Businesses regularly turn to personality assessments such as the DiSC profile, Myers Briggs or the Enneagram to assess and build team dynamics. However, what I consider the original personality assessment is making a rapid return to the workplace, and I am here to encourage you to consider utilizing the ultimate tool for understanding human potential — astrology.
Let’s focus on the planet Saturn. Where it falls within a birth chart can tell us a lot about someone, including their level of discipline, work ethic and how they respond to having responsibility. It is said timing is everything, and that is particularly true when considering the energy of the transiting Saturn and its potential implications in the workplace.
Saturn is a force of reality that can ground us and lead us to our true path in life. However, during certain times in our lives, Saturn’s influence can be challenging to navigate. In this article, we will explore the different Saturn cycles that occur during the working years and how it might be playing out in your office.
In this article, I am going to focus on the working years to midlife and briefly describe what we can generally expect not only from ourselves, but also those on our team.
The Saturn cycles occur every 7-8 years and can be broken down into four sections each.
Second Saturn Square Saturn
Ages 21-22 are typically a period of transition that often coincides with the end of the college years. Whether you have finished college or not, there is often a feeling of pressure and desire to go after something. This influence comes from our societal disposition, and what we think we “should” do along with our early conditioning. It’s a good age to hire because there is an eagerness to explore, even if it’s not the right path. But if it is the right path? Congratulations! You just might have hit a home run with the hire.
At 29.5, the Saturn Return occurs, which can feel like a stripping away of what doesn’t belong to us. It’s a time of endings, and it can be tough to hire someone during this period. When I speak to entrepreneurs, I often get knowing nods followed by a story of someone leaving the corporate world and starting their business during this time.
To truly understand the impact of the Saturn Return, we must look back at our earliest Saturn transits. At this point in life, we have been conditioned by family (Saturn at ages 7-8), peers (ages 14-15) and society (ages 21-22). You are inching toward aged 30 and almost 75 percent of you belongs mostly to your family, peers and society. But what about YOU? What do you believe? What do you crave?
The Saturn Return is here to strip away the façade of what doesn’t belong to you, and sometimes in Saturn’s deeply conservative fashion, this will put a heavy dose of reality for you to carry on your back, often in the form of an unexpected ending. At this point in our journey, if we simply align ourselves to what is trying leave us and let it go without a fight, this period can be less tumultuous. That being said, most of us equate familiarly with what is right, and we fight against change during the Saturn Return. Because of this, it is very tough to hire someone around this age, and it’s also a time when you can lose employees either through their own major life change, or lack of motivation because subconsciously, they know their heart is not in their job.
Saturn Square Saturn
At ages 36-37, people are developing their true self-image. If the person has ignored this internal calling for true authenticity and continues to work on patterns that limit them, they can find themselves stuck.
In reality, much of the healing at this age goes back to the first Saturn Cycle from when you were 7-8 years old, an age that typically we were the most authentic, and we begin to gravitate toward more of our true nature.
When interviewing potential new employees, pay attention to those who have worked at their previous job for five years or more and are seeking a challenge. If they spent a significant amount of time in their last role, and are making a change on their own, this is a good candidate to consider. In the interview, you want to see a focus on how they have bettered themselves, or how they are seeking more of a challenge.
Be wary of those who spend the interview trying to convince you of their worth. This signals that they are still struggling with their own self-worth, and potentially life is asking them to change careers and do something else. You want to see a candidate that is self-reflective by this age.
For current employees hitting ages 36-37, be on the lookout for coping mechanisms to stay motivated. Sometimes an employee asking for more money is a way they are trying to drum of more energy for something they are no longer happy about and it is the easiest way to make a change, when ultimately, their purpose is best fulfilled elsewhere.
Saturn Opposition Saturn
At ages 44-45, people are much clearer about who they are and what they want. It’s a good time to hire hungry new employees who are motivated. There are other big astrological happenings that lead up to this point, and adding Saturn to the mix really puts us in a blender if we aren’t stripping away self-deceit. This is the midlife crisis we hear so much about.
The years leading up to this time can be really liberating, or it can feel like the rug has been yanked out from underneath you. Rest assured that on the other side of age 45, when the dust settles, this can be a time of great courage and freedom. I often see clients with the confident to finally focus on things that truly move the needle of their soul. This time will free us from our blind spots and send us on our way.
Saturn Square Saturn
Ages 52-53 are when we get to apply our hard-won knowledge to patterns that align. We also become more honest with ourselves and worry less about what others think — but only if we have been paying attention!
This can also be a time when we come to the realization that our youth is completely behind us. In many ways, this realization can make it easier to clear out the emotional clutter from our lives. For many, worrying about what others think becomes less of an influence. There is more of a personal honesty that will continue to peak into the next cycle comes seven years later. This is often when business owners begin to think more seriously about their exits and if they are on the right track.
Second Saturn Return
At ages 58-59, the second Saturn Return occurs, and we are considered astrologically a sage.
This means we have experienced both Saturn Returns that represent the end of our ego identification and the personification of our spiritual or authentic representation — and all before the age of sixty!
This is a time of black and white choices, and we can choose to retire or continue to work with clarity and purpose. With clear eyes and less fear, we have an opportunity to make our own free will choices, while still striving to be the best versions of ourselves.
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)
It’s not uncommon for companies to reject traditional staff meetings these days. Many CEOs and business leaders – particularly Gen Xers and millennials – have denounced the once-sacred staff meeting as unproductive, inefficient and easily replaced with a quick group email or a well-run Slack channel
But I am finding myself bombarded with requests for one-on-one meetings with my team to talk about their professional growth, issues and client accomplishments.
On the one hand, I love that they feel invested enough to learn how they can improve their work and grow with the agency.
On the other hand, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to meet with everyone individually, maintain our company’s growth trajectory and spend time with my family.
So what’s the solution? To run. Not necessarily away from meetings, but during them. Or walk or hike. In 2017, I started giving employees these three options if they wanted to meet with me, and here’s why you should consider doing the same in 2018:
Office meetings are a drag.
This is an obvious one. I’m on the bandwagon to ban pointless meetings as much as anyone, but some meetings are still necessary to move projects and people forward. Taking a typical meeting outdoors can lead to more honest and productive exchanges by eliminating the intimidation of an office boardroom or possibility of eavesdropping colleagues.
Fewer distractions from your phone and email, a change of scenery and the introduction of endorphins into your workday puts both parties in a better mindset to receive and process information. Better yet, studies show that working out with others can help build stronger relationships between people.
Multitasking is essential.
As mentioned, there aren’t enough hours in the day – and not just for me.
Our employees have packed schedules with client meetings, projects and events in addition to carving out time for their personal lives and wellbeing.
Researchers have found that employees with a better work-life balance work 21 percent harder while in the office and are 33 percent more likely to plan to stick around at a company long-term. If I can help my team get in a workout while also checking something off their to-do list, I’m all for it.
It develops grit.
I decided to run every single day in 2017 as a practice in discipline and grit.
I was hesitant to take meetings during my runs at first. If running is my happy place, did I really want to bring work into it? But ultimately, I realized a couple of miles on the trails – whether hiked, walked or run – can do more than clear your mind and give you an energy boost: It challenges you to dig deep, go a little further than you thought you could and see something through to the end. It’s important to me that our team has this sense of dedication, and I’ve seen it translated into our client work time and time again since implementing these active meetings.
When trying to run a company, meet with prospective clients, keep existing clients happy and squeeze in a few hours of sleep occasionally, it can be tempting to push off employee requests for one-on-one feedback. However, these frontline employees are the lifeblood of my company. They hold valuable information that helps me make critical decisions to propel the agency forward.
Taking an active approach breaks up the monotony, ensures they feel heard by leadership and helps me continue my daily running streak. It’s a win-win all around.
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)
Whether you know it or not, your company functions with a specific set of core values. These fundamental beliefs seep into company culture and decision-making at all levels of the organization.
The ability to identify and articulate your core values will make a huge impact on internal affairs and provide guidance for your employees as they work to achieve their goals. Plus, core values can serve as a great branding tool! Core values also set the tone for the working relationship you will have with new employees and clients from day one.
The most important reason to define your core values, however, is that these beliefs can be used as a compass for every business decision you make. If you are ever in a tough situation, turn to your core values for direction. Your employees, too, can look to your core values while making project-based decisions on behalf of the company. Overall, core values can streamline business processes and bring your team together to work as a unit.
When outlining your values, think about the moral code you follow in your own life. Many core values stem from the types of lessons you learned in kindergarten:
- Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
- Act honestly.
- Be a team player.
- Give back.
- Love your neighbors.
- The trick, then, is making these values unique to your company.
Consider the main functions of your business. Do you serve clients? If so, dedicate one of your core values to the way you expect all employees to treat your clients. At my company, REED Public Relations, we selected “Measurable Results” and “Action-Oriented” as two of our core values. Though simple, our clients know that our team will be proactive and will share data-driven results regularly. There is no guesswork about how we approach our client relationships.
Next, think about the culture you have cultivated at your company. What makes your organization stand out from the crowd? What kind of language do you use when recruiting new employees? Do you provide a unique benefit that is worth mentioning? Identify your company’s differentiators and convert them into core values. At REED, our “Give Back” value encompasses our Be The Good program, which funds mission trips (including for our employees!) around the world through a portion of revenue from our clients. It’s our way of giving back.
As a general rule of thumb, three to six core values is ideal. If you find yourself with more than six, try to consolidate. Too many core values will be difficult for clients and team members to remember. If you have less than three, reach out to a few trusted colleagues for their opinions on what makes your company tick.
Once your core values are set, you have two tasks: express them to clientele, and implement them in everyday business.
It is important that clients new and old are aware of your core values. Consider sharing your values in a visible location on your website and working them into all marketing materials. As you court new clients, share your values upfront. In my opinion, this is the best way for a potential client to understand your company and the type of work you do. We include our core values in our pitch deck, and we spend at least a minute with each prospective client going through the values to ensure they align well with their company.
As you roll out the values internally, it is equally important to make them visible. Paint the values on a wall in a common room, or commission printed posters to be hung throughout the office. Share the values via email, and include them in your email signature. Continue to work them into meetings and communications regularly. Brand updates can take up to a year to stick, so do not pull back on communication efforts until you feel the entire company is on board.
Consider working with HR to recognize an employee that exemplifies your organization’s core values each year. Also, make sure HR highlights the values during new employee onboarding. If a new employee’s values do not match those of the company, you can save yourself a headache down the road.
Think of core values as the sun, or the center of your business’s universe. Every function of your business, from marketing to accounting and beyond, circulates around this set of beliefs. These values are connected to everything the company does and embody the essence of the organization. If your team, clients and leadership are all focused on abiding by the same set of values, you can be confident that your goals will be met and your business will make a positive impact.
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)
They say ignorance is bliss. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, many of us find ourselves wishing for unknowing bliss we knew just a few weeks ago.
Little did any of us know that this virus would have Americans hunkered down at home for weeks on end, with major events canceled and schools out for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), as early as a few weeks ago, my company was starting to get a close-up preview to what might be coming our way through our PRGN partners, which is a collective of more than 50 hand-selected public relations firms spanning six continents. With PR leaders embedded into the fabric of the communities across key cities throughout the world, we had a front-row seat for what was happening in China, Italy and even Washington state before COVID-19 made its unfortunate and unwanted debut in Tennessee.
As agency owners shared what they were seeing with their clients and in their cities, the severity of the situation became apparent quickly. As a business owner, I experienced mixed emotions. While it was alarming to hear the financial impact from peers, I was grateful for the lead time, albeit brief, that allowed us to ensure our clients had updated crisis communications plans in place.
It has also been encouraging to lean on business owners in cities that were dealing with COVID-19 before it hit Nashville. As we all know, this pandemic is changing daily, and a business owner who has been living this for even one week longer than we have can provide invaluable expertise.
For example, while chatting with Aaron Blank, owner of The Fearey Group in Seattle, he reminded me of the importance of a quiet place to think. For him, his jacuzzi is a place where he can creatively and safely think about the status of both his business and their clients without distraction. This quiet time led to his spearheading BusinessSavingBusiness.com to bring together business owners (virtually, of course, because of social distancing) who are currently faced with tough decisions.
Your message matters.
How we act and appear to the world now has the potential to impact our brand for years to come — good or bad. Especially now, your message matters, both from you as a leader and your brand voice. Leaders set the standard for how others under their leadership behave. As we have all seen, fear is contagious, and your ability to keep calm and stay level-headed is critical.
Throughout all of this, three things have been obvious.
In times of crisis, saying the wrong thing can wreak havoc for your brand. Now is not the time for off-the-cuff remarks or emails. Be thoughtful and deliberate. In this age of social media, anything you say or write could end up on the web. Don’t be afraid to correct the record and set facts straight at any sign of misinformation.
As a business leader, you are living under a microscope right now. Employees, clients and vendors are all looking at you for clues and direction about what to expect. Everyone wants to know what is next in a time when that is impossible to predict.
True story: We rewrote an article for a client three times over the past week. As soon as it was approved, something changed. As a leader, I chose to roll with the punches and do it with a smile, showing my team the attitude that I expect. Why? Because I know being frustrated — especially in a business of our size — could have a nearly immediate domino effect, particularly in such uncertain times.
This is why having a go-to spot is critical. Find a place where you don’t have to be “on” and decompress. Mine is the running trails (six feet away from other runners, of course) or at home with my golden retriever puppy, who has yet to ask me one question about COVID-19 and the impact on our company.
If you’re asking employees to social distance, show them that you’re all in it together. Our company has set up a Marco Polo group to ensure we don’t lose the day-to-day camaraderie. Rumor has it we have some virtual happy hours on tap and maybe even a group online workout coming up.
This is also not the time to post on social media about your amazing travels (even if the pics are pre-pandemic) or to get overly political online.
Work the plan — but be nimble and never be opportunistic.
The point of contingency plans is to have them before you need them. If you don’t already have a business continuity plan and communications plan, at a minimum, do some “what if” scenarios with your leadership team. It’s OK for plans to change and evolve. The key to success is how we communicate those changes.
Depending on the industry or message, now may not be the time to launch that new product or promotion. When uncertainty is prevalent, your key audiences probably aren’t as likely to pay attention or act. Stay agile.
Most importantly, stay resilient. Nashville is a city of creative and resourceful people. How we do business and take care of our employees through these unprecedented times are what people will remember.
Make sure your team understands how they’re making an impact in their role. Help your employees see how even the smallest administrative task contributes to the success of the company. We do monthly reports for our clients that showcase all of our results from the month. The feedback we receive from our clients after we send these reports is so valuable. It takes every team member to ensure we achieve great results and, ultimately, maintain our clients as partners for the long term.
As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Reed.
Lauren Reed, APR is the founder and president of REED PR. She earned her Accreditation in Public Relations designation in 2010 and has been a long-standing member of the Public Relations Society of America, serving as president of the Nashville chapter in 2017. She is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization and serves on the board for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Lauren has been named to the Nashville Business Journal’s (NBJ’s) 40 Under 40, received a Nashville Emerging Leader Award, and was on the NBJ’s Most Admired CEOs lists the past two years. Lauren was also recently named to the Nashville Post’s InCharge list and has been featured in publications such as StyleBlueprint, Bizwomen and The New York Times. She co-hosts the Relentless Marketing & PR Podcast. But Lauren would say her crowning achievement is establishing REED PR’s Be The Good program in which the company uses a portion of their annual revenue to provide funding for volunteers to go on service trips both at home and abroad.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Incollege, I had the opportunity to study abroad in London. One day, we were able to shadow the largest PR agency in the city, and I had an aha moment that this was the career path for me. However, I never thought I would own my own business due to the perceived instability. I refer to myself as an accidental entrepreneur, but I’m so grateful for the journey that brought me to today. I’ve come to realize that being an entrepreneur is one of the most stable jobs around. I control my own destiny, position and job description.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Just a few weeks before COVID-19 hit, our company moved into a beautiful, brand new office space customized just for us. We were barely in the space two full weeks before our Mayor issued the stay-at-home order. With a clientele that focuses on hospitality and consumer brands, we saw an immediate impact to our revenue and in the business community.
Because I’m so close to our own local business community through Entrepreneurs Organization, I saw the panic and fear small businesses were facing firsthand in addition to the challenges hitting our own business and our clients. We knew that we wanted to do our part to help other small businesses who were struggling due to the pandemic and we quickly launched the COVID-19 Communications Hotline on March 20 — one week after we shut our office doors for the stay-at-home order. The hotline gives business owners a free, one-hour Zoom with two of our team members to brainstorm and strategize for their communications needs during this difficult time.
We’ve been able to help a number of small businesses and our team has quickly developed the crisis skills needed to support our growing client base of senior living communities.
Our landlord would likely say that the most interesting day was when we brought a donkey into our office for a video shoot…but that’s a longer story!
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Our agency has a program called Be The Good. We take a portion of our revenue each year to help fund service and mission projects for people traveling all across the world. Unfortunately, Be The Good is on hold due to the restrictions on international travel. However, the COVID-19 Communications Hotline has been our way to give back our time and services in the meantime. We’ve been able to take on a lot more clients and projects in the senior living industry — an industry, as you can imagine, that has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
Disappointments happen when expectations are not aligned. It’s so important to take time on the front end to align on expectations. There’s nothing worse than an employee expecting their job to look one way, and then feeling like the situation or job completely different. This is also true with client relationships, not just employees. To avoid disappointment and unhappiness I try to align on expectations and maintain regular communication.
Along with those expectations, I believe we all need to be realistic about what a job provides. We are here to equip our employees with the tools to succeed and show our team their path to success, but we can’t be everything to everyone and not all matches are a great fit. Ensuring happiness in a job is a two-way street and it begins with clear communication with and from team members.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
As the agency owner, my most important client is my team. Our people are our biggest asset. If I make sure our team is engaged and provide them with tools to be successful, they will be more productive. Greater productivity increases profitability and allows them to get more bonuses, contributing to their health and wellbeing.
Conversely, if someone is unhappy, it can have a severe impact on all of the above. The key to making someone happy in their job is learning their expectations and knowing when you can or can’t meet those expectations.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
- Understand your employees’ work styles, and meet them there. Our team uses a tool called Predictive Index that allows us access to incredible data on each employee’s work style and how they need to receive information and work within a team.
- Connect with all levels of your team. Our interns and entry-level employees are just as important as our vice presidents. I must be an ally for all of them, and they need to know they can come to me. Our team knows I like to take runs and hikes, so they have the freedom to schedule a run, hike or walk with me where we can connect and catch up.
- Assign someone on your team to help oversee company culture activities. I may think I know what our team wants to do, but someone who is in the day-to-day work with them is likely more aligned. We have a Senior Account Manager who helps plan birthdays, holiday events and hang-outs outside of the office.
- Encourage open communication. Allow for feedback and truly listen to the desires of your team. Even if you can’t implement everything they want, sometimes they want someone to listen.
- Make sure your team understands how they’re making an impact in their role. Help your employees see how even the smallest administrative task contributes to the success of the company. We do monthly reports for our clients that showcase all of our results from the month. The feedback we receive from our clients after we send these reports is so valuable. It takes every team member to ensure we achieve great results and, ultimately, maintain our clients as partners for the long term.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
I think the pandemic is changing this for us. This year, the barrier between work and home has significantly broken down. Society has been forced to recognize working parents. As a single working mother, it’s on us as business owners to continue to give the same level of respect to working parents after the pandemic that we have during the pandemic. If you keep your employees engaged, they will be more productive. We want our team to feel fulfilled in their personal lives more than anything.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
As a seven on the Enneagram, I love to have fun. I believe it’s vital that everyone understands their roles and their value in that role. I also appreciate giving and receiving feedback as often as possible. It’s how we all grow.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m fortunate to have a great mentor in Hannah Paramore Breen, founder of Paramore Digital. Hannah has been a constant source of encouragement and guidance. She basically gave me the playbook for starting an agency, even when I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I thought I would be freelancing until I found a job. She gave me the confidence to start my own business and has always been there to listen and bounce ideas off of.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In addition to our agency’s Be The Good program — which provides funding for volunteers to go on service trips both at home and abroad — I strive to make an impact every day. As a working mom, I want to encourage other women that you can put your kids first and still run a company or pursue your professional career.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him about your plans.” — Woody Allen.
It’s funny to see where I am now because it’s different from what I had planned. I’m grateful that life turned out the way it did, especially since I never thought I would be a business owner.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to inspire a movement of gratitude and positivity. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect on something you’re grateful for will help alleviate anxiety and put things back into the right perspective.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!