Thursday, February 25, 2016

Month in a Minute

We are keeping busy this month, working on emotional intelligence initiatives from leadership to hiring to communication skills. The new webinars start in April and we have our new site live now: so feel free to check it out.

Top: Danielle Stanton, Brenda Labrie, and our Pamela Sumner
Left: A participant from my interviewing workshop at UNH
Right: Mark Giura CEO of McDonnell Investment Management and our own Steve Friedlein

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Not to Do

One of my coaching clients recently told me of something that she witnessed while working for a major retail technology company.  

The story goes something like this:  the VP of retail operations was going over his quarterly margins one day and decided that he could do better.  By his estimation the floor staff was too "fat" and he thought if he trimmed things down substantially the numbers would look much better. They weren't bad to begin with, but the VP thought , "I have the opportunity here to really make myself look pretty amazing."

The quickest way to get profit is to slash costs.  He cut the hours of the full-time employees and the part-time employees lost half of their hours without explanation.  Fearing the company was in trouble, or at the very least, that particular location, a mass exodus began.  

By the time the word got out, there barely remained enough employees to throw together a skeleton crew.  Soon customers started to notice long wait times and worse service. So the short sightedness of that VP's decision to "trim the fat" resulted in poor customer satisfaction, low retail sales numbers, and ended up costing way more for recruiting and training replacements. So much for looking amazing. 

Don't do this!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Logging Long Hours? You May be Counterproductive

Article published on May 26, 2015 for Ignites
By Clare Trapasso

Being the first one into the office and last to leave may seem like a ticket to promotions and pay bumps. But working around the clock has been proven to actually set workers back, say productivity coaches and researchers.

Fund shops including Janus and Nationwide Financial encourage staff to work smarter instead of needlessly burning the midnight oil and or take simple steps to manage their daily schedules to keep their energy levels high.

“It’s a very powerful myth that the longer you sit and work, the more productive you’re going to be,” says Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. But “if you chronically overwork, you become burned out. You no longer have the energy to work effectively, efficiently or productively.”

Workers and companies should focus on performance, rather than hours clocked, and staffers should build in short breaks every 90 minutes or so to refresh.

Often, it’s the senior leaders who intentionally — or unintentionally — set the hours of the office, says Jen Shirkani, CEO of Penumbra Group, a Bedford, N.H.-based leadership development consultant specializing in financial firms.

“When they put in extraordinary hours or work under extraordinary circumstances, it sends the message to everyone else that that’s the expectation,” she says. They need to be aware of the work ethic they are modeling, she says, so they can communicate to their teams that they don’t need to stay quite so late.

A poll of Ignites readers last spring showed that fund workers routinely expect to work at least 50 hours. More than 780 Ignites readers participated in the poll, which followed a Wall Street Journal article depicting a grueling culture at Pimco, where 12-hour workdays were the norm.

Nearly 30% of Ignites poll respondents said they typically work between 50 and 60 hours and another 7% said they logged up to 70 hours a week.

“The work ethic is alive and well in America,” says John Evans Jr., executive director of Janus Labs, part of the Denver, Colo.-based Janus Capital Group. “But perhaps it’s gotten a wee bit out of balance.”

He recommends that workers conduct their own energy audits to measure its quantity, quality, focus and force throughout the day.

Meetings with clients should be scheduled for times when energy is highest.

Workers who maintain exhaustive schedules can face health problems, says Alexandra Michel, a business professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Michel tracked four cohorts of U.S. investment bankers at two U.S. banks over 13 years.

At first, those who worked 80- to 120-hour workweeks were highly productive. But after about four years, they began to physically break down, developing insomnia, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. Their ability to think creatively suffered and it took longer to complete tasks. Around year seven, many burned out.

One factor keeping workers from hitting the off switch is open-office layouts, where colleagues can see who is planted firmly in front of their computer screens late into the night, she says. This causes peer pressure not to be the first to leave.

Even if firms mandated no work on weekends, many overachievers would do it anyway in secret, she found.

The problem is that employers still tend to favor the workers who are always on the clock, says John Pencavel, an economics professor at Stanford University, who researches productivity.
But after about 50+ hours of work a week, productivity and output can decline as stress and fatigue set in.

“A point is reached where it’s not in the interest of the employer” for workers to keep toiling away, Pencavel says.

Nationwide Financial encourages associates to participate in online and in-person workshops that cover time and energy management, says Ron Ransom, VP of business performance excellence.

The Columbus, Ohio-based firm also encourages managers to ensure that less than half of workers’ days is spent in meetings.

“It’s important to work hard, but work smart,” he says. “Know what’s expected of you. Know what’s needed to accomplish the goals.”

Workers need to set boundaries of when they will work and when they won’t, says Joe Robinson, a stress management and productivity trainer at Optimal Performance Strategies in Santa Monica, Calif. They should communicate those times to clients and managers, and then they need to power off their laptops, smart phones and tablets.

He recommends that professionals designate only a few times a day to check e-mail, let others know when they’re can’t be disturbed and distinguish between real emergencies and issues that can wait until the following morning.

And if workers don’t set these boundaries for themselves, he recommends that managers do it for them.

Workers should also assess whether working long hours might signal inefficiency, says Penumbra’s Shirkani.

“People [may] think you’re not capable of doing your job in 40 hours a week, so you have to put in the extra hours,” she says. “If I’m looking at you to promote you, I might say to myself, ‘You can’t even handle the job you have now. How could I give you more responsibility?’”

Clare Trapasso is a print and multimedia journalist at the New York Daily News with experience writing breaking news and feature stories in urban and rural communities.

As a general assignment reporter on the Daily News’ Queens Bureau and Metro Desk, she covers everything from schools being closed, to naked bike rides, to grisly murders, local politics and everything in-between.

Prior to that, she was an Associated Press reporter in the wire service’s New Hampshire Bureau. During the six-month assignment, she covered state and national news and put together several multimedia projects. She also edited stories and wrote broadcast news.

She became passionate about journalism at the State University of New York at Purchase College, where she graduated with a B.A. in journalism in 2002. In her senior year, she created a campus women's newspaper called The Cycle.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, she joined the Peace Corps. She was sent to Independent Samoa in the South Pacific, where she learned Samoan and taught college-level journalism classes in the capitol.

When she returned to America, she began graduate school. In 2007, she earned a M.A. in Journalism from New York University. As a student, she interned for the Daily News and The Village Voice. After graduation, she did an internship in the Associated Press New York City Bureau.

Clare Trapasso is interested in writing stories that can effect change. She can be contacted at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ego vs EQ in Action at the Superbowl

Just in time for the big game, we will take the principles of ego vs EQ to the football field. In one corner, we have Cam Newton representing Ego... in the other corner we have Peyton Manning representing EQ.

In case you need some supporting evidence as to why, according to
Cam Newton is apparently viewed by some as the league's greatest talent, but also the league's greatest unknown.

At least that's what one Charlotte-area broadcaster said to the Panthers quarterback during a recent sit-down, which elicited the following answer from Newton.

"Absolutely not," he told WCCB-TV, via "And I say this with the most humility, but I don't think nobody has ever been who I'm trying to be. Nobody has the size, nobody has the speed, nobody has the arm strength, nobody had the intangibles that I've had. I'm not saying that to say I'm a one-on-one type of person that this league will never see another. No, I'm not saying that. Hear me out. I'm just saying that so much of my talents have not been seen in one person."

Over confidence that appears as ego?

On the flip side, Joseph Milord wrote an article for Elite Daily titled, “9 Stories That Prove Peyton Manning is the Most Humble Athlete Ever

Here is one example:

He Is Just As Classy In Defeat As He Is In Victory

After swallowing his most embarrassing loss ever — a 43-8 Super Bowl defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in this past February — Manning went out of his way to check on the opposing team’s most polarizing players, Richard Sherman, after the cornerback had injured his ankle during the game.

Sherman was awestruck by Manning’s class, considering the circumstances, and was quoted as saying by Pro Football Talk:

He was really concerned about my well-being. After a game like that, a guy who’s still classy enough to say ‘How are you doing?’ To show that kind of concern for an opponent shows a lot of humility and class.

I am sure you can guess who I am rooting for on Sunday.

More interesting reads on this topic:
The Biggest Ego on Every NFL Team by Nick Kostora for Bleacher Report