Category: Business and Workplace

Are We On The Same Page? Critical Skills For The Future Workplace #EWS2015

Posted on July 28th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study.  This is the first of the series that will be presented throughout the next several months.

 

As HR professionals, we know (or at least should recognize) that the nature of work is changing.  Not only are the skills that we are going to need our employees to have for our businesses to continue to be competitive going to change, but there’s also a shift happening in employees’ expectations of what they not only want, but what they expect out of the relationship with their employer.  As these perspectives, attitudes, and expectations of the workforce continues to evolve, it’s going to become increasingly important for employers to stay in tune with these shifts and strive for a better understanding of their workforces to help ensure continued success.

Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics regarding not only this, but other future trends as well.  According to the study, it’s skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, team building, the ability to understand and interpret data, and evolving technology expertise that employers believe are going to be most important going forward.  Generally speaking, our workforces tend to agree.  However, let’s put this in the context of the following points:

  • 33% of workers agree or strongly agree that their current job skills fall short of what will be required in future positions
  • Only 31% agree/strongly agree that they feel like their current employer has trained them adequately enough to keep their skills up
  • 35% agree/strongly agree that they worry a lot about falling behind in acquiring new skills that will be needed in the future

I find this a little alarming.  Employers feel that the skills they need from their workers are changing.  Employees tend to agree.  However, many workers feel like the skills they have now are not adequate for what they will need in the future, many of them also admitting that they actually worry a lot about falling behind, and only 31% feel like their employers are doing enough to help them prepare for and hone the skills they’ll need in the future.  Sure sounds like as employers we’re not pulling our weight, doesn’t it?

But wait, it gets worse than that.  Check out these stats:

  • Only 24% of employers think it’s very/extremely challenging in terms of cost to keep workers trained for future skill needs/requirements, and 26% say the same for keeping up with evolving training demands to keep workers’ skills up-to-date.

Let’s summarize….

Employers agree that required skills are changing.  Workers agree, but don’t feel like they are in a very good position to hone these skills, and that their employers are not holding up their end of the bargain in preparing them for what’s going to be needed.  Yet employers don’t feel like it’s very much of a burden to help their employees keep their skills up to date.  So what’s the hold up?  Why such a disparity in beliefs and expectations?  Why are our perceptions as employers so out of line with our employees?  What do we, as employers and human resource professionals, need to do to remedy this?

 

Implications for HR Pros

In light of these findings, here are a few questions I would propose we should be asking ourselves:

  • Have we really taken the time to examine not only the skills necessary for success in various parts of our organizations now, but also how they may change those jobs evolve? Have we factored in the implication of technology and how it could automate and/or make processes more efficient?  And how might that change the requirements of any given job?  What about the impact of data and how analyzing, interpreting, and leveraging it may change how we do business?  How might that not only change the existing jobs in our organizations, but also perhaps create the need for new jobs/responsibilities?
  • Have we clearly communicated to our employees how we see necessary skills sets changing, and reconciled that with how our employees feel they are prepared for those changes? Have we asked the opinions of those who actually do the jobs on a day to day basis how they see their jobs potentially changing?
  • If we don’t feel we have the necessary future skills sets present, what are we doing to remedy that situation? Are we providing ample training & development opportunities, whether they be offered internally or externally?  What processes do we have in place within our HR departments to assess skills?  How do we identify gaps?  Do we utilize tools such as talent review processes, career development planning, or individual development plans?
  • What are we doing as HR professionals to ensure that our own knowledge, skills, and abilities are up-to-date and future-focused?

 

All questions worth examining more closely, I believe.

 

Photo Credit

 

More About the Emerging Workforce Study:

The 2015 version of the study was conducted by Harris Poll, a Nielson company, between March and April 2015, and surveyed more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers on their opinions and attitudes around critical workplace topics such as recruitment, employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, employee advocacy, social media use, generational differences and work/life balance. Findings from this in-depth research reveal new trends, insights and impacts that are important for U.S. employers and their employees.  The survey offers great statistics and trend information for HR managers and businesses and points to an interesting, growing gap between employers’ and employees’ views, and also includes data that can impact HR strategies to increase engagement, productivity and retention, among other topics important to the employment life cycle and workplace.

 

Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Bereavement Leave FAILS When It Comes to Flexibility

Posted on July 14th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 2 comments

When you’re managing employees and they have a death in the family of someone who has been sick for a while and they have made you aware of the situation, what do you do? Worse yet, what do you do when an employee calls you on their way out of town to tell you that their brother was killed the night before by a hit and run driver?  They continue to tell you the reason they are heading out of town immediately, before any funeral plans are announced, is that their brother’s wife is in critical condition in the hospital.  The oldest daughter of her sister-in-law who is dealing with the loss herself and worrying about the condition of her mother needs help. The employee has no idea when the funeral will be, let alone where her brother’s body is at the moment, and what will come of the criminal case surrounding the hit and run.  What do you do when you take a look at the bereavement leave policy and it says “up to 3 or 5 days,” depending on location of the funeral and how close the deceased is to the employee?

 

Well this very thing happened to me, but luckily I didn’t really have a boss to report to other than cancelling one of the classes I was scheduled to teach and holding it online instead of in person. Thankfully, I had an independent contractor I could lean on for my outstanding consulting projects.  I’m not saying things didn’t get lost in the shuffle because I did miss responding to emails and phone calls for a couple months due to trying to stay caught up with what is current when I finally got back.  Had I been working a job that restricted the amount of time I took off, I am sure in many cases my job would be in jeopardy or gone upon my return.  Since my brother was dead, I would not have had Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to fall back on either.  My sister-in-law doesn’t fall on the covered list of “immediate family members,” plus she had her kids to take care of her.  So the boss would have had their hands tied on what flexibility they could lend to this horrible situation. Even the military exigency leave would not have been applicable, even though my brother did retire with over 20 years of service to the US Air Force.

 

The long and short of it is that I was actually out of commission, so to speak, for about three weeks.  Out of commission for me is that I physically was not able to be present for a typical bricks and mortar 9-5 job, but I did work while I was away through mobile devices, and was able to keep up with the critical parts of my jobs as instructor and consultant.  The problem is most employees don’t have that flexibility nor do their managers understand the intricate details of what the employee is going through.  That is why I am writing this post because I too would never have understood an employee having to be away for that long without actually having gone through it myself.  Perhaps if managers read this they will have an open mind and open heart to what the employee is going through.  A paradigm shift, if you will.

 

You see the following had to be done, and was done, with the help of my niece and nephew primarily:

  • Visit sister-in-law to see how she was doing and what I could do to help (repeat daily with updates)
  • Find the body and get permission to have it sent post autopsy to the funeral home
  • Visit the crash site to see how this happened in person and collect personal belongings thrown all around the site due to the vehicle flipping
  • Since the driver had not come forward, have a sign made and erected along the edge of the highway near the crash site asking for information
  • Participate in TV interviews and share them on social media to help get the word out about the vehicle the authorities were looking for based on eye witness accounts of the incident
  • Visit his workplace to get details going regarding final check, insurance, retirement and pick up his personal belongings
  • Research how to obtain a copy of the autopsy needed for the insurance and get his wife’s signature and fax
  • Meet with the funeral home to set up the local funeral, service back home, and burial back home (with many calls and email follow-ups)
  • Pick up his uniform and take to the dry cleaner then to the funeral home
  • Stop by the highway patrol office to get copies of accident reports needed for the insurance so the funeral could be paid for
  • Meet with the district attorney to get permission to obtain his personal belongings from the vehicle at the impound lot
  • Meet with the state trooper at the impound lot to see the vehicle mangled and retrieve all personal belongings
  • Research possibilities for transportation of the body from one state to another to include a military escort from the service to the grave site
  • Keep out-of-town family members up-to-date on progress so they could eventually make flight plans
  • Coordinate pictures and videos to be taken in all three locations for his widow since she was still in the hospital and could not attend
  • Go through his personal belongings at his home and garage to bring meaningful memorabilia to the funeral home for the services
  • Collect pictures from family members representing all 46 of his years to develop a slideshow for the services
  • Pull music that was meaningful to him for the background of the slide show and edit and reedit (multiple times) to work correctly
  • Attend the funeral, transport the body, attend the local service and bury him
  • Return to go through his things with his widow upon her release from the hospital so his garage could be cleaned out and mail sentimental things to his mother, brother and nephew

Now that is certainly all I can remember now four months out so I am sure I have missed some things.  As a manager you must not just see this list as a tactical “to do” list, you have to consider the psychological impact each of these tasks and toll it has on the employee.  For weeks I was go, go, go but a couple days after the burial, it finally hit me.  He was dead! He was never coming back! His killer is still at large! I couldn’t even get out of bed for two days straight.  I had to see a doctor to help me emotionally because it was affecting me physically.  Now how much time do you think all this should take? Three to five days is a joke and is not a one size fit all policy that will work for every employee situation.

Thank you for reading and I hope I make a difference in how you see a similar situation in your employee’s future.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.


Are We Ready For the “Future of Work?”  #SHRM15

Posted on July 9th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

It’s been just over a week since the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference wrapped up.  When I attend a conference that’s so large, so overflowing with various ideas, concepts, and best practices, sometimes it takes a few days for me to process what I’ve heard and learned.  One of the sessions I attended that I’ve mulled over for the past week was Lance Richards’ concurrent session on “Work 4.0: The Future of Work.”

There’s no shortage of these types of futurist musings of late, but I always find value in hearing various speakers’ takes on how exactly they see our workplaces changing moving forward.  There were two key concepts that I took away from this particular session.

 

The Untethered Workplace

As technology becomes more prolific in both our work and personal lives, we’re shifting into a world where work doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a specific location.  The concept of a “sit, stay” culture no longer resonates with workers who are connected via smartphone 24/7.  Lance Richards cites millennials as apt to sleeping with their phones nearby; the first and last thing they do each day being check work email.  I’m not even convinced that’s unique to that generation any longer.  Regardless, in a world where this is the norm, why do we get so caught up in where and when the work gets done, rather than focusing on whether or not it is?  If I’m handing work emails at 6:00AM or 11:00PM, why should I feel bad if I need to leave the office at 4:00PM?  Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we simply can’t afford to lose the talent that we have, why not consider moving the work to them rather than forcing them to come to the work?  If we have the technological capabilities to facilitate this, what’s the hold up?

The implications of this for managers is that it’s going to become essential that they, well….manage their teams more effectively.  As HR pros, are we ensuring that our supervisors and managers have the skills they need to more effectively manage remote workforces?  Do they have the necessary planning & organization, shepherding, and communication skills?  Do they have the ability to rally their teams around collective goals when their teams may not be all in the same place?  Do they have the skills to build effective working relationships when they are not face to face?

 

 Talent Supply Chain Management

The “War for Talent” is as ubiquitous of a phrase as any in the world of HR and talent; Lance Richards suggested that in reality there is no shortage of people in the world, however people does not equal talent.  The question is how do we convert people into talent?  In a world where 10,000 Boomers per day are retiring, and 6000 people per day are dropping out of high school, how are where do we find, develop, and retain the talent we need?  Richards suggested that HR pros need to become masters of talent supply chain management.  This could include better workplace planning through analytics; building better working relationships with local schools and colleges to help shape curriculum, ensuring that the future workforce has the skills we as employers need; building alumni networks and doing a better job of tracking what our former employees are up to; and learning to leverage “on-demand talent” – as we shift into a reality where more workers will deliver work on a more compartmentalized basis (i.e. performing various jobs for different companies concurrently), we’ll need to become better talent engagers.  We won’t necessarily need to own the talent, as long as we know where to find and engage it when we need it.

And that may require a completely different mindset about how we structure jobs, job responsibilities, and teams.

 

Some Final Thoughts

Though I do believe we are and will continue to see these types of shifts, and as HR pros we need to not only be aware, but also able to effectively leverage and adapt to these changes, I also struggle with how this plays out in all industries.  What about retail and healthcare, where it’s absolutely necessary to have certain employees onsite at specific times?  What about manufacturing?  When you have teams who are physically building or assembling something, there’s not as much of an opportunity for flexibility there.  

But yet the world continues to change, and people’s expectations about work/life balance/integration and the nature of work continue to change.  Even in these types of industries I believe we need to figure out exactly how we apply some of these concepts.  Maybe it’s not a remote workforce, per se, but are there other ways we can leverage flexibility?  And how do we leverage on-demand talent in these types of industries…. seems like that could be a natural fit in industries such as retail, where labor needs tend to fluctuate with seasons.

Moving forward, no matter what type of industry we work in, as HR pros we will continue to think bigger…about who constitutes our workforces, what they desire out of an employer/employee relationship, and how we sync that up with what our business needs require.

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Checking in From #SHRM15 – Back To Leadership Basics?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here’s what I took away:

 

You’re Great, But You Can Be Greater

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

 

Personal Accountability

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

 

A Culture of Caring

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

 

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

 

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

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 


Legacies

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Band ten HUT!

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About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


6 Key Components for Launching a Successful Mentoring Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.


Why Leadership Skills Should Be Universal Skills

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

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

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

 

Flexibility

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

 

Visualize Objectives

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

 

Critical Thinking

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

 

Delegation

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit

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


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

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

 

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

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

And we want to do something about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what now?

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

Photo Credit

 

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


Not Haunted

Posted on April 21st, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Last week I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans with a few friends.  New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in which to spend a few days, and I’d been there many times previously.  I love to wander the French Quarter, immersing myself in the sights, sounds, and of course the food of the Crescent City.  And for all of the times I’ve been there, it seems there’s always something new to discover, something unique that catches my interest.

On this particular trip, my friends and I found ourselves wandering down one of the cross streets a little bit away from the main hustle and bustle of the Quarter, and we stumbled across the sign pictured above, advertising an apartment for rent.  Of course we all had a chuckle and each of us stopped to snap a picture of it.  I posted my picture to Facebook with the caption, “Apparently here you have to specify.”

Needless to say, we (and many others, judging by the number of passersby who also stopped to snap a photo) were amused by this bit of information shared.  Was it a clever marketing ploy?  Perhaps.  A quirky tactic designed to draw the attention of tourists like ourselves?  Maybe so.

But here’s the thing.  Tourists like us probably aren’t particularly interested in renting an apartment in the French Quarter, so a fun bit of marketing to draw us in probably wasn’t the intent.  This sign was directed at folks with a real interest in finding a dwelling in which to reside.  And perhaps for those folks, the fact that this apartment is “not haunted” may very well be valuable information to consider in choosing where to live.

We all found it amusing because generally speaking, most of us don’t need to think twice about whether or not the places we live are haunted or not.  We were processing this information from our own individual perspectives, our own realities, through our own assumptions.  But in a city as rich in history at New Orleans, and with many well-documented accounts of hauntings (whether you believe in that sort of stuff or not), this information may not only be valuable, but also very necessary in making housing decisions.  And in fact, upon further research, one of our friends discovered that this is actually a pretty common piece of information to be included on real estate signs throughout the city.

So what does this have to do with human resources, business, or leadership?

How often in the workplace do we fall into the trap of making assumptions based on our own realities, without really digging into the real facts?

  • Do we tend to assume a particular employee or teammate is thinking a certain way….because that’s how we would think?
  • Do we assume everyone is motivated in a particular way or by factors x,y, and z….because that’s what motivates us?
  • In communicating with employees, do we tend to neglect certain details that might be important to others, because they don’t cross our minds as being important?
  • Do we assume that particular female employee wouldn’t want that promotion into that demanding role because she has a young family at home….and surely she wouldn’t want to try to juggle all of those responsibilities?

Instead of striving to understand differences and thinking from a more global perspective, do we tend to fall into the trap of viewing the world through our own lenses?

As fun as it was to stumble across this “Not Haunted” sign, it also provides a valuable lesson in leadership, engagement, diversity, or employee communications.  By making assumptions based on our own reality, we could tend to run the risk of alienating, de-motivating, or misleading our employees, our team members, our coworkers.  Before we jump to conclusions, it’s critical to take a step back, lose our blinders, and think beyond our own realities, lest we find our actions and decisions haunting us!

 

This post was one of several posts written using the same title and inspiration, but examining various topics.  You can read the other Not Haunted posts here and here.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


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