Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Published

on

national association of realtors committee

Perception is Not Reality

Last week NAR held their Mid-Year meetings in Washington, as they have for many, many , years. And during those meetings, forums were held, committees met, actions were recommended, the executive committee reviewed the committee recommendations, and then the Bord of Directors voted on the suggestions.

One of the items, a rewording of a 4 year old recommended MLS policy, was referred to a work group for further study, (by a very close vote as I understand it) and the RE.net was enraged.  Tweets and posts were written decrying NAR’s actions.

Jay Thomson and Paula Henry, both of whom had flown to DC to speak in the MLS Policy and Issues Forum, were understandably upset,after seeing the alacrity with which NAR had addressed the concerns of the members by having staff reword the offending policy to (in my opinion) more accurately reflect the business purpose of the original rule.

The System Worked Properly

I have to lead here by saying that I would have preferred the Board of Directors to have passed the change, and made this entire thing a non-issue, but the governance of NAR worked perfectly.

  • A board enforced a policy recommended by NAR – as it should have.
  • Members who had issues with the policy spoke against it in the forum provided for the expression of member’s views
  • The committee charged with reviewing the matter debated the issues, came to a conclusion, and voted on measures to address the issues
  • The leadership of the committee (who did an outstanding job) made their report to the executive committee
  • The executive committed reviewed the matter brought before them and sent it forward to the Board of Directors.
  • The Board of Directors, debated the issue, and then , as required by parliamentary procedure, had to refrain from resolving the matter when a motion to refer the matter was made (motions to refer always taking precedence over a motion on the floor).

And because the matter has not yet been resolved, the existing rule stays in place until the matter goes through the same process once more.

What Happens Next?

Since the rule in questions has been in place for the past 4 years and the enforcement of the rule is left to the discretion of the local MLS, the issue may stay local to the market covered by MIBOR. Or it may not. Other MLS’ may choose to enforce the rule as MIBOR has, though the number of people who opposed the referral may indicate that there are a lot of people who view the wording issue as a minor error in wordsmithing that needs to, and will be addressed in San Diego when the governance of NAR meets again.

Through incredible effort on the part of staff and leadership, we almost turned the Queen Mary around on a dime. The issue was addressed with blazing speed for such a huge membership driven organization, and even though this outcome was not what I would have hoped for, I was and am incredibly proud of all of the people (staff, members and leadership) that worked on bringing this issue to the attention of the membership.

Hopefully in San Diego there will be more people at the Forum, state and local associations will have heard from their members, and their directors will be asked by their associations to vote to make the change that was suggested this time, or one with similar effect.

What Did We Learn?

If you were paying attention, you learned quite a few things;

  • NAR is incredibly responsive to the concerns of their members.
  • NAR staff is world class – each department touched by this issue, law and policy, technology, and communications all functioned to maximize the voice of the members
  • NAR forums are a place where any member has a voice equal to any other
  • NAR committees listen to what goes on in the forums
  • NAR leadership considers all of the information placed before them
  • And the majority rules in the final decision – but not until everyone is heard

It may be that last part that is really hard for each of us to get. That even though there are a large number of members who felt that they were defeated here, an even larger group of members prevailed. There really is no ‘them’ making decisions here, just a couple of different groups of ‘us”.

If we participate in the system, and make our voices and opinions heard, where they need to be heard, in the forums, the committees, and the BOD meeting, then our opinions will be the ones that prevail. And if not, maybe our opinions were not reflective of the opinions of the greater portion of our group.  (Even if we were correct-or at least thought we were)

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Doug Francis

    May 20, 2009 at 9:33 am

    That was well written.

    Understanding the process and “Robert’s Rules of Order” is important to achieving the goals discussed in the original scraping discussion.
    -doug

  2. Carolyn G-Tu

    May 20, 2009 at 9:54 am

    But six months is a very long time when it relates to the internet. If this were to happen to me, I would not be as gracious as Paula Henry and Mike Taylor appear to be on this and I would bring a lawsuit. Morgan Carey’s response in the other thread breaks down the potential lost business. It is my understanding the committee considered putting this issue into the workgroup and it was decided it was too important to wait.

    It was one voice that spoke up at the board of directors meeting – MIBOR.

    Oh, believe me I do participate, I’m a director on my local board and I’m also on my regional MLS committee. I’m seriously considering going to the NAR meetings in November.

  3. Judith Lindenau

    May 20, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Crucial to the your argument, Bill, is this statement:” Since the rule in questions has been in place for the past 4 years and the enforcement of the rule is left to the discretion of the local MLS, the issue may stay local to the market covered by MIBOR.” I’m not so sure that, officially at least, enforcement of the rule is left to the discretion of the local MLS–at least as the national association would like to have it. There’s such a thing as being ‘in compliance’ and being covered by blanket NAR insurance policies.

    Of course local associations may opt to get their own E and O insurance and be ‘out of compliance’…but that’s not an option for many local association leaders. And in any effect, the issue is too important to ‘stay local’.

  4. Louise Scoggins

    May 20, 2009 at 11:55 am

    This has been such an interesting topic to watch over the past couple of weeks…like one big tennis match, back and forth, back and forth. I do understand that the rules are the rules and procedures are in place for a reason, but Carolyn is right: 6 months is a loooong time in the internet world. I wish there were a way to call an emergency hearing or something that could happen sooner than waiting until November. There is a HUGE uproar over this in the Real Estate world…I think it’s of utmost importance that it be dealt with as quickly as possible (i.e. NOT in November), especially when NAR agrees the rule is not intended to be interpretted as such.

  5. Paula Henry

    May 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    And the majority rules in the final decision – but not until everyone is heard

    Honestly, Bill – the majority did not rule. It was one Director from MIBOR who objected. What disappoints me is that noone form the committee stood to voice their opinion in opposition to his recommendation to send it back to the committee.

    Maybe the system worked as it was designed to, but in this case, the system failed the agents.

    And now, NAR states they will not advise on this rule but leave it to the local boards discretion. I do hope no other board takes my boards position. I do believe from the outrage and support I have had, should another board try, we may very well see more progressive agents taking over positions at our local boards.

    My broker and I have been asked to meet with the CEO, Informational Director and a few other members of MIBOR tomorrow. I will continue the fight!

    I do appreciate you, your contribution and your support.

  6. Ken Brand

    May 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Way back, maybe 10 years ago, I served as an Association Board Member. I respected the people and their views, but I disagreed. In my experience and humble opinion, Board and Committee members fell into one or two of three categories.

    1. Some were interested in Power and Prestige – the masses believed that if you were in position of leadership you were cool and stamped with smartness.

    2. Some were interested in leveling the playing field, using Board policy and technology, etc. to provide services and competitive stuff that they could never afford as a thinly financed small broker. It seemed policies, positions and decisions were designed to suppress competition and advantage.

    3. Some were bright eyed Don Quixote types, hoping to bring change, fresh light and newness.

    The first two groups eventually ran-off or crushed the spirit of DQ types.

    Plus, over time, people who were groomed to hold positions were in my view, YES men and women.

    I served one term, my bright idea was to raise the Board Dues to $10,000. That’d screen out all the dabblers and insincere. I think making dues and entry fees as tiny as possible is a mistake. My whip-smart idea drew a chorus of Tisk-Tisks and had the exact same impact as a flea farting.

    Theoretically, one way to influence change is to get involved. Personally, I couldn’t stomach it anymore today than yesteryear. I don’t have the patience. Don’t get me wrong, I think making a presentation and educating a committee is worthy and excellent. To sit as a committee member would not be doable for me.

    Another path is to know the rules and go Survivor TV Show Mode – Outwit, Outlast and Outplay.

    And thirdly, an outright revolution and revolt and reinvention.

    As for me, working from the inside is not interesting and a revolution isn’t likely, too expensive, to time intensive and too many average and ordinary that are OK with status quo.

    That leaves comments like this, probably not much help, and a keener interest an commitment to focus on Survivor TV Show mode.

    It’s nice that powers to be invited presentation and communication. I’m sure the inviters feel responsive and open minded. I’m sure they feel postponing their decision is wise and prudent and it was. I imagine when all is said and done and said and done and said and done and said and done, the rule will change. I think serving on committees is a thank less job.

    The fact of the matter, NAR is one of the largest trade associations on planet earth, by it’s very nature it’s slow motion moving and cautious. Having a Trade Association is like our Government, you don’t agree with everything, it’s not perfect, there are smart, dedicated and well intentioned NAR leaders and committee members and there are others. It is after all, a collection of imperfect humans

    I love the real estate business. It’s the purest form of Pay For Performance and it’s personally rewarding to help people. I understand that NAR serves a purpose, change is slow and on a day to day basis, if it’s going to BE, it’s up to ME.

    My 27cents.

    Clink-Cheers

  7. Bill Lublin

    May 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Doug; Thanks so much for you rkind words.

    Carolyn; The entire BOD was heard here, and could have defeated the MIBOR motion to refer (it was in fact a very close vote) – and while I would have preferred a different outcome, them what had the votes voted the way they felt was best – end of this part of the process – That being said I would love to see you in San Diego in November (and would offer an adult beverage of your choice if I see you there!

    Judith; WHile Local Associations need to comply with NAR model policies for their E&O, the enforcement of this particular rule does not seem to be of issue outside of MIBOR’s jurisdiction, and NAR typically allows the local Associations a lot of latitude in their interpretation of those rules. As I said, it may or may not prove to be a larger issue, but my sense of it is that there will not be major changes in the way that associaitons have handled the rule over the past 4 years.

    Louise; Thanks for reading – and yes, 6 months in the future is a long time (though 6 months in retrospect seems to have flown pretty quickly) But the decision here was made by us, the membership who have been elected and appointed to their positions. The tough part for us to recognize is that if the vote had gone the other way, there would have been a bunch of folks just like us (perhaps without blogs) who would have felt that they didn;t get what they wanted.

  8. Dave Phillips

    May 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bill, nicely written. Since I am a Board member at NAR, I witnessed first hand all the discussion of the issue and since I hang out on blogs, I knew the issue coming into the meeting. I saw the vote at the MLS committee and discussed the matter in two or three other meetings. It was thoroughly vetted and seemed to be headed for approval until a rather abrupt death at the Board. I was not prepared to have to fight for or discuss the issue at the Board because I thought it would be approved quickly like everything else.

    I was surprised at how quickly the motion to table was voted on. I was not ready to stand up and take action/make comment and by the time I realized what was happening they were voting. Even then I thought the motion to refer back would fail, but it passed with about a 2/3 majority. Had I been ready to react, I would have suggested that sending back to the committee was okay, but that we should suspend the imposition of the rule until the issue was resolved. By NOT suspending the enforcement of this rule, I think almost every IDX site in the country is in violation with NAR rules. Now most MLS’s will not enforce this policy, so this is probably only damaging to the folks at MIBOR. My guess is that MIBOR will now have to enforce this policy on all IDX sites that don’t try to hide from Google. Hopefully there is a better solution than that.

  9. Paula Henry

    May 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Dave – Thanks for letting us know exactly how this was played out. I heard the vote was much closer and it doesn’t surprise me how quickly the table to motion was handled.

    I am also happy to hear it was thoroughly vetted and wonder, what more could they have added. IT was plain and simple, one BOARD wanted to stop this.

    I’m not sure I agree the current rule, as it is written, puts all boards in jeapordy of vilation. I always believed the interpretation was the problem. I hope my board will reverse it’s decision and wait until November; we’ll see,,

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    May 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Here’s my question…. Even if NAR approved the ruling, is it not simply a recommended guideline change for the local MLS?

    NAR’s rule change would not compel MIBOR to change theirs.

    So, when all is said and done, if MIBOR still has their head; where they currently have it – will NAR members be able to dislodge it?

  11. Paula Henry

    May 21, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Matthew – My board has said, their rules and regs are based on NAR’s policy and is written exactly the same. So much for original thinking:) Like I previously stated; at the time of the MLS Committee’s approval, my board said I would be able to index.

    I suppose if they want to stand their ground and remain “in the dark”, it is highly unlikely they can be moved.

    However, MIBOR did go to NAR for verification of their interpretation of the ruling, so NAR did have the power to rule on this and have since changed their view; allowing individual boards to decide what the language interpretation is.

  12. Judith Lindenau

    May 21, 2009 at 6:15 am

    NAR policies seldom are presented to Realtor associations as optional. Annually, local associations are presented with model bylaws and MLS rules, and these rules are the measure of association compliance. To be ‘out of compliance’ means that the NAR blanket errors and omissions insurance standards are probably being violated (in intent, at least) and should court cases arise out of a non-compliance issue, the local association may not be covered by the NAR insurance policy.

    If you review the latest model bylaws, you’ll see that when there are choices for associations, these are extended as clear alternatives–“select either option A or option B”, not “here’s a suggestion, feel free to adopt it.”

    Further, the local Realtor association or MLS is encouraged to submit all rules for regular review by NAR in order to be approved for compliance and insurance coverage.

    In the thinking of many local associations, taking advantage of NAR’s risk management wisdom and insurance coverage is a part of the member benefit and obligation of due diligence in association management, and these organizations operate by adopting and enforcing all recommendations from their national association. Further, NAR has a covenant with the insurance provider to encourage risk management behavior–and they aren’t going to say, ‘well, it’s a policy but enforcement is optional.’

    Of course there are ways around the situation, and there is always the option to ignore the enforcement issue–in fact many smaller associations simply don’t have the resources to enforce all NAR policies and mandates.

    As has been said in the many posts on this topic, NAR doesn’t have the governance structure which allows for being light on its feet when it comes to policy changes–and the local associations find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

    I elaborate on this situation because now that the national spotlight shines brightly on MIBOR from both sides, the decisions the association makes will be carefully scrutinized by everyone. And probably no matter which road the association takes, it will be vigorously criticized by those who don’t agree.

  13. Bill Lublin

    May 21, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Ken: Your reponse deserves almost its own post – so I’m ging tosave some of that- though I appreciate your input and respoect your experience.

    Dave: I wish you had jumped up, but motions to refer do come pretty quickly and members of the BOD who might have been less than familiar with the situation might have thought that a review was a harmless option for a disputed item.

    Paula:Local Associations do need to have their policies in compliance with NAR, However their enforcement is left to the local board. I know this part is difficult for some folks to get , but NAR does not directly enforce any of the local association or MLS rules or regulations.

    Matthew;
    As I understand MIBOR’s issue, if the rule had been changed, they would not have standing to make the prohibition they have made. I am not familiar with the local politics, and am not sure where MIBOR’s problem with Indexing is, but obviously they have one – and perhaps they would find another way to prohibit actions that they (the governing body there) find objectionable.

  14. Paula Henry

    May 21, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Bill – My local board told me they do adopt NAR policy. If they do not they lose their E&O and their charter. I am just beginning to learn all the politics.

    What is MIBOR’s problem with indexing? I honestly don’t think they had a position on it until a tech savvy agent complained. At that point, they used the existing language and interpreted it to mean, Google is a scraper and therefore, indexing is scraping. From the emails I received, It appears this was suggested by the complaintant.

    I write this and still can’t believe it. 🙂 I meet with the board today and am hoping for some resolution.

  15. Bob Wilson

    May 22, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    “The governance of NAR worked perfectly”

    Being able to follow Roberts Rules of Order and ending up with a flawed end result doesn’t say much for the process.

    “The tough part for us to recognize is that if the vote had gone the other way, there would have been a bunch of folks just like us (perhaps without blogs) who would have felt that they didn;t get what they wanted.”

    You said a mouthful right there Bill.

    As I see it, you just copped to the idea that this was an agent vs agent issue, when in reality it is about the reach of IDX and what is best for the industry and consumer in the long run. Is it that hard for you who voted against this to see that the consumer likes access to info ala Trulia and Zillow? Or that exposure is good for the homeowner – most of whom could use every bit they can get?

    What exactly would have been the negative if it had gone the other way? Who exactly is damaged with indexing? Last time I checked indexable IDX solutions were available to any agent or broker who qualified for a non-indexable IDX solution?

    “If we participate in the system, and make our voices and opinions heard, where they need to be heard, in the forums, the committees, and the BOD meeting, then our opinions will be the ones that prevail. And if not, maybe our opinions were not reflective of the opinions of the greater portion of our group.”

    Is this really about opinion and who has the most votes, or common sense that promotes what we do – help people buy and sell real estate?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Managing bipolar disorder and what I wish my employers understood

(EDITORIAL) This editorial offers a perspective on living with bipolar disorder in the workplace, giving employers insight into how to support similar team members.

Published

on

bipolar disorder

I met Jacob Martinez (Jake) a few years back at one of our offline events. He is an eager and ambitious person that always wears a smile (and seriously, it’s an infectious smile), always seeks to help people around him, and is kind and positive at every interaction.

In his most current effort to help others, Jake asked what I thought about his writing about his new bipolar disorder diagnosis, something that most people hide and pray no one discovers. But not Jake. As he dug deeper into the rabbit hole of available information, he realized there was little available discussing how this diagnosis impacts career paths, and almost nothing available to help employers to understand the nuances.

And let’s face it – there are plenty of people hiding their diagnosis, and employers that could be missing amazing talent simply for not understanding how to accommodate.

The following is about Jake’s journey with his diagnosis, how it has impacted his career, and his ideas on how hiring managers and business owners could interact with people living with bipolar disorder in a way that keeps their talents in full use on the job. This isn’t scientific and the suggestions aren’t based on some HR seminar, no, it’s meant to give you unique insight that most people don’t share – I want you to read this through Jake’s eyes. It’s a brave look into working with this challenge:


As someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, I’ve struggled to find resources that would help individuals like myself jumpstart our careers and learn to navigate working full time with a mental health disorder. Most generalized stories about mental health disorders and the workplace focus more on how things didn’t work out and not on how they started or advanced their careers.

Many give examples of individuals with mental disorders in high-ranking positions who end up leaving their specialized field to work as part-time cashiers or other less stressful and less triggering roles in order to seek a better work environment for their mental health.

I’ve also found that there is a lack of resources for employers when it comes to helping employees with mental disorders. Not many employers are prepared to do so, nor have this skill in their wheelhouse. Without this knowledge, training, and experience, how could they understand the struggles of what it’s like to work with a mental disorder and be expected to provide the necessary support to help their staff?

Many factors contribute to this being overlooked or left unaddressed, such as the stigma behind people with mental disorders in a work environment, or simply because no one knows how to talk about it. When I apply for jobs, I always ask myself “Do I put in an application that I am someone with a condition that needs reasonable accommodations? Is that even an option?” How would I even begin to ask an employer to understand what I am going through? And while I’m still figuring this out and working through what my diagnosis means for my career, I’d like to share my experience and start talking about it.

Like many young individuals, I started college bright-eyed and with a hopeful outlook. I navigated internships, jobs, and full course loads but only to exit with a mountain of debt and depression that can be best described in a meme. Many, with no prospects out of university and an average GPA, end up working menial jobs to get by, hoping for their big break.

For me, this time was spent at Torchy’s Tacos, a local Austin Texas favorite. My luck finally came through when I found a new opportunity. I thought to myself, how hard could it be to deliver packages to people? Especially in a city like Austin where anyone could make a business out of cleaning cat litter boxes. This company, I thought, was going to be my lucky break – my jumping-off point. And it was for about a year. That is until my bipolar diagnosis came in.

Suddenly dealing with bipolar disorder…

I experienced sporadic shifts between depression and hypomania. With my diagnosis came a new understanding of what my limits and strengths were. I understood that stress only made it worse but that physically moving around was the best way to cope with it. Working in a warehouse-type environment allowed me to run around, helping to melt my stress away physically.

But when it came down to job performances, some weeks were better than others.

When I did well, management would make comments like, “I like this new you,” or “whatever is happening, don’t change it.” But nothing was said when I didn’t do so well. Comments continued to dismiss the real issue that I was heading towards an uphill climb of mania. And as I climbed higher and higher, more mistakes began to happen – small ones that added up beyond anything I could control. With each and every episode of mania or depression I had, the trust I had taken time to build and cultivate slowly began to fall apart.

Then came the drop – an episode of depression so deep that it’s hard to recover from. For myself, this began as a result of multiple episodes and when several “options” were laid out on the table by my employer.

First, my employer recommended that I take Family Medical Leave Assistance (FMLA). For someone like myself who never knew what FMLA was, I didn’t know where to start and what this meant. No one told me I would not be getting paid and that I would have to use my sick and personal time off to supplement my income. As someone who has built their identity around working, taking time off felt like an attack on my identity at the time.

Subsequently, I was also told I could be released for making any mistake (no matter how small or slight), attempting to change the work culture, or requesting anything unreasonable such as requesting time off for anything other than medical. My manager also called my episodic shifts a “stunt.”

Every time he said this, I lost faith in him, and he lost trust in me.

Some of the hardest words someone with a mental disorder can hear from a manager or mentor are, “When you pulled that stunt, I can’t trust you anymore” and “we will no longer be working together if you do that again.” His words cut deep and only made each episode worse—finally leading me to turn in my two-week notice.

During my time there, none of my managers ever asked if something was wrong when warning signs showed up. They just assumed that I had already checked out and given up. I felt like a cog that was replaceable and could easily be overturned. Trust was required to help me battle my mental demons, and in this case, that trust was broken on both ends. No one came out of this on top, coping skills were not utilized as they should have, and no one reached out like they said they would.

After reflecting on this experience, here’s what I’ve learned and wished my employer did:

Trust: Trust is earned, not given as the adage goes. But for an employee living with bipolar disorder, trust is given before it is earned. I made the choice to trust my employer (and my entire team) by opening up about my mental health and battles – I had to. And while not everyone may be prepared to open up about what they’re dealing with internally, it can help.

Doing this tells people that you’re asking for help and are making yourself ready to receive it. It signifies your willingness to allow others inside. This can be beneficial to you as it helps your team members become better at recognizing warning signs and understand when to check in to see if you need help. My recommendation here to anyone working with someone who has a mental disorder: Listen if we choose to open up, don’t be dismissive of our efforts, and trust us when we ask to carry more for the team.

 

Don’t assume: Someone opening up about a diagnosis can’t expect everyone at work to have a background in psychology or psychiatry and to understand when comments like “I like this new manic you” are harmful and dismissive.

Not everyone is going to be interested in researching and learning how best to help a team member who is dealing with a mental health disorder. So, don’t assume that they know.

What would have helped me and maybe changed my situation would have been to be more honest and direct about my specific needs upfront. For employers, try to also understand our needs and limits with stress. Ask your employees directly what they need from you in order to make them feel more comfortable. Another way of tackling this would be to ask your employee about some of the coping strategies they are learning in group therapy sessions. If you know your employee is going to group therapy, if you feel comfortable with it, check in with them and encourage them to keep up with those sessions. When assigning unique projects or extra tasks, it’s also helpful to explain what you are asking and offer employees the best ways to achieve it.

 

Ask for and give reasonable accommodations: In my case, I eventually learned that taking time off was not an ‘attack on my identity’ as I had previously felt. I learned to accept it as part of living with bipolar disorder and know when to ask for it. Pushing for myself was empowering and was the best thing that could happen in that given moment.

So, if you’re someone who struggles with bipolar or other depressive mental health disorders, the best thing you can do to help yourself, while building courage and confidence, is to speak up and be your own advocate. Ask for accommodations.

For employers with a team member struggling with a mental disorder, when it comes to giving that team member time to themselves, it should never be a fight or argument. Change the schedule, do what you can to make accommodations, and support someone who needs time away for treatment.

 

Give helpful feedback: In my experience, my previous employer either avoided giving me feedback completely or made dismissive comments like, “I don’t know what the hell happened…”, followed by something positive. Like many others who suffer from bipolar disorder, ineffective and unclear communication can easily lead us to spiral from misinterpreting details and having self-doubt.

I would have benefitted from receiving clear and specific feedback, whether that was immediately after a mistake or as a conversation during team lunch. This small amount of open dialogue could have allowed us as a team to resolve conflicts, improve teamwork, help me build my self-esteem, and improve my performance.

 

Show appreciation and have open dialogues: What is equally important for employers to do is to let us know that you are paying attention to and appreciate our efforts, regardless of how small or large of a task we complete. In a warehouse, things are extremely routine, but it doesn’t take a lot to thank someone for trying.

A few small words and gestures could have been really helpful in breaking me out of a depressive funk or a manic episode and can certainly help someone else in the future.

 

Practice mindfulness: At this moment, let’s check in with our emotions. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT Therapy), some of the questions they ask are about checking in with your emotions and your thoughts. Are you in control of your thoughts or are they in control of you? Are we still in touch with our emotions? Perhaps we are cross at ourselves for playing the victim to our mind’s frustrations?

When it comes to mental disorders, employers need to be more understanding of what their employees are going through. However, we as individuals should also be able to look inwards and see what we are feeling. Core mindfulness is a skill to develop no matter what position you work in or what you’re dealing with. Mindfulness teaches awareness of thoughts and feelings, the focus on the here and now.

From my experience, learning to control my thoughts and emotions is an effective way of dealing with my bipolar disorder. While it took time to discover, I learned that my mindfulness practice was running around the warehouse and moving. This allowed thoughts to flow in and out of my mind without having to give them any power over me. Knowing this made me feel stronger and clearer. Finding a mindfulness practice to help you cope takes time and experimenting – so try different things and figure out what works for you.

 

Ask for help: If you’re struggling with a mental disorder at work, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. That help may look differently for everyone, be it talk therapy, telling a co-worker, or taking time off. Either way, sometimes the best way to help yourself is to start asking for help. If you’re someone who has a co-worker struggling with a mental disorder, pay attention and reach out to them if they need help.

While I’m still learning to navigate my bipolar disorder, this experience has taught me (and hopefully others) some helpful lessons. I have learned to manage it better and am continuing to advance in my career path.

My hope is that companies make a more concerted effort to improve their training on mental health disorders in the workplace. I also hope that by sharing my story, I can help others with bipolar disorder to excel at work.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

Published

on

better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Gift keepsakes to family and friends using Google PhotoScan

(OP/ED) Coming up with gift ideas for those that are more difficult to buy for is a stressor. Try Google PhotoScan to gift memories this year!

Published

on

Google PhotoScan

Every year when the holidays roll around, I’m posed with the same issue – coming up with a good gift idea for my dad. He’s one of those people who gives great gifts but is very difficult to buy for, so I always feel a gift-giving disparity.

In typical parent fashion, when you ask what he wants he just says “nothing” or “quality time with you.” The latter is great and all, but I can’t say that my presence is always that exciting.

This has forced me to come up with more creative ideas which wind up being more meaningful gifts. So, I guess all is well that ends well.

This year, my plan is to scan boxes and albums of old family photos and put the scans on a thumbdrive so that my dad can save them to his computer. Being that I don’t currently have my printer/scanner in working condition, I had to look into alternatives.

In the past, I had tried Cam Scanner. This was fine for saving images of physical copies of signed documents, but it wasn’t so different from taking a picture of the document with a phone’s camera. There were still shadows and glares.

I decided to try Google’s PhotoScan and, from my first attempt, I knew this would be the winner.

First off, it’s free to use so that’s a wonderful start in my book. And, it’s intuitive and user-friendly.

The way that it works is that you hold the phone over the photo as if you were going to take a regular photo of it. The app turns on a flash so that it illuminates the photo while running the scan. After taking an overall scan, circles pop up in the four corners of the photo. You move the camera to align with the circles as it scans each corner of the image.

With the five different scans, the PhotoScan app pools together one scan that is basically a digital version of the physical photo. Even if you’re in bad lighting or have the photo sitting on a dark table or carpet, it eliminates the glare and shadows and doesn’t factor in the background.

All of this and it automatically saves my photos to not only my iPhone’s camera roll but also to my Google Photos account.

I’m excited to continue working on this project and can’t wait to share it with my dad. My next plan is to use PhotoScan to scan cards and other paper items that take up space!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!