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ENVIRONMENT_BELIEF_INFLUENCE

3 Perspectives To Keep In Mind When Connecting With People

In my personal and professional life, I find myself translating behaviors and communication patterns to people to be able to coexist with other people. The gap is due to lack of consideration of the other person’s perspective. To help those who find it difficult to interact with other people, I want to offer three principles I use to understand their perspective when connecting with other people. They are to be mindful of my audiences’ beliefs, environment and influences.

 

The first perspective to keep in mind when connecting with your audience is to be mindful of the beliefs of your audience. In my experience, belief has been the root of decision making, boundary setting and motivation. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. Think of belief of as the internal GPS on what choices to make, processes to engage in and identify what does and doesn’t apply to them. An audience’s history, personal definitions and boundaries are shaped by their belief. Understanding these things assists in identifying things to say and things to stand clear of when you’re having a conversation.

 

Next up, is the environment of your audience. Have you ever heard the phrase “you are your environment”? Well, that applies here. People know how to function in their environment. An environment can range from a place to a profession. For example, Americans speak English and doctors are trained in medicine. You wouldn’t approach a lawyer asking for recommendations on surgeries. You apply communications talking points that are applicable to your audience. If you don’t know your audience’s environment is, you can do some research or ask your audience basic questions to inquire about what you know.

 

The last perspective I use to connect with people is to understand their influences. Policies, contract obligations/agreements and social media are all examples of influence. I generally go in with a general understanding of how heavy these circumstances impact the behaviors of my audience. For example, contract obligations restrain people from having conversations about topics that the contract specifically outlines not to have a conversation about. When I am aware of the contract obligations, I know to stand clear of having those conversations with my audience. I tread carefully.

 

To increase your chances of connecting with someone, remember to take a few minutes to understand their perspective when connecting with them. I’d love to hear how these perspectives work for you or if you have any suggestions on methods of approach.

Christina Glancy is a Pittsburgh Native who serves as our Community Outreach Specialist. She has built a unique perspective which blends project management, marketing, community involvement and data analysis. She has a successful track record of engaging diverse groups of stakeholders throughout the Transportation, Health Care and Cybersecurity Industries. She believes in changing the world one conversation at a time.

Katy freeway (I-10) in Houston, Tx

So, How’s the Commute?

Why do we pick one job opportunity over another? That is if you are lucky enough to have more than one offer at a particular time. What are the priorities in that decision-making process? Are these priorities changing as more millennials enter the workforce?

Traditionally, a candidate would select the job that pays the most money. Yes! “show me the money.” You want a job that fits your skills and ambitions, and one that provides more opportunity for advancement. It is a common perception that nothing else really played into the decision.

Well, as the transportation geek that I am, I propose there is much more to it today than money. I am not arguing money is no longer important, especially in areas like the DC Metro where I live, but other factors are becoming increasingly important. And, again, in the DC Metro area which has some of the worst traffic congestion in the county, the commute is a prime factor in that decision.

 

Traffic

The common scenario at one time was you take the high paying job in the city, but you buy a house far out in the suburbs where housing is much cheaper. As properties become more expensive, the further out you live, you put up with a commute that may require two to three hours per day sitting in your Single Occupied Vehicle (SOV). You just have to deal with it. Well, that may be becoming less the case with the current work force.

Several years ago I was out of work and landed a position on temporary assignment. A few months later, the company offered me a permanent position but I was also offered a second job from another employer, a local government. I actually drew up a matrix to compare pros and cons for each of the jobs. The length of the commute was a key factor. Unfortunately, both jobs were at locations over 20 miles from my home, but one job required a 20 minute shorter commute than the current job I had. I took the new job.

 

drawing of van

But I am not referring to just the length or hassle of the commute. Candidates consider other commuting options that would be available with this new company. What other commuting options would I be referring to? Well does the company have access and/or opportunity for an employee to use:

  1. Transit (light rail, commuter rail, or bus)
  2. Ridesharing ( carpools or vanpools)
  3. Biking or Walking to Work
  4. Telework
  5. Flexible Work Hours

And there are also the incentives (financial or other) a company can provide to help employees consider other commuter options? These may include:

  1. Pre-tax subsidies
  2. Discounted passes
  3. Incentives for non-parking
  4. Shuttle access
  5. Guaranteed Ride Home
  6. Employer Assisted living

I recently read a tweet from Michelle “Shelly” Parker who manages the regional GoTriangle TDM program for the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area.

She posted her article from a local business publication in which she notes that with low unemployment in many areas across the country, companies are looking at ways, some may be viewed as extreme, in attracting talent for their open positions. While many companies are limited in what they can provide, a company that provides commuter benefits and a strong commuter options program can go a long way in recruiting much needed talent.

It is clear that commuting considerations should not be dismissed as something just for “green conscious” companies or companies in large metropolitan areas. Ms. Parker referenced recent research that suggested employees having left their job due to commuting challenges or are beginning to look to their employers to help them address their commuting challenges. A number of companies in the Research Triangle Area offer financial support to cover employee commuting costs, as many do here in the Washington metro area, so it seems like a no-brainer that companies should consider incorporating commuting benefits as part of its bottom line. If they don’t, they could be left behind in attracting talent.

commuteSo what can a company do? The first step is the company should survey its employees. Find out what their needs are. It’s also good if employers use free TDM consulting services to identify commuter options specific to their company location, employee schedules and travel options. These consultants use carpool, mass transit, biking, walking and telework best practices to develop commuting-assistance programs for businesses and provide guidance for selecting and implementing programs as well.

The first question employees consider before accepting a position is, “How am I going to get to work?” If a company includes commuter benefits in human resources and personnel practices, that company can add value to compensation packages and help their workers integrate a work-life balance at a new level.

During my long career I have had opportunities to take metro rail into work, bike to work during nice days in the summer, and even take flex days off. I have to admit that I was happiest at work when I was able to examine a number of options for commuting. At one position, I had a subsidy to help cover the cost of using metro rail, as well as a pre-tax benefit when the subsidy began to not keep pace with rising Metro fares. I also had a  position in which my employer provided facilities for locking and storing bikes and providing showers, so I didn’t stink the entire day. That went a long way in improving my satisfaction with the position.

So, if an employer asks his/her employee “how was your commute?” that employer should consider how they themselves can influence that response. The company may not only attract worthy candidates with a comprehensive commuter benefits package, but also keep them for the long-term.

James Davenport is a TDM Employer Outreach Specialist, on contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation. Before that, James worked for Prince William County/Department of Transportation as a Regional Planner. In that capacity, he represented the county in regional forums and worked with planners and staff from other localities and transit agencies to help the region plan for its transportation future. For many years, James worked with the National Association of Counties as a project manager providing education and outreach to county officials, staff and key stakeholder groups on planning issues such as transportation, water quality, collaborative land use and economic development.

Money-Capitol-Hill

The importance of Financial Stability

Individuals and families are faced with the challenges of an economic crisis, while trying to maintain or achieve financial stability. Majority of people in the United States are either low and middle class, while 1% includes the upper class that makes up 40% of the nation’s wealth. In addition, almost 80% of families live paycheck to paycheck and are unable to maintain financial stability in the event of an emergency. For many this means receiving financial aid from federal, state or private funded programs.

One common goal for many individuals and families is to obtain financial stability; but, how can you achieve this goal, when you consistently face economic challenges? Many families are faced with limited income due to the lack of personal savings. No one’s situation is the same; however, many are faced with similar circumstances. Financial stability can also affect businesses.

What does this mean? This means that everyone is trying to survive economic loss without compromising their lifestyle. There will always be economical challenges, however individuals and families need to better prepare financially in the event of an emergency.

Financial Stability is being able to still pay your debts, bills, personal savings, financial goals and savings in the event of an emergency. One way to achieve this goal, is by implementing the following steps below:

• Make your finances personal
• Understand that the most important investment is yourself
• Earn income by doing something you enjoy
• Start a budget
• Live below your means
• Create an emergency fund
• Pay off your debt
• Invest for retirement
• Make sure you have some fun
• Stick with it!

Take charge of your personal finances to live life on your terms without living paycheck to paycheck. This seems like an unreachable dream, but it is very much within your reach. While I won’t make specific recommendations here, your local library has books that can help you reach your financial goals and add some financial stability to your household. Use the resources available to you to lighten the burden during economically hard times.





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