Category Archives: Top 5

Top 5 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback

Giving feedback to another employee can be very difficult. However, it’s also an essential part of building successful teams. If an individual knows where they need to improve, it can help them grow within their role. Here are our tips for making those discussions a more positive experience:

  1. Choose an appropriate time and place. When delivering feedback be sure to leave enough time to discuss the issue without feeling rushed. Choosing a more relaxed environment can be helpful in less formal situations, while potentially difficult conversations should usually be addressed in an office or meeting room. Never give “negative” feedback in public.
  2. Start with questions. Because you never know another person’s situations or intentions, it’s best to start the dialog with questions rather than statements. This approach also creates a two-way interaction which can result in more positive outcomes.
  3. Be prepared. Identify your goals for the conversation and what you hope to achieve. Take time to consider both the employee’s successes, as well as any weaknesses, along with specific examples. Write them down to keep the discussion on track.
  4. Focus on the goal. Effective feedback will encourage problem-solving rather than forcing an employee to change. Make it clear you’re not trying to “fix” them, you’re trying to develop them. By focusing on behaviors and how they impact the team, the employee may be more receptive to development.
  5. Don’t sugarcoat it. In an attempt to be kind, we often soften difficult feedback by downplaying it or “sandwiching” it between two compliments. This can dilute your concern to the point that it’s not even heard. Instead, be direct and assertive — then discuss ways to reach a positive, actionable solution together.

Top 5 Ways to Develop Yourself

If one of your goals for 2020 is to see a better you, you’ll first have to do a little bit of growing. Self-development takes time and energy, but if you’re committed to improving, you’ll notice profound results — both in your personal life and at work! Here are our tips for developing yourself:

  1. Understand what’s driving you. Self-development requires internal motivation, so it often helps to pinpoint what’s at the root of your desire for improvement. So, take an honest look at who you are, how you’re wired, and what you want to get out of the journey.
  2. Get to know the people around you. A simple starting point is to ask questions! There is likely someone down the hall or on your team whose job seems interesting to you. Ask them about it! Networking is vital in any healthy career, so put your name and face in the minds of influencers.
  3. Isolate a particular skill to master. Someone wise once told us: “We can do anything, but we can’t afford to do everything.” When you’re tackling self-development, it’s impossible to do it all at once. If you focus on just one skill for a certain amount of time (developing better listening behaviors, for example), you’ll be more in tune with your progress along the way.
  4. Craft a plan. After you isolate a skill to develop, consider 1) practical ways to apply and improve that skill, and 2) a realistic timeframe for making progress. What is your end goal in 6 months? In 1 year? You can always adjust your plan, but try to keep your sights on the end goal.
  5. Get comfortable with discomfort. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: True change happens outside of your comfort zone. If you want to develop, you’re going to have to face a little discomfort. Challenge yourself to take on tasks or assignments that stretch the limits of your abilities.

Top 5 Tips to (Actually) Reach Your Goals

We all have goals in life — both personal and professional. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to gather up the motivation to make that first step toward reaching them. Here are our favorite ways to set yourself up for success:

1. Be realistic. Those lofty goals may seem motivating at first, but can quickly become overwhelming. Try setting smaller, more attainable objectives to boost your morale and keep you moving toward success.

2. Use the Five-A-Day Rule. Develop a pattern of consistently completing five small tasks each day toward your goals. Small steps will eventually add up to big wins!

3. Take care of yourself. When you’re stressed out and overworked it’s difficult to focus. Make your health (and your sanity) a priority in any goal plan.

4. Keep score. Recording your wins can add to the competition, especially when you’re counting down the clock. If it helps, make a visual chart to keep yourself on track until the finish line.

5. Join forces. Sharing goals with a friend may add some pressure, but accountability can be a great thing. Encourage them to share theirs too — then celebrate each success together!

Top 5 Ways to Relax Over the Holidays

We’ve worked really hard this year, but a bit of downtime with loved ones — or even some time to yourself — will leave you feeling energized, refreshed, and excited to take on 2020. We asked a few of our employees to share their favorite ways to relax as we head into the holiday season. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Spend time in the kitchen…. or outdoors. I enjoy cooking dinner with my family — especially when we get to experiment with new ingredients. I’m also an avid hunter. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice duck to roast before the new year! Matt Haas, Materials Planner

2. Go fishing! It becomes a competition between my husband and I to see who can catch the most or largest fish. Usually he out-fishes me, but there are a few occasions when I get the victory. Boy do I rub it in! Melissa McAskill, Human Resources Manager, Ennis Spring

3. Cheer on your family. I relax by watching my kids sporting events (just maybe not when I’m loudly suggesting they play better defense). It takes my thoughts away from whatever else is consuming them and allows me to be present in that moment. Susan Lee, Sr. Credit Manager II – Remote Specialist

4. Stretch yourself… literally. I really enjoy yoga as a way to relax.  In addition to the physical benefits, it’s a great way to decompress after a stressful day. Ashly Farmer, Paralegal & Billing Administrator

5. Do nothing. For me, relaxation is a lazy, Saturday morning in bed with my family — coffee cup in hand, of course! Chris Cochran, Human Resources Manager, Logistics

Top 5 Tips for a Memorable Holiday Meal

The holidays are all about spending quality time with friends and family — often while gathered around plates of delicious food. However, feeding a crowd can take know-how and a tiny bit of courage. Sue Balcom, our Food Services Supervisor, has both. She leads a team of 5 dedicated food service staff who prepare meals for up to 500 employees a day, and cater around 300 corporate events per year!

We asked Sue to share her best advice for planning a holiday dinner. These tips will make your meal more memorable — and will leave you smiling once you find your seat at the table too.

1. Keep it simple. This isn’t the time to experiment with new, complicated dishes. When planning, select easy recipes with basic ingredients you can source locally. Driving all over town in search of a rare spice or out-of-season produce will quickly drain your holiday spirit.

2. Plan and prep. Leftovers are much better than running out of food. Find out how many guests you will be serving and plan for a 4 oz. portion of each food per person. Make your grocery lists carefully so you only end up at the store once. Then peel, chop, and prep anything you can ahead of time. This will leave you with more time to mingle once your guests arrive. “I like to prepare as much as I can a couple days ahead, especially my pies,” says Sue. “I just bake them that day, so they are fresh.”

3. Include family favorites. Tried-and-true traditional dishes are a must. For Sue, they include creamy corn casserole and baked sweet potatoes. These recipes are generally less stressful in the kitchen and can be sentimental to your guests. Consider creating a family cookbook to record those memories.

4. Have plenty of options… and a few surprises. “I like to make two entrees,” shares Sue. “That way I know everyone will have an option they enjoy.” She also recommends including a unique vegetarian dish — and finds that usually guests will all try it. If others want to contribute, ask them to bring a special side dish. This allows you to try something new too!

5. Treat your guests! Pies, cakes, and pastries are a sweet way to end any special meal. Sue takes it one step further and sends everyone home with a special jar of her homemade jam.

Top 5 Tips to Coach for Performance

For many professionals, the end of the year means performance review season. It’s also the perfect time for coaching – when a leader facilitates the development of an employee.

We asked our coaching expert, Rob Sotlar, to provide his thoughts on the topic. Rob first reminded us that coaching is about collaboration, working together to find a solution, and increasing awareness. It’s not about giving advice or telling an employee how to solve a problem. A coach should be considered a “guide on the side.”

Here are Rob’s Top 5 Tips on Coaching for Performance:

1. Be a good listener. Effective listening is critical for a successful coaching engagement. Listen to identify and then facilitate self-discovery. Do not listen to respond. Remember, you’re a guide on the side.

2. Assist with analysis. This is a biggie. It’s important in the goal creation phase of coaching and during each coaching session. Facilitate a conversation that enables your employee to identify their area(s) of focus. A personal SWOT Analysis is a great tool.

3. Ask questions (a lot of ‘em). Ask the right questions and help your employee realize what they need to do, without telling them. When your employee comes to their own solution, they are more like to take accountability and own the outcome. The GROW Model is a wonderful tool to use here.

4. Hold them accountable. This is a simple, yet crucial conversation to have with your employee. Did they achieve their goal, and why or why not? What part did they play in achieving (or not achieving) the goal? Facilitate the employee stepping through the process to identify successes and opportunities.

5. Provide real feedback. This may be tough for some, but it is essential for a successful coaching engagement. When providing feedback, be specific and focus on facts (the things you can hear and see). Real feedback is often not comfortable for the receiver, but it’s a tool that will enable serious growth.

Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Your Workday

The 8-5 workday doesn’t have to be a grind! We asked five happy employees how they enjoy their time at work.

1. Interact with someone. Make time between tasks to strike up a conversation with a colleague. Remember, teambuilding is good for your soul! Sarah Bentz, Internal Audit

2. Discover what energizes you. For me, I appreciate the perk of being able to travel to branches, and I’m grateful to work with teams across our operations. If you need a boost, lift your head up out of your to-do’s, and focus a minute on your version of what gratitude looks like. Lori Jones, Human Resources

3. Get outside. When you sit at your desk for 9+ hours a day hammering out work, that not only takes a toll on your mind but also your body. Getting outside and taking a break whether it be to run, walk, or ride is one of the best resets anyone can do to break up their day. Tyler Burgess, IT

4. Find the fun. It’s all about attitude. (Because if you’re miserable, that’s on you.) Take ownership of your attitude, the work you do, and how you do the work. I try to joke with coworkers, wear fun socks, or drink from fun coffee mugs. As long as you keep a good balance with being productive, work can always be fun. Ryan August, Corporate Accounting

5. Be friendly. In my 3 years at L&P, I’ve been lucky to meet so many other employees who have become my friends. Working with people you consider friends makes the job that much more enjoyable. Katelyn Pierce, Finance

Top 5 Paintings Decorating the Halls of L&P

Two of our former CEOs, Harry Cornell and Felix Wright, have always enjoyed and collected fine art, especially works depicting nature and the American West. Many of these original paintings and sculptures line the hallways of our Corporate Office.

We asked the collection curators, Ken Southwick and Ned Mayes from Marketing + Creative, to tell us about their favorites. Here are their Top 5:

1. “Recording the Hunt” by artist Marilyn Bendell

This painting captures the subtle, fire-lit interior of the Indian artist’s teepee in a beautiful, impressionistic style.

The artist, Marilyn Bendell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in 1965. She ran an art school in Longboat Key, Florida, with her husband, artist George Burrows.

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Top 5 Tips for Growing Your Professional Network

Expanding your professional network is an essential part of advancing your career. Yet, connecting with strangers can be difficult and leaves many feeling uncomfortable. We asked several of our employees for their top networking tips. Here are our favorites:

1. “When meeting someone new, I always try to repeat their name after they’ve introduced themselves. This allows me to say it out loud, helping commit it to memory. It also gives me a great opportunity if I didn’t hear their name or heard it incorrectly.” Kara Dixon, Marketing + Creative

2.“When networking, it’s important to build a genuine connection and show the other person you’re interested in them. I often ask open-ended questions that force the other person to talk about themselves. You never learn by speaking — only by listening.” Andy Cline, Hanes Industries

3. “Networking should be strategic. When I set out to meet a specific person or go to an event, I consider what goals I hope to achieve. When I’m able to articulate this, the connections I make are often more impactful.” Cari Southern, L&P Automotive

4. “One piece of advice I got a long time ago was to ‘make friends and be friendly.’ Framing networking in this light makes it seem more natural and, at least for me, it seems to work.” Dylan Hale, Global Procurement

5. “Try to get involved in projects that impact other areas of the organization, even if it doesn’t appear to have a significant impact to your current role.  You never know when that knowledge will translate to a project or potential opportunity down the road!” Becky Burns, Corporate Accounting

And finally, we’ll leave you with one more simple tip: “Smile! It will make you seen more open and welcoming.” We totally agree, Dylan.

Top 5 Qualities of Successful Business Leaders


We asked several L&P Executives one question: What qualities are most important in a business leader?  Here are their responses:

1. “Integrity has to be at the top of the list. It’s a quality that has been deeply embedded in our culture for a very long time. Also on my list are respect, communication skills, and an ability to empower capable people to carry out their own responsibilities.” Susan McCoy, Senior VP – Investor Relations

2. “Intellect, energy, and integrity. I want to hire a person who will demonstrate care for others and who will work and communicate honestly. I want someone on my team who is motivated to jump in and help others and who is willing to define their role broadly.” Mitch Dolloff, Executive VP/COO

3. “I consider personal integrity to be a given. I think a positive attitude is most critical – all else can be learned.” Perry Davis, Executive VP/President of Industrial Products and Residential Products

4. “Leaders have a moral compass which always points North. They also remember that it’s not about them; it’s about the team. This perspective allows them to be open-minded and excellent listeners.” Matt Flanigan, Executive VP/CFO

5. “Simply put, successful leaders must be good people who are sensitive to the needs of others.” Karl Glassman, President & CEO