Two Ears & a Mouth

/ˈnetwərkiNG/

Learn to pronounce
noun

1. 1. the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

What happens when you show up at a conference, a career fair, or a roundtable event? Do you dive straight into the crowd and start mingling? Do you gently work your way in? Or, do you back into a corner and break out in a cold sweat?

For many people, networking is a terrifying, disabling prospect. This may be because they’re introspective, introverted, unconfident, shy, hindered by bad experiences, or simply new to it. Whatever the cause, a fear of networking can be hard to overcome once it’s established.

The good news is that none of us are born with a natural talent for networking, even the people who really enjoy it. Networking isn’t an “innate” ability, it’s a skill that anyone can learn. You don’t have to be a smooth operator or an extrovert go-getter to be successful; you just need to use the right strategies.

Networking takes many of us out of our comfort zones, but it is possible to overcome our fears when we use the right strategies.

To overcome a fear of networking:
1. Be selective about the events that you attend.
2. Research other attendees’ backgrounds to get useful information.
3. Set realistic, meaningful goals.
4. Think about what you’ll say, and listen to the responses.
5. Arrive early so that you can assess your surroundings.
6. Bring a colleague or friend for support.
7. Mind your body language and try to keep an open posture.
8. Go easy on yourself.
9. Take time out during the event to “recharge your batteries.”
10. Know when to move on from a conversation.

Remember, when networking, it is important to be a good listener, have a positive collaborative attitude, be sincere and authentic, follow up, be trustworthy, and be approachable.

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PRPS Conference & Expo Social Call, District Belt & Prize Pool

by Jason Cerkan

PRPS is making a bodacious return to an in-person annual conference. The Conference Committee & PRPS staff have been working together feverishly over the past 12 months to bring an exciting, educational, and entertaining 75th Conference & Expo, Looking Back While Moving Forward, at Kalahari Resort. Let’s not forget an amazing cast of Keynote speakers who are sure to be da bomb!

With over 50 sessions, many social opportunities (don’t miss the morning fitness meet-ups), an Expo Hall full of your favorites, the return of the Prize Pool and the District Challenge, there will be endless opportunities for newbies and seasoned peeps to interact and network with peers (don’t forget your business cards.)

A quick rundown of Socials for the 75th Annual PRPS Conference & Expo:

Tuesday, March 29th

Join us in the Expo Hall during the Grand Opening for a hella good tailgate party. Put together your dream team or participate individually in challenges to earn points towards the District Belt. Wear your college swag! Forgot your swag, Come On Down to Registration to purchase online 2022 PRPS Conference & Expo shirts, hats, bandanas, and more…

After dinner with our Keynote Kristine Stratton, take a time warp to join us for DJ Slammin’ Jams for a Trivia Challenge.  Participate with your crew or alone to earn points towards the District Belt. 

Wednesday, March 30th

Blow off some steam at the Morning Fitness Meet-Up with Patty Kleban for yoga stretching before the sessions begin. Don’t forget to pack your yoga mat. Purchase online a cool 2022 PRPS Conference & Expo Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle to keep you hydrated. Namaste!

Register for the bus trip to the Crossings Premium Outlets to Shop til You Drop at over 100 outlet stores or chillax at the Barley Creek Tasting Room, which features craft beers and wines from across Pennsylvania.

Jump in your time machine and boogey on down to see The Uptowns Getdowns perform music from the 40’s to today in the Conference Hall from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Get down you ducky shincrackers in your dress of the generations! Judges will award points towards the District Belt for the best squad and best individual outfits. Get grooooovy at the Photo Booth to preserve your memories for years to come.

Thursday, March 31st

Join Conference Co-Chair, Kristy Owens and connect with other like-minded individuals for a morning run~walk~jog around the Kalahari complex before the sessions begin. This is an EXCELLENT EXCELLENT way to get the blood flowing and prepare for a full day of sessions and excitement. The route may take you onto roadways, so be sure to wear reflective gear, as Safety is Always First. Average temps this time of year are 25-48 degrees so dress appropriately. Forgot your workout clothes? Mosey on over to registration to purchase online 2022 PRPS Conference & Expo gear, including a premium tank top available in men’s and women’s sizes. This isn’t a competition, go at your own pace and stop when you want. To join, simply show up at the ENORMOUS metal tree or email Kristy at kowens@crcog.net. In the event of inclement weather, the group will remain indoors.

After totaling up the points from the Tailgate Party, Trivia, and Dress the Decades events, the District Belt will be awarded at the PRPS Luncheon and Business Meeting.

Enjoy the elegant performers at the Awards Reception later that evening.

After the Awards Banquet, change into your favorite camp fire outfit and mellow out on the patio to roast marshmallows as we Party S’More with music performed by Jim Roberti. Not interested in an outdoor party, then grab some popcorn & cotton candy and get cozy for an evening Movie, bring the whole family!

Enter the Zen Zone at any time during the conference to enjoy a peaceful and calm atmosphere. Signage will be posted at the Zen Zone location each day.

The Prize Pool will be located in the Expo Hall. Labels not required. The Community Branch Committee are selling ticket sheets, cash or card accepted. Greenhorns seeking employment should drop their resumes off at the Prize Pool, where job postings will be listed, Opportunity Awaits! The Community Branch is still looking for donations for the Prize Pool! Consider donating tickets to local attractions, a gift card, or even cool department swag.

Peace, Love, and Granola…

Mental Health Awareness

by Jason Cerkan, Recreation Manager, A Pocono Country Place, Property Owners Association

The pandemic has been filled with ups and downs and many mixed emotions, information, and knowledge. From isolation to fear of the unknown many people we know may have experienced some form of depression that they may not have experienced before. Isolation led to many unfit people.

When someone is not leading a healthy lifestyle, we often times look at the outcomes in physical fitness terms. Seldom do we talk about mental health and the role it plays in our lives and the illness that may occur. People can not see how another person is truly feeling inside. Mental health impacts everyone’s quality of life and includes our passions, relationships, and experiences. Someone can be born with a genetic predisposition for a mental illness. Our brains can also sustain psychological traumas.

How To Be Supportive

When someone experiences a mental health challenge, here is how you can be supportive:

LISTEN: Let someone really express their experiences. Being someone they can talk to is essential when giving support.

BE NON-JUDGMENTAL: Don’t criticize or minimize the way they feel. You may not be able to understand exactly what they’re going through, and that’s ok.

ASK WHAT, NOT WHY: When you ask questions, avoid asking ‘why’ questions, and instead ask ‘what’ questions. Asking why can have a judgmental tone even if you don’t mean it that way.

GIVE INFORMATION – DON’T DIAGNOSE: Don’t assume they have an illness or condition. Provide direction to resources that can identify and treat mental health issues.

ACT AS A BRIDGE: You can connect someone to mental health resources. Resources include family, school guidance, mental health professionals, and organizations like Navigate Hope.

TEAMMATE IN SUPPORT: Being supportive doesn’t mean your duty is to ‘fix’ someone. Mental health is complicated and solutions aren’t overnight. As a teammate, the best support you can give is by being a trusting ear, helping to navigate resources, and acting as a source of encouragement.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there were many people who would not have otherwise been lonely, depressed or down. It is important that we acknowledge mental health not only for ourselves but for others. We need to embrace open communication of mental health challenges and be able to provide direction to help others before crisis arises. There is no shame in asking for help. There are tools and treatments to respond, treat and manage mental health issues.

Re-Create The Way We Recreate

For many years we enjoyed a booming industry as more people were participating in recreational programming. Then suddenly and without warning everything came to a grinding halt as COVID-19 not only swept the nation but the world. Many were left without direction and unsure how to safely operate programs for participants and staff. We researched local, state, and federal websites for answers, we looked to our legislatures for guidance, and we relied on one another for solutions.

In the early days of the pandemic our industry was turned upside down. For years we tried to get generations outdoors to play with one another, and now we were being told to do just the opposite. Throughout this last year many new online businesses were created, and we evolved with them. From COVID-19 awareness, to normal programs being offered online such as BINGO, to outdoor individual programming, we created new activities within our industry for our participants.

During the warmer months of 2020, consumers were looking for activities to help them stay occupied and healthy while maintaining social distancing. As a result of this, a number of outdoor activities have experienced growth; particularly, cycling, paddle sports, golf, camping, hiking, and bird-watching & nature sightings.

In the colder months we relied on more virtual programs on platforms such as Zoom. While our delivery has changed, our mission remained the same. We wanted to keep people engaged and having fun while reducing boredom and depression. Our knowledge and creativity has been tested like never before, and we have succeeded.

The past year has been challenging for us, and at times, depressing. However, being in the same boat together, has led to many success stories within our industry. Against all odds, many of us did open our pools and beaches, we were able to hold some in-person events, we grew better and better at offering virtual events, and we created many events that never existed before. In this ‘new normal’ ever changing world, we continue to adapt to the changes and challenges as we Re-Create the Way We Recreate.

“Where we’re going we don’t need roads”. ~ Dr. Emmett Brown

Follow the Leader…

It is tempting to group leaders into just two categories: good and bad, however there are actually many types of leadership styles that aren’t inherently good or bad—they’re just different. They all have their benefits and drawbacks, as well as their appropriate uses in certain scenarios.

Complete this sentence: “A leader is…”

What’s your answer? Someone who’s in a formal position of power? Whoever’s ranked above you on the org chart? The person with the corner office and the higher salary?

Those might be the traditional perceptions, but it’s important to recognize that anybody can be a leader, that means you, too.

The definition of a leader is the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

Read on as I briefly breakdown 7 common leadership styles!

Autocratic Leadership Style

You can think of this as a “my way or the highway” approach.

Autocratic leaders view themselves as having absolute power and make decisions on behalf of their subordinates. They dictate not only what needs to be done, but also how those tasks should be accomplished.

Democratic Leadership Style

You might also hear this leadership style referred to as “participative leadership.” Leaders in this category run groups and projects like…well, a democracy.

Even if these leaders are technically higher on the org chart, they emphasize working together and actively involve their teams in the decision-making process. Democratic leaders value ideas and input from others, and encourage discussion about those contributions.

They aren’t handing down orders, and instead take a much more collaborative approach to getting things done.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

This is a French term that translates to “leave it be,” which pretty accurately summarizes this hands-off leadership approach. It’s the exact opposite of micromanagement.

Laissez-faire leaders provide the necessary tools and resources. But then they step back and let their team members make decisions, solve problems, and get their work accomplished—without having to worry about the leader obsessively supervising their every move.

Transactional Leadership Style

Transactional leaders dish out instructions to their team members and then use different rewards and penalities to either recognize or punish what they do in response.

Think of a leader offering praise to applaud a job well done or mandating that a group member handles a despised department-wide task because they missed a deadline. Needless to say, this approach is highly directive, and is often referred to as a “telling” leadership style.

Bureaucratic Leadership Style

Bureaucratic leadership goes “by the book,” so to speak. With this leadership style, there’s a prescribed set of boxes to check in order to be a true leader.

For example, bureaucratic leaders have hierarchical authority—meaning their power comes from a formal position or title, rather than unique traits or characteristics that they possess.

They also have a set list of responsibilities, as well as clearly-defined rules and systems for how they’ll manage others and make decisions. They just need to follow that roadmap that’s laid out for them.

The key difference between the Bureaucratic and Autocratic leadership styles is the Autocratic style is where the leader makes all the decisions and exerts a high level of control over the subordinates. Whereas the bureaucratic style is based on following normative rules in management and decision making, and adhering to lines of authority.

Transformational Leadership Style

Transformational leaders seek to change (transform) the businesses or groups in which they lead by inspiring their employees to innovate.

These leaders are all about making improvements and finding better ways to get things done. As a result, they inspire and empower other people to own their work and chime in with their suggestions or observations about how things could be streamlined or upgraded.

Under transformational leaders, people have tons of autonomy, as well as plenty of breathing room to innovate and think outside the box.

Affiliative Leadership Style

A phrase often used to describe this type of leadership is “People come first.”

Of all the leadership styles, the affiliative leadership approach is one where the leader gets up close and personal with people. A leader practicing this style pays attention to and supports the emotional needs of the team members. The leader strives to open up a pipeline that connects him or her to the team.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling to even figure out how you can be more effective or what leadership style is best for you, start by thinking about a leader or mentor you admired. What were their qualities? What did they do? What did they say? How did it impact you?

Here’s the thing: There’s no such thing as a “perfect” leadership style, because leadership isn’t one size fits all. All of these approaches come with their benefits and drawbacks, and some of them will be more effective in certain scenarios. Like anything, leadership is a learning process, and it takes a little bit of trial and error to get it right.

Talkin’ Bout My Generation!

What is Age Diversity?

Age Diversity is defined as the ability of an organization to accept people of various age categories within the organizations’ business environment. The ability to manage both the group of people and merge them in a single working environment. Age Diversity is a hot topic in today’s business environment as we currently have more generations in the workplace than ever before. However, age diversity tends to be less focused on than gender and race diversity. While age and gender diversity are important, age diversity is another equally important piece of the puzzle.

As many as 5 generations represent today’s workforce.

Silent/Greatest Generation: Born between 1925 to 1945

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 to 1964

Generation X: Born between 1965 to 1980

Generation Y (Millennials): 1981 to 1995

Generation Z (IGen): 1996 and later

Various trends lead to why today’s workforce is represented by so many generations. 1.) People are working longer since they are healthier and living longer. 2.) Many Silent Generation or Baby Boomers are choosing to work because they want to or are not financially in a position to retire. 3.) Some Baby Boomers are supporting Millennial children still living at home in their 20’s and 30’s.

What are Advantages of Age Diversity?

Age diversity improves performance and production. Productivity in both older and younger workers is higher in companies with mixed-age work teams. Age diversity within work teams is positively related to performance when groups are involved in complex decision-making tasks.

Age diversity can help prevent employee turnover. Workers who are 55 and over contribute to lower turnover, as they are loyal workers who typically stay in their jobs longer than younger employees. Employers gain lower turnover costs and more skilled, experienced employees.

Age diversity drives innovation. Workers bring different experiences, styles, expectations, and perspectives. These differences become a source of strength and innovation when addressed and managed the right way. The bottom line is that the most diverse organizations are usually the most innovative.

What are Disadvantages or Challenges of Age Diversity?

Lack of mutual interests, lack of communication, and egoistic approach because of the age difference. For example, a single issue may have different ways of approaching a solution. The problem rises when people stick to their decision and are not willing to communicate and work together to compromise their ideas for a solution. In many cases these problems arise due to ego and less teamwork. People of different age groups have a mindset of why they have to bend for people who are of not up to their standards. When a manager is younger in age due to his education, senior employees might react due to level of experience. Another miscommunication is language and slang. Whereas one generation may understand a certain slang, another generation may not.

Resistance of adopting a new culture. There are employees who do not want to change their working style even in a new environment. Some refuse to accept that technology is taking over, especially when a new system is taught by a younger generation.

Forming groups within teams. Employees of the same team may be more comfortable with people of the same age due to language, religion, or social status.

Not very comfortable with each others attitudes or behavior. It is common human nature that people will go along with people of their beliefs, opinions or nature. We also see this with same gender.

Employees attach themselves to a particular style and there is no social mingling. We tend to see this with employees of different departments. Due to this employees might miss out on educational experiences with exposure to different parts of the business.

Conclusion

A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Diverse work teams bring high value to organizations. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful. But not all companies focus on inclusion as well as diversity. Inclusion goes beyond the identification of differences by encouraging a work environment that allows people to be who they are and to feel safe and respected. Employees will thrive only if they feel truly valued and included in the long-term strategy and day-to-day operations of their organization. Diversity and inclusion are essential to the health of any enterprise because they lead to greater engagement, teamwork, performance and innovation by workers.

Outside the Cubicle!

We have all heard the metaphor to think outside the box, but is that far enough? This catchphrase has become widely used in business environments, especially by management consultants and executive coaches, and has been referenced in a number of advertising slogans. To think outside the box is to look further and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking of things beyond them.

The world of recreational programming comes with many challenges and opportunities when creating new and exciting events and activities. Remember there isn’t anything that can not be done and there is always more than one way to get the same success.

In my 20+ years of recreational programming I’ve learned to toss the box out the window and instead think outside the cubicle. Every interaction, every event you attend, and every idea handed to you is fuel for a new event or activity. Throughout the year I attend trade shows for CAI (Community Associations Institute). At these trade shows, tables are filled with engineering firms, collection firms, banks, equipment contractors, insurance company’s, etc. Companies that really do not have much to do with recreational programming. Instead of ignoring the tables, I make it a point to approach every table and speak to every company. I make every face to face meeting count. Many of the companies I have approached at these trade shows I have asked to be a part of the annual job fair I host at the community I work for. Often times these companies have never been asked to attend a job fair. The job fair gives them the opportunity to market their company to your community, and it helps to make your job fair more successful, while also providing new opportunities for everyone involved. Furthermore, you have now built a new relationship with a company that you can ask to provide sponsorships for future events.

So remember just because “we’ve never done it this way before” doesn’t mean you can’t do it another way. Stop living in a 3 dimensional world and think outside the cubicle!

“The World is But a Canvas to the Imagination” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Conference Confidence!

Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s self and one’s ability to succeed.  Striking a healthy balance between too much and too little confidence can be challenging.  Too much and you come off cocky and stumble into unforeseen obstacles when you overestimate your own abilities or fail to complete projects on deadline because you underestimate the time and effort they require.  At the same time, having too little confidence can prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities.  Projecting just enough confidence helps you gain credibility, make a good lasting first impression, deal with pressure and meet personal and professional challenges head on. 

It’s that time of year again and emotions are high!  Some will get nervous as this may be your first conference while others get excited to see old friends.  Whatever your reaction, it’s Conference Time!  Conference Confidence is only for the veterans…WRONG!  The Annual Conference is truly what you make of it and I will tell you the sky is NOT the limit.  Where possibilities are endless and impossible is nothing!  Conference is your opportunity to network and learn from the best in the business.  I’ve provided suggestions to make the most of your experience:      

  1. Talk to as many people as possible.  Don’t just nod as you walk past people in the hallways. Sit and talk and get to know them and give them a chance to get to know you. 
  2. Go outside of your clique.  Leave your comfort zone. 
  3. Approach every table in the expo hall and get information from them all.
  4. Talk to the hotel/resort staff and ask questions about their industry or the facilities.
  5. Networking is fun but be careful not to have too much fun. 
  6. Don’t forget your business card, and don’t forget to pass it out. 

Every interaction at the Conference is an opportunity to build you, your programs and events. Plus you may make new friends.  Don’t be afraid to suggest ideas or share experiences and listen, listen, listen! 

As recreators, if our programs and events aren’t diverse, innovative, educational, and fun, our employers will find a person who will get the job done.  Come to Conference and get engaged and keep an open mind.  Gather the tools to fill your toolbox to make you, your programs and events better for your community. 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

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