Communication

My Life as a Gruntled Employee

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

I’m gruntled. I’m so gruntled I sneak around on the weekends, wake up really early, and stay at the “office” really late. I know, I know—you’re probably thinking this sounds like the beginning of a twisted Lifetime movie. I get that these activities can be seen in a negative light, but in this case—I assure you, they’re great!

“Gruntled” isn’t a term most people use to identify a “happy employee,” but I say, “why not?” It’s common to call an unhappy worker a “disgruntled employee.” Anyhow, I’m embracing the phrase. I’m gruntled. I mentioned before that I “sneak around on the weekends”—I like to work on weekends and “sneak” to work when my family members and friends are busy with things they like (my husband likes naps). I “wake up really early”—I open my eyes and my brain starts to think about what new projects we can start, how we can make more meaningful connections with the members and agencies that we care deeply for, and what new information is needed in the field. I have even been known to send emails with ideas before I get out of bed and head for a delicious cup of coffee. Before coffee . . . yes, I know—that’s pretty risky. I also “stay at the office really late”—I cannot “shut it down” at 5 p.m. I have tried (only because I was told about self-care—apparently that’s a thing), but I actually don’t think my mind ever stops. I love what I do so much, that I want to do it—all of the time. You’ve heard the phrase, “you’ll never work a day in your life if you do what you love to do.” Well, that’s it—I am just doing what I love to do and I believe that IS my self-care. I’m gruntled doing it.

Here are some of the things that make me gruntled. Perhaps some of these things will help you fill your organization with gruntled staff—or understand why they are gruntled and help you keep it that way:

  • I care about our mission and vision. I think in order to be truly gruntled at the workplace, one needs to be passionate about the mission and vision of the organization. For the record, the mission of NSPN is to ensure an effective system of response for youth in crisis through public and private partnerships at a local, state, and national level. The vision of NSPN is to create a world where all youth are safe. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
  • My supervisor is a leader. She leads by example. She believes in me. She checks her ego at the door and leaves that door open for input, ideas, and thoughts from all of her staff. She cares about my wants and needs to move forward. She listens—she takes the time to understand what MY idea of success is—and she helps provide the resources to accomplish it.
  • I’m challenged. There’s nothing like a good ol’ challenge to make me use my brain. Tasks can be difficult, but they are always possible. I care about our organization, partners, NSPN members, licensed Safe Place® agencies, and RHY grantees, so when I’m challenged, I know I’m playing a role in the success of all of these. (Being challenged also makes me gruntled, because it tells me I’m trusted.)
  • I have autonomy. I know some employees need a little more hand-holding than others, but I don’t believe any employee likes to be micro-managed. I cannot stand it. I’m happy I have the autonomy to do what I’m paid to do and do it well. You might have heard the phrase, “hire someone who is an expert and then get out of their way.” Well, it’s true. If you’re a micro-manager, stop now. You hired your employees for a reason—get out of their way and let them do it.
  • I’m comforted by transparency. I love that our organization is transparent. Gruntled employees remain content and safe when they know the direction of their organization. This doesn’t mean everyone is involved with every decision, but it does mean we support each other by providing the information and tools we need to carry out our responsibilities. Nothing demoralizes employees more than the phrase “need to know.” Everyone who knows me can tell you I don’t like this phrase. I think people who push “need to know” as a control mechanism, as an explanation or excuse for excluding staff who may think differently or excluding staff who question the status quo—have challenges they or their therapist “need to know.” One of the issues with “need to know” is no one seems to know who all “needs to know.” It’s based on perspective. Only including your “close friends” in a discussion or “accidentally” leaving someone out of a conversation disrupts the flow of the process.  Processes are in place for a reason. To help with this, determine teams (everyone who actually needs to know) and create contact lists (for use across the board), so when you email someone, you email the contact list and you don’t leave anyone out of the conversation.
  • I enjoy our culture. The team establishes the culture. Does it feel good when you walk into the office? Is it supportive and respectful or do you experience tension and stress? Being able to walk into an environment that is supportive enhances productivity—and gruntledness (not to mention it is definitely possible to have fun in the workplace).
  • I feel appreciated. Organizational leaders can’t always give their staff members a raise, but they can invest in them in other ways—including professional development. Don’t be afraid of developing your staff because they will move on—develop your staff so they can move up! They’ve already chosen your organization—show them you chose them as well. (By the way – NSPN offers a terrific Professional Development package with benefits like professional coaching for middle managers, an Emerging Leader Institute, Training of Trainer sessions, CEUs, Certified Youth Care course and certification, and more.  Invest in your employees by letting NSPN help. Take advantage of these benefits and let them grow professionally! Contact us at info@nspnetwork.org to learn more.)

They say happiness is contagious. I hope I’ve been able to share some ways you or your team can be happy—I mean . . . gruntled!

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Use Pokemon Go to Keep Kids Safe

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

You might have heard of this little monster game called Pokemon Go.  This game is all the rage right now and has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times (and hasn’t even become available everywhere yet!)  You might be asking… “Why is NSPN talking about this?”  The answer is simple… “potential.”  With so much interest and emphasis on mobility, organizations have the potential to use the game to draw community members to them.  When community members come to you, there’s an opportunity to share available youth and family services and resources (including your organization and the local Safe Place program.)

To take advantage of this potential, use the game app to identify PokeStops in your area.  Select one of these stops as a location where you want to set up a table with information and resources.  Since this game draws people to a location, partnering with a business, such as a Safe Place site, provides an easy opportunity to ask the business to donate the money used to purchase Lures.  Whether you ask for a donation or not, please make sure you obtain permission when setting up at a public location.  Learn more about PokeStops here:  http://www.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-go/PokeStops  http://attackofthefanboy.com/guides/pokemon-go-guide-pokestops-use/

After identifying and setting up at your location, it’s time to “lure” community members in.  As inc.com explains Pokemon Go offers a range of in-app purchases. The one that is most important for your [organization] is Lures.  Lures increase the rate of Pokemon generation in the area around the PokeStop where they’re placed for one half hour.”  Inc.com also shares the affordability of luring.

“With $100 netting you could purchase 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:

14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour

Once you send out your Lures, sit back and watch the crowd come in.  While sharing the great resources to community members, it’s a good idea to remind them that anyone can purchase Lures, so safety is key!  Remind youth and family members to not visit secluded areas and don’t adventure out alone.

You can learn more about how to use this game to #KeepKidsSafe and generate awareness about available resources in your community at:  http://www.inc.com/walter-chen/pok-mon-go-is-driving-insane-amounts-of-sales-at-small-local-businesses-here-s-h.html

If you don’t play the game, this might all sound crazy.  Here’s a great website you can visit it learn the ins and outs of the game.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/health/pokemon-go-guide-trnd/

It’s also helpful to know what some of the associated lingo is.  Here’s a handy chart:

PokeGlossaryImage credit: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/health/pokemon-go-guide-trnd/

You can also see some tips and tricks about Pokemon Go here:

And, at the end of the day… If you’re not ready to embrace Pokemon Go, it’s still probably beneficial to learn a little about it so you know what folks are talking about.

“Gotta catch ‘em all!” Have fun!

Live Life Unfiltered

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

It’s no doubt technology has made life more…let’s say convenient. Technology has provided increased accessibility for education, safety, healthcare, and entertainment. It has also paved a new way to build “social connections”. But, with these new “social connections” – are we really connecting? Technology enables increased efficiency and productivity; however, it has disabled true conversation, connection, and togetherness. Take a moment and watch a powerful video authored by Prince Ea. In this video, he shares a simple message to encourage you to be balanced, mindful, and present. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

Some have argued that technology has strengthened communication; however, I believe technology has made communication faster and shorter – not stronger. In fact, I believe communication is strongest when no form of technology is involved at all.

I have found technology – as wonderful as it is – often times interrupts, rather than improves our lives.  Look around; you’ll begin to notice how society is starting to live through technology instead of taking the brilliant science behind it to meet certain needs. So many moments are being lost because they are being experienced through a (screen) filter. I want to shout – “LIVE IN THE MOMENT!” I mean, don’t you want to experience something you enjoy first hand and not through a screen? I was at a concert one evening and I was recording the song I had been waiting for all day. About half-way through, I realized I was watching it through my screen. With excitement, I had been waiting for that very moment and almost missed the entire thing. I wasn’t allowing myself to experience something joyful. I was watching it with a filter, which I could have just as easily watched on screen from home. It was that moment that I realized the value of just enjoying the in-person experience. When you have a better connection with your phone than a person, you are living life through technology. It’s time to make some changes. Live life unfiltered; live in the moment.

Here are five ways you can start living life unfiltered:

  • Adjust your morning routine.
    • Put your phone out of reach.  Many of us sleep with the phone right beside us and the first thing we do in the morning is check our emails or social media accounts.  Try starting the day off with a nice stretch or meditation instead.
  • Leave home without it.
    • That’s right…leave your phone at home.  Plan a day with the family or by yourself and leave the technology at home.  If you’re concerned about an emergency, let others know where you’ll be and what time you expect to get home.  If there is an actual emergency, they will do what they did before cell phones… they will find you.
  • Eat and be merry.
    • Make your time at the table, chair, or couch technology free.  Simply enjoy your meal and savor each bite.  Not only is it the healthiest option, it’s also a way to actually connect with others – or yourself if you choose to have a bite alone.
  • Don’t drop one piece of technology for another.
    • While smart phones have become a one-stop-shop for all things, technology doesn’t begin and end there.  If you truly want to disconnect for a while – turn the television off too.  Instead, go outside and plant a flower or tree, pull out the big tub of photos (you know – the ones you had to go and get developed to see them.)  Sit down around a table and relive the memories or share those memories with those who weren’t there – especially those who don’t know what life is like without the technology of today.
  • Don’t allow over-stimulation to control your life.

Here’s a fun life-hack where you can make a quick change to help you avoid over-stimulation and potentially reduce the urge to constantly check your smart phone: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/480240/adventures-in-grayscale/?utm_source=SFTwitter

Then and Now

Then and Now: The Reality of New Beginnings
By: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator for National Safe Place Network 

Human beings tote baggage around everywhere we go.  Sometimes we hold that heaviness inside and struggle to let it go.  Experiences of disappointment, pain and loss teach us to survive by limiting expectations, eliminating vulnerability, and disconnecting from others.  Other times that baggage gets stuck in the environment around us.  Failing an assignment at school colors a teacher’s perception of a student’s potential.  A mistake at work results in colleagues or supervisors doubting a young person’s reliability.  A common but destructive error in judgment breaks a parent’s trust and makes it difficult for a youth to restore it.

For those of us who work with runaway and homeless youth, it isn’t hard to see how such baggage might trigger a chain of events and reactions that could ultimately lead a young person to isolation, hopelessness, and life on the streets.  Knowing how important both resilience and relationships are to positive outcomes for runaway and homeless youth, we have an opportunity to encourage youth, families, and communities to explore such challenges from a different perspective.

Change is hard for any of us.  Feeling pressure to change makes it harder.  Working to change in the face of expectations that we will fail can make the odds seem insurmountable.  Our youth and families experience these struggles every day.  Coping skills that cause harm are difficult to replace.  Unsupportive communication patterns are hard to break.  We who serve runaway and homeless youth recognize those challenges, and we know that pushing through them can produce extraordinary results.

As RHY service providers, our knowledge and experience uniquely equip us to help youth and families navigate these changes.  Here are a few of the ways we can help:

  1. Normalize these experiences. Help youth and families see that they are not alone.
  2. Facilitate realistic expectations. Don’t set families up to fail.  Help them recognize that old patterns were practiced for a long time, and it may take some time to practice newer ones.
  3. Teach and demonstrate healthy communication skills. Use reflective listening and practice “I” statements.
  4. Teach and demonstrate skills for giving meaningful and effective feedback. Specific acknowledgement and lessons learned about effort, strategy and persistence build self-esteem.  Celebrate each positive step!
  5. Encourage youth and families to take risks. Vulnerability is a powerful connection facilitator, and it can be very scary.
  6. Build relationships with local schools, businesses, churches and other organizations and advocate for youth in our communities.

This skill-building and advocacy can help youth and families lighten the load they carry and move forward with a perspective of hope and possibility.

Follow these links to helpful resources available from National Safe Place Network:

NSPN Training Members can access the following webinars on e-Learning at http://nspnetwork.training.reliaslearning.com/

NSPN: Motivational Interviewing (NSPN201503)

Additional resources available through RHYTTAC on e-Learning athttp://rhyttac.training.reliaslearning.com/

Engaging Families of RHY (RHYTTAC47)

Meeting “Connection” Needs of RHY (RHYTTAC48)

Family Assessment and Intervention (REL-FAI-BH-0)

Other resources available online:

Stages of Change Model: http://stepupprogram.org/docs/handouts/STEPUP_Stages_of_Change.pdf

Assertiveness Formula: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/romance-redux/201108/the-abcs-assertiveness

Five Tips on Creating an Awareness Campaign

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month is coming up in January. We encourage you to join us throughout January as, together, we can increase awareness of human trafficking and combine our efforts to prevent it. Each week, we’ll highlight and share information on the following topics: About Human Trafficking, Raising Awareness, Human Trafficking Prevention, and Celebrating Survivors. The topics were created to make it easy for YOU to make a difference.

Want to start supporting this campaign before the official start date of January 1, 2016? Join our ThunderClap! ThunderClap is a platform that allows users to flood Facebook, Twitter with a shared message – at the same time. By joining, Thunderclap will automatically post the following message to your page on January 11, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET. It’s easy to join.  Just visit http://thndr.me/zDh2DU to schedule your post and join the nation in making some noise on social media to #EndHumanTrafficking.  Thunderclap Message: “I stand against human traffickers. People are not for sale. Together we can #EndHumanTrafficking.”

Watch for details in your email and on social media about how to participate in NSPN’s and FYSB’s #EndHumanTrafficking campaign.

If you’re planning on creating your own awareness campaign for human trafficking or another cause, check out some tips we put together for you. Feel free to share your campaign ideas in the comments below.

NSPN’s top Five Tips on Creating an Awareness Campaign

  1. Make a measureable difference. Don’t start planning until you have determined the specific outcomes you want to meet.  After you determine your outcomes, create a process that is tied to the outcomes. Your process should include lots of creativity and be designed to ignite and capture the emotion of your followers. Help your followers understand the value and purpose and make it easy for them to help you meet your goal(s).
  2. Be prepared to invest. Whether your goal is to raise awareness or raise funds, you need to be prepared to make a large investment to your campaign. Your key investment will be (or should be)… TIME.  The more successful you want your campaign to be, the more time and energy you will need to spend planning and managing it.
  3. Be the expert. Make sure you have done your research. Knowing and being ready to share the facts about your particular cause will make you a credible resource for followers. Followers want to support and be a part of something they feel will make a difference – not something that will fizzle out. If you know and share your expertise, you will help create a larger following which will help expand the reach or breadth of your message. Don’t hesitate to form a committee of experts. Collaborating with experts in the field will also broaden your following. Keep in mind – you should use this expertise to motivate your followers to get involved, share, or participate with other activities designed to help meet your campaign goals. Motivation v/s education will help carry your message further.
  4. Create (and stick to) a promotions timeline. Creating a timeline will help you prepare exactly what you need and when you need it. It will help drive the brainstorming process and creativity. When writing your piece for the website or a social media posting, you may think – “Oh, we should also create and include this type of image with this.” or “We really need to include a resource or article to go along with this message.” Following your timeline will help ensure you have time to prepare a powerful message.
  5. Share your message. Here are some actions you can take to help meet your campaign goals:
    1. Invite others to get involved.  Asking your stakeholders (partners, members, volunteers, etc.) as well as local businesses and organizations to get involved will help increase “man-power” and extend your reach.   Make sure to show your appreciation and support.  Keep in contact with them, encourage them to stay on track with the timeline, and offer them help and support with specific tasks.
    2. Create a website or page on an existing website dedicated to your campaign. Create a space that is a “hub” of information for followers to access and gain knowledge about the cause.  The page should inform what the cause is, how or who it affects, and offer ways followers can help meet your campaign goals.
    3. Get the word out. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Thunderclap, etc.) is a great platform to share your message. Make it easy for your followers by providing post samples they can copy and paste.  Create a hashtag for your campaign. You can also use direct mail, emails, or pass out cards or flyers on the streets of your community. Don’t forget to share your website or page for followers to learn about the cause.
    4. Submit a press release to media outlets (television, radio, newspaper reporters and editors).
    5. Host an event such as a walk, rally, or other event with a large group.
    6. Create and display posters/signs. Yard signs have been a successful option for many campaigns.
    7. Exhibit at or sponsor an event happening during your campaign.

Happy campaigning!

NSPN’s “Together we can” Networking Tips

One of the key elements of business events, including conferences and other training sessions, is networking. Networking is essential to youth and family service providers as it connects peers to information and resources. Networking is a core component of NSPN and drives the “Your needs. Your network. Together we can!” motto.

Because networking is critical, we’ve provided ten networking tips below. If you’d like to discuss more ways to network with others, connect with us at info@nspnetwork.org.

  1. Be authentic.  Sometimes individuals use networking as a means to develop business connections.  NSPN believes networking should be about developing relationships. Relationships are deeper connections you create when you actually care about the success of each other and not just using each other as a “business connection.”
  2. Know who you are. When someone asks about your organization, do you know how to answer this question – quickly? Work with your supervisor or marketing team to learn your organization’s elevator pitch. This pitch offers cues to individuals and encourages them to invest their time in you.
  3. Re-connect. Sometimes, it’s easier to start connecting by re-connecting. If you see a familiar face or someone you know and haven’t seen since last year – say hi. Get caught up with what you’ve both been up to.  Make sure to jot their number down and check in from time to time.
  4. Own your awkwardness.  If you’re awkward, own it. You’re not the only one that can sense you’re uncomfortable. Say it out loud, “I’m sorry, I’m so awkward at this! But I really want to connect with you because we have this in common – do you have a second?” Owning your awkwardness lightens the conversation early so everyone can focus on what’s actually important. Chances are – they’re uncomfortable with networking too and you both will be relieved.
  5. Small talk is OK. Sometimes, it’s easier to have some conversation starters ready. It’s as easy as just saying hello, talking about the weather, or offering a compliment. Asking for advice opens the door for great conversation as well.
  6. Communicate.  “Is that your final answer?” There’s a ton of information out there! Don’t accept yes or no as a final answer. Ask open-ended questions. By doing so, someone has the opportunity to share new information you may find useful. Keep in mind; it’s important to be able to quickly articulate what information you’re interested in.
  7. Share and Receive.  Networking is a two-way street. Working together by sharing and listening will result in more effective conversations and results.
  8. Don’t leave empty-handed. When you meet someone, ask for their business card or contact information. Make a note on the back about the person you met so you can use it to build your relationship. Don’t forget to ask for their social media handle! Social networking is an easy way to keep in touch.
  9. Plan for the future. Don’t just say “nice knowing you.” Identify some ways you can help each other and plan a call or an email in the future to follow-through on supporting each other.
  10. Thank you. Showing appreciation for someone’s time and discussion goes a long way.  Relationships are built on support and respect.
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