As an HR person, I always find it fun, exciting and a great opportunity to judge people when I go through my own interview experience.I realize this probably makes me a little crazy and a bit of a nerd. Internal interviews are great in the sense that I continue to learn how much internal interview processes suck. Who needs feedback or consistent follow-up? Apparently not me, however, that’s not where I am going to focus today. Internal interviewing is a whole different can of worms I am not opening.
Sometimes, I have a horrible day at work and I say to myself, “I am done being a human punching bag, I am going to find a new job!” I have a feeling this happens a lot when you’re young in your career as I am. I should probably stop saying I am young in my career because as we continue to hire more and more recent grads, I start to feel ridiculously old. Regardless, I am still younger than many of my colleagues. In the last few years, I’ve dabbled in some interviewing at places other than my current employer. I have always told myself that if I were to ever leave it would have to be for a bomb opportunity. Yes, I said bomb. This being said, I’ve learned a couple of things:
- Many organizations have terrible interview processes
- I am clearly too process oriented
- I have seriously high expectations for potential employers
I’m really only going to focus on the first bullet. Mainly because I don’t want to write a 20 page blog post and even if I did, you wouldn’t read it. I wouldn’t even read it.
Many organizations have terrible interview processes
I use the word many, but I am probably exaggerating. I often find myself frustrated with the lack of communication that happens. I also realized recently, that I am sometimes “old school” in how I prefer to be communicated with initially during the interview process. There was one organization that communicated only via e-mail. As someone who works with an employer that truly believes it is import
ant to build relationships, this was something that was hard to move past. I want to get a feel for the organization based on my conversations with the recruiter, not over e-mail. I realize I am probably one of very few who feels this way. I guess I want to feel like I am worth a phone call.
Another organization didn’t let me ask questions! WHAT?! I spent all this time preparing and coming up with thoughtful questions so that they knew I was taking the interview seriously. You suck. I want to ask my questions. It was the first time this had ever happened to me, but I was annoyed. I think it shows little respect for the candidate as most people will come prepared with at list a few questions. Me, it’s more like 15 to 20, but I’m a little crazy.
Part of my personal problem with interviewing is that I do have high expectations and I know how easy it is to make a phone call to keep the candidate informed of where we are in the process. I also recognize that all recruiters have multiple positions they are recruiting for, but if you don’t keep the candidate informed (especially your top candidate,) they are going to change their mind or go elsewhere. I find it ridiculously frustrating as someone who has worked in recruiting and someone who currently works in HR to have to be subjected to a subpar interview experience at a very reputable organization.
The interview process gives the candidate an idea of what they may be walking into should they be offered and accept a job at your organization. Don’t screw it up.
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About the author: Cindy Janovitz works for a great Fortune 500 company in Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Cindy has a passion for working with and helping people and a love for organizational culture. Three words Cindy uses to describe herself are energetic, passionate, and driven. You can connect with Cindy on Twitter as @cindyelizabeth
Why does work feel so stressful all the time?
I feel like every single time I have lunch with a co-worker or friend from work (or friends at other companies), there’s always this exasperated *sigh* when we sit down.
Then there’s this awkward laugh before asking, “So, how’s work?” Then there’s a good 10-20 minutes of talking about all the craziness of work.
“I’m over worked.” “They’ve given me more responsibility. I’m drowning.”
The list goes on and personally, I always find myself trying to figure out how to keep myself organized between employee relations issues, performance management, driver safety, disability, employee separations, culture & inclusion strategy and implementation. Of course there’s always the “and other job duties as assigned.” There was a point when I would keep myself up at night trying to figure out how I’d get everything done. In fact, it’s Tuesday night and I still haven’t finished my Monday to-do list.
I swear I’ve spent the last four, almost five, years trying to figure out how to keep myself organized. It’s a crazy, moving world we live in where things are constantly changing and it’s hard to keep and stay on top of things. I found the perfect notebook where I keep my to-do lists. It has a calendar on the bottom of each page AND there’s even a fancy spot for “hot items.”
No matter the job we work in – HR or not, we all have to stay organized. And dorkily (yes, I know that is not a word) enough I am really curious what you all do to stay organized.
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I used to think I needed to find passion in work.
There are things I feel passionate about – such as creating a work environment where employees feel like they can bring their full selves to work and be engaged to do their best work. But as far as feeling passionate every single day?
Nein. I don’t come to work every day because I feel passionate about my work; rather I come to work every day because I have bills to pay and prefer to have a roof over my head. I am part of Gen Y which I suppose by association makes me lazy and want things handed to me on a silver spoon. I don’t really operate that way, but that is the stereotype.
Me? I need passion in my work. I work much harder and more diligently towards the things I feel passionate about. Does this mean I don’t do the things I feel “eh” about? No, I’d get fired. Here’s my realization. Take it for what it is worth:
- I will not love every job I have during my career
- I will not love every aspect of every job I have during my career
- Ultimately, we work to pay bills
If the goal in life was to feel a sense of passion for what we are doing, money would not be an issue and we’d all be out working towards causes we ARE passionate about. Or, doing the things we always said we wanted to do, but never wanted to take a chance to do and I am including myself in this statement.
Really, if we all just LOVED what we did, we wouldn’t be talking about work/life balance all the time. It would just be a part of life. Okay, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but you understand where I am going there. I enjoy my job but saying I feel passionate about being a human punching bag most days is kind of a stretch.
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Recognition. Recognition. Oh, recognition.
When has recognition gone too far? And by too far, I simply mean, when is it no longer genuine? Many studies show that we like to feel appreciated and valued for the work we do. If we feel valued then in “theory” we should feel more engaged which in return will make us work harder. And if we are engaged then – BAM, productivity rises.
I guess this seems pretty straight forward, but what happens when recognition is no longer genuine or happens too often? Folks have the tendency to recognize their associates for every little thing they do. ”You came to work today! Here’s a cookie.” When this happens, and I’ve seen it happen often, recognition loses it’s meaning.
According to a Gallup in, In Praise of Praising Your Employees, recognition should happen every 7 days. This makes sense. It means we are continuously being re-engaged into the work we are doing. But, as I said before, the key is to be genuine. I don’t want to be recognized for work that doesn’t make a difference, nor do others. If someone goes above and beyond, recognize them. If that happens, they will continue to go above and beyond. This isn’t brain science.
I don’t think it’s any surprise that I feel passionately about this subject but let’s be real, how difficult is recognition? Recognition does not need to be a big parade. In fact, many people would prefer that it is not. Small gestures go a long way. I’ve received numerous thank you cards for working on a project, or going above and beyond, and it makes a huge difference in how I feel about my work.
Many companies also have official recognition programs. We just revamped ours and it’s been really great. We have an annual program where we give out “excellence” awards. I really love it because everyone who is nominated is recognized but then the winners of the official awards also get recognized in a big way.
I personally want to know more about what organizations are doing around recognition - so what do you do? Let’s call this best practice sharing. The more I can learn, the better.
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I don’t consider myself a guru. I don’t put myself in the pro category. I like to consider myself “in training” in the world of HR.
My first 2 1/2 years in talent acquisition was good learning but the amount of growth that has happened in the last year working in an employee relations capacity has been unreal.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from the business I support is this: Don’t be a jerkface.
I’ve learned to become a really good listener. I used to feel like I needed to solve everyone’s issues. Now, I listen, take notes and, when the associate takes a breath, ask what support they need from me. Sometimes it ends up being a coaching session for the associate and sometimes the conversation just ends there as they needed an ear.
There is a caveat to not being a jerkface though. I’ve been told I am much too empathetic. I find myself to be very, “Ms. Fixit” in my world. And the box I have to work in is very small. I’ve had to learn how to draw lines in the sand and say, “What can I feasibly do here?”
So here’s what I’ve learned about me, associates and <not> being a jerkface:
- If you are a jerkface, I will tell you take a chill pill and talk to me with respect;
- If you are being unreasonable, my “claws” will come out as I get very matter-o-fact; and
- If you try to blame me for your issues, I will hold you accounatble for your actions.
- If you talk to me calmly, I’ll tell you an awkward joke to break the tension;
- If you are patient and listen to what I am saying, I will continue to try to help you; and
- If you realize I cannot solve your problems for you and won’t be kissing your ‘boo boos’ we’ll be good pals.
I’ve watched so many people talk to associates like they are idiots or like they aren’t human and I just won’t do that. I try to put myself in their shoes and do the best I can to listen, advise and assist while not being a total jerkface.
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A candle does not lose its flame when it lights another candle – Akinyi
If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that we are always fighting against each other to be number one.
Whether it is witholding information so we can seem smarter than our colleague or not truly listening in meetings because we need to be ready to refute what our teammate is saying because we have a better idea and need to look better than s/he, it’s all still the same. When we try to outsmart each other, not truly listen or, in essence, not be a true teammate - we are missing out.
If I interrupt someone in a meeting to give my idea (which maybe have been what my colleague was going to get to before I rudely interrupted), that person will feel small. If I do everything I can to withhold information (lack of knowledge transfer), my team loses out.
I absolutely struggled with this my first few years out of college. I was trying to prove myself; my team needed to know I had a brain and that I could use it appropriately. In doing this, I created a monster: me.
I always felt like someone was trying to make me feel small. I thought it was the culture so,in turn, I did it to people who were hired after me. And guess what that got me? You betcha – absolutely nothing.
What did it create? A walking-on-eggshells sort of relationship with my cohorts. I was always on edge, wanting to be the first to have the answer, to have the new and innovative idea and to be the best. I’m a middle child so, of course, I wanted to be the best. It’s who I am, it’s in my blood.
But what if my TEAM is the best?
When I look at work teams that are strong, I see cohesiveness and team members working and learning together as one. I learn a lot more from others than from trying to be the best me on my own. The more I allow myself to accept the flames of others, the brighter I’ll be. If I take my flame, turn to my colleague and light his/her candle, the brighter we will burn together.
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A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about HR. He said that my job must be really difficult since no one trusts HR.
I always find this topic quite interesting because it’s true.
I was in a meeting around culture and inclusion at my employer and I was the “Lone HR Ranger” and there was a lot of beef about how people don’t trust HR.
So, with this is mind, I said to my friend:
“I don’t think there are a lot of people in my field who would admit to this, but I think people distrust HR because in most organizations HR serves management first, rather than the associate.”
I find this to be so incredibly true in my experience. Very rarely do we take the extra time to find out both sides to the story. We don’t create a 360-degree vision while solving employee relation issues. Sometimes the metrics speak for themselves: Are they meeting their numbers? Are customers complaining? Are they actually working? In those cases, fine, I get it. That’s clearly a performance management issue there. Case closed.
But, stepping back and thinking through conversations I’ve had with friends who don’t work in HR at my employer and with friends at other organizations, people flat out do not feel comfortable bringing issues to light to HR because they believe their job will be in jeopardy, no one will listen or the story will be turned around on them.
I personally find myself on the fence around this issue.
There isn’t a perfect answer. One side of me says, “HR is here for the employee.” The employee is obviously defined as management AND non-management. The “employee” is anyone who works for the employer. I’m not writing this because I feel like I have the answers. In fact, I don’t have any answers at all.
However, here are some things to think about:
- We have to create a 360-degree vision around employee-related issues in HR.
- How well do we honor the confidentiality of the employee? Are we giving them reason to not trust HR?
- Do we create a sense of safety so they feel like they CAN trust HR? How often have you received a phone call where the employee doesn’t even want to tell you his/her name?
- Are we listening as an ally with the employee? I mean, really listening. Listen first, talk second.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I do not have the answers and this is only my experience. So tell me – does your HR organization work mostly for management or the associate or BOTH?
Can HR be trusted?
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I’m a baby in the work force. I know this and I’ve accepted it. However, there is something that continues to bug me:
Just because I’ve only been working a “real” job since 2006 doesn’t mean I don’t have value to add to the conversation.
I can only justify this kind of behavior with one thought: FEAR.
Yes, I am awesome, intelligent and bring great ideas to the table. It is what it is - I am a fire cracker. And guess what organizations? You stifle the folks coming into your organizations with ideas on how to make things better and bring you to the next level and THEY WILL LEAVE.
Just because the economy isn’t what it once was, it does not mean that there aren’t jobs out there for people who want to leave. I watch it happen all the time. Your associates want to feel like they bring value to the organization. Their engagement is important as I have ranted about before.
Organizations do not grow by doing things the same.
Change is inevitable.
Accept it or not, it is going to happen anyway.
I remember sitting in a meeting around the culture and inclusion work I do in my current role and an executive said very matter-of-factly, “Those who do not embrace the change happening will not fit in the organization five years from now.” And to that I say, “BAM.” And to all the folks who have been in their organizations for 20 plus years? We aren’t wiping you out, dudes. You’ve created the foundation we are working on to help make us better.
Quit making me feel like a stiflin’ fool or I’m going to kick you in the shins. I’m feisty, I’ll bring back-up. Fine, I really won’t kick anyone but I’m done playing nice.
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Cindy is our Women of HR Featured Contributor this week. Click over to meet her and see what she has to say about herself, her career and her views on the workplace and its challenges today.
I spend a great deal of time hearing about employee engagement, what it means for companies, and what it means for employees.
I think about the tiny career I’ve had so far (yeah, I’m only three years into my career), how my level of engagement has fluctuated, and my top three reasons behind it:
- Sometimes it’s personal. Maybe it’s a family problem, or…a boy. Yeah, I’m that girl. I wear my heart on my sleeve so personal problems are sometimes hard to leave at the door and sometimes unfortunately have an adverse impact.
- Sometimes it’s being beat down in a meeting or feeling small. Here’s the deal – disagree with the idea and not the person. So often I see people disagree with someone’s idea simply because it is an idea from person X. Get your head out of your hiney and listen to what the person is actually saying. And beyond that, disagree from here to heaven all you want, but you better have a great alternative to offer. BUILD on someone’s idea and find the good in it so that a person feels like they have made a contribution.
- Sometimes it’s team dynamics. Every work team is going to have a different dynamic. Dynamic is not to be taken positively or negatively, but some dynamics can have a negative impact on a person. Do you say hello to everyone on your work team at some point during the day? I’m not kidding when I say that simply saying, “Hello, how was your weekend?” can make a huge different in a person’s willingness to work with a higher level of engagement. If someone feels like they matter to their teammates, they are going to want to put more in to have a greater output for the whole team.
I’m keeping it at my top three. There are other reasons that a person’s engagement will be there – or not: do they feel that their opinion matters, do they have the tools to do their job, are they being challenged and finally, is there room for advancement? These are obviously only tips of the iceberg as there are so many reasons why a person is going to be engaged.
There is something I’ve learned for myself as it relates to engagement of others. I ask myself two questions, “what can I do better and how can I ensure that I can control what I can control?”
I actually have a small list for myself that I will share with you:
- I will say hello to those on my work team and others who work in my area.
- I will ensure to ask the opinion of everyone in meetings. Introverts won’t speak their opinion all the time.
- I will think about the language I use. It’s important, especially in HR, to be aware of the words that are coming out of my mouth.
- I will be willing to challenge opinions and ideas and not people and to challenge in a way that is appropriate.
Engagement is a topic I am actually quite passionate about. Engagement drives higher-producing teams which then means our organizations will also reap the benefits.
So that’s how I feel about engagement. How do you feel?
“Put my HR blog on hold because once folks at my work found me, I suddenly felt exposed in an unsupported way from coworkers.”
Many companies have hopped on the social media train in different ways such as company blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages (or are they called LIKE pages, now?), or intranet sites to keep their associates connected. However, many companies have not anticipated this:
What if associates are so passionate about the work they do that they want to create their own personal blog about it?
Being fairly young in the workforce and having great passion around what I do, I was incredibly thrilled to create my own personal blog. I never thought twice about making it anonymous. Why would I do that? I want people to know who I am so I can connect with my readership. In fact, I named my blog “Meet Cindy Elizabeth.” I was one blog out of many and I never even considered that coworkers or friends who knew me on a personal level would find it and read what I was thinking - whether it was about resume writing tips or organizational culture. Since I am not the “subject matter expert” I think I worry too much what others would think about what I have to say.
When my immediate co-worker found my blog, I was taken back. I felt my cheeks turn bright red like I was embarrassed for hiding something and he was so casual about the whole thing. He didn’t care, but I cared. I was scared out of my brains that this was the beginning of co-workers finding my blog. I had no idea how my company would feel about me having a blog talking about HR. There isn’t a social media policy in place and I am absolutely clueless as to what is and is not okay in my organization. In fact, I still don’t know. The other side of the coin is this: sometimes I am not speaking from experience and I am talking from the heart and expressing my opinion. I often put the pressure on myself to not express my voice about something at work if I am not the subject matter expert. So the question I often find myself asking is:
Does passion trump knowledge?
I quit writing because of fear of repercussion if it wasn’t okay that I had a blog. It was clear that this was my writing and even though I had quickly removed any reference to my company, I still felt scared, nervous, and small. In the Corporate HR world, I have found it hard to put my stake in the ground and move it around if I need to. I can promise I am not saying anything earth shattering but I often feel bogged down by the chains of the what-if, “What if my boss finds my blog - what would she think?”
So, my questions are:
- Are more companies putting social media policies in place around associates with personal blogs?
- How do folks handle situations when coworkers DO find your blogs?
- Am I just simply over analyzing and over reacting?
What do you think?