Category: On My Mind

Integrity – What It Is and What It Isn’t

Posted on April 22nd, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Much has been written about integrity. In fact, in the hundreds of team meetings and board retreats I have facilitated, integrity is, seldom, NOT a team value. However, I intend not to focus on what we perceive integrity to be; yet, what integrity is not.

Let’s start with a common definition: Webster defines integrity as a firm adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. Here are a few examples, from real life, which I believe shine a bright light on what integrity is not.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • A person hears a fabulous key note or presentation; and they believe it to be so fabulous, they take portions of it – change a few words – ‘just to be honest’ – and begin to tout this as their own brilliant idea.
  • A person asks someone for a treasured family recipe. They don’t really want to give it; yet rather than to say no, they give it to that person – less an ingredient. (Yes, that has happened to me, and yes, it does happen….often in the South)
  • A person/s are exposed to an idea, a word, a term or philosophy which rings true to them, on which someone else has built their methodology and often their company. They think that term is so unique and powerful; they take that term, a few key phrases, and build their approach around that same approach.
  • A person has the opportunity to speak the whole truth about an issue – personally, socially or professionally – and they opt to tell the truth. However, they don’t tell ‘everything.’ They just tell portions of the story – they omit key points; most often swaying the point, certainly to their favor. (You know the drill….think about a sales person’s sales participation and their quest for sales credit/quota commission, think about sales/consulting methodology aspects – the consulting world is full of intellectual property wars – even social and political issues…..just turn on the TV or log onto YouTube.)
  • A person says one thing to you, another version of what they have said to you to someone else, and yet, another version to another person of the same story. I wish I had a nickel for every time that has happened to me in my life!
  • A person is newly hired onto a team from outside the company and that person begins a quick study on how to usurp the person that hired them in a quest for fame, fortune, and power. Discrediting, sabotaging, back-stabbing, hording of ideas….the list is long.

I have had every single one of these happen to me in my career … some in the past few months.

Many in big business will say: this is why we have trademarks, copyrights, and intellectual property infringement law; and this is learning to ‘play the game;’ survival of the fittest. If someone doesn’t ‘have it’ – then they are ‘fair game’. Sure, I ‘get it’ – remember, I lived in that world for over 25 years. It goes without saying that we must protect ourselves, our company, and our work product.

However, the issue I am raising is much more systemic in our culture. For I am quite certain there are many in business today who don’t share everything with their internal counterparts for fear of being ‘poached’ of the good ideas. I am also quite certain there are those in business who perhaps don’t lie by commission; yet lie by omission – just not sharing everything, just sharing ‘enough.’

Where do we think this behavior is taking us? To a constant shade of grey? To a moral stance that is our interpretation instead of one that is based on honesty and integrity?

So what, you may say? “That is life.” Well, I firmly believe that is wrong.

We have an obligation to own up to our responsibilities – and that means stopping this insanity of stealing and poaching and, not respecting one another as creators, individuals, contributors, and builders of our companies, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Two things to consider:

First: Be Impeccable with your Word. A fabulous book: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book became a ‘book of the month’ for many of my teams over my career. If you not have read it yet  – read it. One of the agreements is to “be impeccable with your word.” This basically means telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Often in today’s world, the operative word is ‘whole.’ Many just simply omit key facts or nuances. This is an interesting observation – just listen to national news, politicians, Fortune executives, Oprah, even personal acquaintances. It is amazing to watch the ‘spin factor’ and the power of just ‘omitting a few key facts.’ What is the whole truth?!

I will offer one personal test case of integrating this philosophy into life. With one of our most successful teams in a publicly traded software company, we used this book as a gauge for how we could grow and learn together as a team; and this book and particularly this agreement of ‘being impeccable with our word’ became our mantra. We were in the fast paced world of dot com frenzy, software sales and mergers, and greed was rampant. This agreement saved our team and company in more ways than we will ever probably realize. We were not always the most popular at the time; yet I know from the CEO through the ranks, we were the most respected and valued at the end of the day.

Second: Stop stealing. A person’s original ideas will always be more authentic, rich, and potent than anything they ‘borrow’ or steal. Period. A person can rationalize due to complacency, laziness, or their perceived belief that they can ‘take this idea and really make it come to life’ (yes, I have heard that one of late, as well).

What I would suggest is simply this: If a person loves the idea, thinks it had merit, power, brilliance, cache, etc., then simply get permission, give credit or notice to that company, and source the source. It is truly that simple.

Again, this conjures up ‘legal jargon’ and it certainly gives many an attorney a steady annuity stream; and yes, there will always be a need for the law. Yet, it does not have to be that complicated. Just give notice to those that deserve it! Also, folks, please realize that YOUR ideas will be so much more powerful if they are truly YOURS. That is the beauty of pure authenticity and the power of telling your story… not plagiarizing someone else’s.

This philosophy and principle of integrity starts with each one of us. One person at a time. A germ of an idea at a time. It does not have to be on a soap box, on the national stage, or even in a national court of law. It is in the small acts, small companies, and small businesses which have often set the stage for many of our greatest achievements.

  • We are responsible for protecting it.
  • We foster all ideas – ours and others.
  • We blow on all the embers of ideas of our fellow workers, our colleagues, our friends, our clients, our coaches, our partners….we don’t steal them.
  • We give credit. We give public and private recognition.
  • We make referrals expecting nothing in return.
  • We are frightfully honest – in all arenas.
  • We ask the questions of which we are afraid of the answers.
  • We own the answers.

We are impeccable with our word – written, spoken, acted – regardless of the consequences. That is what integrity looks like.

 

Photo Credit 

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


Keeping the HUMAN in Human Resources

Posted on April 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

My smart phone took the plunge yesterday.  Though it was just milliseconds before I fished it from the sink, it was long enough evidently for it to drown and it is now awaiting resurrection in a bag of rice.  Oh, and I’m over age 50 – that might be significant later in my saga.  Or not….

I quickly retrieved my phone, wiped it down, and took it apart, wiping off all the significant parts I could find.  I then had to jump in a car aimed for a full day seminar.  No rice in sight until later in the day.  Much later….

And as we plunged into this training session at precisely 9:00am, I thought, as a ‘mature’ (oh how I hate categorizing myself with that term) professional, I won’t even miss my smart phone.  After all, I have been in the professional world since before the fax machine.  Before the internet.  Before everyone – age 10 to 100 – carried a cell phone.  Heck, I’m of the generation who received resumes and cover letters through the U.S. Mail.  We sent hard copy memos, letters, and correspondence.   I would be just fine, laser focusing in on the seminar message and interacting with 20 awesome coworkers.

10:00. First break.  I reached for my purse to grab the phone, putting it back together in the hopes of that lively Android light would blink back.  Nope.  My colleagues around me kept up with work emails, personal texts, and some even took notes on their smart devices.  Not me.  Pen to paper, I was.  Deep breath.

12:00. Lunch time. Reached back again. “ Stop it, I don’t need that infernal thing,” I said to myself.  But what if there were an “emergency” at work? At home? And whatever would I do having to get through the multiple emails that were, undoubtedly, filling up my inbox? Deep breath, I  can do it.  i can go on without that electronic device.  I think, as a small headache began to come on….

The afternoon was much the same, and I won’t continue to bore you with my internal thoughts and struggles.  It is now the first FULL day without my smart phone.  I am in withdrawal.  Hello, my name is Dorothy and I am addicted to my smart phone.  I’ve had to email colleagues, friends, and family and let them know that in order to get in touch with me – they would have to pick up the telephone, or send an email.  How old-fashioned, right?

I actually got up out of my seat to go talk to colleagues and employees.  How thought-provoking!  Maybe this is my path this week – to remember that in my role as a Human Resources professional, I need to remember that I am dealing with HUMANS. I am HUMAN.  Face-to-face is not always bad, nor does it have to be.  It was not painful to get up and walk around the office and our buildings. Human interaction wasn’t bad.  A few people looked up as I walked by and even said hello.

We all get wrapped up in this electronic world, and a smart phone is really convenient to  keep up with work email,  & stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues.  It is easy to flip through Flipboard for news and Facebook for photos of those cute great nieces. Maybe though, just maybe, we could be better role models in the HR profession if we were out talking to people more.  In person. When it’s not bad news.

Hmmm.  Perhaps one of my future “stretch” assignments for my HR team will be for them to put down their phones, get up from behind their desks, and go talk to employees.  Just because….I’m old.

 

Photo credit

 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


How Mindful Are You?

Posted on February 20th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

As I was reading a recent issue of Time Magazine, I stumbled across a feature article entitled “The Art of Being Mindful” and it immediately piqued my interest.  The focus of the piece was an exploration of a fairly recent movement centered on learning to shift focus back to the present moment, a remedy for the fractured attention spans and constant multi-tasking that has become not only prevalent, but normal and even expected in our fast-paced, technologically driven society.  Though this idea is certainly nothing new, it seems in a world where there are increasingly more distractions and demands for our attention as a result of devices that allow us to be connected around the clock, more and more people are realizing the benefit of focusing on being mindful.

 

In fact, enough people have begun to see the benefits of mindfulness that there is now a growing industry surrounding it.  The article talked about “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) classes that people regularly pay hundreds of dollars to attend to learn mindfulness techniques.  In 2007, Americans reportedly spent $4 million annually on mindfulness related alternative medicine, a figure that will be updated later this year.  And there is even an Institute for Mindful Leadership, a Wisdom 2.0 annual conference for tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and numerous mindfulness and meditation apps available for our smart phones.

 

This fascinates me.  As I already mentioned, the idea of being mindful is certainly nothing new.  I recently began practicing yoga, and one of the key elements of the practice is focus on being present in the moment, most often by paying particular attention to your breath.  Yoga and meditation have been around for centuries, long before MBSR classes began to be offered.  What interests me most is the idea that more and more people are realizing there is a need to bring more awareness to being in the moment; that too many of us are multi-tasking to the point of complete distraction.

 

As HR professionals regularly interacting with other people and/or dealing with various people related issues, it would seem to be common sense that we would always be mindful in those interactions.  But are we?

 

How often can you honestly say you are totally and completely in the moment in your interactions with others?  Are you really listening, or do you find your mind wandering to the next task on your to-do list, or the next meeting on your calendar?  When you have an employee or one of your team members in your office, do you focus on the conversation, or are you multi-taking by reading or answering emails?  Are you likely to take a phone call if it rings in the midst of that conversation, or will you let it go to voicemail and center your attention on the person in front of you?

 

Mindfulness in interactions with others is important for all leaders, but in HR, when we’re often dealing with emotionally charged situations, it’s even more critical.  If you can honestly say that you are 100% mindful in all of your interactions, great – keep up the good work!  However, if you are like many of us (myself included) and tend to find your mind wandering and your attention everywhere but where it should be, I challenge you to consciously focus on keeping yourself more in the moment.  Bring just a little more mindfulness to the work you do each day.  It may just make you not only a better leaders and HR pro, but by truly giving undivided attention to the person in front of you, may actually help strengthen your relationships with those around you as well.

 

Photo credit 

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management 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.

 


How Dorothy Got Her Groove Back

Posted on February 18th, by Dorothy Douglass in On My Mind. 2 comments

2013 was NOT a good year for me.  In my head, that is.  Mentally, I felt burned out, disconnected, wondering if I needed to make a  professional change, and at times,  I felt frustrated in my HR role.  Twelve years (now starting year 13) is a “record” for me in any position.

In prior careers, I got bored, frustrated, fed up, or felt thwarted with career growth, and moved on.  Sometimes graciously, sometimes, not so much.  Hopefully I’ve learned from each of those other roles, and grown wiser as well as older.  Now having been in HR for more than 17 years has given me so much ability to look back over my own career and learn life lessons. I spent a LOT of time ‘inside’ my own head in 2013, struggling with potentially life-changing and career-changing decisions last year.

I feel like I’m back in the groove in 2014, and I feel more connected to the organization and more engaged in my job.  I cannot put my finger on exactly why or when that happened, but here are a few thoughts, perhaps ‘tips’ for others,  on my challenges from last year.

  • Don’t let your (bad, poor) attitude bleed over to your direct reports.  This is possibly the hardest thing of all for me.  I am pretty transparent in what I share with my team, and in my body language.  I’m not sure I fooled them, but they were gracious enough, gave me space, time, and the ability to work through my own head.  Which leads me to,
  • Put a great work team in place.  Select the smartest, most talented people you can, teach them what you want and need them to know, then set them free to chart their professional course.  Sometimes that will mean you need to let go, delegate more, or trust in their decisions.  Do this.  As early as possible after you become a manager.  This is critical to success, and most of all, it is my work team that kept moving forward , kept getting things done and getting results in HR, that helped ‘mask’ my bad year.  In short, they made me look good.  Even when I mentally was not very good.
  • Have other activities to keep you going.  2013 was the year I took on physical challenges to get myself out of part of my funk.  I began to strength train 2-3 times per week.  I also found a ‘safety zone’ in my family at home, where I knew I would go at the end of every day.
  • Talk about your challenges with someone.  Whether professionally with a life coach, or with a good friend.  In my case, as in many HR professionals’ worlds, I cannot share specifics of work challenges, but I do have close friends with whom I could share my general malaise.  They listened.  Encouraged.  Let me know I was indeed human.  And though I’m not generally a hugger, they gave me hugs – mentally, physically.  Often, when I needed them most.
  • Take time off.  We have a generous paid time off policy where I work – another perk one has to think of, when considering change.  I used my time.  Sometimes one day at a time.  And I planned for two weeks off at year-end.  In a very warm climate.  With my family.  I had this to look forward to as I plugged through my 2013.
  • Before you leap, step back and look around.  I was likely pretty transparent to many around me.  I had many colleagues stop by to check on me last year.  Just to “see how I was doing.”  Obviously, I must have been transparent with how I was feeling.  Looking back and reflecting, I have it pretty good where I am.   I have great colleagues, the very best team I could ask for, a great job with great benefits and perks, and even a really good boss.
  • Share, in a professional way, your career desires or work frustrations, with your boss.   Sometimes, it’s just having a secure outlet to share work frustrations that helps.  Sometimes, getting another’s perspective from their seat allows for attitude adjustment to happen.  I had a good discussion with my boss during performance review time.  I let him know that I sometimes need him to spend just a little of his valuable time with me.  That time alone, is very engaging for me.  I appreciate the confidence he has placed in me, his trust of me, and the value he places on HR in the organization.

I’m engaged in my work right now, and aiming for a great 2014.  What turned it around?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps it was the two weeks off I took near year end, and the full week I spent lounging in Key West with my family.  Perhaps it was inward reflection on what a great place I indeed work – and all the perks and benefits I have here.  Perhaps it was my friends. Perhaps it was the great HR team who figuratively carried me through 2013, when I couldn’t walk myself.   Maybe it was all of those things.  I think I have my groove back.  Let’s go!!

 

Photo credit

 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


What’s In A Name?

Posted on February 11th, by Shauna Moerke in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

Several years ago I did a post on this site called Love, Marriage, and SEO. In it I talked about how through marriage I had lucked into a great new name because I was, and still continue to be, the only Shauna Moerke on the internet. That’s awesome SEO (Search Engine Optimization) right there. I was so confident that I would never change my name again. Ah, to be so young and so naive.

Flash forward a few years and with a divorce and a new marriage under my belt and I found myself with a conundrum. As I mentioned in that previous post, all my time in social media and even my professional HR career I was Shauna Moerke. Now I could keep Moerke as my last name. That was always an option and honestly, it was the easiest choice. And that may have been what I would chose to do if it had been my maiden name. Now, call me superstitious or sentimental, but I did not like entering into a new marriage and keeping my name from a previous marriage. So once again, I find myself running the name change gauntlet as I try to figure out what to do now.

Professionally, the effect can be rather minimal if you are prepared. Make sure you start reaching out to your professional contacts, starting with your references first, to let them know of your new name. This also has the added bonus of getting you to check in on how your network is doing, which is something we should all be doing on a regular basis but often forget to. And as you start changing your name in all the important areas (Driver’s license, passport, social security, voter registration, etc) take the time to update your resume and order personal cards (as opposed to business cards, though you will need those too) with your new name that you can start handing out. It is much easier for others to get in touch with you if they don’t have to figure out how your new name is spelled.

Social media, well, that is a harder problem. I have a lot invested in the name Moerke. Not only is my blog’s name officially “Shauna Moerke is…“, even if I still refer to it as HR Minion, but my whole social media identity is linked to it. So for my social media piece, I decided on a compromise. My blog’s name hasn’t changed. My name on this site and on twitter hasn’t changed. On Facebook and LinkedIn I have Moerke as my former name right next to my new last name and I haven’t changed the link addresses on either. If you found me before as Shauna Moerke, you can find me still. But now you can also find me as Shauna Griffis too.

Oh, did I happen to mention that my new last name is also pretty awesome? It turns out that I am the only Shauna Griffis on the internet, a fact that my new husband was very quick to point out to me long before we made anything official. Gotta love a man with a great name and a head for how this social media game is played.

 

Photo credit

About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.


The Real Deal About Ethics in Action

Posted on January 21st, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

There have been many books written on Ethics over the years – including The Good Life by Gomes, The Ethics of Leadership by Ciulla, and a personal favorite, Ethics 101 by John Maxwell.

Frankly, as rich as so many of these books are, we often have a tendency to read them, even have the best of intentions to integrate the principles into our personal and professional lives; yet particularly when we are under pressure, these values are put to the test and we may fall short. We all know full well that it is better to tell the truth than to tell a fib and to be loyal rather than to cave under pressure. Most of us also fully embrace The Golden Rule: ‘of doing unto others as we would have done unto us.’ We are certainly not ignorant of the virtues of the spiritual truths, Biblical principles, and even the many current writings on these values.

Yet, how many of us are really honest with ourselves with how and when we practice our beliefs and values pertaining to ethical behavior? How many of us hold ourselves and our team mates accountable for modeling ethical behavior? What can we do to help each other hold fast to these principles? So, in addition to our own spiritual practices and support groups, what are a few additional steps we can take to truly exercise our ethical muscles?

I read a wonderful article in Talent Management a few years ago which really stuck with me. I am integrating a few points I read in this article by Robert J. Thomas – as I believe he had an interesting and pragmatic perspective. One key point he made, which I thought was particularly ‘spot on,’ was that none of these observations or exercises will work unless we are ruthlessly honest with ourselves. So, keep that in mind – only read further if you are willing to look in the mirror of authentic self reflection and be ruthless about what we find.

Step 1: Honestly evaluate our commitments to others.

At the end of each day, (or if you are really strapped for time, do this on a Saturday morning), think about all the commitments, approvals, obligations, and promises you have made. There will be many – as so many of us say ‘yes’ or ‘I will get that to you’ or ‘I will read that and give you feedback’ without even really thinking about it. We are trying to be supportive, polite, or simply not thinking about it being a real commitment. What happens if we don’t come through? What is the cost to ourselves and to the others to whom we made these promises? Some may say that this has nothing to do with ethics. I disagree. Again, when we say we are going to do something – regardless of how small it may seem to us – it is our word to another. Sure, sometimes we forget, get busy, and it falls off the radar; that can happen. The difference is when it does – do we follow-up, admit our mistakes, make it right, and make a commitment to ourselves to do better the next time? This is how we learn and grow. We observe ourselves, put a practice in place to be aware of our behavior, and from here we can improve.

Step 2: Create a personal “Board of Directors” and career support system

Most of us have support systems of some sort: spouses, families, friends, Bible study groups, civic groups, etc. However, how many of us have a pseudo ‘board of directors’ for our professional growth? Just like a corporate board, our own personal board needs to be chosen for their experience, knowledge, skill set, and unrelenting commitment to the company’s success (in this case the company is YOU). These people will care enough to shoot straight with you – even when their observations may not be what you want to hear.

My suggestion is that these conversations need to be deliberate, not episodic or social in nature. They need to focus on you, your adherence to your values, your foibles, areas for improvement and honest observations. So, what’s in it for them we may ask? Well, in addition to the fulfilling nature of ‘paying it forward’ which they will undoubtedly experience when helping another; we can also offer to serve in that same capacity for someone they may want us to help. This is the cycle of leadership – and this is just one step we can each take as a matter of practice going forward.

Step 3: Establish values which will stand the tests of crisis, challenge, and temptation

Most organizations spend days (and often weeks) establishing their value system. Often, these values end up on the bulletin board or a plaque in clear view for everyone to see and read. I wonder if we would really know what the values were within these organizations without the plaque. Would the behaviors the individuals (and teams) exhibit in the organization represent those values? That is the truth serum, isn’t it? The same is true for us.

We may espouse a certain set of values – yet do we live them? What values would our co-workers say we live? Are they consistent with what our families and friends would say? Are our values the same in moments of stress, crisis and potential conflict?

Imagine all the whistle blowers in the news…..do we have the backbone to truly live our values when we are really tested? Think Sherron Watkins (Enron whistle blower). Then think about Eileen Foster – the Countrywide whistle blower who was ignored and then fired for calling suspicious actions into question.  Finally, consider Katsuaki Watanabe, the CEO of Toyota, and all the other companies who had to face the realities of product recalls in recent years. What values and strength of conviction were represented in each scenario? What will we do when our ‘Tylenol moment’ happens? Will our values and ethics remain intact when we have to face the music? Establish values, declare them, and hold ourselves accountable to them.

From my perspective, in life and leadership, exercising ethics is a non-negotiable. As Albert Schweitzer (Civilization and Ethics, 1949) offers: “Ethics are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives us the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life.”

What I also believe is that without putting ethics into action any success we may achieve will be fleeting, unstable, and unsustainable – like a house built of sand. And we all know what happens to sand castles when the tides come.

 

Photo credit

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


My New Year’s Wish for HR – HR New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on January 2nd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments

2014.  It’s a new year, and a new start…at least metaphorically speaking.  As we look ahead at the promise that the New Year holds, all the possibility that lies ahead of us, it’s natural for many of us to make personal resolutions.  In addition to my usual resolutions, I have a few wishes for HR in 2014 too.  Here’s what I hope…

 

I hope that all Women of HR will start focusing on being better business people, rather than better HR people.  Let’s speak the language of business instead of the language of HR.  If you’re not well-versed in the business and industry in which you work, I challenge you to get there.  Start small.  Start learning what the key drivers of success are for your company.  Start recognizing the environmental factors that impact your business.  If you’re already pretty well-versed in your business, great!  But keep learning more!  Get out from behind your policies and start to figure out how what you do can positively impact business outcomes.  If you’re not sure where to start, find someone within your company who you look up to, who you respect, and who you trust and ask him or her to help you.  If this person is outside of HR, that’s even better.  Get outside of your HR walls and start to become known as more than just the person who has the answers to benefits or employee relations questions; start to become known as someone who can contribute to the success of the company in a variety of ways.

 

However, in our drive to be better business people, let’s also not forget about the people.  Once you understand the drivers of business success, think about how people strategies align with those factors.  Steve Browne on a recent episode of Drive Thru HR said “too often we jump to the business instead of the people.  We need to attend to the business through our people, not in spite of them.”  I challenge you to take a hard look at your people practices and policies….do they make sense?  Do you really need all of them in place?  Are they written to protect the business from the exceptions to the rule instead of in the spirit of believing that most people want to do the right thing?  What message are you sending through your policies and procedures?

 

Let’s all make a commitment to understanding how technology can make us better, more efficient HR pros.  My personal goal is to learn about one new technology solution per month.  I’m not committing to using all of them, and if fact I may use none of them, but I want to better understand what’s out there.  With that small commitment, by the end of the year I’ll have a better understanding of 12 new solutions.  By understanding the solutions that are available, we’re in a better position to understand whether or not the processes we have in place are making us more efficient or less efficient, and whether there might be a better way to achieve our goals.

 

Women of HR, what are your goals for the New Year?

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management 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.


Happy Holidays from Women of HR

Posted on December 24th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments

In the spirit of the holidays, Women of HR is taking some time off to enjoy the season with our family and friends.

Thank you to all of our readers for coming back again and again throughout the year. You help to make our community what it is.   We appreciate you, and wish you all the best throughout the season and into the New Year!

See you in 2014!


The Trailing Spouse: To Be or Not To Be??

Posted on December 5th, by Tamkara Adun in Career Transitions, On My Mind. 2 comments

The Wikipedia describes a Trailing Spouse as “a person who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment.”

It goes further to explain that the life of The Trailing Spouse is fraught with many challenges that may impact on their personal and professional lives. Challenges such as:

Professional Sacrifice

Family issues

Barriers to mobility

Work/life issues

Loss of identity

These are all very real and pertinent issues that Trailing Spouses face as their new reality and I can identify to some degree with some of them. However, I have often wondered at the adjective “Trailing”.  I feel a certain degree of discomfort referring to an individual or a spouse as “Trailing.”

Synonyms for trailing include: rambling, lagging, tailing, dragging….all less than savory adjectives for the word spouse.  In my mind’s eye, “trailing” paints a picture of forced followership, reluctant relocation.

It reminds me of little people on a leash, compelled to follow their care givers whether they would like to or not.

It signifies to me a lack of choice or say in the matter and I do not think it adequately describes or does justice to the spouses who have boldly taken up the challenge to leave the comfort and security of the familiar and move to a new location, experience new cultures, and thrive in their new environment, all the while supporting their spouses and oftentimes children in order to make for a smooth transition to their new way of life. That to me looks a lot more like Trail Blazing and not just “Trailing”.

Moving to a new location with no security of a ready source of income can be a stressful time, and a time of uncertainty… but it can also be an exciting time, an opportunity to use this block of time and do that which you might otherwise not have done. The possibilities are endless.

This is a call for spouses who have chosen to accompany their partners to pursue their careers abroad to have greater expectations for their expatriate experience. As you plan your upcoming move, there are 4 tips that might help make the transition a little bit easier. Please feel free to add more in the comments below.

Plan: It’s advisable to have a plan before you leave your home country of what personal goals that you would like to achieve during your time in your new location. You are not on exile so you are allowed to have fun with the whole expatriation process. It could be to learn a new language, look for a job within your field of expertise  (or even in another field of expertise), further your education, write a book or start a blog, or even take a leave of absence to spend more time with your family. As I mentioned earlier,The possibilities are endless.

Position yourself: If you would like to work in your new location, start your job search as early as you can. Look for opportunities within your network, take a class, learn the local language, do some research, and get informed. Do whatever is necessary to get you one step closer to your goal.

Persist: maintain a positive outlook, don’t give up easily…even when things seem to be happening not as fast as you envisaged. Also stay open to change and be flexible to opportunities that at first glance may not seem to align with your core competencies.

Pay it forward: Help someone else succeed. Offer the support you wish you got. Share your experiences and your new knowledge with others who need your expertise.

The key is to exploit the situation that you find yourself in and use it to enrich your life’s story.  Moving to a new country with all the excitement is a great time to reinvent yourself because no one has any preconceived notions about you.  This means you have a chance to start afresh and try to be that which you always wished.

Who knows what you would have achieved at the end of your expatriation in terms of self development, new knowledge of different cultures, and new relationships built that you would otherwise not have been exposed to.

Besides, why be a trailing spouse when you could be a Blazing Spouse or better yet a Trail Blazer?

 

Photo credit

About the Author: Tamkara currently lives in The Hague and is currently taking time off from her day job in Procurement and Sourcing to pursue an MBA. She will be spending the next few months studying, blogging and learning Dutch. You can connect with her on twitter @tamkara  or find out what she’s up to at www.naijaexpatinholland.com.


Why Engagement is the Wrong Word

Posted on December 3rd, by Bonni Titgemeyer in On My Mind, Wellness and Balance. 13 comments

I was engaged once.  It was 1988 and in between a course of sweetbreads and lamb at the Millcroft Inn in Alton, Ontario, the blue-eyed guy across from me popped the question.  I looked at the ring, and I looked at him, and I said, “yes”.  In other words, I said (on the inside), “I find you very attractive, I have no idea how this story might end, but yes, I think there are good odds here and I’m game to give it a shot”.  After all, we were very young, we had no money, but we had high hopes for the future. We set a date.

That’s engagement.

During engagement, you buy an expensive dress you’ll never wear again, and you fuss over the strange details of a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime ceremony.  You drive your friends and family crazy.  Then once the engagement is over and you’ve settled in, you find true happiness.

I’ve thought about this as it relates to the workplace.

Do we need engagement?  Or do we need that sense of settling in and happiness?

I think it is the latter.

I’m not sure we are at our best during the engagement.  There are reasons why there are TV shows about bridezillas. There is frenzied anticipation and many, many details.  There are a lot of things to balance, with time always seeming to be at a premium. Our goal is to have a lovely wedding. We fret at not being able to see much beyond that day.  It is when the engagement is over that we have a routine and new goals and a longer-term outlook.  We fall more deeply in love with our spouse. That’s happiness.

I fully realize that not everyone on the engagement bandwagon agrees with me.  They argue that an engaged employee is not necessarily a happy employee and they argue that a happy employee may be happy because their work isn’t challenging, which doesn’t benefit the business.  Ok, fair enough.  That said, perhaps I’m being overly technical but the definition of engagement does not include the word motivation (in fact, appointment is a synonym for engagement).  Ultimately, motivation is another positive side effect of being settled in to a role where you have confidence. Again, during engagement you are not settled in yet.

So how can you achieve a workplace full of happy people?  Try these strategies:

  1. Find ways to include your employees in long-term planning.  So often we set short-term goals in our planning without thinking about how this contributes to the big picture.  The more employees can see themselves in your organization 3, 5, 7 years down the road, the more likely they will contribute in ways that will ensure the organization is sustainable.
  2. Love your organization.  Love your employees. I’m talking to you HR. Some of the best organizations out there have amazing programs not only for current employees but also alums.  Make it a family atmosphere full of positivity and mutual respect by focusing on programs designed to be supportive of the whole employee, at 24 and 64.  The workplace should feel safe and a place to find your centre.  This can’t happen in a place where there isn’t an environment of mutual trust.
  3. Lessen the distractions. People focus best when they aren’t surrounded by a myriad of distractions.  They’re happy when the details are set.  If that means organizing central pick up for dry cleaning, providing access to a concierge service or being more flexible about work arrangements, go for it.

If you think of your employees after the engagement, the onboarding, all that preliminary stuff, and make the workplace feel like an extension of home, you’re well on your way to achieving workplace happiness.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.