By Natasha L. Foreman

Today I wrote an article for my Business Management Firm, Foreman & Associates LLC, highlighting an article that I read about UPS’s decision to cut insurance coverage for 15,000 spouses of non-union workers in the U.S.

Read my article here: http://wp.me/p11NVc-5X and share your thoughts, experiences, and possible solutions for small business owners, and the employees that are caught in the middle.

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman.

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

The debate continues about the unemployment rate, job creation, and the potential boost in our nation’s economy. The Los Angeles Times shares all sides of the debate in last Saturday’s business section.

Although the national unemployment rate is currently at 8.1% (which is almost double in Black and Brown communities) the L.A. Times reported that this rate is not solely because more jobs are being secured by workers —since only 115,000 jobs were added in April (after winter gains of an average of $252,000 jobs December through February)– but rather because more people are discouraged and dropping out of the labor market.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington was reported as telling the L.A. Times that workers are dropping out of the labor market because they no longer believe that there are jobs out there for them. In April the numbers shrank by 342,000 workers. That’s 342,000 that are reported to have lost hope in securing a job.

President Obama sees and reports things differently and more optimistically. He reminded people in his speech last Friday at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, that we are surviving the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, have created more than 4.2 million jobs within the last 26 months, and 1.6 million of those jobs were created just within the last 6 months.

Obama’s chief economic advisor, Alan Krueger told the L.A. Times that the jobless rate fell a full percentage point since last August, and that nearly three-quarters of that drop was due to increased employment. Dean Baker however said that some of the three-quarters was attributable to adjustments in the population.

Analysts claim that the warm winter weather we experienced across the nation has impacted the reported rates of job growth, as certain industries, such as construction—that were booming in December and January, have since seen no increase in jobs.

However, car sales are strong, manufacturing continues to perform well, there is growth in the demand for growth, consumer spending is up, and there is an improvement in the housing market that once was severely depressed.

The L.A. Times makes a point of reminding and educating readers that our country’s economy is vulnerable to various “shocks” such as high oil prices, China’s slowed-down economy, and the debt-strained problems of Europe. When the rest of the world is suffering, our country is hit hard also; and vice versa. We’re literally in this together.

Let’s also not forget that more than 90% of the companies in our country are small business enterprises, with less than 200 employees, yet maybe 90% of job seekers are applying mostly to large corporations—less than 10% of the businesses in the U.S.

Who’s helping to equip these small businesses with the resources to hire more employees?

Who’s reminding and educating job seekers about employment opportunities with small businesses?

Who’s bridging the gap?

We must realize that our economy is impacted by other world economies and “shocks”. We must focus more on the things we’re for and less on what we’re against, and then help to bring about a progressive movement towards solution rather than allow a spiraling effect that will lead to ultimate failure.

We should also be grateful for our country and the numerous resources here. Let’s consider if we lived in Liberia where the unemployment rate is a staggering 85%. What if that was our reality?

Let’s look for solutions rather than people to blame. Let’s look for business opportunities and leverage our strengths, rather than examples of our weaknesses and failures.

What can we do individually and collectively to bring about positive change and to be the change we want to see in our nation, and in the world?

What can you do to help with unemployment in the United States?

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Source: Don Lee. Los Angeles Times. Job weakness feeds fear of a slowdown. Business section. B1, B4. Saturday, May 5, 2012.

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Foreman & Associates, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

by Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Employers are quick to provide assessments to new hires, and sometimes invest in the administration of these learning tools periodically for certain key employees; but how many business owners and entrepreneurs are also investing in self-assessments for themselves, and then concentrating efforts on assessing every employee regardless of position or title? I would say very few.

It is extremely important to pull out the metaphoric mirror and look closely at yourself, your skills, interests, abilities, and strengths. It is important to know your and your employees insights surrounding personality, values and attitudes, motivation, decision making, productivity, emotional intelligence, communication skills, leadership and team skills, power and conflict skills, and how well you (and they) do in and with certain organizational structures, change, stress, and work-life balance.

Taking assessments frequently, learning from the results, and applying what you have learned both in your career and personal life, help you to become and remain a balanced individual. Your focus should not just be on changing others and the world, you must first look at your personal change through growth- for positive results only come through change.

At Foreman & Associates, LLC we help entrepreneurs and their team work through and learn from the assessments we administer. Organizational behavior concerns arise when you don’t truly know those individuals who make up your company, and when they don’t truly understand you and their value in your organization. Crafting and executing strategy within an organization is pointless if you do not have the complementary variables and assets (employees and leaders) to help your organization get where you desire most.

If you don’t know how to properly engage, motivate, inspire, work with, communicate, and lead your employees effectively, guess what? They will model what they see and hear. If you (or a manager) are like a canon ball exploding in a crystal shop, but you need someone who has the finesse of a feather, how else will you initially filter through your team to find this person without using an assessment tool?

As a prospective or new business owner you have to ask yourself what type of decision maker, leader, delegator, manager, discipliner, and team builder you are. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses, and then build your strengths as you delegate in areas of weakness. An assessment can help with this. It will also help an existing entrepreneur who may be struggling with team alignment and organizational behavior concerns.

Think about the boss or manager that you had (before you became self-employed) who drove you batty, was stressed out, ornery, and ruled through fear and not care. What if he or she had been given an assessment to see which type of environment and position that fit best with their personality? What if an assessment was used to weigh their ability to lead with the type of respect and care that the organization expected? By highlighting that this person is a brute, narcissist, unethical, or has poor communication skills the manager has the option to change through growth and application of skills taught through a training program, or they can leave and go to a company willing to put up with their bulldozer mentality.

When building teams you need to see each member’s strengths and weaknesses and line them up accordingly. There has to be a well-blended and balanced mix that is mutually rewarding for all parties and stakeholders. An unmotivated person will only give partial effort…how does this affect your relationship with customers, vendors, and investors?

When considering the cost of investing in assessments for yourself, your leadership team, or your entire company, consider how much you will lose because you did not take the time to invest in those that make up your company. Consider how much you will lose because you didn’t take time to invest in making sure that all of the components and parts needed to make your dream a reality were present and aligned with your mission.

How much time and money do you have to lose? What are you willing to invest in your and your organization’s future? Contact Foreman & Associates, LLC today! http://foremanandassociates.info

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Foreman & Associates, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I just read a very interesting article by Sabina Nawaz, written for the Harvard Business Review that encourages executives, managers, and other professionals to take two hours per week out of our insanely busy schedules to create our own personal ‘white noise space’, separate from the ‘noise’ of mobile devices, iPads, iPods, tablets, video games, laptops, computers, telephones, television, radio, and the like. Instead, Nawaz suggests that for two hours each and every week we should be taking a relaxing walk, drive or bike ride; or sitting in a comfortable location and doing absolutely nothing but thinking and reflecting; allowing our minds to totally dump all thoughts and ideas where we can quickly write them down in a journal or notepad (plain ole’ pen/pencil and paper, no electronic devices).

This is similar to a method that I have used over the years and have suggested to my clients and mentees; but I use ‘alone time’ to ‘idea-dump’ or ‘stress-dump’ on paper everything that is in my head; but it has never been a requirement to do so in the absolute silence of non-silence, and without any distractions from electronic devices, etc. Nawaz’s method expands upon my thinking, eliminates all possible distractions (except whatever could pop up while driving in our car or riding a bike) and measures the results from doing so on a regular and consistent basis. She has shown the positive outcomes of creating and building our our white noise space.

Nawaz suggests that in our constantly moving and changing lives we can be so overly consumed with deadlines, projects, and closing deals that we may miss or overlook a great idea or concept that can be used strategically in our business, simply because we don’t take a few moments consistently each week to take in the non-silence of silence, and allow our minds to do what they were created to do…process, strategize, and create. She also suggests that by building this white noise space to think, we can also find ways to creatively free ourselves for our personal lives so that we can spend this time with family and friends, whom we oftentimes neglect because of work commitments.

She makes note of when in 2004, the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave a performance of the modern classic 4′ 33″ by John Cage, a composition that was made famous for “its counterintuitive focus on the sounds of music not being played.” John Cage, “…believed that true silence did not exist; he wanted people to pay attention to what was all around them, to recalibrate their perceptions of sound and silence. He wanted them to hear in a new way,” Nawaz wrote.

I agree with Nawaz that in business we rarely take time out to let our minds wander and breathe. We think that the only time we can ‘allow’ ourselves this moment of freedom is when we sleep, and if you’re only sleeping 3-5 hours per day yet up ripping and running 19-21 hours, that’s a great portion of your day being spent in high stress, high intensity environments where you don’t make the time to “wander around the edges of seemingly intractable problems.” Nawaz suggests that, “Building white space in your week lets you hear and think in a new way.”

I believe that it is something worth trying, especially since it has been proven effective with other managers, executives, and business leaders Nawaz highlighted in her article. So I’m going to give it a try for several weeks and see what changes I notice in my stress levels, clarity, business, and in my personal life. It takes my idea and stress ‘dumping’ to a higher level of thinking. So I’m inspired.

I recommend that you read Nawaz’s article in its entirety then share your thoughts: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/07/this_space_intentionally_left.html

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman and Foreman & Associates, LLC. Some Rights Reserved.