The People Pro

Training, Tips and Tools to Build Your Business and Balance Your Life!

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Location: Small town, Northern Wisconsin

Barbara is an author, speaker and psychotherapist in private practice. She provides keynote presentations and is a Certified Professional Speaker, a designation held by fewer than 8% of the speakers in the world. She has appeared on FOX, CNN, and CBS and is considered an expert in relationships.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ethics and Boundaries-ONLINE workshop

Need ethics and boundaries CEU's? Get them on demand from your computer. This online Ethics and Boundaries class is divided into four, one hour units, that can be taken at your convenience. Interact with the instructor and other students right from your computer. This four hour program meets state requirements and CEU's are from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Continuing Education.

You will learn:
  • The NASW Code of Ethics for social workers
  • Common ethical violations in social work practice
  • Boundary issues in clinical practice
  • Ethical decision making models
  • How actual cases were decided
This course must be completed within the month that you register. .4 CEU's or 4CEH's will be mailed after the instructor has verified your participation and successful completion of the ourse.

Your Instructor: Barbara Bartlein, RN, LCSW, a clinical psychotherapist for over 25 years and adjunct instructor for UWM continuing education.

To register: Ethics and Boundaries

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Negative Culture Saps Productivity

Too many employees dislike their jobs and view them as “have to” instead of “get to,” according to Roxanne Emmerich in her new book, Thank God It’s Monday: How to Create a Workplace You and Your Customers Love. This creates a negative culture of excuses, whining, gossiping and complaining with little focus on making the customer successful. And now, with all the layoffs, it seems those “left behind” are stressed and so fearful with twice the work and half the friends they have lost their ability to get results.

According to Emmerich:
  • Over 91% of people spend a large portion of their day frustrated by their coworker’s dysfunctional behaviors and regularly think about quitting their jobs.
  • Managers waste 37% or more of their day dealing with dysfunctional and unproductive behavior.
  • More than two thirds of the workplace is considered to be “disengaged” according to polls by Gallup.
  • One dollar out of every three payroll dollars is lost due to disengaged employees.

Many organizations attempt to address negativity in the workplace, but end up putting Band-Aids on the problem—quality initiatives, process improvements, teambuilding—all which can be good. But if they are put on top of a culture of excuses and passive aggressive behavior, they will not be successful.

Organizations can improve their cultures by openly addressing negativity and making it clear what types of behaviors are expected. Rather than pushing dissent underground, it is much more positive to flush it out and deal with issues directly. The institutional pathology of avoiding hard discussions and decisions must be overcome to make progress towards a positive culture.

Thank God It’s Monday also suggests that employees:

  • Need to realize that they are in charge of the solutions. Employees must step up and confront gossips by saying, “sounds like you need to go to that employee directly. I don’t want to be a part of any gossip.” Each individual needs to take the initiate instead of passively waiting for things to change.
  • Can’t listen to excuses. This only reinforces a “can’t” attitude instead of a “can do” approach. Excuses lead to mediocrity and this becomes contagious. Don’t lower your standards to the lowest common denominator. If someone is giving out excuses, simply say, “Thanks for sharing why you can’t…but how CAN you? I expect you to make it happen.”
  • Confront the whiners and complainers. If someone is whining, ask them to please list three solutions and make a top recommendation and then put them in charge of implementation. When I was VP of a large hospital system, my motto always was, “If someone complains about the Holiday Party, they are automatically in charge of it for next year.”
  • Don’t play the victim. The helpless approach only promotes a powerless culture. Victimhood keeps us stuck, according to Emmerich, and isn’t good for the individual or the organization. We all have to take responsibility for our decisions and actions. And don’t reinforce the victims around you with comments like, “How DO you take it?”
  • Don’t wait on the sidelines. Too many people are so anxious about the recession and the economy that they are frozen waiting for the worst. Emmerich suggest that it is more productive to work at shifting the workplace culture. List the results you want each week as a team and celebrate when they are achieved. Customers like results and teams that can deliver them.

Now is the time to get focused on making your customers successful. Customer satisfaction is worthless and doesn’t cut it during times like this. Instead, start adding massive value and make sure you don’t sign up for the recession. This economy can be an opportunity for your organization to pull ahead while others are standing still.

Barbara Bartlein is The People Pro and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group. She offers keynotes, seminars and consulting to help you build your business and balance your life. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at

Friday, March 06, 2009

Nurses Week is May 6-12

Energize the caregivers in your organization with:

"The Magic of Making a Difference"

Honor the nurses in your organization who devote their lives to caring for others by booking a special event. Barbara Bartlein, RN, has presented her magical keynote, "The Magic of Making a Difference," across the country to thousands of nurses. This high energy presentation is funny, motivational and inspirational. It features Barb's stories from Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul and celebrates the special gifts of caregivers everywhere.

Barb will present three sessions for your organization so everyone can attend. She is also available for a FREE book signing for employees and staff.

Limited Budget?

Get "The Magic of Making a Difference" in a webinar format for your staff. Recorded with a powerpoint, it is accessible at any time for staff to enjoy over and over again. All they need is a computer and a telephone.

Bring some "magic" to your organization this Nurses Week.

Call today to reserve your spot!
For more information, please visit:

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Emerging Workforce Has Different Priorities

The new workforce of Gen X’s, Gen Y’s and Millenniums have different priorities than the Baby Boomers or the Aging population that came before them. But before you complain that they don’t have a good “work ethic” or a “loyalty to the company,” it is helpful to look at some of the characteristics of Boomers and this group.

The significant events that impacted the Boomers were the Kennedy Assassination and the Viet Nam War. The Boomers are a hard working generation that often focus on career and advancement. Sometimes bordering on workaholism, they work to live, are loyal to their managers and want credit for time spent at the job. The Boomers are technological immigrants as they did not grow up with computers. Many can even remember a time before television. They are sometimes resistant to new technology or techniques like texting, webinars, and BlackBerries.

The Net Gen generations were influenced by the events of 9/11 and school shootings such as Columbine. They have been told that Social Security may not exist for them and have watched pensions and work security evaporate for their parents. Consequently, they are more loyal to colleagues and co-workers than to a company or manager. Work/life balance is extremely important for this group and they don’t want to sacrifice family time for career. This group LOVES technology and are considered technological natives. They grew up with it and are extremely talented at adopting new technology into their lives.

The Net Gen generations presently make up about 51% of the workforce. This will increase to over 70% in the next ten years as Boomers begin retiring. But many people in management are Boomers with years of experience who may struggle with the Net Gen generations and their priorities.

Some things your company can do to manage Net Gen employees more effectively:

  • Offer flexibility and work at home options. The old model that a person has to be in a seat at the office just isn’t valid anymore. That model was based on time rather than production. The emerging workforce is focused on results, not appearing busy to impress the boss. Smart companies are growing through a virtual workforce; no office space, equipment expense, or commuting. Staffs are paid on a project or production scale.
  • Build on and off ramps for women and caregivers. The Boomers were often forced to pick between career and family. The Net Gen’s are not willing to do this. Update policies on family leave, re-entry and part-time employment to attract and retain good employees. Many companies are now guaranteeing a comparable position when employees return from leave.
  • Avoid micromanaging. These employees are use to working and learning independently. They work to contribute and are adverse to a chain of command. Set the parameters and then get out of their way. Net Gen’s are fast, efficient, and not likely to waste time.
  • Embrace technology. To have any other framework will make you and/or your business look foolish. Republican candidate, John McCain, discovered this recently when he described himself as a “computer illiterate” who had never gone online. He not only looks old, he appears out of it. Unfortunately, many executives and business leaders are also in the OOI league and don’t understand consumer desires because they are not plugged in. The creation, marketing, and demise of the Hummer is a stark example.
  • Encourage creativity. The traditional workplace often treated people like machines. But if you look at many of today’s most successful companies, they are the result of creativity by a couple of people. Whether or FaceBook, there are business opportunities for new products and services. How is your company encouraging new ideas?
  • Build relationships. Since this generation connects with colleagues and friends, evaluate how your business encourages critical connections. Are there any opportunities for socializing at work or after work? Smart companies establish softball teams, bowling teams, company picnics, and support groups for new mothers, etc. to encourage interaction and teamwork.
  • Ask key employees to recruit their friends for work. Chances are that good employees know other people who would also be effective. Some companies are paying bonuses to their employees for recruiting. Others simply follow up on leads. Whatever your approach is, friends that join the company already have connections. These can jumpstart teamwork and collaboration.

    Barbara Bartlein is The People Pro and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group. She offers keynotes, seminars and consulting to help you build your business and balance your life. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Multi-Tasking Madness Decreases Productivity

Caution all you multitaskers, you may not be as productive as you think. Researchers continue to find that multitasking decreases productivity, increases stress, and may cause physical discomforts such as stomach aches or headaches. In a recent study by Eric Horvitz and the University of Illinois, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They often strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment web sites.

These findings are similar to those of David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” said Meyer. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”

Meyer identifies three types of multitaskers. Some people do it out of desperation, for example talking on the phone while reviewing papers. They view it as the only way to be competitive. Others multitask impulsively without even realizing they do it. They will stop mid-sentence to do a quick check of their e-mail or listen to voice mail. Hop scotching from one task to another; they don’t realize how their behavior leads to their lack of accomplishment.

The third group multitasks with pride. “Many people delusionally believe they’re good at this,” he says. “The problem is that we only have one brain and it doesn’t work that way. In reality, nobody can effectively do more than one remotely complicated thing at a time.”

Yet, multitasking in the workplace has reached epidemic proportions. A study by the Institute for the Future reported that employees of Fortune 1,000 companies send and receive 178 messages a day and are interrupted an average of at least three times an hour. The productivity lost by overtaxed multitaskers cannot be measured precisely, but it is probably a lot. Jonathan B. Spira, chief analyst at Basex, a business research firm, estimates the cost of interruptions to the American economy at nearly $650 billion a year.

Some employees take multitasking to the extreme by hypertasking. Hypertasking refers to the transfer of multitasking at work to other responsibilities. While we may be forced to multitask just to keep up at the job, for some, it becomes a habit in all areas of life. They are seen talking on the phone while weaving in and out of traffic, balancing their check book at their child’s soccer game, and cooking dinner while they assist with homework and make phone calls. This hypertasking becomes the drug of choice for those who thrive on doing more than one thing at a time.

Technology has added to the multitasking madness with people answering cell phones on the golf course and even in church. Rather than using technology to make our lives simpler, for many people it has become a “technology tether” that keeps us plugged in and turned on. Technological optimism has led to an eroding ability to accurately estimate the time needed for tasks and projects.

There are simple steps you can take to decrease your multitasking and increase productivity:

  • Accurately estimate the time to complete tasks. For one day, write down all the tasks you have to accomplish and estimate the time needed. Then truthfully time yourself. You will be able to find the percentage that you routinely underestimate and can adjust your work schedule.
  • Use external memory as much as possible. Albert Einstein once said that he keeps nothing in his mind that can be easily retrieved from paper. A cluttered brain makes it much more difficult to be creative and productive. External memory can be as simple as a pad of paper or using technology more effectively. Use the calendar on your computer to remind you of important dates or appointments and quick lists to organize your tasks.
  • Batch your work. Rather than checking e-mail multiple times per day, set times for reading and responding. Let your phone go to voice mail, if possible, and return phone calls during a specific time. Put similar tasks together, like paying bills and balancing your checking account, to increase efficiency.
  • Remove distractions. Control interruptions and noise. If the workplace is loud, discuss with co-workers ways to control the volume. Set times for consultation or questions rather than allowing unlimited access to your time. And make sure you don’t “interrupt yourself” by running to get more coffee or making a quick phone call. Use “butt glue” until the task is completed.

(copyright 2008 by Barbara Bartlein. All rights reserved)

For more tips to build your business and balance your life, please visit: The People Pro

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hire For Attitude, Train For Skill

“I just don’t understand why everyone at work is complaining about me,” a woman in my office said, “The same thing happened at my last job too.” Though she could not see the cause/effect of her actions, it was clear she was alienating people in the workplace. The most likely reason? Her attitude.

Attitude is everything to personal and professional success. It colors our vision of how we see the world and other people. Attitude affects our beliefs and our behavior. It impacts teamwork, customer relations, motivation and the ability to deal with change. Attitude makes the difference between a pleasant working environment and a place we dread to go.

We all know a “bad” attitude when we experience it, and perhaps, on occasion, we have one ourselves. But, successful people make a conscious effort for attitude adjustment when theirs is sub par. They also avoid “energy suckers,” people with pessimistic attitudes that suck the life out of a sunny day.

Unfortunately, I have never had any success “adjusting” someone else’s attitude. I learned early in my management experience that it was easier to teach new skills than it was to change attitudes. To find employees with great attitudes, the following guidelines for hiring and staff development are helpful:
  • The best you will ever see is the first 90 days. If you have problem with an employee while they are still on probation, you might as well cut bait. After all, this is the time that they presumably have their best foot forward. At best, they are poor performers; at worst, they have poor judgment (even harder to correct than attitude).
  • If they complain about the last boss, they will complain about you too. Exercise great caution in hiring someone who has nothing good to say about his or her last boss or last position. It may be more about them than their employment. In fact, it might always be someone else’s fault. People who blame are very hard to coach.
  • Are they an optimist or pessimist? Ascertain how they appear to see the world. Pessimistic people tend to be energy suckers in the workplace and can breed an institutional pathology that pulls others into their negative energy. Are they able to find the bright side of difficult situations?
  • Do they demonstrate personal insight and a commitment to their development? Those committed to an ongoing program of self-improvement are much more coachable and willing to learn new skills and behaviors. Ask in the interview what areas may need improvement. Inquire about the details of the candidate’s personal plan for development.
  • Are they coachable? How receptive to feedback do they seem to be? It’s easy to assess in an interview; offer them some suggestions regarding their resume. If they are quick to disagree, defend, or actually become huffy, they are not likely to welcome your input on more significant matters.
  • Do they listen? You can forget all of the above if the potential employee is not a good listener. They will have performance problems, people conflict and difficulty receiving feedback. Evaluate their ability to understand more than what they simply hear. Listening is an active process that blends patience with understanding.

    Attitude is a critical factor for success and the one we have the most control over. As Earl Nightingale once said, “Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.”

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Copyright 2008 by Barbara Bartlein. All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

How to Be a Great Boss

Employees want to work for someone that they perceive as fair, open, and honest. Those are the qualities most often mentioned in surveys of employees about their managers and supervisors. Workers want to feel good about the person they report to and the company they work for.

This relationship between employee and supervisor is also the key to retention and engagement according to the Gallup Organization. They have done extensive surveys and research on employee engagement by the development of twelve questions (Q12). When employees were asked to consider their workplace relationships with their managers, the survey results revealed sharp differences between how engaged and actively disengaged employees feel. In answering the statement regarding managers, “This person and I have one of the strongest personal relationships in my life,” 16% of engaged employees strongly agreed. In contrast, 80% of actively disengaged employees strongly disagreed that their relationship with their manager was important.

Great bosses aren’t born that way. There are not genetic traits for leadership; people learn the skills by seeing examples of positive managers. Here are some tips for you to become a great boss:

  • Be a great communicator. Employees rely on their boss for information and want to feel a part of the day to day decisions. Information regarding performance, company plans, marketing, hiring, help employees do a better job. Communication is also the key to developing a positive relationship. Effective bosses listen and ask for employee opinions.
  • Set clear expectations. People perform best when they know exactly what is expected. Be clear with the details of what is being requested including timeframes for completion. Let employees know that they can come to you if they need clarification or additional resources. Make sure that you don’t set people up for failure by not providing adequate resources or equipment. I recently consulted with a company who was concerned about productivity within their support staff. I noticed that they had one centralized printer for six people. Each worker had to get up and retrieve their document from a pile whenever something needed to be printed. The company thought it was saving money by not buying $99 printers.
  • Give helpful feedback. Effective bosses schedule frequent meetings with all their direct reports on a regular basis. Ideally this should occur once per week even if the meeting is only 5-10 minutes.
  • Manage behavior and performance. Behavior is what people do and performance is the measurable result of their behaviors. Forget trying to change attitudes or motivation. Be clear as to the behavior that is needed at work and the performance expected. If an employee falls short, make sure that you meet with them as soon as possible. It is much easier to correct problems when they are still small.
  • Show up a lot. Call it management by walking around (MBWA) or simply being available, great bosses are visible and active. Make contact daily with as many employees as possible and they will get to know and trust you. Attend meetings and eat lunch in the cafeteria, not the management lounge. Every encounter is an opportunity to share information, coach, and encourage.
  • Let people know they are appreciated. Employees frequently report on surveys that the only time they hear from the boss is when there is negative feedback on their performance. Yet, encouraging positive performance is much more effective in promoting productivity. Employees want to know that their contributions are important and they are appreciated. Stop and thank folks who have done the extras. Send handwritten notes to employees that need some encouragement. Publicly praise employees in front of their peers.
  • Keep things interesting. Work, by definition, is still work. Even the best jobs can be monotonous and boring. Keep workers engaged by offering opportunities to learn and develop. Offer continuing education opportunities that build their resume and increase their skills.
  • Celebrate successes. Employees frequently complain that there never is a pause in the new projects or initiatives to enjoy the successes. Have a celebration when a large project is completed or financial targets are reached. Post positive comments from customers on a bulletin board so everyone can see. Promote activities outside of work such as a ball game or sporting event. This builds camaraderie among the teams.
    Have a sense of humor and admit mistakes. A little humor goes a long way in reducing stress and keeping things in perspective. After all, work is only a means to an end that for most of us means time with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes; this keeps you human.
  • Go green. A recent poll on green employment by a job website geared toward students and entry-level hires, found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment. Ninety two percent would choose a company that is environmentally friendly. According to Barbara Haig of HAIG/JACKSON Communications, “Young people have been exposed since grade school to the risk of environmental problems. When employers focus on green issues, it sends a message that they are problem solvers and forward thinkers.” For more information on going green, visit:

For more information on building leadership skills, please visit:

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Copyright February 2008 by Barbara Bartlein. All Rights Reserved.

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