Performance Partnerships with 1on1s: Connect, Calibrate, and Coach

Posted on November 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Leadership. No Comments


When it comes to annual performance reviews, it’s clear we’re at a major crossroads in the workplace. With 95 percent of managers dissatisfied with the process — and 90 percent of HR leaders saying annual reviews don’t yield accurate data — companies are quickly eliminating them (like GE, Accenture, Adobe, The Gap, and Microsoft already have). In a 7×24 world with an increasingly younger workforce, “annual” and “review” need to be replaced with more frequent conversations and performance partnerships.


Yet, simply telling managers to have regular 1on1 meetings isn’t a panacea. While HR executives and senior leaders are more expert at constructive coaching, young and middle managers may not be. Fortunately, 57 percent of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72 percent say their performance would improve with feedback. So even the 50% of managers who don’t want to give critique for fear of being the “bad guy” now have official license to put peoples’ success in front of the desire to be liked.


To boost your people and their performance, use a framework for 1on1s that connects, calibrates and coaches team members. Before the meetings, do two things:


First, make sure you’ve shared goals for the quarter to frame progress and priority discussions. Without clarity on what you define as success, people need to guess what matters and what the purpose of their work is.


Second, prepare for the meeting itself. Using in-person meetings to run down a list of what someone’s working on or throw more on their plate before understanding what’s already cooking is a formula for unproductive 1on1s. Instead, use weekly status reports or embrace performance and productivity apps to quickly see priorities, workload, and progress before the meeting.


Then use your 1on1 meetings to help you team members achieve their best with this framework:


  1. Start with “how are you?” Instead of a token opening, really listen to the response. Connect simply as humans to set the stage for coaching and constructive feedback. People are more receptive and engaged when they know you care about them.
  2. Ask whats in their way and how you can help. Help people resolve priority conflicts so they can increase their impact. Get roadblocks out of their way so they can deliver the results you’re expecting. This doesn’t mean doing their job, but rather removing obstacles outside the sphere of their responsibility.
  3. Sync on performance, alignment, and engagement level. If you’re not talking about alignment, you can’t expect it! Your employees want to perform well and be on the same page with you, so be open and compare your perceptions. Letting people know where you think they are in terms of their performance and contributions to work helps them move up and forward.
  4. Uplevel to longer range goals. Use the time together to help people think above the “action item” level. They’ll find it rejuvenating and be able to make better decisions day to day.
  5. Coach for career growth. Help your employees get to the next level by deepening their skills and competencies. What’s the next step they can take and what will you do to help them get there? Follow through on the help you commit to providing and you’ll foster great loyalty and have a lasting impact on their career.


Leading people is more important than ever as business gets faster and more complex, but leadership is far from dictatorship. Leaders at all levels must excel at setting clear goals, coaching people to their highest level, and creating a culture of high recognition and accountability. These are the essential elements of performance partnerships within high achieving teams; 1on1s create the conversation around these ingredients that enable leaders, teams, and each member to contribute their best.



About the Author: Deidre Paknad is CEO and co-founder of Workboard. She shapes its product strategy, customer engagement model, and thought leadership efforts. With decades of experience leading enterprise and startup teams on strategic pursuits, Dedire is passionate about providing tools and insights that help leaders engage their teams in great achievement. 

Deidre is a serial entrepreneur and has founded and led several companies. As CEO of PSS Systems, she and the team created a new market category and inspired deep customer loyalty from ExxonMobil, Citigroup, Travelers, Novartis, Wells Fargo, and many other large enterprises. The company was acquired by IBM in 2010. At IBM, Deidre was Vice President of a fast-growing global business improving information economics for IBM’s enterprise customers. She has been recognized by the Smithsonian for innovation twice and has more than a dozen patents. You can connect with Deidre on Twitter, LinkedIn, or learn more on the Workboard website or blog.








How Equal Wages Will Win the War for Talent

Posted on November 3rd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

It feels as if we’ve been talking about closing the wage gap between the sexes for eons now. Women continue to battle for equal pay for equivalent position and performance, and are still met with lots of nodding heads but little seeming to be done. Well, not everyone is nodding their head without action: it seems that British Prime Minister David Cameron seems to want to do something about it.

The UK Telegraph recently reported that the PM has ordered larger companies (any business with over 250 staff) to divulge the wage disparities between their male and female employees. The Confederation of Business Industry is battling the case, citing that such reports would not actually shed a light on the subject, saying it would cause more confusion, requesting a voluntary approach.

Because we all know so many business leaders would volunteer such information on a regular basis, yes?

The article goes on to cite some of the arguments the Confederation cites for such disparities in pay, which can be attributed to “stereotypes,” which are said to deter women from seeking higher-paying careers as well as falling out of the higher pay grades or women stepping off the career ladder climb due to motherhood.

You can read more here. It’s an interesting piece, but it doesn’t really directly to the heart of the matter: paying for performance leads to more performance.

I’ve never quite understood a reluctance to pay for top talent. If capacity-driven success is what you desire, if you want accomplishments beyond your wildest understanding, then you must obtain and keep the best people in the industry suited to accomplish your goals. While there are many factors in the mix to accomplish this task, compensation is, quite simply, a large part of the equation.

Women comprise roughly over half of the labor force around the world, comprising 57% of the US Labor Market alone. In that labor market, they make 76.5% of what men make. The numbers around the world are about the same; it’s better in some places, worse in others. But the fact remains that over half the workforce is getting paid less than their counterparts. What does that say to hard-working employees who just happen to be female? That despite their best efforts that they’re worth less? It sets a precedent that causes one of two things to happen: unnecessary turnover or marginal performance.

In order to grow capacity for an organization, you need to have everyone working at full steam, completely focused on the task. Knowing that you’re being treated equally for performance ensures that everyone is squarely determined to complete the work at hand, and when they’re not, they talk. Rumors start, and that deters your talent from driving your business forward. Top performers compare notes and if they discover they’re not being treated fairly, they’ll most likely find another place where they think they have a better chance of getting paid what they deserve.

If companies were to divide the spoils more fairly, just think of what we could accomplish. Top talent deserves to be paid like top talent, regardless of stereotypes or having had a qualified life change on their benefits. If two people are top performers, pay them as such.

I wonder if this reporting will start the conversations that need to be had around paying for performance. It seems unnecessary that all the data is there, but resistance remains. If we could stop thinking of it as a historical gender based issue and focus on the common sense of the matter (that everyone deserves to be paid fairly and equally for a job well done,) then the gap could close and we could get on with the matter at hand: moving the global marketplace into one that only sees performance as the determining factor for compensation, not gender.



About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at

Meaningful Managerial Relationships In The Workplace: The Essentials

Posted on October 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

The employees of a business keep the business going. Without the employees, there would be nothing. Employees need to stay happy and productive in order to keep the business alive. One of the major factors contributing to employee happiness is work relationships between coworkers, and between the employee and manager. There are many ways to maintain healthy relationships with employees to keep the business environment in good standing and the success of the business moving forward. Plus, relationships are what build better workplace culture.  Below are five ways managers and employees can build healthy relationships.



To keep up good relationships with employees and avoid the risk of losing them, consider rewarding employees when good work is done. Employee recognition can range from a thoughtful card to personalized gifts or company-wide outings. The best way to capitalize on recognition is by knowing the person you are recognizing. Don’t feel like you, as the manager, always have to be the only one recognizing great work. Have employees within each team or department appreciate each other through their own nominations. This can also bring more unity among coworkers. Simplly put, appreciating your employees will deepen your relationship and retention rate.


Be friendly, but don’t play favorites

Though this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how common it still is today in the workplace. The one thing for employers to remember when being friendly towards employees is to not play favorites. Favoritism in the office is bad because it can cause other employees to feel disrespected and forced out. An employer should be friendly with all employees, not one more than another. Just remember not to be too friendly where employees can take advantage of the situation. An employer should build good rapport with the employees where they feel comfortable, not scared or intimidated.

For example, employers should emphasize friendliness in the company culture through team building activities so employees feel more comfortable with each other. The more friendly employees are with each other, the more growth within the office.


Better communication tactics

Find better ways to communicate with employees—don’t settle for the norms of email and chat. Part of being approachable is making sure more than one way of communication is possible between employees. Poor communication can lead to friction and inefficiency in the workplace. Basically, create an environment where employees are comfortable conversing ideas and asking questions with one another. This way, you’re not only strengthening culture, but helping employees grow by learning from each other.

In addition, have a level of transparency by keeping each other in the loop. Employees can harbor negative feelings when they feel the company engages in secretive actions that directly impact the employee. Instead, consider meaningful company meetings and face-to-face discussions when something comes up. Retention rates remain high when employees feel like they are informed on company business.



Along with better communication, managers should be sure they are really listening to employees. Have a virtual suggestion box where employees can anonymously leave comments and tips concerning the workplace. However, the second half of listening is acting on what employees want. Through their suggestions, create an office environment where employees are the most engaged and productive. Employees will also be more aware and positive when they know upper management is actively listening.


Employees training employees

We all know personalized training helps employees grow and have a greater sense of purpose within the company. Why not take career development to the next level and have employees teach each other what they know?  Have them become experts in fields and teach others how to become experts. It will not only increase employee morale, but help those less inclined socially to become more social in the office. New relationships can be formed and again, create a friendlier office culture.


All and all, remember to keep healthy relationships among your coworkers to insure a greater company culture and the well-being of the company overall.


About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, 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.

Transition to Transformation:  Navigating Change

Posted on October 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Transitions, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

The world is moving at a very fast pace.  What are you doing to keep in step?

Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?

Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest?  What will you do with the next chapter of your life?

It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace.  People, vocations, and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection.  No wonder “Transition” and “Change Management” have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.

How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?

I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan.  Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn it around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.

Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions?  Would you go back to school without properly researching the program?  Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?

Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?

I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success.  I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion.  I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion.  I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed “that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise.”  It never dawned on them that no one else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.

We can all learn from this lesson.  Don’t wait for the fork in the road to form a new path.  Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path.  Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life.  We all deserve to be happy and on purpose.  Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.

Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B.

Get real

Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances.  Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?


Keep up with the Joneses

How current are your skill sets?  Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.


Ready, Set, Learn!

Knowledge has never been easier to acquire.  If you don’t know something, Google it.  Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia.  There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts, and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home!  No excuse, stay relevant!


Expand your circle

Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can’t stand it one more minute, Network some more.


Acquire a Personal Board

Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your life line back. They will keep you on track, honest, and moving in the right direction.  They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one.


Volunteer: Give and Learn

Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times.  Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.


Take a break

I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change.  Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.


Take risks

Change is risky business.  Going back to school is scary.  Learning new technology is overwhelming.  Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses.  You know the old adage, no risk no reward.


Step Out

Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset.  Think of trying new things as an adventure.  You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through networking.  What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me, I was terrified!


Get comfortable with discomfort

My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible.  I mean anything!  We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work.  I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit.  It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up.  One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge.  I am ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential.  I recommend you do the same.


About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.








Reimagining HR’s Role As a Key Business Partner Can Lead to Career Advancement

Posted on October 8th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is the final installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.


I’m a big believer that professional development is the basis for achieving success in almost any field, and HR is no exception. It’s important to assess your own strengths and opportunities to determine what competencies you need to master in order to advance to the next step, and then execute an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that is targeted to help you achieve your career goals.


Over the course of my career, I’ve made it a constant point of emphasis to be self-aware of my performance in areas that I consider to be key competencies in my current role and the next role that that I aspire to attain. This has enabled me to develop an IDP that leverages my strengths and close my gaps through actions that provide me with valuable exposure opportunities, hands-on experiences and continued learning. My philosophy is to invest in yourself because the ROI is priceless.


Business leaders today know that their employees are the driver of business success. While employees are valued, many business leaders rank human capital as a top challenge. This presents a huge opportunity for HR practitioners to add value to their companies and grow as professionals, if they can help their organization reimagine HR’s role as a key business partner. Here are some key competencies that can help you tremendously in achieving that goal:


Functional knowledge and expertise. The field of HR is extensive and continues to advance and transform. It’s vitally important to stay abreast of the field so that your knowledge – and practical application of that knowledge – is modern and relevant. Having strong functional knowledge and expertise better equips you to quickly align HR and business strategy.


Business acumen. Understanding the big picture and the ability to look out the windshield at what lies ahead are critical. Having strong business acumen will result in the aptitude and knowledge to become a more critical thinker and capable problem solver. Developing business acumen involves being keenly aware of the economic and social issues that are affecting your company, staying close to emerging industry trends, your companies competitors,  and truly understanding the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of your organization. When all of these things come together, you’re in a position to diagnose a business problem and offer a strategic solution that will drive business outcomes and your company’s success.


Executive disposition.  It’s more than about what you know. It’s also about how you perform in your role as a HR practitioner. You want to be viewed as a leader not only in your profession, but in the organization as a whole. HR practitioners have a really unique opportunity to develop relationships that are both cross-functional and cross-hierarchical. When doing so, it’s important to convey an image that’s consistent with the vision and values of the organization in order to be an effective advocate for the company. You want to exude a demeanor of poise and confidence, especially in times of change, ambiguity, or stress. It will command respect and reassure others within the organization – from front line employees all the way to the C-suite.


If you’re a HR practitioner who may not yet have these competencies mastered, don’t fret. Simply make a pledge to your professional development by formalizing your IDP and making it a priority. That commitment will pay huge dividends, both for yourself and your organization.


About the Author: Leah Machado is the director of service for HR Services at Paychex, a leading provider of integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions for payroll, human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing services. She leads an organization with over 500 HR practitioners who provide HR outsourcing services to 32,000 Paychex HR Services clients with 880,000 worksite employees.  Leah’s career spans over 22 years in the retail, restaurant, and HCM outsourcing industries, and includes HR practitioner and leadership experience.




Tips For Firing Your Inner Critic (Well, Maybe Not So Fast?)

Posted on October 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

I used to wish I could fire my inner critic.  You know…the little voice that comes out at the most inopportune times.  For instance, when we are about to go into a meeting, address a room, write a paper, or meet someone new.  It reminds us that we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough or any other similar negative dialog.

What do you mean? Not me! I don’t have an imaginary nay-sayer!

To that I challenge…we all know we have one!

I spent many years of my life oblivious to mine. I never realized how much it was interfering with my ability to reach my full potential.  When I finally came to grips with its existence, I only wanted to find a method to make it go away.

With deeper understanding and introspection, I am beginning to change my tune.  What if I could come to grips with its existence, understand its origins, and gain a deeper understanding of the essence of its message? Wouldn’t this be ultimate freedom? Could I heed its warning, yet move forward anyway? Wouldn’t this help me gain perspective and resilience?  Could I use these small victories to become a stronger person and ultimately reach my true potential?

I decided the answer to this question was a resounding Yes!   This deeper insight gave me the power to embark on the path to make this invisible enemy my friend and adviser.

Here are my tips for embracing your Inner Critic:


Catch your critic in the act

When are you visited most by you inner critic? Is there a specific pattern?  Does it come out when you are lonely, hungry, or tired? Is it when you write a report? Does it sneak up on you at a meeting? Tap you on the shoulder on dates, at parties, or when you meet new people? Does it give fashion tips as you dress in the morning? Perhaps it tries to trip you when you take a new exercise class or open the refrigerator?

Recognizing the patterns will heighten your awareness and provide the ability to be prepared.


Become an intuitive listener

What is your inner critic trying to say? Is the message always the same? Does the inner dialog change with the circumstances? Is there validity to the words? Perhaps a lesson to be learned? Is this inner voice a warning of danger ahead?

The message can be utter nonsense or maybe a call to action.


Notice the surroundings and circumstances that brings it out of hiding

What patterns are starting to surface?  Does it visit you most at work or at home? Does it torment you when you are out with you friends or on dates? Torture you when you step out of your comfort zone?  Exercise influence at mealtime or sabotage your new workout regime? Is its habit to spoil family dinners and visits? Mess up your vacation? Show up when you present or perform?

With a sharper lens of acute awareness the patterns will emerge. Take note and notice its effect on you.


Consider who or what it reminds you of

Dig deep.  What is being triggered?  What memories come to the surface?  Does it bring you back to your college days, the high school cafeteria, or all the way back to the elementary school playground?  Maybe you are brought back to grandma’s kitchen, the dining room table, or battling your sibling or the bully who lived up the block.

If the message is eerily familiar and oddly holds the same negative charge today as in the past, understanding the origin will help put it into new perspective.


Describe it and bring it to life

Here is your opportunity to be creative!

Draw a mental picture or grab a pen and bring it to life!  Use a much detail as possible. This will give you the strength required to face your tormentor head on.


Give them a name

This will also help defuse its effect. By humanizing it, it loses the power to catch you off guard. You can remind yourself that this character is here solely to block your path and steer you off your game.

Perhaps through clear and honest recognition while truly embracing their presence they can actually propel you farther?


Arm yourself by creating two or three things you can say to send it packing, and list two or three things you can do or say to embrace its existence.

My inner critic is a Tasmanian devil  that shows up most when I write, meet new people, and present. Things that today I believe are my strongest attributes.  I call it Sandy, after the Hurricane that threatened to destroy some many lives.  It stands over my shoulder when I write to caution me, “You can’t write that” or “No one wants to read that”! It messes up my papers and jumps on my keyboard when I persist.

It spills coffee on my notes before I present and then does its best to psych me out before networking events.

Today I  “Thank it for its concern” but tell it “I am going to publish this anyway” and take my chances.  When it tries to break my confidence before I present I remind it “I got this” and reflect on my last positive presentation.

So, as you see, through developing a deeper understanding of the origins and messages of my Inner Critic, today I choose to make it my muse instead of my nemesis!

It is now my inspiration. The little voice that reminds me that I can do anything.  It is that pesky yet persistent voice that makes me spell check one more time and inspires me to create the best work possible.

It now stands right next to me or takes a seat in the front row when I present. It pushes me out of the door to step out of my comfort zone and enter a room of strangers.

Through finally embracing its existence I have become the best version of myself.  By understanding and honoring its message I have ultimately been able to break free.

I encourage you to do the same.



About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.





Four Tips to Help You Excel in Talent Acquisition

Posted on October 1st, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is the second installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.


Much like many other business functions, the world of talent acquisition is evolving at every stop. Mining for, finding, hiring, and maintaining top talent can be a challenge, but it’s an attainable feat if you play your cards right. Building a track record of effective and meaningful hires will not only contribute significantly to the overall success of your company, it will likely result in your escalation up the talent acquisition ladder.

With that in mind, here are a few tips that I believe can help you to excel in the world of talent acquisition:

  • Know your business inside and out. Make yourself an expert on how your company functions, what you’re selling, and how the company makes its money. Becoming familiar with things like the value prop your sales team is using or future company goals can help with that understanding. With that in mind, don’t ignore the competition. Are you losing talent to competitors? If so, find out what’s driving them elsewhere. It goes without saying, but knowing what sets your company apart from the competition can pay huge dividends.
  • Understand today’s market. Talent acquisition has evolved to become more about marketing than ever before. The ability to fully grasp your company’s image and culture are paramount, as is channeling those sentiments to prospects through a variety of ways that include everything from social media engagement and good old fashioned word of mouth. Some of what we do today could be looked at as re-recruiting current employees. Make them feel good about where they work and understand what makes it such a great place to work. Finally, be creative, relatable, and strategic in everything you do – writing job descriptions, social media posts or replies, and everything in between.
  • Accept that data is your friend. Understanding and applying metrics is an opportunity to shine. If you can wrap your brain around the numbers and use that knowledge as insight into the hiring process, you’re almost guaranteed to save time or money or both. This goes from company-specific data from something like the results of a recent employee engagement survey to drilling down into the habits of prospects in a certain area or age group. For example, if you know recent college graduates are more likely to search for jobs via LinkedIn, targeting of that age group should reflect that fact. If you’re looking to fill a customer service position, you might favor over In addition, data has the ability to reveal how many calls, candidates, and people you need to look at to make a hire. Track those trends and use the information to your advantage.
  • Develop and maintain fruitful partnerships. When it comes to succeeding in talent acquisition, this might be the most important point of all. Establish and nurture partnerships with marketing, hiring managers, TA specialists, and other key players within your company who have the ability to reach and influence prospects. When it comes to marketing, consistent messaging is key. You don’t want to be telling prospects one thing on Facebook and a completely other thing within a formal job description. A solid partnership can ensure that both are on the same page. A good relationship with your company’s hiring managers and TA specialists is of particular importance. At different times and for different reasons, it results in your ability to influence them to look at internal talent, talk to them about the talent that is needed for the future, and identify candidates that will grow and stay in the organization. Maintaining these healthy relationships will help tremendously in forecasting the future and optimizing the talent planning process as a whole.

As I mentioned, it’s an exciting time to be in talent acquisition. The opportunities to excel exist, and it’s up to you to be mindful and take advantage.


About the Author: Jody Stolt is the director of Talent Acquisition at Paychex, a leading provider of payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing services for small- to medium-sized businesses. Since joining Paychex four years ago, Jody upgraded the applicant tracking system to Paychex’ own MyStaffingPro™ to streamline processes, enhance the candidate experience, and increase recruiter efficiency in supporting nearly 4,000 hires and 22,000 applicants annually. Jody’s career spans over 25 years in recruiting, workforce planning, and strategic human resources at companies including PAETEC/Windstream Communications, Skillsoft, and ER Associates, a private HR consulting firm.

American Business Women’s Day Celebrates Both the Accomplished and Aspiring

Posted on September 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Today, we officially celebrate national American Business Women’s Day. The date coincides with the September 22, 1949 founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). The strides and accomplishments of women in businesses all over the United States have been monumental, giving us the opportunity to recognize the day’s intent all year long.


To put things in perspective, in 1949 no woman had reached the Chief Executive Officer title at a Fortune 500 company. The most recently published list counted 24 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. That’s a record and one that will certainly be surpassed as barriers continue to be broken.


Similar to many business executives – male or female – my path didn’t start out with the intent of becoming an officer of a Fortune 1,000 company. As a matter of fact, I didn’t fully realize that level of leadership was within reach until much later in my career.


Women are breaking barriers left and right every day. While I don’t necessarily view myself as a trailblazer – there are plenty of other women who fit that bill – here are some quick tips to keep in mind when starting down the path to executive leadership:


  • Keep your options open. I went to school for computer information technology and worked in that field for a time at General Electric. Eventually, I was asked to lead a specific program for the GE Aerospace business that involved recruiting on college campuses, hiring, training and compensation. This really sparked my interest in HR. GE sponsored me to get my graduate degree in management from Purdue University, and I officially transitioned into HR. The moral of the story here is just because you earned your degree in or began working in one field doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Keep your options open, especially in the earlier points of your career.


  • Step outside your comfort zone. Research has shown that women may not be as willing to take on something very new or different as men. Step outside your comfort zone, and you might find that you’re very successful in that area. During my time at Bausch and Lomb, I realized I wanted to take my career to the next level. I knew I had the drive, passion, and work ethic to make that happen, but I also knew there were some necessary skills that I didn’t own at the time. I then purposefully took a role in compensation and benefits knowing full-well they were both areas of expertise I would need to add to my repertoire. I knew nothing about either area, which made it scary and completely out of my comfort zone. It was a very challenging time, but that cross-functional move taught me what I needed to know to further advance my career.


  • Develop business acumen. It’s one of the most important competencies for an HR professional to have in their back pocket. HR’s purpose is to ensure the company has a workforce that’s capable of driving the business goals. To do that, you need to understand what the overall business goals are, the financials, the operations, all aspects of the business. Then you can determine how HR will contribute to achieving those goals. Be proactive and strategic in developing HR initiatives that will drive the future success of the company.


  • Always be on the lookout to learn new things and have new experiences. Change is constant, and accelerating at a rapid pace. It is critical to keep learning and growing to stay relevant.  Look for projects, change jobs or functions within your company or change companies. I did that a few times in my career and it worked to my advantage.  Not only do you gain valuable functional experience, you also develop agility and leadership skills.


  • Don’t let anything stand in your way. I grew up with two brothers and a dad who didn’t discourage me from getting my hands dirty with him and the boys. Those experiences encouraged me to look at men and women as having the same level of capability. A good part of my career was spent working in male-dominated fields. In fact, I’ve only ever had two women bosses. I worked my hardest and did my best and went for what I wanted. I never thought of myself as a woman leader, I am simply a leader.


  • Surround yourself with good people. This may go without saying, but form meaningful relationships both at work and at It will do wonders for your productivity and happiness. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook once said, “The most important career choice a woman will ever make is who she marries.” This could not be more true to life. My husband has been incredibly supportive of my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Surround yourself with people who share your goals, values, and motivations.


  • Never stop networking. It’s absolutely critical to stay connected with people. My first two jobs in the HR industry are the only two I landed through traditional ways. Every position since then – especially the ones later in my career – happened due to a connection and recommendation. I am still connected to people at every company I have worked for. It is a great way to learn about best practices and find out about career opportunities.  Also, LinkedIn makes networking easier than ever.  Make sure your profile is up to date and you are connected to the right people.


Most of these pieces of advice ring true for aspiring male or female HR executives. But it’s American Business Women’s Day, so let’s take a pause to reflect upon and celebrate how taking these steps could help the businesswomen around us advance.


Photo Credit:


About the Author: Laurie Zaucha is the vice president of human resources and organizational development for Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses.  In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of human resources, organizational development, and the company’s award-winning training department. Laurie boasts more than 20 years of experiences as an HR executive. Previous positions include vice president at Bausch & Lomb and senior management positions in HR for Footstar, Inc., Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Laurie has a master’s degree in management from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information technology from Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

Women, The Workplace, and Capacity

Posted on September 10th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

I’ve spoken a lot about this on my blog, and there are a few allusions to doing the right thing from an HR perspective in my forthcoming book, Unleashing Capacity: The Hidden Human Resources (Charles Pinot, 2015.) But things that must be said bear repeating, and it’s time for me to repeat myself: women and their equal pay and progression in the workplace is a serious problem for capacity.


In a recent article in The Atlantic, Bourree Lam interviews Barbara Annis of the Gender Intelligence Group, over why women shouldn’t have to act like men to progress in the workforce. Within this powerful article (and I really encourage you to read it,) Annis gives a startling statistic embedded in an answer about why she conducts “gender intelligence workshops) for leading companies such as American Express and eBay):


“If you look at technology companies, they’re looking to overcome what they call the “brain drain” or what they call the “talent drain.” They’re losing women: Women come in after having graduated and they last three to five years…”


Three to five years. Think about that. Think about your turnover rate. Think about what that means for your recruiting expense and the costs associated with that seat being open.


Women aren’t sticking around and enduring these issues. If they don’t feel they’re being paid and promoted accordingly, they will go somewhere else. That one issue alone can decimate capacity.


The article goes on to explain that a lot of companies want to know why they’re not making progress, that since middle management looks pretty thick with gender diversity they must be doing something right. But examine the C-suite and suddenly the answer becomes quite clear: those women are still navigating shards of the proverbial glass ceiling, trying to figure out how to rise into the executive suite.


Capacity, by its own definition, is the ability for companies to remain agile within the ever-changing landscape of global business. If the core of your business talent is female and you’re not paying and rewarding them appropriately (or avoiding the motherhood penalty, which is a very real thing in the business world,) then that base of talent is most likely going to leave. You have to start all over again. You have to train someone else to come up the ranks, only to have the same retention issue somewhere else. It amounts to potentially thousands of leaks in what should otherwise be a water-tight craft for smooth sailing in treacherous business waters. Could it sink the business? You bet it could.


From an HR perspective, we have an obligation to see this issue and bring it to our managers in the terms of real business impact. It’s the right thing to do from an HR perspective, but lack of retention hurts. Explain this is plain financial terms. Project each line of business with an estimated turnover of a conservative number of 10% per annum. Add in recruiting costs and lost productivity. The answer is quite simple: it costs less to retain good talent than it does to replace it once it’s gone, particularly if word has gotten out that women can’t advance past a certain level. Your brand will be damaged, and try as you might, you may have a hard time replacing that woman who left. Doesn’t it make sense to keep her?


It may sound like I’m on my soapbox about the issue. Perhaps I am. However, this is a business need that must be addressed, and as HR leaders we can do something about this. Equality in pay and performance reward isn’t just a soft skill, it’s a hard business need…and we in HR are just the ones to find out how to meet it.


About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at


Why Diversity Matters to Capacity-Driven Success

Posted on September 1st, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Diversity tends to be a very hot topic on the web and in the news. It has been for decades. You would think there would be more movement in this direction, and while we gain inches here and there, women still make less than men in the workforce, and both women and minorities represent a meager percentage of CEOs.


While this looks like it would bankrupt companies to make these gender biased odds more even, the simple math is that it would actually cause companies to perform better. A recent McKinsey study states that while they can’t immediately tie diversity to profit, they can most certain confirm that companies with a focus on diverse leadership are 35% more likely to outperform competitors that don’t, stating:


“While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. This in turn suggests that other kinds of diversity—for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mind-set and cultural fluency)—are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent.”


The main argument against diversity is that companies claim that they’re just too hard to find, that finding females and qualified minority talent is just too hard to create that diverse slate needed to fill open positions. I’m here to debunk this myth. There are two ways to create a sharp slate of candidates: make the slate yourself and/or buy it.


You can make a slate of diverse talent ripe for your own efforts by nurturing your leadership pool from within. Look among your ranks, and discover what it would take to turn your current employees into the leaders of tomorrow. Surely, there are diverse members of your own team who could be grown into formidable, client-focused leadership in due time. Make the long-term investment in your own future.


Conversely, you could buy talent, which means recruiting efforts. Silicon Valley has gone so far as to create The Boardlist, a database of the top 600 females in the industry who are ripe for top leadership and board positions within the industry. Created by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, it came in response to the complaint that startups don’t have the resources to do the research to find these women, so Cassidy made it easier for them. Such lists exist throughout the internet and among top MBA programs everywhere. Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, Darden, Wharton – all of these schools have records of diverse graduates who would make top notch connections and candidates. Start there.


All of these decisions are the keys to corporate capacity. In my forthcoming book, I discuss quite a few strategies for HR to solve the problems of their companies, and this is one issue that deserves top attention. It’s not just a softer “feel-good” initiative: it makes good business sense. In an increasingly diverse world, companies who can show that all kinds of backgrounds, genders, and orientations have pathways to success within their ranks will remain market competitive with both clients and candidates. It’s just good business.


Diversity is the pathway to current and future corporate capacity. Aim to make it a top line item moving into your next board meeting, and prepare to meet the demands of the global — and diverse — marketplace.


About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at