Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Communications

From “Yes, but” to “Yes, and”

Communications, Employee Engagement, Team Building

By David Dickstein

It’s just a one-word change, but getting into the habit of saying “Yes, and” instead of its nasty evil twin can result in huge payoffs in and out of the workplace. Experts from the business community to the medical profession agree that applying “Yes, and” to life does wonders in making people feel respected and supported. As one workplace coach puts it, this practice creates collaboration in times of conflict and engagement in times of trouble.

So that you can bring this positivity to your neck of the work-related woods, consider putting “Yes, But” jars in and around the office.  These visual reminders are intended to help discourage personnel from using “Yes, but” phrases that often rear their ugly head in meetings, hallway chats, email responses and other ways the workforce collaborates. The rules are simple: Every time someone says you-know-what, others who witness it can collect a “fine” by insisting that the offender puts some money into the jar. A buck is recommended. Proceeds can be earmarked for charity or an office party.

With the help of “Yes, But” jars, one day you could work in an environment where responses like, “I appreciate your idea, but based on history it will never work,” become more along the lines of “Your idea has merit and I can give you some insight to make it work.”

Yes, we know old habits are hard to break, but …. Oops, guess someone’s putting a George in the “Yes, But” jar! Hoping this tip is worth implementing, and if so, good luck helping make your workplace more positive and respectful.

About the Author: David Dickstein is a senior communications manager with KAI Partners, currently assigned to a division of the California Department of Health Care Services. Previously, he was with the Global Communications Group of Intel Corporation, serving the media relations, employee communications and executive communications departments for over 17 years. A former staff writer on several daily newspapers and president of the Orange County Press Club, Dickstein currently is a travel and entertainment freelancer for four publishing chains in California.

3 Things You Need to Know About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Team Building, Training

By Danielle Cortijo

Much like the snowflake, we are all unique. There is no one else in this world who is exactly like you. Awesome, right? Yes ma’am and sir!

In the workplace, you may find the same is true. Any number of differences are present and create the diverse environment you call your day-to-day professional experience.

There are so many ways we differ from one another—cultural/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, sense of identities, lived experiences, and much more. Navigating these many varied differences is not always easy. Many of us have been known to slip up or trip over ourselves a time or two—or even downright get things all wrong.

But, fear no more! Today I share three things to remember when maneuvering through the workplace to help you do your best to recognize, embrace, and celebrate the diverse and inclusive environment we should all strive to be a part of!

  1. You get a bias… You get a bias… YOU GET A BIAS! (insert talk show host voice here)

I know it isn’t easy walking into a new and unfamiliar space. We’ve all experienced the subtle tensing of the stomach on our first day at a new office or work setting. Among the desk supplies, skillsets, and expectations we bring along with us, we also show up with an invisible bag of bias that we do our best to keep tucked away.

Bias is that thought in your mind, good or bad, that creeps into your head space and allows you to immediately form opinions about the people you meet at work—often at first glance.

While bias can sometimes feel like an ugly word, the truth is, it’s simply something we either knowingly or unknowingly bring to the table every day.

From infancy into adulthood, we venture through life encountering and experiencing so many different things; it can be understandable that we create beliefs about the things and people we have met. It is the onset of these moments that shape how we view the world and those within it—hence, biases.

In our professional lives, we encounter different walks of life and sometimes the biases we have can manifest snap judgments in our minds of who those people are, without even officially meeting them. It’s important that each person we work with or meet in our business environments are met without prejudice or bias. It can be counterproductive to make any sort of assumptions in a first introduction or otherwise.

We all have different life experiences that have helped to shape who we are today. It is critical to “meet people where they are.” Allow them to present their truth to you. There is no need to assume on your own who or what they are. Just as you would hope to be received without assumptions and respected for who are, so does everyone else—try to remain as assumption-free as possible. Which brings me to…

  1. Be Open!

I know all too well how difficult it can be to meet new people sometimes, especially at work. Each and every person has something a little different to offer and it is important to remain open so you do not miss the opportunity to find out what those things might be.

If you are too caught up in the fact that someone may have a culture or religion you are not accustomed to or comfortable with, you could miss out entirely due to your own hang-ups. What if you decide not to engage the new Business Analyst who is a guru at their line of work because you know they are a part of or identify with the LGBT community? The chance to network with this individual would be lost because of the inability to remain open to people who are different from you. Missed chances to engage with incredible people, regardless of their differences from you, is truly the biggest loss.

  1. Inclusion matters!

I cannot think of a time when someone did not want to be genuinely considered and included when it mattered. Including others in work settings assists staff members in feeling valued and a part of the organization as a whole. We all want to contribute or make our mark, right? When we fail to involve others, the ripples of exclusion can be a morale-crusher or could even result in turnover.

At some point in our careers, we all want to be included when it counts. Allow diversity to be a growing and supportive tool, not a hindrance, in your professional environment. There is so much we can learn from each other, largely due to the beneficial professional experiences we can share with others.

Let’s do our best not to alienate one another. Communicate thoroughly and share as often as possible. Be a proponent of inclusion and watch the beautiful diverse nature of your team and organization carry you all to new heights!

About the Author: With a Bachelor’s in Communications and actively pursuing her Master’s in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Dani has an extensive professional background in the public and private sectors focused in Contracts, Human Resources, QA, and Process. Currently the Procurement Specialist on the amazing Administrative team for KAI Partners, she is working diligently to assist in the successful acquisition of procurements for the company. When her world slows down a bit, she loves scouring for an incredible deal on retro sneakers with her partner in crime, listening to music 24/7, and laughing as much as humanly possible.

KAI Partners is Hiring!

Agile, Business Analysis, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Cyber Security, Hiring, Human Resources, Information Security, Information Technology, Issues and Risks, KAI Partners, Onboarding, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Risk Assessment, Sacramento, Small Business, Technology, Training

KAI Partners is thrilled to announce we are once again expanding our stellar team! Interested in joining our growing company? Take a look at the following positions for which we are currently hiring!

Business Analyst
The seasoned, motivated, and client-focused Business Analyst should be a highly organized, self-directed, and engaged individual. The Business Analyst will be responsible for a diverse set of responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Requirement elicitation and facilitation
  • Business process improvement
  • Business process and narrative modeling
  • User testing
  • Training
  • Organizational change management and communication
  • Process standardization and improvement for ongoing operations

We are looking for four (4) Business Analysts who are enthusiastic problem-solvers who thrive on aligning the client’s business needs with technology solutions. Click here for more information or to apply for one of our on-site, Sacramento-based Business Analyst roles.

IT Audit Consultant
The seasoned, motivated, and client-focused contract IT Audit Consultant will engage with a number of stakeholders in client IT support infrastructures to ensure appropriate processes, procedures, and controls are adequately designed and implemented to meet key control requirements for clients, and will mitigate significant risks that clients deem appropriate. To be successful, the IT Audit Consultant should be a dedicated professional who possesses the analytical, feasibility, relationship, and executive IT audit skills needed to identify and test risk and control management strategies to meet various client requirements, along with compliance and regulatory requirements. The IT Audit Consultant will be responsible for providing IT risk management advice and control solution alternatives as the client needs.

The IT Audit Consultant can be based from anywhere in the U.S., but must have a valid U.S. passport and the ability to travel. Click here or for more information or to apply for the IT Audit Consultant role.

IV&V (Independent Verification & Validation) Consultant
The experienced, motivated, and flexible IV&V Consultant will be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives in a fast-paced environment. The IV&V Consultant will be responsible for performing IV&V assessments including, but not limited to:

  • Quality Management
  • Training
  • Requirements Management
  • Operating Environment
  • Development Environment
  • Software Development
  • Systems and Acceptance Testing
  • Data Management
  • Operation Oversight
  • Assessing Program risks

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based IV&V Consultant role.

Scrum Master
The Scrum Master should have experience setting up teams for successful delivery by removing obstacles, constantly helping the team to become more self-organizing, and enabling the work the team does rather than imposing how the work is done. The Scrum Master will manage one or more agile projects, typically to deliver a specific product or transformation via a multi-disciplinary, high-skilled digital team. Adept at delivering complex digital projects, breaking down barriers to the team, and both planning at a higher level and getting into the detail to make things happen when needed, the Scrum Master will define project needs and feed the needs into the portfolio/program process to enable resources to be appropriately allocated.

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Scrum Master role.

Senior Technical Lead

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Senior Technical Lead should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives on aligning business needs with the technology solutions. The Senior Technical Lead will work with a team of people to deliver the following tasks:

  • Task Accomplishment Plan (TAP)
  • TAP updates
  • Monthly written status reports
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Project Schedule
  • Weekly Project Schedule Updates
  • Conduct JAD sessions
  • Code Assessment
  • Documentation Review and Assessment
  • Process Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Validate Requirements
  • Business Rules Extraction and Analysis
  • Knowledge Transfer

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Senior Technical Lead role.

Systems Analyst

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Systems Analyst should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives in a fast-paced environment and has SharePoint experience. Some responsibilities of the Systems Analyst include, but are not limited to:

  • Determining operational objectives by studying business functions; gathering information; evaluating output requirements and formats
  • Designing new computer programs by analyzing requirements; constructing workflow charts and diagrams; studying system capabilities; writing specifications
  • Improves systems by studying current practices; designing modifications.
  • Recommending controls by identifying problems; writing improved procedures
  • Defining project requirements by identifying project milestones, phases, and elements; forming project team; establishing project budget
  • Monitoring project progress by tracking activity; resolving problems; publishing progress reports; recommending actions

Click here for more information or to apply for the on-site, Sacramento-based Systems Analyst role.

Technical Lead

The experienced, motivated, and flexible Technical Lead should be an enthusiastic problem-solver who thrives on aligning business needs with the technology solutions. The Technical Lead will work with a team of people to deliver the following tasks:

  • Task Accomplishment Plan (TAP)
  • TAP updates
  • Monthly written status reports
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Project Schedule
  • Weekly Project Schedule Updates
  • Conduct JAD sessions
  • Code Assessment
  • Documentation Review and Assessment
  • Process Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Validate Requirements
  • Business Rules Extraction and Analysis
  • Knowledge Transfer

We are looking for three (3) Technical Leads. Click here for more information or to apply for one of our on-site, Sacramento-based Technical Lead roles.

We look forward to receiving your application today!

A Sno Ball’s Chance (in Effective Communications)

Communications, Infographic, KAI Partners, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

By Diane Dean-Epps

Or, you could call it the Coconut Communication Effect.

Life should be simple.

Things in life we do should be simple.

Things in life we do, eat, feel, experience should be simple.

And maybe make sense along the way. And yet they aren’t simple. And they don’t make sense.

Take my love of coconut, for instance. I love coconut. Simple.

Hostess Sno Balls are made up of approximately 92% coconut. (This is a very scientific calculation.) That’s simple.

However, I don’t like Hostess Sno Balls one little bit. In fact, if they were the last foodstuff left on the Planet Earth I would not eat Sno Balls. Not so simple.

I thought I just said I love coconut. That doesn’t make sense.

See? Simple. Not so simple. (I probably don’t like Sno Balls because the coconut is sulfite-treated, but who knows?)

My love of coconut, and dislike of Sno Balls actually reminds me of communication. Why? Because I’m very imaginative in utilizing metaphors to illustrate a point? Sure. You’re right on that one. It’s also because communication is simple, and yet not so simple. I call this the Coconut Communication Effect.

We all love (translation: engage in) communication in some form.

When you take into consideration the Webster’s dictionary definition that communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior” it’s that “common system” part of the equation that’s the sticky wicket.

Simple. Not so simple.

We have to make sure we’ve established that common system of which our friend, Webster, spoke if we want a “Sno Call’s Chance” in communicating effectively. This is especially true in business. Any labor sector requires level-setting of criteria, norms, and standards in order to establish a common language. The ol’ “who-what-when-where-why-and-how” of messaging is always in play.

Unlike choosing to eat coconut, in Work World we’ve got to take the proverbial big bite, fully engaging all communication channels to achieve efficient information flow.

As a communications warrior who finds yourself leading the charge in fostering rich internal and external communications for your client, you have to be ready to explain organizational communications. Oddly enough, that may be the toughest challenge you face in your role. I want you to know it is possible to speak simply and succinctly on this topic. Have I got a chart for you.

I’m a big fan of visuals, and in the Digital Age never have truer words been spoken than “a picture is worth a thousand words.” For the purposes of this article, a picture is the aforementioned chart capturing four different types of communications that you’ll see below.

It’s simple. Very Simple. And the best part? You can co-opt it as your own, referring to it as “The Coconut Communication Effect.” Or not. My treat. I’m 92% sure it’ll be useful.

About the Author: Diane Dean-Epps is a Communications Specialist and newly certified ScrumMaster—who currently works for one of KAI Partners’ health care clients. Diane is a teacher and novel writer with numerous publishing credits, including MORE magazine, NPR’s This I Believe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bigger Law Firm magazine, The Sacramento Business Journal, the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, and Sacramento magazine.

3 Things Leaders Can Do to Be Better Change Agents

Best Practices, Communications, Employee Engagement, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

By Denise Larcade

One of the most common things I’ve seen through numerous mergers and acquisitions or other major change events within an organization is the lack of engagement and communications from leadership.

Oftentimes, leaders are so busy leading the change, they forget to play an active role in the communications process.

Unfortunately, not adequately communicating change events to staff can cause the rumor mill to start churning (at best) or employee upheaval (at worst).

Luckily, there are some easy ways leaders can mitigate the feelings of confusion and disorder for employees that often come with times of change:

  1. Be Present

As a leader, your physical presence is not only needed, it’s required. Your employees need to see you at town hall meetings, open forums, staff meetings, etc. Anywhere their presence is mandatory, yours should be too.

We know you’re busy; it’s likely not possible for you to attend every town hall meeting across all shifts. Plus, you are already involved in the planning process, so why would you need to be present at these meetings? Remember, your staff doesn’t necessarily know what you know, nor do they know how much you know.

Be present by attending the last 5-10 minutes of each meetings. At the meeting, engage employees by asking questions:

  • What did you learn today?
  • How was this meeting valuable?
  • What can we do better next time?

This shows you are engaged in the discussion while also getting direct feedback on how the communications process can be improved going forward.

  1. Be Honest

The rumor mill can start for numerous reasons:

  • Leaders themselves are not sure about what’s going on within the organization and so they avoid discussions about it
  • The information cascade is not working effectively
  • Employees pick up on small changes in attitude and draw their own conclusions about what’s going on—Joe seemed grumpy today, that must mean a layoff is going to happen.

No matter how the rumors start, it’s important to address them directly, rather than hope they go away. To identify which rumors are out there, try implementing smaller focus group-like sessions. These sessions should include people from across all different departments and should be facilitated by a member of the leadership team who does not directly supervise any of the staff in attendance.

Scheduling these focus groups can be tricky at first (you can schedule video calls with remote teams), but the benefits are numerous. Allowing staff to talk through whatever is on their mind in a small group setting brings about honest conversation, as well as informing leadership about which rumors are out there and need to be addressed.

You can squash the rumors in the focus group itself, as well as address the rumors at the next open forum or town hall. Remember to put questions and answers in a shared location so that all staff can see what was discussed. I recommended keeping the identity of the question-askers anonymous.

For longer change activities—6 months or more—consider setting up an internal webpage or SharePoint where people can ask questions and leadership can provide answers. If updated regularly, this forum can become the first place people look for an answer to a question, and a good way to stop a rumor before it begins.

  1. Be Early

Engage staff early in the change process. If their department is likely to be effected, let them know as soon as it’s appropriate. When possible, bring them into the process to get their feedback about the future state and how they think roles, responsibilities, and procedures should change. When it’s time to implement any changes, employees will be more likely to accept the changes, since they were brought in from the beginning.

It’s also advisable to communicate when you’re going to communicate. Set up a framework or schedule around when people can expect to hear communications and in what form. Whether it’s a monthly town hall meeting on the third Wednesday of the month or an informational email digest each Friday afternoon, set expectations early around when staff will hear updates. The rumor mill has less of a chance to churn if employees know they are scheduled to receive an update at a previously-appointed time.

Change is going to happen whether we like it or not. As a leader, remember to be honest, present, and early in your change communications so that staff is informed, accepts, and is prepared for the change.

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

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