Effective Collaboration

“I would like you to all effectively collaborate on this project.” Said anyone in a leadership position. What they don’t tell you is how to collaborate. Collaboration takes professional finesse to meet common organizational goals, the team goals, and the individuals goals. I have to admit, collaboration can be complex, and during this time of 100% telework for most of the workforce, collaboration can offer its challenges with actually completing a task. It can be difficult and one of the most rewarding aspects of a career.

There are some Important attributes of collaboration—the first being communication. Good communication will take you far in your professional career as long as you can effectively present yourself professionally. There are two significant forms of communication that most people are not aware of, there is communication itself, and then there is active communication. Just like listening, there is listening per se, and then there is active listening. The difference is establishing enough self-control in any situation to hear or present clearly, efficiently, and effectively. In collaborative workgroups, communication is vital.

One of the essential second attributes of collaboration is the common goal. Effectively present a common goal to better prepare your workgroup for the task at hand. Transparency is a part of sharing the common goal for your workgroup to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Keeping in mind some workgroup members may require additional details, whereas other workgroup members may not. Either way, it’s essential to share the goal overall to ensure all workgroup members feel their contributions are applicable.

And the third most crucial attribute of collaboration is establishing roles within the workgroup. Workgroup members must understand the roles they play to bring the appropriate talents, knowledge, and skills to the final collaborative project. Roles also provide clarification for a professional road map towards the end goal. Often the workgroup member assigning the roles usually is the leader, but that is not always the case. The critical aspect of role establishing within a workgroup, ensure the role fits the workgroup member.

Collaboration does not have to be complicated, nor does it have to be arduous. With the tools and technology that we have at our finger tips, it should be more accessible than ever to collaborate in an online setting than it was to do so in a physical environment. The important Takeaways in creating collaborative groups, keep your communication positive, practical, and purposeful. Be sure to establish a common goal for the workgroup to move towards and establish appropriate roles within the workgroup.

Happy collaborations,
Jenice

Resources
Callahan, Schenk and White (n.d.) Building a Collaborative Workplace. Full Circle Associates. https://www.anecdote.com/pdfs/papers/AnecdoteCollaborativeWorkplace_v1s.pdf

Stress Management Tools

Asking for help takes guts. In this day and age, it hasn’t always been popular to take a “Mental Health” day or call a time-out to gather your composure. The time has come for people of all walks of life, professional careers, and backgrounds to realize the importance of mental health management. Several of us struggle with different levels of mental health management. Those struggles can range from requiring additional medications (if needed) to learn how to cope with a barking dog. Mental health management is nothing to make light of; it is a serious topic that has become a more common conversation in recent days.

Usually, when you decide to help somebody else, you also wind up helping yourself. Recently, I started researching stress management and mental health theories to help me understand how to manage my stress levels. You’ll be surprised what you find when you use keywords such as stress management, mental health, understanding how to cope with stress, and the like. Upon my research, I found a term of stress management research that I’ve never heard/seen before. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT. I was surprised to learn that CBT has been around for years. I found some valuable tools that I thought would help me gauge my stress, anxiety, worry, and other lower moods. Not only has it helped, but I worked. I am truly overjoyed to have found these tools and share them with anyone interested in better stress management tools.

I do not claim to be nor am I a mental health management therapist; my specialty is business management. The tools provided are ones that I have found helpful for better understanding how to manage my stress levels. Transparency is vital in my writings to ensure that all readers understand that the resources provided may enhance the stress management techniques you choose for your life. From my understanding, CBT allows individuals to understand, manage, and practice stress management tools that work best for their stress management. I have found that CBT has increased my understanding and positive outlook on life as a whole. I hope you find the topics interesting and valuable. We all could use a reset now and then.

Be well,

Jenice

References

Gregory. (n.d.). CBT Skills Workbook: Practical Exercises and Worksheets to Promote Change. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.readpbn.com/pdf/Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy-Skills-Workbook-Sample-Pages.pdf

Hendricks, Cohen, Mannarino, & Deblinger. (n.d.). YOUR VERY OWN TF-CBT WORKBOOK. Retrieved 2021, from https://tfcbt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Your-Very-Own-TF-CBT-Workbook-Final.pdf

Hofmann. (2020). The Anxiety Skills Workbook. Retrieved from https://mshoop.org/wp-lib/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Anxiety-Skills-Workbook.pdf

University NHS Foundation Trust. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Skills Workbook. (2016, March). Retrieved from https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/media/1655/wellbeing-team-cbt-workshop-booklet-2016.pdf 

Getting Down to the Budget


There is no doubt about it; 2020 and halfway into 2021 have been rough on all of us. We are all still grappling with the aftereffects of 2020 and the Corona Virus. It has been a tumultuous time for everyone. We need to focus here seriously; we need to realize that creating a budget is more critical than ever. Inflation is insane, grocery prices are outrageous, gas is triple the cost it was a year ago, and kids are getting ready to go back to school. Everyone is stretching their dollars to the limit.

Let’s do it … it’s budget time. I know budgets are intimidating. If you are like me, I always felt like having a budget was like being on timeout with everything fun I wanted to do. But that is the exact opposite. A budget can provide you more freedom, joy, and transparency than you have ever felt before. A budget can strengthen your relationships and give you a sense of clarity about where & what your money is doing. “I need to know what my money is doing?” YES! You deserve and should demand to know what your money is doing at all times. I have found that when I know what my money is doing, I can eat better, sleep better, and be better. It is that serious; money has been said to be one of the main causations of divorce. According to Ramsey (2018), “The number one issue couples fight about is also a topic many couples avoid discussing — money.” The question is, why would married couples allow money to be the cause of their ultimate marital demise? Simple, people want to buy what they want, and when they can’t, they have a full-on adult temper tantrum.

We are better than this; we can master the management of our money. If you can do that, you can master anything. How do you start to create a budget? Simple, you need to know where your money is going and how much you have to spend. Once you gather this information, create a short and long-term financial goal plan. How do you plan on paying off your debt? How do you plan on making a savings plan? Or an emergency plan? Get specific. Once you have all this down on paper, have a conversation with your spouse or family/friends. You may ruffle a few feathers; people don’t like talking about finances. I don’t know why? Everyone has them … get a financial plan and make sure to discuss your financial plan with those you love and live with. I have included some tools for your financial success.

Happy budgeting,
Jenice

Reference:

Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). Make a Budget Worksheet. Retrieved from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf

Financial Wellness Program. (n.d.). Five Steps to Creating a Budget. Retrieved from https://www.umcu.org/umcu/media/Documents/FiveStepstoCreatingaBudget_January2019.pdf

Ramsey, D. (n.d.). Ramsey Budget Useful Forms. Retrieved from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/budgeting/useful-forms

Ramsey, D. (n.d.). Money Ruining Marriages in America: A Ramsey Solutions study. Retrieved from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/company/newsroom/releases/money-ruining-marriages-in-america

Choose Self-Care

Waking up in the morning starts with random thoughts of important to-do list items to get completed for the day. All goes well until your feet hit the ground. A flood of thoughts saturate your mind when you realize that you still have your toothbrush in your hand as you grab the last bit of toilet tissue. Once again, your spouse has left you stranded on the throne. You may as well add this to your list of to-do “purchase more toilet tissue.” Why and how does your day become consumed with other people’s to-do items? You remember when it happened … when you stopped journaling, when you stopped paying attention to your happiness in the simple things … it is time to reclaim your time, your sense of self, and your to-do list!

I became fascinated with “Self-Care” when I overheard my spouse chatting on the phone about how much she had to do, when in fact … her list of to-do lists was my to-do list. I realized I missed doing special things for myself. I started down a rabbit hole of information and found some pretty useful items. To be clear, as stated by Lawler (2021), “Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.” Self-care does not mean to be selfish or acting selfishly, a huge difference. We all need to do some level of self-care.

How do we start to self-care for ourselves? We can start by not feeling like we have to do everything for everyone all the time. We can establish healthy boundaries and ensure that we communicate how and why overstepping our boundaries is inappropriate when people overstep those boundaries. We can express our needs and wants effectively with proactive discussions about complex topics. But what I found to be the most helpful way to start self-care is to wake up with an attitude of gratitude and continue checking in with myself throughout the day.

Self-care may be a new term for you but rest assured that this practice has been around for years. I am encouraging you to choose self-care for a better way of living and interacting with all in your life. I have included some resources for you to utilize for your self-care journey. Remember, we can only live one day, one moment, and one minute at a time; make sure to live it the way you choose to.

Be well,
Jenice

References:

Hardy, J. (2017). Self Care Project. Retrieved from https://www.blurtitout.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/The-Self-Care-Project-worksheets.pdf

Lawler, M., Phillips, Q., Revelant, J., Millard, E., Landau, M. D., & Russell, T. (2021). What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Critical for Your Health?: Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/

Self Care Challenge. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/575cf8c120c647c0a0062afa/t/5a1f4308e4966bb1ff15b754/1511998216344/self care workbook.pdf

We All Love

Today, my heart is heavy; yesterday, March 27, 2021; Our Princess went back to God. Princess was more than a canine to us; she was a comforter, a confidant, a joy, and an unconditional loving family member. You are never able to prepare yourself for the physical separation of a family member. The gift of love is what connects us all (especially animals). Princess was my wife and I first “baby” of our new life after being honorably discharged from the United States Navy. Princess was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 8, 2005. She traveled to Atlanta, Ga, shortly after. She has 1 brother (Papi). Princess comes from an extensive canine “Show Dog” bloodline.


On July 21, 2006 my wife and I were walking around an Atlanta, Ga mall. While rushing to leave due to hunger, I was speed walking past a pet store. “Wait, do you see that?” My wife said. “What?! No, we need to leave … to eat … it’s getting late,” I said abruptly. “But, look how cute she is.” My wife said as she was gazing into the “puppy in the window.” “No, I don’t want to look cause I am going to fall in love, and I am not trying to fall in love with a puppy we are not going to get,” I said adamantly. “But, she’s the only pug, you said you always wanted one, and she’s all by herself … and she’s so cute.” My wife said, walking into the pet store. “Okay, fine … but we’re only looking … 5 minutes … then, we grab something to eat and head home, okay?” I said with a bit of excitement. The first time I saw Princess, I knew we were not leaving that place without her, I couldn’t … she was perfect for us and us for her. “You wanna hold her?” the owner asked. “NO … no, I do not want to hold her,” I said, feeling my heart well up with love. “Yes, you do, you want to … let me grab her, no harm in a little puppy hug.” The owner said, partly laughing. He handed Princess to me, and I immediately fell in love, like real LOVE. She smelled like a baby … I didn’t even know that was possible. Before I knew it, some random kid asked to hold her … when I didn’t want to let her go, I knew she was our baby now.

We were blessed to have Princess in our life for 15 years and 10 months. I will always be grateful for everything she did for me, our family, and my life overall. I will always love and miss you, little mommy … always. Thank you for your unconditional love; we will hold you in our hearts forever.

Rest in Peace – Princess McGinnis-Armstead

Encouragement to Get Vaccination

First, I want to wish you, and all those you love safety and healthy. I also want to thank all the front-line workers (doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, food delivery, and take-out employees and everyone who has been working, looking for work, or creating jobs for those who need a job … thank you. I received my COVID-19 Vaccination along with my beautiful, supportive, and encouraging wife.

We have all had reservations about this new vaccination. But the actual truth is we all need to get vaccinated to protect one another. Yesterday, at 1:15pm I received my COVID-19 vaccinations (as a United States Veteran) at the James A Haley, VA Hospital Complex in Tampa, Fl. Not only was my experience a pleasant one, but I was also able to connect with peers, seniors, and all those ages in-between. The staff explained all the guidelines and processes to know what to expect before and after getting vaccinated.

I am happy to say, I have only had a few symptoms after getting the shot: slight headache and sore arm at the sight of the injection. Easy peasy … this is not only for me but for you (the people in my community, the people I work with, the students I teach, the stranger I may never know the name of), please do the same for me and those you love.

Encouragement to Get the Vaccination

Paving it Forward – Pep Talks

There was no doubt that 2020 was a rough year, to say the least. So, instead … I wanted to say the “most.” I wrote Pep Talks the Series to help those new to the workforce, looking for a change or just need a “Pep Talk.”

Pep Talks is an introduction to a new way of interviewing and obtaining a job in today’s competitive market. Pep Talks is all about giving the reader an advantage over their competitors when working toward the goal of gaining more knowledge and understanding. This new job market is all-out unconventional ways of obtaining knowledge while learning employment tactics that work. Pep Talks explains how the new Job market knowledge and understanding how to better improve the chances of being “individually recognized” as a professional are vital. Pep Talks assists with building job confidence and self-­‐‑esteem along with providing detailed examples for the reader to use for interviews. Pep Talks is designed to assist the reader in planning, executing, and managing their own career and potential growth in their field of choice.


Each section has interactive “fill in the blank” areas for guiding the reader with critical thinking examples to assist with brainstorming and “Confidence Boosters” provide the reader with constant motivation for obtaining their “dream career.” Pep Talks serves the newly looking or the job seeker looking to change career paths. Pep Talks provides methods that assist with the career search and provide motivation for future endeavors.

If you would like a eCopy of my book, you can have a copy. That simple. I believe this is my small way of helping those who need a “Pep Talk” at any stage of professionalism you may be at. Here is the truth … you CAN do it. I have had several people, co-workers, peers, and family members give me a much-needed “Pep Talk” and now I want to pave it forward and give YOU, yes YOU – a “Pep Talk” too…because everyone needs a “Pep Talk” sometimes.

Much success and happiness to you,

Jenice aka Dr. Jaye

For more information to get your eCopy, simply contact me at my official website: www.jenicearmstead.com

Organizational Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans

Photo by: Nicolas Swatz

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a must. In light of the recent and past events, I would challenge all organizations to create an action plan for diversity and inclusion. An action plan should include creating real, actual, tangible, active strategic plans for addressing and implementing diversity and inclusion policies and updated training for new and current employees. These actions should include the history of the organization’s workforce and an analysis of the organization’s actual issues of a lack of diversity and inclusion. This is the perfect time to put all the words that have been spoken into action.

The good news is organizations don’t have to make this a large budgetary line item. Implementing diversity and inclusion is super simple. First, create an on-going survey using an online internal or external tool to gather information about specific items that are pressing to employees. This survey can include fill-in-the-blank sections to allow for thorough feedback to be received. Once the survey is completed, organize the data and share the information with the entire organization. This is a fantastic way to ensure everyone has a say, and all are able to share and offer solutions. Keep in mind; there will be a mixed bag of feedback. All feedback is not going to positive. That is the whole point of finding out what employees are thinking, feeling, and suffering with. This action is of little to no cost to the organization.

Create signage stating “No Discrimination” to post on buildings and outside areas for all to have a visual that your organization will not tolerate discrimination. If we can post “No Smoking/Vaping” signage, a “No Discrimination” signage should be just as simple. Using a visual will provide those that feel the need to be inappropriate reminders of the organization’s new culture. This action is of little cost to the organization.

Assign human resource departments (or other qualified employees) the task of conducting individual as well as mass “No Discrimination” training and webinars. We have all been through the traditional diversity and inclusion training (normally completed in an online setting). This is too important of a topic for material to simply be sent out for employees to click through PowerPoint slides mindlessly. That is not effective enough anymore. We need human-to-human contact to grasp the full understanding for real change to happen. This action is of little to no cost to the organization.

Lastly, assign employees the responsibility of holding their peers accountable when inappropriate behavior is seen/heard. Employee evaluations should include any discrimination action taken by the employee to show the severity of the “No Discrimination” policy and standards of the organization. Most onboarding processes include a series of questions. Situational interview questions should also include discrimination for candidates better to understand the organizations culture of “No Discrimination”. This action is of little to no cost to the organization.

With the use of tools and technology, there are ways of quickly gaining an overview of the intrinsic disparities and cultural indifferences within an organization. For organizations to address discrimination in the workplace, real change is needed ASAP. There is no time like the present; this phrase is more than true right now.

If you don’t know where to start, you are welcome to start by utilizing my Prezi Presentation on “Diversity and Inclusion” as a first start.

Reference:  Dr. Jenice Armstead – Prezi Diversity and Inclusion

Just Saying …

One Light in a Dark Place
Let’s start by saying, there is a lot is going on in the world, in society, and everywhere.  I have come to realize that regardless of whether you want to admit it, race is a factor of systematic discrimination. Period. I am sure you have stories, I have stories, and there are plenty of stories in the news to be outraged about.  There comes a time when talking just isn’t enough. Talking is an outstanding motivatng factor for initiating strategic change. But, real change comes with direct actions.  Action is the true synchronized mobility for change.

Too often as a black woman, I’ve been asked by people that don’t look like me how it is that I’m able to stay motivated, positive, and successful. Truth be told, it’s hard. It’s hard waking up and remembering that my natural hair has to be tailored to a customized fashion in order to appease people that don’t understand my hair texture. It’s hard to ensure that I find the right cosmetic foundation that matches my skin tone. It’s hard to ensure not to slip up and accidentally use an urban phrase or term in a meeting for fear of being labeled “ghetto.” It’s even harder to go to the grocery store and pick up a vegan or gluten-free item without receiving unsolicited and passive aggressive opinions about how “good it is” that eat well. Overall, it’s hard being black.

Although, I would not change my culture and my background for anything. What I would change is how people see it as a great divider. Statistically, I should not have college degree, be married, own a business, own home, speak “well” or be a vegan – just to name a few of my attibutes.  I often speak in motivational settings about success and staying focused.  As a segway several speaking topics, I talk about academic disparities I faced.  In tha same thought I speak about how I “blew it out of the water” and earned a Doctorate in my early 30’s.  I realized early on, that I had to mindfuly use approachablity tactics when speaking to predominantly non-black audiances to reduce my intimidation factor.  Yes, black women have to think about things like this – along with everything else.

Way too often, when I’m approached by peers and executive leadership to engage in “small talk” about myself.  I find myself having to explain my cultural background, academic career and how I was able to do it.  The conversation is almost always passive-aggressive. During a diversity meeting at one of the organizations I previously worked for, we had an open forum about “Race in the Classroom.” I knew how it was gonna go, I knew what was gonna be said, and I knew that there was gonna be no change put in place after the dawnting three-hour conversation was over.

At the end of the meeting, nothing was resolved, and nothing was written down toward strategic actions for ensuring the organization had more cultural sensitivity in the classroom. What did happen was myself and a co-worker we’re casually discussing the overall conversation.  I was asked specifically what it was like to be black? I gathered all of the strength from my black ancestors and started to regurgitate a default answer from memory, but instead stopped myself.  I decided to anwer honestly, instead of using my rehearshed template.  I specifically said “it’s hard being black, especially a black woman knowing that each and every day I have to prepare myself for the world mentally. The world does not see me as an educated woman. The world sees me as a black woman. The world does not see any of my accomplishments, accolades, dreams, or fears. The world does not see what I’ve done for my community, what I do for my students, or my motivational drive to ensure to be a good role model to little black girls and boys everywhere I go.”   I remember realizing that it was more than my co-worker could handle.  And decided to stop speaking.  She finally removed her hand from her mouth. I will never forget the look on her face. She simply replied with “That must be exhausting, I don’t see how you do it.” I replied, “I have no choice, it’s just the way it is – for now.”

Unfortunatly, the primitive factor of the color of your skin matters – it shouldn’t, but it does. But I’ve decided that the color of my skin is not a hindrance or a burden, it’s a gift.  I love being black, and I am a strong, educated, outspoken, sponky, lesbian, black woman.  Regardless of what the world throws at black folks, we always regroup, dust ourselves off and try again. It is literally in our DNA. We have a right to be happy, to be upset, to be angry, to be successful, to voice my opinion, to choose who to love, to do anything that brings happiness, positivity, and light to this world. That is where we stand, that is where we are coming from, and that is what we deserve.

Jenice

Knowledge Workers are Essential to Organizational Development

Knowledge Workers

Knowledge workers are a significant part of organizational development. Knowledge workers obtain the knowledge-based information and along with human resources management in terms of managing invaluable assets of a company. Knowledge management requires information to be given from technology sources to gain organizational growth. Technology requires that knowledge is gained for the utilization of technological growth, and the organizational aspect of intellectual property.

“Knowledge management is not merely about the latest technology, but managing knowledge within the company and treating it as the most valued asset for its success (Nor & Rosline, 2005).” Knowledge-based management or a “White Collar” position(s) is a term that is used interchangeably with the knowledge-based worker. A knowledge-based worker could be an accountant, consultant, professor, or educator.

Namely, a knowledge-based worker works in various places to include: client’s offices or in their own office (Nor & Rosline, 2005). Knowledge-based management is a challenge in modern business since the majority of the employees in today’s fields are knowledge-based managers (Nor & Rosline, 2005). Knowledge-based management is mostly positions or jobs that require non-routine work, which requires a high level of cognitive activity. Knowledge-based management is the new way of operational functionality of the new knowledge-based worker.

Dr. Jenice Armstead

Resources:

Nor, M Norzanah & Rosline, K Abdul. (2005). Managing Knowledge Workers in a Knowledge based Economy. Cardiff University.