Happy Halloween!

Posted: October 31, 2014 by kristymlopez in Working Mom
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

 

A little story for you, credit to HIH for this story…I’ll be avoiding elevators for a while….

Room For One More

A young woman on her way to town broke her journey by staying with friends at an old manor house. Her bedroom looked out to the carriage sweep at the front door. It was a moonlit night, and she found it difficult to sleep. As the clock outside her bedroom door struck 12, she heard the noise of horses’ hooves on the gravel outside, and the sound of wheels.

She got up and went over to the window to see who could be arriving at that time of night. The moonlight was very bright, and she saw a hearse drive up to the door. It hadn’t a coffin in it; instead it was crowded with people. The coachman sat high up on the box: as he came opposite the window he drew up and turned his head. His face terrified her, and he said in a distinct voice, “There’s room for one more.”

She drew the curtain, ran back to bed, and covered her head with the bedclothes. In the morning she was not quite sure whether it had been a dream, or whether she had really got out of bed and seen the hearse, but she was glad to go up to town and leave the old house behind her.

She was shopping in a big store which had an elevator in it — an up-to-date thing at that time. She was on the top floor, and went to the elevator to go down. It was rather crowded, but as she came up to it, the elevator operator turned his head and said, “There’s room for one more.”

It was the face of the coachman of the hearse. “No, thank you,” said the girl. “I’ll walk down.” She turned away, the elevator doors clanged, there was a terrible rush and screaming and shouting, and then a great clatter and thud. The elevator had fallen and every person in it was killed!

TrainingAn area where some companies must provide training, for their benefit if nothing else, is harassment training. Harassment can take on several forms, including sexual, and against age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Providing specific training can help reduce claims throughout the organization, along with a strict disciplinary policy to help deter instances.

Harassment training (sexual harassment, hostile environment, ect.) should be conducted with every employee when they are hired and then again annually for all employees. While a company won’t be fined if they don’t provide this training, the costs can be outrageous in the long-run if this is not completed. If training is not conducted for employees the employer can be held liable if an employee is harassed and they have not used reasonable care to prevent the harassment by conducting the training. The litigation costs alone can be astronomical.

The company should have specific procedures in place if harassment occurs, including procedures for reporting and investigating. The training for employees should include, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Definition of specific forms of harassment
  • Overview of state and federal laws
  • The company’s specific policy
  • Examples of what harassment and is not
  • Explanation of who can commit and who can experience
  • The best prevention practices
  • Explanation of when the employer is liable for the harassment and the employee’s responsibilities in preventing it
  • Outline the specific procedures for reporting and investigation
  • Explain the investigation process when a complaint has been filed
  • The company’s policy on disciplinary action when harassment has occurred

As with any type of discrimination, retaliation training needs to also be conducted. Employees, especially supervisors, should fully understand what retaliation is and practices for it to not occur in the workplace.

The EEOC is very strict when it comes to harassment claims, including:

  • They take a more aggressive approach to investigating and closing claims
  • They require public press releases for all settlements (this can hurt your business!)
  • They don’t allow early ‘no-fault’ settlements – meaning, they will complete the investigation and won’t allow a company to back out of a claim by giving a settlement where both parties are not found ‘at-fault’
  • They require injunctive relief
  • Their 5 year plan proposes a refocus of effort to combat workplace discrimination

All employers need to put forth good faith efforts to deter discrimination of all types and retaliation throughout the workplace. Every state has different requirements about when harassment training must be conducted.

Examples:

CA – Companies with 50+ employees must provide a minimum of 2 hours of ‘interactive’ training for all supervisors with a re-training for all supervisors

ME – Companies with 15+ employees must provide training for all employees

CT – Companies with 50+ employees must provide 2 hours of training for all supervisors within six months of becoming a supervisor

However, I recommend that any company, no matter the size, implements this training. Not only does it help safe guard the company, but it’s just good practice.

Images: In most all of my posts I use shared images available on Google, LinkedIn, etc. Thanks for those who shared it and due credit is given to them when able. However, in some cases it is not possible to know the original contributor.

high conflict peopleThe same person who suggested I read A New Way to Win by Tobias Desjardins also suggested I read High Conflict People in Legal Disputes by Bill Eddy, LCSW, ESQ, and I have to say that this book really helped me through some of the things I am going through.

This particular book is geared toward the professionals, such as counselors, attorneys, judges, etc. and how to identify and work with (or let go of) high conflict people in the best way possible, and knowing when to let go of clients with this type of personality. Eddy goes into depth about the DSM-IV-TR Cluster B personality disorders: Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial, and Histrionic. Most individuals with high conflict personality disorders have one or more (typically more) of these personality disorders. While I had studied these specific personality disorders while studying my psychology degree, since I don’t deal with personality disorders on a regular basis, this was a great refresher for me.

Individuals with these personality disorders tend to have specific cognitive distortions, which the individual truly believes is true, even though it is his or her made up reality.

I found the information in this book quite useful for my situation, especially since it describes who and how someone may become a target for an individual with one of these personality disorders. It also describes exactly how I have felt as a target and how I should deal with the situation with pretty specific advice.

I also found it useful to understand how someone with cognitive distortions thinks, feels, and to learn why they do the things they do. This helps me understand how to handle specific situations both in person and through documentation to other professionals (i.e. investigators, law enforcement, and judges). It also helped me to brace myself for the worst possible outcome for my situation; however, because of the information and tips presented in this book, I was able to present myself and my evidence in a way that was beneficial to my side.

Many times, someone with these types of personality disorders have had them since a very young age, and without proper (and specific) treatment, these disorders will:

  • Rule their lives
  • Continue them down the self-destructive path
  • Maintain and increase interpersonal conflict, unreliability of dramatic mood swings, and instability in all aspects of the individual’s life
  • Create preoccupation with cognitive distortions and delusions

Each personality disorder will result in different fundamental faults and difficulties with each area of the person’s life. However, when an individual has all four of these disorders, it really is a recipe for disaster for them and anyone around them because everyone will be affected.

If you are a professional, if you believe you have been targeted by someone and drug into a legal dispute, if you believe you may be in a relationship (or have a relationship with), or you are just looking for additional information about these personality disorders, I highly recommend reading this book as it is very insightful, informative, and it is an easy read (even if you aren’t a professional in one of these areas that requires a contract-reading-comprehension level).

There are certain areas where an employer is required by law to provide training to employees and supervisors, no matter the industry. One area that a company must provide training in is in regard to discrimination laws. These laws are numerous and can be challenging to remember, so providing a training with handouts outlining all of the laws (in laymen’s terms) is helpful to reduce discrimination in the workplace.

There are several laws that exist that must be followed by companies of any size, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • Civil Rights Act Title VII
  • OlderWorkers Benefits Protection Act
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

All employees, but especially supervisors and managers, should be trained on these laws because discrimination generally occurs during the following activities:

  • Hiring Process
  • Benefits Offering and Selection
  • Compensation Offering
  • Performance Reviews by Supervisors and/or Human Resources
  • Workplace Environment
  • Promotions
  • Time-off Requests
  • Termination

law

Training Should Include:

  • Defining what discrimination is (all types)
  • Identifying what a protected class is
  • Examples of what a protected class is
  • Employer rights under these laws
  • Employee rights under these laws
  • Providing examples of what discrimination is
  • Examples of how to maintain a discrimination-free work environment
  • Company policy, including processes to report, investigate, and resolve discrimination claims
  • Company policy on disciplinary actions if an employee is found to have discriminated

Training employees on what constitutes discrimination will help reduce claims as they may perceive something as discrimination when it is not without the training. Also, training employees on the process to report suspected claims will help employees feel more comfortable with reporting (and potentially diffusing) these claims quickly. Training supervisors on discrimination will help protect the company as they will be aware of what it is and how to avoid it before it happens. The company can and will be held liable if a discrimination claim is filed and can become quite costly with litigation.

In addition to this training, supervisors should be trained on what retaliation is, how it is illegal, and how to avoid retaliation against an employee. Maintaining an open-door policy by human resources will help encourage supervisors to ask if something would be considered discrimination and human resources can work with that supervisor on other potential options if the act is or could be construed as discriminatory.

Generally, a human resources representative would conduct discrimination training as they are (usually) more knowledgeable about applicable laws. Someone who knows and understands the laws should conduct the training so they can answer employee and supervisor questions.

moneyOn August 31, 2014 one of my very best friends posted a post on her blog: The poverty of greed. I’ve read and re-read this post several times in the last month and a half or so. It really hit home for me. She describes so elegantly about a life where greed becomes everything…when it shouldn’t be…greed for the money, the deadlines, the seemingly important things. But, this isn’t what we should be greedy for, as she continues to explain.

She explains, “Yes, you should have been greedy…very greedy. For kindness and sharing, for playfulness and affection, for connection, loyalty, gratitude and passion. All those unimportant things that can not be counted yet count the most.”

To this, I must agree 100%. I have a good friend who once wanted (nearly begged) me to take a job doing something I’m not particularly passionate about, that would have required a great deal of travel for me to the other side of the U.S., but that would potentially bring me pay beyond anything I’ve ever realized. I weighed the pros and cons and really struggled with this decision for quite some time. The only real pro I could find was that I would have the opportunity to travel and meet new people. While I’m certainly not opposed to travel, this position would have me traveling more often than not to setup new account and for account management. The cons really won out, and even though I had interviewed for this position (and based on what my friend had told me, I would have likely been offered this position), I wasn’t comfortable with it. So I respectfully pulled myself from the applicant pool.

What I realized in that moment when I made my decision is that my family is far more important than making outrageous amounts of money. I know that with an increase in salary comes with it an increase in the cost of living – maybe not in the community I live in, but certainly in my spending habits. This is very common because when the money is there we, as humans, tend to spend more.

Only a few short months later I was laid off from my job (that I did not quit to take this other position my friend wanted me to take). I was out of work for a little over three months, but during that three months I really saw what I had been missing – my family and my sanity. For about six months prior to being laid off I had been traveling nearly 180 miles round trip, Monday thru Friday, leaving at 5 am and not returning home until between 6 and 8 pm each night. I was doing this to make money to support my family. At this time I wasn’t being greedy; I was simply working to support my family. Being laid off was a blessing in disguise for me. God provided, as he always does for my family, and after some major spending cuts (including unnecessary bills) we were able to survive.

That was certainly a stressful time (especially for me since I was the one out of work), but I was able to spend more time with my family, get some large projects completed around my home that I had wanted to for quite some time, and I was able to recoup from the six months of extensive (and exhausting) travel.

Since then, I have found a job with a company that is used to remote employees, so I have the opportunity to work from home. This has allowed me to remain focused on my family and my home while I still work and provide for my family. Through this experience I have found that I have become greedy – for all those things my good friend described in her post. Sure, I still stretch myself thin at times (okay, a lot of the time), but it’s to help my family, to support my family, and to maintain a safe and healthy home for my family. I am so very grateful for my family and my friends. Because of them I am able to experience the truly important things in life – love, passion, affection, connection, kindness, sharing, and most of all – gratitude.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending a great day with two of my girls, Kiara and Addie. There happened to be a couple of things going on in our little town so we took advantage of the day.

First, we went to the Fire Station 1 Open House

(which they held behind the Police Department)

Addie in the cab at the back end of the really long fire truck.

IMG_20141011_122348

Addie and Kiara in front of the Air Medic helicopter.

IMG_20141011_122120

Kiara and Addie at the back of the Air Medic helicopter. (I was too tall to sit in the back, but I tried)

IMG_20141011_122043

Kiara and Addie in front of one of the original fire trucks in Hemet. Addie thought it looks ‘weird’…so precious :-)

IMG_20141011_121551

Then, we went to the Pumpkin Patch

Addie and Kiara at the front of the Pumpkin Patch…gonna have some fun!

IMG_20141011_131547

They (hesitantly) climbed the hay stack for a picture (apparently they don’t like heights either).

IMG_20141011_124817

The 5 foot mark is hidden behind her head…by a couple of inches.

IMG_20141011_124644

Here’s Addie…not quite to the 5 foot mark yet (thankfully).

IMG_20141011_124633

Addie is my little pumpkin :-)

IMG_20141011_124452

Kiara, Addie, and I on top of the hay stack.

IMG_20141011_124925

They also went through the Pumpkin Patch Maze (they got lost and ended up climbing over one of the hay stacks to get to the other side) and went to the petting zoo. We had such a blast! I love spending time with my girls!

Every once in a while I draw a blank as to what I should write about here for my blog. I know, I know, there’s soooomany things out there to write about, especially since my blog covers so many different topics. Even still, sometimes it just doesn’t come easily for me. It’s called writers block, but I call it blogging block.

I want to keep providing quality information for people to read in the areas that I write about, so when I’m having a blogging block, here’s what I do:idea

  1. Scour LinkedIn: there are tons of new, important, and relevant topics to discuss on LinkedIn. I read a lot of the articles and posts here to get some ideas for topics that are relevant to what I typically write about and to the business industry in general.
  2. Other Blogs – I have several blogs that I keep tabs on. When I have a blogging block I go through all (or a few) of these sites and read posts that I’ve read before or anything new that’s been posted recently to help me get ideas to write about.
  3. Google Search – when all else fails, I do a google search for writing ideas. You’d be amazed (or not) about how many blogs are out there with writing ideas. I may even do a few of these myself as there are so many things to write about.
  4. Create a List – as I go through each of these sources I write down any ideas that come to me that I may want to write about. Then, I pick the one that interests me the most or that I think has the most relevance at the moment.

I certainly don’t want to ‘steal’ ideas or information. So, when I do choose a topic I conduct my own research and draw from my own experiences on the topic. I rarely write on topics that I have no idea about, but I occasionally have the opportunity to do some research to learn about a whole new topic. Then again, I do research on nearly any topic I write about so that I not only know what I’m talking about, but so I can also give the most amount of information possible to my readers.

The Busy Parents Recipe Book – For Sale

Posted: October 8, 2014 by kristymlopez in Working Mom

As some of you may know, I have struggled with some health problems over the years (problems that are under control now, thank goodness!). Having health issues, I am constantly on the lookout for tips to save money and healthy recipes that I (and my family) will love.

I have just released my very first recipe book for only $2.99 (less than a cup of your favorite drink at Starbucks!).

This book, called The Busy Parents Recipe book is a collection of my favorite recipes that have been given the thumbs up by my six picky eaters (my husband and kids). Some of the recipes are easy and quick to make; I have included many crockpot recipes; and many of the recipes require five ingredients or less to make. I also like to focus on recipes that include ingredients that most individuals will already have in their cabinets or refrigerator, or that are inexpensive to purchase. I also include some of my tips to save money on the food bill for those of us who are on a budget.

Recipe Book Cover

To download your own recipe book using a secure purchasing site, click here: The Busy Parents Recipe Book

It is currently only available to purchase through this link. Soon I will have it available in several e-book options.

Please send me feedback on what you liked, didn’t like, or adjustments to recipes that you found made them better. I welcome all feedback.

Kristymarielopez@gmail.com

delegation

Delegation is probably my greatest weakness. It’s not that I delegate too much, it’s that I delegate to little. Many individuals have this same weakness. Personally, I think out of all of the weaknesses I could have, this one’s a pretty good one to have. But there is always room for improvement. And through improvement comes productivity.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • In many (most) of my job roles throughout my career, I have been the one who has been on the receiving end of the delegation.
  • As being on the receiving end of the delegation, I have rarely had the opportunity to have someone to delegate work to.
  • I am a perfectionist and I have issues with having individuals complete my work, especially when it is an important and detailed task.
  • I like being involved in projects from beginning to end, including negotiations thru to the management of the accounts.

But, I have been working on this weakness as much as possible. I want to be the best I can be in both my personal and professional life, and to do this I have to work on any and all weaknesses I have. Through my current role I have been working on this particular weakness by:

  • Working with other departments to see where we can consolidate processes to create time efficiencies.
  • Refer employees to the appropriate departments to answer questions rather than become the ‘middle man’.
  • Ask employees from other departments to host training calls to give information to employees that they will need.
  • Allow others (i.e. trainers, representatives, etc.) to do their job without interfering with their work, but still provide them with information I have that will be helpful to them.
  • Ask for help from others when I have too much on my plate to accomplish, especially when the tasks I have require a great attention to detail.

When delegating tasks or objectives, there are a few things I take into consideration:

  • Follow the SMART acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound
  • The person’s work-style – do they require step-by-step instructions or would they be better at creating their own process of completing the work?
  • Set specific deadlines – if the task or objective requires multiple steps (or multiple people to complete), setting specific deadlines can help ensure the task is moving along as planned and can help identify pitfalls that need to be addressed. It’s better to know this as soon as possible to help adjust prior to the final deadline.
  • Give authority – ensuring the person the task has been delegated to understands the authority he or she has been given will help them complete the task more efficiently.
  • Keep and open-door policy – creating and maintaining an open-door policy will help the individual receiving the delegated task feel more confident that he or she isn’t alone and can ask questions where needed to complete it to your standards.

Delegation is crucial to running a business from the CEO all the way down the chain of command, and part of being a manager. Many individuals I know have challenges with delegation; me being one of those people. However, with the right mindset, it is possible to delegate confidently and create responsibility within the organization. This will ultimately help grow the organization and be more productive.