HR From a Different Perspective

Posted on April 14th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Entrepreneurship. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Susan Axelrod  again features a female entrepreneur and her lessons learned about building a business and leading successful teams.

 

I started my bakery business, Love and Quiches Gourmet, in my home kitchen in 1973, purely by accident; from just one quiche. I was a clueless suburban housewife with no preparation whatsoever for business ownership. My only qualification was my passion for everything connected to food. I was a very good cook and was cajoled into starting the business by a carpool friend, an equally great cook.

 

We had no plan, we simply started. We made up some quiches, took them to a few local businesses, and before we knew it we had one customer, then two, and then ten. Adding desserts soon followed. By the end of the first year we were servicing about thirty restaurants, and took the giant step of incorporating and moving into our first tiny storefront where we hired one or two employees, and continued to grow.

 

We were the Keystone Kops Quiche Factory; two steps back for every step forward. My partner cried uncle shortly after so I bought her out and quickly realized this little business had a will and a pull of its own. I wanted to stick around though, to see how the movie ended. That was forty years ago.

 

I hired an accountant, and started asking a lot of questions of my customers, my suppliers, my newfound mentor, my peers, my competitors (who didn’t know I was watching), … and I learned from my mistakes, a vastly underestimated learning tool. And this was all before the dawn of the computer age. At the time, I was a one-man band; baker, buyer, salesman, porter and delivery guy.

 

Across the decades, we grew in concentric circles; Metro New York, Metro Tri-State, up and down the Eastern Seaboard, across the Continent, then across the globe. There were as many obstacles thrown in our path along the way as there were victories. There was brutal competition, key customer loss, key employee loss, location moves and so on. But many obstacles were beyond our control; commodity spikes, 9/11 after which the economy came to a dead halt, the Great Recession among them.

 

When looking back at it all, one thing stands out. It is after 9/11 that the business had its “Aha” moment and we reinvented ourselves and our business model; with Just-In-Time and Lean Manufacturing methods.

 

But, by far, our greatest achievement was the rebuilding of our organization from the bottom up— with strong high performance teams, and equally strong directors and middle management.

 

Our employees are our greatest asset and are valued insiders, each skilled in their particular area. We built it slowly through a combination of promoting from within and bringing in outside talent when needed. They are a passionate group— we have the right people on the bus, and in the right seats.

 

At Love & Quiches Gourmet we have eight teams- Operations, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Engineering, Purchasing and Logistics, Research and Development, HR, Administration, and Sales and Marketing. These teams are all cogs in a wheel with its members highly dependent upon the other; keenly aware that one weak link can bring it all to a grinding halt. Some companies promote healthy competition… I think teamwork is healthier. And even more importantly, mutual respect and tolerance during conflict resolution (there will always be differing points of view; after all, this is a business and not a love affair).

 

We communicate with daily huddles, weekly management and executive meetings, team building, ongoing training, and more. We do not talk down to our employees; we need them. Communication is crucial to keeping us focused and all on the same page. By inviting input across the board, the ideas keep coming.

 

As a private company, there are fewer layers in our decision making which helps us compete with the giants. We are known for our flexibility and receptiveness to new ideas. From the top we set strategic direction, but our teams provide the “meat and potatoes” that bring the results. All 250 of us have “skin in the game”.

 

I have chronicled my forty year journey in my recently published business memoir, “With Love and Quiches: A Long Island Housewife’s Surprising Journey from the Kitchen to the Boardroom” where I emphasize organizational development in chapters devoted to our transition to lean and mean, next leveling, and company culture, all told from the Love and Quiches Gourmet experience.

 

We have come a long way, and it has been a great ride. I take pride that it was my product that put quiche on the map, now served on menus all over the world. And it was my devoted, hardworking and experienced team that got us there.

 

 Photo Credit

About the Author:  Susan Axelrod and the word “pioneer” go together like cake and frosting! As the Chairwoman and Founder of Love & Quiches Gourmet, Susan’s journey has paved the way for women entrepreneurs. She started her business with no formal training, only a passion for food. Coupled with her energy and tenacity, Susan was able to take her small business, worldwide. Today, these desserts and quiches are found in restaurants and retailers around the globe. Susan chronicles her experiences in her blog, Susan’s Sweet Talk and her book, With Love & Quiches: A Long Island Housewife’s Surprising Journey from Kitchen to Boardroom

 

 


The Independent HR Practitioner – Achieving the Success You Deserve

Posted on April 7th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Although we typically feature content targeted at HR practitioners and leaders, from time to time we also like to highlight guest authors who bring entrepreneurial experience and advice for HR consultants or business owners.  Today’s post is by Ruth Hinds, who has previously been a guest writer for Women of HR, and features her advice on that topic.

 

When you’re running your own HR business, one of the most important skills that you can cultivate is the ability to attract the right clients and grow your operation. Of course, your HR knowledge matters and is vitally important, but if you can’t sell it effectively to the right people, you aren’t going to have a business for very long.

 

The truth is though, if you’re solely trading your time on a one-to-one consultancy basis, you’re inevitably going to reach the point where further growth just isn’t possible. What exactly do you do once you find that all your billable hours are booked up, you’re already increasing your rates steadily and regularly, and you also have a family life and other responsibilities to juggle?  It’s all well and good suggesting that you should ‘lean in’ to the opportunities that are out there, but as a business owner, you sometimes have to engineer your own.

 

Here, we’ll look at three strategies for leveraging your time, so you can grow your HR business to levels that you never previously thought possible, without burning yourself out.

 

Package up your knowledge into information products

If you want to expand your reach and help more businesses to get their HR practice in order, you might want to consider adding information products to your offerings. This is quite simply about packaging up your knowledge so buyers can take it away, digest it in their own time, and implement what they’ve learned. It could be in the form of webinars, online courses, workbooks, or podcast sessions.

 

The beauty of this tactic is that you only have to create the materials once, and you can sell them time and time again. Having options that are lower priced than your one-to-one consultancy services can also ensure that you have something available for those who are interested in what you offer, but don’t want to make a bigger commitment just yet. If you can create information products that are crammed full of value, your buyers will often go on to work with you in greater depth in the future.

 

Sell adverts to complimentary businesses in your email newsletter 

If you don’t already have a database of email subscribers who receive your updates on a regular basis, you should start at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s one of the best and most valuable assets your business can ever have, and it gives you a pool of people who are interested in what you have to offer and have given you permission to market to them.

 

The benefits of this are crystal clear. Next time you create a new service or want to run a special offer, you have an engaged audience that already knows, likes, and trusts you, and wants to know more about how you can help them. It doesn’t end there though. Many businesses create a lucrative income stream by selling advertising space in their email newsletters. It’s essential that you always put the experience of your readers before anything else, and thoroughly vet any potential advertisers. Get it right though, and it’s a relatively hands-off revenue generation tactic for your business.

 

Earn a commission from promoting products and services that you already recommend for free

You’re probably already recommending products and services to your clients, just because you’re passionate about those particular solutions. Maybe there’s a people management software that you think no small business should be without, or perhaps there’s a book that you always shout about to clients.

 

Many businesses offer affiliate programmes for their products and services, so make sure that you find out whether it’s an option for your business. Amazon offers a scheme that you may be interested in if you’re a big book fan, and many software providers will reward you exceptionally well for sending business their way. Be sure to only consider promoting things that you’re confident of the value of, and always be upfront and tell your audience that you’ll earn a commission if they go ahead and make the purchase. Transparency and honesty are key here.

 

The bottom line is that you deserve to be rewarded for your skills, and the value that you can bring to the table for your clients. If you’re serious about business growth, you need the right tools in your kit, and you need to embrace the opportunity to step away from the traditional service provider business model. Advances in technology mean that there’s never been a better time to grow a savvy business that works for you, rather than drives you to the end of your tether.

 

How can you make changes going forward, to better leverage your time and reach your full potential?

 

Photo Credit

About the author:  Ruth Hinds is a leading expert in client attraction and business growth for HR consultants, and the founder and CEO of HR Consultants Marketing School. A former HR professional herself, she’s worked in senior HR management roles and has an MSc in HRM. She’s recently released her first Kindle book, ‘Skyrocket Your HR Consultancy: The HR Business Owners Guide To Creating Multiple Income Streams’. 


Actionable Tips to Grow Your Networks

Posted on March 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Networks, Mentors and Career. 2 comments

“It’s not what you know, but whom you know,” is a phrase with which many of us are familiar, and in today’s hyper-connected world it’s truer than ever. The power of one’s network can’t be diminished, an essential part of professional life that can further your career like nothing else. The right network can solve business problems, expand your knowledge, and catapult your career. It’s a personal advantage that shouldn’t be understated.

With all that said, I find most of us relegate networking to the bottom of our to-do lists, buried under other items that require more immediate priority. But I’d urge you not to delay developing this powerful tool. Building and maintaining one is easier than you’d think and, as I’ve recently discovered, one of the best endeavors you’ll ever undertake.

In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a great deal of time building my own professional network. Truth be told, I previously gave little thought to the power and importance of my professional network when I was in a corporate role, but once out of the daily grind and starting my own enterprise, I’ve realized the incredible value of active networking.

With that said, I’m keen to provide some quick networking strategies that can help you build a successful network, simple time investments that should benefit you for years to come:

Market yourself – Begin by identifying what you have to offer. Look at networking as a way to build your personal brand, which in today’s social media-driven world is incredibly important. Your network is your means of building connections that matter, regardless of your current level or position, so take stock of yourself and understand what you bring to the table.

Know what outcome you desire – Networks work best when viewed as reciprocal relationships, and you should understand what you could contribute as well as wish to receive going in. Here are the criteria that shape my choices:

(1) I create networks that are international in scope because global reach is important to what I do
(2) I wish to connect with people keen to disrupting traditional thoughts and business ideas, sharing ideas centered on changing how we think about the world of work
(3) I wish to embrace connection with other senior executive women across various industries and interests. I am passionate about what women can do in the workplace, and wish to support other women in our professional endeavors
(4) I desire to build a powerful portfolio of HR professionals at various levels. Giving back to my profession and shaping its future direction is something I am keen to do.

Be clear on your objectives – It’s important to be clear on what you wish to achieve. If it’s building your personal brand, select connections that can raise your profile. Identify people of prominence, and not necessarily in your same field. Also, set clear goals for yourself when it comes to building this aspect of your personal life. For instance, this month’s goal could be connecting with five new female technology executives across the industry. This helps you stay focused and provides you with tangible metrics you can track.

It works if you work it – A network is not something you turn on and off when you need it; those who are successful know it requires a regular investment of time and effort. Be consistent, as you’ll have a harder time reestablishing connection if you disappear for an extended period of time. A minimum of an hour a day networking with others via social media and/or in person via events helps to build your network tremendously over time. View your networks like any important relationship: get to know them, learn what’s important to them, and assess how you can help them reach their goals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. That’s the true ROI in networks.

What are some of the best ways to connect with people?
Connection is easier than ever. Social media and networking sites, numerous professional associations, charitable connections, online meeting groups based on interest, etc. Before you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, decide on which means suit your intended result. I’ve found LinkedIn to be a superior means of interaction, both professionally and personally. It keeps you active in the eye of a good number of professional bodies, and it’s a great means of maintaining your professional contacts. It’s also a bit less intrusive and overwhelming than email, which can be challenging due to the size of everyone’s inboxes these days.

Twitter is an acquired taste: you either love it or you hate it. For me, Twitter is less about building lasting networks than a means of receiving and sharing real-time information. If used for networking, be certain that communication stays brief, and move it into private conversation as swiftly as possible so others aren’t disconnected by a connection that’s best fostered one-on-one.

Measure the ROI of your network – It helps to periodically take stock of your efforts. Some tangible ways to assess good networking ROI include an increase in connections and social media followers; more requests to contribute and/or share your expertise; an uptick in invitations to network events and in-person gatherings; and an increase in opportunities and social events, from coffee dates to interviews and/or business meetings.

Creating an ecosystem of peers, mentors, business advisors, friends, and advisors will reap rewards far beyond your dreams if you take the time to develop your approach, work diligently, and nurture it well. This ecosystem can support your career for years to come and bear opportunities you can’t imagine. Start networking today!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Rita Trehan is 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 www.ritatrehan.com.


Limiting Mindsets: Do We Set Our Own Glass Ceiling?

Posted on February 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

In our personal career path, we can be our own best friends or our own worst enemies.  This is largely due to our mindset and what we believe about our ability.  In working with leaders, I find that people have often set their own glass ceiling.  Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University confirms, “Much of what might be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of your mindset.”

 

Often, the difference between success and failure is your mindset; those with a fixed mindset will be limited as to how much they can achieve, while those with a growth mindset will not limit their ability to succeed. According to Dr. Dweck’s research, those individuals with a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset tend to do what validates their talent and are consumed with proving how good they are.  Those with a growth mindset have the attitude that they’ll do what it takes and will apply what they learn from mistakes to develop their talent.

 

Where do you fall? Ask yourself the following questions: Do you believe intelligence is a fixed trait, without room for improvement or growth? When you make a mistake, do you try to cover it up or hide it? Do you make a point to conceal your deficiencies and take on projects only if you are sure you are capable of doing it? If you answered “yes”to any of these questions, you likely are limiting yourself.

 

Even if you feel that you have a growth mindset, we often limit ourselves in ways that aren’t as obvious. For example, how often do we say to ourselves,No, I cant go for that promotion. I dont know enough. Im not good enough. What if they find out Im really not that smart? That’s a limiting mindset.

 

Limited mindsets manifest themselves in all kinds of environments. Take, for example, the world record for the 100-meter dash. For years, it was believed that man couldn’t break the “10-second barrier”— it was commonly accepted that no runner could complete the 100-meter dash in under ten seconds. But that record was defied in 1983 by runner Carl Lewis. Once that glass ceiling was shattered, six more sprinters completed the dash in less than ten seconds during the 1980s. Since that time, nearly 100 sprinters have broken the 10-second barrier. All it took was one person defying the “unbreakable”record, and numerous others followed suit.

 

Our mindset ties directly into our emotional intelligence. Think this is all just mushy, soft- skills stuff? Think again. According to a recent study1from the University of Bonn, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in November 2014, individuals who displayed emotional intelligence were more likely to bring home a bigger paycheck than their emotionally-stunted colleagues.  Emotional intelligence is a measure of your self-awareness and awareness of others.  Are you self-aware about your own limiting beliefs?

 

So what can you do to grow your mindset? Set “stretch goals”that force you to stretch outside your comfort zone. Try to set goals that are focused on process and mastery, not goals that are solely focused on outcome. And finally, look for opportunities to fail. Yes, you read that right! Although most of us fear failure, we often learn more from our mistakes and failures than from our successes. Mistakes can lead to great ideas and new opportunities. So start looking for these kinds of opportunities. Your brain will find what you tell it to look for.

 

What can be learned from this? Bottom line: If you think you can’t, you won’t. When you limit yourself and your capabilities, you won’t break that glass ceiling or defy the odds. But when you unlock your mindset to allow for all opportunities, the possibilities open up to allow for remarkable achievements.

 

 

Further Reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck

1Momm T., Blickle G., Liu Y., Wihler A., Kholin M. and Menges J. I. (2015) It pays to have an eye for emotions: Emotion recognition ability indirectly predicts annual income, J. Organiz. Behav., 36, pages 147–163. doi: 10.1002/job.1975.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Kerry Goyette is the founder and president of Aperio Consulting Group, a human capital consulting firm based in Columbia, MO.  Aperio’s mission is to help organizations increase effectiveness of their biggest asset, their people. Kerry holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Missouri with post-graduate studies in neuroscience and psychometrics. She was also recently elected to the executive MBA Advisory Board for the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.


Diversity: Is it Still on the Menu for 2015?

Posted on January 15th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Diversity. What does it mean to you (aside from a pretty handy street dance troupe)? It’s an important topic to mull over because the modern workplace is expected to employ a diverse workforce, with HR departments obviously playing a crucial role in the process.

 

But as with so many valuable concepts, the risk of the principle being lost in the rhetoric and its substance replaced by an empty corporate buzz word is high. As HR employees – dealing with the people behind the labels – it is our duty to clarify the recruitment process we are expected to implement and highlight any practical issues that arise.

 

Diversity and the ‘tick box’ culture

One of the measures of a diverse workplace is how closely it reflects the make-up of the society in which it operates. This has led to government statisticians compiling lists of percentages where citizens are divided into their ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation and numerous other categories and the numbers compared – often unfavourably – with the make up of the company.

 

If we’re not careful, this can lead to diversity being treated as another item to be included on a growing list of corporate targets. ‘Do we have a disabled guy? Good. Five per cent ethnic minorities? Great. We’re running at 55-45 gender split though; need to even that up a bit.’

 

Here we stray into that contentious issue of ‘positive discrimination’, and whether it is ever right to recruit someone on the basis of their age, gender, sexual orientation or cultural background. Whatever your position about that, it is a very real dilemma that the Human Resource department has to grapple with – diversity in the real world rather than a utopian concept.

 

Do we still have an appetite for diversity?

Recent world events have even cast doubts on the value of diversity itself. Struggling economies have led to high levels of unemployment and the accusation by some disgruntled citizens that their jobs are being taken by people from minority backgrounds. And there is no doubt that recruiters in many fields have sought to actively import talent where there is a perceived lack of it from amongst the local employment pool.

 

With the media highlighting the negative aspects of muticulturalism and the dangers of excessively liberal policies, and the rise of nationalist parties in the political sphere, even the politicians’ are displaying quite schizophrenic behaviours as they reflect the public’s ambivalence over diversity.

 

Companies as diversity in action

The modern workplace, to varying degrees, mirrors the situation in society at large. People from different backgrounds come together for a common cause and while there are inevitably culture clashes and disagreements there is also a lot of solidarity and shared identity.  A company’s success seems often to be related to  the extent to which its workforce has been integrated, enabling everyone to pull together. But is there more that a diverse workplace can offer up?

 

Attack of the Clones

In our drive for diversity, we must ensure that the people we recruit are given the support and freedom to actually express their unique qualities and perspectives. In a modern workplace we need to utilise the full richness of each individual’s experience and tap into their irreplaceable skills and strengths, if we are to remain relevant and competitive as a unit.

 

Employees are not just representatives of particular demographics in society, they are living, communicating windows into the minds and hearts of the people who share significant elements of their background. If one of our employees uses a wheelchair, he or she will be invaluable in assessing how accessible our company is to other wheelchair users. If a female employee objects to the chauvanistic workplace culture then ignore her at your peril. It is highly likely that sexism is coming across in our products and services, alienating women in society.

 

In some ways, a diverse company is a gift which gives us the opportunity to interact with society at a deeper, more inclusive level. But we must still make the most of the richness at our disposal by treating employees as respected individuals. Otherwise we risk creating a sham diversity rather like the clone troopers in the Star Wars stories. Here, the individual troopers are largely identified by surface differences alone (hairstyle, uniform trim, etc.) to compensate for the fact that they are all cloned from one source.

 

Is diversity still on the menu? Absolutely, but only the best restaurants can combine all of the flavours into one appetizing dish.

 

About the Author: Nicole Dominique Le Maire has gained a reputation as a highly valued leader within the female business and Human Resources Industry. As a multi-talented woman entrepreneur and a global people connector, she is also the co-author of two books, including “The Female Leader.”  As a result, she has gained tremendous experience guiding startups and entrepreneurs which has supplemented her MBA, MAHRM, and MCIPD and this has catapulted her to become one of the top leaders in the Human Resources industry.  Get in touch via twitter @NicoleLeMaire or one of the business websites,  humanresourcesglobal.com, newtohr.com, thefemaleleader.biz

 


The New Rules of Engagement: Digitization

Posted on December 16th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

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

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

 

Digital Help or Digital Hindrance?

With the powerful megatrend Digitization already upon us: what does it means for you and your job and for the way you manage others?

 

Digital Help

You can do anything you want in the virtual world.  There are apps for pretty much everything, insomniacs can find people to talk to any time of the night and you can get advice whenever you ask for it (and even when you don’t if you look at Twitter!). So all this digital stuff should be making our lives easier right?

In many ways yes it should.

Digitization is all about the blurred boundaries between our work and personal lives as a result of technology. It’s about being “switched on 24/7” and it means many of us can work flexibly from anywhere at any time, which helps us find the work/life balance that works for us. Living 2 ½ hours away from my office means I regularly work from home just to stay sane!

In the workplace, Digitization can definitely be a huge advantage; advances in smartphones, apps, Facebook and Twitter for example are a great way to stay connected to our clients and our colleagues across timezones in a simple, engaging and fast way. They keep us agile and flexible, we can react in an instant to the latest bit of news.

 

Digital Hindrance

So what’s the downside? Well if like me, you weren’t born into a world of Clouds, I-phones, Lync, Messenger and Twitter, you’re not a Digital Native. My kids will be (they can already work the Sky TV box better than I can). That means there’s a whole heap of training we need to make sure that we use technology to save time in our jobs, rather than waste time.

And what if you feel you should constantly be “wired” so you can respond immediately to your client’s late night emails? Aren’t you at risk of getting stressed or burnt out? And if you only communicate with your manager on email, how will they spot the signs and be able to help you?

Then there’s the problem of being discreet. How do we know what’s appropriate for us to share online? The world of social media is so quick that it’s easy to act on impulse, but by doing that we could be damaging our company’s brand – or even our client’s brand – just by a click of a button.

 

Digital Ready

If you work in a role in HR, then these problems are soon going to be your problems. What training do people need and how can you keep them up to speed with new technologies and digital trends? How can you prevent employee burn out? And how can you best engage your people around your brand so that they want to protect rather than damage it?

Research on this new megatrend shows that people’s expectations are changing about how they use technology at work and that if companies want to keep their talent motivated, they’ll need to adapt fast because:

  • Younger workers – or Digital Natives – want to be connected all the time. Removing a Smartphone from someone when they turn up for work is like removing an arm. (Interestingly, a major retailer in the UK that banned mobile phones on the shopfloor is now piloting the use of them again to keep people motivated)
  • People will demand that their company supports them with different devices and technical support to keep them working, especially if employees are travelling for their jobs
  • A pressure to always be online could lead to stress and burnout for some, that managers still need to look out for and manage
  • Employees can easily find out online how their salaries compare to other firms (and then they can easily apply for another job if they want to)
  • People want to work when they want to work – that might be in the middle of the night, whereas your manager wants to speak to you when the sun’s still out. Managers will need to measure ‘outputs’ differently and look at performance rather than just hours
  • We’re all human and we still need some personal contact. Managers can’t rely on virtual communications and meetings – we still want to see people face-to-face

 

Digital Balance

So stop and have a think about your own job for a moment. How do these changes to the workplace affect you or the people you manage? How can you get the best out of using technology and mitigate the worst?

Try answering a few questions to see how well you think you’re doing amidst Digitization:

Yes / No
Digital Help?
Is technology helping you save time in your job?
Does technology help you stay in touch more easily with your clients or colleagues?
Do you feel technology gives you more flexibility to work from anywhere at anytime?
Do you have the technical support you need to keep those devices working at all times?
Are you using technology to showcase how great your company’s product or ideas are?
Digital Hindrance?
Be honest, are you slightly addicted to checking your messages? (even if someone is talking to you)
Does your Smartphone go wherever you go (including to bed)?
Have you ever had an online ‘rant’ about something or someone then instantly regretted it?
Does your manager expect you to answer emails 24/7? (and do you expect the same from your direct reports or colleagues?)
Have you ever felt totally exhausted and at risk of burnout because you never really switch off from using technology?

 

How did you get on? If you generally answered “Yes” to more Help than Hindrance, then you’ve probably found a great way of using technology in your life.

But if you answered “No” to any of these questions, maybe now’s the time to put that device down and have a proper conversation in the real world rather than the virtual world. Given that when I see my kids playing, they’re often copying Mummy on the phone sending messages and moaning when a webpage won’t load fast enough, then maybe it’s time I did just that….

See you next time, I’m off to meet a real friend for a real drink and a real chat rather than a virtual one, it’s much more fun.

 

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

 

Photo Credit

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


5 Characteristics Great Women Leaders Share

Posted on December 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Leadership. 1 Comment

Throughout the years, women have faced – and continue to face – numerous challenges when it comes to succeeding in business. Yet despite significant challenges, female leaders are becoming more and more common – and they’re making a positive and powerful impact on society.

What are some characteristics that great women leaders share? We’ve put together a list of 5 of the best traits of powerful female leaders, as well as a few inspirational quotes from real women who are paving the way for future generations – in politics, business and beyond.

“Hope and change are hard-fought things.” – Michelle Obama

1. They work hard

Women who excel in leadership roles have a clear vision of what they want and what they need to do to get there. Their personal and professional goals are important to them, and obtaining success (whatever that means to them) is at the top of their list. They’re aware that it takes hard work and commitment to succeed, and they’re willing to work to achieve it.

Women leaders often need to juggle multiple roles or balance different areas of life in order to focus on their careers and professional aspirations. But they know with complete clarity what they want, and they’re willing to do what it takes to get there. The enthusiasm and strength these women possess is apparent to all who meet them, in both professional and personal settings.

 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you.” – Oprah Winfrey

2. They recognize their own strengths (and weaknesses)

Great women leaders have a strong understanding of their own gifts, and they understand the significance of these strengths and the role they play in their ability to succeed. Great leaders know what they can do well, and they use these assets to their advantage to help them excel in what they want to do.

Conversely, great women leaders also know their own weaknesses. Instead of letting weaknesses limit them, however, great leaders surround themselves with people who can support them and make them better.

 

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

3. They take risks

The greatest women leaders are confident in making decisions, even when those decisions are difficult or represent big risks. They rarely procrastinate or hesitate, and they are are remarkably assertive and influential. They don’t wait for direction – they jump in and get things done. They’re known for coming up with innovative solutions, because they aren’t afraid to take big risks or question rules and regulation in order to get the results they want.

Perhaps most importantly, as Margaret Thatcher reminds us below? Great women leaders aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers when it comes to getting things done.

 

“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher

4. They welcome change and challenges

Successful women leaders don’t just embrace challenges – they face them head-on. Moreover, they are excellent listeners, they seek out feedback, and they are genuinely interested in what others have to say about the issues they are faced with. Highly respected women listen to multiple points of views before they decide on the best possible decision.

Great women leaders welcome challenges, but they also welcome change. Women who are frontrunners in any industry embrace change, because they know that true progress can only be achieved through adaptation and innovation.

 

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” – Nadia Comaneci

5. They have a strong desire to make a difference

All great leaders, regardless of gender, should be kindhearted and giving of themselves. This is a trait that’s even more evident in great women leaders, in every field and from all walks of life. Truly successful leaders not only have an incredible desire to lead, but also to help others and make a difference.

The most successful female leaders believe in the value of paying it forward, and they practice what they preach.

 

“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” – Mother Teresa

 

What characteristics do you think great women leaders share?

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Talent Tribune, where she writes about people, technology and HR software.

 


The New Rules of Engagement: Individualization

Posted on November 18th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 3 comments

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

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

 

“I want, I need, I get”

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

 

I Want

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Get

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Photo credit

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

 


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

Posted on November 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 2 comments

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

 

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

 

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

 

A few important conclusions:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit

 

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


What Do Job Search Sites for Women Offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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