For at least the past decade, an unusual decline of black walnut (Juglans nigra) has been observed in several western states. More recently, the decline which has been attributed to thousand cankers disease (TCD), has been found in the tree’s native range: Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
TCD is an insect-disease complex native to the western United States that primarily affects black walnut. This disease is the result of the combined activity of a fungus (Geosmithia morbida) and the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis). TCD currently threatens millions of black walnut trees, an important species with great economic and ecological value. Several quarantines have been established in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading.
In July 2010, the walnut twig beetle and G. morbida were found in Knoxville, Tenn. This was a highly significant discovery because it was the first report of TCD appearing within the native range of black walnut. The outbreak in the Knoxville area indicates the disease was originally introduced with infective walnut twig beetles for a considerable period. Prior to these reports, walnut twig beetle had never been associated with Juglans mortality. In most areas where the die-offs have occurred, drought was originally suspected as the cause, with the beetle as a secondary pest. The widespread area across which Juglans spp. die-off have been reported, the documented presence of an associated canker-producing fungal pathogen carried by the twig beetle, and the occurrence of black walnut death in irrigated sites not sustaining drought, all suggested an alternate underlying cause – thousand cankers disease.
Texan: “Where are you from?” Harvard grad: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.”
Texan: “OK — where are you from, smart-aleck?”
We are rapidly losing the art of communication. The very trait which separates us from the animals is about to be our downfall, but fear not. There are ways we can rally and save humanity. Ask yourself: Do I communicate to serve myself or do I communicate to serve others?
When you communicate, are you an SOB (Self-Oriented Behavior) or do you use ESP (Emotional, Spiritual, Personal)?
To get to the heart of the issue, you have to get to the heart. Communication is not simply the external circuitry of words transmitted from your mouth to others’ ears, but rather an internal reverberation of thoughts between your mind and your heart. Communication is simply the golden rule. It’s part etiquette, part ethics, and part just being a decent human being. That means delineating boundaries for your emotional side so everyone can play in the sandbox nicely without getting into fights.
You can’t expect people to see your point of view if you can’t see theirs. When we get squeezed, what’s inside comes out. Often this takes the form of uncivil discourse. People are polarized by their tendency to see communication as a battle — somebody wins, somebody loses; too bad, so sad; suck it up, butter cup. It seems to be forgotten that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And if you can’t get comfortable floating in the fluidity of humanity, it’s sunk.
Opinions are not a competitive sport. They are deeply held convictions. So here’s a quick and easy way to assess if you are practicing great communication skills or if you are just being an SOB.
SOB: Self-Oriented Behavior.
A lack of compassion is downright distasteful and has nothing to do with who or what is right and wrong. If you constantly feel the need to seize and to preach the “ministry of me” then you are an SOB communicator. SOBs exhibit the following traits in their communication:
Now let’s look at the flip side of the coin: How can you best communicate with another in a way that affords the respect and civility that binds you to others in deeper and more knowledgeable ways? Here are the ways to ensure that you can talk to someone’s heart, thus guaranteeing an open and honest dialogue sure to leave both parties enlightened and valued.
ESP: Emotional, Spiritual, Personal.
It’s like extrasensory perception on steroids. They say, “It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it.” Truer words were never spoken. The manner in which you connect is the most important factor in communication. If you do it well, the details are superfluous. Someone can completely disagree with everything you say, but still totally respect you as a person. The truth, no matter how hard it is to hear, should always have an element of love accompanying it. The person who can accomplish this is a leader of unparalleled magnitude and a true uniter, not a divider.
ESPs exhibit the following traits in their communication: Individuality; respect; the Golden Rule; one-on-one; private; peace maker; acceptance; civility.
The ESP communicator also understands that strongly held convictions do not necessarily classify someone as a “hater.” They respect the other person’s emotions and personal beliefs. The ESP communicator firmly believes that we are not to trample one another out of existence with the butts of our heels and the slices of our tongues, but rather to be kind to one another, especially when during disagreements.
Once you get serious about discussing and not just cussing, you’ll take your communication to a new realm.
Be kind to humankind because it’s all you’ve got.
Tracey C. Jones is a U.S. Air Force veteran, entrepreneur, speaker, and publisher. Her latest book is “Beyond Tremendous: Raising the Bar on Life.” www.TremendousTracey.com.
Create a culture of accountability
Departments - The Human Resource
Empower your team by casting responsibility and results in a positive light.
I am convinced that a significant number of workplace performance problems can be directly attributed to one thing: a lack of accountability. I discovered this after helping to resolve thousands of employee performance problems over the past 29 years. The pattern is the same and the scenario, while colored by shades of different industries, cultures, and people, is all too familiar:
An employee who has not performed for years is tolerated by management and is not held accountable. At stake are leadership credibility, coworker morale, customer or client relationships, turnover, and a host of other workplace ills. Yet, the manager does not act.
How can we begin to fix this common organizational malady? Perhaps the answer lies in first correcting an often flawed thinking about what accountability is and is not.
Accountability: Good or evil?
Pick up any dictionary or search the web and you will likely find a definition for accountability that uses words synonymous with answerability, liability and culpability — terms that carry a negative connotation. One popular web dictionary defines accountability as “being obligated to answer for one’s actions to an authority that may impose a penalty for failure.” Webster’s definition, “subject to having to report, explain or justify; being answerable, responsible,” infers that one has little or no choice when being accountable.
To make matters worse, companies seldom focus on accountability until something goes wrong and then they ask, “Who is accountable for this?” No wonder no one wants to be held accountable! This common view of accountability as a punishment for poor performance or bad behavior, coupled with an organization’s reactive approach to accountability, often leads to blaming, finger pointing, and negative consequences.
Now imagine a workplace that defines and promotes accountability as a positive action, a culture that focuses more on the root meaning of the term “accountable” which is, “the willingness to stand up and be counted as part of a process, activity, or game.” This implies that one is empowered to choose to be accountable and that one has ownership of his or her actions. In this sense, accountability is not something done to an individual, but rather, it is a concept that embraces a personal choice and willingness to contribute to results.
If you or your managers believe that accountability is an obligation, a punishment, or a consequence imposed by others, your organization will never achieve exceptional results and your employees will run and hide from accountability. If you begin to promote accountability as an attitude of continually asking, “What can I do to rise above my own or the current circumstances to demonstrate ownership and achieve results?” you are on the path to creating a culture of accountability.
Once you set the cultural tone, you then need leaders who are both willing and able to be accountable, and you must provide them with the infrastructure necessary for holding people accountable.
Let’s review the three components that make up the formula for accountability success.
Component one: willingness
A person who is willing is a person who voluntarily, ungrudgingly chooses to do something. To be willing to hold someone accountable, one cannot be lazy, selfish, irresponsible or unmotivated, and one cannot possess a victim mentality nor have a chip on his or her shoulder. If you have managers with one or more of these traits, you’ll never get them to be accountable and they will never hold others accountable either.
Component two: ability
People who are not naturally assertive find it more difficult to hold others accountable. It is simply not comfortable for them to do so. This lower level of assertiveness is a personality trait that is not easily changed. While it can be altered in the short run, in the long-run, people who force themselves to be something they are not ultimately end up with stress which, in the workplace, lowers productivity.
People who are naturally more assertive can comfortably assert themselves and can confidently confront conflict. This trait enables a leader to hold others accountable with greater ease and, when it is paired with a dose of personal responsibility, also leads to a natural sense of ownership. (Note: Taken to an extreme, assertiveness becomes aggressiveness; a leadership style that seldom achieves long-term desired results. Beware of aggressive behavior.)
Component three: infrastructure
Organizational infrastructure includes having distinct objectives and clearly defined outcomes. These often take the form of short- or long-term goals, financial targets, and other measurable outcomes. Once the goals are established, the procedures for achieving the goals must be defined and managers must require strict adherence to them after first providing proper training. Along with goals, procedures and training, you must also ensure that employees have the proper physical environment to measure and achieve results. This includes quality tools, administrative support, vehicles and technology.
Finally, establish clear and reasonable boundaries for all employees. This can be done by adopting, documenting, disseminating and following a well-written, compliant employee handbook that includes work rules; job descriptions that define essential job functions; compensation and bonus plans with goals and objectives; and a performance feedback program that measures position-specific responsibilities.
First, promote a positive concept of accountability. Hire and promote managers who are willing and naturally able to hold themselves and others accountable. Then, put them in a position to succeed by providing the organizational infrastructure necessary to achieve accountability.
Jean Seawright is president of Seawright & Associates, a management consulting firm located in Winter Park, Fla. Since 1987, she has provided human resource management and compliance advice to employers across the country. She can be contacted at 407-645-2433 or email@example.com.
Departments - How To
A new app simplifies the process of compiling and submitting safety reports.
Accidents are difficult to predict. They can be caused by unforeseen circumstances or they can be the result of missing supplies.
Private industry employers in 2014 reported nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this number is lower than previous years, the question that remains is how many near misses occurred in the workplace and were not reported. Heinrich’s accident triangle theory states that for every major injury, there were 29 minor injuries and 300 near misses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that employers pay more than $50 billion a year for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. Those costs will skyrocket even higher this summer when OSHA increases fines for violations of federal workplace safety laws for the first time in 25 years.
If employees stay vigilant and regularly report potential risks or supply needs, predicting incidents becomes easier. And if you can predict them, you can try to prevent them.
But your employees are busy. Compiling and submitting a report takes time away from their assigned tasks. So sometimes, they just don’t do it.
A tech startup is working to help companies cut workers-comp insurance costs and payouts with a new app that is like Instagram for safety reports. For $2,995 a year, employers can implement the WorkplaceAware Report Management System. The Missouri-based company’s system simply generates reports on anything relevant to safety and operational stability in the workplace.
By using the system’s mobile app, which is available on Android and iPhones, employees can instantly submit photos and report details to management. Employees can report near misses, safety and security observations, accidents, faulty or missing equipment, plant needs and even supply requests. Reports can even be made anonymously.
“WorkplaceAware eliminates many of the reporting barriers companies must overcome to make workplaces safer and run smoother operationally,” says WorkplaceAware CEO Rob Sweeney. “There are many reasons employees choose not to report a near miss or operations need including fear of retribution, a desire to avoid red-tape or to avoid interrupting pace of work. By using WorkplaceAware, companies can allow employees to quickly and comprehensively report from the field, without having to fill out pages of paperwork or interrupting the workday.”
Employers using the system have the opportunity to evaluate safety and operational reports with a higher level of detail and coordination than paper reports. Employers are able to generate PDF or CSV reports that can be tailored by type of report and other parameters with a few keystrokes. Using the web-based dashboard, reports can be escalated to a particular employee or management group, or forwarded electronically to the appropriate individual or department for immediate intervention and resolution. Alerts can be transmitted instantly notifying all mobile app users of significant events and news that are critical for an informed workforce.
The WorkplaceAware mobile app can be employer-branded. All reports submitted through the mobile app are geo-tagged based on the location of the picture taken. In the moment, when creating a report, employees may not remember to include location details in the text they submit with photos.
The WorkplaceAware system eliminates the extra step of a manager or business owner contacting the employee for more information regarding exactly where an incident occurred. Vital minutes of response time are saved through this automated geo-tagging process within the app.
The green industry is full of innovators and forward-thinkers who solve problems and create opportunities. This month we’re profiling three nurseries that implemented big ideas, including branding, education and sustainability.