Monday, February 6, 2017

Learning to LOVE Meetings

In honor of Valentine's Day, let's talk LOVE.  

The LOVE for meetings.  I'd say this is not usually the case. The look, walk and talk of someone, or even a whole team, dreading a meeting, is something we have all seen before, maybe even often.  But it does not have to be this way. Let's work on learning to LOVE meetings because we make them lovable and productive!

Here are a few things that I have learned which help make meetings more effective and productive: 

1. Start the meeting on time.  This sets the tone for professionalism and keeping on task. And it shows respect for one another's time.

2. Only invite people to the meeting that need to be there. If Stacey just needs to know one thing or you just want to keep her in the loop, she doesn't need to be there for the full hour.  Let her know you are respecting her time and will fill her in on the pieces relevant to her work.

3. Opt for shorter meetings. There is this phenomenon where if you allow for 2 hours, the meeting will take just that long, or miraculously in a 45 minute meeting you get the same work accomplished.  Somewhat unconsciously, we stretch for the time allotted.  So keep meetings short, with a tight agenda and an eye on the clock, and you'll find that you are congratulating one another for the effective and succinct meeting!

4. Who is running the meeting?  Decide this beforehand. This person should manage the agenda and the time to keep the conversation on track. She/he should keep a list of "future agenda items" as topics arise that should be discussed at another time. This does not have to be the same person for each meeting.

5. Assign tasks or actions during the meeting and re-cap those at the end.  Who is doing what? Make these decisions when together-- don't leave it with only "we need to..." Assign specific tasks to individuals. These action items should be reflected in the notes to keep people on track.

6. End the meeting on time.  People are busy. They have another meeting, have to pick up their kids or are trying to finish a project. You are losing their attention as the meeting drones on and on.  Be organized and respect people's time.  

7. Fun. Have some. You can be effective and timely and still share laughs.  Share a pertinent comic, a funny story, snacks (you will blow people away if you bring in something homemade), fun stickers or pens, etc.  You will hear people breathe and that's a good thing!

Effective meetings are not easy.  These articles below offer some useful tips to help develop this skill. Share with your team as well!

KS Solutions offers meeting facilitation, as there are times where an outside facilitator is needed for the most effective meeting.  Call us, we are happy to help.

Resources for You:

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I Will Be More Organized in 2017! - A New Year’s Resolution We Can Help With

Happy 2017!  

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” ~Muhamad Ali

Being  more organized is one of the most common New Year’ resolutions. Is it on your list?
Better organization refers to a desire for this at home, as well as at work.  Let’s talk work life. How can we be more organized in our own spaces to increase our productivity and decrease stress?

There are several helpful articles below that may be beneficial to you and your team.

Debi Clark, of Go To Girl Organizing Solutions, a local Baltimore business, says:
"Sometimes we feel guilty organizing our offices because that’s time we could be spending on 'actual work', right?  Investing the time to organize your office will pay you back many times over in increased productivity and decreased stress levels."  
"Everything has a place and there is a place for everything.  An organized office does not have to look like a Martha Stewart photo shoot. Being able to put your hands on a file or piece of information within seconds should be the goal of any organizing system."

KS Solutions' Favorite Tips:

  1. Have a scratch pad on-hand - As things pop in your head, a co-worker shares information, etc., have one place to jot things down throughout the day. This offers less to remember and less time spent on trying to find “that” sticky note.
  2. De-clutter - Move things to drawers that you don’t use regularly, hide cords, have a physical in-box. This is good for your focus and organization.
  3. Take a picture – In lieu of having items on your desk that are simply for reference (like an ink cartridge or article) that take a picture with your smartphone.
  4. Use  email organization system -  As we know, email can be a huge time suck.  There are many systems out there to use email more efficiently  (see #5 below for one idea).
  5. To organize papers, Debi of Go To Girl Organizing Solutions suggests:

  • Set-up files into 3 separate categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary files are the ones you need to access on a regular basis. Secondary files are ones you go to occasionally and tertiary files are seldom accessed. 
  • Use vertical file sorter and a few manila folders to get active papers up and off the desk, yet still within reach. She describes that a vertical file is just a pile, turned on its end. When labeled into folders, they are easier to see and to access.  
  •  Take 10 minutes before leaving the office each day to tidy up your desk.  It can really kick-start your motivation the next morning!  

There are times when you have too much to do regardless of how organized you are. KS Solutions offers support to mission-based organizations offering expertise and takes work off of your plate. We offer project management, organizational development, volunteer engagement, strategic planning and facilitated learning opportunities.  Contact us to see how we can assist you.

A Few Articles for You and Your Team:

  1. Five Simple Steps That Apply Order to Chaos -  Getting Things Done, David Allen
5. A Super-Efficient Email Process - Harvard Business Review  

~ Contact Kate for questions about how KS Solutions can help you and your team.
~ Check out Got To Girl to learn more about the organizing solutions offered.

Cheers to a productive 2017!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Learning to LOVE Your Organization's Database-- Tips for You

It is hard to even think about! What is the condition of your organization's database?  We have  one,  we need one, but they sure can easily get unwieldy. 

Gail Robinson of Generosity Data Solutions, a local company, offers these tips to keep your database maintained.  Her contact information is below if you want to know more about how Generosity can help your organization.

Your Personal Database Checklist
We don’t have to tell you how important it is to make sure your database is up and working properly. But we also know that keeping up with your database maintenance needs can seem overwhelming.

That’s why we created a checklist that will help you to stay organized when it comes to monitoring the most important part of your business.
  • Do you have a dedicated person in charge of your database? 
    When it comes to running a database, you need someone who can constantly monitor it. Make sure that person is available enough to ensure that operations run smoothly. There should never be confusion on who runs the database.
  • Do you have documentation for your data entry policies & procedures?
    Everyone in your company has to be on the same page when it comes to the database. You need to make sure that your data entry policies and procedures are documented and readily available.
  •  Is your data backed up and updated? 
    You aren’t going to get a warning before your database crashes and you lose everything. You need to establish a schedule to make sure that your data is backed up, and you also need to make sure that it's being updated. We tell companies to make sure they update NCOA, email and phone appends, deceased suppression data, and much more.
  •  Are permissions for all of your users set correctly?
    Every employee obviously doesn’t need access to every security level within your database. But we find that companies often forget to provide some of their key employees with the right permissions to perform their jobs effectively.
  •  Do you have the latest software installed?
    Collaborative projects can become a headache if staff members are using different software. Make sure that everyone has the latest software update installed to access key features and keep operations running smoothly.
  •  Do you have strong passwords?
    Stress the importance of password strength with your staff. With password hacking tools becoming even more sophisticated, a weak password can leave your entire company vulnerable.
  •  Is your staff properly trained?
    Is your staff properly trained on how to use your software and communication tools? Remember, you aren’t always going to be there when a problem occurs.
  •  What support levels are covered through your CRM Company?
    Do your customer relationship management programs have enough support? Are you able to accurately analyze customer data and interactions? Is your data migrated into one CRM program? It’s great if you are utilizing CRM technology, but a lot of businesses don’t have the support levels they need on the platform.

If you would like to learn more about Generosity Data Solutions and how we can help you today, please visit us at

Generosity is a software and data solutions company that implements, integrate and customize software platforms so business processes can run smoothly, effectively and save time.
Gail Robinson
Chief Data Officer/Owner
Generosity, LLC

Thanks, Gail, for sharing your expertise!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Vacation- A Time to Unplug

Your vacation, so relaxing, or at least supposed to be! This is important and timely, since we are getting into vacation season, so I am sharing this again in 2016 with some updates.

People are STRESSED!  In many cases folks are not truly relaxing when they are on vacation. Technology is lovely but does not help us relax when we see email, Google Drive and  Linked In notifications on our phone constantly.  And when you are doing the job of two people, there is never a good time to be away!  But alas, we are human and to rejuvenate, enjoy life, and to come back fresh, creative  and energetic, we need a break.  

The two articles below have some great pointers.  Below the articles are a few favorite ideas gleaned from these. Take a minute to reflect on what you can do to improve your vacation this year and maybe take a few hints to share with your team.


The Right Way to Unplug When You Are on Vacation

Favorite Suggestions

  • Turn off notifications. Disable any work-related notifications on your phone and computer for the length of your vacation.  How can you relax when things are beeping and lights are flashing?!
  • What do I and my fellow travelers expect from one another? Your work colleagues aren’t the only ones you need to consider. If you’re traveling with friends or family, get clear up front about your technology game plan. Avoid the family fight with this tip…
  • Set up a check-in schedule. If you are planning to check your business email,  set up a schedule in advance.  Talk with your traveling companions about this schedule so they know when you’re going to be in work mode. And share your game plan with your colleagues, so that they know if and when you will be checking work-related email. It would be better to not do this, but if you must...
  • Look at what's happening work wise a month after your vacation so that you can anticipate things clients or colleagues may need and may come looking for right in the middle of your vacation. Preparation is key to you getting to chill!
  • If you are in a leadership position, vacation is the perfect time to practice letting go and trusting your team or key individuals with more responsibility.  They will love that you trusted them and it is a win-win.

Follow KS Solutions on Facebook for other tips and resources to support you in your work for good.