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Happy Employees are the Heart of Nolij

Happy Employees are the Heart of Nolij

“There is little success where there is little laughter”– Andrew Carnegie

 

At Nolij our employees are the heart of our company and are the reason we continually strive to provide an environment that empowers them to do their best possible work. Nolij is proud to have achieved an overall 4.1 rating from Glassdoor on our work culture, values, inclusion and diversity.  According to a recent Glassdoor employee testimonial, Nolij is the  “Best company I ever worked for, great co-workers and leadership. They really understand that you are an asset.” We want employees to feel that they are supported to be the best versions of themselves both at work and outside. One of the key reasons for having a high employee retention rate is because we strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance and empower our employees.

Nolij employees enjoy exploring and developing cutting edge technology, being creative in finding innovative solutions and being mentored by the best and the brightest in the industry. Nolij employees’ expertise is supported by a recent federal customer testimonial: “The quality of the contractor’s deliverables was outstanding and reflected the high level of understanding and knowledge the contractor had of the work required as well as the organization’s needs.”

Creating a positive and meaningful work experience for our employees goes beyond health benefits and perks—but they are important! From the beginning, we build the right culture with a competitive salary and a solid benefits package. We want to make sure our employees are well taken care of and offer additional programs such as the Employee Assistance Program that provides certified clinicians via phone and email to address mental health concerns.

Nolij consultants are constantly learning and developing professionally. Nolij helps foster a learning environment with tuition reimbursement and monthly Hacks and Snacks, which is a lunch and learn program. While at work, our employees work hard and are rewarded with spot bonuses to recognize individual contributions. But we have lots of fun together too!

At Nolij, our employees are like family. We like to celebrate our employees’ birthdays with cards and gifts. We organize different company events that bring our employees together to socialize. For example, we have Margaritas and Tacos happy hours and company sponsored Paint Night where employees let their creative side flourish all while enjoying the company of their teammates and coworkers. Nolij employees also participate in the company kickball team and build camaraderie.

Around the holidays, we have a Halloween costumes contest, Thanksgiving potluck and the Nolij International potluck dinner where we come together as employees to celebrate our diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions. As the weather warms up, we look forward to our annual company picnic for our employees and their families with friendly games of  tug-of-war and  sack races.

In 2020 we have been challenged in ways that we never thought possible. We have had to adjust our daily lives and routines during the pandemic both at home and at work. It has allowed Nolij to grow and change to not only to meet the needs of the business but the needs of our employees. We are constantly trying to find new ways to reinforce a sense of community, even though we are working remotely. We have gotten creative and moved to virtual team happy hours, online zoom yoga classes, virtual coffee chats and a virtual holiday party. Recently, we launched a new program Lunch on Us, which has been well received. Each employee is given a company Grubhub account that has been credited and on a designated day each month we encourage our employees to socialize with their team or coworker and enjoy Lunch on Us.

Day to day things look much different than they used to. We took for granted the importance of random encounters in the office or quick conversations over coffee in the office kitchen. So, while we wait for the day when we can return safely to our office and to team meetings in the conference rooms, lunch with our office mates or even a friendly game of ping pong, Nolij remains focused on delivering an exceptional company culture experience to our employees.

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Leadership Thoughts

Secrets to Success for Female Founders

Secrets to Success for Female Founders

Secrets to Success for Female Founders

Care About What You Do

I founded Nolij Consulting, (pronounced “knowledge”), a certified Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), in 2013. I started the company with the mission of providing excellent federal health information technology services at competitive rates. With this mission in mind, the company quickly grew within federal healthcare to become a strong information technology WOSB. By remaining committed to my mission to support and improve federal healthcare, and focused specialization in software and system testing, electronic health record modernization, and enterprise solutions, I have had the privilege to support projects aligned with my passion.

I am very proud that today Nolij is playing a pivotal role in The Department of Defense (DoD)’s mission to complete the largest health record modernization effort in the history of the military health system. This is a multi-million dollar contract where we conduct the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) testing of MHS Genesis, made up of Cerner and Dentrix, and all the applications that touch MHS Genesis, to make sure all health records for our military heroes and their families travel with them seamlessly throughout their career and into military retirement. We also work with private hospitals to make sure they can access the DoD healthcare records. This has been a huge improvement to the healthcare of our nation, and we are so proud and honored to be a part of it.  It has been great to continuously be recognized by our clients for the excellent work we do. Nolij received the Award for Excellence from the Program  Executive Office (PEO) Defense Healthcare Management Systems (DHMS) organization for its MHS Genesis testing efforts.

Hire the Right Talent

You have to be passionate about the work you are doing, but you cannot achieve success without the right team. I have surrounded myself with people who have the right attitude, aptitude, and energy and the right mindset to roll up one’s sleeves and do what it takes to win work and keep the business running. For a small business to be successful, you need to hire employees, that appreciate the uniqueness of working for a small organization  and value the risk and rewards that go along with it. We are fortunate to have built an outstanding company with employees that appreciate this.

Continue to Build Capabilities

It is important to constantly be looking for ways to innovate. Being a women-owned small business (WOSB) in the federal space can be challenging, as you compete for opportunities against large businesses and other set-asides like HUBZone, 8as, Native American, and Hawaiian Owned. We have learned to partner with these companies focusing on building our business around emerging technologies supporting our expertise such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Cyber Security, and DevSec Ops and now focusing on the commercial market more than ever. We feel our electronic healthcare records information technology expertise can be a big benefit to the commercial market. We hope to continue building software partnerships like AWS, UiPath, and MicroFocus, and EHR software vendors. We take pride in announcing that we have signed a joint venture with an 8a company, Advanced, Innovative IT Solutions, LLC, with expertise in cybersecurity and commercial healthcare. I have wanted to branch out into the cyber and commercial health space and with this partnership, we will have the expertise to do just that.

Support Other Women

Nolij Consulting is a woman-centric company and I feel that women leaders need to support other women. I am so gratified that our success has allowed us to support our women veteran’s through an organization called Women’s Veteran Interactive (WVI) which was started by Ginger Miller, a veteran herself, who saw hardship after her military career and wanted to help other women veterans in need. Nolij has a lot of respect for Ginger and would like to once again “Thank her for her service and dedication to Women Veterans”.

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Leadership Thoughts

If Your Company Is Predominantly Men, It Just Might Be Yesterday’s Product

If Your Company Is Predominantly Men, It Just Might Be Yesterday’s Product

If Your Company Is Predominantly Men, It Just Might Be Yesterday’s Product

Companies must look at all available avenues and options to grow. You have to stand out, be innovative and creative. Think forward. What does the next generation want? You want to be ahead of the game, so your product and ideas and your image don’t slowly die. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for businesses to be prepared to innovate and think outside the box. Many companies had to transform their way of conducting business practically overnight. Companies required creative solutions. Some companies are doing better than ever; others are not doing so great. How do you best position your company to survive in any market climate and under any condition?

We need to look at our companies as a product. Is it a high-quality product rich with diversity, forward-thinking, and innovation? Or is our product stifled by the same patterns, the same predictable outcomes, and the same ideas?

As a women-owned small business owner and a mother of a bright 16-year-old daughter, I think about what companies are missing if they don’t consciously make an effort to empower women in the workplace to accelerate company growth. Women are a tremendous resource for creative thinking and innovative ideas and can move companies to the next big thing. My daughter’s generation is more independent than ever, aware of social and economic patterns, and believe in themselves and their female peers. If your company has predominately male leadership, if it’s not leaning more towards an even split, then the next generation of women will consider your company yesterday’s product. A product not worth their investment and time; a place where innovation and creativity will be stifled by the perspectives of the men that lead it. 

I want to take a moment to recognize the bright daughters of my outstanding employees and all that they are accomplishing. It’s exciting to think about a future where their contributions will not only be recognized but will be sought-after. Ultimately, empowering women in the workplace ensures your company will be ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

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Leadership Thoughts

Dealing with the Next Normal: Empathy, Employees, and Execution

Dealing with the Next Normal: Empathy, Employees, and Execution

Dealing with the Next Normal: Empathy, Employees, and Execution

dealing with the new normal

We at Nolij recognize the severity of Covid-19 and the health and financial impact it has had on people around the world. I would like to take a moment to thank essential workers and first responders for their dedication during the pandemic and helping us get through these trying times. The Nolij family continues to do their part to stay safe and healthy by taking all the precautionary measures recommended by the CDC and local government agencies. 

Nolij is a compassionate and family-oriented company. Pivoting to an all-remote workforce challenged us to find new ways to remain engaged with and support our employees.

Dealing with Anxiety and Stress

Coronavirus has created anxiety and stress in many organizations. I believe empathy and compassion can be an antidote. Our HR team is working tirelessly to communicate regularly with employees through in-depth newsletters providing Covid-19 guidance and tips and tricks for teleworking and conducting check-in calls asking employees if they and their families are doing okay. Employees are facing unique challenges with adult children returning home, spouses working from home, and children attending school online. I know times are stressful. These circumstances require us to look beyond just business performance and to focus on caring for and supporting one another.

Active Engagement in the New Normal

I sincerely believe that active engagement can help us weather these trying times. I am aware teleworking has drawbacks, including social and professional isolation, decreased information-sharing opportunities, and difficulty separating work and personal time. To bridge the gap, we have stepped up be-in-touch activities that include a mixture of work and play to help employees feel connected. We sent care packages with both treats and masks. We have increased online collaboration, conducting daily video meetings with internal teams and team members. We are hosting after-hours online events like happy hours, Pictionary game night, and weekly yoga classes. It is the little things that will make all the difference.

Supporting the Community

We are all in this together. We take pride in giving back to our community and know it is needed now more than ever. This year it has been our honor to support:

  • Inova Children’s Hospital- Supporting frontline workers and the Covid-19 Research Fund
  • Women Veterans Interactive- Supporting women Veterans as they return to civilian life
  • Operation Renewed Hope Foundation- Helping to end Veteran homelessness in the DC metropolitan region

Preparation for a safe return

With encouraging news from the CDC coming out on the Covid-19 vaccine and improved treatment procedures, we are hopeful that in early 2021, we will see a gradual return of the workforce. I can’t wait until we are all safe and together again.

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Leadership Thoughts

At Nolij, We Believe Everyone Deserves Strong Leadership and We Believe Strong Leaders, Build Strong Leaders

At Nolij, We Believe Everyone Deserves Strong Leadership and We Believe Strong Leaders, Build Strong Leaders

At Nolij, We Believe Everyone Deserves Strong Leadership and We Believe Strong Leaders, Build Strong Leaders

Today’s complex business environment calls for innovative and flexible approaches to leadership. Leadership needs to focus on creating meaningful value for all employees, clients, and partners.

The question: “Are you a Leader or a Boss?” raises some interesting thoughts. Frequently in books and movies, the ‘boss’ is portrayed negatively – a tyrant barking orders, as someone who takes credit for others’ work, etc. There is no course at Harvard for Essential Bossing skills – it has always been Essential Leadership skills.

We all prefer to work under good managers where we feel valued and respected, instead of being micromanaged and scrutinized. Research studies show that interactions with demeaning and overbearing bosses undermine performance, including decision-making skills, creativity, and productivity. Whether you are an employee, manager, or client, you want to feel that your ideas, emotions, and presence are respected.

Before starting Nolij Consulting, I spent many years working for big businesses – I have worked under both leaders and bosses. The leaders I most admired had one thing in common; they functioned with Purpose and Empathy.

In my experience, ‘bosses’ have certain typical traits – having a know-it-all attitude, talking more than listening, being egotistical, and being unreasonably critical and demanding.

By contrast, a true leader encourages and appreciates their employees. They make sure they listen, encourage conversations, and have an open-door policy. They have the courage to fail, and they lead by example. They treat their employees with trust, fairness, integrity, and understanding. Truly dynamic leaders are the ones that remain open to change and constructive criticism and regularly engage employees for feedback.

As the CEO of Nolij Consulting, I understand that creating an environment of mutual respect and positive leadership has multiple benefits in the workplace. These include enhanced productivity, reduced stress, loyalty to the company, better communication, improved teamwork, and higher employee engagement. People feel empowered when they know they are doing purposeful work for meaningful rewards and recognition. We want our employees to be excited about the people they work with and be excited about coming to work every day.

Employers and employees need to respect each other, and this also extends to our partners and clients. At Nolij, we ensure that our partners and clients get the respect they deserve by giving them the attention they need, listening to their opinions, and interacting with courtesy. Having partners and clients who feel valued and appreciated will uplift everyone and add to Nolij’s overall goodwill and reputation.

The bottom line is that as a respectful, open-minded leader, you embrace a personal philosophy that can shape how you view life, how you take actions, and how you judge yourself—and, consequently, provide a framework for leading your team and organization.

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Leadership Thoughts

Are You Listening? The Significance of Listening in a Distracted World

Are You Listening? The Significance of Listening in a Distracted World

Are You Listening? The Significance of Listening in a Distracted World

I have been reading Kate Murphy’s recently published You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters and find its implications for managing today’s virtual workplace very relevant and intriguing. Murphy argues that people today occupy mini-digital bubbles and, as a result, have not only lost the ability to listen, but live in increasing isolation. Most people are either focused on expressing their own opinions or distracted by technology. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds before people start reading texts, checking notifications, or seeing what’s trending online. As employers, we value eloquence and clarity, but what about effective listening skills? During the coronavirus pandemic, I believe listening is just as significant and impactful as speaking when it comes to being fully engaged and productive while working in our virtual home offices.

In today’s high-tech, high-stress, fast-paced world, we do not spend a lot of time truly listening to each other. Having effective listening skills essentially means not only taking interest in what is being said but understanding the message through “active listening,” which involves both verbal and nonverbal cues. These nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, often send an entirely different message from what is being verbally spoken. Interestingly, men and women listen differently. According to authors Kittie Watson and Larry Barker in Listen Up, women process messages on both sides of the brain while men tend to process more on the left side of the brain. Women effectively access the full message, reading reactions and listening, and have a more holistic understanding. In this regard, women-owned businesses, like Nolij, may have an advantage when it comes to listening to clients and delivering results faster without miscommunication delays.

Effective communication, including active listening, is a key skill in business and leaders and entrepreneurs often attribute their success to effective listening. Richard Branson, for example, frequently quotes his ability to listen as being one of the main factors behind the success of Virgin Airlines. As a leader, I too have observed how truly listening and processing client and employee feedback is essential to establishing trust, maintaining effective relationships, solving problems, resolving conflicts, and reaching organizational goals.

During the coronavirus pandemic, listening has taken on a new significance for employees and leaders. Many teams are working remotely, removing nonverbal cues from the equation, and many professionals are distracted. They are struggling to manage online school with their children, work, and home. As a working mother, I appreciate the current challenges and would encourage parents to spend a few minutes listening to their children uninterrupted by multi-tasking and giving them the full attention they are seeking. Children will give parents space once they are content with being heard. More than ever, employees too need assurance that they are being heard, and that their views and opinions matter. We also need to especially listen to our staff who are excellent listeners because their perspectives are vital to finding solutions to current business challenges—they hear the message behind the words.  As business leaders, effective listening is vital as it helps us meet our employees and teams where they are and navigate our organizations more effectively.

Anyone can become a better listener by reducing distractions, eliminating background activity and noise, and practicing how to be truly present. Does your phone draw away your attention? Switch it to silent mode or put it away during one-on-one conversations. Addicted to flipping through websites, reports, or files on your laptop while on a video call? Minimize anything that’s irrelevant and switch to the video call’s full-screen option. “Listening is often regarded as talking’s meek counterpart,” Kate Murphy writes. However, the best leaders know that listening is a valuable opportunity to build a better brand and advance collaboration.