Snowstorms, Resilience, and Gratitude  

Posted on November 25th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments

storm 2 (2) storm 1

 

I just lived through one of the craziest weeks and weather experiences I can remember.  You see, I live in the Southtowns of Buffalo, NY.  And for anyone who may have missed the story, we were just pounded with one heck of a snowstorm.  Yeah, I know, you may say “It’s Buffalo, why is that so extraordinary?”  Well this one was a record breaker – the most snowfall we’ve ever seen in such a short period of time.  My town of West Seneca officially recorded 78 inches between last Tuesday and Thursday.  And by the way, I’m not a huge fan of snow.

 

Now this is by no means the first major snowstorm I’ve experienced. I was too young to remember the Blizzard of ’77, the granddaddy of all Buffalo storms, but I vividly recall a few others of note: the Thanksgiving Week storm of 2000, where I and many others were stranded in our workplaces overnight (and let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to sleep under a desk) while hundreds of others were stranded on the I-90 for 36 hours; and the Surprise October Storm of 2006, when a nasty, un-forecasted snow/ice storm knocked out power in most of the area for days.

 

The thing that is most notable about those storms, as well as last week’s storm, is the way that they bring out the best in humanity, and the life lessons that can be learned from them.

 

storm 5

 

In 2000, I learned that though it’s no picnic being stranded in your office overnight, the camaraderie and bonding that comes from that experience is one that’s not easy to duplicate.  Those of us that were there still reminisce about it, 14 years later.  And the teamwork that emerged, and sheer determination to get everyone’s cars dug out and people home the next morning…that’s the kind of collaboration and focus on a common goal that any team, any workplace would envy.

 

In 2006, when the power finally came back on and all of us dropped our typical daily responsibilities to spend days cleaning up and getting our stores back on line, that also taught me the true meaning of working towards a common goal, and how each of us, no matter what our background or ability, can be a critical component in seeing it achieved.

 

And today, in 2014, I’ve realized the importance of relationships and networks.  Though I was cooped up alone for 4 days, I was never really alone.  Friends and colleagues from all over the world continually checked in on me, whether it was to see how I was holding up, just to say hi, or to try to make me laugh and keep my sense of humor alive through a long four days.  And though there were moments of worry that I’d be trapped with no way to dig out on my own, deep down I knew that would never be the case, that there is always someone around to help, and that working together we can – literally – weather the storm.

 

I may not like the snow, but maybe there’s just a tiny little part of me that’s just a little bit grateful that I’ve lived through these experiences.  That through them, I’ve learned the meaning of resilience, camaraderie, and a “nothing’s going to stop us” attitude.

 

If you can’t find the business lesson in that, well then perhaps you’re just not looking hard enough.

 

storm 3

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Women Can’t Do Anything Right! #BULLSHIT

Posted on November 20th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. No Comments

Women Can't Do Anything Right!

This sentiment is a belief I grew up with and entered the workplace with fully controlling my life. Of course, as a brand new college graduate entering the workforce I had no idea of its power and influence over me. I could not pinpoint nor did I know to look for such a belief that truly was debilitating at times and, if allowed, could have limiting affects on ones career success. All of that did not even show up on my radar until I was well into my career and actually quite successful. Little did I know it actually acted as a driver because I wanted nothing more to prove it was wrong.

As the first to graduate high school and college in my immediate family, I was an independent, semi-confident, hard working young lady that saw no boundaries. I looked at life as a challenge and had no doubts that anything or anyone would ever get in my way. So how can such a person have such a belief deeply embedded in her personality? Sometimes your deepest fear is your biggest motivator, but there are people who could have lived a very different life. Those are the people who let such beliefs eat away at them and affect their job performance as well as their personal and professional relationships. I was a lucky one. Well not really, because I have constantly had to work against that belief with positive self-talk. My professional career success has helped me have balance in my life when the rest of my life was falling apart.

I did not realize  this belief even existed until I was around 30 years old and I attended a multi-week self-help seminar (supposedly a management development program) with my boss and my boss's boss.  Odd combination of classmates when your deepest-darkest fears are allowed to come out and play. And play is what that belief has done for the remaining years of my life. Although, now that I am aware I have more control and can limit its affect on my life. Admittedly, I have definitely lost control on multiple occasions but the time frames are shorter and the relationships I have are deeper. So luckily forgiveness has been my savior. Not just my own about myself but also those I have hurt or reacted negatively toward because of my internal defense mechanisms. You know the whining voice in your head that says " I am WOMAN and I can do this right, I dare you to think or say anything that deny's that truth." When it affects my relationships I can more quickly put a halt to it and apologize versus blame the other person like I use to do more often. If my friends are reading this you may bring to mind certain interactions and say to yourself "Oh, that's why she went crazy that time". LOL!?

You see, my belief stemmed from childhood as I continuously overheard comments related to my biological mother, step-mother, and my fathers now widow.  The comments were not positive (almost never) and the words in this title were used quite often. Women drivers, co-workers in the office, and other family members of the same gender were also often ridiculed as well as both of the grandmother's I knew as a child.

The ridicule was not always in person. Often it was behind their back but certainly close enough and loud enough for young ears to hear and internalize. As you can imagine, more directly, "I" could never do anything right. I could not pick up the yard, make dinner, clean the house, care for my brothers, etc. "right"! (i.e. correctly). Not that I was a child or anything and should have been focused on school work and having friends (said sarcastically). You see, I started taking care of such things above that had previously been known as "woman's work" when I was just 12 years old. It continued through my 20th year when I moved out on a whim because I was so fed up with the lack of positive recognition for all that I was actually doing right. If I heard one more negative comment about me or any women, well who knows what I might have said or done.

Things like earning good grades, being a positive influence on my younger siblings, working outside the home to earn my own way through college, keeping the house, cooking dinner every night, answering the phone, etc. Growing up with so much negativity is bound to put a damper on ones personality and interactions at work as well as at home. We all know one heavily influences the other.

Long story short...my priority all during my teens was my family. If my predecessors could not do any of those chores right, I likely was set up for failure from the very start.   How many of us, as managers, hire people into a position without the skills to successfully do the job? How many co-workers, managers, friends, family do you know that are bright, successful and most of the time fun to be around, who have a defense as long as a football field? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever shown empathy to that person? Have you tried not to judge them?  Will you forgive them?

Why do I share all this? Because, one should

-never judge a book by its cover
-always give a person the benefit of the doubt
-be understanding, be real, be authentic, be present, and above all be yourself
-realize perception is not always reality, and communication received is not always the intent
-get to know people as humans
-believe no one is ever perfect, not even yourself

In my humble opinion, the workplace needs to create an environment where employees can be real as long as they are respectful. They should develop managers who have potential even if they have flaws. Give an employee a chance to redeem themselves . Help them figure out what those flaws are and give them the tools to put them to work in a positive way that can help then make a difference for those around them.

No one is perfect, so as long as they are not in denial they can work it out. If you too are a victim of this horrible sentiment, please realize it can only be true if you let it. AND if it's coming out of someone else's mouth who is attempting to make you believe it, SHOUT OUT: #BULLSHIT -- walk away and never look back!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.


The New Rules of Engagement: Individualization

Posted on November 18th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Yvonne Sell and Georg Vielmetter recently wrote Leadership 2030, a new book outlining how 6 powerful trends are impacting life as we know it. They identified these 6 megatrends as Globalization 2.0, Environmental Crisis, Demographic Change, Digitization, Individualization and Technology Convergence.

In this series of blog posts, Monick Evans of the Hay Group will cover each of these trends in turn and share her thoughts on how they impact engagement, and what they might mean for us as professionals as well as for us as employees.

 

“I want, I need, I get”

A new megatrend called Individualization is coming: here’s what it means for you, your job, and for the way you manage others.

 

I Want

Usually it’s my 6-year old daughter saying “I want, I want, I want” when she sees the latest ad on TV for a new doll or toy. When you’re her age, it seems fine to just ask for what you want. But as we grow up, many of us stop asking.

But that’s about to change. Soon it’ll be okay for you to ask for exactly what you want in your job, whatever your age, background or role. Why? Because there’s a big new megatrend that’s here called Individualization.It’s one of 6 global trends that two of my colleagues have just written about in their new book, Leadership 2030.

Individualization is about how we want to be treated at work as unique and valued. It means we want managers to care about us as people, to really know us, know what our strengths and development areas are (and to use those skills), and to do whatever it takes to help us achieve our full potential as well as help us fit our work around our life. We don’t just want to be “one of the team” anymore; we want to feel special and be treated like we are.

But there’s a small problem. If you work in a role in HR, OD or employee engagement, you spend most of your time thinking about how to help other people in your business – how to make employees feel more motivated or more productive, or how to develop your leaders.  We spend hardly any time thinking about ourselves or our own needs and development. We seem to forget that we’re employees too and sometimes we need a bit of motivation and attention.

So this got me thinking, what would happen if we started acting a bit more like a 6 year old (well, sometimes, maybe not all the time if we want to keep our jobs) and start asking more often for what we want to make us feel more motivated in our jobs?
I Need

So what do you really need in your job? Research on this new megatrend shows that people’s expectations are changing about work, and that if companies want to keep their talent, they’ll need to adapt fast because:

  • Fulfilment, meaning, self-development and recognition will all become much more important than salary
  • People will demand that their employers take note of their individual needs, their likes and dislikes
  • Managers will need to manage people as individuals; they’ll need to develop more empathy and flexibility to get the best out of each member of the team
  • The idea of work-life balance will be outdated; it’ll be about total lifestyle and how best to juggle different priorities (from doing a great job at work to finding time for that favourite hobby)
  • Career development will be a two-way street where managers will encourage us to research options and suggest new career paths, while they help us navigate existing career structures

Stop and have a think about your own job for a moment. Are these needs already met or do you think you need to ask for some changes?

 

I Get

So how can we start to get more of what we want in our jobs so we feel motivated to put more effort and energy into our work? (With 2 young children and a full-time job, I’m always looking for more energy as I’m sure most of us are!).

The key relationship will be with our manager. How can we change how our managers support us? Try answering a few questions to see how well you think your manager is doing on the Individualization trend:

 

Yes / No
Are your objectives really tailored to your skills and experience?
Do you have a development plan that’s unique to you?
Do you know what you need to do to get promoted?
Are you encouraged to manage your own career?
Does your manager really understand your unique skills and development areas? And does s/he make the most of them?
Does your manager spend time coaching you?
Can you work flexibly to fulfil your own unique work and personal commitments?

 

How did you get on? If you answered “Yes” to some of these (like I did), then you’re on the right path (you may even want to buy your manager a drink).

But if you answered “No” to any of these questions (which I also did), don’t be afraid to sit down with your manager, act like a 6 year old and say “I want, I want, I want” a few times  to explain what you need to be more engaged in your job. You never know what you might get.

See you next time, I’m off to have a chat with my manager…..

 

How well do you think people in your organization are adapting to the individualization trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Photo credit

About the Author: Monick Evans is an Associate Director at global management consultancy Hay Group. With 20 years experience in organizational research, HR and change consulting, Monick has worked with some of the world’s best known multinational companies to deliver leading edge employee engagement programmes. Monick works closely with key stakeholders, including CEOs, Executive Teams, HR, OD and Communications professionals to help align their employee survey programmes with business strategy. The topics she is discussing in this series of blog posts can also be found in the Hay Group report The new rules of engagement.

 


Giving Feedback to Managers – Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up!

Posted on November 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

We women in HR definitely have plenty to say about what managers can (and should) do to be more effective.

 

In fact, we’re often so overwhelmed with what a few of our business or functional managers did and didn’t do, that we don’t know where to start. I have worked in the HR field, as a consultant in the areas of performance management and leadership development, and have plenty of crazy stories about leadership gaps observed by HR generalists–mostly women. These gaps range from legal exposures of all kinds to managers de-motivating, or failing to develop and retain employees. Although the outliers are only a small percentage, most leaders we know could do a lot better at the things we know most about.

 

After researching and writing a book about workplace feedback, I am giving myself feedback about how I give feedback. Over the years, I have learned a lot.

 

A few important conclusions:

1.  I wish I had been more honest and directive in my earlier days of HR consulting. When leaders asked me to do something that I thought wasn’t such a great idea, I was too accommodating, figuring my role was to “support management” by helping them do what they wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong; I never accommodated anything illegal or immoral. It was more like I said OK to things like training supervisors and low-level managers in a particular leadership skill, but letting the top executives get away with no training, buy-in or evidence of the skill themselves. Later, I pushed back at hare-brained requests and said–”Based on my experience, this won’t work.” My advice: Say what you know, loud and clear, upfront. I promise you, you will be MORE, rather than less respected for it. Of course you will give a business rationale, but don’t hold back your expertise.

 

 2.  I need to spend more time coaching leaders, because change is hard. Explaining everything once or twice won’t work. If they are adopting a new mindset and new behaviors, they will need many, many visits with you, to talk through what they are trying, what works, what doesn’t work, and how to address the setbacks. Focus each conversation on one or two things they plan to do differently, not a whole universe of competencies that would require a personality transplant. My advice: Plan a series of many incremental coaching conversations with leaders you are helping.

 

3.  What I know from the HR field is beneficial to business and I need to shout that from the rooftops! People from other functions tend to roll their eyes when the topic of HR comes up. Part of that is something we can change, if we do a better job of linking everything we give feedback on to their specific goals. I used to think that things like performance development and career development had obvious benefits for a leader’s goals, but I know now that I need to explain that linkage in no uncertain terms. For example, a manager’s feedback to employees, done earlier and more often, helps people learn from mistakes and positively impacts the team’s goals. Duh! We need to repeat that and explain it in a way that each leader understands. My advice: Be the one responsible for communicating the linkage of people strategies to business success.

 

4. I will not always receive an immediate pat on the back for what I recommend, and that’s OK. What I learned is to align my work to my knowledge and experience about what optimizes the business through people. When I have done this, I have actually received MORE kudos than when I agreed with a suboptimal approach. Whether it was in the area of hiring right, designing a better leadership program, or facilitating a strategy session, everyone got better results when I trusted my expertise. My advice: Be your own positive reinforcement for your decisions and recommendations, and others will follow! 

 

You are a talented leader in your field. Allow yourself to fully contribute to your organization’s goals, through HR!

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Anna Carroll, MSSW, is an organization development consultant, facilitator, coach, and speaker. She designs and leads training and group planning experiences and creates learning tools and assessments to speed up group success. Most recently Carroll has focused on the power of feedback loops and how leaders and team members can overcome their barriers to exchanging valuable feedback in the workplace. Her book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, was published in July 2014 by River Grove Press.  Her website is www.EverydayFeedback.com. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband Michael Wilkes.


Service Awards – Relevant or Passe?

Posted on November 6th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 6 comments

There was a time, not very long ago, when service awards as part of most companies’ recognition strategy was the norm.  Employees were regularly honored for a certain number of years of commitment to the organization with anything from a certificate, to a trinket, to the opportunity to select from a catalog of a variety of household or recreational items, depending on their total number of years of service.

Some argue that service awards are a dying breed; that in a world where loyalty (on both sides of the equation) is a commodity to be casually tossed around, where employee tenures are shorter and shorter, that there’s just no relevance in recognizing years of service.  Instead of rewarding employees for the number of years they’ve put in, something that is becoming increasingly meaningless to employees, we should be recognizing them in other ways, such as for specific achievements, outcomes, and contributions to organizational success.

This idea that service awards are no longer relevant may be true in some companies and certain industries; I would suspect that, for instance, in high tech, Silicon Valley type organizations where talent is regularly recruited away by the next up-and-coming start-up, or where contract work is much more common, and where tenure is measured in months rather than years, service recognition likely holds little value.

But what about those industries and organizations where long-term employment is more the norm than the exception? And yes, these companies and industries do still exist.  I work in the grocery retail industry and just recently we recognized over 300 (yes, 300!) employees who have dedicated 25, 30, 35, 40, and even 45 and FIFTY years of service to our company.  And though this year was an unusually large number of honorees, it is typical for us to annually recognize well over 200.  We do this through dinners in each of our operating regions, at which honorees and their guests are treated to a nice meal and a program which includes short bios of each of the honorees, personal congratulations by our executive team, and a small gift and token of appreciation.

I can honestly say, there is nothing quite like the look of pride and appreciation on the faces of these honorees; pride in making an life out of an honest day’s work from the simplest of beginnings in one of the simplest and most common places in all of our lives – a grocery store.  Pride in a job well done, pride in simple service to a specific community and regular customers.  You’d be hard pressed to convince me that service awards aren’t relevant…in our little corner of the world.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest trends in the HR space, as we should.  As good HR professionals we should make it our business to be in tune with what those trends are.  But it’s also very easy to want to just jump to conclusions based on what we read or by what various “thought leaders” are saying.  But as good HR professionals, we also need to learn to take what we read or hear, assess it, and make decisions based on what’s best for OUR organizations.  For me and my company, that means realizing that service awards are still VERY relevant.  They are an integral part of an overall recognition strategy that also includes various other components and rewards related to performance and other criteria, and foregoing them for just the other pieces of the strategy would be detrimental to overall morale.

Read.  Listen.  Learn.  Assess and apply your knowledge.  Then do what’s best for you, in your company and your world.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Half Empty or Half Full? 3 Tips to Keep it Full

Posted on November 4th, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind. 2 comments

There is such a prevalence of negative messages in today’s world. The media is chock full of ‘if it bleeds it leads’ coverage…and in some ways we have become conditioned to not only expect the icky news, we feed on it. Yes, I get that it is important that we stay in tune with what is going on (the reality of world affairs) whether this be the Ebola virus, the school shootings, or the imminent threat of a terrorist attack. Yet, this morbid expectation and, at best, the placid tolerance of negativity has the potential to leak into every aspect of our lives.

 

Of late, there has been heightened attention around the study of increased ‘negative bias’. The New York Times and other notable institutions have published many articles on this phenomenon and how it can (and does) impact our personal and professional lives. These studies of our brain and how we deal with negativity are fascinating. Some of the epiphanies are frankly anything but new! For those of us who have followed the science of positivity as far back as Norman Vincent Peale and his Power of Positive Thinking will shake our heads knowingly in the true power that our thoughts have over our lives. Yet, we are only human and the realities of our world can bleed into our daily routines and lives.

 

So – what habits can we try to adopt to help keep the realities at bay and not impact what we ultimately create in our businesses, our lives, and in our world?

Three simple things to consider:

 

  1. Keep the good stuff front and center. I have been told for every negative thought or image we have, we need to combat it with 6 positive thoughts. The negative stuff is 6 times MORE powerful than the positive stuff – so we have to squash it out with zealous positivity. This takes a rewiring of our brains – no question about it. It takes a conscious effort. The good ole amygdala is there to protect us – and it is wired through years of learned behavior. So to rewire our thought processes, we have to consciously REPLACE those trained pathways with new pathways. It may sound Pollyanna; however, I know through my own experiences that when I meet someone who gets the power of positive thought and who is consciously feeding the positive energy – it shows AND it absolutely is manifesting in his/her lives. Period.

 

  1. Say thanks – for even the most simple things. You may have heard that the most powerful energy is the energy of gratitude. The gratitude journal concept took our culture by storm when Oprah endorsed it several years ago. It is super simple. It costs NO money, yet the ROI is amazing. By simply appreciating the simple things in life – whether this is the harvest moon over a lake, the sounds of a tree frog, or the smell of freshly ground coffee. It could be ANYTHING and by simply being grateful – consciously – we change the energy in the room and in our lives.

 

  1. Turn it off! Yes – I mean turn it ALL off. Radio, TV, iPhone, iPad, etc. When we turn off the noise of our world, we allow peace to fill that void. This is super hard for most of us – I know many who check their iPhones before they even get out of bed! Yet, what would happen if we just turned if ALL off even if only for a night or a day? You know what? The world WILL keep spinning and the icky stuff WILL still be there when we log back on. So – give some thought to just flipping the off switch and allowing our psyches to rest.

 

Please offer your tips to help keep the ‘half full’ mentality. Please share…we all need all the help and support we can get!!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


Learning from the Best HR Bloggers

Posted on October 30th, by Judith Lindenberger in Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: Several of our Women of HR contributors also host their own blogs.  Today our writer Judy Lindenberger talks about her own quest to continue to improve her blog and blogging skills.

If you search the internet for the best HR blogs, two that make the top of every list are Evil HR Lady and HR Bartender.

In her blog, Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, answers questions, posts tips, and has garnered a large following.

Sharlyn Lauby, creator of HR Bartender, cleverly compares herself to a bartender – “that friendly face who’s there when you need them” – and blogs about human resources and social media, as well as food and drink.

Because I want to attract more readers to my blog, Open Door HR, I contacted Suzanne and Sharlyn to ask them a few questions about how to be a more successful blogger.

1.  When did you start your blog?

Suzanne – I started my blog way back in August 2006. It was completely anonymous back then because I was employed at a very large pharmaceutical company and I didn’t think the people there would take kindly to my blogging.

Sharlyn – I began blogging in 2008 after my husband, who is a marketing professional, starting nagging me about writing an electronic newsletter. As a busy professional, I know what often happens with newsletters – we have every intention of reading it but time gets away from us and the newsletter is deleted. So over dinner one night, I suggested starting a blog.

That being said, I should clarify. We do have an electronic newsletter but now with the blog we’ve really defined what each accomplishes. Every communication medium does not have to do the same thing.

Me – I started my blog in 2010 when my website designer told me that it was one of the newest, best ways to market my business. I love writing so it was a fun task to take on.

In 2012, I was listed as one of the Top 25 Women HR Blogs and my blog was described “taking a “more professional, serious approach to Human Resources (where) visitors can scroll through … a broad range of topics.” That description is accurate and complimentary and I’d also like my readers to think, “Ahhhh …. I’m finally here and I can get my questions answered and she’s going to understand!”

2.  What is your goal for the blog and how have your goals changed over the years?

Suzanne – My goal, at the beginning, was to have fun. I always wanted to be an advice columnist, and then suddenly, I was one! Cool. My goals have changed over the years. For a long time it’s been financial. You’ll notice I’ve done a shift from full articles on the blog to links to articles posted elsewhere. Why? Because other people pay me. To be honest, I’m kind of unhappy with that situation right now, so my goals are evolving. I still want to make money, but I may move back to my own platform and see what I can accomplish alone. But, my overall goal has always been to help other people. That’s why I went into HR in the first place–I like people. I want them to succeed. I want bad managers to go away. I want bad policies to go away. I want more brownies in meetings. :)

Sharlyn – Great question. I originally started HR Bartender to be a marketing tool for my consulting firm, ITM Group. And while I write about our business (being leadership and management training), it’s not exclusively focused in that area.

Over time, HR Bartender has become a place for me to talk about human resources and share information. I get a lot of reader questions and really enjoy answering them in the “Ask HR Bartender” series.

Me – My goals have always been to drive more readers to my company website, www.lindenbergergroup.com, to share best practices, to start interesting dialogues, and to have a creative outlet. Human Resources lets you view first-hand the some of the craziness of the human race so I also want to have fun with my readers!

3.  What do you attribute to the success of your blog?

Suzanne – Consistency, humor, and the ability to explain things to non-experts. This is a problem in all fields–we all get so wrapped up in our own lingo and with our own knowledge that we forget that not everyone knows everything we know. Sometimes I think, “How on earth can you not know that FMLA is only 12 weeks!” but then I remember that this person has probably never dealt with FMLA before, so why on earth should they know?

Sharlyn – I try to include a takeaway in every post. I’m asking people to take a few moments of their day to read HR Bartender. The least I can do is provide a takeaway.

Me – I am not sure I would say that my blog is a success right now. I define success as having a large number of loyal readers, and lots of new readers, who “Like” and share my posts, relay their experiences, ask me questions, and laugh together.

4.  As a relatively new blogger in the HR space, what do you recommend that I do to increase my readership?

Suzanne – Lots of links to evilhrlady.org, of course! But seriously, write things of interest, and keep your own voice. Don’t try to copy other bloggers, do what works for you. Post often and on a schedule, and make the most of social media.

Sharlyn – IMHO, here are 3 things every blogger should do:

-Market your blog. I wish I could say that writing is enough, but it’s not. If you’re serious about blogging, you have to put together a plan to market your blog.

-Write regularly. When I first started blogging, I wrote one day a week. Then when I knew I could handle two days, I added another post to the schedule. I believe part of success is publishing regularly. Readers want to feel like they are getting to know a blogger. You can’t do that if you publish once every four months.

-Read other blogs. Adding to my last point, if you’re having trouble finding topics to write about, start reading other blogs. There are tons of lists available about HR and business blogs to read. Find the ones you like and use them as creative inspiration.

Me – I’ve gotten some great advice from these two smart, funny women who are masters at blogging in the HR space. Thank you Suzanne and Sharlyn! My takeaways? I’ll keep working on posts that let my readers know more about meThe Lindenberger Group, and what’s new in HR. And I’ll try really hard to do it on a regular schedule!

Photo Credit

About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.


What Do Job Search Sites for Women Offer?

Posted on October 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella got a whole lot more attention than he bargained for when he opined that women in technology could do more for their careers by being patient and relying on “karma” rather than asking for raises. The implication was that if they’d just hunker down and do their jobs, women would find that their pay would naturally rise to the right level and everybody could be spared the awkwardness of the dreaded “salary conversation.” Though Nadella backtracked quickly, it’s hard not to have the impression that he was sharing his honest belief: That in the meritocracy of technology, people are paid what they’re worth, regardless of gender.

Of course, no business is a pure meritocracy, and gender matters a lot. On average, women earn just 77 percent of what their male counterparts do, and hold just 5.4 percent of the top jobs in the Fortune 1000. The good news: The discussions about inequality are more open now. The bad news: We still have to have them.

Obviously, then, women who are looking for work face the prospect of gender discrimination. Sometimes, the discrimination is overt — we’ve all heard stories about the hiring manager who calls you “sweetheart” during the interview. But sometimes, it’s more subtle, entwined with a culture that penalizes those who even ask about family leave, or hidden in questions about children or aging parents.

Many companies are trying to do better, though, aggressively working to recruit women into their ranks. One approach they’re taking is to post open positions on job boards that focus on women.

These websites — which range from a handful of standalone offerings to postings on the sites of women’s professional organizations — don’t offer any kind of magic bullet. Employers can’t set aside specific jobs for specific genders, after all, and chances are each position’s been posted in more than one place. But by seeking out women through these sites, the company is sending a message that it’s serious about diversity.

How do you find these sites? Google is a good place to start. Enter search terms like “women accounting job postings” or “women technology job postings.” The results will usually include links to appropriate organizations and their career sections.

Practically speaking, many of the best listings are on the sites of women’s groups in specific industries. For example, the websites of Women in Technology and the National Association of Women in Construction offer full career centers, featuring job listings as well as the ability to post your resume. In many cases, you don’t need to be a member to view the postings.

Unfortunately, these sites still leave the seeker with a lot of work to do. A posting by itself says only so much about a company’s culture and workplace, so the onus remains on you to search out intelligence using your network, social media, online forums, and the Web.

Dedicated job sites provide women with a reasonable place to begin their search, especially when they’re hosted by an organization focused on skills that match the candidate’s interests. Does posting there prove a company’s commitment to gender diversity? No. But it’s a promising signal.

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About the Author: Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on Dice.com, Entrepreneur.com as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for JobsinVT.com, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in Vermont.

 


HR Tech Wrap Up: Key Takeaways for HR Practitioners #HRTechConf

Posted on October 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in HR Technology. 1 Comment

Earlier this week I talked about my initial impressions of this year’s HR Technology Conference – how upon arriving back home and beginning to process everything I learned I was left feeling a bit overwhelmed, and how that feeling is actually a positive thing.  If you missed that post, you can check it out here.  Today I wanted to touch on some of the key ideas and themes I took away from this year’s show.

 

There’s an App for That

As our worlds outside of work become more and more connected, instantaneous, and mobile, there’s becoming more of an expectation that life inside work will mirror that.  Candidates and employees expect a consumer-like experience with their technologies.  In the session “How Digital Radically Disrupts HR,” Accenture’s Anthony Abbatiello discussed several trends that are reshaping the future of HR, and one of those was new channels for service delivery.  As HR learns to “break away from the desktop,” mobile and social technologies will augment our HR services, allow us to reach our geographically dispersed and extended workforces, drive new ways to engage our employees, and even allow us to better anticipate employee needs when we utilize social listening tools.  Not only do these social and mobile technologies help up to meet an expectation that our organizations are functioning like the outside world, but they allow us much more timely (even instantaneous) reactions to our employee and business needs.

 
Data, Data Everywhere

You cannot attend an HR technology related conference without hearing the term “big data” over and over.  But this year it started to become more of a discussion of not necessarily “big data,” but just data in general and how it can be used to make HR more effective.  Anthony Abbatiello in his session proposed that HR insight is the new leading edge – big data will help HR gather actionable insights for better business decisions, and that theme showed up throughout the show.  Andrew McAfee from MIT, in his keynote “Making the Right Choices in the Second Machine Age,” demonstrated how data based decisions consistently outperform gut based decisions, and talked about how the business world needs to become “geekier.”  As HR professionals, we need to encourage considering viewpoints beyond the “HIPPO” – or the “highest paid person’s opinion” – because they tend to be gut reactions rather than data based decisions.  In addition, we need to continue to encourage input from those that come from outside of our companies and industries, because that’s where some of the truly innovative thinking comes from.  In Thursday’s General Session, “Workforce 2020: How Data and Analytics will Shape the Workplace,” we were encouraged to use data to keep us close to the hearts and minds of our top performers; for instance using data to determine whether or not we’re losing the wrong people who are taking their knowledge and innovative thinking elsewhere.  Which HR professional wouldn’t want to know that?

 
Where Man Meets Machine

No, robots are not going to take over the workforce.  At least not yet.  But as technology gets smarter…to the point that it’s not just spitting out data, but actually manipulating data to tell compelling stories, we need to figure out where the intersection of man and machine is for optimal results.  Andrew McAfee talked about how humans are especially good at complex communication, but technology is getting surprisingly good at it too.  As our technology gets smarter, we’re getting closer to the point we can feed data into machines and get an actual story or narrative back.  Though, despite technological advances, humanity will never be pushed completely out of the picture, as HR pros we still need to start rethinking the balance between technology and humanity and how that affects our business processes.  It will become our jobs to find the best way to combine human and digital intelligence.

 

Every time I think I’m finally starting to understand all of the technology available to us as HR practitioners, and the implications of that technology, I attend the HR Technology Conference and realize everything has changed and evolved.

And THAT’s why I’ll keep going back.  See you in Vegas next October!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


HR Tech Wrap Up: Overwhelmed and Loving It #HRTechConf

Posted on October 21st, by Jennifer Payne in HR Technology. 3 comments

It’s about a week and a half since the 2014 version of the HR Technology Conference wrapped up in Las Vegas.  I once again had the opportunity to attend as part of the social media & blogging team, my second time attending the full conference.  I continue to be impressed by the sheer size of the conference, as well as the variety of topics and tracks available.  It’s a conference that’s not just about seeing new technologies or new iterations of existing technologies available to help with our HR needs (though there is plenty of that if that’s what you’re looking for).  But it goes beyond that to offer insights into HOW various companies are leveraging the technology available to address their HR challenges, and WHY we, as HR practitioners, need to be not just aware, but knowledgeable enough to be able to make recommendations as to how our organizations can leverage existing and yet to come technologies to maximize the effectiveness of our employees and drive success for our companies.

I have to admit that I walked away from this year’s conference a little overwhelmed.  You see, I come from an interesting, dual viewpoint.  In my day to day job as it currently exists, I don’t have much opportunity to work with or make decisions about the technologies we currently have in place.  So to take what I hear and learn about at the conference and put it into perspective from a real-life, day to day, life in the trenches outlook becomes a bit of a challenge.  But as a blogger, and someone who is (at least I like to think) a big picture and future focused thinker, I’m fascinated by what’s happening in the space.  So this conference becomes a place where I’m soaking in as much as I can for my own benefit, while at the same time trying to pull it all together, step outside of my day-to-day responsibilities, and think about and share what I’ve learned from a much bigger perspective.  And that can be a little overwhelming, but in a very good way.

You see, that feeling of being overwhelmed is a sign to me that it’s critically important for me to be at this conference.  And it’s a sign that it’s probably important for many more HR practitioners, who are not that much different than me, to be there as well.  Because even though we might not be responsible for technology in our day to day jobs now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t become more knowledgeable.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make it our business to understand what’s out there and how it could make us more efficient and effective.  Maybe more of us need to take the reins in our organizations and help drive decisions about how technology could and should make our processes and functions better drivers of business success.

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to attend it, there was quite a bit of buzz around the conference and on social media about one of Jason Averbrook’s (Chief Innovation Officer at Appirio) sessions in which he offered this bit of advice and wisdom: “We are all technologists.”

Think about that.  What that’s saying is that as HR professionals, we have an obligation to understand technology.  We live in a world where technology is everywhere, and is constantly changing, and we have a responsibility to ensure what happens inside our organizations mirrors the reality of the world outside of our organizations.  And if we as HR leaders, and our HR teams, don’t have the skills to be technologists, we need to start teaching ourselves and our teams those skills. The HR Technology Conference is a place where we can come to ensure that we stay abreast of what’s happening in the space.  Is all of right for every organization?  No, of course not.  Do we have a responsibility as HR leaders to understand the key trends so that we can make informed decisions about what’s best for our individual organizations?  You bet.

Check back later this week when I’ll share some of the key themes I picked out from this year’s show.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.