Is The Finish Line Really a Dotted Line?

Posted on December 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years.  Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams.  We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisors that these are the best times of our lives.  We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation.  This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman.  The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more.  Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on.  Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

  1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight.  There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

  1. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

  1. Be realistic:

Face reality.  Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

  1. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting.  Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

  1. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice.  If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

  1. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go!  Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!

  1. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life.  I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches.  Consequently I always get there!

  1. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………

  1. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stitch of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career.  Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary.  Something has to give!

  1. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey.  These may be people, places and things.  You cannot be all things to all people.  You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed.  Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation.  Trust the process.  Let others catch up.

  1. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:

You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most.  They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards.  All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle.  More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all.  I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!

  1. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet!  Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right.  I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career.  When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening.  I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends.  Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends.  I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales.  Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through.  Be open to them and let them in.  Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

  1. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children.  By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises.  Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

  1. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice.  (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying

or

“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me 

  1. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:.

When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.

You will survive.

 

My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won.  I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight.  There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge.  Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge 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.


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

Posted on November 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Leadership, Business and Workplace. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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. 1 Comment

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 Monster.com over CareerBuilder.com. 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, Personal & Professional Development, Career Advice. 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: Shutterstock.com

 

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.


Staying Cool, Calm, and Collected in the Summer Heat

Posted on July 23rd, by a Guest Contributor in Wellness and Balance, Work/Life Balance. No Comments

“Summer time and the living is easy”. That is the tune we all hope to sing in the summer, unfortunately this is not always the case.   Balancing one’s personal life with professional responsibilities can become even more challenging when work loads and work pressures continue to turn on the heat!

Here are my favorite tips for staying cool, calm and collected in the summer months:

  1. Clean up your sleep hygiene– Even the scariest case load becomes easier to face after a good night’s sleep. Cool down the room, lower the shades, cut down on your caffeine consumption and cut off e-mail checks an hour before bed.  (Drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help.)

 

  1. Take a breath– We all over react from time to time. Add heat, stress and a touch of overwhelmed to the pot and it becomes a real pressure cooker! Instead of blowing the lid off the top why not STOP and take a deep breath or two or count to ten. When challenges threaten your composure this will help get your emotions back in check.

 

  1. Embrace the Light– Let’s face it, we all work too late. The good news is that in the summer we can stay at our desks until 7:00 or 7:30 PM and still have an hour of sunlight!  Think of all the great things you can do with this extra hour?  Take a run. Meet a friend or loved one for a drink or dinner at an outside restaurant. Take a walk on the beach. Garden or simply sit outside to finish up your phone calls and work, (if you must!).

 

  1. Stay hydrated– Soda, iced coffee, and iced tea might quench your thirst but they will dehydrate you in the long run. If you are like me, drinking gallons and gallons of water is a drag! Throwing in fresh berries, lemon, or even mint can help water go down easier.

 

  1. Keep it light– Nothing slows down productivity more than a heavy, greasy breakfast or lunch. Keep fruit, nuts and raw vegetables handy to keep temptation down.

 

  1. Turn it up– Nothing lightens the mood better than upbeat music. In the summer months why not turn on Reggae, the Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet to lighten the mood in the office or at your desk.

 

  1. Take it outside– Instead of eating lunch at your desk why not grab a colleague and eat outside? If you need to work through lunch bring your work outside and handle a task that is less stressful.  Just being out in the fresh air and sunlight will help elevate your mood.

 

  1. Reconnect– Who have you been neglecting during the long cold months of winter? Summer is a great time to reconnect. Everyone is anxious to get out and enjoy the summer months.  Block time in your schedule for friends.  Summer months go by quickly. Blocking the time guarantees you don’t miss out.

 

  1. Disconnect– OK, you’re saying, now you have gone too far! This is the hardest suggestion but totally necessary to regroup and unwind.  Take a dedicated e-mail and cell phone break.  It does not matter if it is for an hour, during one meal, one morning, and one day or even just at the gym, detaching will do you well.

 

  1. Escape! Summer is a great time for a mini excursion.  Take a day trip to the wineries, the Hamptons, the zoo, the city, or upstate.  It doesn’t matter if you check into a local hotel and sit at the pool, getting away for a couple of hours or a day will help you rewind the clock.  If you can’t get away at least grab a good book and escape right on your couch or lounge chair.

 

  1. Pamper yourself. Self Care always elevates your mood, decreases stress and increases confidence.  Get a message, pedicure, manicure, facial, or try a cool new haircut.

 

  1. Layer it- Stress is bad enough, being overheated and stressful is even worse. The challenge of dressing comfortably in the summer is that every office, conference room or restaurant you visit is a different temperature.  You can be hot one minute and freezing the next!  Dressing in layers and carrying a sweater or scarf in your briefcase can help guarantee your comfort at all times.

 

Whether you adopt one or two of these suggestions or all twelve even the simplest shift in behaviors can bring about positive change.  Why not find a “Stress Buster” accountability partner in your office or professional network? They can help keep you on track and support you in turning these suggestions into habits.  Make it a great summer, enjoy, and make the most of the months ahead! Remember dessert spelled backward is Stressed,  always “Eat dessert first”!

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax 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, specialing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.


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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit

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

 


6 Key Components for Launching a Successful Mentoring Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit

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