A Humble Ride

In the “staging” area, about to start pedaling with hundreds of others in the 10th annual Pelotonia cycling event for cancer research.

Pelotonia. You’ve heard about it, no doubt, from the thousands of riders, corporate sponsors, co-workers, friends and neighbors. In fact, many of you are likely riders or volunteers. Born from a mission to mobilize people toward one goal – to end cancer – Pelotonia has become a sustaining and far-reaching movement. The green arrows that are part of the brand identity can be seen in front of rural farms and as murals on the side of skyscraper buildings.

This is about my first experience with Pelotonia – as a rider this 10th anniversary year on August 4, 2018. While I had participated in other organized bike races/fundraising efforts in past years, I had hesitated to ride in Pelotonia because of the sheer numbers of participants. “The Greatest Team Ever” and over 8,000 bicyclists had seemed overwhelming and daunting to me. I had thought, with that many riders, how can it be well organized? Will I be “safe”?

I rode this year because I decided to step out of my comfort zone just a little – for my sister, Rachel, who suffered cancer twice in her life and fought the battle until August 25, 2012. I rode for my dad, who lived until nearly age 80 after his diagnosis of prostate cancer that was caught too late.  I rode for my niece, Karen, my neighbor, Trish, and my sisters-in-law Adrienne and Marcy – all of whom have survived breast cancer. And so many others.

While I raised $1,685 for cancer research, I also raised my level of gratitude, humility and awareness of the far-reaching effects of cancer. To say this was an eye-opening experience would be an understatement. I was fueled by people whom I met before and during the 45 mile trek.

I had intended to ride with the Team Marion cyclists – some riding the century and others in the 45 route, like me. However, God must have had other plans for me because they hit the road early and I was left to find other cyclists to keep me company…not a difficult feat by any stretch!  I’m a people-person, and before I had even checked in at the registration table – where volunteers cheered for me as a first-timer – I met a couple from my little hometown of Bellville, Ohio.

The couple, wearing Team Buckeye bike jerseys, happened to be the parents of a boy who has persevered through cancer and become well-known in my area for his inspiring and positive

attitude.  After the initial, awkward, handlebar-to-handlebar start along High Street in downtown  Columbus, I came upon a “Survivor” jersey in front of me, worn by a woman I’ll call Mary. I pedaled up next to her and we chatted. Mary couldn’t have been more than 35 years old, and she told me she had survived treatment for Hodgkin’s (or Hodgkin)-Lymphoma.  What struck me the most was when she said this: “I had one of the most treatable kinds of cancer. With Hodgkin’s-Lymphoma, about 90 percent of those diagnosed see a full recovery after treatment, so I had a realistic hope that I’d be OK after undergoing chemo. There was light at the end of the tunnel. What I want to see – what I’m riding for – is all those other cancer patients…we should ALL be able to have that realistic hope for recovery.”

This Pelotonia rider couldn’t agree more.

 

Alice Hutzel-Bateson is the Communications-Marketing Coordinator for Alber Enterprise Center. For information about Pelotonia, visit http://pelotonia.org/

 

How to Understand and Deal with Different Generations

To effectively deal with the four generations of employees and customers, we first need to get to know them.

Matures – born before 1946

These people could be your parents, grandparents or even your great-grandparents. They tend to be task oriented. Matures believe in rules of conduct and respect for authority. When they were young, they did not question; they simply did as they were told. Society was characterized by a militaristic, top-down structure. After all, many matures grew up during World War II or the Korean War. Members of this generation, for the most part, want conformity and rules.

There has always been inter-generational conflict. Members of the next generation (Baby Boomers) probably approached Matures with “You know, maybe there is a better way to do things.” Matures likely responded with, “No! This is the way has always been done. And it always will be done this way!”

Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964

Most members of the next generation of employees desire meaningful work, and to have a bottom-line impact on the success of the organization. But they also want praise, recognition and appreciation for their extra hours and hard work, as well as the resulting financial rewards that accompany them. Boomers live to work.

In general, this generation is probably the most materialistic of the four. The attendees of my workshops theorize as to why the generations act the way that they do. One attendee speculated that Baby Boomers are so materialistic because many of their parents, who were Matures, struggled financially while they were growing up. Therefore, Matures instructed their Baby Boomer sons and daughters, “We don’t want you to deal with the hard times that we had to endure. Go make something of yourselves!” So Boomers did.

Generation Y – born between 1965 and 1980

Many of my attendees who are Gen Y feel like they are the forgotten generation. “Everybody seems to talk about Baby Boomers and Millennials,” they say. “Nobody seems to ever mention us.”

Like the Baby Boomers, most of Generation Y wants meaningful work. But with that desire comes an important caveat: they also desire a healthy work-life balance. They want relaxed dress codes, flexible leave policies and a freedom to do their job. Finally, they want a boss who is sensitive to their need for work flexibility and family values.

Millennials – born between 1981 and 1995

The next group is currently the largest generation in the workforce. Millennials (or Generation Y), for the most part, want to participate on a variety of substantial, important projects, which will allow them to learn and use new skills, especially their technical skills.

Millennials desire work that is personally rewarding. Because, unlike Baby Boomers who live to work, Millennials only work to live. They believe in Y.O.L.O. – you only live once – so you need to experience all that life has to offer, especially outside the job.

This generation likely wants a boss who is more like a coach or mentor; they dislike bosses who are formal or hierarchical.

Some interesting facts about Millennials …

What percent of today’s adults are currently married with children compared to Baby Boomers of the same age?

  • Baby Boomers – 50%
  • Millennials – 12%

What percent of Millennials expect to stay on the job for less than three years?

  • 91% – which will translate into 15 to 20 jobs over their working lives

Where do Millennials want to live?

  • 41% say in or near the cities

The key to success in dealing with each of these four different generations is the platinum rule – do onto others the way that they would like to be done unto.

 

Changes are Coming to Hazardous Waste Management

Changes Coming to Hazardous and Universal Waste Management in Ohio

Hazardous waste generator improvements are coming!   These changes are good, but will require generators here in Ohio to review their hazardous waste programs and be prepared to incorporate these changes by May 2019.

New definitions, requirements and regulatory references have been established for all categories of waste generators and also changing the smallest waste generator category known as Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs), to now be called Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs).   All the changes are far too extensive to cover in a short blog, but some of the most significant changes will be covered.

Satellite Accumulation Point Management

 EPA has revised quantity limits for acute hazardous wastes (1 qt for liquids and 1 kg for solids) at satellite accumulation points as well as marking requirements on hazardous waste containers at satellite accumulation points.  Containers must still be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste” but now also have markings indicating the “Hazards” of the waste.

For Small and Large Quantity Generators, Satellite Accumulation Points must now meet generator-specific emergency preparedness and planning requirements, which previously only applied to a generators 90-day or 180-day centralized storage areas.

Emergency Preparedness and Planning

Requirements pertaining to emergency preparedness have been expanded to include posting emergency response information “next to telephones or in areas directly involved in waste generation and accumulation of hazardous waste”.  Further, all Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) will be required to prepare and submit to local first responders or the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) a Quick Reference Guide.

Episodic Generation

Many generators have been forced to scramble to meet higher generator category requirements or take the risk and liability of being in non-compliance when unplanned (or even planned) hazardous waste generation causes the generator to exceed their normal generator category limits.  Under the new rulemaking, EPA allows for a one time episodic hazardous waste generation event (planned or unplanned) allowing a VSQG or SGQ to remain in their normal waste generator category.

Source:  https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/final-rule-hazardous-waste-generator-improvements

 

High Performing Teams

High Performing Teams:  Three Pitfalls to Avoid

Have you ever been on a really great team?  Why was it great?

Great teams that accomplish amazing goals and are enjoyable to be on do not happen by accident.  It takes a savvy team leader and team members who are willing to risk sharing their unique strengths and differences for the good of the team.

How do we build these great teams and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid?

#1 – Negative Thinking

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.  Helen Keller

Building great teams starts with building a strong foundation of respect and trust.  Without these, the team will always struggle with communication, judgmental attitudes, personal agendas, and lack of valuable transparency.  Teams that have a foundation of trust perform better.  According to Paul J. Zak in his Harvard Business Review article, the Neuroscience of Trust, employees of high-trust companies as compared to low-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement, and 29% more satisfaction with their lives.  Wow – who wouldn’t want to be part of this team!

Given the strong importance for trust, why is it team members do not respect and trust one another?  I believe we need to take a good look in the mirror and determine to stop thinking the worst of our teammates.  We need to expect the best and not jump to negative conclusions.  We need to get rid of the stereotypes we think, believe, and act on about one another.

If we want to be part of a great team then it is time to start giving our teammates the benefit of the doubt, to trust them, to forgive them, to put ourselves in their shoes, to encourage them, and to share credit with them.  In fact, when we start thinking positively about one another, amazing things can happen.

#2 – The Meeting-After-the-Meeting

Great things in business are never done by one person.  They are done by a team of people.  Steve Jobs

Admittedly, I have on a few occasions been part of “the meeting-after-the-meeting”.  You probably know this pitfall too.  It goes something like this:  you sit through a meeting where the leader and maybe a couple of teammates do all the talking, enthusiastically make the decisions, and then the meeting ends with you feeling confused, in disagreement, or with a lack of energy.  At this point, the “meeting-after-the-meeting” occurs.  You stick around afterwards commiserating with another teammate about the terrible decision or you huddle somewhere to criticize and complain.

If we want to be part of a great team then we need to risk speaking up during the meeting and sharing our thoughts, ideas, and disagreements.  Obviously, we need to be respectful but if we do not speak up, the team misses out on valuable input and possibly the best idea for great success.  Let’s decide today to stop “meeting-after-the meeting” and make sure each team member is encouraged to respectfully speak up, ask questions, and voice concerns.

#3 – My Idea or The Best Idea

None of us is as smart as all of us.  Ken Blanchard

Which is better, my idea or the best idea for the team?   If you have ever been part of a great team, you probably responded with “the best idea for the team”.  Unfortunately, we often refuse to truly embrace our teammate’s ideas.  We may not outwardly say it but rather our refusal plays out in subtle ways.  We don’t take part in the follow up, we lack energy to stay on task, or we just plain do not do our part.

I may talk a good game about wanting the team to succeed but when their ideas do not benefit me or my personal goals, I may have a tendency to protect my own idea.  If we want to be part of a great team, then what is best for the team is to tap into and embrace ideas from all team members. I need to let go of thinking my idea is the best idea and trust the collective team for the best idea.  After all, “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  What holds you back from embracing change and others’ ideas?  Consider your motives and ways to overcome the fear of the unknown.  Once we accomplish this, then we are well on our way to becoming a great high performing team!

 

Reinforcement: What, Why, & How?

Reinforcement – What, Why & How?

How effective is your organization’s training? According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 90 percent of training is forgotten within days no matter how skillful or engaging the trainer is.  If research studies are accurate, very few of your learners have actually changed their behaviors as a result of training. Reinforcing knowledge and skills learned in training or professional development programs is a process that takes time and strategic investment. Ultimately, your training will be more effective because of reinforcement.

What is reinforcement? Basically, “…training reinforcement is a solution that uses your current training material, learning objectives, and (reinforcement) goals to reinforce important skills and knowledge learned during a training event or course.”[1]

One explanation – and one aspect to reinforcement – is the Ebbinghaus Retention Curve, which displays the percentage of a topic that we recall after paying attention to it repeatedly. Named for psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus, this concept is about teaching people to remember something important. Ebbinghaus hypothesized that it is much harder for learners to retain something that is not meaningful to them, and that learners will have more success if the learning is stretched out over a period of time, instead crammed into a short burst. However, remembering information is only part of the issue when it comes to training and development.  Changing behaviors and/or developing new habits based on one’s training – that’s the other part of the issue.   A good reinforcement tool maximizes your training investment dollars and helps to change your learners’ behaviors.

So how do you change behaviors? Training reinforcement focuses on changing old habits and developing new ones. “Without behavior change, you’re not reinforcing; you are only reminding.” – Anthonie Wurth.  One of the founders of Mindmarker®, Wurth understood that your training content must be reinforced with small, bite-sized messages to engage the learner. More than a reminder service, Mindmarker® is considered the leader in training reinforcement.  The three learning phases of your reinforcement program are: awareness, knowledge and skills, and behavior change.  Of course, timing and content are critical to the process through each phase.

Just a few of the benefits of training reinforcement, according to Mindmarker®:

  • Training reinforcement leads to better training practices, which creates superior performance results.
  • A fully-integrated training reinforcement program helps decrease the amount of knowledge lost post-training.
  • With the training dollars spent by businesses each year, it’s critical to obtain the highest ROI.

Alber Enterprise Center has been integrating post-workshop reinforcement for clients who want specific behavior changes in workshop attendees, and those clients have seen positive results.  As you can imagine, instead of the normal 10-20% retention of the workshop material, clients are realizing a much higher return on their training dollar investment.

[1] From Mindmarker “Beginners Guide to Reinforcement” page 6

Marketing Your Small Business

One of the ideas I like to share with my audiences is for each of them to form an Advisory Council. Here is how it works: Once a quarter, take your best customers out to dinner to a fancy restaurant or country club. It especially helps if these customers are what best-selling author Seth Godin calls “sneezers,” people who are most influential in your community.

After dinner, ask your Advisory Council some questions like, “I’d like to give you a sneak peek at some new products and services we are thinking about rolling out. What do you think?” or “This is our new business plan for next year. What advice would you give us?”

And you know, it really doesn’t matter what they say. The important thing is that you made these people, who seem to know everybody in the community, feel important.

Not only will they be happy to meet other like-minded, influential members of the community at the quarterly meeting, they are likely to become lifetime customers themselves. (After all, who among your competitors are treating them so royally?)  Best of all, they likely will be unable to contain their enthusiasm around others about how you make them feel special.

After their quarterly meeting with you, if they overhear someone shopping for products or services that you offer, they are likely to chime in to the conversation, beginning with words like, “You know, if that is what you are considering, you really need to see my friends. They’ll take really good care of you!”

And we all understand the power of personal recommendation and that word of mouth is the most influential and effective form of marketing you can get.

And you too can get it, for the price of dinner and some drinks, simply by making your best customers feel important.

Seth Godin

 

 

 

Booming Paralegal Field

Lawyers are not the only legal experts out there. In fact, it is common that lawyers depend on their paralegals and legal assistants to help them be more efficient and effective. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of paralegals is expected to grow by 15% over the next eight years! You’ll find paralegals in law firms, government offices and legal departments in corporate companies. They are qualified legal experts who draft legal documents, research laws and regulations, and assist attorneys and lawyers with cases and help prepare for trials.

Paralegals may help with some administrative tasks, yet most of their workload is engaging with clients and working on cases. Charged with keeping track of and analyzing case documentation and information, paralegals need to be well versed in the online world of databases and computer software to be successful in their positions.

According to Paralegal EDU, there is a lot of variability in the opinion of what certification/credentials a paralegal needs for the industry to recognize them as qualified. There is no standard paralegal preparation course, certificate or degree. Because of the variability, you will find a variety of certificate programs and undergraduate degrees that aim to teach paralegals the skills they need to be successful.

Paralegal EDU just released the results of a months-long assessment of more than 250 accredited schools offering pre-degree certificate programs in paralegal studies. They chose which programs to recognize based upon a number of factors. Some of these factors include; the flexibility of the course work to fit into learner’s daily lives, opportunities to gain experience by practicing their new skills as well as how well the program aligns with current job demands. Check out the full list of criteria.

Paralegal EDU has recognized Alber Enterprise Center’s Paralegal Certification course as one of the best programs in Ohio for Paralegals to earn their certificate. This program includes the flexible online course, a Microsoft Office Suite course to develop your computer software skills, and an externship that allows you to practice the new skills you have learned in the course.

Full Plate Time Management

When you finished work yesterday, did you accomplish all you wished?  Or, like many, was it a day filled with busyness, but little progress on your priorities? Our professional lives are complex due to a combination of lean workforce, demands on our time, and way too much to do for less. How can you get control of your time and your life when your plate is so full?  Here’s an overview and detailed suggestions in one area:

Full Plate Time (and Life) Management requires:

  1. Task Management – choosing the tasks you should do and in what order.
  2. Energy Management – having an abundance of energy to give each day your best.
  3. Attention Management – hold focus on what matters most.
  4. Workflow Management – having systems in place to serve my specific needs.

Today we’ll focus on Attention Management.

The Problem.  Many things vie for our attention and unless we take responsibility for where our mind wanders, we’ll be pulled in a zillion different ways and never get to what matters most. For many this includes crises, texts, emails, chatty Cathy, boss demands, customer needs, etc.  After setting your priorities well (task management), here are four ways to keep your attention on what you need to do.

1) Trust others.  We allow ourselves to be derailed from our priority tasks because we believe that we must be the one to address the various issues that arise.  Learn to deputize and delegate others with guidelines to handle issues for you.  This is one possible draw on your attention, but one you can solve by letting go and trusting others.  They can do it.  Let them.

2) Utilize Q2 to prevent crises (from the 4 quadrants of productivity, as referenced in Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”®. Q2 is the quadrant for less urgent but important items requiring focus).  For every crisis, discuss what can be done to prevent it from happening again.  Operating in Q2 will reduce the number and severity of the crises you face and save valuable time.

3) Eliminate distractions.  Studies have shown that checking for new emails and looking at your phone again and again are addictive behaviors that take an enormous toll on your ability to focus and attend to what is most important.  A momentary look at our phone to check an alert will take, on average, 90 seconds to get your focus back on task.  Add up each alert and it means hours of time each day distracted by your phone.   Put that thing in airplane mode when you need to write that report or during a meeting.  Ban phones from meetings to encourage full participation and interaction.  It also fosters better participation and interaction with others.

Politely tell chatty Cathy (or Charles) that you can’t talk right now, and schedule a time later if it is important.  If you are chatty Charles, stop assuming their time is yours. This is different than building relationships by genuinely being interested in others, giving feedback, and following up.  Know the difference and choose wisely.

There are many other distractions not mentioned here.  What is drawing your attention?  What will you do about it?

4) Schedule time for Q2 and Priority tasks.  Look at your calendar.  Is it filled only with meetings set by you and others?  Who is in control of your attention?  When you schedule time for your focused attention, you carve out the time you need to get priorities done.  Schedule the Q2 time for planning, task prioritization, and relationship building to make everything else work better.

So what will you do to maintain your attention to focus on what matters most?  Gaining this control gives you the focus that will make all the difference.

 

The Park

Recently as I was driving to work (often times, I do my best thinking when I’m driving to work), I passed a city park. I quickly glanced over and saw steam rising and thought to myself, “I didn’t know that there was a small lake at the park.” My second thought was, “I have been driving by this park for over two years. Why have I never turned into here and explored?” The parks in my community are very nice and appear to be well kept. Yes, we pay taxes in the county where I live for the upkeep so one should really take the opportunity to enjoy them. This sent me down another road in my thinking process and that was, “This is like some of the organizations that the Alber Enterprise Center works with. When we sit down to have the initial conversation, our strategy is to listen. We listen to what the employer’s needs are. We ask questions to learn about what keeps them up at night. And there are many times what we hear is, “This is the way we have always done it.”

Many organizations have not ventured away from the typical “one and done training”. You know, the kind of training where you go offsite, spend anywhere from 4 – 8 hours in the training and when you get back to your office, the well-put together notebook of training materials goes up on a bookshelf, right along with the other trainings that you have attended. Does this sound familiar? I am smiling because I, too, had a bookshelf full of well-put together, carefully thought out workshops. Then, once I got back to the office, it was “business as usual” and anything that I had hoped to implement went right up there on the shelf with the other notebooks. And then…all was forgotten.

What does this have to do with my drive in this morning and seeing the park? Well, I would challenge organizations to veer off the path, think differently, look at the overall picture and wonder, “What could we do differently that would make a greater impact?”

A good place to start and one that I strongly recommend is asking your staff what training or professional development they would find exciting, energizing, and meaningful? You would be surprised how much thought they have given to that very question and will, most likely, provide you with a lot of good information, such as developing their skills as an emerging leader or maybe it is one-on-one coaching. Another possibility might be to identify their strengths and areas where they will excel or it could be a process to become “lean” and the ability to put a process in place to improve efficiencies.

Take off the blinders and look at your organization’s professional development with fresh eyes. Be willing to veer off that well-traveled path and explore. You never know what you might see or discover along the way.

P.S. – On my way home today, I veered off the main road and drove through the park I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. I learned a couple of things. First, there is NO small lake – it was an open field with early morning fog. (Lesson here – don’t assume). Second, the road took me back to a beautiful bird sanctuary and a scenic area for rest and reflection. My next adventure will be to go explore those. Robert Frost certainly said it best:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by; And that has made all the difference.

 What difference might it make for you and your organization?

Where Are You Going?

Strategies for Organization Success.

It’s no secret that there are many factors directly linked to the performance of your organization. Possibly the most important of these factors, and most devastating when things go wrong, is your organization’s culture. At Alber Enterprise Center, we recognize culture as the collection of behaviors, beliefs, values, interactions, and attitudes that impact how things get done in your organization. These are reflected in your organizational processes, systems, communications, products/services, and most importantly your public image.

So what happens when your organizational culture doesn’t align with your organizational goals?

Well…you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle if you ever desire or NEED to create change to stay competitive. A culture that is aligned with strategic goals drives better performance, greater financial returns, clearer vision, and employees who are more motived, happy, and engaged.

Doesn’t that sound great? You’re probably wondering…how do we know if our culture is aligned with our goals? Or, if you have the inclination to believe that your culture is not aligned, you may be wondering…where do we begin to gain alignment?

You may have heard the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Well, that can indeed be the case when your strategy doesn’t take into account your culture’s influence. What about positioning your culture to enable strategy? What about taking a positive perspective and focusing on your strengths to better enable your strategy? Research supports that leaders who invest the same energy in their cultures as they do other key performance measures experience greater organizational success.

Noted authors on organizational change and culture, such as Kotter and Cameron & Quinn, claim that today’s organizations must be able to successfully undergo change if they are to succeed in an increasingly complex and constantly shifting society. Change is imperative, yet organizations rarely meet their intended objectives. Leaders may set out to change the “shiny object” such as technical alterations in processes to try to improve performance; however, in reality it is typically a culture change that is needed for their organization to meet their objectives.

Can you imagine a culture that utilizes what your organization is doing well to help you do even better? Taking a strengths approach will allow you to create positive momentum and experience positive returns sooner than later. Here are four steps we at Alber believe are the ways to getting a strengths-based culture.

  • Gather information through structured assessments to fully understand your current situation
  • Assess the gaps between where the data reveals you are vs. your ideal situation for optimal performance and success in your organization
  • Determine how to move from where you are to where you want to be
  • Implement an intentional plan that engages your new strengths-based culture and mindset.

These strategies will move the needle to greater organizational success.