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How to Make Ethical Decisions in a Commercial World

Every business decision has consequences, and with so many factors to consider – and many unknowns we can’t consider – those consequences can be serious. For the executive whose decisions may impact large numbers of employees, vendors and consumers, it can feel like a high-wire ride on a unicycle. 

Now, toss ethics into the decision-making process, and keeping balance on that high-wire ride becomes even more challenging.

But making ethical decisions in a commercial world doesn’t have to be such a burden. 

Simply put, ethics is a moral philosophy of right and wrong. Business ethics, as Melissa Horton explains it in Investopedia, is “the system of moral and ethical beliefs that guides the values, behaviors and decisions of a business organization and the individuals within that organization.”

These “beliefs” are rooted in integrity, honesty, fairness, and protecting the public welfare. In some areas…laws, regulations and codes have been enacted to protect the environment, prohibit discrimination, and maintain health and safety standards.

Apart from those obvious ethical considerations, there are many more vague issues that we all must navigate daily on a case-by-case basis. Here are some steps you can take to help you make the best, most moral decision possible in difficult situations.

To read the rest of this article visit Tim Noonan’s blog.


The Biggest Cause of Workplace Burnout And What To Do About It

We’ve all felt it and seen it in our coworkers – a positive link between job satisfaction and productivity. 

When we’re happy with our company and our role in it, when there’s a healthy level of challenge to keep us engaged and when we feel we’re contributing to the team, we are motivated to do our job … and do it well! 

But when something happens to turn any of those positive aspects toxic, we can quickly be pushed over the edge with stress that sends both job satisfaction and productivity into a nosedive.  

According to Corporate Wellness magazine, even though a job improves the health and general outlook of many people, workplace stress can become so significant “that it outweighs any possible benefits and even poses a threat to [our] health.” 

And, if work-related stress is prolonged or excessive, it raises the likelihood of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion known as “burnout.” 

Dr. Christina Maslach, a professor of psychology emerita at UC Berkeley and an expert on the subject, defines occupational burnout as “a high frequency of three things: exhaustion, cynicism and a lack of professional efficacy on the job.”

Lack of control over matters that directly affect our job is one of the leading contributors to burnout. Workload, access to proper work tools, and even work schedules are among the things beyond an employee’s control. If supervisors or managers are inconsiderate and don’t take input from their direct reports, burnout can occur more often. Other factors include lack of a proper work-life balance, defective work dynamics and unclear job expectations.

“Casual full-time workers, who are likely to have the lowest job control and high job demands are most at risk of job strain,” adds Corporate Wellness.

The effects of work-related stress are diverse. 

The American Psychological Association has determined that musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities are linked to stress and “especially job stress.” 

High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and mental health issues are among the health problems that can be caused by work-related stress. Job stress can also lead to substance abuse and a long-term downward spiral in an individual’s quality of life. 

We know that adversity builds character, and a certain amount of perseverance through difficult times is valuable. But awareness that there are serious dangers to letting stress get out of hand, and more importantly having permission to make adjustments to avoid work-related stress, are essential to individual health and the health of any well-run business. 

Managers who are skilled at empathetic leadership are able to recognize the signs before burnout and later disengagement or even turnover becomes an issue. Creating a safe workplace culture where an open dialogue is encouraged can go a long way in reaching workable solutions. 

More and more companies are offering healthy activities like yoga and tai chi classes, as well as mindfulness and meditation programs to employees for stress management. Studies have shown that these practices as well as carving out unscheduled time and taking ‘brain breaks’ can improve productivity and reduce burnout in the workplace. 

Mitigating workplace burnout by investing in the well being of all employees is not only the right thing to do, it is a sound business investment that pays great dividends. It reduces turnover, improves productivity and allows companies to recruit top talent.

This article was originally published on Tim Noonan’s blog.

Important Soft Skills for Success at Work

For years the focus of hiring was on individuals that possessed strong technical skills and expertise in their respective fields. Now, interpersonal skills are leading the way into the future: the priority recently is to screen job candidates for soft skills. Also known as emotional intelligence (EQ), soft skills help to set people apart. Unlike “hard” skills, soft skills develop differently and aren’t necessarily taught in places like higher education, which, theoretically, prepares individuals for the job market. Emotional intelligence even has financial gains: according to a 2015 LinkedIn report, people with high EQ make on average $29,000 more than their non-emotionally intelligent peers. Although there is a wide range of skills that fall under the interpersonal umbrella, the following are especially important to your success in the workplace.


Respect is fundamental in developing personal relationships. Although it can be easy to get absorbed in our work and ourselves, take a step back and make a moment for respect. Even the small acts can have a significant impact on the way that others see us and the way that we carry ourselves. Some suggestings include waiting for people to finish talking before chiming in and thanking others for their contribution when they’ve shared an idea. Punctuality is another way to show respect, so show up to your meetings and appointments on time. 


A recent study revealed that 48% of employees have felt embarrassed because they didn’t know a coworker’s name. Make it a point to learn the names of your colleagues even if they work in different departments or offices. Try your best to remember what someone has told you when you get to know them. If, for example, they gave a big presentation or had a family event, don’t let that slip from your mind. Ask about it, and try to take a little more time talking about them than about yourself. 


This goes in tandem with both interest and respect, and there are three ways to listen: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Physical listening entails reading the nonverbal cues of the other person and responding appropriately. Mental listening means connecting with what others are thinking and getting to the heart of what they’re saying, but don’t confuse this with listening to respond. “Tell me more,” is a powerful phrase that you can use in exercising mental listening. The third and final way to listen is emotionally, which means listening for what others are feeling, and showing compassion and empathy. Ask them about specific events or projects, like, for example, “Do you feel comfortable with this assignment?” It’s a good idea to stay away from general statements like, “How’s it going?” for such a cliche statement will likely prompt an equally generic statement. 

Everyone has the capacity to build their EQ with training and practice. These soft skills will not only improve your communication and relationships but your problem-solving skills that can impact your well being and professional success.

This article was originally published on

Four Questions to Develop Your Leadership Skills

A fundamental way for a business professional to develop leadership skills is to honestly assess himself or herself and to address areas in need of improvement.

Part of the self-assessment can be completed by answering the following questions:

Who or What Can Help Me Develop My Skills?

No one is good at everything so leaders should check their egos at the door and spend ample time considering this question. Skills and behaviors can be improved, using traditional and creative channels. Skill-building classes and seminars are viable options, whether offered in the workplace, business community or through industry-specific groups or societies.  Another powerful way is to seek out a mentor that excels in that area.

What do I feel strongly about to commit myself to completely?

Instead of getting absorbed in the “rat race,” business leaders should aspire to find a personal connection to and passion for a charitable or civic cause. Making philanthropy and community involvement part of their daily lives involves conviction, commitment, and purpose. It does not need to be on the scale of Bill Gates either; it can be small, meaningful, and purposeful. 

How Can I Get Out of My Comfort Zone?

How many times do people say, “I’ve always done it this way?”  The world and people change so business leaders need to change with it. The most challenging way to initiate change is to step out of one’s comfort zone. It can be frightening and exhilarating at the same time. There are so many ways to do it:  travel, learn a language, or pick up a new and unfamiliar hobby. Getting out of one’s comfort zone creates a more well-rounded person.

What Steps Am I Taking to Put In the Work?

Like any sport or activity, practice is essential. Are leadership skills regularly tried and practiced? Leaders are not born; leadership is gained through experience and understanding of the people and environment the business leader works in.

These four questions can be a starting point in examining a leader’s character. Regularly addressing these points in this self-assessment will result in a more thoughtful leader and human being.

This article was originally published on

How Millennials Are Changing Philanthropy

In a workforce that is comprised of a rapidly growing Millennial base (by 2020, they will make up the majority of workers, and they currently sit at 25% and growing, according to Forbes), it is no surprise that the generation who reshaped the ideology of “meaningful impact” is causing such a stir in its philanthropic efforts.

Get up, go to work, go home – repeat until retirement. That was the mantra of Generation X, and for many, it offered the clarion call of life: hard work equals gratification. But Generation Y (aka, Millennials) began to question the wisdom of “work now, enjoy later.” Save, save, save, the X-ers would preach. But fresh out of school with newly-minted degrees in hand and aspirations much bigger than their budgets, Millennials sought to write their own stories, under different terms.

Their thesis was simple: work hard and enjoy life – and don’t wait until your mostly-dead to do so. Why wait to buy a nicer house or a bigger car? Enjoy them now. Why save for years to take the dream vacation, when you can take it now? Sure, these dreams are financed, but to a generation already saddled with the seemingly insurmountable weight of student loan debt…who cares?

Work Hard, Play Hard is a reality that more and more Millennials are embracing, and with the increase of disposable income comes a rise in charitable giving. Coupled with the Gen-Y desire to live a more experiential existence, the rise of philanthropy begins to make sense. In 2014, 84% of Millennials in the workplace were giving to charity, and that number is on the rise. Sure, they’re giving fewer dollars than Gen-X (lower wages, less financial security), but what they lack in dollars, they make up in sense. Live Now, Give Now will only increase with time, and small contributions become meaningful giving with dedicated practice.

How can you increase your engagement with this burgeoning group of world-changers? In short: captivate them. The Millennial mindset is driven by experiences, altruism, and a call to action. Philanthropy and community involvement is part of our DNA at Lockton. We’ve been successful at engaging all our Associates and harnessing their passion to make a difference through our corporate charter of philanthropy that supports more than 100 organization and charitable causes today. Among these causes, a number of worthy organizations to consider supporting include:

International Medical Corps

A global, nonprofit, humanitarian aid organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering by providing emergency medical services, as well as healthcare training and development programs, to those affected by conflict, natural disaster and disease. 

The HELP Group

The country’s largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind serving children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges.

Phoenix House California

A leader in substance abuse prevention and treatment dedicated to helping young people, women, and men overcome addiction to live extraordinary lives in recovery. 

Vision To Learn

A nonprofit that provides free eye exams and free glasses to children in low-income communities throughout the U.S. so they can succeed in school and in life.

Originally published on

Common Management Mistakes

Managers and leaders play a key role in the function and success of an organization. Bad management can be incredibly detrimental to the organization, both operationally and culturally, and unfortunately, every professional will face working with a bad manager at some point in their career. What makes for a bad manager? Here are a few common management mistakes to avoid if you’re looking to creating a dynamic, productive team in your workplace.


While from a boss’s perspective micromanaging may feel like it’s steering employees in the right direction, it doesn’t have very many benefits in the long run. It causes undue stress in the workplace in addition to thwarting creativity and enthusiasm in the team. There are many approaches to the same task, and just because your employee does it differently doesn’t mean that they’re inherently doing it wrong. Plus, given the freedom to exercise their creativity, they might even find a more efficient way to solve a problem. At worst, micromanaging can affect organizational development because employees are averse to micromanaging bosses and will leave at their first opportunity. 

Lack of Communication

When in doubt, more communication is usually better than not communicating enough. A lack of communication causes confusion and frustration among your employees. This can come across as anything ranging from unclear instructions or failing to give feedback after a project is complete. By failing to provide all the necessary information before a project, an ineffective manager will find that the team will spend more time asking questions than working, thus taking a toll on overall productivity. Furthermore, communication in the workplace helps to provide purpose, build a positive company culture, and create accountability. 

Being Unapproachable

An unapproachable boss creates an invisible barrier between them and the employee that they may not even recognize at first. Ultimately, it creates problems. Being unapproachable makes it difficult for managers to mentor and resolve problems. From the employee side, it’s hard for them to accept feedback and ask for help. 

It’s common that there are underlying reasons for these traits, and many of these common management mistakes are interconnected. For example, a manager may seem unapproachable because of their lack of communication. Combatting one trait might mean addressing another one as well. Addressing micromanaging starts first with trusting your employees but also requires you to communicate clear instructions and expectations so that your team can carry out the task at hand. By improving your management skills, you’ll be able to retain more high caliber talent and build up a stronger organization in the process.

Originally published on

6 Revenue Models to Know

The revenue model is one of the most important aspects of a startup: it’s how a startup makes money and delivers value. The simplest way to find the right model for your startup is to focus on the competition and customer insights. Revenue models aren’t limited to startups, and being familiar with the different options can help you to decide which type is the best model to serve your customers depending on the type of business you have or the problem that you’re trying to solve. Here are 6 revenue models to know.


An on-demand revenue model makes money for every completed transaction. This is a viable option if the problem you are looking to solve is frequent but inconsistent. It doesn’t change the way people used to solve a problem, but your startup can make the process more efficient, like in the case of Uber and Lyft. Three known examples of on-demand startups include the aforementioned ride-sharing services, Airbnb, and Instacart. 


Ecommerce startups make money for every item sold based on their margins, accounting for costs like manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. Through the growth of online shopping, almost ten percent of retail sales in the United States now come from ecommerce. This number is expected to grow as more and more buyers rely on the internet for their purchases. 


A marketplace has three parts: a supply, a demand, and an intermediary. Startups typically create a platform that serves the intermediary. Marketplaces make money for facilitating transactions between the demand and supply sides. Uber, while being on-demand, also implements a marketplace business model and keeps about 25% from every ride. 


Membership sites offer their paying members special perks, products, or services for a fixed, often monthly fee. There are many examples of this, ranging from subscription boxes like BarkBox and Dollar Shave Club to services like Amazon Prime and YouTube Premium. 

Licensing and Software as a Service (SaaS)

These are both ways that proprietary and unique digital products can be delivered to consumers and businesses. The difference between the two lies in the possession of the product. Licenses are usually owned and operated by the users while SaaS products are accessed through a web browser. The right model for your startup will depend on factors like your product, customer needs, the market, and your competition. 


Freemium is both a revenue model and a pricing strategy wherein users have access to core product functionality for free while giving them access to more features if they upgrade to paid plans. Dropbox and Mailchimp are notable examples, and the benefit of freemium is that it’s also an effective user acquisition strategy that can provide you with leads without an upfront cost. 

Something worth noting is that your startup need not adhere to just one model. Amazon started as an e-commerce site for books and grew into a tech and retail giant that now implements all six revenue models. LegalZoom® is another example. The legal document website expanded from an ecommerce and on-demand model to a membership model based on recurring revenue with the introduction of its Legal Service Plan. On the insurance side, LegalZoom also partnered with Mylo, Lockton’s digital insurance agency, to offer customers expert advice as well as an efficient way to compare top-rated insurance products from multiple carriers and easily purchase coverage for business, group health, home, auto, life and individual health.

New models will evolve as your business grows. When starting out, start with the model that delivers the highest value that takes, so to speak, the least amount of innovation. Your customers will help to dictate what they need and how.  

Originally published on