a time when you need to be especially careful about practicing patience with your employer, your housemates, your spouse, and even your pets.

Try your best to stay healthy.  This is a time when mental and physical health is especially important.  Get enough activity, sleep, and hydration.  And also get help if you need it. There are many online resources for both mental and physical help.  Don’t be shy about asking for help when you need it.  Being smart about your mental and physical help will help you focus better at the job you have and may help you present yourself better when applying for new work.

Dynamic Works Institute is a leading provider in relevant, engaging virtual content that allows people from all walks of life and backgrounds to “level up” their skills, their staff & the lives of the populations they serve. We are your People Training Company. Our goal is to continuously foster an online environment for the success of lifelong learners. For more information from resume writing to seeking financial aid, check out our course catalogue: https://www.dynamicinstitute.com/product-category/virtualworkz/

Or talk to someone on our leadership team by emailing info@dwfs.us

Please allow us to serve as your one-stop-shop for improving your future in the workforce and beyond!

The Age of the Virtual Job Fair

Everything looks a bit different now in the workforce world, and the job fair is part of that change.  Virtual job fairs have been coming to prominence for some time, but now more than ever they are the way to connect job seekers to hiring managers.  We don’t expect this to end anytime soon.   That’s why Dynamic Works is your resource for facilitating and supporting your virtual job fair needs.  

What is a Virtual Job Fair?

Virtual job fairs or online job fairs are exactly what they sound like.  A forum for job seekers to connect to multiple employers at a set time in a secure online environment.  This may happen in a webinar or teleconference where multiple prospects can browse among companies, much like a traditional job fair.  It may, however, mean a virtual conference room with break out rooms for small group or private conversations and potential interviews. Think in the style of Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. Resumes are loaded online and reviewed electronically.

In addition to the actual bridging of employee and employer a virtual job fair can also provide content for those needing help with resumes, practice interviewing, certification prep, or career coaching. There are as many configurations as there are needs for virtual job fairs.  The one thing they all have in common is the ability to connect people and advance workforce readiness and hiring. 

Why Virtual?

Besides the obvious 2020 reasons of social distancing, virtual job fairs allow a university, association, trade group, employment agencies or special interest organizations (such as veterans) to host multiple hiring managers in the same place for a fraction of the cost of traditional conferences. The attraction of logging on instead of traveling is appealing to many hiring managers as well as to many employment seekers.  And as more and more employers seek remote “at home” staff, a virtual job fair is a natural way to seek them out and get a feel for how they interview and work in a remote setting.

How Does a Virtual Job Fair Benefit Job Seekers?

For many of today’s job seeker a virtual job fair makes the most sense.  Many are digital natives and will shine in an environment where they can show off their skills and have a discussion with recruiters where they are comfortable.  For others the advantage of an online event allows them to get face time with a variety of companies without needing to travel to a site that may not even be near the physical job placement they are seeking. 

By registering for a virtual job fair, the job seeker has time to research the companies presenting there, see what job opportunities are available and tailor their time to talk to those who best match their skill sets and talents.  They are not wandering around a site hoping to having the right conversation.  They know who they want to connect with and the reason why.  In theory job seekers come to the event more prepared than ever and more in line with those who are hiring.

Another great benefit that to the digital job fair is that it allows those who are differently-abled to attend on the same playing field as everyone else.  This is a great alternative for those that have difficulty making it to multiple physical locations to attend different events.  Their job ability is the focus to the recruiter, not their physical ability.

How Does a Virtual Job Fair Benefit Hiring Companies?

We’ve already talked about the cost benefit of not having to travel to a site and set up a booth.  Other advantages are that a company may choose to attend only those job fairs where they are likely to connect with candidates qualified and interested in their industry.  A job fair for the construction industry is only going to attract job seekers interested in what construction companies have to offer.  No wasting time talking to those seeking jobs in unrelated fields.  

A virtual job fair also gives a company the chance to pre-screen resumes of those who have registered.  They can determine ahead of time if there are candidates attending who can add value to their company and seek them out particularly.  

In another scenario a company looking to increase diversity may seek to attend a job fair sponsored by a veteran’s advocacy group or a women’s association of a particular industry.  We already know that a diverse workplace improves creativity, allows for a wider range of skills, deepens employee engagement and can help a company’s reputation as a cultural leader.  Why not use the best means possible to cast a wide net for candidates that will in the end help your company’s bottom line?

In this digital age with people all over the globe working for the same company the opportunity to connect with people outside of your particular geographic location is paramount to finding the best candidates. The virtual job fair offers all that and more.

What can Dynamic Works Do for You?

By now you see the need for and potential benefits of a virtual job fair.  The logistics of hosting one or being a part of one can seem daunting.  The best career fairs are enriched with resources, gamification, communication tools, recruitment technology, employer branding, informative discussions, great question and answer opportunities and of course- top candidates for your vacancies. We can help.  At Dynamic Works we are in the business of providing outstanding virtual learning and that includes facilitating career fairs.

Allowing Dynamic Works to facilitate your job fair allows you and your team to be the face of the event. We take care of the set up, support and real time logistics. You are freed up to interact with the job seekers and employers just as you would in a face-to-face environment, and perhaps even more efficiently.   Dynamic Works can provide a space that is customizable to your individual needs and wants. 

Connect with us TODAY to see how we can help you fill your need for virtual job fair support. Email info@dwfs.us to set up your free demo!

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Dynamic Teams & Working Styles

There are many things that make our team well… dynamic.

One of the most unique facets is that our team works remotely full-time. We’ve been doing it for a while, so the work from home part is not new to us. The at home all the time part is! For some of us we’ve suddenly got a house full of people at home with us! In the wake of social distancing and self-quarantine, we are all asking ourselves, “How can I possibly stay focused for 8 hours a day?” Pets, snacks, kids, laundry, screens, partners, and our comfy beds stare us in the face with each moment that crawls by. For others the new routine of not having evening plans and activities keeps us sitting at our computers longer than normal. There’s got to be a balance! Getting your work done without distraction and turning it off at the end of the work day as well!

So, what’s the magic behind an entire virtual team? How does the Dynamic Works squad stay engaged, productive, and sane at the same time?

According to Cal Newport’s “Deep Work,” there are 4 types of focus approaches:

  • The monastic approach. This is where you shut yourself off from distractions completely. An extreme example might be moving to a remote cabin in the middle woods with no technology and locking yourself in until you check off everything on your to-do list. But we don’t expect you to do that.
  • The bimodal approach. This is when you might set aside a block of a few hours to hyper focus. Once the block of time is done, you can work on all the other stuff you got to do, like finishing Love is Blind on Netflix.
  • The rhythmic approach. This involves setting aside small chunks of time over the course of a longer period to accomplish a task. You might set aside 2 hours a day for 6 weeks, for example. You know what they say: A chunk a day keeps the procrastination away!
  • The journalistic approach. This is when you use random blips of free time to dedicate towards your tasks. When you find yourself staring out a window, you may suddenly think, “I could do that report I guess.” Then you focus in and have the time of your life on doing that report.

We asked our General Manager and Business Development Manager to tell us their personal focus approach. Here’s what they said:

GENA LEISTEN, General Manager – Bimodal

“Show your face on meetings as much as possible for accountability AND team camaraderie. Seeing other people can brighten your day, especially virtually.”

NIKKI STRUNK, Business Development Manager – Rhythmic/Bimodal

This sounds silly but, make your bed and put on your shoes! I also have found that a daily to-do list and scheduling at least 30 minutes outside of the house refreshes me, too.”

Finding your own work and focus styles can be a trial & error process.

Somedays you’ll know you did something wrong when you’ve had 5 cups of coffee and 7 breaks by noon. But that’s okay! Everyone has a perfect work flow just waiting to be achieved.

No matter what your style the most important thing to remember right now is that these are extraordinary times and things are just different. Kids are going to interrupt meetings, dogs are going to bark, connections are going to be iffy. It’s o.k. none of us have done this at this level before. Things happen. A cat stepping on a keyboard is not going to wreck the space time continuum, and it may give a welcome laugh when we all need it most.

Wishing you deep focus in your missions!

-Your Dynamic Team