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The Jungle Pets – The Benefits of Bringing Pets to the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 29, 2016 in Thinking Positive

PetIf you work in an office that doesn’t allow pets on the premises, you probably envy friends working in atmospheres were pets are welcome. Management that does not allow pets in the workplace often cite mess, distraction and possible annoyance of clients as good reasons for their decision, yet those who actually work in the companionship pets will tell you that this is far from the case. Most well-behaved pooches are content to relax in a comfy bed by your desk, waiting patiently until the next walk. Moreover, most offices with pets will probably tell you that clients usually enjoy seeing and interacting with dogs when they do visit your office – very few (or none) will probably mention anything negative about their close encounter with the furry kind.

The benefits of bringing pets into the office far outweigh any hassles (such as having to take a short break every few hours to take them for a quick walk). Research has shown, for instance, that pets significantly reduce stress levels, so much so that they are being employed across the nation to help those suffering from conditions such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ADHD and addiction. Indeed, some of these patients report that since spending more time in company of a dog, their anxiety and panic levels reduce dramatically, so much so that pets do away with the need to switch or increase any medication they are taking. Pets have been found to increase levels of feel-good hormone, oxytocin, thereby decreasing levels of stress hormone, cortisol.

Pets also help by encouraging a state of mindfulness – the latter is a buzzword in many recovery centres, and all it involves is ‘being in the here and now’; enjoying the present moment instead of allowing oneself to get stuck in the past or to worry about the future. Regret, guilt and panic are powerful triggers for a host of conditions, including anxiety and depression. Across the globe, millions of people are turning to mindful activities such as yoga and Tai-Chi, in an effort to battle stress and mental disease. Pets allow us to achieve a mindful state in a much quicker and more direct fashion, and nowhere is this more important than at work, when we need to keep our mind on the task at hand and on our ultimate goals. Having a pet in the office allows us to utilize our free moments between tasks in a positive manner, by interacting with our pets, enjoying a break without the need to escape from the present moment.

Dogs have been found to alter our autonomic body functions – this means that without even thinking about the effect they are having, we benefit greatly from the presence of a calm dog. Our blood pressure and respiration rate are decreased, as is our oxygen consumption and muscular tension. Interacting with pets has also been proven to release endorphins, which enhance brain functioning by improving our problem solving skills, stimulating our imagination and strengthening our communication skills with others. It is no wonder that some of the best managers are waking up to the positive effects that pets (particularly dogs) can have on the workplace – clearly, the office itself has plenty to gain from workers who are more alert and creative, thanks to the presence of pets.

Scientists at the American Heart Association have concluded that having a dog in particular can lower the risk of heart disease, thereby increasing our lifespan. People who have dogs have been found to live longer, and it isn’t only because they are forced to be more active and take their dogs for walks. Because having dogs lowers blood pressure and stress, they are more likely to be less vulnerable to the effects stress can have on their health, and be more likely to survive a heart attack. One study, carried out in 2001, observed a group of people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs who committed to adopting a dog or cat. Six months down the line, their blood pressure lowered significantly when they were stressed, compared to those who did not adopt a dog or cat. Another study followed 369 people with heart disease, to see the effects pets could have on their condition. One year later, those who owned a dog where four times more likely to still be alive.

It could be argued that dogs are not only beneficial to a workplace, they are actually necessary owing to the many effects they can bring to the health not only of their owners, but rather, to everyone in an office. Stress busting, mindfulness inducing, heart healthy dogs should be part and parcel of every work environment that values the mental and physical health of its workers

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Frog – Leapfrogging Over Managers

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 16, 2011 in Executive Coaching, Lessons Learned

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Many companies have open door policies where employees may take suggestions and concerns to the top of the organization directly, essentially “leapfrogging” direct supervisors. Management, at all levels, is available with an “open door” to anyone who wishes to discuss the company or work environment.

These programs are generally greatly appreciated by both employees and managers who find the open dialogue a great source of immediate feedback and keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes, though, this policy is misinterpreted (or misused) as a vehicle for people to undermine their boss’ authority because they may disagree with the decision or policy.

Following proper channels is key. If an employee is at odds with their boss or supervisor, bringing complaints immediately to a manager above that boss without following the proper channels will reflect poorly on that person’s decision making skills. Their actions may cost them both trust and respect at the level above their boss and may unintentionally limit their future potential in the company. Taking an issue to the boss’ boss without ever addressing it with your boss is not proper business etiquette. If the issue is not resolved after this point to the employee’s satisfaction, other input may be necessary.

If you are a manager and your employee is consistently going above you without directing their concerns to you first, it needs to be addressed. Start with your own boss first. Discuss your intended course of action with them and obtain their support to counsel the employee. Business/management etiquette tells us that when your subordinate approaches your supervisor about an issue you have not yet had the opportunity to address; your boss should be deferring the topic back to you first with the second course of action to schedule a meeting for all three of you to discuss the issue.

Allexperts.com had the following QA on this subject:

Question

I have several employees that continually go over my head. Quite simply because they don’t agree or like a decision I make or get the answer they want to hear. Although I have full support of my boss they keep doing it. They are not aware that I know. I actually intercepted an email that an employee sent to their customer stating to get back to them before I got back from vacation so they could go to my boss and ask for a better rate. How can I stop this behavior? Do I address it by telling the employees that if they don’t agree with me that we can see the boss together? Maybe this way they won’t want to appear like they are going to the boss all the time but somehow I feel they will just keep doing what they’ve always done.

Answer*

“If you have the full support (assumption) of your boss then sadly, your boss is part of the problem. As a proper supervisory support technique he or she should be deferring your subordinates back to you when they circumvent your authority. If there is an issue then they have the right to ask for a meeting of all minds involved where you, your boss, and the subordinate sit for a discussion and a final decision. Until your boss will actually back you in both his or her words to you and in action regarding subordinates you are going to have continued problems.

In lieu of this you need to examine the “why” for your subordinates not working under your authority. It is a matter of respect to you and you apparently do not have it so the question is why? Jealousy for your position? Do they as a group undermine you because they feel you are not up to the task of managing them? Do they conspire in other ways to undermine you? If they go around you then they simply don’t respect you or your position. They find you a weak link.

Take some time and go through the history of your position. When you accepted or were given the position were some or all of the subordinates already in place? Does your boss have a history of not backing supervisors? There are a lot of questions to ask yourself and some will give you an insight into a direction for resolution. Take the situation to your boss and settle it, but have a plan. And, know that it may get worse before it gets better. You will be tested by both sides because developed habits do not quickly change.

You will need to have a sit down with your boss. You will need to establish some ground rules for your relationship and the chain of command and you will need to have a clear line of command protocols and an agreement for consistency with your boss enforcing them. If he or she won’t then there will be little you can do but attempt to build credibility in another way to gain the respect of your subordinates.

By understanding your own mental and emotional Perspective you can also discover your own biases. This is critical because biases simply push our ego to the surface at exactly the wrong time in a negotiation or conversation. Know what biases you harbor and you can keep them in check. Ask yourself if your position as a supervisor is being taken lightly; and, if people are going to continue to go around behind your back how does your boss expect you to lead properly?

We all have many biases we don’t even consciously recognize and they can be stumbling points on a path as we are trying to focus on other priorities. Make a list because pen-to-paper creates a validation of sorts to the mind and makes irritating self discovery more acceptable. It can be humbling but it is an important phase when persuading others to a different line of thinking and then, action. Cite specific examples of when and with what or whom your subordinates have gone to your superior rather than going through you or following your directive. Look for a pattern. You did not impart your exact profession but I suggest you follow the money. If your directives are lowering their immediate profit gratification it is a key issue.

Know what it is you want from the encounter, and from your subordinates and your supervisor. Your Purpose is to pick a final outcome that is satisfactory or from a list compromise points you will settle for at the end of the negotiation. These can be agreement for additional responsibilities to include mentoring and training, financial incentives, guarantees on position within the company, advancement possibilities and prospects, accounts under your control or your involvement, and any other ideas you can think of to add to the list.

Your Organization of particulars will offer you talking points for the meeting. You will be organized and therefore appear organized and project you have thought out the situation.

The skill of Active Listening is comprised of four steps:
1. Be open-minded and willing to listen by not judging the messenger.
2. Hear Initially what is being said so we gather enough information to make solid assessments.
3. Interpret what is meant from what is said. People rarely say what they mean the first time it comes out under stress or while in conflict.
4. Act Appropriately based upon the interpretation and not just what was actually said..

You can empathize with anyone. It is a feeling of connection. How would you feel if what is happening to another was actually happening to you. Act accordingly.”

Lee Fjelstad
Vice President, Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.
Associate, Verbal Defense & Influence
http://lfjelstad.verbaljudo.com
www.VerbalJudo.info

*paragraphs were removed from the original answer for space. You can read the full answer here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Dealing-Employees-1641/2011/4/head.htm

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The Lioness or Tigress? – Woman in the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 28, 2010 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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We’re called the fairer sex, but when it comes to the workplace, there are certainly no discriminations that favor the female of the species. You can count on looks for some jobs, but for the most part, it is talent and sheer tenacity that count. Look at the feminine aspect of the jungle, more specifically, the lioness and the tigress. Undoubtedly two of the most powerful creatures in the wild, these two females may belong to the same cat family, but they’re like chalk and cheese when it comes to their profession. So the question is – as a professional woman, are you a lioness or a tigress? How do you know which species you are?

The lioness is brave, audacious and single-minded; she hunts down her prey with precision and skill; and her family means more to her than anything else. She is loyal to the point of docility, a trait that shows in how she waits for the lion to eat her kill first, after which she and the cubs eat their share. So if you’re a lioness, you’re very good at your job, extremely committed to your organization, determined to be the best at what you do, and willing to go to any lengths to achieve your company’s goals. But on the downside, you don’t stake claim to your victories; rather, you allow your boss or immediate supervisor to garner the glory while you’re happy with the scraps they throw you. You don’t like the limelight, even when you know that you deserve to be in it. And you don’t mind staying in the shadow all your life, even though deep down you long for your place in the sun.

The tigress on the other hand is a beast that prefers solitude. While she’s protective of her cubs and willing to share her kill with them and the father, she does not take too kindly to other tigers from intruding on her turf. She is neither dependant on the tiger nor subservient to him. She decides if she wants to let him share the kill or not. So if you have a tigress in you, you’re a team player even as you still retain your individuality. You don’t brook any nonsense, from your coworkers or your superiors. You demand acknowledgement for your achievements, and you know that you can do anything as well as the male of the species, even though you’re smaller in size.

So now tell me, would you prefer to be a lioness or a tigress? The answer is obvious – so if you’re a lioness, it’s time you started morphing into a tigress. It’s not that hard if you set your mind to it – the basic characteristics are all similar, it’s just your attitude that needs to change. All you need to do is to take pride in what you do and stand up for your own rights at your workplace; demand what you deserve, be your own person instead of being content to stand a few steps behind other people, and you’re well on the way to becoming a regular tigress.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of degree online. She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009 @gmail.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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