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Fri 12 January 2024
Most managers find it challenging to build a perfectly harmonious environment for a team. Accounting for different personality types within groups is critical to creating an environment of success.

Developed in the late 1940s by Donald Fiske as a psychometric tool, the five-factor model of personality traits creates a guide for leaders to better understand dimensions that heavily impact the personal and professional lives of every individual. Commonly, managers will use an online platform to gauge these traits in their direct reports however, grasping the foundation of this model will allow managers to make informed decisions based on observed behavior in the workplace. Managers may gain a better insight into organizational culture, work-life balance, psychological safety, leadership styles, and decision-making processes through an improved understanding of the dimensions within the five-factor personality model.

Using the five-factor personality model, individuals' traits will be measured on five distinct dimensions: extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. To better gauge individuals' on these dimensions, managers should consider utilizing a software or personality test that will provide a better insight into the makeup of a team. Additionally, in constructing a productive work culture, managers may consider a horizontal mentorship program that will expose them to other executives with invaluable experience. Horizontal mentorship will allow executive professionals to better connect with their peers and find innovative solutions for growth and change within a team. With clarity and identification of the five personality dimensions within a group, managers will be able to construct the culture most beneficial for their specific team. Here is how each of the big five personality dimensions impacts the workplace:

  • Extraversion
Direct reports ranking high in extraversion are outgoing, warm, and welcoming. These are great traits to improve camaraderie and community within a team. Those who are introverted may prefer to work independently, while extroverted individuals will seek work with others. However, managers should consider the efficiency of highly extroverted individuals who may err on the side of a relationship-oriented mindset. Many consider extraversion to be preferred yet, individuals on either end of this spectrum bring strengths to a team. Additionally, managers should be deliberate in the inclusion of professionals falling in either category. Managers should focus on personally engaging to ensure individuals feel satisfied and valued within a team. 

  • Openness
Highly open individuals are curious and independent. These individuals can be easily identified by their willingness to try new things and their innovative ideas. Individuals demonstrating high openness will strive in a culture that promotes autonomy. On the other hand, individuals lower on this scale may be more practical and conservative in their thinking. Both are great assets to teams. Those with low openness are generally task-oriented and will ensure a practical completion of a task. In contrast, those with high openness find new and innovative solutions to bring to a group. In considering different levels of openness within a team, leaders should deliberately search for a balance of openness and utilize feedback when implementing changes. 

  • Agreeableness
Highly agreeable individuals are trusting and compassionate. These individuals are great assets to improve camaraderie and the community feeling within a team. However, managers should be aware that individuals demonstrating high agreeableness may internally struggle with sharing their own opinions and speaking up for themselves. When working with direct reports that demonstrate high agreeableness, managers should focus on asking direct questions and communicating the importance of genuine feedback to these individuals. If an individual demonstrates low agreeableness such as being overly critical or harsh, their personality may detriment psychological safety within a team. To monitor potentially harmful personality types, managers should collect feedback and work with professionals to develop SMART goals in moving forward with a collaborative, productive, and compassionate team. 

  • Conscientiousness
Highly conscientious individuals are generally well-organized, dependable, and hard-working. These members are an incredible asset to a team and will likely improve efficiency and outputs. However, if a team member exhibits low conscientiousness, they may be more impulsive and flexible. Nevertheless, people with low conscientiousness bring strengths to a team. For example, these individuals may be more creative, outside-of-the-box thinkers and more willing to take risks than those who exhibit high conscientiousness. In working with professionals who demonstrate high conscientiousness, managers should promote a healthy work-life balance. Highly conscientious professionals may struggle with perfectionism, and extreme focus on details and may have a hard time walking away from tasks. 

  • Neuroticism
Individuals expressing high neuroticism may have a tendency to be easily stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. With the factor of neuroticism, managers should be deliberate because topics of anxiety and mental health are personal and sensitive in the workplace. Yet, mental health heavily impacts the success of professionals. Although many think it unfavorable, individuals demonstrating high neuroticism bring invaluable strengths to a team. Generally, individuals ranking high in neuroticism are detail-oriented and, have a heightened sense of empathy for others. Additionally, professionals demonstrating high neuroticism have displayed a correlation with an increased motivation to change with feedback, which is an extraordinarily favorable strength in the workplace. Those low on the scale of neuroticism are calm and even-tempered but, may not be as prepared and cautionary as those with high neuroticism. In addressing neuroticism within teams, managers should focus on feedback and the promotion of work-life balance to ensure a healthy environment. 

Across the above big five personality traits, each dimension is good in moderation. To develop an outstanding team, managers need to find the balance and ideal work environment that accounts for the team chemistry of the above traits. Managers should carefully consider the big five personality traits when determining project assignments and task prioritization.

Furthermore, the most impactful measure in determining an ideally structured work environment for a team is gathering and analyzing feedback. The best method of utilizing feedback is conducting continuous reviews rather than an annual performance review. For an improvement in the feedback process, managers should consider using software such as AIM Insights that will provide continuous feedback across all levels. In addition to this software, AIM Insights provides executive coaching and tools for SMART goal setting that will drastically improve the growth of teams. 


Fri 12 January 2024
Throughout history, forces such as globalization have reshaped most employees’ jobs. Technology, including AI, stands to revolutionize those positions even more. Soon, some jobs may no longer exist, while many will look different than they do now. Other roles companies haven’t dreamed up yet will be necessary. These are solid reasons businesses can’t afford to grow complacent. 

Fortunately, leaders have two highly effective talent development tools available to them: upskilling and reskilling.

Upskilling and reskilling employees are learning techniques that prepare companies for the changes happening now. Continuous learning is the foundation for success. 

Key Differences Between Upskilling and Reskilling

While there is some correlation between the two approaches, upskilling differs from reskilling in that it doesn’t seek to move someone into a new role. Upskilling enhances an employee’s existing abilities by teaching them new tricks of the trade. A position may require brand-new knowledge, but there’s still a business need for it. An example of upskilling is an IT technician who takes certification courses on newly released software.

In contrast, reskilling prepares current workers for different roles. The positions they’ve been doing for several years might be on their way out. While there’s no longer a market demand for the employees’ existing skills, the business doesn’t want to replace them. Instead, the company can train these workers to embark on altered career paths.

The emergence of artificial intelligence is one clear driver of this phenomenon. If AI eliminates receptionist jobs in the next few years, HR departments could identify employees in receptionist positions and offer to prepare them for various customer service specialist roles. The training these workers receive equips them with the skills they require to transition. Reskilling doesn’t simply build on existing abilities but may augment transferable ones.

The Benefits of Upskilling

Many managers believe talent walks out the door because of money. Although they’re not necessarily wrong about that, low pay isn’t the only contributing factor. A lack of career growth is one of the main drivers of turnover in organizations, regardless of industry. Employees don’t want to feel stuck in a dead-end job. They want to be challenged, take on stretch assignments and advance in their careers.

Advancement doesn’t always mean ascending to management. Bumping an employee to a senior specialist role with new responsibilities can keep them committed to the organization. Upskilling is a way to give workers the learning opportunities they crave. It also builds an internal talent pipeline, saving the company from having to find external candidates for senior positions.

When employees see a business investing in their career growth, it can boost productivity. Learning opportunities tend to increase job satisfaction, which leads to better outcomes. And the improved skill sets themselves contribute to more desirable business results.

The Benefits of Reskilling

Disparities in the skills roles demand and the knowledge employees have is creating internal problems. Staff members won’t be proficient enough to transition into roles businesses need to function. And finding skilled talent outside the organization will become more expensive than it is today.

Reskilling shows that leaders are thinking about the future. Once a role becomes irrelevant or redundant, it’s an unnecessary expense. Staff members who hear rumors of downsizing are more likely to jump ship. Those who stay may grow increasingly dissatisfied as their roles lose meaning, making it challenging for the business to remain competitive. When companies prepare employees for what’s coming, they can avoid layoffs, voluntary departures and loss of morale and productivity among employees who stay.

How to Develop New Skills 

From courses to new qualifications, taking charge of your own development is vital. As both upskilling and reskilling both take time and commitment, it’s important that you have the necessary motivation to seek out these new opportunities. 

Here are five ways for you to better your skillset, whether you’re looking to grow your career in your current company or branch out into something new.  

1. Become More IT Literate
Despite technology’s increasing prevalence in our lives, many of us are not as IT literate as we could be. Studies from PwC show that 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic. With many of us having to work remotely, this was of course a necessity, but there is still always room for improvement.  

With the increasing reliance on technology in our society, growing your career in a more IT centered direction can help you to future proof the path you’re on, and create exciting and rewarding new career opportunities. 

2. Enhance Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are essential for self-improvement, and they’re something that you can work on in your own time, and often and minimal to no cost. They’re not technical skills that require a specific qualification, typically soft skills are the skills you pick up along the way over the course of your education and career. 

Being able to communicate effectively, work as part of a team, self-motivate, and manage your time are all valuable skills that are sought after in all workplaces. Including them on your CV is of course important, but you need to be able to demonstrate them in action, from the day of your interview and throughout your career to come.

There are tools out there to help you develop these skills, from apps that make planning your time easier, to self-help books that can teach you how to communicate well with others. Start dedicating some of your free time to these soft skills and you’ll see an improvement in your work and become a more attractive prospect for a business.

3. Advance Your Qualifications
If you feel like you’ve reached as far as you can go with your current level of education, then your next step in your upskilling and reskilling journey might be furthering your qualifications.

Returning to school or university isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you’ve already embarked on your career. However, with remote mastermind learning programs like AIM Insights, you can study on your own time with real executive mentors guiding you, allowing you to fit your education among your other responsibilities.

4. Attend Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Attending conferences is now easier than it ever has been before, with many of them now often having the option to attend online, limiting the amount of time that you need to take off work. It is also a great way to learn from the experience of experts in your field.

Similarly, there are numerous online resources that can provide you with valuable tools for your self-improvement, from YouTube videos, to LinkedIn Learning, where you can access a variety of business, creative, and technology oriented courses.    

5. Shadow Others in Your Company
Upskilling and reskilling are not only beneficial to you, but also to your employer. Having multiskilled employees can aid in a company’s growth and expand the type of work that your organization can take on. 

If you’re interested in learning another role within your industry, then speak to your employer about shadowing one of your colleagues. This way you can gain first-hand experience in other aspects of your field and help you take the next steps towards taking on more challenges at work and enhancing your performance. 

As the workforce transforms, so must the approach to leadership and learning, creating a path toward a future where innovation and adaptability are a priority.


Thu 28 December 2023
In 2021, employees held unprecedented power, their every move capable of instigating a wave of resignations. This era was characterized by a constant game of one-upmanship, with companies trying to outdo each other in offering the best benefits and perks to attract and retain talent. Job loyalty seemed like a never-ending battle, as the workforce conveyed the luxury of choice, leading to a culture of job-hopping that became the norm.

However, the dynamics have shifted in favor of the employers. Companies, no longer dominated by the constant threat of mass resignations, began to reassess their organizational structures. Layoffs became the order of the day, leaving many employees with a sense of overwork. The burning question that arises amidst this transition is whether organizations were, in fact, overstaffed for an extended period, and the current sensation of overwork is merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential.

The Burning Question: Was the Market in 2021 Overstaffed and Underutilized?

A critical question emerges: were organizations overstaffed all along, and is the current sensation of overwork merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential? The answer lies at the intersection of organizational strategy, workforce optimization, and the ever-evolving nature of the job market.

This transition prompts a detailed examination of the pros and cons inherent in both the employee-driven market and the employer-dominated market. In the former, where employees held substantial power, the workforce was motivated, and competition for talent spurred innovation. However, a culture of job-hopping and a lack of loyalty posed considerable challenges for long-term planning.

On the other side of the coin, the employer-dominated market introduces the potential for an optimized workforce, strategic resource allocation, and increased efficiency. Yet, the process of restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale. Employees may also feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.

As organizations move with this new reality, the imperative is to strike a balance that transcends the constraints of an employee-driven or employer-dominated market. The pros and cons of each scenario underscore the intricate dance between employee satisfaction, organizational efficiency, and strategic resource allocation. The challenge, then, becomes a battle between creating a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and utilized optimally, and organizations can meet their goals without succumbing to the pitfalls of either extreme. It is a narrative of balance, where the flow of workforce dynamics converge to create a sustainable and thriving workplace ecosystem.

Employee-Driven Market
Pros:
  • Motivated Workforce: Employees felt empowered and motivated, knowing their skills were in high demand.
  • Innovation through Competition: Fierce competition for talent led to innovation as companies sought to distinguish themselves.
  • Emphasis on Well-being: Companies prioritized employee satisfaction and well-being to attract and retain talent.
Cons:
  • Lack of Loyalty: The culture of job-hopping eroded loyalty, making long-term planning challenging.
  • Constant Turnover: High turnover rates made it difficult for organizations to maintain stability and continuity.
  • Short-Term Focus: Companies often focus on immediate benefits to retain employees rather than long-term strategies.

Employer-Dominated Market
Pros:
  • Optimized Workforce: Companies can strategically allocate resources, ensuring each employee is fully utilized.
  • Increased Efficiency: A more efficient organizational structure has the potential to enhance overall productivity.
  • Strategic Resource Allocation: Employers have the autonomy to allocate resources based on strategic goals.
Cons:
  • Layoffs and Uncertainty: Restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale.
  • Adjustment Period: Employees may feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.
  • Risk of Burnout: The push for efficiency may inadvertently lead to burnout if not managed effectively.

Contrary to the perception that an employer-dominated market signals a lack of staff, a closer examination reveals that it may be a pursuit of workforce balance. This shift challenges long-held assumptions, urging organizations and employees to reconsider their perspectives on efficiency, engagement, and optimal resource utilization. The shift from the employee to the employer-dominated workforce showcases the balance of fewer employees being used at their potential rather than many employees being used at partial potential. 

Not a Lack of Staff, but Workforce Balance

One of the primary challenges in understanding the nuances of an employer-dominated market lies in dispelling the notion that it is synonymous with a dearth of staff. Instead, it should be viewed as a strategic endeavor to achieve a harmonious equilibrium in the workforce. Companies are recalibrating their structures not due to an inadequate workforce but to align resources more precisely with the organization's goals. This shift emphasizes the need for a lean, agile, and finely tuned workforce, rather than an outright scarcity of personnel.

Mindset Shift Required

As organizations pivot towards a more optimized workforce, a shift in mindset becomes imperative. Employees, who may have grown accustomed to a culture of potential underutilization during the employee-driven era, now find themselves in a landscape where being fully utilized is the new norm. This adjustment period demands a recalibration of expectations and work habits. A proactive approach to embracing challenges, acquiring new skills, and contributing to the organization's overarching objectives becomes paramount for individual and collective success.

Opportunities Amidst Challenges

While the transition to an employer-dominated market brings its share of challenges, it also brings a load of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Employees, once accustomed to the comforts of a less-demanding workload, can now seize the chance to showcase their skills, take on more significant responsibilities, and contribute meaningfully to the organization's success. This shift offers a platform for continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement as individuals adapt to the evolving demands of the workplace.


Thu 28 December 2023
Effective communication is a key component of successful leadership, and an important contributing factor to developing effective communication is word choice. Carefully chosen words when communicating can help to empower, motivate, and guide teams more effectively. While many managers recognize the importance of word choice, it can be difficult to identify areas of improvement. 

When communicating with a team or direct reports there are two main considerations: what to say and how to say it. While the message is incredibly important, how the message is communicated can directly affect how it is received and interpreted. Being conscious of how words can be used to properly communicate messages is an important skill for managers to develop. 

These are some strategies to consider when communicating with a team and direct reports: 

  1. Use Confident Verbs
Replacing words that undermine a leader's confidence is an important word choice consideration. Weak verbs should be substituted for more confident phrasing such as “we will”, “I know”, or “I believe” to convey reassurance and empowerment to a team. Dedicating time to developing more assertive language will help to improve team buy-in and can even contribute to improved self-confidence. 

A common way that managers compromise their confident word choice is through over-apologizing. While it is important for managers to be conscious of when they have made a mistake and to own their actions, over-apologizing can be a detrimental habit. Continuously apologizing for a mistake can present miscommunications and decrease credibility tremendously. Ultimately, over-apologizing spends unnecessary time and shifts managers away from their confident word choices. 

2. Be Concise 
Avoiding overly complex language and unnecessary jargon is a great practice for creating concise wording. Simplifying word choice can help ensure all team members understand and avoid confusion. Choosing specific words that are simple yet effective will also make communication more efficient. 

When developing more concise language, eliminating idioms and metaphors can also prove beneficial. If a team member doesn’t understand a figure of speech or is unfamiliar with it, the phrase can lose its meaning and cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Working to avoid such phrases can help ensure that everyone understands the message while eliminating unnecessary words that take up additional time. 

3. Take Time 
Devoting time to consider proper word choice is an underutilized practice. If an instance occurs that seems difficult to navigate and may not have a ‘right answer’, don’t feel pressured to respond right away. Stepping back and communicating that more time is needed before providing a firm answer can help to ensure ideas are communicated correctly. 

Taking time to carefully consider a response can be done with both written and verbal communication. While more commonly implemented for written communication, stepping back from a conversation can be used with verbal communication similarly. During the conversation, indicate that more time will be needed to properly consider the next steps and provide a specific timeline of when they can expect a response. Clearly articulating the future steps is necessary to ensure that both parties understand when the situation can be resolved. 

4. Specify Terms 
When communicating with a team, specificity is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Terms such as ‘commitment’ may be interpreted differently across a team. To one team member commitment to a project may mean staying over time until completion, others may interpret commitment as delaying other projects until further notice. Being specific about how the team should be committed to the project would provide more unified results. Similar terms such as punctuality can also have varying interpretations across a team (or even between a manager and an individual). Clarifying expectations and being conscious of these words can help to ensure everyone has the same understanding. 

Avoiding standardized responses to team members can also work to improve specific word choices. Rather than telling a team member “I will look over your work and get back to you”, more concrete language should be used “I will review your work and provide feedback by Wednesday”. Articulating more specifically what the team members can expect will help them to feel more valued. Using generic language will leave increased ambiguity for team members and create an uneasy environment. 

5. Positive Intent 
Articulating a positive intent when communicating with a team is vital to improve morale. Even during difficult times, shifting language to have a positive frame will motivate employees.

When developing more positive word choice while relaying constructive criticism, avoiding the negative construction of sentences should be implemented. Words such as just, try, and maybe are passive words that aren’t empowering to a team. Using phrases like “we will’ gives a much more positive energy. 

6. Inclusive and Respectful 
Specifcially when communicating within a team setting, leaders must be inclusive of everyone. Utilizing words that address the group as a whole will ensure that everyone is prioritized throughout the meeting. 

Avoiding unintended microaggressions is another key aspect of developing inclusive and respectful word choice. Addressing personal unconscious bias can work to consider how they may be present within word choice and help to take steps for more inclusive wording. Employee engagement and sense of belonging can be diminished when there is a lack of inclusivity and respect from their managers. By carefully considering word choice, managers can ensure everyone feels comfortable within the workplace. 

Identifying strategies for improving communication is incredibly important in making adjustments, however, it is equally important to develop a plan to ensure consistency and proper application. An effective way to improve word choice is to model communication off of executives who are well-known for their communication skills. Finding executives with styles of communication that are effective can give inspiration on how to handle difficult situations or even more day-to-day examples. 

A word choice reminder is another method that can be used to ensure consistency. Designating certain items such as a bracelet or ring as a word choice reminder can be a way to constantly form these beneficial habits. Even more directly writing a note or daily phone reminder to keep word choice in mind throughout the day can effectively make these adjustments. 
When considering these strategies it is important to develop tangible ways to 

Practicing the implementation of proper word choice strategies is one of the most effective ways to ensure improvement. Role-playing a scenario with a peer or coach can help to thoroughly consider the precise wording to use when tasked with communicating difficult messages to a team. During these practices, peers or coaches can help to provide feedback and continue to ensure effective communication. 

Managers who recognize the impact of word choice can positively contribute to the improvement of their work environment. By developing strategies and concrete improvement steps, managers can enhance their communication skills and build a stronger team. Remembering that the words managers choose can have a direct impact on the productivity of their team will guide the team to be more effective and cohesive. 


Fri 15 December 2023
“Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning has always been the foundation for success. In creating a successful culture of autonomy, managers must prioritize learning, development, and experiences to build a team of self-sufficient, well-prepared employees. 

Autonomy in the workplace may lead to improved engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity. Allowing professionals to be entirely responsible for their work will create a team of individuals committed to their work. Autonomy and task follow-through improve job satisfaction. Seeing a project from start to finish makes a role more meaningful, leading to increased job satisfaction and in turn, job performance. Finally, a culture prioritizing autonomy produces a highly productive team of well-versed individuals. By creating faster decision-making processes and well-prepared individuals, productivity will skyrocket in autonomous teams. 

As managers, many struggle to build a culture of independence for their direct reports. When managers do not promote an autonomous environment, their team members lose learning opportunities, and managers become overworked. A crucial part of learning is having the ability to make decisions that lead to mistakes. A crucial part of leading is learning how to be flexible in correcting these mistakes and learning from past experiences. 

A culture prioritizing autonomy teaches direct reports to be resourceful and thorough in their work. Rather than an individual asking their boss or team leader, they should first use every resource available as a tool in completing their task. Promoting a culture of autonomy continues beyond task performance and enables managers to build strong employees. As individuals gain decision-making experience, they grow into thoughtful, experienced, self-sufficient leaders. 

Managers commonly struggle with transferring decision-making responsibilities to other leaders in a firm. However, without autonomous professionals, managers become overworked and burnt out over time. To build a culture of autonomous employees, managers must consider the following factors' impact on the workplace. 

  1. Embrace Mistakes
It is impossible to grow without feedback. Creating a culture that embraces mistakes as learning opportunities will contribute to role autonomy. As managers, many will eventually forget the hard work, mistakes, and learning opportunities it takes to reach an executive position. Creating a culture that views errors as areas for growth is crucial for team success. To build an autonomous team, it is vital to cultivate a culture that approaches mistakes as opportunities for learning. In a culture that does not encourage risk-taking, emerging leaders struggle to get the experience necessary to succeed after making a poor decision. Most importantly, leaders need practice to efficiently and effectively identify solutions after making inevitable mistakes. 

2. Encourage Team Development
Encouraging team development produces autonomy within teams. Allowing independent development through the four normative stages of team development (forming, storming, norming, and performing) enables a team to succeed. Team development puts priority on direct reports working amongst each other, without consistent involvement from executive management. Teams foster a habit of learning from others, and communicating amongst peers, rather than relying on managers. Thus, enhancing the autonomy and capabilities of direct reports and, enabling individuals to learn from their colleagues. Although challenging, managers practicing limited involvement in team development enables professionals to make mistakes and rehearse the required skills to become outstanding leaders. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
Prioritizing psychological safety in the workplace is crucial to building a team of autonomous and responsible individuals. Allowing employees to make mistakes and learn from them is what builds a resilient, sustainable team. Allowing for problem-solving skills to be practiced and rehearsed equips direct reports with the skills to succeed. These crucial skills develop with experience and time, allowing direct reports to practice in a safe environment and enabling great workplace success. Focusing on psychological safety creates an environment where it is okay to fail. While failing seems counterproductive to success, managers have to weigh the cost of a few failures with the benefit of building strong and experienced professionals in a team. 

4. Encourage Horizontal Mentorship 
Mentorship is a building block to a culture of autonomous employees. Building mentorship programs in a firm enables those with more experience to learn from others, rather than creating a dependence on executive management. Horizontal mentorship enables employees to learn from their peers at all levels, from entry-level to executive management. Building a mentorship program brings value to autonomous culture by teaching professionals the steps through a decision-making process and factors to be accounted for rather than relying on a manager to make the decision. Managers may also benefit from horizontal leadership by learning how others relinquish control and put trust in their team. 

In the aforementioned steps, managers need to be cognizant that building a culture takes time. Resistance to change is common, especially in transforming from a culture dependent on executives to a culture that operates independently from executives. Creating autonomy in a team is challenging when managers have been heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of employees so, learning to delegate and trust team members is a challenging process for most managers. Prioritizing learning and development within a team will enable leaders to promote autonomy. Adaptability will lead to a thriving, autonomous culture in adjusting to change and promoting flexibility in the process. 

Throughout an autonomous culture, it is necessary to promote communication among team members. Without feedback and open dialogue, it is challenging to grow. As always in the workplace, it is imperative to establish systems for feedback. Rather than an annual performance review, consider using a platform such as AIM Insights that will provide continuous feedback at all levels to aid in the development of a strong team, prioritizing goal setting and achievement. 


Fri 15 December 2023
Communicating layoffs to employees is a tough situation that requires considerable thought and compassion. Layoffs can have a dramatic effect on the organization and steps must be taken to help preserve workplace culture when relaying such changes. When informing employees about these difficult decisions, creating a strong communication plan can assist in lessening the emotional turmoil resulting from layoffs. 

Here are 4 steps to developing a strong initial communication plan: 

  1. Be Transparent
Employee response to layoffs is largely determined by the perceived fairness and transparency utilized throughout the decision-making and communication processes. Clear messaging regarding why the decision was made, alternative solutions considered, and the future of the organization will help prevent employees from creating their assumptions. Increased transparency works to build trust with employees and reduces damage to company morale. 

2. Include Employees in the Process
During the process of determining layoffs, all possible solutions are often exhausted prior to reaching a decision. However, if appropriate include employees from all levels in identifying solutions. Motivations for layoffs are most often to take cost cutting measures.  Engaging with employees to gather feedback and consider alternative areas to reduce costs can help empower employees and increase collaboration. Inclusion within the problem-solving process also helps to gain a better understanding of the process that was utilized to come to the solution of laying off employees. 

3. Consider Word Choice
An important, but often overlooked, consideration is word choice. Being sensitive to nuances will avoid a negative tone. Phrases that sound voluntary such as “leaving” or euphemisms like “restructuring” detract from the situation at hand and can diminish the hard work contributed by the employees who are laid off. Consider the feelings of the employees who are being let go and develop a tone that is sensitive to these emotions. 

4. Consistent Messaging
Regardless of whether a message is intended solely for employees, information may get leaked to media outlets or other outside sources. When developing internal and external messages, messaging should be consistent. Conflicting information will increase confusion and cause distrust among stakeholders. All messages should be crafted with the idea that any stakeholder may see the information. Additionally, all stakeholders should be addressed when communicating the news of layoffs. Since, likely, all stakeholders will eventually hear about the layoffs, creating specific content for each audience can ensure that no group of stakeholders is left out of the loop

Transparency, inclusion, word choice consideration, and consistency are key elements that can guide the communication process across all stakeholders. Since employees are personally being impacted by layoffs, increased consideration of how to approach communication with this group of stakeholders is vital. Whether the employee is being laid off or one of their peers is being let go, all employees will feel the effects of the organizational change.  

When communicating with laid-off employees and remaining employees, here are some important considerations to best support both groups: 

Support Laid Off Employees: 
  • Individualize the Process
Conducting one-on-one meetings with laid-off individuals is an empathetic approach to communicating the difficult news. Individual meetings communicate respect for the employees who are laid off and serve as an opportunity to support their emotional needs. During this time, laid-off employees can feel heard and ask questions that will help them get a better understanding of reasoning and future steps. 

  • Share Support Resources
When initially receiving the news that they are laid off, employees may not fully process the news and may have questions they fail to ask during the individual meeting. Providing additional support resources for employees following these meetings is a key way to address concerns and continue to demonstrate empathy. Support resources may include a contact within the company that can be used to answer further questions regarding the layoffs or details about benefits and severance packages.  

Address Remaining Employees: 
  • Clarify Effects Going Forward
While layoffs are particularly difficult for employees losing their jobs, the remaining employees also endure emotional hardship. The remaining employees are tasked with the ramifications of the layoffs and will need to navigate the new environment. Providing specific operational changes that will be implemented can help to reduce the uncertainty for remaining employees. 
 
  • Recognize Productivity May Decrease 
Following layoffs, it is common for teams to work at a lower capacity. This lower productivity can result from increased workloads for remaining employees as well as the emotional toll from losing team members. While it may seem effective to continue to motivate employees to work at 100% efficiency, allowing employees time and space to grieve these changes will provide more significant benefits. Allowing time for positive adjustments to change will work to strengthen employee morale and engagement as they will be able to better process these changes. 

  • Assure No More Layoffs
When undergoing layoffs, there will be increased fear of future layoffs for the organization. While assuring there won’t be future layoffs certainly shouldn’t be done if there are plans for continued layoffs, if there aren’t plans for additional layoffs that should be communicated to the remaining employees. It is natural for employees to stress about their jobs when they see peers losing their jobs. Offering support to team members through open communication and availability for questions can help ease the minds of remaining employees. 

Anytime a company has to lay off employees there are a lot of hardships. Ultimately, effective communication with all stakeholders is important to best navigate the changing environment. While layoffs have many negative implications on the employees leaving the company, consistency, honesty, and empathy must be utilized through all phases of communication to prevent the company image from being damaged and best guide the company toward future success.  


Fri 15 December 2023
Mergers and acquisitions present opportunities for companies to streamline their operations, develop economies of scale, create synergies, and establish various other growth opportunities. Despite all these beneficial changes a company may experience, mergers and acquisitions can be a stressor for employees as there are many uncertainties. 

Undergoing mergers and acquisitions can create structural and cultural changes for organizations, leaving employees unsure of what to anticipate. Organizational changes and redundancies within the workforces of both companies can lead employees to have serious concerns about their job security. 

Even minor changes that result from mergers and acquisitions such as cultural shifts, slight process adjustments, or changes in communication channels can enhance the anxious environment and threaten psychological safety. Recognizing the emotions arising from these changes is essential for a smooth transition and continued team success. 

Here are some ways to create a more people-focused approach to navigating a team through a merger or acquisition: 

  1. Develop a Communication Plan
When conveying the news of a merger or acquisition it is important to consider how to best articulate the intentions of the decision. Communicating the overarching vision, company beliefs, and future of the company that led to the decision can help employees better understand the motivations for undergoing such changes. Presenting an optimistic vision for the company will encourage employees to support the new direction of the company. 

Lack of communication or poor communication can lead to the spreading of misinformation and decreased employee engagement. To prevent issues from arising with employees drawing inaccurate conclusions about future steps, ensure that there is constant communication as the process evolves. Immediately when information is allowed to be shared with direct reports, communicate the information to demonstrate that all employees are valued and informed. 

2. Ensure Transparency
Simply communicating updates to the team isn’t sufficient during uncertain times. Honest and frequent updates are most suitable for ensuring all members of the team understand how the changes will personally impact them. 

When permissible, communicate as much detail as possible about the deal's implications. Although it may feel obligatory to reassure team members that everything will work out and they won’t be negatively affected, it is important to communicate the truth. If there is a risk that the team will be impacted by layoffs or structural changes, communicate that uncertainty and work with them to develop action plans. If the team does experience negative changes as a result of the deal, it is best to avoid a complete blindside. 

3. Positive culture 
Continuing to celebrate team successes can help to improve team morale and motivation. Amidst these big changes going on within the organization, recognizing the achievements of individuals or the team as a whole can help empower the team and reinforce a positive future outlook for the team. 

Connecting these celebrations to the core values of the merged company. Aligning the celebrations to organizational values reinforces their importance within the organization. Drawing these parallels will ultimately help reassure the team that their efforts are valued and key attributes of the entire organization. 

4. Involve and Empower Team
During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to allow direct reports to be involved wherever possible. Opportunities to share concerns, feedback, or other insights will allow employees to feel heard. Providing such opportunities will allow for a smoother transition to the new organization since adjustments can be made to best support the team. 

Team involvement develops a sense of ownership. During times of uncertainty, employees may begin to search for outside opportunities. Allowing employees to make an impact on the organization through their input and inclusion in the decision-making process, will increase their sense of commitment to the firm. 

5. Provide Resources
As a manager, providing ample resources for team members to navigate these changes is a necessary step. Mentorship initiatives, training programs, or external professional development opportunities can help employees prepare for potential future steps. 

Directing team members to consult with human resources or other applicable internal resources can serve as a good reminder of the readily available options they can contact. Continuing to identify various resources that can support team members will help ensure that they feel more in control of their future and can make more informed decisions. 

6. Lead by Example 
Increased stress is inevitable when transitioning through a merger or acquisition, however, employees look to their manager as an example of how to handle these unpredictable times. Remaining composed and adaptable will encourage the team to exemplify these characteristics as well, and embody the vision of the organization. 

Exemplifying other characteristics such as prioritization of work-life balance is another key way to guide a team to stay on track. During periods of change, ensuring all team members take care of their well-being and not overworking themselves can help to prevent additional stress. When direct reports see their manager balancing their personal life and their work obligations, they will feel more comfortable making balance one of their priorities which will ultimately lead to a more sustainable work environment. 

As a manager, it is important to continue to advocate for the team and take steps to support their best interests. During these periods of uncertainty, managers serve as a guide for their team to help them understand what is going on around them. 

Determining the best method to navigate these organizational changes can be incredibly difficult. Utilizing horizontal peer mentor groups can be a powerful tool to gain insight into how others in similar situations manage their teams. Within these groups, peers can share strategies they found to be successful and advice specific to the situation at hand. 

Remember that managing a team through large organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions is specifically difficult for managers as they must balance personal stress resulting from the changing environment along with team concerns. Strategies on how to best lead a team depend on the team dynamics and the changes the organization is experiencing. Keep in mind that big changes are stressful and personal mental health should be prioritized. A sound-minded manager will be most suitable for leading a successful team through mergers and acquisitions. 


Fri 15 December 2023
We all have life events that distract us from work from time to time: an ailing family member, a divorce, the death of a friend. You can’t expect someone to be at their best at such times. But as a manager what can you expect? How can you support the person to take care of themselves emotionally while also making sure they are doing their work (or as much of it as they are able to)?

Emily, a dedicated team leader, found herself facing a challenging situation. One of her team members, Charlie, was grappling with personal turmoil, juggling the complexities of an external affair leading to a divorce that was tearing apart his family. Balancing the demands of the workplace while carrying such a heavy emotional burden, Charlie was struggling to meet performance expectations, leaving Emily in a delicate position as a leader torn between empathy and professionalism.

Understanding the delicate nature of Charlie's situation, Emily knew that leading with empathy was crucial. However, maintaining a professional work environment was equally important. Striking the right balance required a thoughtful and nuanced approach.

First, Emily decided to initiate a private conversation with Charlie. She wanted to create a safe space for him to share his struggles without judgment. Instead of immediately addressing performance concerns, she began by expressing concern for his well-being and acknowledging the challenges he might be facing outside of work.

During their conversation, Emily demonstrated active listening skills, allowing Charlie to open up about his personal life at his own pace. This approach helped build trust and allowed Emily to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional toll Charlie was experiencing. In doing so, she learned about his fears, uncertainties, and the difficulty he faced in separating personal issues from his professional responsibilities.

Understanding that Charlie might find it challenging to communicate openly in a face-to-face setting, Emily subtly introduced the idea of using AIM Insights, a platform designed for non-face-to-face communication among team members. This platform served as an online forum where employees could share their personal struggles, ambitions, and non-work-related goals in a comfortable and confidential manner.

Emily emphasized the benefits of AIM Insights, explaining how it could provide a supportive space for team members to express themselves freely. The platform allowed individuals like Charlie to share their experiences, offering insights into their lives outside of the office, making it easier for leaders like Emily to comprehend the challenges faced by their team members.

Without explicitly revealing Charlie's personal situation, Emily encouraged the team to use AIM Insights as a channel for open communication about their non-work-related struggles and aspirations.

These 3 tips are also used to ensure that the workplace is a confidential, empathetic and supportive environment. 

  1. Listen First, Suggest Second

When you speak to an employee about their current struggles, listen first instead of immediately advocating for some particular course of action. They may just want a sounding board about the difficulties of caring for a sick relative or an opportunity to explain why a divorce has affected their attention span. If you immediately suggest they take a leave of absence or adjust their schedule, they may be put off if that’s not what they were thinking. Instead, ask what both of you can do together to address the issue of performance during the difficult period. 

2. Know What You Can Offer

You may be more than willing to give a grieving employee several weeks of leave, or to offer a woman with a high-risk pregnancy the ability to work from home. But the decision isn’t always yours to make. If you have the leeway to get creative with a flexible schedule, an adjusted workload, or a temporary work-from-home arrangement, do what you think is best. But also be sure you understand your company’s restrictions on short- and long-term leave, and what, if any, bureaucratic hurdles exist before promising anything to your employee. Explain that you need to check what’s possible before you both commit to an arrangement.

If the employee needs counseling or drug or alcohol services, there may be resources provided by your company’s medical insurance that you can recommend. But investigate the quality of those resources first. The last thing you want to do is send a suffering employee to avail themselves of a program or supposedly helpful people who then fall short.

3. Consider Workload

You also have to consider whether prolonged absences will adversely affect clients or team members. If so, mitigate those risks by easing the person’s workload. If there are people who are willing and able to take on some of the individual’s projects, you can do that temporarily. Just be sure to reward the people who are stepping in. And then set timelines for any adjustments you make. If the person knows that their situation will last for 6-8 weeks, set a deadline for you to meet and discuss what will happen next. Of course, many situations will be open-ended and in those cases, you can set interim deadlines when you get together to check in on how things are going and make adjustments as necessary. Whatever arrangements you make, be crystal clear about your expectations during this time period. Be realistic about what they can accomplish and set goals they can meet.


Mon 4 December 2023
Good managers are good listeners. As a manager, it is crucial to practice active listening to make the best decisions for an organization or team. Rather than simply hearing the words an individual says, managers should practice active listening through demonstrating genuine interest and undivided attention with their members. In active listening, managers should focus on hearing the communication beyond the explicitly stated words but understanding feelings, intentions and underlying messages. In any industry, encouraging managers to practice active listening deciphers opportunities for growth and learning that may result in increased customer and employee satisfaction. 

Leaders must practice thoughtful, active listening to foster a collaborative and thriving work environment where employees feel valued. When employees feel that they are valued by the organization, they demonstrate stronger organizational commitment and job performance which leads to increased job satisfaction. With the necessity of technology in the workplace, work from home, and hybrid cultures of companies, active listening skills in the workplace have depleted. 

When communication habits shift from in-person to online chat, communications become far less effective. Without face-to-face contact, 93% of communication is lost from nonverbal and vocal communication, leaving a mere 7% left to recognize opportunities for growth and learning. Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, led a research campaign to discover what portion of communication is based solely on diction. Mehrabian found that 55% of communication is non-verbal cues, 38% of communication is vocal, and only 7% is from specific words.Through using video calls, individuals may be able to recover effectiveness in conversation through vocal and non-verbal cues but, most will continue to struggle with active listening. 

Although convenient, using online chats and emails as the primary conversation medium significantly diminishes the efficacy of communication attempts. Leaders must find creative ways to combat these changes to uncover hidden growth opportunities and team discrepancies. The subtle art of reading undertones and ensuring psychological safety to team members reflects within team culture. Managers can enhance their active listening in the following seven ways:

  1. Listen for the Undertones
As is human nature, it is expected that we hear an individual’s words but only sometimes comprehend the underlying objective or purpose of the communication. Managers should be deliberate in decoding communications to find the concealed message within an interaction or suggestion from employees. Additionally, managers should be aware of differences and communication barriers between cultures. When working in international settings, leaders must consider the cultural norms and barriers that could affect communication effectiveness. 

2. Be Present
Actively listening to direct reports requires undivided attention and devotion to hearing what employees are saying. This means minimizing distractions, eliminating interruptions, and thoroughly thinking and understanding not only statements made but also body language and verbal cues that showcase the intent behind the communication. Being a present and engaged listener will aid the leader's contact with the team by valuing thoughts, opinions, and experiences. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
For a strong team, diversity of thought and diverging opinions are invaluable. To encourage these crucial conversations, managers must create an environment of psychological safety that will enable direct reports to come to leaders with ideas, suggestions, and experiences that managers may use to better an organization. Those who are unaccepting of others deteriorate psychological safety within a team. In creating psychological safety, managers need to focus on empathy, support and understanding amongst all team mates. 

4. Withhold Judgment
To be better active listeners, leaders should avoid instances of judgment by entering each conversation with an open mind. In these conversations, managers should avoid responding to suggestions with defensiveness or hostility. Instead, take each conversation as a learning opportunity rather than a personal attack. Open mindedness and improved relationships with team members will enhance problem solving and creative thinking team-wide. 

5. Cultivate Empathy
An essential part of active listening is cultivating empathy and understanding for those around you. Managers must prioritize a culture of empathy by being understanding and adaptable to their employees. Adding to a culture of compassion, leaders must focus on making every team member feel valued and welcomed. Once a team has established a culture of empathy, all members will grow as active listeners, streamlining communication for all parties. 

6. Ask Questions
In practicing active listening, asking questions is imperative to thoroughly understand the topic. Asking questions demonstrates genuine care and interest in the case, leading employees to feel heard and understood, even if their suggestion is not implemented. In asking questions, prioritize creating a conversation of open dialogue, with explanations and reasoning on either side, to encourage a culture that welcomes diverse opinions and embraces mistakes, allowing for further growth and success. 

7. Ask for Feedback
Managers seeking feedback on their active listening skills are crucial for team growth. Regardless of the industry or specific role, all leaders must be good communicators, meaning strong listening and speaking skills. One without the other will not foster the productive work environment that makes groups successful. Managers should consider their self-awareness and seek opportunities to grow in the communication field. To collect this feedback, consider using AIM Insights, which will provide continuous feedback for all organizational levels, enabling constant improvement.

 Leaders may encourage the process of prioritizing psychological safety for active listening by establishing group norms or policies within their team. For example, a manager may have an “open door policy” to welcome any concerns, questions, and suggestions from employees. Other managers may cultivate this through weekly team-wide discussion meetings that allow individuals to share their concerns. In determining which approach is best, leaders need to evaluate their teams  to determine which route is most impactful for their team.

Throughout the process of improving active listening skills, managers should remember that changes may take time to happen. It takes time for trust to be fostered within a team and psychological safety to develop. Growth paths may not always be linear, but should have ups and downs and obstacles along the way. By actively listening to feedback, managers can find the next step forward for bettering their team. 


Mon 4 December 2023
Emotional intelligence is a unique strength that doesn't just benefit those who possess it; it enriches the entire organizational ecosystem and is something you want to incorporate into your business in order to have an edge.

Effective leadership goes beyond strategic decision-making and task management. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence (EQ) can create an organizational culture that fosters trust, collaboration, and overall team satisfaction. This article delves into the profound impact of emotional intelligence on leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding team members' emotions and needs. 

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence comprises four core elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. It involves recognizing and understanding emotions in oneself and others and using this awareness to manage one's behavior and relationships.

Emotional Intelligence and Trust Building

Leaders with high emotional intelligence showcase a keen awareness and understanding of their own emotions, as well as those of their team members. This heightened emotional awareness enables leaders to navigate interpersonal relationships with empathy and authenticity, laying the foundation for trust and rapport.

When a leader demonstrates empathy by acknowledging and validating the emotions of their team members, it creates a positive work environment. AIM Insights, as a performance management tool, aligns with this principle by encouraging individuals to express their feelings and challenges in a safe and confidential space. By articulating their concerns in writing, employees may find it easier to open up about their emotions, fostering vulnerability and trust.

Positive Work Environment and Employee Satisfaction

Leadership styles heavily influence the work environment. Leaders with high emotional intelligence tend to create a positive and supportive atmosphere where team members feel valued and appreciated. This, in turn, boosts employee morale and satisfaction.

AIM Insights takes this a step further by prompting individuals to articulate their ambitions and the "why" behind their work. Through this reflective process, employees gain a deeper understanding of their personal and professional motivations. Managers armed with this knowledge can tailor their leadership approach, aligning organizational goals with the individual aspirations of team members.

Guide: Enhancing Leadership through Emotional Intelligence with AIM Insights

  • Understand Work Challenges:
    • Encourage team members to express their biggest work challenges using AIM Insights.
    • Leverage insights to address specific obstacles hindering productivity.
  • Explore Professional Ambitions:
    • Prompt individuals to articulate their aspirations and career goals through AIM Insights.
    • Align organizational objectives with personal ambitions to foster growth.
  • Uncover the "Why" Behind the Work:
    • Use AIM Insights to delve into the deeper motivations driving professional pursuits.
    • Align job responsibilities with personal passions to enhance job satisfaction.
  • Empathy in Leadership:
    • Develop and demonstrate empathy by understanding challenges expressed through AIM Insights. 
    • Proactively address concerns, fostering a supportive work environment.
  • Tailor Leadership to Individual Needs:
    • Leverage AIM Insights to reveal individual ambitions and work preferences.
    • Customize leadership strategies to support individual growth and enhance team dynamics.

Work Challenges: The Power of Vulnerability

When employees have the opportunity to articulate their biggest work challenges, they often reveal more profound insights than in face-to-face interactions. The act of typing out concerns allows individuals the time and space to express themselves with greater vulnerability. Leaders who leverage AIM Insights gain access to a more authentic understanding of the obstacles hindering their teams' productivity.

Example: A team member might express concerns about feeling overwhelmed with tasks. This insight provides leaders with the opportunity to address workload distribution, implement strategies to alleviate stress, and demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being.

Ambitions: Fostering Growth and Development

Understanding individual ambitions is crucial for leadership that promotes growth and development. AIM Insights prompts individuals to articulate their professional aspirations, creating a roadmap for leaders to align organizational objectives with personal goals.

Example: A team member might express a desire to lead a project or develop a particular skill. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can offer targeted mentorship, assign relevant tasks, or provide opportunities for skill enhancement, ultimately contributing to the employee's growth and job satisfaction.

The "Why" Behind the Work: Aligning Purpose and Productivity

AIM Insights delves into the fundamental question of "why" individuals engage in their work. This introspective query uncovers the deeper motivations that drive professional pursuits.

Example: Consider a scenario where a team member expresses a strong passion for environmental sustainability. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can explore ways to align the employee's role with projects related to sustainability, fostering a sense of purpose and contributing to heightened job satisfaction.

Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Leaders who empathize with their team members build stronger connections and trust. AIM Insights, by encouraging individuals to share their experiences in a written format, provides leaders with a unique opportunity to develop and demonstrate empathy.

Example: By understanding the challenges expressed through AIM Insights, leaders can proactively address concerns, demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of their teams. This empathetic approach fosters a supportive work environment, enhancing employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Tailoring Leadership to Individual Needs

One-size-fits-all leadership approaches often fall short of addressing the diverse needs of a team. AIM Insights helps leaders tailor their strategies by revealing individual ambitions and the "why" behind each team member's work.

Example: A leader who learns about a team member's aspiration to take on more responsibility may provide opportunities for leadership development. This customized approach not only supports individual growth but also enhances overall team dynamics.

Leaders who prioritize understanding and responding to the emotions and needs of their team members foster trust, collaboration, and job satisfaction. Embracing emotional intelligence and leverage tools like AIM Insights are poised to not only navigate challenges effectively but also inspire and lead their teams to new heights of success and fulfillment.


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