Third Quarter 2019

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Overcoming the Myths

Leading Across

Kay Coughlin,
Facilitator on Fire & Donor Relations Mindset LLC

Busting the myths of leading generations
When it comes to leading different generations, there is one big mistake most of us make. We blame individual people for the accident of being born into their generation.
There is no logic behind blaming someone for their birth year. There’s no logic behind blaming someone for how they measure up against more commonly-acknowledged stereotypes and biases, like skin color, gender, or country of birth, either. But humans are not logical animals. We evolved to survive, not to rely on logic.

Blame (much like its cousins fear, shame and anxiety) evolved to protect us from harm. But it has an unfortunate side effect. It blocks our higher brain functions, such as curiosity, compassion, empathy, critical thinking and planning.  Yet a person who wants to be an outstanding leader, especially when the stakes are high, must quickly tap into these higher brain functions. 

One example of this is insisting on the stereotype that older generations are somehow deficient because they weren’t born with a cell phone in hand. I see this every day in my work helping generations learn to function better together, which includes my private life. My mother lives next door to my family, so I am the “filling” in a sandwich family. And on a daily basis, I'm reminded that we could lead our kids into living with compassion, but we unintentionally teach them to act from a place of age bias.

True to stereotype, my mom has difficulty with a lot of electronic technologies, so she asks my kids and me for help. Of course, my kids like to complain to me about what a pain it is to help their grandmother. Given what I know about generational biases and leading by example, I am quick to remind them that we are constantly asking for her help, too, with “technologies” she mastered across her lifetime. As a retired librarian and journalist, her technological genius lies in writing, editing, conversation and sorting data in her head. She bakes a mean cherry pie, too.

I could choose to let my kids treat my mom with contempt for being most comfortable with traditional technologies simply because of her age. But who among us is to blame for the technologies that were available to us during our formative years? The answer, of course, is not a single one of us.
In my keynote address about generations, I focus on how to recognize the top myths of intergenerational leadership. I’ve identified these through my work as a facilitator, trainer and coach for hundreds of leaders and their teams. And all but one of these myths comes from acting out of blame, fear, shame and anxiety. (The remaining one happens because of the power of our egos.)

So what’s the solution? How do we stop blaming a person for the circumstances of their birth situation? The answer is simple, but not easy. We can learn to observe behavior, notice when we rush to judge, listen and engage our higher brain functions as much as possible. Then, we can practice skills to intentionally direct our thoughts and actions instead of wallowing in blame.

Refugee Integration Conference 2019 

In Collaboration with Ohio Welcoming Initiative Network (OWIN):


In an effort to engage professionals, journalists, and educators with the New American Community, we are hosting our third Refugee Integration Conference on

October 9th and 10th
Ohio University’s Dublin Campus
6805 Bobcat Way, Dublin, OH. 



Preparing Our Workforce for the Future

Organized in partnership with the Ohio Welcoming Initiatives Network, Day 2 will feature a wide variety of sessions focusing on workforce development.


WELD Government Boards & Commissions Skills Certification Program

Serving on a federal/state/county/city board or commission is an excellent way to serve your community. It provides an opportunity to have a voice in decision making and to serve as a bridge between government and the community ensuring oversight and raising awareness of important community issues. Having more women in these roles is a critical component of WELD’s mission given the positive economic impact women have when they are in leadership roles. 

These positions come with high accountability and responsibility.  This course will provide instruction on the governance of government boards & commissions, explain special rules on ethics, conflict of interest, conduct and parliamentary proceedings and end with an overview of the appointment process.  Leadership attributes of effective participation will also be covered.

Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown and Jeffrey Johnson will be our special guest speakers.

October 17, 2019 9:30am-3:30pm Thompson Hine
41 S. High Street,  Ste. 1700 Columbus, OH


The A’s of Team Talk

Lillian Zarzar, MA, CSP

The Zarzar Group
Interpersonal Communication & Leadership Training
Have you ever wondered why in meetings people seem agreeable and understand what needs to be done, yet, when the team appears for the next meeting, the task wasn’t completed? It could be that individuals thought someone else was going to do it. Perhaps you tell a staff member a project needs to be completed, yet when you meet again, the person didn’t realize you expected them to implement it. Consider the following:

1. Announcement – do you find yourself making announcements of tasks that must be completed – what projects must be started, what lists of items need addressing? Interestingly, everyone listens to these announcements and makes comments regarding their implementation, completion, and evaluation. Discussion can continue regarding how the tasks will be addressed.

2. Agreement – do you notice that each one agrees that the projects must be completed, or that they need work to begin, or that an update is required? Each one sits around nodding stating “Oh, yes, I agree with what you said” or may say “I agree, this really needs to be done” - so now you have agreement of the importance of the tasks.

3. Assumption – you assume that because the announcements were made, and the agreement was clear, someone was going to step in and carry on the project! The opposite is true. Just because the team Agrees you can't Assume a project will be done. This scenario is similar to when the parent announces that the trash needs to go out, or the dishes need to be done, there is agreement – “Oh, yes, You're right...!” Does anyone step up? Typically, not, because no one was Asked!

4. Assignment – you make the request of someone on the team. Or you may Ask for a volunteer who has a special interest, talent, or skill with the task. Some statements you can use:
“I have a request...” or “I'm asking you to take this on” and “I need this by...” or “How does this fit into your schedule?” or  “Given your workload, this must be in by…when in this time frame can you complete it?”
Be specific about what you want the person to do and when.

5. Accountability – hold each member of the team accountable for each task, whether in expectation of time, process, strategy or implementation. You may Assume staff members will take initiative; however, if they are not asked specifically, they Assume someone else steps in to complete the task!

Announce what must be done, obtain Agreement, Avoid Assuming someone takes on the task.  Assign the task by Asking someone to take Action and hold the person Accountable!

You can work more effectively together and Accomplish more...that's another A for you!

Do you or someone on your team have under 10 years of experience in Human Resources?

Human Resources Emerging Leadership Conference
Wednesday, October 23 7:30 am – 1:30 pm

We have an amazing line up of speakers including: SHRM Keynote speaker Alex Alonso, Jen Erb, Tom Daniels, Derek Grosso, Chris Rutter, Dionna Burkins, Rachel Roman, Rita Volpi, and Kay Coughlin.

You can register and view the conference schedule here. 

The cost to attend is $40.00. Registration includes a half day of speakers and presentations, breakfast, lunch and a free professional headshot. Free parking is included at the Boat House.

The conference has been submitted for recertification credit hours toward SHRM and HRCI certifications.

The Emerging Leadership Conference is sponsored by ADP, Ohio University, Bowling Green State University and BMI Federal Credit Union.

The Push for Employee Engagement


Did you know that nearly 75% to 80% of the American workforce detests their jobs?


Kenya Y. George, MHA, CMP

Founder & CEO of (n) = ChΔngε™, LLC

According to a study conducted by Gallup, Inc., (2013) entitled, “State of the American Workplace, “revealed that “of the approximately 100 million American workers with full-time employment that only 30% were engaged and inspired at work.” The other 70% of employees were disengaged, discontent, and disconnected from their job responsibilities and their companies.

The survey also found that happy, engaged employees experienced a 50% reduction in incidents and that companies tended to spend 25% less in healthcare expenses. Furthermore, Gallup presented that unhappy and disengaged employees were affecting the American economy, with costs totaling $450 billion to $550 billion in expenditures every year.

The statistics reveal an unsettling pattern. What is causing so many Americans to be unhappy with their jobs?
  • You will find that most are not unsatisfied with the job itself; however, they are displeased with their supervisors while others see no room for growth potential. Many feel they don’t have a voice or that their work environments are toxic. Some feel they are not supported and don’t have the tools necessary for them to succeed in their jobs.
  • What can you do to ensure your organization is not contributing to this epidemic?
  • Conduct an anonymous employee survey to measure the company culture. Should you find that consensus believes that you do indeed have an unhealthy work environment, take action to correct the issue.
  • Allow your employees the opportunity to weigh in on best practices to get the job done.
  • Create a safe environment where staff members can speak freely about challenges without repercussions. 
  • Get to know your team on a personal level. Inquire about their families and home life and be sure to keep it professional. 
  • Treat everyone equally and be fair. 
  • Cultivate an environment of inclusion.
  • Build on their strengths and encourage them to stretch out of their comfort zones by taking on more tasks. 
  • Enable them to make decisions, within reason, when dealing with challenging customers. 
  • Share how much you appreciate their efforts. 
  • Value their opinion and work. 
  • Do not wait until the annual review to correct behavior, resolve it as it happens. 
  • Be assessable and have an open door policy. 
  • Provide a spotlight for those who go above and beyond. 
  • Promote where applicable. 
  • Do not tolerate gossip, blaming, or finger-pointing. 
  • Be consistent and ensure your spoken words align with your actions.
  • Evaluate managers on their ability to promote an engaging workplace.

In order for your organization to be successful ends with your employee. The employee sets the tone for the customer’s overall experience. Happy employees equal happy customers.

What’s a Recovery-Supportive Workplace, Anyway?

By Karen Pierce

Working Partners® 
When talking to employers about their current challenges, chances are good that you hear about their difficulty in finding and retaining good employees.  Part of the challenge is attributed to the extremely low unemployment rate, while other factors include a lean employable workforce (often linked to the opioid epidemic) and the increased prevalence of positive drug tests. 
Some employers have resorted to eliminating drug tests or no longer testing for marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug.  It’s a fascinating and ironic departure from decades of believing that people with substance use disorder (SUD) – or even those in recovery – suffered from a defect in moral character, treating these people as weak, lazy, irresponsible, and an employment risk.  Oftentimes a positive drug test meant refusal to hire or immediate termination.  Now we find ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum, where some employers feel that the only solution is to ignore employees’ substance misuse and implicitly accept the potential liability and risk associated with it. 

Yet there’s a different response that yields a safer, more responsible, and more cost-effective results for the individual employee, their coworkers, and the employer.  It’s known as a “recovery-supportive workplace.”  A recovery-supportive workplace is a workplace whose culture and operations reflect an understanding of substance use disorder (also referred to as addiction) and works to motivate and support employees in recovery while protecting the company and its other employees.  But what does that really look like and how does it work?  Understanding the benefits and logistics of a recovery-supportive workplace may warrant some additional exploration.  

Managing risks and yielding benefits 
Admittedly, the thought of hiring or retaining a person in recovery, with a history of alcohol or other drug issues, may bubble up feelings of concern and apprehension.  But because of scientific advancements like brain imaging technology, we now know that substance use disorder is a brain disease that is preventable and treatable - similar to other behavior-related, chronic diseases like heart disease and Type II diabetes.  The key difference is that this disorder is surrounded by stigma. And reducing or eliminating this stigma requires undoing decades of mental programming, which can be tough. It takes exposure to education, research, and dialogue to truly accept and adopt this new understanding of addiction as a medical issue.    

At the same time, symptoms of the disease - like working or driving under the influence - are scary and dangerous. So, it’s no wonder some employers have concerns about safety, liability and productivity, as well as concerns about employees in recovery having a setback (also known as a relapse).  But treatment works if it is based on proven methods and matched to the unique needs of the individual.  

It’s important to remember, though, that like other diseases, SUD must be managed over a lifetime.  Sometimes relapse does occur, which typically means treatment needs to be adjusted.  However, relapse rates for substance use disorder are about the same as for high blood pressure.  And having a job actually improves the chances of staying in recovery, because the individual has a sense of purpose and contribution, and a support system.  What’s more, a recovery-supportive work environment – one that acknowledges this new science and has policies and operations that mirror those addressing other medical issues - can actually help to prevent a setback.   

It’s not just the employee that benefits from a supportive workplace. Employers who offer second chances benefit too.  Research shows that employees in recovery have lower turnover, absenteeism, and health care costs than the general workforce.  On top of that, terminating an employee instead of offering assistance can be expensive – costing an employer an estimated 25 – 200% of an employee’s annual compensation to replace them – not to mention the loss of all of that knowledge and experience.   

Before highlighting some things employers can do to create and sustain a recovery-supportive workplace, it’s important to know what laws and authorities may require employers to do in relation to an employee in recovery.  For example  
  • Some professions and industries may have rules and codes of ethics around substance use disorder, so if you have an employee with a professional license or credential, proactively research those authorities,
  • Employers regulated by the Department of Transportation must follow certain steps if an employee confesses a problem, tests positive for a prohibited substance, or is offered a “second chance,” and
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people who have job limitations associated with substance use disorder if they are currently in treatment, have successfully completed treatment, and/or are in recovery.   The law also protects an employee with a current alcohol problem IF they are able to perform functions and tasks essential to their job and adhere to HR policies. However, employees currently using illicit drugs – including the illegal use of prescriptions – are not provided protection under the ADA.
It’s prudent to seek legal counsel to address all issues of accommodation, especially as they relate to your policy and practices related to handling medical conditions.  

Tips for success 
Once you understand what you might have to do, how do you responsibly create and sustain a recovery-supportive workplace?  A comprehensive, best practice drug-free workplace program is the foundation. That includes a written policy and procedures, annual employee education and supervisor training, drug testing, and a plan to assist employees who need it.  

Beyond having a best practice drug-free workplace program, here are seven other ways employers can support employees in recovery: 
  1. Encourage employees in recovery to be upfront and honest if they feel their recovery is in danger – just as they would encourage an employee recovering from a heart attack to speak up if their symptoms returned.
  2. Employees may need time off for ongoing support or treatment.  Think through your sick time, paid time off, leave without pay, or flextime policies.
  3. Keep lines of communication open with employees and their counselors.
  4. Hold employees accountable to your usual work standards, and also consider whether temporary accommodations are needed - just as you would for an employee beginning treatment for another medical condition.
  5. Do follow-up testing as recommended by a counselor or directed by your drug-free workplace policy.
  6. Provide supervisors quality drug-free workplace training so they are equipped to handle situations appropriately.
  7. Encourage work/life balance and overall wellness to minimize stress, which can trigger a setback.
Again, our understanding of substance use disorder may be slow to change despite scientific evidence, but exposure to education and research will increase awareness and knowledge. Here are some resources to get you started as you commit to learning more about SUD and recovery-supportive workplaces: 
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