Alumni Spotlight – Meet Dr. Elisse Wright Barnes

It’s time to spotlight another of our distinguished alumni!  Today, we feature Dr. Elisse Wright Barnes, entrepreneur and workforce development instructor.  Read below to learn more about her journey, how she came to choose Ohio State, and how that has impacted her career trajectory.



5 Ways to Kick Up Your Productivity This Week

Happy Wednesday!  Here we are again at the midpoint of another week, and I’m sure many of you are already thinking of all the things you still need to accomplish by Friday.  Instead of letting yourself get bogged down by the sheer volume of “stuff” that you’ve got to get done, however, let’s instead focus on ways to get the most out of your time this week.  Here are 8 tips to help you be more productive over the next few days (and beyond)!

  1. – Relocate your alarm clock

We’ve all heard the sage advice about revamping your morning routine.  Waking up earlier, drinking a glass of lemon water on an empty stomach, going for a walk or meditating in the wee hours just before dawn, etc.  Perhaps that works for some people, but for the rest of us?  Not so much.  Many of us are starting our mornings in a mad dash because we’ve hit the snooze button a few too many times, and now are rushing to get ready and get out the door on time.

The easiest way to avoid this?  Move your alarm clock or phone out of arms reach. If you have to get up to turn your alarm off each morning, you’re much less likely to hit snooze and go get back in bed… at least, more than once.  Getting up on time and trading those last 7 minutes (or 14 minutes, or 21 minutes…) for the ability to take your time and be purposeful about how you go about your morning routine sets a tone for your entire day.  Instead of being rushed and frazzled and manic as you rush out the door, you’ll be able to think clearly about how you go about this first part of your morning.  As a result, you’ll have better experiences all throughout the day, because you’ll be more focused and better prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

  1. – Organize your objectives for the week, grouping similar items together

We all have what seems like a never-ending to-do list on our plates each day.  However, in today’s world, we are always looking for ways to work smarter and not harder.  This list has several tips to do just that, and one of those is to spend a bit of time organizing the things that you’d like to get accomplished for the week in a way that groups similar items together.  For example – if you have to compose a web request for three separate events or projects at some point during the week, group them together and use block scheduling to get all three knocked out at once.  The idea is that you’re more focused and productive when doing like tasks over the course of time, as opposed to jumping around to different things that have been placed haphazardly on your list of to-dos.  Increase your productivity and get more done by taking a few minutes to organize yourself and do the things that flow together, together.

  1. – Pick one major goal for the week to use as your “Success Yardstick”

Let’s be honest for just a moment – how often do you get everything on your to-do list done each week?  For so many of us, the list is an ever growing and ever changing thing that, if not properly managed, can grow and become overwhelming, leading us to feel as though we aren’t making an progress at all.

Instead of holding yourself to the standard of checking off a dozen little boxes by Friday at 5 pm, how about instead focusing on one major goal for the week, and getting that done?  Perhaps it is revamping the content on your company website, or maybe your goal is to complete a proposal for a new project to give your boss for review.  Whatever it is, pick something and get to work on it.  Use your progress toward achieving this goal as the measurement by which you determine whether your week was successful.

  1. – Make a “Progress List”

Okay, so maybe you don’t live in a world where accomplishing one major goal per week is acceptable.  Perhaps that overwhelming to-do list of yours is chock full of stuff that actually has to get done this week.  The best way to keep yourself motivated and focused while you drudge through all of that?  Make a “Progress List” to sit next to your to-dos, and add to it as you accomplish things – big or small – throughout your week.  Seeing that you are actually making progress toward your goals will be extremely helpful in keeping you going through the hard parts of the week.  As an added bonus, these are also great success points to keep track of for performance reviews, weekly reports, and one on one meetings with your manager!

  1. – End your week on Thursday, plan next week on Friday

Go into your week with the intention of getting everything you need to accomplish squared away by Thursday, and anticipate that Friday will be a day of down time as a reward for your hard work.  This is helpful in two ways:  1. – It gives you the incentive to get your things done quickly throughout the week, with the understanding that you’ll have a reward for working hard and 2. – It gives you some cushion at the end of the week, which translates into more of what we all need:  TIME.  You’ll have more time to get your thoughts in order for the week ahead.  You’ll have extra time built in in the event that you weren’t able to get everything done by Thursday.  You’ll have additional time to breathe, and won’t feel completely burnt out going into your weekend.

Try incorporating one (or all) of these tips into the rest of your week, and see the difference you’ll feel for yourself.  You’ll be more productive, and less stressed – who wouldn’t want that?

Ask the Coach – Working with Difficult People


Last week, the Career Management staff conducted a webinar on “Working with Difficult People”.  We had some really great responses to the presentation, as well as some great questions from the audience.  Below are those questions, as well as answers from our expert career consultation staff.

Working with Difficult People Webinar Q&A – (from 6.29.18)

Q. – How do you handle a boss that is unprofessional. ie. She gossips about her subordinates to subordinates.  This makes me uncomfortable because she supervised both of us.  I can only imagine what she states about me to them.

 A. – When dealing with a situation like this, the best thing to do is to redirect the conversation with your supervisor.  Be sure to keep things as professional as possible, and not to delve too deeply into your own personal background.  It is possible that she is doing this as a way to make friends or to establish a rapport with you (and is just really bad at it).  However, if it continues or becomes even more uncomfortable for you, it may be worth it to speak with HR and get their advice on the situation.  Remember that your talks with HR are confidential unless you choose to file a formal complaint, so there is no worry of being retaliated against for simply seeking some advice.

Q. – What if the difficult person is your boss? What about when a supervisor is being inappropriate and difficult?

 A. – Well, the best answer for this depends on the relationship and level of comfort that you have with that person.  If he or she is difficult because of a situation like the one mentioned above, it may do you well to simply talk to them about it.  A conversation where you clearly outline your boundaries in a friendly but firm way may be helpful.

If, on the other hand, your boss is behaving maliciously toward you, then your best recourse would be to involve HR.  Full disclosure:  this may make things more tense/awkward in your workplace for a while.  However, involving HR would be the best way to begin documenting what is happening around you, and provides you some protection from retaliation in the event that things begin to escalate.

If it’s just that your personalities clash, perhaps you should try some tips on “Managing Up”.  We have an upcoming podcast on this subject, and in the meantime, a great book on the subject is “It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss” by Bruce Tulgan – this book contains some awesome strategies for creating a better relationship with a difficult boss.

Q. – How do you deal/respond to someone who doesn’t listen to your responses to their questions or what you are talking about?  They are already on the next question to ask you or thinking about something else.  I am constantly having to repeat what I had just told them or repeating what another person just said in a meeting.  It seems rude and that they are not listening.

 A. –  This may sound a bit brash, but the easiest way to deal with this is to simply stop answering their questions for them.  It is quite rude that they have chosen not to listen, but saying that outright probably won’t go over well.  However, enabling their bad behavior by not addressing it isn’t helpful to them and will only serve to continue to frustrate you.  Perhaps say to them that you are working on focusing more on meetings so that you can get the most out of them, and suggest that they take notes during the meetings.  You could even offer to go over the notes later on and discuss, if they feel that it necessary.

As far as them not listening to what you’re saying or moving on to new questions without giving you the opportunity to respond, the best approach would be to stop talking once they start.  When the person inevitably notices that you’ve stopped speaking, let them know in a kind, but firm way that   you’ll finish your thoughts/explanation when they’re ready to listen.  You don’t need to be condescending about it, but this is an important boundary for you to establish in order to maintain a strong working relationship with this person.

Q. – What happens when the organization and the people in the organization are stuck in the past with their methods and they don’t approve you trying new things?  This is very difficult and doesn’t change when I’ve tried to have one-on-one conversations.

 A. – If you have had conversations about improving methods in the past and they have not worked, you have two options here.  The first is that you can revisit the conversation(s) with a new approach – perhaps bring in some evidence that shows a correlation between trying new things and an improvement in processes or bottom line outcomes.  The second would be to analyze “fit” – meaning how well you fit into the organizational culture of the company.  If it has become a difficult place for you to work in, then perhaps you should begin exploring other options for employment.  Feel out the opportunities for different departments in your company, or explore options for other career paths.

Q. – As a manager, how do I address an employee who is extremely blunt with her co-workers?  Co-workers feel that she is abrasive and they don’t want to work with her but her work quality is extremely high.  I have discussed it with her several times but it doesn’t resolve.

 A. – Because you are her manager, you are in a unique position to influence these relationships.  Although you wouldn’t want to be seen as singling her out unfairly, it may be a good idea for you to suggest/assign some additional training for her along the lines of emotional intelligence.  Depending on the company that you work for there may be resources available through your human resources department, or you may look outside of the office for webinars, short classes, etc.  A few good books on the subject that you might use as a starting point are:  “Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Golman and “The EQ Edge” by Steven Stein and Howard Book.