Closing Thoughts From #SHRM14 – Transformation

Posted on June 26th, by Jennifer Payne in SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

Transformation

The theme of the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference, and one that manifested in a number of ways throughout the course of the four days.  The keynote speakers touched on it.  Many of the concurrent and Smart Stage sessions reinforced it.  But the question is, did the HR professionals that attended walk away ready to assume a transformational mindset?

I found it encouraging that by design the programming of SHRM Annual seemed to promote the idea of transformation.  Of course the keynote speakers supported the idea, as you would expect they would; any good keynote will bring the theme of the conference into their message in some way.  Robin Roberts encouraged us to be grateful for what we have, but never stop striving for the next thing, for something bigger, and encouraged us to put ourselves in position for great things to happen.  Tom Friedman focused on our hyper-connected world, and how that changes not only how we work as HR professionals, but how that fundamentally changes our workplaces, the expectations of our employees, and the necessary skill sets for success going forward.  And David Novak talked about the need for HR professionals to start thinking and acting like marketers, that we are the keepers of the message of what it means to work for our companies, perhaps a mindset shift for many.

But beyond the messages of the keynotes, I also found it encouraging that many of the concurrent sessions focused on topics intended to facilitate a transformational mindset.  Sessions like Jason Lauritsen’s “HR as Social Architect” where he discussed the idea of building and harnessing not just the human capital of our workplaces, but also the social capital of our workforces in an effort to leverage the power of the collective.  Jessica Miller-Merrell discussed how we can use social media as a low or no cost way to engage and communicate with our employees.  And Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese demystified the process of working with HR technology vendors to effectively select and implement the right solutions to make our jobs more efficient.  All of these sessions had good sized audiences, which validates that HR pros have an appetite to learn not just about how to deal with the tactical issues that we face day to day, but also about these more transformative topics.

One of the biggest changes to SHRM Annual programming this year was the addition of The Connection Zone, and specifically the Smart Stage.  Now I may be a little biased since I was a speaker on the Smart Stage myself, but the concept itself was intriguing, and yes, a bit transformational for SHRM Annual….fifteen to eighteen minute presentations on a variety of actionable topics, programmed together in groups of three so that attendees could get a sampling of a variety of information within a one-hour timeframe, complete with Q&A with the speakers afterwards.  And many of the topics presented were focused on technology, discussions of current trends, or predictions for future trends.  I found myself migrating back to the Smart Stage numerous times throughout the course of the conference for the opportunity to soak in some ideas quickly and efficiently.  Perhaps this was the beginning of a shift in the way we present information in conference settings?

Though there’s still a lot of work to do to get us ready to handle the changes in our workplaces that are coming (and in some cases already here) as a result of advances in technology and the hyper-connected and transparent world in which we now live, I walked away from the conference excited about the shifts that I saw, and excited to help promote that transformational mindset shift among my colleagues and peers.  As a profession, I think we are beginning to take the right steps.  The question remains, how many of us as a collective body of professionals are ready to join in and make that shift?  Will you join in the shift?


What I’ve Learned Starting my Career: The Perspective of a Woman of the Millennial Generation

Posted on June 25th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 3 comments

Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.

There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.

My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.

 

Perception is Reality

One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.

The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.

It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.

 

Keep Learning!

I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.

Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!

 

Goals Matter…Sort of

As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.

I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.

In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.

With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.

 

Ask Questions

I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.

Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.

 

Conclusion

I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about.  She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.


Reporting In From #SHRM14 – Are We Ready To Transform?

Posted on June 24th, by Jennifer Payne in SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

We’re down here in sunny Orlando, Florida where the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference has been underway for the past day and a half.  This year’s theme is “Transform,” and it’s a theme that has reappeared and been reinforced numerous times already.

Preceding Robin Roberts’ opening keynote, SHRM CEO Hank Jackson took the stage with a call to action to attendees to champion the new and different.  With the technology solutions available to us as HR practitioners, we should be able to automate the administration of HR and free up time to think and act more strategically.  He also cautioned that out of everything in our HR toolkits, technical knowledge is just the start.  It’s what we can do with that knowledge going forward that will make the difference to our companies, and our careers.

Robin Roberts inspired us with her tales of optimism and grit in the face of adversity.  She shared with us her belief that optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use.  But she also encouraged us to put ourselves in a position for good things to happen, be willing to make necessary sacrifices to allow the good things to happen, and to dream big but focus small – the day to day details DO matter.  But what really resonated with me was the idea that it’s okay to be grateful and thankful for what you do have and where you are, but not necessarily content, and that we should ask ourselves the question, “Am I ready for something bigger?”  I believe that question should apply to each of us personally as well as us as a collective profession.

Tom Friedman talked about the marriage of globalization and the IT revolution as the most important event in the 21st century, and how that impacts companies and workforces alike.  We gone from a connected to a hyper-connected world in just 7 short years, and advances in technology will continue to change the way work is done and the skills needed to get work done.  He reiterated the idea that it’s not what you know or where you learned it that will matter going forward, but rather what you can do with that knowledge that will determine your success.  It will no longer be enough to say “I’m non-routine;” we will need to find our “extra” – our unique contribution that justifies our value.  As HR professionals, are we ready to guide our companies and employees (not to mention ourselves) through these changes?

As I listened to the numerous variations of this theme over the past couple of day, I have to wonder to myself…..are we, as a profession and as a collective body of HR professionals ready to transform?  I know I am.  Will you join me?

Stay tuned for more updates from SHRM14 later this week.


GPS Your Career: 3 Ways To Enhance Your Leadership Trajectory

Posted on June 19th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

We all know how important it is to navigate and manage our own careers. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or even when the best timing is to do it. Personal circumstances, boss’s opinions of us, and corporate restructurings all play a pivotal part in impacting the success of our leadership and career trajectory. Our tolerance for these external factors and how they impact our lives varies from time to time, but ultimately I believe we are the only ones who know what’s best; even if we have moments of being unsure of what move to make next.

Years ago when I was a corporate employee and ready to come back to work after maternity leave, I decided coming back part-time might be a good option to help me transition after having a baby. My boss saw my entrance back into the work force differently than I did. She actually told me that she did not think it possible to be both a serious career woman AND be a mother and suggested that I think about choosing which one of these was more important to me. After getting over the shock (and the potential unlawfulness of her comment), my tolerance for her navigating my career in this way was, as you might imagine, ZERO! So, I quit. I had no job, a 3 month old, an 18 month old, and was determined my career would resemble something I wanted and NOT something someone else wanted for me.

After managing through this unfortunate set of circumstances myself (ultimately not as unfortunate, as this conversation was the catalyst for starting my own business!), I learned many things. Here are three that helped me, and might help you as well, as you think about how to navigate your wants and your circumstances most effectively.

 

Pay Attention

Even though we believe our careers are ours to manage, if we work for someone else, we often find ourselves at the affect of our boss’s idea as to what career move is available to us or not. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from your boss and your boss’s boss. You need to start reading between the lines, even if you don’t like what you see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an executive tell me they gave one of their employees some pretty tough feedback, but when I check in with the employee, they say that nothing unusual or critical in nature was discussed. My conclusion is that most of us really do believe we have spoken straight and clear when giving feedback, but in reality what was said isn’t necessarily heard as we intended. As a result, we have to get better at reading between the lines and asking lots of questions to obtain clarity so we can better plot a course for our next move.

 

Navigate

Map out the path to the promotion, job, or title you desire and feel you deserve. No one wants what you want more than you do and no one will take the wheel for you. You are in the driver’s seat, but beware; this journey is not for weenies. You will need to stay alert, read the signs, and stay focused on your destination. It’s OK to take a detour or two as no career progression is traveled in a straight line. Keep your eyes on your destination otherwise it becomes easy to take too many side streets just waiting for “them” to change their minds and see just how talented you really are.

 

Re-calculate

To be fully satisfied in your work, you first have to decide what it is that you want, and then commit to having it in a singularly focused kind of way. It does happen, although rarely, that the Universe just guides and glides us along without effort towards our dreams and goals. Most of the time however, we actually have to do stuff to make what we want become a reality. It takes persistence, commitment and acting outside your comfort zone to obtain the brass ring you have your sights on. Have conversations with key stakeholders (bosses, mentors and a coach) as to what’s required to readjust your actions, recalculate a misguided direction you may have made, and to understand clearly the gap between where you are and where you want to ultimately be.

 

Summary

As you navigate your career, no matter how old or young you are, you will either head towards something you want or escape from something that’s not working for you, like in my case with my boss. Giving yourself time to think about your career progression actually allows you to work ON your career and not just be IN it. It is a smart thing to do and will pay off by putting you in the drivers seat over and over again.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Wendy Capland is known as one of America’s top women leaders on the topic of leadership development. As Chief Executive Officer of Vision Quest Consulting, Wendy has 25 years of experience working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals developing their most important asset, their people. She is the author of Your Next Bold Move for Women: 9 Proven Steps to Everything You Ever Wanted.  www.WendyCapland.com 


Maximizing Your #SHRM14 Experience

Posted on June 17th, by Jennifer Payne in SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

This weekend I’ll be heading to Orlando for the #SHRM14 Annual Conference and Expo.  Many of you may be joining me; for some of you it may be your first time, others of you may be SHRM Annual veterans.  No matter if it’s your first time or tenth time attending, I ask you this question: Are you maximizing your conference experience?

 

I’ve written about this topic in previous years, but I feel that it’s worth revisiting as I’m not convinced that even the most veteran of conference goers utilize the opportunities available as well as they could.  So here’s some of the advice I’ve given in previous years, with some new additions as well.

 

There is an abundance of information to be learned and knowledge to be shared at the conference, and what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it.  Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience?  I encourage you to consider the following.

 

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan out your schedule.  Review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value.  But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice.  Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session!  This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  And don’t forget to download the Conference App to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.

 

Challenge Yourself

Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone.  But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new?  This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job.  Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?

 

Don’t Try To Do It All

This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day.  It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames.  Allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.  And let’s face it, we’re going to be in Orlando where there are a multitude of entertainment options.  It’s okay to allow yourself a little downtime to have some fun outside of the conference.

 

Try Something Different

Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions.  But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value.  Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for what types of solutions are out there.  Check out the Connection Zone and some of the Smart Stage presentations.  Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you.  There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!

 

Network

Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days.  Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions.  Talk to people.  Make new connections.  You never know how valuable they could be some day.  Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events; they are a great way to connect with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!

 

Most of all, enjoy your experience.  Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!  See you in the Sunshine State!

 

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.


Employee Recognition and Discipline: The Keys to Creating and Protecting Your Corporate Culture

Posted on June 12th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 6 comments

What is a great corporate culture? Among other things, it’s that intangible something that motivates and inspires employees to do their best work, whether they are under the watchful eyes of management or not. But a great corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight. It must be consciously cultivated and constantly protected as one of the company’s greatest assets. After all, that culture—that unique “collective corporate environment”—is what drives productivity and sets an organization apart from its competitors. Being that creating a healthy corporate culture is essential for all businesses, here’s a look at two key factors—Employee Recognition and Discipline—and the importance of each in creating and protecting your corporate culture.

 

Employee Recognition

In many ways you could call employee recognition a culture within itself. After all, what better way to recruit and retain top talent than by being recognized as a company that knows how to recognize and appreciate its employees? It’s no wonder that employee recognition programs are becoming more prominent among small and large organizations, as they can help businesses create and protect a positive corporate culture by…

 

Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect

Proper recognition helps create an environment where employees are encouraged to openly share ideas and opinions because they feel that what they have to say is important to the company and appreciated by management. Good managers understand that recognition isn’t always about the pat on the back or some tangible reward. True recognition is more about employees being able to actively contribute in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, without fear of reproach or being shot down.

 

Fueling employee engagement

It’s no secret that engaged employees are happier employees. Recognition programs can help to fuel greater employee engagement by appropriately recognizing individual achievements, at the same time encouraging more of the same. The most effective rewards are specific to the task that has been accomplished. They are also all-inclusive, being distributed across all levels of the organization so every employee feels that they have a fair chance of receiving recognition. Rewards should also be delivered quickly with respect to the task or behavior that is being recognized. And finally, the more meaningful and relevant the reward is, the more it will fuel a corporate culture of happy and engaged employees.

 

Reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization

A corporate culture has the power to influence every aspect of an organization for good or bad. Employee recognition and rewards programs help to promote a positive culture by reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization. This is especially true of “strategic” employee recognition, which can spur innovation by encouraging employees to repeat desired behaviors over and over.

 
Discipline

Unlike the word implies, discipline, with respect to building and protecting a corporate culture is not about implementing and enforcing a cold harsh set of rules. Discipline is about creating the desired climate from the top down. It’s about management teams that are committed to:

 

Set and communicate clear goals

Employees respond well to management that clearly communicates corporate goals and expectations. Clear goals help employees recognize the specific roles they play in helping the company accomplish its objectives. In addition, clear and realistic goals, along with suitable recognition for achieving those goals, challenges and motivates employees to do their best work, which is what a great corporate culture is all about.

 

Model the desired culture

Think of a business with a great culture and you can be sure that the desired corporate values and expectations are modeled from top leadership on down. Practicing what is preached allows management to effectively discuss corporate values, principals and behavioral expectations with employees in an open and positive atmosphere. Plus, leading by example sets a true standard that employees will more willingly try to emulate.

 

Take action

Even the most motivated employees need managers to lead them to act. And they tend to respond best to managers who hold themselves to the same standards of excellence, responsibility and accountability that they ask of employees. Especially those leaders that actively and effectively recognize and reward employee accomplishments. This type of leadership is essential for cultivating and protecting a positive corporate culture.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finance. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching solid entrepreneur advice.


Heading to the Sunshine State! #SHRM14 Preview

Posted on June 11th, by Jennifer Payne in Community and Connection, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference is only about a week and a half away.  This year’s location is right in the heart of tourist mecca Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center, and runs from June 22nd to the 25th.  Once again, I’ll be heading down and reporting in as part of the SHRM Social Media and blogging team.

 

One would think that the location alone and general ease of travel from most points to the Orlando area could tend to draw quite a crowd, especially anyone with an affinity towards anything Mickey, Harry Potter, or anything else Disney or Universal Studios related.  But beyond the obvious entertainment value draw, hopefully attendees of this annual gathering of all things Human Resources will walk away refreshed and recharged with at least a few new ideas and a few new connections in their network.

 

This year’s general session keynotes, as always, are big name speakers who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends, and how we can be making a bigger impact not only as HR professionals, but as business professionals.  I’ll be highlighting key points from each of those speakers: Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, NY Times columnist and  author Tom Friedman, CEO of Yum! Brands David Novak, and Former First Lady Laura Bush.

 

I also plan to hit at least a few of the concurrent sessions.  These are where much of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners who are or have been right there in the trenches with attendees.  I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of those sessions as well.

 

One of the new and exciting components of this year’s conference is The Connection Zone, an evolution of what had been known as The Hive in conferences of late.  The Connection Zone is a place for attendees to come to well, as the name suggests, connect.  Within The Connection Zone will be the Smart Stage where 15-18 minute TED-like talks will be given on a variety of topics.  I’ll be joining in the fun and speaking on “So I’m a Time Starved HR Practitioner….Why Should I Care About Social Media?” at 10:20 on Monday morning.  Stop by if the topic interests you, or even just to say hi (there will be able Q&A and networking time after the presentations).

 

And of course, we can’t forget about the networking and social opportunities, which abound at a conference such as this.  One that’s not to be missed is the #SHRM14 Social Bash, happening Monday night at the Hard Rock Café at Universal CityWalk.  Back by popular demand after last year’s success, DJ Jazzy Jeff (yes, THAT Jazzy Jeff) will be once again spinning tunes at what’s sure to be the highlight of the conference social scene.  And what better way to get to know your new connections better than dancing and singing along to all of your favorite party tunes together?

 

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  Tweet along with the #SHRM14 hashtag; last year we managed to trend on Twitter, let’s see if we can do it again!  If you’re not able to attend, check back here throughout the conference as I’ll be posting updates on what’s happening, and what’s being talked about.  And follow the hashtag on Twitter for instant, real-time updates too!

 

See you in Orlando!

 

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.


Business Success Depends on Line Managers

Posted on June 10th, by Judith Lindenberger in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

According to research on what’s new in HR for 2014, “business success depends on line managers” (Mercer). Corporate executives agree. A paper published in 2006 by The Economist Intelligence Unit reports: “Thirty-five percent of executives in companies with revenues of over $1 billion spend 30 – 30% of their time on people management and another 35% spend 20% of their time on people management. In his autobiography, Jack!, former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, wrote that he spent half of his time developing his people.

In my experience, here is a short list of strategies that I have used to develop line managers:

  • Identify training needs
  • Create targeted training workshops that are interactive, include real-life case studies and role plays, and last just an hour or two
  • Conclude training workshops by asking participants what they learned
  • Start subsequent workshops by asking participants how they applied their learning
  • Facilitate weekly or bi-monthly peer coaching sessions
  • Create job rotations, apprenticeships, internships and mentoring programs
  • Provide 360 degree assessment and feedback
  • Offer executive coaching
  • Develop job aids such as checklists, tip sheets, wallet cards and flow charts
  • Provide a library of podcasts, books, educational videos and online training
  • Give leaders down time to think, plan and be creative
  • Encourage leaders to do volunteer work

I’m curious. What strategies do you use to develop line managers that are the most effective?

 

Photo Credit

About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.


Can Women Handle Business Better Than Men?

Posted on June 5th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

The old Mars versus Venus debate is back and this time it’s in the business arena. Traditionally, men have always had an edge over women in running businesses- more men own businesses and high revenue businesses are mostly controlled by men. So why ask this question? With many women rising to break the glass ceiling and proving that gender has nothing to do with success, it is indeed a valid question. Women are showing that they can handle business as well as men, if not better.

The rise of women in business: Why women are better at calling the shots

The last few years have seen a steady rise of women-owned businesses in the country. From startups to corporate giants, a number of women CEOs run companies. Business is no longer male-dominated. According to a 2013 report by American Express OPEN, women own 8.6 million businesses in America. Moreover, women-owned businesses have grown by 59 percent between 1997 and 2013 and this trend is set to continue in the next few years. As more women step into the business game, it brings us back to the question: Are women better at doing business? Here are five areas where women fare better than men, research has confirmed. All of them are important in the task of running a successful business. The findings may just about convince you!

1.       Leadership

Women were rated as better leaders than their male counterparts in a 2011 study carried out by Zenger Folkman Inc., the Harvard Business Review reports. Women score higher than men in most of the competencies critical in leadership, scoring high in qualities like taking initiative and pushing hard for results.

2.       Decision making

The fairer sex lives up to their name. Research shows that women bosses are fairer than their male counterparts when it comes to making critical decisions in the company. A study by the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics found that women leaders involved others in the decision making process and companies that had female board members were more successful, reports The Daily Telegraph.

3.       Financial emergencies

A 2013 HSBC study has found that men are more likely than women to touch their retirement savings when faced with a financial crisis. More women also considered economizing as a possible means of dealing with financial crisis, the study adds. Going by this study, women seem to be better financial planners, a quality that is vital in business.

4.       Credit management

A study by the American Association of University Women shows that women may just be better at handling debt than men, says a report by CBS News. While men and women are equal in terms of average credit scores, men tend to have bigger mortgages and higher incidents of late payments.

5.       Social responsibility

Women leaders are more likely to contribute towards activities that have a societal impact. The 2013 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth reveals that female entrepreneurs love to give back to their community, Forbes reports. Philanthropy plays a big part in the financial portfolio of women leaders, more than men.

An article by American Express further makes the case for women, citing five reasons on what makes women more effective bosses than men- they are better at communication, better at fostering relationships, have got stronger business ethics, they are more patient and better at triggering passion in employees.

Women have always excelled in the corporate sector, but their numbers in top positions have been dismal. But these studies show why women may be better business handlers and how they make more successful leaders as compared to men. Some of the findings may have come as a surprise- traditionally men have been more driven and forward in taking the initiative but women outscore them in these two areas!

It’s not just in the big businesses that women are thriving. Driving for growth is also one of the characteristics of women who own small businesses, the Hartford small business report shows. The 2013 study showed that when it came to small businesses, women displayed more desire for growth than men owning similar sized businesses.There’s also increased optimism in women owners who operate small businesses, the study adds.

As the future for women-owned businesses seems bright, one thing is clear: In a tough business environment, women are no less and the numbers are out there for all to see. Can women handle business better than men? I think you know the answer!

 

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About the Author:  Elvis Donnelly is a father of two who works from home. He is a voracious reader and like to keep abreast of current affairs on personal finance, technology and innovation. In his spare time, he loves taking on home improvement projects and considers himself a closet chef.

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What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. But Should It?

Posted on June 3rd, by Dorothy Douglass in Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

I have great opportunities to attend conferences both near and far from my home and my office and was lucky (pun intended) to fly to Las Vegas in April for a HRIS conference, and I took a few colleagues with me.  Plus I had some alone time, and added on a few days for some R&R.

Some lessons learned, and maybe worth remembering when attending a conference, or perhaps to use while at work….

  • Plan.  Take time to plan out your agenda – whether for a conference, for a meeting, or for your work year.  HR needs to think forward and become proactive.  We have a continued rep of being very administrative and reactive, when we might possibly more positively affect the workforce when thinking and acting proactively.  And sometimes, the best laid plans don’t work out, so gather a colleague, and simply,
  • Talk.  My coworker & I were in a particularly painful, boring session.  I convinced him we needed to take a walk.  And we proceeded to the pool area, in our business casual attire.  I then pressured him into taking of his shoes and socks and just dipping his toes in the water.  And we had a conversation.  We articulated our perspectives about HR, about the conference.  We coached one another. And quite possibly enhanced our work relationship through that conversation.  Which leads me to the opposite of my first bullet point.  Sometimes, you just have to
  • Be spontaneous.  Go with the moment.  It’s Vegas.  Get out there.  Invite conversations with (sane) people.  I talked with more one-on-one with conference attendees by striking up a conversation with them while waiting in line – at registration, for the elevator, at the pool, and at the lunch table.  And gathered a lot of valuable information. And yes, I AM an introvert.  Sometimes someone just needs to break the ice.  Good conversation and networking will happen!  To do this, you must
  • Make eye contact.  With the person standing next to you in line, with the hotel staff, with your server.  Find out your server’s name, and use it.  Smile.  BTW, if you get extraordinary service, anywhere, leave your HR business card with the payment, and a short note. “Thanks for the extraordinary service.  You were great today!”  You may never know how meaningful that was to someone, but isn’t it a great surprise when you are complimented seemingly out of the blue?  Pay it forward!
  • Network and never turn down the opportunity to connect with an old friend, colleague, acquaintance, a LinkedIn connection, or meet a new contact.  Networking is powerful, and connecting with others through work, school, conferences, &  social media may not seem important, but it can add value to you, for you, and for others you serve.  I met a race car driver and I got to see college friends I haven’t seen in 30 years.  I was very blessed on this trip – I feel richer for having made the time to connect.

Hmmm, these all sound a lot like coaching tips when interviewing candidates.  Don’t they?

  • Plan before the interview – that’s being proactive.  Read the resume and application, and plan the questions prior to the interview.  Be prepared – candidates can tell if you are not. Sometimes, you need to engage the interviewee through
  • Talk.  Interviewers should not simply read questions off a page and record answers.  Interviewers  will succeed by engaging the interviewee and making the interview seem more like a conversation.  Engage your team to greet the candidate & talk informally when they arrive.  (Don’t forget to get your team’s feedback afterward.)  And remember it is ok to somewhat
  • Be Spontaneous.  HR professionals do recommend using the same questions for all interviews for a position; however, there are times that an answer calls for spontaneity by asking a follow up question.  Or waiting, silently, for the candidate to form an answer.   And we HR professionals always recommend using
  • Eye contact.   We observe eye contact from the candidates.  We need to be sure we are practicing what we preach.  Not in a stare down, but while having a meaningful conversation, er, I mean interview.
  • Network.  Be sure to find out what the candidate knows about your company.  Understand and engage them to determine how well they network!   And perhaps they are sitting in the candidate seat because an awesome HR professional (like you) left their card for a great customer servant.  How cool would that be?

 

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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.