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.
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.
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.
Editor, HR Matters Magazine
P.S. If you know someone who might find value in this, please feel free to share this.
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.
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://
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.
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.
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.
Recently 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.
Even though we are still in the midst of summer, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to wrap up your personal development for the year. And one conference that has made its way on to my “must attend” list is the HR Technology Conference, this year scheduled for October 7th-10th at Mandalay Bay in fabulous Las Vegas.
HR Tech is a fairly new addition to my annual conference schedule, one that I had actually never even heard of before a few years ago, and certainly not one that I had really thought about attending initially. You see, I am, for all intents and purposes, a trench HR practitioner who in my day to day job does not have any direct responsibility for any “systems” work. If you are like me, you may be thinking that it’s not worth your time and money when there are other options for personal development. But you see, that’s where my thinking was flawed, and where my eyes have recently been opened. As HR practitioners, we should absolutely care about what’s happening at HRTech. And one glance at this year’s agenda and you’ll see that it’s so much more that a conference for “systems” folks. The truth is, technology touches every one of us in some way. Dabble in recruiting? There’s technology to help you there. Learning & development? There are solutions to make you more effective there. Wellness? Employee engagement? Recognition & rewards? No matter what your focus is, there are likely ways that technology can make you more effective and more efficient at what you do.
But it’s not just a place to go and demo systems. Sure you can do that if that’s what you’d like to do. But more than that, it’s a chance to learn from leaders in the space about what’s next; a chance to hear how real companies have used real solutions to solve their problems. A chance to listen to and interact with true visionaries with amazing ideas about what the future of the workplace might look like and how technology can enhance it.
And this year’s conference is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before. Three keynotes and several general sessions, including two versions of the “Awesome New Technologies for HR” – one for startups, and one for more established players. Concurrent sessions in TEN different tracks, including the new “Ideas and Innovators” track as well as the usual Recruiting, Talent Management, HCM & Workforce Planning among others. The Expert Discussions track where you can participate as part of a small group and interact directly with some of the more influential leaders in HR technology. And of course, the world class Expo Hall with 300 exhibitors covering every imaginable technology there for you to discover and demo.
There really is something for everyone. Technology has infiltrated every part of our lives, and it’s becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace. Why not give yourself an edge by being aware of how it can help you, by learning about the trends, by learning to think critically about how it could improve not only your own performance in your job, but the overall performance of your HR department, and your company?
And as an added bonus, as a reader of this blog you can use event registration code WHR14 for a $500 discount off the standard rate of $1945. Register HERE.
See you in Vegas in October!
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.
In this title, I am using the word "she" as a representative of any woman in the workplace and not at all thinking of any one woman in particular. However, at times I may bring to mind a certain woman (including myself) to make my point. So what made me write such a post? What do I think the answer to this question is? Why should we even care?
Well the other day a person I would consider to be one of the nicest college friends I ever had posted a quiz on Facebook titled "How Bitchy Are You?" At first, I thought now why would she do that? She's not even close! Although, her score was 52% which said she was a "Balanced Bitch". So a couple hours went by and without thinking much about it except to laugh to myself because I thought for sure my result would be much higher, I took the quiz. Now let me just say, as an educated adult, I do know there is not a lot of research that is behind these silly Facebook quizzes, but what the hey. My theory was correct and I did score higher by 10%, achieving the "balanced bitch" entitlement as well. Then another friend who scored only 23% took it. Honestly, I would have ranked both the friend that took it initially and the latter friend in the same category of friendliness (not bitchiness) due to my own personal experiences with them. Thus negating my trust in the quiz even further.
All this got me thinking of the use of the word "Bitch" in general and more specifically in the workplace. I remember as a young professional (YP), I was invited to join a ladies group called "Bitchin' Broads" and I was offended that they called themselves that and refused to be part of the group, because as a professional I didn't want to be associated. I felt at the time it gave women a bad name in the workplace. Little did I know at the time that in reality, if you simply spoke up, shared what was on your mind, refused to do something ridiculous, called others on their laziness, or anything that others might consider "crossing the line," that is what they called you (and still do). Why is that?
If you are passionate about something and convey that in the workplace you can kiss your reputation as the nice lady goodbye. Take on a supervisor, manager, director or above and actually not be afraid to do the job...life as you know it is over. Matter of fact, your most likely counter supporters are typically other women. I have had several women tell me that they preferred to work for a man than woman. With more women entering the workplace decade after decade and still not joining the numbers at the top as a majority like their male counterparts, is it because of this mentality? Are women holding women back just because they are too nice to appreciate bitchiness as a necessary competency for getting things done? Please note: I am not condoning bullying in the workplace. I consider that to be totally different and definitely inappropriate in the workplace. A bully is a downright jerk regardless of gender.
So, I know for a fact, I have been a bitch at times both in the workplace and in the volunteer roles I have held related to the workplace. When I posted my score and comment in Facebook "life can be a bitch at times and so can I. I'm sure many of you would agree! Ha! Ha!" not many responded and I know why. The truth hurts. It's not intentional and it's not something I look back on and am proud of all the time. However, it has been essential at least 75% of the time. Many do take it a compliment. Just look at these articles I pulled a quote or takeaway from related to my thoughts on the topic.
"The more of a bitch I am the more successful I become" http://www.forbes.com/sites/
"Stop saying I'm sorry - there is a time and place for apologies"http://m.contentfac.com/?url=
When it means making 18% more than your agreeable counterparts why not earn the bitch title? http://jezebel.com/stop-being-
And just in case you missed the Facebook Bitch Quiz, here's another you can take to see if you are one of the workplace "she's": http://www.gotoquiz.com/are_
Is the "she" in your workplace a bitch? My answer is "yeah, maybe" but is that a bad thing? Maybe not!
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.
Getting the most from your workforce has never been easy. Doing it in a way which gets workers to buy in to corporate values and objectives is at the core of the challenge.
Understanding and promoting your employer brand in ways which attract, engage and inspire employees to do more will set you apart from competitors. Identifying new challenges, benchmarking your branding efforts and creating an inspiring workplace will help your company gain that competitive edge.
The urgency of this challenge is not just about creating a culture of excellence and the associated ROI. Its more fundamental than that.
Rise of Generation Y and the Need For Better Engagement
The immediate need for an attractive employer brand which encourages loyalty is created by the new priorities and work cycles of Millennials.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the average worker stays at each job for 4.4 years, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is a little over half of that.
Generation Y’s preference for shorter tenure presents a big challenge to employers looking to retain and develop their top talent. For companies, losing an employee after a year or two means investing time and resources on training & development, only to see the employee go to a competitor before that investment of product and industry understanding really starts to pays off.
If workers can make a personal connection to their organisational culture and its identity, they will consider it as attractive or unique. This type of emotional connection will not only promote a strong sense of membership but it also brings a sense of loyalty to an employer that they won’t want to leave.
Creating Two Way Conversations
Cascading values and goals, investing in professional development and creating two way conversations will inspire workers to feel valued and promote a desire to repay investment you’ve placed in them.
Increased loyalty will, in turn, create a culture where employees are more likely to go that extra mile because they buy in to corporate objectives.
How Does Your Employer Brand Measure Up?
So how do you create the metrics to ensure your on the right path to engage with your employees and maximize productivity?
A good exercise to help you stay competitive and on track is to answer the below handy checklist. By going through these considerations, you’ll get an idea of how your employer branding initiatives measure up against best practice organizations.
Answer yes or no to each of the following questions and then total your score out of 20.
- We have created an employer brand strategy
- We have developed a social media strategy
- We have conducted research to determine the perception current employees have about our company
- We have done research to understand the perceptions prospective employees might about our company
- We monitor what is being said online about our brand
- We have identified the leadership competencies we aspire employees at all levels to have
- We have created a database of talented employees who we’d like to hire when the time is right
- We have got a careers section on our corporate website
- We have at least two of the following working closely on our employer brand strategy – HR/Marketing/Communications/IT
- Alignment to brand values is part of our performance management system
- We have an active coaching and mentoring program in place to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities
- We have defined our employer brand metrics
- Managers have access to a leadership development program
- We have defined our employer value propositions (EVPs)
- We have reviewed our EVP’s in light of the Global Financial Crisis
- We have an employee referral program which we promote to staff and stakeholders
- We conduct an employee engagement, satisfaction and/or climate survey at least once per year
- We participate in an external annual best employers and/or employer of choice survey
- We use an online system to automate our recruitment process and rank candidates against weighted criteria
- Each employee has a documented career development plan that is reviewed at least annually
So How Did You Rate?
0-5 = Very early stages
6-12 = A good start
13-17 = Some tweaks are needed
18-20 We are Employer Branding experts!
Better Branding and Bigger Results
Creating or developing an employer brand which considers the needs of a changing workforce, lowers staff turnover and inspires better performance is no easy task.
The benefits, however, can be huge. Developing strong company goals and showing your staff that you want to go the extra mile to help their professional development will pay dividends in the years ahead! That’s because understanding changing cultures, the role of communications and being able to benchmark initiatives will help your employer brand attract, retain and grow top talent and the leaders of tomorrow.
About the Author: Jilaine Parkes is a knowledgeable and passionate HR / Organization Development Professional with nearly 25 years combined experience in large, dynamic organizations and independent HR / OD Consulting. While holding senior HR management positions in Bombardier, Kraft Foods, Canadian Tire, Lavalife and Cineplex Entertainment, including a one year stint in Prague, Czech Republic, Jilaine has designed and driven initiatives in Business Planning, Leadership Development, Employee Development, Succession Planning, Performance Management, Learning & Growth Strategy and Team Chartering.
In addition to having worked as part-time faculty at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario she has also worked within the Fanshawe organization in the areas of Leadership and Performance Development. In early 2009, Jilaine partnered with Bruce Croxon (Co-Founder of Lavalife and a star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den) and launched an online Performance Management software company featuring the automated Performance Management module known as Sprigg. In addition to driving Sprigg’s expansion across the US, Canada and UK, Jilaine is an accomplished public speaker and facilitator with a humorous, very direct and down to earth style.
It’s been about a month since the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference in Orlando. By now, those of us who attended have settled back into the realities of our jobs and day to day life. We’ve probably filed away our notes and stashed our swag, but have we thought about what we actually learned? Have we spent any time at all considering how we can take some of the ideas we gathered and put them into practice?
One of the concepts that particularly rang true with me was the notion that Human Resources professionals need to start thinking more like marketers, an idea offered by David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands. Maybe I’m partial to this idea because my college degree was in Marketing, and though I’ve been practicing HR for over 16 years that marketing mindset has remained with me. Or maybe I just believe the idea is not only genius, but necessary in this age of social media and transparency. Either way, the concept really resonated with me.
I think that whether we realize it or not, Human Resources professionals have always been (or at least should be) more similar to marketing professionals than not. Marketing professionals promote the business brand to the outside world; HR professionals must be the keeper of the employment brand and the story of what it means to be an employee of our companies to both the outside world (potential candidates) and inside world (current employees). However, that line is even more blurred now, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of social media which allows nearly every employment related decision we make to be broadcast or challenged, and every claim we make about the reality of working at our organizations to be either be validated or debunked publicly. Everything we do within our organizations, decisions that we used to generally be able to keep tightly under wraps, can now be put on display for the world to see. Take the recent employee termination at Cracker Barrel, a story that caused quite a bit of an uproar on social media, and one of just many examples in recent years. Perhaps we’ll never be able to prevent these types of stories from leaking, and every good HR professional knows there are always two sides to a story with the truth usually somewhere in the middle. But good HR professionals should also realize that perception becomes reality, and with that we now also have the opportunity to be more proactive with our efforts, to assume the mindset of a marketer and shape the employment story that’s on display to the world.
Branding the Employment Story
Just as our marketing departments promote our business’s brand to the outside world, HR should be promoting our employment story to the outside world. And ideally, that story should align with the business brand so a cohesive, united message is being disseminated. Here’s the value proposition that our brand offers our customers, and guess what? There’s a similar proposition as an employee. A company’s social properties, both general company platforms and employment related platforms, are perfect places to shout out what it means to be a part of our companies. Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and groups, Glassdoor pages…good HR departments should be leveraging all of these to tell our stories. But it doesn’t stop there; if we are truly thinking like marketers, we’ll realize that our messages need to be part of an integrated strategy with our story being told in any communication we have with our potential candidate public, and that includes our career pages, every job posting, and even our message in any interview we conduct. We need to be promoting our employment story at every possible opportunity.
Ensuring a Cultural Match
A good HR department will also realize that promoting a great employment story is useless if our reality doesn’t match what our story asserts. There may be some debate as to whether or not HR really has control over the culture of a company, and though we may not be able to entirely create it, we can certainly guide it. We can do this through hiring for cultural fit; by advising and guiding our managers to make decisions in the spirit of our culture; and by helping our managers see that the culture they create within their individual departments ultimately plays into the overall culture of the company. It is generally accepted wisdom that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers; stories of bad employment experiences, typically attributed to bad managers, can permeate our employment brand through Facebook posts or Glassdoor reviews, making good old fashioned word of mouth sharing multiply exponentially. Human Resources departments alone may not be able to create a culture, but we can certainly be keepers of that culture; a collective conscience of the organization.
Engaging Our Employees in the Story
Ultimately HR alone can’t tell our employment story, at least not as effectively as it can be told. We can’t neglect the value of using our employees as brand ambassadors, or conduits for sharing our employment story. Those social properties mentioned before? It’s one thing for an official company or HR message to be shared, but how powerful when that message comes directly from your employees? What’s more believable – a slick, programmed message from a corporate department, or real-life stories and experiences shared by the very people living and working within that company culture every day? It again comes back to that concept of word of mouth marketing or personal endorsements, whether they be stories on your careers page, blog posts written by employees, YouTube videos featuring employees on the job, or positive Glassdoor reviews.
We’ll likely never eliminate all of the negatives, and we’ll probably never make every employee happy, but by thinking like marketers we can ensure that we’re leveraging and promoting all of the positive stories waiting to be told and buzz waiting to be shared about our organizations.
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.
Throughout the world there’s a huge gender gap in regards to business, and even in modern society women are still heavily discriminated against in the workplace. However, according to Inc., in the United States and Asia female entrepreneurs are both more innovative and more successful than their male counterparts. Here are the top three reasons why.
Women Take Fewer Financial Risks
A study conducted by the International Finance Corporation states that women are “less risky” than men. Taking fewer financial risks often leads to less debt and a slower rate of growth. Rapid expansion, however, can drive businesses into bankruptcy. This is because as expenses grow, so do costs, and they will often find themselves unable to cope with the demand. Women often prefer to keep their businesses smaller so they can focus on delivering a quality service and retain a better work/life balance.
A recent trend in this regard is the lack and women signing long term lease agreements for offices; and instead, opting for short term serviced offices. Unlike traditional office spaces – which often require a contract term of 3-5 years – serviced offices can be rented for as little as 1 month; provide services and facilities without overheads; provide a more prestigious working address; and most importantly, lower financial risk. Skyline Offices have compiled a case study exploring the benefits of serviced offices.
Women Often Seek Advice During the Startup Stages
70% of women who start businesses will seek advice prior to investing any time or money in their venture; and many partake in some form of government run business course. In addition, women are known to develop more thorough business plans and give their ideas more thought than men. Business leaders that prepare significantly increase their chance of success.
While seeking advice isn’t an innovative approach to conducting business, it can certainly help boost confidence and trigger more innovative ideas; especially in today’s remote working environment where high proportions of female entrepreneurs are starting new businesses online.
Women Place More Emphasis on Social Media
According to Forbes, women use social media a lot more than men; therefore, women business leaders tend to place more emphasis on social media marketing. It’s estimated that most female entrepreneurs invest roughly 79% of their online marketing budget on social media. While this may seem high; unlike other forms of online marketing, social media is a one-time investment because when a lead “follows” or “likes” a social network page or profile, they’ll be subject to free marketing in the future.
In addition to this paid traffic, Google looks favourably upon businesses that have an active social media presence and will reward them with higher organic rankings in the search engines. This can lead to a constant steam of free exposure.
Sadly, women are 18% less likely to believe that they can achieve success in business, which puts many talented individuals off the idea altogether. It’s going to take more than statistics to change narrow mindedness and gender discrimination; however, if women continue to yield successful results in the future, perhaps the faces of up-and-coming businesses will start to change.
Photo Credit: Jodie Womack
About the Author: Helen Wallis is a 30 something mum of one who enjoys reading and is a passionate blogger. Having worked in the big smoke for many years, Helen now enjoys a quieter lifestyle and indulges in her passion for writing and cooking.