Checking in From #SHRM15 – Back To Leadership Basics?

Posted on June 30th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Sunday afternoon brought the kick off to the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  After a surprise visit from Vegas legend Penn Jillette, and usual opening comments by emcee Juana Hart Ackers and SHRM CEO Hank Jackson, attendees had the opportunity to hear some words of wisdom about building a successful team from NCAA winningest coach of the Duke men’s basketball team, “Coach K” Mike Krzyzewski.

 

It was apparent that there were mixed emotions in the crowd about the coach himself, depending on where your college basketball loyalties lie.  In the bloggers lounge where I was, a number of my fellow bloggers made their distaste for Duke well known.  I personally have no specific loyalty to any school, so for me it mattered not.  Generally speaking, I didn’t find Coach K to be the most motivational speaker I’ve seen at SHRM from a stage presence perspective, but he had some nuggets of wisdom to share that were on point.

 

As I looked back at my notes and my tweets from the session, one thing that became apparent is that there was nothing truly earth shattering about what Coach K offered.  What it seemed is that he was actually encouraging us to take a step back, go back to basics, and focus on the little things.

 

Here’s what I took away:

 

You’re Great, But You Can Be Greater

Encouragement is an important component of leading a team.  Everyone wants to feel important, so ensure that they know what they’re doing well, but don’t let it end there.  You need to encourage and push your team members to want to continue to be better.  Great teams need leadership at all levels, so allow your people to focus on what they do well, and keep pushing them to be more.

 

Personal Accountability

For a team to be great, you have to get everyone to own what they are doing.  One way to do that is to have team standards rather than rules.  When you lay down rules, those rules can only be obeyed (or not).  If you develop standards, that’s something everyone can buy into and take ownership of.  Coach K’s number one standard on his teams is “no excuses.”

 

A Culture of Caring

As a leader, take the time to really know your people.  Create and nurture an environment where everyone has each other’s back.  Coach K’s “3 E’s” to a winning team are energy, emotion, and enthusiasm…it’s much easier to achieve those when you have a team who truly cares about each other.

 

After walking attendees through these concepts, Coach K wrapped up his keynote with the following incredibly simple message: Keep feeling.  Leadership doesn’t mean distancing yourself; quite the opposite, in fact.  Show that you care, show some emotion, and encourage your team to do the same.  Create that culture where people care about the goal they are striving to reach, and through that become personally accountable for doing their part to get there.

 

Again, nothing truly new or radical here, but a great reminder to get the basics right.

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.

 


To Be, Or Not To Be…. “Ballsy?”

Posted on June 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 3 comments

I recently found myself involved in an online discussion with some colleagues regarding the use of the term “ballsy.”  Let me set the stage: one colleague posted a link to an article and suggested that the content of it was “ballsy” considering the platform used.  A female colleague agreed.  Another male colleague pointed out that the use of the term “ballsy” could be perpetuating a sexist stereotype.  A discussion ensued as to whether or not that term was bothersome to women, and if it, in fact, perpetuated a sexist stereotype.

My contribution to the discussion was that I’ve known women who in fact had bigger said anatomy than some men….figuratively speaking, of course.  To me, the term has never bothered me, I’ve often used it myself, and it never really occurred to me that it could be perceived as sexist.  My friend and colleague Rayanne Thorn, said the following:

 

I guess I’m pretty “cocky” AND “ballsy” when I need to be.

…it doesn’t bother me.

I’m more bothered by the cat calls when I walk my dog or a Service Manager at my car dealership telling me, “perhaps your husband should bring the car in.”

Maybe women have to be cocky and ballsy in order to garner respect from certain men.
This discussion got me thinking about a few issues surrounding the terminology.

 

Ballsy or Gutsy?

Is the term “ballsy” inherently sexist?  As women, should the term bother us?  Should we insist on instead being referred to as gutsy?  Or fearless?  Or daring?  Do those words convey the same meaning, or is there a nuance to ballsy that we should embrace if we are, in fact, referred to as such?

Is it demeaning for a women to be called ballsy in that it implies that we are somehow trying to attain the standard of a man that we would not normally reach?  That such a level of daring in inherent to men and not women?

 

The Real Issue?

Or is the real issue what Rayanne referenced; that women in some instances NEED to be cocky, ballsy, or whichever word you may choose to command respect from some men.  That there are still men in the world that objectify women, continue to see us as a lesser sex in regards to certain issues, or refuse to see us as equals.

I don’t believe that’s the case with most men.  The men I choose to surround myself with, those whom I call friends, my family members….they are respectful and appreciative of successful and accomplished women.  I have been fortunate to have lived and worked in such environments where I haven’t felt implications of gender inequality.  But clearly there are still some who, intentional or not, make it necessary for women to embrace their cocky, ballsy, or gutsy side.   Does the ability to be ballsy put us on more of a level playing field with these types of men and do we need to embrace being so in such circumstances?

 

The Gender Equality Debate

The debate about gender equality in the workplace continues to rage on.  Women are under-represented in C-level roles.  Gender pay gaps still exist.  Women have to conform to men’s way of “playing the game” in order to gain respect, or struggle with “old boys networks” in some companies and industries.  Does the use of words such as ballsy or cocky perpetuate these issues, or should we embrace the ability to be so when we need to?  Are we too focused on the words used, rather than the approach required in some instances and the mindset that makes it a necessity?  What’s the real issue here?

 

As I mentioned earlier, the term has never bothered me.  I admire and respect the strong, successful women around me who have the guts to stand up for what they believe.  I hope that the men I associate with both personally and professionally respect me for my accomplishments.  Generally, I haven’t needed to be ballsy in many situations.  But if I had to, it wouldn’t bother me to be called out as such.

 

What do you think?  Are you bothered by such terminology or do you embrace it? 

 

Photo credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.


Maximizing Your #SHRM15 Experience

The 2015 edition of the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo is now just a little over a week away.  As you begin your preparations to converge on Fabulous Las Vegas next weekend, amidst deciding which comfy shoes you’re going to bring (and maybe some not-so-comfy ones for the evening hours), packing sun block for the pool, choosing which Vegas attractions you’ll hit in your free time, and stashing away your cash for the blackjack tables, have you given any thought as to how you’re going to truly maximize your conference experience?

 

I’ve written about this topic in past years, but feel it’s worth revisiting each year.  No matter if it’s your first, third, or tenth time attending, giving some thought to how you’re going to utilize your time can only work to your advantage.  Because let’s face it, once you arrive and get swept up in the whirlwind that is SHRM Annual….especially with this year’s location being Las Vegas….it can be very easy to lose focus and find yourself on the plane ride home asking yourself, “what did I actually accomplish?”

 

SHRM Annual puts an incredible amount of knowledge and resources at your disposal.  Between the sessions, the Expo Hall, and the unlimited amount of networking opportunities available, if you leave without taking something of value with you, it really is your own fault.  However, what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it.  Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience?  I encourage you to consider the following.

 

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan out your schedule.  Use the Session Planner to review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value.  But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice.  Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session!  This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  And don’t forget to download the Conference App on your smart phone or tablet to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.

 

Challenge Yourself

Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone.  But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new?  This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job.  Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?

 

Don’t Try To Do It All

This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day.  It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames.  Figure out what works best for you.  Perhaps you’re an early riser; get up and take advantage of the 7:00 AM sessions, and then maybe sneak away for a break in the later afternoon.  Or if you prefer to rise a little later, take advantage of the sessions later in the day.  Whatever your preference, don’t be afraid to allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.

 

Try Something Different

Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions.  But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value.  Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for the types of solutions that are out there.  Check out some of the Smart Stage presentations for info in quick and actionable 15 minute blocks.  Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you.  There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!

 

Network

Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days.  Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions.  Talk to people.  Make new connections.  You never know how valuable they could be some day.  Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events, or organize some outings of your own with new found friends; these are great ways to connect in a more meaningful way with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!

 

Have Some Fun Too!

Let’s face it, it’s Vegas. There are a million and one things to do, even if you’re not a gambler.  It’s okay to allow yourself to have some fun outside of the conference.  I’m not suggesting all-nighters at the craps table or at Drai’s After Hours….but if you must, do yourself a favor and make sure you take your conference badge off first.

 

Most of all, enjoy your experience.  Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!  See you in Vegas!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.


What Happens In Vegas, Shouldn’t Stay In Vegas (In This Case…) #SHRM15 Preview

Posted on June 9th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.  Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it.  I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.

I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team.  That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on.  I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.

So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?

 

General Sessions

Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends.  They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes).  I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close.  We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.  Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes.  I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.

On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski.  Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.

 

Concurrent Sessions

SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks.  Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few.   These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners.   Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.”  And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”

 

The Smart Stage

Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between.  I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive.  It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.

 

Social Events

Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors.  With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception.  Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon.  These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room.  I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out.  And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion.  Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates.  And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.

See you in Vegas!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.


40 Tips to Enhance Your Life

Posted on June 3rd, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

We are at the mid-point of the year – which for me means a time to reassess and figure out where I am. Am I where I want to be? Am I heading in the right direction? Are we meeting our corporate goals? Am I meeting my personal goals?

As long as I can remember, my father has shared and sent my sister and me newspaper articles, quotations, and otherwise bits of information. This started when we were children; and now, at age 86 (my father) and 53 (me), he still selflessly and conscientiously teaches, shares, and helps me become the best person I can be. So, this month, in honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing one of the most recent gifts my father sent us. It may appear simple and basic; yet, the hard stuff is almost always the ‘simple stuff’.

The source of this list was our church bulletin, and was written by a woman named Lauren English. These are wonderful tips for us to print out – post on our bulletin boards, fridge, or screen savers. I am a believer that by seeing them and reading them – early and often – they seep into our consciousness whether we realize it or not. This particular list is divided into 4 focus areas; the tips that resonated with my stage in life right now, I have highlighted in bold.

My dad (and my mom for that matter) truly do live these suggestions. Sure, they are human and make mistakes like everyone…yet, I can honestly say that they do their best to abide by these suggestions which I believe is why at 86 and 85, they are healthy, happy, in love, successful by all metrics, and truly ‘aligned’ in life and to their Higher Power.

Health:

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees, and less food made in plants.
  4. Live with 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Energy.
  5. Make time to pray.
  6. Play more games.
  7. Read more books than you did in 2014.
  8. Sit in silence for 10 minutes (at least) a day.
  9. Sleep 7 hours a day.
  10. Take a 30 minute walk daily and SMILE while you are walking.

Personality:

  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Eliminate negative thoughts and things you cannot control. Stay present in the moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Know your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  10. Make peace with your past so it will not spoil the present.
  11. Smile and laugh more.
  12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Society:

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day do something good for someone else.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. For a learning experience, spend time with someone over the age of 70 and under the age of 8.
  5. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Be a good friend.

Life:

  1. Do the right thing.
  2. Get rid of anything that is not useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  3. GOD heals everything.
  4. However good or bad a situation is – it will change.
  5. Not matter how you feel – get up, dress up, SHOW UP.
  6. The BEST is yet to come.
  7. When you awake alive in the morning – thank GOD for it!
  8. Be happy each and every day.

Last: Make it a great second half of 2015……we own it! Let’s make the next 6 months the BEST we can!!

 

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? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.


Entrepreneur Spotlight: Advice from Fiona Gathright, A Minority Business Owner

Posted on May 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship. No Comments

In the fall of 2004, my business partner Juliet Rodman and I founded Wellness Corporate Solutions, a national provider of workplace health screenings and corporate wellness programming. Back then, our headquarters was my kitchen table — and for the next three years, Juliet and I were the only employees. We worked every day to become part of an exciting and rapidly-growing industry.

 

Fast-forward to 2015. We now manage almost 100 full-time employees and thousands of subcontractors across the country. Our corporate headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, is filled to capacity. Over the past ten years, we’ve worked with more than 500 private- and public-sector organizations, including Fortune 100 companies with hundreds of thousands of employees. Inc. Magazine has named Wellness Corporate Solutions one of the country’s fastest-growing privately-owned companies three years in a row.

 

As an African American and female small business owner, I’ve dealt with my share of obstacles along the way. But obstacles can be overcome, and I’d like to offer a few pieces of advice that may help you on your own journey.

 

Know your business. The fundamental hurdle most minority business owners face is access to capital. Forming lasting relationships with lenders, investors, and equity firms is absolutely crucial. To be successful, you must understand every aspect of your business and become fluent in the language of finance. Be comfortable discussing your business’s fundamentals: cash flow, revenue, overhead, profit margins, capitalization, and market share. Make it a priority to absorb everything you can find that relates to your industry. Corporate wellness was a relatively new concept in 2004 and I faced a steep learning curve. Even today, I’m still reading about industry best practices, the movement of my competition, shifts in the market, and legislation that could affect my business. The learning never stops.

 

Become certified. Wellness Corporate Solutions is certified as a minority business enterprise through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and as a 100% woman-owned business through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). These relationships have given us the opportunity to network with other minority-owned businesses, which I believe is essential. We should seek out and support each other whenever possible. From a business perspective, certification has also helped us connect with large organizations that are actively seeking to work with minority-owned businesses, often to meet internal supplier diversity goals. Certification can and does open doors.

 

Make the case. In our company’s early days, Juliet and I pitched to (mostly) male CEOs and CFOs time and time again. I met with countless high-level corporate executives who did not look like me. You may find yourself in similar situations, making the case for your business under challenging circumstances. But when you have genuine passion for what you do, difficulties become what I call “teachable moments” that just prepare you for the next challenge, and the next. Never forget the passion that drove you to start your business in the first place. In my case, I often hear from people who attended one of our health screenings and found out they had a serious health condition — serious, but treatable. Knowing that our work is changing lives for the better is what motivates me every single day.

 

Owning your own business requires tremendous energy and commitment, but if you’re truly committed to your mission and are willing to learn, go for it. You already have what it takes to succeed.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Fiona Gathright is the founder and president of Wellness Corporate Solutions, an award-winning woman-owned business that builds customized, high impact corporate wellness programs. WCS clients include media companies, law firms, associations, non-profits and private employers nationwide.

 


Legacies

Posted on May 19th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, Leadership, On My Mind. No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately.

You see, last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique and amazing experience.  In preparation for and in honor of the impending retirement of long time music teacher and director of the Quaker Marching Band from Orchard Park High School outside of Buffalo, NY, a group of current members and band alumni gathered for a surprise final performance and tribute to our leader of so many years and so many graduating classes.  The group numbered at 175, encompassed 6 states, and spanned the years 1986 – 2015.  I was there, proudly spinning my flag with the color guard, something I hadn’t done in 21 years.  The feeling of being a part of such a salute was overwhelming, his reaction was heartwarming, the video and verbal tributes were touching, and I’d be surprised if there were many dry eyes in the auditorium by the end.  And that group of 175 people who had never performed together before approximately 7PM that night….pretty darn impressive, from my not at all biased opinion.  It was our own version of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” if you will.

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But the theme that kept running through my head the entire evening was that of legacies, and I feel as if it manifested in several ways.

There was first and foremost the legacy that Chris, our band director, leaves behind.  When you can get that many people, from all parts of the country, some of whom hadn’t picked up an instrument, flag, or rifle in decades, to drop everything to be a part of a tribute, you know that person has made a lasting impact.  The number quoted was 700 people who have been a part of the band over the years, and there were many who were devastated that logistically they just couldn’t be there for this final tribute.  Talking to some of the alumni from my era afterwards, we all agreed that being a part of the band was something we would never forget, that was such an important part of our high school years, and the lessons learned still remain with us as adults.  I had the privilege of serving as color guard captain my junior and senior years, and those leadership skills learned are certainly still relevant to me as an adult.  Chris was our leader throughout this critical, wonderful time in our lives, and as such he was always be remembered for it.  Being a part of “QMB” taught us the value of hard work and dedication; resilience and how to bounce back from failure and defeat; and confidence, pride, and that success requires practice, some wrong notes, and more than a few dropped flags.  A true legacy that spans decades, crosses state lines, and likely finds its way into the personal and professional lives of hundreds.

The other aspect of legacy that touched me was a little more personal, and that was having had the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  There was a good sized contingent of alumni from my era that took part, but as I looked around as we were gathered in the gym beforehand and read the nametags and graduation years of others there, I realized how many eras this band has spanned.  There were those that came before me, and many, many who came after me.  In the four years that I was a member, I helped to set the stage for the success of those who came after, just as those who came before me set the stage for my success.  Pretty inspiring when you think about how many people have worn that uniform, marched those football fields, and accepted those awards at competitions across the years.  And we all played a part in making the band what it has become today.

If you’ve stayed with me and indulged my walk down memory lane to this point, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with a human resources blog?”

The truth is, we ALL have the opportunity to create a legacy, no matter what we do or where we work.  We often talk about the legacies that teachers or coaches build, but it’s not unique to those professions.  As leaders and as HR professionals, we have the opportunity to touch our employees’ and coworkers lives every day.  So I ask you, as a leader, as an HR professional:

  • Are you helping to create work environments and cultures that encourage failure on the way to success?
  • Are you creating environments where employees feel a part of something bigger than themselves?
  • Are you personally helping to set the stage within your company for the successes that may come after you are gone, either from your position or from the company itself?
  • Is your culture one that instills the values in your employees that you would want them to keep with them and pass on to others?
  • As you make decisions that affect your employees, do you make them within the framework and mindset of how they might impact their lives?

When your employees, coworkers, executives, and others you work with on a daily basis reflect on your time with the company and your contributions, what kind legacy will they say you left?  I know that I hope mine is even a small fraction of what I felt around me on May 11, 2015.

Band ten HUT!

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About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.


6 Key Components for Launching a Successful Mentoring Program

Posted on May 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

One of the most important functions of HR is to acquire and retain top talent. And since millennials, who will make up close to 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, rank mentoring as one of the most important factors they weigh when choosing between employers, many companies are turning to mentoring programs as a way to set themselves apart from the competition. In fact, three-quarters of Fortune Magazine’s top 25 companies have employee-mentoring programs.

Mentoring provides much more than just a “good feeling” among millennial workers. It also provides an avenue for honing and developing your employees’ talents and skills, while making them more confident in their abilities and more connected to the company. In addition, mentoring helps you discover which employees have leadership potential.

However, mentoring is only effective if it is properly planned and executed. According to How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program, a how-to guide produced from the research of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, mentoring should include six key components:

  1. Purpose: There should be a clear, strategic purpose that aligns with organizational goals and objectives. For example, the mentoring may be needed to fill a skills gap. Also, both the mentor and mentee must be committed to the importance of the mentoring process and make it a priority.
  2. Communication: There are two types of communication involved. The first communication is to introduce employees to the mentoring program and ensure that they know what the mentoring is for and who can participate. With proper communication, even the employees who don’t participate can support the company’s efforts. The second type of communication is between the mentor and mentee. They may meet one-on-one, in groups, by email or videoconference, or by other means, but the meetings should be regular.
  3. Trust: The relationship must be built on trust. For both parties to feel comfortable sharing at the level that can truly be effective, there must be an understanding and commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the communication.
  4. Process: The process may be formal or informal. However, there should be a way to match the mentor and mentee, and it’s also important to determine such things as the length of the mentoring and the meeting dates and times. In addition, both parties must be actively engaged to move at an appropriate speed.
  5. Progress: HR should establish check-in points (two months, four months, six months, eight months and then a final meeting) to ensure that both parties are reaching their goals and milestones. This includes having metrics for measuring the progress of the mentoring sessions.
  6. Feedback: Both participants must provide constructive feedback and be open to receiving feedback from each other.

Following these tips will help you plan and carry out an effective mentoring program that creates engaged, confident employees, leading to a more unified and productive workforce.

 

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About the Author:  Alison Napolitano is the community manager for MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s online MBA degree. Alison has a background in digital marketing, and account management. As a former college athlete, Napolitano is goal-driven has a passion for helping people and brands succeed online. Her other interests include content marketing, any form of athletics, and family.


Why Leadership Skills Should Be Universal Skills

Posted on May 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Leadership skills are one of the many traits needed to be a successful leader. Women have closed the gender gap in entry and mid level positions, but have yet to reach that in top leadership skills. Susan Colantuono calls this the missing 33%, as women still need to be taught business, financial and strategic acumen to fill this gap. These leadership skills enable people to easily and confidently lead others, skills including but not limited to: ease of communication, natural flexibility, an ability to visualize a goal, thinking critically, and the ability to delegate responsibility effectively.

The ability to communicate effectively is absolutely critical in positions of power in an organization, a small team of people, and even for those not in a leadership position. In organizations, effective communication can save time, can prevent misunderstandings, and oftentimes can relax workers beneath you and above you. We’d all like to think we’re the perfect manager but there is always room for improvement. In a small team of people, the ability to communicate effectively can prevent misunderstandings, assist with visualization of objectives, and make things easier to achieve. Individuals who aren’t in leadership positions can use these skills to better present their needs to management. This skill can be developed through regular practice, and doing things to lessen anxiety felt by the speaker.

 

Flexibility

Leaders who are naturally flexible in a business are able to naturally shift objectives and methods used to achieve objectives. Flexibility is also vital for those not currently in a leadership position. This skill will allow them to be teachable, and always in line with the end goal of management. Overall, employees with flexibility will become an essential element to the business, increasing their job security. Flexibility prevents all employees from getting terribly stressed in a world where plans change, and where things tend to be less simple than they might have appeared initially.

 

Visualize Objectives

Visualization of objectives enables leaders to have a set destination. It’s also the first thing a good leader should do, so he or she can recognize when they’ve accomplished a goal. How does this benefit those outside leadership positions? Well, visualization enables these people know where they want to go within their professional lives. Do they see themselves as a manager, or even the next CMO? Visualizing this will help them take the steps necessary to get there. This aligns with the known method of focusing on a single large objective and devoting energy to achieving that goal, while taking other factors into account but not losing sight of the overarching goal.

 

Critical Thinking

Thinking critically is a useful skill for it enables an intelligent leader to take factors into account. Leaders use critical thinking to troubleshoot in the moment, and to come up with reasonable solutions. Critical thinking is a skill for all members of an organization. When given new tasks and assignments learning the new process quickly is essential for keeping up with the ongoing business. This is a situation where critical thinking skills will help employees be a quick learner. Ultimately this can lead to an increase in trust from management, leading to more responsibilities.

 

Delegation

Delegation in the context of leadership refers to the ability to divide labor intelligently and assigning people to the areas they are the most responsible and able to contribute. Make sure you are an effective delegator. Understanding yourself is a part of this skill, knowing your strengths, your weaknesses. This is an extremely useful skill in business and in the professional area, but in terms of the average employee it can also be used to mean the ability to manage time equally and effectively. Delegate your day and what time of the day will be devoted to specific tasks.

 

At the end of the day, leadership skills should be a part of your professional life in order to progress and lead effectively. Even those who don’t currently have a management position can be devoting time to the development of these skills. Practicing these skills will prepare employees to promotions and strengthen the organization as a whole.

 

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About the Author: JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business. 


A Look in the One-Way Mirror: Facing Inequity as a Female HR Executive

Posted on April 29th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

 

In Human Resources, as much as any professional discipline, we women have hit our stride. Given the opportunity to compete in the field, we’ve succeeded: to reduce turnover, attract and retain those diamonds in the rough, and build reputations for respectable (and even press-worthy) organizational culture. It’s been our ticket to the C-suites of the Fortune 500 – and not a moment too soon. And as the scope of the job changes from “intuition” to data-driven strategy, we have the chance to show our adaptability, too.

But then again, our stature puts us in an awkward position. Despite our best efforts to promote organization-wide diversity and inclusion, all too often we discover unfair treatment – especially of women.

And we want to do something about it.

Really, you want to do what’s best for your own professional development and career goals, but you also want to support the marginalized, underrepresented people in your own organization. How can you do both of these things both effectively and fairly? Even if these distinct goals aren’t completely at odds, how do you send a message to those around you what your priorities are?

It’s a question I’ve seen come up to the surface over and over for a long time. Our exit interview software actually came out of a project to identify the greatest barriers to the advancement of women and minorities in the workplace. We’ve uncovered pivotal opportunities for our clients, but we’ve also encountered challenges that most executives would hope to sweep under the rug.

One of the best – and worst – parts of creating a truly anonymous exit interview system is the abundance of brutally honest answers.

These are the real voices of women at one of our clients. This is a large (10,000+) and decentralized organization, but neither a poor performer nor ideologically backwards. The employees’ reasons for leaving, for example, hardly deviate from our measured industry norms. And yet comments like these are far too common:

“The biggest thing I noticed at [the company] is that if you’re a woman, you had better act ladylike. There was nothing more contemptible than a woman who spoke her mind. As a woman you were supposed to just nod and do as you were told. I was described as “aggressive.” I’m not aggressive. I am passionate and dedicated. I take pride in what I do and do it well. This is not what was rewarded. Being demure seems to be ‘leadership’ quality most desired at [the company].”

“My boss had a very hard time providing accolades, at least to the women who reported to her. She didn’t seem to have a problem telling the men who reported to her that they were doing a good job or even giving them credit for work done by somebody else, but she had a hard time telling a woman that she was doing a good job… Most of the time, my boss would cut me off if I started to speak during a meeting.”

“Men are definitely recognized more than women in the department.”

“I was repeatedly harassed by [a male coworker]. When I demanded it stop… [he] went to management and lied.”

“I was harassed several times and nothing was done about it.”

Of course I’ve picked a few especially unpleasant-to-read examples, but haven’t you felt this way at least once in your career? If not, I envy you. If you’re anything like me, this sounds all too familiar, if a bit distant. And, if you’re anything like me, part of why you’re still in the business is because you believe it doesn’t have to be this way.

But what now?

Imagine these were your findings. Or, maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you’ve already faced this issue within your organization. How do you deal with it? Tell us in the comment section.

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About the Author: Deb Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics, a provider of organizational surveys designed to increase retention, engagement and organizational effectiveness. With over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and survey research, Deb’s extensive knowledge reaches beyond organizational research to include expertise in work climate improvement, retention, hiring and selection, employee orientation, performance management systems, recognition programs and career development systems.