April 2010 Newsletter

MYTH: I get more done when I wait ‘til the last minute.

 

January 2010 Newsletter Image 2My sister has a t-shirt with this on the front:

“The top ten reasons I procrastinate:

1.”

Well I guess that t-shirt says it all!  We all procrastinate and sometimes we can’t even complete the 1ststep. For those who are not procrastinators, the procrastinator is notorious for starting lists and not finishing them or what is on them- all with the best of intentions of course. 

 

If you fall in the procrastination category, you are not alone. They say that procrastination is a habit. And, if you know the reason for the procrastination you can put strategies in place to combat it.

So why do we procrastinate?

  1. It’s a task that is less than appealing- cleaning the fish tank; or preparing for the upcoming meeting on “Procedures for eliminating the dust bunnies out from under the desks.”
  2. Feeling overwhelmed- How am I ever going to get this done? It’s not possible for one person to handle!
  3. Possible Failure- Too many ways it can go wrong. Too many outside forces beyond my control.
  4. Indecision- Do I want to have the party at the house or on the beach? Consequently, never getting the party scheduled at all.
  5. You just don’t see the point. You just don’t care.
  6. I don’t like my boss. I don’t like the way he asked (or told) me to do it.
  7. “In the midst of great adversity- Oh, look at the cute bunny!” Yes, distractions. They are everywhere.

 

How do we combat procrastination?

  1. Do the yucky, less desirable stuff first and then go for ice cream or a manicure.
  2. Break big projects into smaller steps. Ask for help. Delegate/ outsource certain aspects of the project.
  3. Keep the end result clearly in your head. Follow the steps necessary, but always think of the final outcome and how great it will be.
  4. Schedule a difficult task for when you are at your peak.
  5. Look for the “big picture.” It may be a boring step, but what results will it ultimately produce?
  6. That nasty boss? Clarify the steps and expectations of the project. Think of what you will be able to add to your resume when searching for your next job (with a great, new boss)!
  7. Eliminate those distractions. Turn off the phone and TV, close your door, pull the blinds, and train the dog to keep the bunnies out of the yard.

Now ask yourself if a task is being delayed because it is appropriate or is it procrastination without any real justification? Oh, and if you are reading this instead of working on your list (procrastination)…get moving!!

 

Playing Hide and See with Your Website

Ok, you've spent a load of cash on your new website. It's beautiful, stunning even, and just what you’ve always wanted. But when you and your customers search for it on Google or Yahoo, you find you don't exist! What good is your website when no one can find you?

January 2010 Newsletter Image 2Help!

Well, the answer is you've overlooked one critical step in your website design: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I know, I know, it sounds technical. Honesty, I even have a hard time pronouncing it! But SEO really is critical to the success of your website. It's what puts you on the search engine map, and really, I promise, doesn't take a lot of time! So you know what you're talking about, take a look at the tips below:   

 

Here are a few tips for optimizing your website and ramping up traffic:

1) Don’t assume your web designer knows how to optimize your website, since design and optimization are two separate things. Find a company that specializes in SEO and that is willing to explain how and why your website can be optimized. 

2) Write a list of about 15 “keywords” that best describe your business, and be as specific as possible. Use those words throughout the content of your web pages, perhaps using a bold or italicized typeface, and give those words to your SEO specialist.

3) The more specific you are, the better, including going local with your description. Listing your hometown or region will narrow the search results to only companies in your area, giving you a better chance of ranking higher in the search engines. For example, if you’re a website design company in Northwest Indiana and just list “website design,” you’ll compete with designers around the globe. Plug Northwest Indiana in with that, and you will narrow the results.

4) Include links to your site to help increase traffic, since search engines look to see if any other sites link to yours. Link your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter activity to your site. Tell friends and business associates to link to your site. Have a blog and Twitter so followers will want to link to your site.

5) Get started now. SEO can take from two to eight months, depending on your particular site. Get started today to find the help you need so not only the search engines can find your website, but your potential clients can, too!

 

Do you want help clearing a path to success?

The Success Trek team is ready to talk! Sit down with us and we will listen to your issues and challenges. To find out about your proverbial first step, contact Theresa Valade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 219-680-7720.

 

Information on Free HR Webinars

 

Success Trek partner, Preventive HR, offers a free Webinar. The title for April (approx. the 15th) is "Independent Contractors vs Employees.”

The title for May is “EEOC: Discrimination and Harassment”

To receive notification of the date and registration, go to www.hrsentry.comwww.hrsentry.com and provide your email address.  You will also be notified of future free webinars.  These webinars are provided by HRSentry which Preventive HR offers through an alliance.

Preventive HR is dedicated to providing its clients with tools and resources to help them efficiently and effectively manage their organizations.   Preventive HR has teamed with HR Made Simple to create a free webinar series that will address various Human Resource topics.

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August 2010 Newsletter

Myth: I’ll never get to those off-putting tasks.

August 2010 Newsletter ImageTurning Productivity 101 Upside Down

 

We’ve read about it over and over again. We’ve taken copious notes at workshops. We’ve made diagrams of our days and weeks til the cows come home and we’re still no more productive than when we started. Why? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret that hits me in the face again and again when working with clients. Ready? Increasing productivity has less to do with prioritizing the work you enjoy, and has much, much more to do with successfully managing the work you don’t.

Now, productivity can mean all kinds of things. When I’m talking about it here, I’m talking about mastering time management skills. In this day and age where layoffs are common, so many of us are asked to do more with less. If our time is not managed effectively, and our systems aren’t streamlined, we’re going to get buried. At this point in the article, we’d typically reach for our pen or grab our planners, ready to learn a new way to list our priorities. Sorry, not this time. Yes, prioritizing is critical to managing time effectively, but often the critical part that is missing in that process is planning where, when and how the “stuff” that we don’t like to do will get done. I can’t tell you how many people I know that put it off and put it off until they can barely get out from under the pile they’ve created (sound familiar?) 

One of the best ways to leverage our time begins in the planning piece of our day; making sure that we schedule the things we don’t want to do before the ones we do. Don’t we usually do the opposite, pushing the undesirable tasks to the bottom of the list, figuring that since we’re already tired and cranky from the day, we may as well add a task that makes us miserable, right? Well, to increase your productivity, you have to turn it around. Schedule those tasks that you like least in the time of your day when you have the most focus and energy. Once you have them done, you’ll get a boost of even more energy because you know you’ve gotten them out of the way. And maybe we won’t hate the dreaded tasks quite as much once we do them when we’re energized and focused!

One writer suggests that if we focus 100% on the task (rather than trying to half do it while doing other things) we might actually discover some part of it that we don’t mind so much (see the article by Scott Young at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/how-to-find-motivation-for-the-things-you-hate-doing http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/how-to-find-motivation-for-the-things-you-hate-doing .

So when you’re searching for increased productivity, don’t look for it in rearranging the things you already like to do, rather, find it in strategically planning when to do the things you don’t. 

 

Do you feel like you can never get to the bottom of the inbox?

The Success Trek team is ready to talk! Sit down with us and we will listen to your issues and challenges. To find out about your proverbial first step, contact Theresa Valade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 219-680-7720.

 

Information on Free HR Webinars

Fisher & Phillips offers free webinars on Human Resources topics. The one coming up on August 24th is “Creating and Maintaining a Workplace Free from Sexual Harassment.” You can find more information on their site,

http://www.laborlawyers.comhttp://www.laborlawyers.com. They also have a Webinar Library of past webinars.

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December 2010 Newsletter

Myth: Everyone is doing their job.

December 2010 Newsletter ImageI know. It probably seems like a strange time of year to be talking about how “engaged” your employees are. After all, it is a time when work tends to slow down due to holiday distractions and employee vacations. So why would I recommend thinking about employee engagement at this time of year?

Well, first let’s look at why it’s even important to pay attention to whether or not your employees are fully engaged---meaning they’re on board with the larger mission of the company and actively working toward achieving it. With that definition in mind, what percentage of your employees would you say are engaged at your company? 80%? 60%? At the very least, 40%? Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but according to a recent gallop polla recent gallop poll on employee engagement, about 52 percent of employees in the United States are not engaged and 18 percent are actively disengaged. Only 30 percent are engaged. Surprised? Most of us usually are. Unless we’re in human resources, we tend to work day to day with the unconscious assumption that those around us are as engaged in our company’s success as we are.

That’s a costly assumption. According to an interview with M.J. Helmsan interview with M.J. Helms, Director of Operations at The Ashton Group, companies lose 350 million dollars a year due to disengaged employees. When people are just showing up to get a paycheck, they can negatively impact employee attitude, customer relations and business partnerships. Turnover rates and safety incidents increase, while innovation and productivity plummet (the gallop poll provides specific measurements on this).

So why am I risking being the Grinch by choosing to bring up the topic of employee engagement (or a lack thereof) during the holidays? For those of you who know me well, you probably don’t have to guess that the answer has to do with proactive planning. The holidays may be the holidays, but it’s also the final quarter of the calendar year which is the perfect time for assessing the past year, keeping strategies in place where you had success, making adjustments where mistakes were made, and creating next year’s plan. This year, if you haven’t already, view last year’s challenges through the filter of “employee engagement.” Does that change your assessment at all? Do you recognize any of the “symptoms” that you may have missed before?” High turnover, lack of creativity among your team, slowed productivity? All those gaps between planning and actual follow-through that you blamed on poor time management or organizational skills may have actually been caused by employee disengagement. For that matter, if your employees are disengaged, time management and organization won’t be too high on their list of priorities.

The solution? Well, of course there isn’t just a silver bullet. There are many solutions that I use with my clients, and the interview I mention above does a good job of providing recommendations. The one solution I’ll mention specifically, however, is employee appreciation. Studies show that feeling appreciated is the strongest driver of employee satisfaction. So in this fourth quarter, be proactive in cultivating employee engagement by working “an employee appreciation plan” into your larger strategic plan for 2011. Don’t just assume it will happen haphazardly or hand it off to HR. As business leaders, we have to take responsibility for nurturing the level of engagement of those around us. So in the spirit of this holiday season, when you’re employees are distracted by the holidays, take the time to plan for how you will help them re-engage in the New Year. Think of it as giving a gift to your bottom line!

 

We can help you and your team become focused and engaged. 

The Success Trek team is ready to talk! Sit down with us and we will listen to your issues and challenges. To find out about your proverbial first step, contact Theresa Valade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 219-680-7720.

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Feburary 2010 Newsletter

Business Tip: Cleaning up the toxic workplace


Consider it spring-cleaning in a HAZMAT suit. Maybe your office is a Superfund site, leaching and oozing foul attitudes and behavior, contaminating everything in its wake.


February 2010 Newsletter ImageInstead of rusting 55-gallon drums full of heavy metals, you are faced with employees, coworkers or supervisors who backstab, spread rumors, demoralize others, slack off and generally make life unpleasant for everybody nearby.


Could you have unwittingly set the stage for this toxic dump in cubicles? And if so, what can you do to turn things around and put everybody back on track?

The University of Minnesota’s human resources Web page, offers some ideas for handling poisonous people, and you don’t even need a respirator – though you may need a strong resolve. Though the tips are meant for university employees, their wisdom is universal.
 
1. The offender – or offenders, as the case may be – need to be made aware of the impact of their behavior, and understand how it affects others in the organization. Supervisors need to be clear about their expectations and the work environment.
 
“Everyone is entitled to a respectful workplace,” notes the Web page, “and if anyone consistently works outside of those expectations, it becomes a performance issue and must be corrected by the individual who is displaying disrespectful behaviors.”
 
2. If the problem is a coworker, it’s your responsibility to establish good boundaries and be assertive, rather than defensive, in letting them know their behavior is unacceptable. It may be necessary to bring the problem to the attention of a supervisor for a resolution.
 
3. If your supervisor is the problem, you will need to contact human resources or a counselor with your employee assistance program to work through a solution.
 
4. If, after all is said and done, you think you might be the toxin, ask a trusted friend or family member for an honest assessment of your personality traits, and start planning for change. If you have a good relationship with your supervisor, ask for help in making the necessary changes.
 

As has been done with the Superfund sites in so many communities across the land, can your office landfill be turned into a golf course, someplace clean, well mannered and genteel?

 

Myth: Bullies exist only in school.
 
February 2010 Newsletter Image 2When you were a kid, these were the people who pushed you off the swings, cut in front of you to play foursquare, dumped your backpack out on the school bus and, perhaps, separated you from your lunch money.
 
Ah, the joys of those old school days.
 
Whatever happened to that schoolyard bully? Surely he or she is now a mature, successful adult, long removed from those times of unmerited cruelty to others.
 
Or maybe not. According to the Website www.kickbully.comwww.kickbully.com, self-defined as, “your guide to fighting workplace bullies,” roughly one-fourth of employed Americans have reported bullying at work – estimated at more than 30 million people.
 
So there’s a good chance that you will walk into the office one day and find a bully in the break-room, or behind the CEO’s desk, waiting to torment you. Not surprisingly, the stakes are little higher now than when you were a kid, but the sense of dread has not changed.
 
You may remember how to identify the bullies at your old school. A few traits in the workplace bully, offered up by www.kickbully.comwww.kickbully.com:
 
1. The bully is someone who controls you through micromanagement, so you can’t do your job independently. This person may dominate conversations and prevent you from communicating with important people.
 
2. The bully may be judgmental of others, including you. This behavior includes being personally disappointed in how you do your job – whether you deserve that or not – being critical of the work you do, and always finding fault with you.
 
3. The bully does what he or she can to bring you down, attacking you when you’re not around to defend yourself, misleading others to destroy your reputation, and setting you up for failure.
 
The good news is, like with any bully, you can fight back. The Website offers an assortment of methods and responses on how to handle the situation, from maintaining an invincible attitude to, ultimately, getting ready to look for another job.

 

Do you need help creating a harmonious workplace?

 

The Success Trek team is ready to talk! Sit down with us and we will listen to your issues and challenges. For more information, contact Theresa Valade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 219-680-7720.

 

Information on Free HR Webinars

Success Trek partner, Preventive HR, offers a free Webinar. The title for February is "A to Z Employment Laws: An Overview.”

To receive notification of the date and registration, go to  www.hrsentry.comwww.hrsentry.com and provide your email address.  You will also be notified of future free webinars.  These webinars are provided by HRSentry which Preventive HR offers through an alliance.

Preventive HR is dedicated to providing its clients with tools and resources to help them efficiently and effectively manage their organizations.   Preventive HR has teamed with HR Made Simple to create a free webinar series that will address various Human Resource topics.

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January 2010 Newsletter

A Website Revolution

 

Things have been extremely exciting here at Success-Trek with the start of the New Year. As of today we have re-launched our Website to make it more interactive and easier for you to connect with us.
 

The work started in the spring of 2009 with a vision for change. From there, it was a matter of communicating what

January 2010 Newsletter Imagewe wanted to our designer, writing the content, producing YouTube videos, programming the website and bringing it all together.

 
Reworking the Website has been educational, at the least, and offers several insights for those considering undertaking the same task. Among them:
 

 

 Patience is key.  From the planning to putting together the many technological components, and 

handling the final details, a Website redesign takes time. It’s a process that requires teamwork and imagination. There will be hang-ups along theway, since nothing goes as expected, but the reward is greater than than the pain.

 
Less is more.  As we learned when we launched the old Website in 2007, clutter is not your friend. Keep the site clean so visitors can find what they need in a snap and get on their way. No one likes to spend 10 minutes trying to find the “contact us” link, and they may not stick around to do so.
 
Get creative to minimize cost.  Figure out what you can do on a shoestring budget. Even if you do have the resources, they may be put to better use elsewhere. Why spend a ton of money on a site when you can do it for less?
 
Hopefully, you will  find these tips helpful and our new look appealing and user-friendly.  Access to our e-newsletters, blog, YouTube content and other features are just a click away.   We welcome your feedback.

 

 Myth:   My website is AWESOME!   

 
Change isn’t easy. There’s so much to do and then the adjustments to be made after the work is done. It seems so much easier to leave things the way they are. If it ain’t broke, as Ann Landers used to say, don’t fix it.

January 2010 Newsletter Image 2

 

 Except change can be good. As a fresh coat of paint gives a room a new look, an updated Website can reinvigorate a business from the outside in, giving visitors a great first impression of everything going on inside.

 
So brace yourself, pick a new color and grab that paintbrush, because here we go:
 

 Words matter, so choose them carefully. The text on your site needs to vividly describe your company, products and services. Select appropriate keywords to hook into search engines, so your potential audience can find you. Remember, too, that the text on your site will turn visitors into customers, so focus your message on how your company benefits its clients.

 
Fresh Website material keeps visitors coming back to see what’s new. The same old, same old will chase away folks who don’t see anything they haven’t seen before. A changing site will reap dividends down the road.
 
Websites have to evolve to meet the demands of their audience, and to reflect changing technologies. If nothing changed, we’d still be riding horses and getting our messages via carrier pigeon, but those modes – thankfully – became outdated. Don’t let the world pass your Website by.
 
Websites need constant technical supervision to run smoothly. Your host server should always do what it’s supposed to, files and file directory structures need to remain intact, and links have to be functional. Also monitor how much traffic you’re getting and where it’s coming from, to evaluate how effective your site is.
 
Information for this myth was gathered from Morse and Company, and www.qualitywebmasters.net/update.htmwww.qualitywebmasters.net/update.htm

 

 

What’s YOUR vision for change?

 

The Success Trek team is ready to talk!  Sit down with us and we will listen to your issues and challenges.  For more information, contact Theresa Valade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 219-680-7720. 

 

 

 Information on Free HR Webinars

 

Success Trek partner, Preventive HR, offers a free Webinar. The title for January  is "Total Compensation Communication.”

 

To receive notification of the date and registration, go to www.hrsentry.comwww.hrsentry.com and provide your email address.  You will also be notified of future free webinars.  These webinars are provided by HRSentry which Preventive HR offers through an alliance.

 

Preventive HR is dedicated to providing its clients with tools and resources to help them efficiently and effectively manage their organizations.   Preventive HR has teamed with HR Made Simple to create a free webinar series that will address various Human Resource topics.

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