Why Cooperation and Collaboration is Essential in Today’s Workforce

There are many career fields now where men and women are integrated together. And, when you stop to think about it—even if there’s a career field where it’s predominantly one gender or the other, there is gender overlap either when buying products or services from vendors or serving customers. The way to reduce gender conflict is by focusing on strengths. By intentionally becoming aware of how to use both masculine and feminine communication skills you can give not only yourself, but your company as well, the advantage over your competition when it comes to productivity and creativity. Rapport building is a great way to foster cooperation and collaboration within your company and to obtain repeat customers.
As an individual reading this article you are becoming more cognizant of how masculine and feminine communication skills can be used interchangeably, by both sexes, for greater cooperation and collaboration. Becoming aware of the social skills involved, and then mindfully choosing to use both styles of communication will help you be a better communicator at work (and at home!).
Today we’re focusing on how to build rapport, a skill set women often acquire more naturally due to social conditioning and because they tend to communicate, commiserate, show compassion, and connect with others when under duress based on their physiology. In fact, physiologically, women produce their stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, when they do just that—connect and nurture relationships with others.
When both men and women focus on beefing up their rapport with others, then the entire group (both employees and customers) benefit. Value is placed on what often makes or breaks a company—turning a product or service into profit. This is because the focus is on people enjoying the experience of working to sell or buy the product or service.
Building rapport is a skill that both men and women can benefit from in the workplace. By taking a moment every day to check-in with one another the workplace climate can change from friction and one-upmanship to one that’s more team oriented. This is critical in a workforce that employs both men and women. Put it into context with a young child picking up a toy strewn room. If you’ve picked a room up with a child, you know it is more about picking the toys up together, rather than putting the toys away that makes them feel accepted and like they did something well. When anyone feels like they matter, then typically their performance increases because peer pressure revolves around connection and positive reinforcement.
Women tend to ask others for their input when making decisions, because to them it is important to hear and value what other’s think and feel about the situation. Even in a quick-paced working environment where seconds count, eye contact, nods of the head, can mean the difference between if someone has your back, and if everyone’s on the same page or not.
You build rapport by actively listening to others. Be genuinely interested in someone—whether it’s how potty training is going with their daughter, how they’re coping with a sick parent, or how the work deadline caused them to miss their anniversary—listen with interest. This does not mean a fifteen minute or even a five minute chat every day—it’s a quick check-in as easy as asking, “hey, how is your day?” Stop. Listen to the answer. Respond by rephrasing or repeating back what they said and using empathy. Then, get down to business.
You can also build rapport by observing and responding to nonverbal body cues. Quick check-ins with my Marines as a Marine Corps Officer was invaluable when time was critical. I knew my Marines body language, their moods, and how to motivate each one as individuals. Instead of forcing my will or decisions, I relied on my strength of listening with my ears and reading emotional moods to make decisions that were good not just for the end result, but the people involved as well.
As my yoga teacher challenges us each week with mindfulness homework, let me do the same with you. Your homework is a two-fold challenge. In the next week notice how building rapport benefits the quality of your productivity and creativity. Then challenge your company to do the same. Hire a Mars Venus Coach to go over gender strengths and do DISC profiling with your company for your professional development training, or if there isn’t a Mars Venus Coach in your local area have employees take the online eWorkshop: Mars and Venus in the Workplace. It’s not enough just to read about gender intelligence, you have to put the knowledge into actions by interacting in better ways with others.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

Why Promoting From Within Usually Beats Hiring From Outside

Susan Adams, Forbes Staff  4/5/12

This week The Wall Street Journal wrote about an intriguing new study looking at the cost of hiring employees from the outside, versus promoting from within. The study is by Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at Wharton who focuses on patterns of work and employment. Bidwell was interested in the 30-year-old trend of workers jumping from one employer to another multiple times in their careers. Bidwell says there’s not much data on the costs of job-hopping. He suspected that employers didn’t realize how much more they were paying to bring in workers from the outside.
Indeed, Bidwell found that not only do external hires get paid more, but for their first two years on the job, they receive significantly lower marks in performance reviews. External hires are also much more likely to get laid off than are those promoted from within. Bidwell scrutinized seven years of employee data, from 2003-2009, from the U.S. investment banking unit of a financial services firm, which included information on 5,300 employees in multiple jobs, from traders and research analysts to support staff. He also examined data from another investment bank and a publishing company.
The external hires made 18% more than the internal promotes in the same jobs. In addition to scoring worse on performance reviews, external hires were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than were those who had been promoted from within the firm. The external hires tended to have more education and experience than the internal hires, but Bidwell says employers don’t appreciate how important it is for workers to know the ropes of an organization. “People don’t hit the ground running on day one,” he says. “We have relationships in organizations that are key to getting work done and a set of structures and routines we need to know.” Knowing where and when to file papers, for instance, or whom to ask about approving a project, can make work much more efficient.
Employers underestimate the time it takes for workers to get up to speed, says Bidwell. After two years, the performance reviews of the external hires caught up to the internal promotes. But sometimes an employee has already moved on, or gotten laid off, before hitting that mark.
Bidwell’s study was recently published in a journal called Administrative Sciences Quarterly. After he finished the study, Bidwell says he did some further analysis, of how people in a particular unit were affected by an external hire. Because everyone had to work to bring the new hire up to speed, the performance of the whole unit declined. The silver lining for workers is that bringing in an employee from the outside also tends to raise the pay for everyone in the unit.
In his paper, Bidwell references the work of Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg, who published a well-received book two years ago about what happens to star investment analysts when they switch firms. In Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, Groysberg examined the careers of more than a thousand top analysts and found that in most cases, those who change firms suffer an immediate and lasting decline. It turns out that their strengths depend to a large extent on their former firms’ resources, networks and colleagues. There were exceptions, like when the stars moved together with their teams, or they switched to much better firms. Also exceptional women tended to do better after a switch than did men. But most top analysts performed much worse after changing jobs.
Hiring professionals should consider both Groysberg and Bidwell when deciding whether to bring in new blood. It can be tough to resist the allure of a superstar, and it’s challenging for companies to build up a pipeline of employees who are suitable for promotion. The mobile American workplace will likely only become more fluid. But managers should know that there is a cost to bringing in talent from the outside and that it pays to nurture and promote from within.

Five Reasons Baby Boomers Need To Review Estate Plans (And It’s Not About Taxes)

Kaycee Krysty, Forbes Magazine  3/29/2012

Conventional wisdom has it that baby boomers are about to receive one of the largest waves of inheritance in history. But in a recent speech, “Capacity for Care: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow,” Paul G. Schervish, Boston College professor and renowned researcher on wealth and philanthropy in America, made a startling pronouncement: Boomers will give away much more than they receive.

That’s a call to action to review our estate plans. Wills, trusts and other documents put in place years ago may no longer reflect who you are, what you care about or what you have today. With so much at stake, being intentional about who gets what is more important than ever. It’s not about our parent’s generation anymore. It’s about us.

In fact, Schervish’s remarks really hit home for me. Just before our recent trip to Hawaii, my husband Michael and I suddenly discovered that although we had talked about changes in our plan, we had never gotten around to communicating them to our attorney. Yikes! We found in our file notes about possible changes and marked up old documents, but no new ones. You can bet that this resulted in a flurry of activity before we got on a jet to fly over the ocean.

As I looked over those changes I was struck by how different our thinking is now, in our late 50s and early 60s, than it was the last time we tackled these issues.
In midlife planning tends to be mainly about making sure your affairs are in order and leaving enough for those left behind. If you have kids, their needs are front and center. Now, as boomers enter into transition, new perspectives and different priorities emerge. Today, it’s more about you, your security, and your legacy.
Here are five things Michael and I noticed as we completed the exercise with our attorney. Perhaps some of them will fit for you.

1. Relationships change. Perhaps you left money to people or gave them responsibilities that no longer make sense. Say your connection with these people isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe they no longer need your help. That is an important reason to change your plans. Do you have the right people in place?

2. Kids grow up. You may find that your old documents are laced with protective measures for children who were still minors. Now that they are young adults, you know a lot about their character. With luck, they are fully launched in their own lives and careers, or close to it. Are those protective devices still required?

3. You know a lot more about your health. For better or worse, as we age our physical future becomes more apparent. In addition, medical science has greatly advanced in its predictive ability. You might have more information than you had 10 years ago to consider the future–and it’s not just death to be thinking about. Have you made provisions for a time when you may not be able to think for yourself?

4. You have more, less or different stuff. Personal property, as attorneys like to call it, tends to accumulate. You might be surprised at the sentimental value your family members place on some of your belongings. It is still true that families go to war just as often about Aunt Millie’s teapot as they do about money. You can avoid that by making some simple decisions and putting them in writing. Decide who gets what.

5. You are thinking about your legacy. The reality is that in order to leave a legacy you need to live it, and that could mean using some of your financial resources now. The older you are the more financially feasible it becomes to give things away during your lifetime, whether it’s to charity or to the people you care about. At 50 you were holding on for dear life to be sure you have plenty for retirement. At 70 those concerns change. Should you consider making some lifetime gifts, rather than waiting until the end?
Even if none of these issues fit your situation, you still may want to change something. Estate planning is a discipline where the state of the art changes constantly. There are new tools and techniques available; you may actually be able to simplify your plan. Our will was several pages shorter this time around–always a good thing in my book.
As stressful as this subject can be, Schervish leaves us with a comforting thought. What he calls the “post-boomers”–ages 28 to 45–are in better shape financially than we might think. Adjusted for inflation they have a greater level of wealth than boomers did at the same age. He also notes that they may be more financially careful since “they envision a longer lifespan and have faced the forces of financial insecurity since the 1999 recession, the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, and the attacks and aftermath of 2001.”
The bottom line for boomers? Take care of yourself. Think about your legacy. The kids will be all right.