Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Leadership for Women - Confidence vs. Courage

 UNF Leadership for Women - Click to learn more.
By Anita Abjornson

In a recent keynote address given at the NYU's School of Business commencement, General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, made a call to action for the graduates to have courage and venture into the unknown. He shared, "You are entering into a volatile global economy, the most uncertain I have ever seen. This is a world that needs better leaders, with new skill sets. The playbook from the past won't cut it today. My advice for you as you enter this world is to be flexible, be bold and don't fear criticism."
As women move into leadership positions in this volatile global economy, there is greater visibility, responsibility and a need for flexibility, boldness and a thick skin. We must prepare ourselves for greatness. That preparation starts with self-awareness and an understanding of how our unique behaviors, personal branding and even our work-life balance can tip the scales.

In the book "Standing at the Crossroads - Next Steps for High Achieving Women," the authors discuss the extensive research completed during The Women's Leadership Program at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). They spotlight five key themes (needs) that are essential to guiding women's development:
  1. The need to act authentically
  2. The need to make connections
  3. The need to control one's destiny
  4. The need to achieve wholeness
  5. The need to gain self-clarity
As part of UNF's Leadership for Women program, we will use these five themes as a basis for exploring how we can enhance our self-awareness with DiSC, which will improve the flexibility as recommended by Mr. Immelt. We will learn to leverage our personal and professional brand to present our best, bold self and how to create balance in our lives by considering the themes discussed above. By using what makes us unique as women and developing our skills for current and future leadership roles, we will be taking necessary steps to set ourselves up for continued growth and success. 

If you're ready to take your leadership skills to the next level, attend University of North Florida's Leadership for Women program on June 22, from 8 a.m. to noon. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Signs You Are Burned Out and What To Do About It

Whether you work in an office, are a freelancer or are a stay-at-home parent, the signs of burnout are often the same. Regardless of our career choices, we ignore the symptoms of burnout because change is scary. This is understandable, as no one wants to leave their comfort zone. Fear of changing what we've been successful at can lead to being stuck in a state of denial.  However, not acknowledging burnout will only prevent you from taking action and being happier in the long run.

Some signs you may be burned out are:
  • It takes you more energy to perform tasks that you once did with ease
  • You feel exhausted before you even start to work
  • You find yourself thinking negative thoughts
  • You are impatient with management, colleagues or family (or all three). You used to get along with these people, but now everything they say seems to grate on your nerves
  • You feel like a weight is lifted when you are away from work 

If you feel this way, you should check with your doctor to make sure there isn't a physical cause for your exhaustion and lack of energy. If you have a clean bill of health, then you need to admit you are likely burned out.  Sure, you can run away on vacation for a few days but that won’t fix your problem. The thing about burnout is that it won't get better on its own. Take steps now to re-ignite your career.
What You Can Do About Burnout
Working through burnout is a process. First, talk to someone about it: a friend, colleague, family member, therapist or career counselor. Get the support you need to help you move forward. Talking to other people who have been in your shoes can help.
You may end up changing jobs or pursuing another line of work, but the cure for burnout doesn’t need to be drastic. Try one of these options to break the burnout cycle:
  • Study mindfulness. You don't need to meditate (although you could), but being more mindful of your daily actions can make them more interesting and help you control your negative thoughts and feelings
  • Take a college class. Freshen or advance your skills to make yourself available for new projects and promotions
  • Offer to do a task at work you have never done before, or create a social opportunity that everyone can join in outside of work
  • Sign up to volunteer for a local organization
  • Find or create a support group for workplace burnout
  • Take a class in something completely unrelated to your work. Try something creative or challenging, in a subject that appeals to you
  • Join an organization and attend conferences. Meet up with like-minded people and break up your daily routine
  • If you work from home, join a work co-op or other group to change up your schedule, and your work environment

It's About Accepting Change
The hardest thing about admitting and working through burnout is fear that things will change. Don’t fear change, embrace it! By making a change now, you will find a new appreciation for your job, career and maybe even your coworkers!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Maximizing Lean Six Sigma Financial Returns

By Keith Gardner

Many organizations fail to get the most out of their Lean Six Sigma Programs because they fail to lay the proper foundation for success. Before training green belts and black belts, organizations need to create a framework that will empower and enable the Lean Six Sigma program participants to maximize the financial return to the company. Failure to follow the framework will result in a failure to maximize financial returns on the program. Specifically, there are seven key phases that the program champion needs to lead the company through.

Engage the Leadership
Before doing anything else, it is imperative that the organization’s leadership be aligned in terms of the vision for productivity and quality improvement, as well as the goals and objectives of the Lean Six Sigma program and the resource commitment that will be required.

Create Deployment Plans
As with anything else, “a failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Detailed deployment planning that lays out the tasks that must be undertaken, along with timing and responsibility, is key. This ensures that all necessary tasks are identified and provides a roadmap to measure implementation success.

Establish Project-related Processes
It is through the successful selection and completion of projects that an organization derives the financial benefits of Lean Six Sigma. Ensuring that a robust process is in place to select, support and track projects is key to maximizing financial returns.

Create Supporting Infrastructure
The degree of infrastructure required depends upon the size and complexity of the organization. For larger organizations, setting up IT infrastructure for things such as project tracking, communication, knowledge management and program reporting may be required.

Deploy Resources
This involves not only training the champions (black belts and green belts) but also ensuring that the right people are selected for the training. Concurrently, mentoring and coaching systems need to be set up to ensure adequate technical support for people leading project teams.

Institutionalize the Program
Integrating Lean Six Sigma into existing systems is a key for program sustainment. Weaving the Lean Six Sigma program into systems such as employee reviews, communication tools, etc. is critical for making the program an integral part of the way the company does business rather than “just another program.”

Continuous Improvement
As the saying goes, “Eat your own cooking.” A robust “things gone right/things gone wrong” analysis with every project needs to be combined with management feedback and other information sources in order to drive continuous improvement activities. Over time, additional activities such as extending the value chain to customers and suppliers need to be undertaken.

If organizational leadership simply trains a group of green belts and black belts without consideration to the above areas, success will be limited. In this case, the shortcoming is not with the ability of Lean Six Sigma to transform the organization, but rather with organizational leadership that is looking for a quick or easy fix. There is no free lunch. The organization will get out of Lean Six Sigma what it puts into Lean Six Sigma. 

Course Schedule (Click titles for details.)

The Center for Quality & Process Improvement at the University of North Florida offers a combination of training, consulting and facilitation designed to meet each client’s unique needs. UNF offers online and instructor-led courses, as well as contract classes, consulting and facilitation in in more than 40 topics all related to continuous improvement and enhanced organizational performance. Visit www.unfcenterforquality.org for more information.

Keith Gardner has been consulting and training in the area of quality and productivity improvement for the past fifteen years. As the lead instructor, his primary focus at UNF is Lean Six Sigma. He regularly consults with managers and senior executives in the implementation and enhancement of organizational Lean Six Sigma programs.

Gardner has worked with hundreds of clients in 24 countries in telecommunications, logistics, health care, call centers, staffing services, governmental agencies, the military, engineering services, food, automotive, metals, electronics, chemicals and furniture. He has a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Michigan and is an ASQ-certified Black Belt.