Not My Circus

Posted on May 26th, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

 

When you take off on a flight, the attendant always says the same thing: “In case of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first before helping the people around you.” This includes the ones you love!

As a road warrior I know this mantra better than anyone.  I heard these words every Monday morning for 17 years! It was the theme song of my undoing and then the melody of my road back home.

This, my friend, is the single best piece of advice in my tool chest of tricks. We all know I have a treasure trove of good advice, cautionary tales, analogies and tricks up my sleeve.  This one should not be ignored!

Recently, one of my favorite members of my Personal Board passed through town.  At an impromptu mini board gathering over fish tacos and red wine, she reminded me of another important saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

Wow, how powerful and freeing is that statement?  How thought provoking.

“Save yourself first” so you can save the folks around you. Further, “If it is not your circus and not your monkeys” where do your responsibilities start and where do they end? What is yours and what is theirs? What is helping and what is enabling? What is teaching and what is providing answers? Listening and lecturing? Loving and smoothing?

As a parent of grown children, letting go is a tippy ship at best.  Mission accomplished, although I type through tears, as my son officially graduates and moves the last box of clothing and mementos to Philadelphia next month to start his new career. Nevertheless, isn’t that the point?  If you do it right they should leave the nest! My son put his oxygen mask on first! He found his own circus and his own monkeys! Painful as his parting is, I couldn’t be prouder.  The coolest part is that we are going to meet every other week in the middle for a meal (once a foodie always a foodie). I will say that again. WE WILL MEET IN THE MIDDLE! (Hold that thought)

So if we are to put our “Oxygen mask on first,” and if it is  “Their circus and their monkeys” how are we to continue to show up for our family, friends, colleagues, society and the world in a caring and meaningful way while still retaining our boundaries?  After all, isn’t showing up fully truly the only way we can make an impact? How then will we still help the ones we love and be of service?

Here is my list of tips for putting on your oxygen mask first so you can show up for those around you while continuing to take care of yourself.

 

We are all a work in progress

Never stop growing, learning, evolving, exploring, asking, stretching, reading, expanding, scaring yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone! Repeat!

I am a life learner! I say that I am done getting certifications and degrees.  We all know I am lying. I will never stop learning!  I will never stop reading, taking courses and stepping out of my comfort zone.  I will never stop reinventing myself! We live, we learn, we grow and should repeat this process again and again and again!  Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge.

 

Be Your Personal Best

Whatever your aspiration, strive to be the best in class.  How do you achieve this? Simple, roll up your sleeves and put in the work!  Do the research. Do your homework. Network, Network, Network (even when you are exhausted). Stretch further than comfortable. Show up fully. Frankly, when you think you have done your best work possible, take one more pass through.  In conjunction, have no expectations of others. You won’t need to, you will be too busy leading by example.

 

Take Care of Yourself

I never end a coaching session without inquiring about my clients’ self-care rituals.  Why? Because at the heart of our work together, no matter what the topic, we can accomplish nothing if we are not taking care of ourselves.

It is the same reason that I watch everything I put in my mouth. Eat organic if possible (even when traveling).  Try desperately to get a good night sleep each night, and exercise regularly. I have dragged my yoga mat with me on every trip I have taken for all 17 years of business travel (oh the places we have seen!).  It took my limo driver until last year to figure out that I was not a heavy breather and I was meditating on the way to the airport!

Create a healthy routine and stick to it. A healthy life style will lead to productivity. You will become influential, productivity is sticky!

 

Listen More, Talk Less:

Don’t let the noise cancelling headphones, pile of work, the fact that I am typing, have my eyes closed, am facing the other way, or that I am actually sleeping dissuade you.  If I am in your presence (whether I know you or not) you will talk to me and I will listen. You will tell me things you have never told anyone, and I WILL KEEP YOUR CONFIDENCE.  I will give you advice, I WILL NEVER JUDGE.  Trust me I know things I could have gone my whole life without knowing, but rest assured when you utter the last word it is already forgotten.

When I go on vacation with my family I am instructed not to look up or make eye contact with anyone! (After all, it is their time).  All kidding aside this is the best gift you can give someone, empathy and understanding. A safe place to unload, and then let them go on their contemplative way to figure it out.

 

Energy Zappers/Energy Fillers:

Get in touch with the people, places, and trying that are sapping your energy and GET RID OFF THEM!  Okay, so this is not always practical. If it was, I for one would spend my days reading, doing yoga, cooking, gardening, hiking, mountain biking, eating at great restaurants and watching old movies.

We are all intimately in touch with what brings us stress; however, are you aware that there is a positive counter balance?

I am also a bit of a math geek, and a strong believer in that “What gets measured gets done.”  In fact if I was to get a tattoo (which I won’t kids, so you can’t) it would have that phrase.  As a result, I have invented the “Balancing Act” equation. (AP to follow)

How does it work? Make a list of everything that brings you stress and give it a numerical value. Then, come up with a list of energy fillers and do the same until you reach equilibrium!  I challenge you to balance your act! Leave others to do the same.

 

Speak Your Mind.  Don’t over communicate:

No one likes a nag and overstating the same point over and over and over again does not make it so.

Stop!

Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again expecting different results.  This came up two blogs in a row for a reason!  Don’t hold back. Say it once. Hope you are heard. Move on.

 

Come As You Are

You cannot change anyone but yourself and you should not want to.  It is your responsibility to continue to grow and evolve, and it everyone else’s responsibility to do the same.  You should always strive to be your personal best and hope that the people around you continue to do the same.  At the end of the day you must accept people for where they are regardless of the level.  That is their choice.  Do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. I repeat, do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. Lead by example.

 

Drop the Mad

This is one of my personal favorites; however, be cautioned it does not always work! Nothing was ever accomplished through screaming, yelling and or trying to solve the world’s problems in one sitting.  Sometimes you just have to take a break from it all and have some fun.  If you can put together some peaceful connected moments you can get back to figuring out the world’s problems through a clearer lens.

 

Take Breaks

Step out of the drama! Get out of the ring! Take yourself out of the line of fire! Do it for an hour. Do for a day. Do it for a week. Do it for any amount of time necessary and practical so that you can clear your head and think.  Take as much alone time and thinking time required to make the decisions and put the actions in place that are right for you.  After all this is yours, not theirs.

 

Empty Vessels/Projects:

Oh how I love a good project!  I get that from my Grandma Fanny.  She always took in strays, and I am very much the same.  I have a 12 foot farm table and none of the chairs match.  Neither do the people that often pass through for the home cooked meals on Sunday.  My family and I often reminisce and say, “I wonder what ever happened to so and so. I hope it all turned out well”.

I bring this up as a cautionary tale. It is a gift to give, but it can also be trap.  Always give and open yourself to others, but remember it is a two way street.

 

So, in conclusion, what is yours, theirs and ours anyway?

Another favorite saying of mine is really a question. What happens when you stop hitting your head against a wall?  Answer, it stops hurting.  What is yours and what is theirs anyway?  Truth is, it is all yours and it is all theirs.  It is our job to be our best, it is their job to strive to do the same. It is our job to take care of ourselves. It is definitely their job to do the same.  It is always our job to show up fully. To be kind, caring, helpful (when asked), resourceful and always, always show empathy. It is their job to clean up their side of the street and do the same. Perhaps in time we agree to meet in the middle? Perhaps we don’t?  In the end the universe will take care of the rest.


A Conversation on Workplace Bullying #SHRM16

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Along with our usual previews and coverage, ahead of the conference each member of the team will be conducting a Q&A with one of the conference session speakers.  I chose Catherine Mattice, who along with her company Civility Partners, strives to educate and address the topic of workplace bullying.

Catherine and I chatted about why she chose to dedicate her career to workplace bullying, why it’s a very relevant topic for today’s human resource professionals, and what to expect from her session at #SHRM16.

Read the full Q&A over at the SHRM Blog.


Organizations vs. Humans – Are We At Odds? #WorkHuman

Posted on May 20th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences. 2 comments

The sign of any great conference is when you continue to mull over the ideas with which you’re presented and the concepts you learn even after the event itself is over.  It’s now a little over a week since WorkHuman 2016 wrapped up, and I’m still contemplating much of what I heard.

The event closed on Wednesday afternoon with a keynote from business thinker and author Gary Hamel, in a session titled “For Human Being to Thrive at Work, Bureaucracy Must Die.”  The closing keynote spot at any conference can be an unfortunate place on the agenda, as many attendees tend to cut out early to catch flights home.  That just did not appear to be the case for most at WorkHuman, and we were treated to an energetic, entertaining, and very relevant message.

The overall theme of Gary Hamel’s keynote was that the design of most of our organizations is in direct conflict with human nature.  He offered the following three truths:

  • Humans are creative, most of our organizations are not
  • Humans are adaptable, most of our organizations are not
  • Humans are passionate, most of our organizations are not

And because of these truths, most of our organizations are less human than the people that work within them, and therefore waste more human capacity than they use.

A pretty sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

Hamel went on to suggest that our roles as leaders is NOT to get the people within our organizations to serve the needs of our organizations, it’s to build an environment with such a compelling purpose that our people voluntarily bring their individual gifts to work every day.  And when they do that, if we utilize those gifts appropriately, they will contribute to the overall success of the organization.  He then promised us seven ways to change the realities within our organizations (but actually only got around to five – probably because he was just so passionate about each one that he spent more time than he expected to on each).

The five ways he touched on were:

  • Get Angry – that our workplaces as so designed that our people are forced to show up but leave their humanity at home
  • Load Up On data – if you want to inspire and lead change, you need to speak to the head as well as the heart
  • Find the Fringe – and then push the boundaries
  • Develop a New Set of Principles – whether it be meritocracy, more collaborative decision making, finding and developing the natural leaders in your organization, or embracing the wisdom of the crowd
  • Reinvent the “How” – enlarge the scope of decision making and embrace the idea that irregular people doing irregular things in irregular ways create irregular successes

Each of these probably each deserve their own post, and perhaps at some point I’ll revisit them, but for now I’ll leave you with this takeaway…

As HR leaders, we cannot be the champions of bureaucracy and the status quo, especially when that status quo runs contrary to the very nature of human beings.  And for many HR professionals that can be a challenge; many by nature and training tend to want to preserve the status quo at all costs.  But that is no longer a sustainable way to approach our businesses and workplaces.  We have a duty to challenge these constructs that really don’t serve long term sustainability or promote great workplaces and bring out the best in our people, the people who make our businesses what they are.

That’s no easy task, and certainly we can’t do it alone, but we can be the ones at the forefront of the change.  The “how” is the difficult part, but these five ideas for changing our realities are a good starting point.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, 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.


Change, Resilience, Choice and Gratitude via Michael J. Fox #WorkHuman

Posted on May 17th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

I grew up knowing him best as Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly.  I was a fan of Family Ties and even bigger fan of Back to the Future.  Full disclosure: I’ll still stop and watch it any time I stumble across it on TV.  Hey, what can I say, I was a child of the 80s and that was one of the movies that defined my childhood.  What I never could have anticipated watching Michael J. Fox in the mid-80s is that I would have the opportunity to hear and see him speak live thirty some years later.  And not only would I have that opportunity, but that it would be one of the most genuine and inspiring keynotes I’d experience to date, centering on a story that I’m sure even he could have never anticipated back then.

Michael J. Fox had the entire crowd at WorkHuman on last Wednesday morning completely captivated.  In a keynote that was more like watching a conversation in someone’s living room, he chatted with Globoforce’s Julie Zadow and shared his journey that began when he failed drama class and dropped out of high school, but yet still chased his dreams and the future he knew he wanted by moving to Hollywood to pursue his acting career.  He guided us through his journey of his Parkinson’s diagnosis and how he came to terms with it.  He left many without dry eyes, and all walked away realizing what an outstanding human being with which we had the honor of sharing an hour of our lives.

Michael touched on a number of topics and ideas and he took us through his journey, but a few really stood out to me.

 

Change Happens Quickly, But…

Michael talked about how quickly his life changed once he got his big break.  The Family Ties and Back to the Future roles came around the same time, and propelled him into the fame that would shape much of the rest of his career.  But they didn’t come without a heck of a lot of hard work, preparation, and struggle leading up to them.  And he certainly didn’t stop working hard when they did come around – he filmed Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night so that he was able to take advantage of both opportunities.  The lesson here: keeping plugging along and pushing through the struggles, because you never know when the opportunity to propel you to your own version of stardom may come along and change your life forever.

 

Choice & Resilience

Life is all about circumstance and choice: you find yourself in a circumstance, and you have a choice how to react to it.  You can accept it, or try to deny or ignore it.  Accepting something does not mean you are resigned to it; what it means when you accept something is that it become a truth that you can now manage.  And when you accept that truth it begins to take up a very finite space in your world, allowing you to deal with it and move on.  When you refuse to accept a truth, it takes on a life of its own and can begin to infiltrate your entire life, making it much more difficult to manage.  Michael has accepted his Parkinson’s diagnosis as a finite truth in his life, something he can manage, does not fear, and has used for the greater good in his activism and work with his foundation.

 

Gratitude

One of the final ideas Michael left us with was, “Just love life and be grateful.” So simple, yet so powerful.  We all have struggles we deal with in our lives.  We all have our ups and downs.  But we are here, we are living, we have the ability to contribute to life and the world.  We have a choice – to focus on the negatives we deal with and dwell on what we don’t have, or to embrace all of the positives and to be grateful and love what we do have.

 

Lessons for HR Leaders?

How do these ideas apply to our roles as HR professionals and leaders?  I’d say if we want to lead effectively, and if we want to build great workplaces that encourage the best in our people, we can’t do it without embracing these ideas.  We have the ability to create great changes, but it can’t happen without the leg work behind it.  We will inevitably face challenges and struggles, and we have a choice how to react to them and a responsibility to be role models for choice and resiliency.  And we are certainly never going to nurture great workplaces without a culture of gratitude – for each other, our teams, and the hard work and accomplishments we achieve.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, 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.


Checking in From #WorkHuman Day 1 – Happiness as a Business Strategy?

Posted on May 10th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences. No Comments

I’m here in sunny Orlando, FL this week for the 2016 edition of the WorkHuman conference.  Now in its second year, WorkHuman is a concept developed by the folks at recognition company Globoforce, and it’s slowly taking on a life of its own.  Focused on topics like happiness, engagement, and recognition, WorkHuman is all about creating great workplaces that are built to bring out the best in people and harness the power of social connections to drive positive business results.

Right from the moment of arrival on site, it became apparent that this is a different kind of HR conference.  The agenda includes (optional) time for yoga and mindfulness, the colors in the space are bright and cheerful, there was a “cookie wall” (yes, an actual wall covered in cookies for the taking), and the opening event was actually called a “Happy Hour” and not an “opening reception.”

Some might say that sounds a little too “warm and fuzzy” or “Kum Bah Yah” for them, but as we launched into the opening general sessions this morning, there were certainly enough stats and stories shared to prove that focusing on happiness and creating great cultures isn’t just some warm and fuzzy “HR speak” concept with no connection to the reality of the workplace.

The morning kicked off with Globoforce’s Derek Irvine, Vice President of Consulting Services, sharing among other things the following stats:

 

Only 20% of employees have received some kind of recognition within the past month, and that percentage only goes up to about 30% when stretched to a six month time period.  Yet 78% would work harder and 83% would feel more engaged with even a simple “thanks.”

 

Seems like a huge missed opportunity there, huh?  And let’s face it, without engaged and productive employees, no business can be successful in the long run.

We were then treated to an opening keynote with Shawn Achor, renowned Harvard professor, author, and “happiness researcher” in which he dove into some of the science behind happiness, helping to create a business case for the importance of caring about it in the workplace.  He touched on the following points:

 

The power of impact – don’t focus just on how happy an individual is, but rather on their potential to create happiness around them.

There’s a difference between pleasure and joy.  Focusing on pleasure is short-sighted, where focus on joy takes a longer view.  It’s possible to experience overall joy in what you do, even if not every moment generates pleasure.  And happiness is the joy you feel working toward your potential.

Happiness does not necessarily equal success.  The flaw in that thinking is that our brains constantly recalibrate the definition of success.  The greatest predictor of long term happiness is social connectedness, not achievement or success.  The keys to happiness, potential, and great leadership is making other people around you better.

Nurturing a culture where people not only receive recognition, but also willingly give it creates a powerful force for positive change.

 

I’d agree that he offered some great ideas and wisdom, but our challenge as HR professionals and leaders is figuring how to take these concepts and weave them into the realities of our individual organizations.

I’m looking forward to hearing more thoughts, ideas, and success stories as WorkHuman continues over the next couple of days.  Stay tuned for more updates, including highlights from tomorrow’s highly anticipated keynote from Michael J. Fox!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, 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.


Do Employees Leave a Company or a Boss? 

Posted on May 3rd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture. No Comments

 

There are various schools of thought on what drives employee retention.  Some expert sources like Gallup place an emphasis on the importance of the manager’s role in engaging, motivating and retaining employees.  Other sources suggest that employees rarely leave a job solely because of the boss since there are many other contributing factors such as a compelling strategy, company culture and meaningful work.

Either way, businesses of all sizes are increasingly concerned about employee retention and realizing that high engagement is critical to reducing turnover.  The best employees will leave if they’re not engaged, while the lower performers often stay.  When this cycle continues, businesses struggle to achieve results and retain customers.

According to the 2015 ADP Midsized Business Owners Study the level of concern about employee engagement spiked 25 percent in 2015 after remaining flat since 2012, with two of five midsized employers expressing high levels of concern. So how can companies more effectively engage their top talent?

Here are three tips to help deepen employee engagement and avoid common pitfalls:

1. Nurture a strong workplace culture. Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, organizational fit and strong leadership often outperform their peers and outpace competitors in attracting and retaining top talent.  Key components of a strong workplace culture include diversity and inclusion, a common purpose and a sense of community.

As stewards of company culture, HR leaders should strive to create – and actively promote – an inclusive work environment that champions collaboration and a connection to the local community.  Offering volunteer opportunities to give back to the community and employee recognition programs can help employees develop a sense of companionship leading to stronger feelings of engagement.

 

2. Empower employees to grow their careers. Uncertain career paths are a common pitfall that can result in low employee engagement.  Companies that keep career development top-of-mind by offering employees clear career paths, challenging assignments, mentoring programs and training to nurture their professional skills are more likely to retain top performers.  Ensure employees understand the diverse career opportunities available to them company-wide and the steps they can take to grow within the organization.  And, whenever possible, offer flexibility in how employees chart their individual career paths, such as with job-rotation programs and job shadowing.   Career growth comes from creating opportunities for employees to learn new skills and experiences.  It doesn’t need to be offering opportunities to ‘climb the corporate ladder’.  The ladder has been replaced with a lattice demonstrating the importance of lateral moves in order to grow professionally.

 

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employees need to hear from their leaders.  An absence of communication leads to a lack of trust in leadership.  Communication is critical to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the corporate strategy and how their work contributes to successful achievement of the company’s goals.  Having clarity around their company’s strategy and vision becomes the motivation for employees to make the discretionary effort that defines engagement.  Businesses that create frequent opportunities for leaders to communicate with employees – via email, Town Hall meetings, one-on-one interactions or social media help inspire trust.  Ongoing communication needs to honest, real-time, and authentic so that employees understand the bigger picture and feel comfortable sharing innovative ideas to help themselves and their employers grow and thrive.

 

Because employee engagement is strategically linked to retention, HR leaders need to take an integrated approach.  This includes fostering a collaborative work environment with trusted leadership, work with a purpose, and diverse growth opportunities.  Investing in employee engagement ultimately delivers benefits far beyond the bottom line with increased productivity, reduced turnover and long-term retention of highly skilled staff who directly contribute to achieving business goals.

 

 

About the Author: Emma Phillips has more than 20 years of experience leading the design and execution of strategic HR initiatives. As vice president of human resources for ADP’s Major Account Services business unit, Emma and her team focus on attracting, developing and retaining top talent, succession management, performance management, leadership development, change management and associate engagement.

 


The Benefit of More Women in Leadership Roles

Posted on April 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

Women account for half the world’s working-age population globally. However, the persisting imbalance of women in positions of power has started a debate in corporate circles about the viability of a gender quota so as to encourage gender equality in corporate positions of power. But why so much hoopla about gender equality? For one, reports suggest that more women in higher roles reflect in the form of better performance for the companies. Moreover, companies that have women in leadership roles have traditionally fared better than their counterparts during times of financial crisis, similar to the recent one. Here is a detailed account of why women leadership would work better in certain situations and how can you promote the same in your office.

A study carried out by Pew Research Center on women and leadership; there is little difference between men and women in key leadership traits like ability to innovate and intelligence, while many observing they are even better than men when it comes to being compassionate and organized.  Despite these facts, we see a very limited participation of women in boardroom discussions and at the upper management level. The story is same across all the continents, whether it is Asia, Europe and the US. In an extensive survey carried out by 20-first, a UK-based global gender consulting firm in 2014, women held only 11% of the 3,000 executive committee positions in 300 surveyed companies.

 

It’s good for financial performance of the company

Multiple research studies have been carried out in this direction. In 2007, a not-for-profit organization Catalyst reported that Fortune 500 companies having females as board members show significantly better financial performance than those having low female representation. The surveys took into account three points- return on sales, return on equity and return on the investment and found that companies having better female representation excelled on all the three parameters. Another major research that reports similar findings is that of DDI, (Development Dimensions International), a global talent management firm based out of US. According to DDI survey, companies that had majority of board members as women witnessed a substantial 87% better performance than their competition.

women in leadership

 

It’s better for the job economy, as a whole

Better financial performance of the organizations obviously leads to a better economic state where there are greater number of job opportunities, better productivity and more development.  This improved financial health will directly reflect in the number of jobs that will increase proportionally. Whether it is marketing jobs or healthcare, the industry hardly matters as long as it is working towards better gender diversity.

 

It’s Better for Relationship Building

We all have a common understanding that women are equipped with better relationship building skills. This is backed by research from Harvard Business Review, which notes that female leaders are consistently rated a notch higher than their male counterparts in the category of relationship building. This is obviously a good thing for the organization as good peer to peer camaraderie is essential for keeping up the productivity at its optimum level. In addition to inter-office relationships, this skill is also going to boost a company’s client satisfaction levels and help expand the business.

 

It’s better for Collaboration

With good networking skills comes the ability to easily collaborate with colleagues, clients and workers across teams, functions, and departments. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research agrees on the fact that women are more attracted to cooperation than men.  Men, often overestimate their capabilities, while downplaying those of their colleagues, while women are a better judge of their abilities and therefore are not averse to suggestions and help from their team members. In short, women make better team players than men.

 

Women are Better Communicators

While women undisputedly rule the roost when it comes to communication at personal level, does this also extend to businesses? If experts are to be believed, on the whole, women often make better communicators than men. Zenger Folkman, in their survey, also reported the same. A leader should and must have the ability to establish a crystal clear communication with his team members, clients and consumers. Women tend to be better listeners than men, and that’s what makes for a good leader.

 

It’s also better for men on the whole

Surprised, you might be, but gender diversity at leadership level or in the corporate in general is a good thing for men. This might sound lopsided, but there are many aspects to this argument. We could deal with them one by one.

 

Men have the freedom to break the norm

In the male dominated corporate world, a man’s identity is inseparably connected to his job, role and pay package. However, once the corporate world comes to term with the rising prominence of women, and their increasing participation in management decisions, this will take some performance pressure off the men’s shoulders. They will no longer be expected the default bread winner of their families, the sole earning member, who has to earn more than his spouse, and lead the family. Men can also try to be what they really want to be. They can break the stereotype and follow their passion, at least once in a while. It does give some breathing room and creates some kind of financial cushion to which they can fall back in case their plan B doesn’t work out as well.

 

Men can try to be a better parent

As more women take up careers and become an equally important financial support of the family, men can take some time off their work to be a better parent and run the family in a more involved, holistic fashion. When fathers work fewer hours per week, the family benefits, and it reduces the risk of behavioral problems in the kids that is often witnessed in children who had their fathers missing due to work.

 

About the Author: Saurabh Tyagi is a career and motivational author who consistently writes articles on various job related themes, including gender diversity in organizations.  He has been published on various career sites such as under30ceo.com and blog.simplyhired.comYou can follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter or visit his jobs website here.

 


Happiness vs. Engagement…What Should We REALLY Care About? #WorkHuman

Posted on April 26th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Workplace Culture. No Comments

About a year ago, right after I first heard about the concept of #WorkHuman and the inaugural WorkHuman conference was held, I started writing a post on the difference between happiness and engagement.  As it happened, life got in the way and the post was put on the back burner, but as we’re now gearing up for the second annual WorkHuman conference, which this year I have the honor of attending, it seemed like a great time to revisit the topic.

As one of the more recent overused prevalent catch phrases and trends in the Human Resources profession, discussions about “employee engagement” in the workplace have been going on now for quite some time.  Just Google the word and undoubtedly you find thousands of articles, blog posts, and best practices about how to achieve and attempt to measure how engaged your employees are.  Heck, even my own job title has the word in it now.  The discussions and debates have been going on for so long, in fact, that some have said it’s time to move on from that topic, that there’s nothing more to say about it.

I was part of a live, call-in episode of my favorite HR podcast, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane’s HR Happy Hour a while back, in December 2014, where we addressed just this issue.  Titled “Celebrating the Final Conversation on Employee Engagement?” the 200th episode of the show set out to lay to rest the employee engagement debate once and for all.  But what we discovered through the various callers and discussions on the show is that the topic is far from dead.  One element that did come up was the difference between happiness and engagement.

If you look at the official definitions of “happy” and “engage” on Dictionary.com, you’ll see that there is a difference:

 

Happy: delighted, pleased, or glad as over a particular thing; characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

Engage: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons); to attract and hold fast.

 

From these definitions we can infer that just because someone is engaged, it does not necessarily mean they are happy.  Engagement simply means they are putting forth the effort; happiness on the other hand implies an intrinsic sense of joy or pleasure.

One point that was made on that show is that we don’t need to care about whether or not employees are happy, we just want them to be engaged and productive.  It’s not our jobs as employers and human resource professionals to ensure that our employees are happy; and in fact, there are too many outside factors that play into that anyway.  We just need to ensure we’re providing an environment where they can be connected to their work and achieving what they need to achieve.

But I ask this question: are happiness and engagement REALLY mutually exclusive?

Shortly after last year’s WorkHuman conference, another episode of HR Happy Hour aired, one that was actually recorded live at the event.  Steve and Trish kicked off the show touching on the idea of happiness and happy employees, and referenced something that was said at the conference: “Happier workers work harder.” And I think I tend to agree.

You see, I’m not convinced that happiness and engagement are completely separate issues.  Yes, it’s true that you cannot control all factors that play into someone’s happiness.  You can’t control whether or not they are having marital issues or problems with their children.  You can’t change the fact they may be dealing with aging or ill parents.  You can’t fix depression or mental health issues.

But you know what we can do?  We can help to build and shape cultures where people feel recognized and appreciated.  We can take the time to care about the well-being of the folks who show up and spend a large percentage of their lives with us, helping to achieve the goals we set out for our companies.  We can create departments and teams where people feel included and like they belong, somewhere they can generally enjoy coming to; where they can say they love their job, even if they don’t actually like it every day.  And when we do that, doesn’t that help to create employees who are, in fact, happy….even if it’s only in the workplace?

I offer this example.  One of my own coworkers deals with an exceptional amount of drama and issues in her personal life.  From issues with kids to ongoing problems with family, it seems as if it’s just one thing after another for her.  All of this could easily get her down, distract her, and even create disengagement from her work.  Yet, because of the environment we’ve created, she’ll be the first to say, “I’m thankful for my job; it’s what keeps me sane some days.”

Is it our responsibility to create that type of environment?  No, not necessarily.  We have an obligation to create workplaces where our employees have the resources they need to do their jobs.  But does it behoove us to think about the benefits of a happy work place?  By my own experience, I’d say it does.

Just as happier people outside of work could tend to be more engaged and productive in their jobs, I also believe that a happy work environment can offset a hectic or difficult personal life.  And by extension, also creating a more productive and engaged employee.

We all strive to be good employers.  Is it enough to create an environment of engagement?  Or SHOULD we be thinking of taking that extra step and striving to create an environment of happy workers?  Some may still disagree with me and say happiness is not our business.  From my experience I beg to differ.

 

What do you think?  Are happiness and engagement two separate issues?  Should we be concerned about the happiness of our employees?

 

Interested in joining in the discussion about creating great workplaces and cultures?  Join us at WorkHuman 2106.  Register here, and as a reader of this blog use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the regular registration fee.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


How the War for Top Performers Can Be Won by Redefining Success: Capacity and the Definition of Talent

Posted on April 19th, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Talent. The War for Talent. Those two terms are the headlines that strike fear into the hearts of companies and create top-line action items for HR groups across the globe. The major fear for us all is what skills will be needed to ensure corporate longevity and success, and how will you get to them before anyone else does? Well, let’s also add to that the ability to attract and retain them. It’s a large problem to solve, that’s for sure. But I’m not entirely sure that it’s an external job. I think it starts with searching internally first, and that means a long, hard look at your leadership and competency models.

 

This is not to say that more traditional competency and leadership models are failures. Quite the contrary: these frameworks have succeeded in providing the qualities/attributes previous leaders and employees required for daily operational and long-term success. Built upon the success profiles of the past along with proven business acumen, these models have sparked development programs, helped forge career paths, laid the baseline for promotions and compensation rates, and crafted the means through which staffing is performed. The issue isn’t that they’ve never been successful; it’s that they may not be what’s needed moving forward.

 

We live in a global business world that is filled with daily disruptors, things that come flying at the business before anyone could conceivably see them coming. Technology advances every day, the customer is closer and more vocal than ever, cloud-based services are revolutionizing the way the workplace runs as well as how products are delivered, and it seems our entire lives can be run from our phones. Virtual technology is coming faster than we think, and with artificial intelligence and robotics working its way from the factory floor to self-driving cars and home-based products such as Amazon’s Alexa, the ebb and flow of product delivery and customer contact is getting faster than the speed of imagination. Does your leadership model work in the same way? Maybe it’s time to take a look.

 

When you review a traditional leadership model, you’ll notice they all have one great similarity: all competencies apply to all leaders, irrespective of their role, division or market. The premise has always been that a central set of leadership behaviors, traits, and competencies must be applicable across all leaders, that everyone must be held to the same standard, and that in order for the company to be successful everyone in management must march in the same direction in the same way. Before maybe five years ago, that worked. But in today’s rapidly-changing world of business, I’d argue that it’s a static, antiquated approach that might get you smashed against the windshield of oncoming change. It’s coming fast, so you must be adept and adaptable, which means rewarding a new set of leadership principles.

 

Let’s also explore the new prevalent population of the world, the Millennials, and how they affect more traditional role descriptions and success models. This generation isn’t driven by the same cash and prestige rewards as were Boomers and Generation X. They thrive on social causes, they desire to make more global impact, they demand work/life balance, and they require constant feedback. They’re also the most swiftly-adaptable generation in history, they solve problems more efficiently, process data more quickly, and can utilize technology better that their predecessors.  We must consider how we look at where these skills fit into the world of work, how to attract and retain their ranks, and how to measure success against present and future corporate needs.

 

All these points direct us to one overarching point: we must change our leadership and competency models. Question is, how do we do it? I have some thoughts.

 

First, I don’t believe we should scrap the entire thing. I think it starts with understanding which baseline aspects of leadership must be required based on your corporate vision, mission, and values; you have to start with performance aspects that point to corporate DNA. What does it take to achieve your corporate goals and move your company forward? What does that look like? Those are your baseline leadership aspects. Describe them and attribute them to everyone.

 

Next, look at your overall goals against market data and understand what it would take to achieve success in each individual role. Adaptability, social change, market expansion, innovation, customer acquisition and satisfaction, the ability to do whatever it takes to ensure customer and market success (also described as leadership brand) — all these things describe what it takes to be a leader. Then you must differentiate at different levels and within different divisions. Growing businesses require leaders with strong entrepreneurial skills. Manufacturing business may measure excellence by production floor innovation and cost savings. Goods-based services might reward the expansion of the business through contract labor. Internal efficiency in companies with large amounts of data such as banks and law firms might be a tremendous measure of success. Every company may financially reward the ability to positively impact the local community or to reduce the impact on the planet. These skills are leadership based, and can (and should) work their way into competency models all the way down to the lowest level of the organization. Once these differences are implemented, you have leadership and competency models that have a similar baseline for success, but reward for individual roles and performance. That is the way to progress to a brighter, more profitable future, and it is the way to win the global talent war in any market in which you play. The same truism applies to the different skills needed to manage a turn-around or a merger.

 

The difference with this approach is the models remain dynamic. Outside the baseline core, as the needs of the company change, the attributes of the model continue to shift with it, continually updated and reflective of where the business is in its life cycle. It is where corporate capacity lives, breathes and grows, and it is where the game of business is won.

 

 

 


Female Managers vs. All-Male Staff

Posted on April 12th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

In the hotel industry, the housekeeping department is comprised of room attendants (100% female) and housemen (100% male). Management is typically 90-100% female. This predominantly female management team often has difficulty working with the housemen. Housemen are responsible for public areas of the hotel such as the lobby, hallways, restaurant, and lounges. They range in age from 25-62 and ethnicities include Hispanic, African American, Asian and Caucasian. Most have been employed full time for 15 or more years. Housekeeping managers are often young (25-30) and have little experience. Some have been promoted from room attendant positions while others come straight out of hospitality school having spent a year or two as an intern or junior manager.

 

This dynamic is not easy to manage. A lot of conflict is generated around gender and experience (Who is she to tell me what to do? I’ve been here 10 years longer), and resistance to authority (She can’t change that- for what?).  Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts for women to effectively manage an all-male team:

 

1. DON’T try to be ‘one of the gang.’ You are not one of them, so joining them on break, or inviting them to chat in the office only creates confusion and makes it more difficult to establish boundaries and effectively lead.

DO create an authentic relationship by showing interest in who they are. Notice a haircut, new glasses, logo on a hat or sweatshirt (I see you’re a Yankees fan). This builds a connection- you care about more than just getting the job done.

 

2. DON’T be defensive. When you are challenged (You’re wrong. Can’t use that chemical) you may automatically attempt to assert your power and position.(Do it my way! I’m in charge) but this will only serve to escalate the conflict.

DO be clear and responsive. You’ll need to make it clear that the worker must show respect even when disagreeing with you (We can discuss this, but no yelling or accusing). Be responsive to the worker’s idea (OK, so if not this chemical, what would you use?). This shows that while you have the final say, you are open to learning from those with more experience and can admit you don’t know it all.

 

3. DON’T let go of your authority. It is easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed by resistant and angry men. But retreating is not an option. The group needs leadership and structure, so for better or worse, you’re it.

DO lead in your own unique style. Think about what you have to offer: enthusiasm, sense of humor, passion for the work. Whatever you have, USE IT. Be authentic and honest when you don’t know something (I’m not sure what the policy is on X. Let me check it out) and admit your mistakes (Sorry, I was late ordering the supplies you need). Acknowledge the expertise of your staff (You know a lot more about this than I do) and elicit their help and feedback (What do you think and what’s past practice?). All this shows your humanity, which is crucial to building a strong relationship.

 

Managing an all-male staff as a female has its challenges, but the key is always authenticity. Be clear and direct and work through whatever comes your way. This is not always easy or comfortable, but well worth the effort. Stick with it and you’ll build strong relationships and an effective team.

 

About the Author: With a background in social work and 2 decades of experience as a union worker, Laura MacLeod created “From The Inside Out Project®,” with all levels of employment in mind to assist in maintaining a harmonious workplace. She is an adjunct professor in graduate studies at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. MacLeod speaks on conflict resolution, problem solving, and listening skills at conferences across the country.