10 / 3 / 2014
As the general elections approach on November 4th, there is increased scrutiny over the activities of charitable organizations. While we encourage relevant policy questions of elected officials and those seeking office, there are distinct lines in which we may not cross. This memo offers guidance from The Jewish Federations of North America. Please contact Shelley Rood if you have any questions.
10 / 3 / 2014
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. Click here to view a compilation of AJFCA member agency domestic violence professionals' original publications addressing domestic violence in their communities in an effort to raise awareness of this devastating epidemic.
9 / 19 / 2014
A subtle vibe of negativity can spoil an otherwise effective workplace. I've seen this impact even the most capable of teams. The dynamic can bring a group of talented contributors to a slowed, encumbered pace. The team becomes snagged on issues that fail to drive performance — and the collective energy of the group fractures and dissipates. We might feel that we personally lack the resources to affect levels of happiness in our workplace. However, we have more ability to do so than we might have previously acknowledged. Research has shown the inherent power of a positive mind set has far-reaching potential to enhance not only psychological well-being — but the achievement of valued workplace outcomes.
Positive psychology explores, and attempts to capture what is "right" within our lives. It shifts the emphasis to experiences that help us build a positive foundation, so we can meet issues and challenges. The psychological resources of hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism (Think HERO), can influence how we approach our daily work lives. These resources — which together form the construct of psychological capital — can be integral in affecting our behavior.
As managers, team leaders or individual contributors, taking an active role to encourage a more positive workplace can prove to be a worthy investment. Take a moment to take stock of your own psychological resources and those of others around you. Do you feel capable of meeting the demands of your work life? Do you feel the team possess the tools to meet the challenges that lay before you at work? Does the group feel confident and hopeful? What needs to change to create a more positive environment?
A few ideas to encourage a more positive workplace. (These are simple — yet in practice, we often need a reminder.):
Express gratitude. Recognizing others for their contribution is a powerful resource builder. I've seen talented contributors who were tempted to leave an organization, simply because they misjudged their own value. Routinely expressing gratitude can set a powerful and positive tone of deep respect. Remember that two simple words —"thank you"— can have a long-standing effect on work-life happiness.
Take every opportunity to align work with strengths. Utilizing our strengths in the workplace is key to building confidence. This involves routine discussions with your team members, to evaluate if their skills are being tapped. For yourself, make every attempt to incorporate the areas in which you excel, into everyday work life. When weaknesses take center stage — work life can become a miserable experience.
Value the work of others. You may not agree with every idea or plan presented, however respecting what others bring to the table is key. We all work hard to make a difference — try not to rob others of the feeling of satisfaction that comes with contributing.
Communicate, even when it is challenging. Next to public speaking, engaging someone in a difficult conversation, is likely one of our greatest workplaces fears. However, happy workplaces rely on open, diplomatic conversations. So, if you are hesitating to share something important or you are avoiding conflict — think twice before sweeping it under the carpet. (A few ideas for that here.)
Emphasize feedback. Offering (and seeking out) honest feedback is critical to our work lives. However, we must remember that we differ in terms of our feedback requirements and capability to both absorb (and apply) the information. Be cognizant of the individual differences among team members.
Bring balance to the negatives. As human beings, we have the tendency to dwell on negative information (quite possibly an evolutionary byproduct). Often we find ourselves obsessing about a goal we didn't fulfill — or a relationship that is strained. Build resilience by refocusing your energy on successes, when you feel disappointment or stress.
Practice "flexible" thinking. When considering a new challenge, be sure to explore potential obstacles and generate alternative pathways to effectively manage them. This exercise builds feelings of efficacy in the face of an unexpected turn of events—a common occurrence in our work lives.
Acknowledge the small steps that lead to successes. Often we focus on lofty, larger goals that may take an extended amount of time to accomplish. Identify and celebrate incremental goals along the way, to help bolster energy levels and maintain focus.
How do you create a positive work environment at your place of business? Share your strategies here.
How to Build a More Positive Workplace, September 9, 2014, LinkIn, by Dr. Marla Gottschalk