HR Tech Wrap Up: Overwhelmed and Loving It #HRTechConf

Posted on October 21st, by Jennifer Payne in HR Technology. 3 comments

It’s about a week and a half since the 2014 version of the HR Technology Conference wrapped up in Las Vegas.  I once again had the opportunity to attend as part of the social media & blogging team, my second time attending the full conference.  I continue to be impressed by the sheer size of the conference, as well as the variety of topics and tracks available.  It’s a conference that’s not just about seeing new technologies or new iterations of existing technologies available to help with our HR needs (though there is plenty of that if that’s what you’re looking for).  But it goes beyond that to offer insights into HOW various companies are leveraging the technology available to address their HR challenges, and WHY we, as HR practitioners, need to be not just aware, but knowledgeable enough to be able to make recommendations as to how our organizations can leverage existing and yet to come technologies to maximize the effectiveness of our employees and drive success for our companies.

I have to admit that I walked away from this year’s conference a little overwhelmed.  You see, I come from an interesting, dual viewpoint.  In my day to day job as it currently exists, I don’t have much opportunity to work with or make decisions about the technologies we currently have in place.  So to take what I hear and learn about at the conference and put it into perspective from a real-life, day to day, life in the trenches outlook becomes a bit of a challenge.  But as a blogger, and someone who is (at least I like to think) a big picture and future focused thinker, I’m fascinated by what’s happening in the space.  So this conference becomes a place where I’m soaking in as much as I can for my own benefit, while at the same time trying to pull it all together, step outside of my day-to-day responsibilities, and think about and share what I’ve learned from a much bigger perspective.  And that can be a little overwhelming, but in a very good way.

You see, that feeling of being overwhelmed is a sign to me that it’s critically important for me to be at this conference.  And it’s a sign that it’s probably important for many more HR practitioners, who are not that much different than me, to be there as well.  Because even though we might not be responsible for technology in our day to day jobs now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t become more knowledgeable.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make it our business to understand what’s out there and how it could make us more efficient and effective.  Maybe more of us need to take the reins in our organizations and help drive decisions about how technology could and should make our processes and functions better drivers of business success.

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to attend it, there was quite a bit of buzz around the conference and on social media about one of Jason Averbrook’s (Chief Innovation Officer at Appirio) sessions in which he offered this bit of advice and wisdom: “We are all technologists.”

Think about that.  What that’s saying is that as HR professionals, we have an obligation to understand technology.  We live in a world where technology is everywhere, and is constantly changing, and we have a responsibility to ensure what happens inside our organizations mirrors the reality of the world outside of our organizations.  And if we as HR leaders, and our HR teams, don’t have the skills to be technologists, we need to start teaching ourselves and our teams those skills. The HR Technology Conference is a place where we can come to ensure that we stay abreast of what’s happening in the space.  Is all of right for every organization?  No, of course not.  Do we have a responsibility as HR leaders to understand the key trends so that we can make informed decisions about what’s best for our individual organizations?  You bet.

Check back later this week when I’ll share some of the key themes I picked out from this year’s show.

 

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.

 

 


Technology, Smechtology

Posted on October 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, HR Technology. 5 comments

What does the word “technology” do to your blood pressure when you hear it?  How about “digital space?”  “Social media?”

Your answer may be different depending on a few things:

  • Your age;
  • Your geography;
  • Your career choice; and possibly,
  • Any expectations you’ve been given for using (or not using) technology.

For the record, I’m 53.  I’m an HR professional – I am in banking, now for 13+ years, healthcare for 5 years prior, and in small business for 7+ years, with an even earlier working stint in the public welfare sector.  I remember when the fax machine came out – I was ecstatic over the ability to move information faster, but had to wait until some of our vendors and clients “caught up” and caught on to the efficiency.  I remember when I refused to use a computer mouse – I told my husband, “why should I, when  I have all the function buttons memorized?”  Remember F1, F2, F3?

I remember calling my husband (he was so tech-savvy back then!) from work so he could teach me this thing called ‘mail merge.’  Once I had a staff of 35 employees, I wasn’t going to type and retype names & addresses in my quarterly employee newsletter.  And finally, did anyone delete all those requests back around the years 2002 – 2005 to “connect with your colleague Joe Schmoe” on something called LinkedIn?  Yes.  I did.  I deleted them.

I live in the conservative Midwest, and in a smaller community.  Hence, our population in general may be behind in the learning curve and usage of social media.  My age group is, too – I’m often frustrated because I seem to still have close friends (who live thousands of miles away) who refuse to use social media.  Any of it.  I occasionally get a phone call, “did you know that Susie is fighting thyroid disease?  No one told me, I’m so upset.”  And actually, Susie posted the information herself on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere in the digital world. Ce la vie.

At a recent round table of HR banking professionals in my home state, we gathered to discuss HR topics. One of our frustrations was our trade association’s change of communication from a list-serv email to their website.  To ask questions and share dilemmas with colleagues, we need to now learn something new.  And different.  And that is hard – for everyone.  We HR professionals had to take a (difficult) look in the mirror and do what we often coach others to do – get with the program, learn new technology, adapt to change.  Tough one.

I have to say, even for an “oldster,” I was surprised to hear that some of my HR colleagues still use paper applications when recruiting,  aren’t engaged in the digital space, and aren’t on LinkedIn.   I believe I also heard some of our collegial competitors still discourage internet usage and social media usage in the workplace.  For me, I found that sad – even freely stating that I was NOT an early adopter, and I am still fairly tech-UNsavvy.

I contend that for HR to earn that proverbial seat at the executive level table (aka the C-suite), HR professionals need to be disruptors.  Using social technologies can be disruptive and when learned and used in a positive way,  a change agent.  We need to question the status quo, make some decisions then ask for forgiveness, and we need to step up and lead.  Human Resources has been administrative – almost forever, right?  The “Personnel” departments of old were there to support operations, process paperwork, deliver payroll, file employee records, administer benefit programs, and write policies.

We still serve some of those administrative needs, but HR can be so much more to the organization.  We need to ask the question “Why?”  Why are we doing it this way, why aren’t we adapting new technologies, why don’t we invest in an HRIS?  From my small corner of the world, we can help drive cultural shifts and mentalities, albeit slowly, and often with much assistance from other business drivers.  Some of that comes from learning to use technology – it’s not going away.

Here are some ideas for HR professionals to consider:

  • Have an open mind to change.   Most of us no longer hand out cash on pay day, and many of us no longer hand out paper paychecks either.  We have electronic means of delivering pay, so why wouldn’t we want to move along that continuum with everything HR does?  From recruiting to performance management,  HR is getting electronically delivered out there in many places – more efficiently, and often more effectively.
  • Get social.  Take a look, in your off-time, at the social spaces out there.  LinkedIn is NOT just a tool people use for a job search.  Not anymore.  Ease into social media, one place at a time.  It can be overwhelming.  Join Facebook and just look around for a while.  You don’t have to post.  Same with LinkedIn – see what other HR professionals are doing in the social space.  There are a ton of HR blogs out there, many are fabulous to read, and provide good tips.  Seek out one you like and follow them for a bit to get a feel.

To move the Human Resources profession up, each of us has a responsibility to be continuous learners, and mostly, to learn to live in the digital spaces.  Good luck!  You can do this!

[One of these days, I might even get that blog started…. Yes, change happens slowly.]

 

Photo Credit

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

 


Ten Facts About Women in the Tech Industry

Posted on October 7th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

 

Men have always dominated the workforce, winning out over the fairer sex in both wages earned and positions held. Sadly, this trend is continuing in the tech industry today.

 

Even though Google has often been called one of the best places to work, it doesn’t appear to be for women who make up just 30% of their total employees. That number dwindles further to only 17% in departments that are specifically focused on technology.

 

Women seem to be fighting an uphill battle, but they are still climbing the mountain. Let’s look at ten facts about women in the tech industry that show both positive and negative figures:

 

1.  Women hold 51% of all professional occupations in the United States while only 26% of those are computer-related. While women are getting more white collar recognition, they aren’t gaining much ground in the tech arena.

 

2.  The CIO (Chief Information Officer) position with Fortune 250 companies is 19% female, but of the Fortune 100 firms, only four have a women as their CEO. Women are present in these companies, but not many of them are seated in the president’s chair.

 

3.  While women comprise only 7% of tech company founders, those led by women are have 12% higher revenues using 33% less capital. Those in top management roles are more successful than their male counterparts.

 

4.  Further figures show that twice as many women are leaders in successful startups over those ventures that failed or are failing. Women at the top in the startup game are again more successful than men.

 

5.  More than half (56%) of women in the technology industry leave midway (10-20 years) through their careers, but 22% of them go on to be self-employed in the same market. If you’re going to go out, then go out swinging.

 

6.  Men and women software developers start out with similar pay, but men have a higher upper range and end up earning more in the long run. Perhaps that is their motivation for women exiting the venture to pursue their own interests.

 

7.  The gender pay gap is less for computer programmers where women are down only 7%, but that is still better than some other professional occupations, where male lawyers earn 13% more and female accountants take home 24% less pay.

 

8.  Ethnically speaking, the numbers are very dismal. In 2012, only 3% of our computing workforce were African-American women, 4% were Asian and only 1% of these females were Latino. Adding race into this equation makes it even more difficult for the placement of women into tech fields.

 

9.  Even worse, these numbers are down from 2010 where 16% were African American, 9% Asian and 6% Latino. Let’s hope that 2013 and 2014 show more promise, but it is not looking good thus far.

 

10.  Facebook is mirroring that of Google and the rest of our leaders in technology, with a tremendous lack of both women and minorities in their employment diversity data. The overwhelming majority of tech workers are either caucasian or asian men.

 

Even though these numbers are depressing, thinly veiled underneath is the fact that women are more successful than men in the business and tech worlds. Take a second look at items three and four to see why businessmen should be taking a hard look at these statistics.   When leaving their tech positions, some women didn’t give up, they become self-employed instead, leaving their bosses behind and leading themselves down a better path.

 

About the Author:  Megan Ritter is an online business journalist and entrepreneur with a background in social media marketing. In addition to having a passion for technology, she also enjoys writing about business communications, globalization and online branding. Connect with her on Twitter.

 


Tech Tools Are Transforming the HR Profession

Posted on October 2nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, HR Technology. 1 Comment

Human resources is the driving component in any organization. HR professionals deal with the day-to-day tasks of every aspect of every employee’s job, and the task list is endless. Job description, wages, pay scale, recruiting and hiring employees, union conflicts, the list goes on and on.

But with the advent of sophisticated software, tools and apps, HR is more efficient than ever before. Here are some of ways technology is contributing to HR growth and development:

Employee screening software

HR software has made it easier to choose qualified employees. Screening software can take a company’s list of potential employees and company requirements for a job and, by using complicated algorithms, is able to screen and sort through the list and end up with the best matches for your organization, both locally and globally.

Mobile apps

Using mobile apps to track employees and the time they spend on their jobs is making the task much less time consuming for HR. There are now mobile apps to approve time cards, access pay stubs, track payments, and even check recruiting activity, all from an employer’s phone. Mobile apps can increase and improve interaction between employers and employees, in addition to giving senior management better and more direct access to the services needed for better decision making, reports the Society for Human Resources Management.

The Cloud

The cloud has completely changed the way companies store their data. With HR, this means not only being able to store and access data in a much larger capacity, but, if done correctly, having the ability to do so more securely.

Gamification

Using game-playing techniques in business to motivate employees is fast becoming the norm. Mariott has developed an online game that gives users a chance to assume the responsibilities of hotel management, and then gives virtual rewards that make the hotel industry more appealing to those users. The game is an excellent recruiting tool and encourages users to demonstrate their abilities and ignite their interest in hospitality as a chosen career.

HR can also employ gamification to train newly hired employees, reports Wired. Instead of having to sit through lectures, new hires can play games that inform them of all the things a lecture would have given them, in addition to giving them ways to interact with other employees in the company they haven’t met.

Video Interviewing

Hiring someone face-to-face (or through a video screen) can produce better results than hiring an employee based on his resume, which is why video interviewing is perfect for HR. If an employer has almost decided on a potential employee, video interviewing can make or break that decision, notes U.S. News & World Report. HR employers can require potential employees to send in their resume and qualifications via a video recording. Most smartphones have amazing cameras, so the technology is accessible to most potential employees. Also, a video interview can be conducted from anywhere in the world; it is not necessary for an applicant to drive or fly to an potential employer’s office.

Indeed, technology has taken human resources into a world that never existed before. It makes completing necessary tasks not only more exciting and efficient, but helps companies hire employees that are the “cream of the crop” of the industry.

Even with the successful advent of technology into human resources, though, we would do well to remember that it cannot provide the human component. Can technology evolve enough to compensate for the lack of human component? Only time will tell.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Lori Cline is a versatile freelance writer who covers a variety of topics. An accomplished and award-winning writer in various areas, she currently owns and operates a beauty, health, and wellness website and just released her first book. She lives with her daughter in the western United States.


Happiness vs. Complacency – #NYSHRM14

Posted on October 1st, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 2 comments

 

“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.”

 

This week I’m at the 2014 New York State SHRM Conference in my hometown of Buffalo.  At the time I’m writing this, we’re about three quarters of the way through the conference and have seen four of the five keynote speakers.  As you’d expect, and as is typical of conferences such as these, the keynote speakers had numerous what we would call “tweetable moments” – tidbits of information that translate very easily into 140 or less character tweets.  These are typically key ideas and calls to action, and if you search the #NYSHRM14 hashtag you’ll see many of them.  But amid all of the ideas shared by the speakers, I keep coming back to the one above.  This particular nugget came from Sunday night’s keynote Dan Thurmon, who entertained the crowd with his juggling and unicycling skills while encouraging us to live life “Off Balance on Purpose.”

 

I think this idea resonates so much with me because it’s something that is so easy to forget.  We get comfortable.  We tell ourselves that this comfort equals happiness.  But does it?  Is it happiness, or is it complacency?  I was reminded of Robin Roberts in her keynote at SHRM National this year, when she encouraged attendees to be thankful and grateful for what we have, but never, ever get content; always ask yourself if you’re ready for something more, something bigger.

 

The danger when we get complacent is that we stop challenging ourselves.  We convince ourselves it’s good enough.  It’s easy.  It’s routine.  We’re happy.  Right?  Right??  Or are we really just complacent?

 

In our personal and professional lives, in the midst of the frenetic pace many of us maintain, sometimes it’s just easier to be content with where we are.  Life’s pace can get tiring, and it becomes easy to say we don’t have the energy to push ourselves further.  It’s too much effort.  And besides, we’re happy.  We have the right balance.  But as Dan Thurmon reminded us, there is no such thing as sustainable perfect balance…and even if there was, it would get boring fast.

 

Are we happy? Is the illusion of balance really making us happy?  Or again, is it simply complacency?

 

When we’re complacent, we stop learning, we stop growing… we stop bettering ourselves, our lives, our companies, our personal situations.

 

Are we actually ready for more?  Do we deserve better?

 

Tuesday morning’s keynote Mark Murphy, author of “Hundred Percenters” aligned with this message by reminding us that “no great accomplishment happens within our comfort zone.” Great accomplishments are hard, require learning something new, and require pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.  We can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without effort, without pushing outside what we know and what we’re comfortable with, without stepping into a little uncertainty.  I think that goes for each of us in both our personal and professional lives.  Keynote speaker Jennifer McClure shared with us a personal story about how and why should “step out” – to face fears, uncertainty, and even naysayers and just go for it; to believe in ourselves and take risks to strive for bigger and better things.

 

Stepping out can be scary….but I think it’s worth it.

 

So I ask you, what are you ready to do? What are you going to change?  What are you going to stop just accepting?  As HR professionals.  As business people.  As humans.

 

How are you going to embrace possibility?

 

Photo Credit

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.


Technology and Data: Friend, Foe, Or…

Posted on September 25th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Technology, On My Mind. 1 Comment

I often draw inspiration for posts from articles in Time Magazine.  It’s fun at times to examine a trend or phenomenon in the world or popular culture and try to relate it back to human resources, business, or the workplace.  In the past I’ve opined about women as breadwinners and mindfulness in the workplace to name a few.  So when a recent issue of the magazine called “The Answers Issue” discussed the idea and ramifications of Big Data, I couldn’t resist.

 

Anyone who has spent even half a second following HR trends knows that Big Data is a hot topic.  Big Data, for anyone who may not be aware, is essentially the multitude of information available through our digital activities and habits that can be harnessed to make predictions about what we might do next….on the consumer side which products we might be interested in buying, movies we might like to watch, songs we may want to download.  Or in the case of human resources and recruiting, when we may be ready to make a job change based on social profile activities…even if we haven’t even realized it yet ourselves or taken any proactive job search steps.

 

The feature article in the Answers Issue, called “The Second Age of Reason” discussed information overload and how it is currently and will continue to make our lives better.  How we’ve become so much more efficient based on the proliferation of information right at our fingertips…that answers to so many questions and the collective wisdom of millions are all within our reach, as long as our smartphone is within reach.  Just as all of this data is available to companies to assist them in operating more efficiently, the answers at our fingertips can make more efficient and help us to make better, more informed decisions in a fraction of the time it used to.  More data equals better answers, in theory.

 

But then the author warned of the downside of this kind of data efficiency.  In discussing the marvel of modern dating apps and how they can make the whole process of dating more efficient…no awkward small talk with strangers at parties or bars, and algorithms that send seemingly great matches right to your phone…he also recognized that there was probably no algorithm in the world that would have matched him with his wife.  Perhaps a little randomness and chance from time to time isn’t a bad thing?

 

So what does this have to do with HR?

 

We are working in an industry that, like much of the rest of the world, now has incredible technologies available to help us do our jobs better, faster, and with more precision than ever before.  Predictive analytics solutions can help us better target potential candidates for our job openings, social recruiting technologies can help us source more (and better candidates), and all sorts of core HR and talent management technologies can help us track payroll, employee performance data, career development plans, or facilitate better employee collaboration and information sharing.  And for the most part, this is a great thing.  I love the possibilities that technology provides, and in fact I’m looking forward to once again attending the HR Technology Conference in a few weeks to hear about how other companies are utilizing the solutions available, the latest trends, and the exciting new developments in the space.

 

But, like the author of the Time article, I also offer this caution:  in our haste to leverage the latest and greatest technologies to make us better HR professionals, let not forget that at the core we are human resource professionals.  Let’s not become slaves to the technology to the point that we forget that we are dealing with people.  And those people are complex, and don’t always fit nicely into an algorithm.  Maybe the best candidate for a job isn’t the one that your ATS delivers to you, maybe it’s a friend of a coworker – someone who on the surface has relatively little direct experience, but upon further investigation, has some of the skills, is trainable, and is an amazing cultural fit.  And the answers or advice to give to an employee whose performance is suffering due to a complicated personal situation….that’s probably not found in a tech solution either.

 

I think the key to remember is to use technology to help us make better decisions, but not rely solely on it.

 

Maybe that’s why Tinder as a dating app is so popular.  It doesn’t rely on a complicated algorithm.  It doesn’t use twenty five factors of compatibility yet at the same time ignore human chemistry.  It simply matches people by a few limited criteria and simple proximity….and then lets the humans do the rest.  The technology facilitates the process of meeting…but relies on the complex human personality and spirit to determine success.

 

Let’s not forget that HR pros.

 

See you at HR Tech!

 

Photo Credit

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.


HR Sense: Born or Learned?

Posted on September 23rd, by Shauna Moerke in Career Advice, On My Mind. 2 comments

It’s been said before that the problem with expecting Common Sense from others is that common sense just isn’t that common. It’s kind of a judgmental statement, right? It almost implies that there are general “rules” for life we should be following but most of us aren’t. What’s worse is that there are a lot of people out there who like to put HR down by saying “It’s just Common sense”. For those of us who actually work in HR, we know how untrue and unfair that statement is.

Forget about common sense, let’s talk about “HR Sense”. I often get the chance to chat with people looking to break into HR and sometimes I am surprised by what they think HR entails. It makes me wonder, is HR sense something you are born with, or is it something that you develop over time? Now, some things you obviously can’t know without experience and study. No one instinctively knows how to handle FMLA or navigate payroll. But what about the less technical aspects of the job?

Can you teach someone how to be empathetic and approachable while simultaneously being firm and direct? How about staying calm under the pressure of a workplace emergency or assisting an injured employee? Can you learn the level of professionalism HR truly requires?

Important questions all. But ultimately, those aren’t the questions we need to be asking. Instead, ask anyone who has worked in HR for a while: What keeps you in the profession? What excites you about what you do? I can almost guarantee that the HR Pros who truly love what they do will make the answer clear.

A lot of people think they can do HR. It’s just “common sense,” right? Which is why you can’t focus on why someone wants to get into HR; you have to find out why they’ve stayed and how they’ve been successful. Only then can you discern how a person’s natural talents meld beautifully with the skills only experience and education can develop and hone over time.

So the answer is: HR sense is both something you are born with and something you learn. A person’s natural HR sense is what helps them take an interest in HR and lead an individual to learn more and improve upon their abilities. For example, a natural willingness to communicate effectively and professionally can lead someone to take a business writing class or join Toastmasters. It’s the ability to know what you need to improve upon and being willing to try. This is what makes HR sense something both innate and learned.

So for all you aspiring HR pros out there, don’t give up. Trust your instincts but be willing to work on your skills. It’ll not only make you a better HR Pro, it’ll help you maintain your passion for HR for a long time to come.

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

Five Initial Steps to “Changing Your Frame”

Posted on September 16th, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

As many companies and individuals face possible obsolescence or at a minimum becoming stale in their service offerings, their approach to their market, or perhaps in their own passions for how they are contributing, the concept of ‘reinvention’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Though this concept is certainly not new, this term has become a mainstay in our present vocabulary. Blame it on the Baby Boomers, who are seeking career longevity amidst the onslaught of the millennials and the ‘Gen X and Y’ populations. Regardless of the catalyst, reframing ourselves and our offerings – or perhaps just reframing the way we look at our companies and our own personal careers, has always been the key to survival.

Over the years, I have watched many mediocre business professionals carve out very successful careers by their ability to parlay their approach into attractive and ultimately lucrative options. No, these individuals are not the smartest nor the most successful in their prior roles, yet they honed the knack of marketing themselves. They have mastered the ability to show (and in most cases virtually create from nothing) a multi-faceted face – both in ‘real life’ and via social media – which puts forth the image they wish to create. Today’s social media enables these ambitious ones to paint the picture they wish to paint, associate with those they wish to align themselves online (primarily for the purpose of self-promotion), and to show only the sides they wish to show.  It is a fascinating phenomenon. Of course, as my father has always taught me: “If you see it, everyone else probably sees it, too”. Thus, these social media mirages are indeed, just that. So, if one does want to ‘change the frame’ on their careers – and do so authentically and anchored in reality versus ‘social media hype’ – how does a person get started? If a person wants to ‘reinvent’ their focus areas for contribution, or perhaps even their lives – how do they this?!

As mentioned before, it is not luck (in which I am personally not a believer) or plain smarts or even hard work that most commonly leads to uber success (success, by the way, as defined by the individual). Ultimately I believe it is our intentions fed by our energy – consistently and genuinely – which will lead to our success. So, what are a few initial steps we can take to harness our intentions and ‘change our frame’ as we build our ‘second or third acts’?
1. Know where you are today AND determine where you want to go NEXT.

While working with Dr. Noel Tichy over the past few decades in our transformational leadership work, we utilize a process which undoubtedly is one of the most impactful exercises for organizations to experience. It is the process of discerning ‘Our current state’ (facing the harsh reality of where we find ourselves today) and then, defining and projecting ‘Our desired state’, which is where we ultimately want to go. We can use this process for individuals just as we do for companies and organizations. The objective is to look in the mirror and determine – are we doing what we REALLY want to do? Are we good at what we are doing?  Are we aligned as individuals, or if we are part of a team – is the team aligned around where we want to go? If not – that is the first awakening. We must determine where we are AND where we want to go.

One last and critical note on this – the ‘where I want to go’ does not have to be the FINAL destination. So many times, we think and think AND think…..which leads to ‘analysis paralyses’!! Nothing in this world is permanent; so your next step will probably not be your ‘last step’. Make the move.  Forward momentum is how we determine if the direction is the ultimate ‘right’ direction!

 

2. Parlay your Gifts into the Market

This can be a tough step. Just because you love what you do AND you are good at it does NOT mean that anyone will want to buy it! What NEED are you filling? What is it that YOU offer that makes you different? Who are your potential clients….or hiring audiences?   Learning how to take what we ‘do’ and apply it to a void in the market is a critical success factor. AND, remember, what folks wanted to buy 5 years ago is not what they will want to buy today….unless it has been modified for the market.

 

3. Creativity coupled with Agility is Key

We have to hone the ability to ‘think outside and inside the box’.  It is hard to do this in solitary confinement! So – we need to build our posse of partners to help us. Retired executives, leadership coaches, prior professors, supportive customers, and even competitive business colleagues. Each will have a perspective or insights to offer.  We have to be willing to ask for help – and to hear the brutal, honest truth. Does the market value what I bring? Is my approach outdated? Do my clients want more – or different – services from me? What do I NOT know – that I need to know – to truly thrive and survive in the market today? We have to be open to the answers….as hearing them and then ignoring them – does nothing! We need to hear (and listen) to the market and then be creative and AGILE in how we meet them where they are.

 

4. Build a game plan and be FOCUSED.

Every business has a game plan (and if they don’t – they will not be around for long!). Every one of us, for our careers, needs a game plan, too. Sure – it will change – yet, to not have any sense of where we want to go and HOW we are going to get there – results in mere folly.  We need to lay out specific steps on how we are going to accomplish specific goals. Too many times, we become insular in our focus – meaning that we focus on stuff that will not REALLY move the dial. We need to determine where we want to go, what we want to contribute and THEN determine how we are going to get there. Then, become ruthlessly focused on these steps…..the other stuff is just noise.

 

5. Hang tight.

This is easy to say; yet, this is where the weak are separated from the strong. We have to exercise our muscles so that we do not give up too easily. As any company, organization, or individual introduces new approaches, new products and services, or a ‘new face’ to their markets and constituents – immediate acceptance and ‘manna from Heaven’ is not guaranteed.

 

There is always going to be a phase of education to the market; then a phase of ‘differentiation and selling’ and then – if we are diligent – we will secure our first proving ground. This may be a new job in our new field or a new customer for our new service offering or a product extension in an existing market. Yet, what I know for sure is that it will probably NOT come about instantly AND it will not happen without sweat equity. Yet, when we do ‘win’, our expended effort just makes our success that much sweeter.

My final thoughts are: we need to stop comparing this new chapter with the old chapter – good or bad. There is no comparison, thankfully. We (and the organizations for which we work) are a compilation of all our experiences, and this new chapter will be a completely new life in many ways. That concept can be quite liberating when we allow ourselves to embrace it. We need to simply embrace progress not perfection. Keep the forward momentum. Stay open. Be receptive to even what may appear to be an opportunity which is out of your wheel house. If you are attracted to it, explore what about the role turns you on. There is a reason – of this I am certain. Our intuition and inner voice does not lie. Ever. So listen to it. AND remember that nothing is permanent.

 

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.


Telecommuting Provides More Options for Getting Things Done At Work (Even When You’re Not In The Office)

Posted on September 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

We live in a mobile world. Technology has changed the definition of “workplace,” enabling us to be effective and productive wherever we are (home, airport, waiting rooms, etc.).  Flexible workplaces are more popular than ever before and as the lines between business and personal life continue to blur, telecommuting offers a solution to help workers balance (and sometimes juggle) their work and personal lives. Virtual work arrangements can be a game-changer for us, empowering us to have both a successful professional career and a happy personal life.

 

Benefits of Telecommuting

Eighty percent of U.S. knowledge workers are employed by companies that have a telecommuting or virtual work arrangement program in place, according to a recent teleworking survey, commissioned by my company, PGi. Telecommuting is rapidly becoming one of the most attractive benefits a company can offer, and research indicates 80 percent of employees consider telecommuting to be a job perk.

 

As employers continue to realize the business value of teleworking and the importance of work-life balance, workers are gaining more control and flexibility over scheduling. Flexible hours enable busy professionals to work early in the morning or late at night, allowing more time to go to a doctor’s appointment or tend to children’s special events. For me, virtual work enables the flexibility to take care of my dogs, Jesse and Jasper, when a sitter isn’t available and maintain my multi-tasking excellence.   I can take care of my mom in her home when needed, and still not miss a single meeting, even with our global HR team in their own time zones.  And, cutting out the distractions of the office just one day per week helps me clear out email clutter, focus on completing tasks and take advantage of a change in scenery to spark strategic or creative thought processes.

 

The virtual workplace not only affords more balance, but also allows us to spend more time on ourselves. Workers report that telecommuting reduces stress levels and improves morale.  Imagine having enough flexibility to have time to prepare a healthy meal or participate in fitness or recreational activities not easily accessible to the traditional 9-to-5 crowd!

 

Finding the Right Fit

Telecommuting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone’s situation is unique, and the key to building an efficient, productive workforce is to identify not only the unique needs of an employee, but also those of the team. For businesses, placing the wrong work style or preferences in a virtual workplace role can prove challenging for both the employee and the team. By understanding the personalities of your workforce, the employer and employees can enjoy many or all the benefits of telecommuting: improved productivity, better morale and reduced stress and cost.

 

Employers should consider several situations when starting or expanding virtual work arrangements.  For example, does the worker have a back-up plan in case the Internet crashes at home?  Are their mobile devices adequate for what is needed?  As important as technologies, personality is another important factor to consider when making arrangements for virtual workers. At PGi, we have identified seven telecommuting personalities and the leadership tactics, tools and technologies for success in virtual roles. Whether you manage or work with the “24/7 worker,” the “multitasker,” or any of the other five personalities, there are many techniques you can use to help virtual teams collaborate and achieve success from anywhere.

 

Business today is conducted virtually anywhere at any time, opening new options for workers to successfully manage their work and personal lives. While navigating the waters of flexible work arrangements, remember the different personalities and needs of remote workers so you can help them experience the advantages of telecommuting. If time is the most valuable resource we have, we must find ways to use it as efficiently as possible to bring productivity and growth into our businesses.

 

About the author: Alison Sheehan leads PGi’s global human resources management, a team of HR professionals that provides support and services to over 2,100 PGi associates worldwide. With employees in 35 states in the U.S. and 25 countries around the globe, PGi’s HR strategies for talent acquisition, development, management, and rewards rely on virtual collaboration and workplaces for their success.

 


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.