FACT-CHECK: NYSC says it’s at ‘forefront’ of total compliance with FOI Act, but it’s not true


THE Director-General of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim on Friday says the Corps has been at the forefront of ensuring total compliance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Act but the statement is false.

Source: FACT-CHECK: NYSC says it’s at ‘forefront’ of total compliance with FOI Act, but it’s not true | The ICIR

Bad Leaders Drive Away Good Employees


June 15, 2019 by StrategyDriven+

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Employee Retention | Management and Leadership

These days, it’s hard to keep a good employee in your ranks. Messages across the web tell young workers that the only way to get ahead is to hop positions frequently, even as much as once per year. In the modern job market, frequent relocations seems to be how employees get the titles, responsibilities and perks they crave.

So, employees are already poised to leave — and they will flee your offices even faster if your leadership isn’t up to snuff. Here are a few ways bad leaders negatively impact your employee retention and what you can do to stop it.

Poor Communication

Good communication is the number-one requirement for a leader. After all, it’s impossible to lead if you don’t know how to use words to direct your workforce. Still, many poor communicators make it to leadership positions, and from there, they wreak all sorts of havoc. Poor communication can take many forms:

  • Over-inflated — using too much jargon, too many big words or overly convoluted sentence structure
  • Non-specific — failing to provide clear instructions or guidelines for a project or situation
  • Abrasive — communicating with aggressive language and/or with anger
  • Selfish — communicating only to seek personal benefits, ignoring others’ needs or desires
  • Wrong method — employing an inappropriate means of communication

Fortunately, communication is a skill like any other, which means it is possible to retrain these leaders to improve their performance. It might be wise to encourage leaders to develop their communication through advanced education, like an MBA program, or else through mentorship or coaching.

Criticism

There is a fine line between healthy feedback and destructive criticism — and many leaders stray to the wrong side too often. Leaders are meant to coach, helping employees improve their skills and thus develop their careers. Bad leaders will nit-pick, taking every chance to degrade employees and make them feel ineffective and worthless.

Many employees become so downtrodden by the constant criticism that they do not report the bad behavior to HR or higher bosses, which means it is often difficult to identify overly critical leaders. If you receive any reports of an unsympathetic, judgmental leader, you should take them seriously and take steps to effect change.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to retrain leaders who develop this habit. Often, it is a clear and simple sign that someone is poorly suited to leadership and should be removed to a different role. However, you might also need to undo the damage of these leaders by being overly appreciative of employee contributions, perhaps even handing out employee awards to raise general self-esteem.

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Employee Retention | Your Bad Leaders Are Driving Away Good Employees | Office Politics | Business Politics

Office Politics

Office politics is an unavoidable power and social networking system that develops in any organization, big or small. The manipulation of office politics by some employees is inevitable — but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for leaders to take advantage of the political atmosphere of an office. An overly political office often breeds fear amongst the workforce; fear causes employees to resent their employer, which drives up staff turnover.

Leaders might try to leverage office politics to encourage employees to work harder — but there is a delicate balance between positive and negative outcomes from political maneuvering. Plus, office politics always comes with ethical concerns, which certainly won’t boost your brand perception. It’s much safer to discourage leaders from inciting a political atmosphere in your workplace.

Dirty Laundry

Work only amounts to so much of a person’s life, and while it’s fine (even encouraged!) to share a bit of your home life with your coworkers, no one should be divulging unseemly personal drama in the workplace. Dirty laundry, much like office politics, breeds discomfort amongst your workforce; a proliferation of dirty laundry encourages people to spread rumors, with can reduce interpersonal trust and send employees looking for less threatening work.

Leaders need to find a balance between humanizing themselves with personal details and airing dirty laundry. Human resources can help train leaders who struggle to set boundaries. It’s also wise to build a workplace culture that allows for personal bonds between workers, so information about anyone’s personal life doesn’t seem quite so salacious.

Fear, discomfort, distrust — these are things that bad leaders can breed amongst your workforce, virtually guaranteeing that no good employee stays for longer than a few months. Your business can’t grow unless your workforce is stable and capable, which means you might need to take steps to change your leadership, stat.

How Raw Honey Could Save Your Microbiome (and Travel Back In Time)


October 21st 2018 By: Sayer Ji, Founder

Could Eating Honey Be A Form of Microbial Time Travel?

Did you know that there are billions of years of biological information encoded within your cells, and that depending on what you do or do not eat, the information is activated or remains latent?

It is a biological fact that the distant past is embedded within the present. No one could have described this more aptly and tangibly than Thich Nhat Han when he said: 

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

In fact, each cell in your body, along with all the cells in all living creatures on the planet today, derive from a last universal common ancestor (LUCA) estimated to have lived some 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago in the primordial ocean. While this may strike the reader as an unusual concept, even Charles Darwin acknowledged this phenomenon in Origin of Species (1859)1

“Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.”

The germline cells within our bodies (sperm and ovum) represent a quasi-immortal and unbroken biological thread tying us all back, through an almost infinite number of cell replications, to LUCA. These germline cells represent, against all odds, the resilience of biological systems to persist through incalculably vast stretches of time and innumerable vectors of adversity. They are “deathless” relative to somatic cells in that their biological information has been passed down from generation to generation for billions of years without interruption, and that will continue to be passed forward within the successfully conceived progeny of all the species inhabiting this planet today. 

Hand Microbes Time Travel

And so, biological entities are unique insofar as they inhabit the present while containing within themselves information stretching so far back in the distant past as to approach geologic time scales.

The Microbial Basis for Human Identity

Before we delve into nutrition as a form of “microbial time travel,” we must first provide context by taking a brief look at how our species’ self-definition has been completely transformed by the discovery that we are at least as much “germs” as we are “human.”

We now know that we are more microbial than human. Constituted by at least 10 times more bacterial, viral, and fungal cells than actual human cells, we are more accurately described (at least in biological terms) as a “meta-organism” than a hermetically-sealed off body isolated from outside life.

Perhaps even more profound is the fact that the total genetic information in our bodies is about 99% microbial in origin, with many of these microbes performing life-sustaining functions for digestion, immunity, and even cognition. Even when explore only the “private” genetic contribution of our cells, we find that the human genome is about 10% viral (retroviral) in origin, and that “our” mitochondria are actually “alien” in origin: somewhere around 1.5 billion years ago an ancient bacteria entered into symbiotic relationship with our cells to perform both oxygen-detoxifying and energy-producing functions by losing their independence and becoming our mitochondria. [Note: Learn more about the implications of the microbial basis for human identity in the article: “How The Microbiome Destroyed the Ego, Vaccine Policy, and Patriarchy.”]

When we look at ourselves through this microbial lens, where we “end” and the living and breathing environment “begins” is no longer as clear as the boundary of our skin. What we eat or expose ourselves chemically, for instance, not only becomes of crucial significance in determining the state of our health and disease risk, but to our very identity. This information is beginning to affect the way we look at ourselves as a species in evolutionary terms. In fact, the hologenome theory of evolution states that we are a “holobiont,” a host whose fate is and always was inseparably bound to all its symbiotic microbes. As with classical evolutionary theory on our how genes evolve, selective pressures from the environment have shaped the types and numbers of microbes that now form the basis for both our health and disease susceptibility. And what are some of the most important “selective pressures” that have gone into creating our holobiont selves over the course of unimaginably vast swaths of time? Dietary, environmental, and cultural ones, of course.

When Hippocrates said “we are what we eat,” this was true not only in molecular terms, i.e. the food we eat produces molecular building blocks from which our bodies are constructed, but also in microbial terms, i.e., the microbes we expose ourselves to and cultivate through nutrition affect and/or permanently alter our holobiont selves. Which leads us to the topic of honey and “microbial time travel.”

Honey, Would You Please Pass The Genome?

While we often think of our “cave man” ancestors as being shaped primarily by their “meat-based” diet, and the harnessing of fire for cooking, acquiring and eating honey may have been an equally crucial dietary determinant in our evolutionary trajectory as well. According to one researcher, Alyssa Crittendeyn, PhD, honey helped make us human:

It appears that the human sweet tooth has a long history in human evolution. New research proposes that honey may have been important in human evolution. Upper Paleolithic (8,000 – 40,000 years ago) rock art from all around the world depicts images of early humans collecting honey. The images range from figures climbing ladders to access hives residing high in trees to figures smoking out hives filled with honeycomb. Honey and bee larvae are important foods consumed by many populations of hunters and gatherers worldwide. Foragers in Latin America, Asia, Australia, and Africa include honey and bee larvae as major components of their diet. The Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, the population with whom I work, even list honey as their number one preferred food item!”

So, while our ancestors may have consumed honey, what does it have to do with our microbial identity?

Honey actually contains a range of beneficial microbes contributed by bees and the plants they forage, including lactic-acid producing bacteria (Lactobacilli), and when eaten raw, may contribute health-promoting strains to our bodies. These bacteria have been identified as indispensable to the immunity of the individuals and the hive as a whole, as well as in affecting the behavior of the different types of bees that inhabit these complex colonies. Considering the possibility of our ancient co-evolutionary relationship with honey, is it possible that our own immune systems and microbial populations share dependency on honey-based microbes? 

Tantalizing Evidence of a Brain Microbiome


June 13th 2019 By: Kelly Brogan, M.D. †

It turns out that the brain, which has historically thought to be a sterile environment, may actually be host to its own microbiome; not unlike the environment of the gut! 

By now, almost everyone has heard of the human microbiome – the collection of viruses, bacteria, and fungi that play a pivotal role in our health and cognitive functioning. Also called the microbiota, we’ve long assumed that the microbiome consists of microbes that reside along our gastrointestinal tract – and more recently, on our skin. That’s logical enough; microbes live on our interfaces with the outside world. Conversely, there are certain areas in the human body that are assumed to be sterile, aka free of microbes, like the eye and the womb. However, advances in analytical techniques enabled researchers to recently identify the placental microbiome1 and eye microbiome2 that are present in healthy people. That’s pretty cool, but there definitely couldn’t be microbes in our brains, the most protected area of our bodies, right?

A head-turning poster3 at the November 2018 Society for Neuroscience scientific conference called into question the assumption of the brain as a sterile, bacteria-free zone. A team of researchers from The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), led by Professor Rosalinda Roberts, showed high-resolution microscope images of mouse and human brains that depicted bacteria happily residing in astrocytes, star-shaped brain cells that interact with and support neurons.


A Scanning Electron Microscope image of a human brain slice showing bacteria (circled in red) next to a blood vessel. Adapted from a writeup in Science Magazine.4

Like most people in the field, the UAB researchers were not looking for bacteria in the brain; this finding happened serendipitously. An undergraduate researcher named Courtney Walker was comparing microscope images of the brains of healthy people and those with schizophrenia to see if there were structural differences underlying the pathology, and she kept seeing the rod-like structures in the brain samples. Puzzled, Professor Roberts consulted some colleagues and learned that these structures were bacteria. She realized that bacteria had been present in every brain that the lab had examined – 34 brains in total.

To determine if the bacteria were a result of contamination between the time of death and brain sample preparation, Prof. Roberts and the team studied mouse brains immediately after death. To their surprise, they found bacteria in the mouse brains as well. Perhaps there was some contamination in the preparation of brain tissue slices for microscopy? To address that question, they raised mice in germ-free environments – with no bacterial exposure (at least theoretically) – and prepared the brain samples in the same way. They found no bacteria; none in the mouse guts or brains. This finding implies that the bacteria present in the brain comes from the environment or from within the body.

Given this result, the Roberts team dove deeper and used RNA sequencing to identify which types of bacteria were in human and mouse brains. Intriguingly, most of the bacteria were identified as Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes – 3 phyla commonly found in the gut. Perhaps these bacteria traveled from the gut to the brain, climbing up nerves or traversing blood vessels?

This preliminary finding has sparked many open questions – are these commensal or pathological species, does the quantity and composition of the brain microbiome change over time, where do the bacteria come from, to name a few – but is nonetheless exciting and reminiscent of the surprisingly recent discovery of the brain’s immune system that underpins the emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology.

How to Tell Your Boss to Stop Texting You on the Weekend


Lolly Daskal

She was the sixth executive assistant to leave in the past year, and her boss—my coaching client—had no clue why he was losing so many employees. He kept telling me what a great leader he was. But as you’ve likely heard me say before, people don’t leave jobs, they leave leaders. To get to the bottom of the situation, I got permission from my client to talk with the six assistants who had left him.

They didn’t need much encouragement—they were all eager to speak. And each of them cited the same issue: getting work texts on the weekend. Not just as an occasional thing in the face of a crisis or deadline, but constantly, as an extension of the work week.

They all had similar responses:

“If my boss is texting me, I need to reply immediately.”

“If my boss is texting me, it makes me nervous and puts me on edge.”

“If my boss is texting me, I feel I have to get the task done right away, because it must be important.”

Before sharing the news with my client, I offered his former employees some coaching in case the situation came up again. Here are the strategies I shared them for dealing with a text-happy boss:

Communicate up front. When you get hired, tell your boss, “I am available while at work, but once I am home, I value my time with my family, so unless it’s an emergency please don’t text me on weekends.”

State expectations. As another approach, you can say “If you have a need to text me on the weekends, know that I probably won’t be able to respond right away, because the weekend is my time to regroup and reset.”

Reinforce the message. If your boss doesn’t get the message and persists in texting you on the weekend, remind them of your policy with your actions—in other words, don’t answer until you’re back in the office on Monday.

Manage the context. If the texts persist, respond with a simple message: “I will get to this on Monday.” Unless it’s an emergency, treat it as an opportunity to learn about managing relationships and maintaining boundaries.

Train your boss. Work with your boss to establish such great communication during the week that they don’t feel the need to try to reach you on the weekends.