The Little Girl’s Room

Posted on September 9th, by Robin Schooling in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

ladies roomNot that long ago I attended a social function with a mix of friends, acquaintances and professional colleagues. Not so formal an event that it required cocktail attire, it was also not something as loose-hipped and free-flowing as a tailgate party.

At one stage as I was exiting a conversational grouping I felt the need, as people do, to provide an explanation as to why I was extricating myself from the conversation.  So I opened my mouth and said “Excuse me; I need to find the little girl’s room.”

As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted to slap the shit out of myself.

Little girls’s room?  Really?  Did I truly just say that?  Had I just infantilized and downgraded every woman present?

But then I got thinking. Perhaps, like many other things, we can take the social stigma associated with the phrase “little girl’s room” and use it to claim our power.

Look…most every man is terrified of the ladies room; to them it’s a mysterious wonderland filled with fainting couches, powder puffs, and baskets overflowing with free feminine hygiene products. Pondering the possibilities of what happens in this sanctum is as perplexing to them as the female reproductive system itself.

But maybe we have an opportunity to turn this enigmatic porcelain-and-tiled bastion into a venue of power. I say we take a stand – in office buildings and corporate offices around the globe – and begin hanging out in the ladies room.  Let’s schedule meetings in there. Insist that a small conference table be set up in the lounge area; replacing the circa-1989 tweed couch that was provided as a resting spot for the menstruating gals.

We could rule the world if we insisted on conducting all our business in the ladies room. No boys allowed. Girls only.

The good old boys in the C-Suite won’t invite you to the annual golf outing?  Screw ‘em; YOU get to hang out in the LADIES ROOM!

 

About the Author:  With 25 years of HR Management experience, Robin Schooling, SPHR, has worked in a variety of industries. In 2013, after serving as VPHR with a Louisiana based organization, she left corporate HR to open up Silver Zebras, LLC, an HR Consulting firm.  She blogs at HRSchoolhouse and you can follow her on twitter at @RobinSchooling where, on football weekends, you can read all her #whodat tweets.

7 Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Balance

Posted on September 4th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 5 comments

Achieving successful work-life balance can very often seem like mission impossible. Busy work schedules often dictate lives of most people so much so that your personal time gets affected and can become limited.  For many of us we don’t even realise that we are not finding the time for ourselves and this can have an impact on us, mentally and within your overall health.

You are probably thinking that it is easier said than done, which is correct. We all have different lives, schedules and responsibilities – from the young professional working extra hours to secure the promotion, to becoming a senior manager who has mouths to feed and KPI’s to secure. Nevertheless we can all try and dedicate some valuable ‘me’ time for ourselves in order to see some great improvements when it comes to our work-life balance.

Incorporating any one of these seven tips listed below will bring you a step closer to achieving a healthy work life balance you so desire:

 

Introduce Skype meetings

Important business meetings can require a lot of travel, which could equate to multiple days away from home and the office. Today’s technology has made it possible for you to reach clients that are states and even countries away, all from the comfort of your home or office. Skype and conference calls are both ideal ways to communicating with clients, whilst saving you and your business time and hassle of travelling.

If a business trip is a must then using Skype would allow you keeping in touch with your colleagues back in the office and maintaining office relationships.  Even more you will also find Skype reducing your business’s travel costs, meaning the money could then be invested elsewhere.

 

Treat yourself regularly

Treating yourself regularly is really important for your sanity and health. Choosing to do something you enjoy will make you feel more grounded and relaxed. Allow yourself a 30 minute window each day where you do something for yourself. Things you truly enjoy, such as read a book, have a bath or cook a nice meal.

If you are a busy city worker, go into the local salon and treat yourself to an express facial. Alternatively you could always have a girl’s night in a nice restaurant or have a date night with your partner. These easy things will definitely make you feel happier and more relaxed.

 

Work from home

If you have a lunchtime client meeting you must attend, consider traveling to the venue from your home, as commuting directly will be help you cut down on travel costs. Another benefit of the many innovative technologies we have today is the ability to share documents and other information online. This allows you the great opportunity of working from home, yet still be connected to your office. Therefore, by utilizing this tool, you can cut down on the days you have to go into the office. This will also help you out on days when you are not able to make it into the office due to weather or child care, and will become a perfect solution to being able to access all your documents.

 

Set realistic expectations

It is a good idea to set your expectations for your life reasonably. For example, it is a realistic goal to aim to climb the ladder at work, become a good cook and keep your home running efficiently. However, it is not realistic to be working 70 + hours a week, whilst becoming a gourmet chef and keeping your home spotless – it just won’t happen. Therefore, to avoid becoming discouraged, it is smart to set manageable goals and not expecting yourself accomplishing superhuman tasks.

Remember you are just a human and it is not a crime to ask for help!

 

Be willing to alter your definition of success

Different stages of life call for different definitions of success. For example, if you have young children, you can feel successful if you get your kids off to day-care, get yourself to work on time and get at least a portion of your duties accomplished on any given day. However, if you don’t have children, of course you can expect more from yourself in regards to your job and your personal goals. In other words, your definition of success will likely change throughout various stages of your life, and that is okay.

 

Exercise on lunch break

According to John Ratey, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, exercise is the best thing you could do for you brain in regards to learning, memory and mood. Since exercising also leads to a fit body, incorporating it into your working day just makes sense. If you are not lucky enough to have a gym in your office building then fear not. Most fitness suites offer express classes during lunch times that are high intensity workouts lasting 30 minutes. If you would rather prefer a low impact workout, then try going for a swim.

Getting up and moving, somewhere away from your computer, will give you some fresh air during a hectic day, allowing you to concentrate, which will lead to a more productive workday.

 

Make sure your career choice fits your strengths

For whatever reason, many people end up in a career that is completely wrong for them. A person who hates numbers ends up working at a bank, or a person who doesn’t care for children has a career as a teacher. This career choice just doesn’t make sense. Therefore, if you have ever felt like your career choice just doesn’t match your strengths or personality, do something about it and find a career that fits you better.

If it is impossible due to financial reasons, consider utilizing your personality and skills taking part in volunteering activities outside of work. Helping others will allow you utilizing your gifts and give you a sense of greater purpose as you will be giving back to others.

By following the seven tips listed above, you will be on your way to a healthier work-life balance. Be careful not to set your goals too high, just half an hour to an hour a day can really make a difference.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author:  As a young entrepreneur and business blogger, Lucinda Smith has developed a passion for helping small and medium sized businesses grow. She likes to particularly focus on using technology and software solutions to save businesses time and money. She also contributes to the DNS managed print services blog.   

 


Vacation Strategies for Busy Working Women

Posted on September 2nd, by Amanda Andrade in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

Most professional women I consult with feel guilty about taking time off work for a variety of reasons. Some of the ones I hear most often are:

“I have so many responsibilities in my job that if I take time off it just means that when I return I have to work a mass amount of hours to get caught up. It makes the time away seem like it’s not even worth it. I end up feeling punished for being away.”

“I don’t want time away from work to hurt my reputation, jeopardize my position or impair my promotional opportunities. I’ve worked too hard to be perceived as not entirely committed or reliable.”

“I love being productive and informed. It feels like when I’m away from work for more than a day or two, I lose out on knowing what’s going on and it makes me feel out of the loop and out of control.”

“I need to save all of my time for the ‘in case of emergency’ or ‘sick parent/kid’ situations.” (Note: most of us need a cushion of time on the books for unforeseen emergencies, but saving all of your time isn’t healthy.)

The problem with this rationale is that we short change ourselves, our careers, and in the long run even our employer. If we neglect to balance our time at work by taking time off, we risk diminishing returns for ourselves and our organization. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Stepping away from the day-to-day activities of the job gives your mind an opportunity to dream, create and innovate, providing fresh new ideas for how to tackle your responsibilities when you return.
  • Women need to view their jobs from multiple perspectives. Vacation and relaxation is a vantage point that can give a person a whole new sense of self (both professionally and personally).
  • Burnout occurs when there is too much of any one thing in a person’s life. All work and no real play contribute to an inability to see beyond the next task at hand. It creates an unhealthy cycle of reactionary behavior (too much work – not enough time – not enough energy – more backed up work, repeat).
  • A temporary hiatus from the job is not just a nice-to-have, it’s essential to take time away from work to give your brain and body a break:

-Research shows that being constantly under pressure floods the brain with stress hormones, wearing down the high performance brain function that needs to occur at work to maximize our jobs and performance.

- Recent studies have reaffirmed that leisure time, including vacations, contributed to higher positive emotional levels, better coping skills, less depression and lower blood pressure.

- Women who reported that they vacationed less than once every two years were more likely to suffer from significant episodes of stress than those who took vacations at least twice a year.

So what can a dedicated, hard-driving business woman do?

Simply put, start small. Work your way into taking your vacation time by:

  • Try 2 hour vacation slots in the early morning, extended lunches or late afternoons.
  • Take half days during lower volume times (e.g. Thursdays and Fridays).
  • Build up to extended weekends (Mondays and Fridays).
  • Use vacation around the holidays or slow work cycles, when others are out too and business processes slow down a bit.
  • Take time off to volunteer with charitable organizations (you likely won’t back out of the commitment and you’ll feel good about yourself for having helped others out).
  • If you’re afraid to go cold turkey, then limit yourself to staying connected to your email/phone for certain periods of time while you’re out. Check in every morning and afternoon if you need to, but give yourself the rest of the day to disconnect.
  • When you get back in the office, pause long enough to acknowledge that even though there may be additional short term stress, the office survived and so did you.

Set your sights to build up to big:

  • Reserve time on the books in advance. Do whatever you can to force yourself to take the time off – buy the plane/train ticket far in advance, book a non-refundable hotel stay, create commitments to friends and family so there is an expectation of follow through.
  • If you can’t disconnect on your own, consider visiting a place that has limited technology reception so you are forced to really take the time away, to power off and enjoy. It will reinforce for your body and mind that time away is actually advantageous to your mental health.
  • Invite friends and family to your home or city for visits in order to obligate yourself to spend time away from work with additional people you care about (yes, there are so many people at work that we care deeply about, the time off is often for the others that we unintentionally neglect spending quality time with).
  • During your time off do activities that really make you happy and excited, or peaceful and rested. This will make the time away seem worth it.
  • Anticipate the break from work and routine. Allow yourself to really look forward to the day(s) off. The anticipation will help your brain get accustomed to the idea that time away is fun and healthy.
  • Understand that it comes down to this: what you mentally project about your work and time away is a strong component of what becomes your reality. Your personal perception of what you deserve is part of what you will project to your employer. Keep in mind that it’s appropriate to use the time that your employer gave to you as a benefit. Take the time and use it as an investment in your overall health and an investment in your professional self.

The final, and maybe most important piece, is to remember to put it all into perspective. At the end of our lives while many will be satisfied to have had a successful career, our most important reflections will most likely be on the big ticket items: the way we lived, the people we touched, the adventures we had, the friends and family we loved. Spending all of our time at a desk or wired up to others won’t afford us the experiences we need to minimize regret and to feel great about the lives we’ve led.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.


Reflection and Perspective

Posted on August 28th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments


I just returned from a short vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. Myrtle Beach is a place that I’ve visited many, many times over the years, both with family and friends. It’s one of the first family vacations I went on when I was a little girl, and it has continued to be a place that I’ve returned to over the years, through various stages of my life…as a kid, a teenager, a young adult on my first vacation on my own, and more recently with extended family, including my niece and nephews. 

The beauty of returning to somewhere that you’ve visited many times, at various stages of your life, is that it remains a constant – relatively unchanged – no matter how much your life changes from one visit to the next. So I find these periodic visits to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on those life changes. As I walk the shores of the beach that I’ve walked so many times, I have the chance to think about just exactly what is different in my life since my last visit…for the better, for the worse, and for the, well, just different.

But it’s not just an opportunity to reflect on what has changed since the last visit, it’s also an opportunity to speculate about what could be different by the next time. Each time I’m there, before I leave, I take a moment to enjoy a view of the ocean and appreciate where I am at that moment, but also to wonder where exactly my life might be by the next time I return. And each time I do that, I’m often amazed at exactly how much IS different since the last time…the people who have come into or left my life, the losses I’ve experienced, the successes I’ve enjoyed, the opportunities I’ve had both personally and professionally, the direction my life has taken…many of these changes being things I never would have or could have expected. And though many times change is something we can’t necessarily anticipate, moments like these can also serve as a time to reflect on what we KNOW we want to change in the future. 

What does this have to do with HR or business?  

In the hectic rush of our days, weeks, and years, I wonder how many of us take those moments to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go?  To really appreciate exactly how much we’ve accomplished over a finite period of time, and exactly what more we’d like to do over that next finite period of time? Many of us talk about “three year plans” or “five year plans” but do we effectively take time in the midst of those plans to stop for a reality check? To re-calibrate the plan as needed? Or to just stop and appreciate the wonder of the unexpected places that fate sometimes takes us beyond what we had planned?

What about you? Do you stop to reflect? Do you have a constant place where you can go to appreciate where life has taken you and think about the future?

And as HR professionals, do we encourage our employees to do the same? Is reflection, planning, and re-calibration part of our career planning processes?

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 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.

 


The Benefits of Work-at-Home Businesses

Posted on August 26th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

As of 2012, an estimated 13.4 million people were working from home. With fast internet connections, cloud technology, and free online phone services like Skype and Google Voice, it’s easier than ever for company employees and the self-employed to work from the comfort of wherever they want. If you’re running a business, there are plenty of reasons why you and your employees might be happier and more productive working from home. Here are six benefits.

No lengthy commute. According to US Census data, the average work commute time is 25.4 minutes. That might not sound so bad, but that’s close to an hour to get to and from the office, and many workers in large cities have an even longer commute. In fact, 600,000 US workers have a commute time of around 90 minutes. People who work from home are able to save time, gas money, and their sanity. Fewer commuters also means less of an environmental impact.

Fewer distractions. Co-workers on the phone, noisy printers, doors opening and closing… there are all kinds of distractions in a traditional workplace, especially if you work somewhere with an open office environment. Although home offices come with their own set of distractions, many people find that they’re more productive in the privacy of their house or apartment.

Fewer sick days. When you’re working with a large group of people in close quarters, colds and other viruses spread like wildfire. Allowing employees to work remotely, especially on days when they feel like they might be coming down with something, is better for everyone in the organization.

Less stressful environment.  Although many businesses still operate under the belief that their employees need to be monitored, most people are actually more productive when they don’t have a manager breathing down their neck. As long as there’s a way to hold employees accountable for getting their work done, letting them work from home on their own schedule can go a long way to reduce stress.

Opportunity to personalize home office. Sure, you can decorate a cubicle, but you have more opportunities for personalization when you’re working out of your own home office. And, thanks to sites like Sheepbuy and Craigslist, telecommuters can furnish and decorate their home office without having to go outside of their budget.

More room for creativity. Creativity is largely subjective, so it’s hard to say whether working from home helps, but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that it does. People who work from home have more freedom to pick up and move if they need inspiration, whether that means going to the coffee shop down the street or taking a trip to another country.

Better work-life balance. A survey presented by Microsoft found that the number one benefit cited by people who work from home is the opportunity for greater work-life balance. Working from home can be especially good for people with families, because with the greater flexibility of their schedule and an eliminated commute, they’re able to spend more time with their loved ones. And, of course, when people are more satisfied with their work-life balance, the quality of their work will be higher.

Telecommuting isn’t the best model for all companies, but if most of your business’s work can be performed remotely, it may be a good way to improve employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a work-at-home writer who frequently contributes on the topics of career and human resources. You can learn more about her blog writing and other internet marketing services at WeissRoessler.com.


Making the ‘Pause’ Compelling

Posted on August 19th, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind. No Comments

Our cups, plates, and lives are spilling over! Every day I meet with individuals, at every level within an organization, from the CEO to individual contributors, and the one common denominator is their lamentation of being over-stimulated, over-saturated, over-spent, over-extended, and over-scheduled.

Most are over achievers and thus, more often than not they find themselves in this situation by their own doing. Contrary to their initial quest of becoming experts in their respective fields, better educated, and ‘armed with information’, they actually become bogged down with more data and information that they know what to do with. This leads to the tendency of analysis paralysis of their newly accumulated intelligence, continued over-extension to achieve the ‘next rung’ which leads to the next, and the next, and the next! They become overwhelmed and under fulfilled.

This always leads to the proverbial dilemma: For the sake of what am I on this emotional business hamster wheel – and how do I get off? Or in some cases, more appropriately the question becomes: how can I become more in touch with my situation so that I can change my frame on the realities and subsequently manage my responses to them?

The answers are often as simple as the space right in front of our faces…..and within us.  The basic premise is this: creating pause in our lives can reconnect us with us. By simply taking brief pauses throughout the day, can and will have a profound impact on your life and work. When we pause – we breathe, we become more aware of ourselves, we become STILL. Breath brings our bodies oxygen, which makes us stronger, clears the cobwebs, and helps us become more cognitively effective. Yet, for some reason, we have a hard time SLOWING DOWN and taking a long, deep breath. Yet, when we do, we become undeniably more centered, aligned, and powerful.

What are a few things we can do to facilitate this state of PAUSE and reflection so that we may change our frame and create a state of alignment or ‘re-alignment’ in our busy lives?

 

1.  In your car, put down the phone and turn off the radio!

We can create our own solitude and ‘spa’ time while we are barreling down the freeway. I am amazed at how we want to fill every last minute, even the coveted ‘dashboard time’ with calling someone or listening to NPR. I am as guilty as the next person! Yet, if we take that time to simply breathe, process the information we read before we left the office, ‘sit with’ the latest interaction we had with our spouse, our co-worker, or even a difficult client….we give ourselves time to regroup, revitalize, and reframe.

 

2.  Take it one step further…..when in transition (physically or figuratively)….stay present and awake.

Transitions are the bridge periods in life. Whether these are the paces to/from the elevator, to/from the restroom, going through airport security, or as we pack up our offices at the end of the day. During these times, we often are talking on our headset or texting – to get every single ounce of energy out of that moment.  My suggestion: STOP DOING THIS!!

Try simply being present. Look around. Engage. Breathe. Observe. BE. Listen to your own thoughts. Heed the callings within your heart and soul. Those are the ‘whispers’ which Oprah has coined as her phrase for your inner voice. By simply pausing and becoming present and awake, you tap into your power rather than spending it on time-wasting distractions.

 

3.  Make time for Pause by creating white space on your calendar.

Despite your best intentions, ‘stuff’ will happen. Road construction, accidents, delayed flights, missed flights…..this is life. We have all been guilty of booking ourselves back to back with little time to even stretch our legs; this creates the perfect storm for chaotic stress. One small mishap, and the house of cards collapses. Yet, if we can build a little ‘white space’ into our calendars – on a daily basis – we enable ourselves the enviable ‘hall pass’ to life’s inevitable travails. This fudge room will become your most prized possession…and the trick is this: we own the power to create that white space. Do it!

 

4. Finally, get to know YOU…and be willing to let that be enough in this moment.

What brought you to where you are today? Are there patterns and trends from which you can learn? Give yourself freedom to be who you are – and watch, learn, and grow – in this moment. BE and let all things flow from there. Observe yourself – and be curious about what drives your behaviors. This can be such a revealing process.  I have personally found my own leadership executive coach to be incredibly supportive, and in many ways indispensable, in holding the mirror for me.  Also, consider keeping a journal. This may be a stretch for some – that is okay. Even if you only write down only one or two thoughts you have – when you have them – it is amazing how they will grow and multiply in your mind’s eye.  It is a great way to reflect on your day, the lessons learned, the observations of yourself and others and again provide meaningful pause. It is like living it ‘over’ in some ways – which is incredibly powerful.

The net point: Give yourself permission to PAUSE in life. This will provide time and space to ‘align’ with your core soul, which is your greatest source of power. Often, we must slow down to go fast…..so make that choice and then allow this new found energy to manifest into the world through your refreshed contributions.

 

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.

 


A Call for HR Practitioner Input!

Posted on August 14th, by Rowena Morais in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Though it is not typical for us to promote surveys on our site, we’re offering our readers the opportunity to participate in this one because it is specifically targeted at HR practitioners, and is being run by one of our regular Women of HR contributors, Rowena Morais.  Rowena’s publication, HR Matters Magazine, is an excellent resource for HR professionals, and we encourage you to check it out!

 

Would you like to discover key IT Learning and Development trends in 2015?

Would you like to find out the different organisational preferences and trends in the areas of learning and development, particularly, technology training? Would you like to see the kind of key differences in these training purchasing decisions across industry verticals or geographical boundaries?

If so, then the Key IT Learning and Development Trends 2015 Survey is just right for you. This Survey runs now till December 2014 and I’d like to invite you to participate.

But only if you are a HR practitioner… by this, I mean, either a Head of Department, director, manager or senior executive in HR or a HR sub-sector like change management, recruitment, training or OD, for example.

To get the practitioner input, all HR consultants, trainers, recruitment agencies, software vendors and anyone non HR are not part of this survey.

For 15 minutes of your time, you will get :
1. A one year digital subscription for 2015 to HR Matters Magazine;
2. This exclusive Survey Report once the Survey is over.

And whether you complete the survey or not, I’d like to send you two complimentary digital issues of HR Matters Magazine – a globally recognised quarterly magazine for HR professionals – just for the heck of it. Just email us your details (with the code TS2014) to get this sent.

All your personal information will remain confidential. I hope you will see value in this and take part, thanks for your time. More info on the survey.

Sincerely,

Rowena Morais
Editor, HR Matters Magazine

P.S. If you know someone who might find value in this, please feel free to share this.


How Can Women Can Be More Inspiring Speakers?

Posted on August 12th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Strong public speaking abilities can be a great asset. They enable you to express yourself clearly and confidently, getting your points across to the audience in a powerful manner. Good speaking skills give you the ability to persuade people to your point of view, and encourage them to take action. When you apply these skills to something you are passionate about, you can influence people and bring about real change. In our society, women need to be even more skilled than men in order to be excellent public speakers.

 

How can women prove a point in front of men during a public speech?

Women face a dilemma. In order for people to take them seriously, then need to be assertive without being aggressive. This is a fine line, however, and it’s easy for assertive women to be viewed negatively, with some in the audience deciding they are obnoxious or harsh. However, if a female speaker tries to be polite and ladylike, then they lose the power that a passionate, assertive voice can have. Men do not face the same problem. They can be as forceful in their speech as they want, without anyone deciding that makes them unmanly.

 

If you want to be taken seriously, and viewed as a strong leader, you need to be able to express your views forcefully in your public speaking. The “masculine” trait of assertiveness is required, for women as much as men. Studies of debates have shown that this is very important in shaping the decisions of who won the debate. Even though assertiveness may be deemed by some as inappropriate or out of place for a woman, it is mandatory for success.

 

 Women can be remarkable public speakers

In spite of the inherent difficulty, there have been some remarkable women public speakers who have delivered powerful speeches with passion and purpose. Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Thatcher are both examples of strong women who were excellent public speakers.  Michelle Obama also demonstrated her skills with a superb speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Unfortunately, some of the media paid more attention to her dress than to the content of her excellent presentation.

 

Hillary Clinton has faced this problem in her public speaking, too. When she was running for president in 2008, the media, the public, and other politicians sometimes criticized her as being “cold” and “too aggressive.” She didn’t have the warm, friendly demeanor they thought a woman should display. Her style of speaking relied on facts and figures, and she developed logical arguments in her attempts to persuade people. While many male politicians also use logic, facts, and figures, this style was viewed negatively for Clinton, and people said she was “shrill.”

 

Both men and women have different speaking styles

The key is that everyone has different strengths, both in their personality and their speaking style. Some are more analytical, while others are more passionate. Some appeal to reason, while others lean to emotion. Rather than forcing yourself to fit another mold, it is more important to build on the natural skills that you have.

 

As women struggle to find their way into positions of greater power in politics and business, they need to find a way to deal with this double standard effectively. Though more than 50% of the US population is female, only 17% of our members of Congress are women. Female leaders have been elected in other countries from the UK to Brazil and South Korea, but that step is taking longer in the United States.

 

How can women be inspirational speakers?

First of all, public speakers who are women can inspire other women. One of the most common subject a woman can approach is domestic abuse. This is a delicate and rather shameful subject to approach, but when an abused woman talks about her experience, she can persuade other women to take action. Many accomplished speakers come from broken families, and some have chosen this career path to help other women survive the horrors of domestic abuse.

Of course, there are other subjects women can approach in a public speech. Unlike men, women tend to be more subjective when speaking in public. They like to interact with their audience, they’re likable and they have the ability to draw attention faster than men through their looks, posture, and attitude.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Christopher Austin is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics like negotiation, speaking, employee engagement, etc. Moreover he is also writing for a site http://londonspeakerbureau.com/ which is world’s leading speaker and advisory network.

 


A Roadmap To Stronger Teams

Posted on August 7th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

Building a team is not easy, leading a successful one might be even harder. No reason to sugar coat it or make it seem like a piece of cake. Building and maintaining a strong team is hard work.

 

Having said that, does it mean that this is only a man’s job? Absolutely not. It is a true challenge for every leader in business, and more great women should take charge of their teams and face the exciting road ahead.

 

Whether in a well-established enterprise or in a small start-up, making your team stronger is probably the most important thing you can do to increase your chances of success. Unless you are one of 29,494 lucky ones that have been able to create a million-dollar one-person business, you need a team around you.

 

So, how to turn a great team into an even stronger one? How to leverage the assets that are already available and ensure that a strong team is built?

 

Practice supportive leadership

There are so many leadership styles and methods emerging that it often makes it difficult to take a stand on one style. What about returning to the basics and giving supportive leadership a chance? Professor Schyns has explained supportive leadership as a leadership style that is associated with a concern for the needs and well-being of followers, and the facilitation of a desirable climate for interaction between leaders and followers. Therefore, the emphasis is on the needs of the employees and increasing their satisfaction.

What is more, a research conducted by Schyns indicates that there is a positive relation between employee job satisfaction and supportive leadership climate. Employees are willing to do extra work for the leader if they feel trusted, appreciated and evaluated.

 

Engage your people

According to statistics, one of the biggest problems managers around the world face is declining employee engagement. A staggering 70% of workers are not reaching their full potential. Due to various distractions in the office, on the Internet, and in personal-life, it is increasingly difficult to engage the team. This is an alarming fact, and the best thing for every leader to do is to engage your people.

 

Engagement starts from supportive leadership and ends with little modifications around the office. The most important thing to do is to find out what your team truly needs. Whether it is a flexible work schedule, staying connected through remote locations, or reorganizing the office layout, there are always compromises that can be achieved which will strengthen engagement in return.

 

Align goals

Each person on the team has goals, and one of the best things you can do as a leader is to align their goals with company objectives. An employee who wanders without a specific goal needs immediate attention. Pay special attention to people that seemingly move in a different directions. The others need to understand the overall vision and see how each contribution will be a big step towards the company’s future. No one wants to deal with unimportant or irrelevant tasks that have no meaning whatsoever. So, give meaning to each task, even the seemingly unimportant ones.

Behavior that has a purpose is beneficial to everyone. Employees feel like their actions truly have an impact, and leaders enjoy the fruitful outcome. Ensure that each member of the team is on the same page when it comes to objectives, because without proper alignment chances of success are diminished.

 

Stay in the loop

Whether the team is independent or not, the leader needs to stay on top of things. One way you can achieve this is through the use of a weekly reporting tool.  This can give the team leader proper insights to everyone’s achievements, tasks, problems and happiness. The advantage is that you can get an automated report that sums up all crucial information and delivers it in one document. So, no need to dive into your mailbox and desperately pull out important information. By using online tools with the whole team, everybody is aware of the current situation and are able to collaborate when necessary.

 

An organization is all about groups of people moving together towards  a vision. If you are not directing a “one man’s show,” then building a strong team should be your number one priority. Stronger teams are not built in days, but through constant work and attention. At times you might find the road to stronger teams paved with obstacles, but rarely are we faced with problems that do not have solutions. So, be a supportive leader and do everything you can to engage your team. Keep an eye on the goals and make sure these goals are also obvious to the team. Always know what the team is currently working on and use the right tools to enhance their performance.

 

 Photo Credit

About the Author: Külli Koort is currently working at Weekdone, a  weekly reporting startup, where she is focused on introducing the easiest and most efficient weekly reporting tool to the world. She likes to write about time management, productivity and employee engagement.


The Grass is Greener When the Field is Mowed

Posted on August 5th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, Career Advice. No Comments

LawnRecently I was out for a walk with my husband and we decided to take a different path through the nearby school athletic fields. It was a beautiful evening and there were teams practicing and kids having a great time.

As we were walking, I looked down and I noticed that there was a distinctive line between an area that had been recently mowed and one that had not. You could tell where the unmowed area was because even though there really didn’t appear to be much of a difference in grass height, on one side all the flower heads on the weeds were still there. It was so apparent that I decided to take a picture of it and committed to try and find a way of incorporating this into a HR blog.

Here it is.

In the world of HR advice-giving, we encounter those who seem to want to bail because they think it is better elsewhere. Many of us offer the same advice to those thinking of leaving their workplace. . .the grass is always greener. . .

According to Urban Dictionary this expression “refers to the way we tend to look at other people’s lives and other things that we don’t have in general through rose colored glasses. Comes from the idea of looking at a neighbour’s lawn and seeing it as better looking, healthier and overall greener then your own when in reality you’re just ignoring anything negative about it and downplaying everything positive about your own.”

I agree that using the grass is greener expression is a good strategy for those thinking of leaving, but I think we have an opportunity to take that concept a little further. It is worth reminding people that all fields, green or not, have weeds of one kind or stage.  Some just haven’t had their flowers mowed off yet.

The ideal field is not uniformly green. In fact, if we accept some weeds and their flowers, we can avoid the use of pesticides. We can minimize the risk of land erosion because weeds help to hold in soil better than grass generally due to their longer roots. Weeds use less water than grass.

What goes on above the surface is just as important as below the surface. Or to put it in a workplace context. . .

The ideal workplace is not uniform. Don’t mistake gloss for perfection. Every workplace has weeds. It needs weeds. Getting the most out of those weeds is an important step for workplaces today.

 

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.