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.  


From Entrepreneur to Leader: 6 Tips For a Successful Transition

Posted on April 5th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship, Leadership. No Comments

To be an entrepreneur requires a special spark, and the urge to follow your own star rather than hitching on to the wagon train that’s headed towards someone else’s idea of success.  As HR people, we’ve all seen entrepreneurs in action, maybe even picked up the pieces after them as they drive the business relentlessly onwards!   

 

Entrepreneurs bring focus, energy, charisma, and creativity. Part of their success comes from breaking the rules and thinking outside the box. That’s great for a solo operator because the only person who suffers when things go wrong is the entrepreneur themselves — they burn their fingers, say ‘ouch’, learn their lesson and move on to the next thing.  

 

But to grow a business of substance, the entrepreneur needs to figure out how to work with other people. She needs to harness others’ creativity and energy rather than just relying on her own. Becoming a business leader is a whole new ball game. Here are my six tips to help those HR entrepreneurs make the transition into a leadership role:

 

1. Visualize Where You & Your Business Will Be

Where do you visualize you and your business will be a year from now and ten years from now? Create a picture in your mind of your successful self, dominating your market and running an awesome business. Don’t let doubts about juggling home life or anything else come in here — this is your positive vision of success and nothing should mess with it!

 

2. Set Goals and Stick to Them

Set yourself long-term goals, including business goals, financial targets, and personal development points. Break them down into shorter term goals so you’re always working towards achieving them. While you might be taking care of all aspects of the business in the beginning, as your business grows that will change. Look at where you will need to delegate work.

 

3. Let Go of Your Ego

Yes, I said it. You needed one to get  you this far, but don’t let it get in the way now that you’re bringing other people on board. It’s your business and you love it, but believing that you’re the only one who can run it will simply lead to self-destruction.

To avoid burning out, you’ll need to be comfortable sharing the responsibility of running your business. Invest your time and energy in hiring great people and training them so that they will be able to take on some of the load.

 

4. Hire a Great Team

Write a list of all the things that need to be done to grow your business. Tick the ones you’re good at and the ones you want to keep doing and make those into your job. Then hire great people to fill the gaps.

When you hire people to go out and represent your business, make sure they share your vision and values so they’re credible ambassadors. If they’re providing services or advice under your brand, they need to do it your way.

You know the theory, now go put it into practice! Create a company culture that you love and find others who love it too, and success will follow.

 

5. Keep it Flexible

Be open to working with people in different ways to meet the needs of the business. Use contracts creatively to flex the size of your team, so you keep your core costs low and bring in the right people when you need them.

You need a good network, so get out and meet lots of contacts. When you’re exploring working together, be clear about how much you’ll pay, what work you expect them to do, and how they should manage any client relationships.

Offer your associates a cut of the client fee if they bring some business to you. If you create a big enough pool of associates, you’ll always be able to call in a specialist when a project comes up. Best of all, you don’t have to sweat at the end of the month with a huge pay bill and not enough clients.

 

6. Remember Your Roots

Whether your roots are in HR, or somewhere else, remember what it felt like to be noticed by the top guy for doing a good job. You don’t need to understand Motivation Theory or  employee engagement measures to know how good it feels when someone says thank you. Stay meaningfully connected all the way down through your team, so that you notice when people are doing a good job. Tell them personally that you’ve noticed.

About the Author: Sharon Crooks is an HR Consultant and an expert in training business people and leaders to communicate effectively with their employees. Sharon is the co-author of a new book HR for Small Business for Dummies, which provides valuable insights into how to run a small business.

Knock-Knock: Let Technology In The Job Search Today

Posted on March 31st, by Jacqueline Clay in Career Advice, The Funny Side of HR. 2 comments

Welcome to another edition of…

The Funny Side of HR:  From the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

Thank you for coming back to check on me “A Woman of a Certain Age”.  I hope that you are enjoying  my view of the evolution of all things HR including a hint of humor.  Please feel free to leave your comments.  I welcome your thoughts and your remembrances.

 

Last month, I discussed the job search process of yesteryear.  The process was what we today can call “manual”.  Everything was done on paper or with paper. Tons and tons of paper.  Job seekers searched via newspapers.  Companies advertised via newspapers.  The job search world was paper logged.  Agencies held job seekers captive.  They were the proverbial gatekeepers of many companies, holding the key to the door, that we felt potentially housed thousands of open jobs.  It was critical, therefore, to develop good, productive relationships with the Agencies to successfully navigate yourself into even a piece of a job.   We smiled and greeted the Agent with reverence (even after having been told to wait and wait and wait in their “waiting room”)  We waited  with frozen smiles because we did not want to do anything that would inhibit, limit, trim or slim our prospects in ingratiating ourselves to our Agent.  Agencies were in control.  The process reminded me of going to a club, where the guard at the door selected who could come in and who could not.

Most companies did have human resource or recruiting offices.  The test, though, was if you could locate them, if you could gain access, if you could find the direct number and if a “human” answered the phone.  If the stars and moon aligned and Jupiter was in its house, you were able to get in and fill out an application.  However, since you had no idea what opportunities were available, it was usually just that, you filled out an application and unbeknownst to you at the time, it went into the company Black Hole of Applications, never to be dug out again.  (Come on now, I can’t be the only person who has experienced this!)

Today, while some companies still use agencies, the tides have significantly turned.  Agencies now NEED  Candidates (the word “candidates” is capitalized to show the turn of power).  Companies have online applications.  Candidates now have a Santa Claus bag of options available for free.  They do not need agencies at the same level as in years past.  Technology has come to the rescue.

With that being said…let’s talk about the job search process of today…

 

  1. If you do not have a computer, you might as well say “game over”. You need to get one (desktop, laptop or even a tablet).  It is okay to have a “do it all, world of tomorrow,” Android phone.  However, you need a computer to produce the still required, still arduous, still annoying resume and cover letter and to make sure you can provide and retain up to date information.  (A printer with scan capabilities is also necessary…but first things first…get a computer).

 

  1. Yesteryear, there were no such things as websites. For the most part, the only way a company could  obtain  information on a candidate was to “wait and see”.  Today, we all have the worldwide web and candidates can use it to strengthen their professional acumen and advertise expertise and experience.  As a candidate, make sure you only incorporate information that will present you as professionally current and worthy of the type of employment you are seeking.  Remember, whatever you put on the web can and usually does, remain indefinitely.  Therefore, think twice…okay…three times before you put anything on the web that you wouldn’t want published on tv for all of your friends and family to see.

 

  1. Networking from the sofa. In-person networking is still one way to go, but not the only way, especially if you are on a budget.  You do not need to get off the couch, get dressed and attend some potentially boring, get-to-know you, lack luster, no guarantee event that you most often have to pay for and expend transportation dollars.  From the convenience of your home, while drinking a cup of coffee, you can make connections and develop professional relationships through a number of websites, i.e., LinkedIn.

 

  1. Application Process.  There is one aspect of the job search process that has gotten much more convoluted and tiresome.  That is the online application process.  Let’ say you have found a company or agency that “seems” to have a position available that meets your qualifications.  Rarely are there phone numbers to call (just like yesteryear).  Sometimes there may be a direct email address to which you can submit your resume.  However, most often, you need to complete an online application.  You click on the job.  You are connected to another site and have to click again.  You are connected to another part of the site.  You see no application.  So you search the site and after a while (can be anywhere from a minute to many minutes), you find the application.  You click APPLY.  What?!!  Now you need to create an account!  You enter the information requested and of course, decide on a password (that you quickly forget) and click GO.  Now you are asked a thesis amount of information, several pages.  I don’t know who developed these arduous, long, time draining pieces of technology.  In any case, since you are interested in the job and the company, you trudge on.    I recall completing one of these hour long thesis questionnaires and when I finally got to the last page and clicked SUBMIT, it would not go through!  The screen went blank and my only recourse was to start over!  Did I?  Absolutely not!   Even if you were able to seemingly successfully transmit your information (you never know for sure what happens at the other end), rarely is there a return piece of communication.  Now…where did all that information go?  Oh…yeah….the Bermuda Triangle of Computer Applications located near the Black Hole of Paper Applications (from yesteryear)

 

  1. Resumes and Cover Letters.  Again…another arduous, time consuming task, but by all accounts in the world of job searching, required (unless of course, your uncle owns a company and hires you).  If you are not fortunate enough to be an heir, heir-in-law or family friend/relative of a business owner, you need to get your resume together.  Resumes and cover letters are still your calling cards, but now one more element is included…“key words”.  Key words are words that hiring managers and agencies use to search their database for resumes.   These individuals no longer review each and every resume…they filter out resumes based on key words.  If your resume does not include the necessary words that relate to the job you are seeking, off your resume goes to the Black Hole of Resumes (closely associated with the Black Hole of Applications) .

 

  1. Dress for Success.  I can not tell you how much money I spent back in the day ensuring that my  dark skirt suit, white shirt and pearls  were perfect for the interviews.  Climbing the ladder dressed for success has turned into wallowing in costumes of “accept me as I am”. (Just my observations).  First impressions are sometimes lasting impressions, but some job candidates today, want individuality and expect companies to detour professionalism for individualism.  While I am all for a more casual working environment, I still believe that interviews are the opportunity to put your best foot forward and show respect for the business.  However, how can candidates show respect for the business when the interviewers lack the same.  Many companies have acquiesced into a much more casual environment…even during the interview.  Business casual is fine, but in some instances, there appears to be no boundaries.  In fact, I recently had an interview and did my best to “dress for success” (no pearls) and was astonished to see the mid level interviewer dressed in old jeans and sloppy shirt.  It really changed my impression of the organization.  However, when I left the interview, I saw another candidate dressed in jeans and a button down shirt.  How times have changed!

 

All in all, technology has made it easier and more time-efficient for both the job seeker and the hiring company.  No more going to the library to do company research.  The web allows for job seekers to do research on various companies easily and with little effort.  However, once a company of interest is identified, you will probably be lead to an online application.  (Refer to the Application section above).

One problem, though (at least for me), is keeping up with the trends and the multitude of options available.  Certainly, technology in this process, can be considered impersonal.  However, how personal was it yesteryear when we had to wait and wait at an agency or travel to a company and be told that they are not taking applications. Not very personal.

One aspect of the job search process that has not changed one iota is the dreaded compensation question.  “What are you seeking in compensation?”.  What kind of question is that?  My first thought is to respond with, “how much are you paying?”  We could go back and forth until one of us raises the white flag of surrender and gives up a number!   But, if the number is too low, you may be disqualified.  If it is too high, you may be disqualified.  It is like being a contestant on The Price Is Right.

Lastly, I do think, that we still need to be visually considerate of the business, both as job seekers and those who are involved in the interview process.  We don’t have to dress like we were on Dynasty (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age), but I do think we should be mindful as to how we are presenting ourselves.  You may be able to do the job or hold the position, but what first impression are you giving to others?  What are you exhibiting that shows time, effort and thought to support employment entrée into the company?  And…as hiring managers, recruiters, how are you representing the importance of your role and the company?   We all need to step back and look in the employment mirror.  Just something, I think we should consider.

Thank you for reading my article and stay tuned for the next installment of “The Funny Side of HR….from a Woman of a Certain Age”.

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.


In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Posted on March 29th, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of snowcaps in my night-table.  This box of snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years.  It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate.  So why the Snow Caps?  The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort.  It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of snowcaps.  After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years.  Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well-being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having an emergency contact list really had meaning.  When leaving the house as a pre-teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an Emergency”.  We all instinctively knew just who to call.  For me it was my Grandma Fanny.  She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you?  Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably.  After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice!  We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”.  Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:

 

Stop!

I used to be the queen of running away from my issues.  NO MORE!

In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.

Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.

You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.

Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!

 

Empty, Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!

There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.

What does this mean?  If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO.  This includes people places and things!

 

Don’t Isolate

Chances are if you run, you also hide.  Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?

Misery does require company.  There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you.  Open up to the people you trust.  You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.

 

Know When To Let Go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.

It is helpful to remember that

“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”

I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.

Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?

Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!

It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid.  Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.

Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive.  Trust and move on.

The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.

Definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

 

Break the Rules

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.  In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible.  Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.

 

Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat.  I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right.  If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal…JUST DO IT!

I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga.  Seriously, who comes up with these things?  As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees.  Sheer insanity!  Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive, everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.

 

Adventures

Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches.  For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few.  My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom?”  He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.

Bottom line is pick your poison.  Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.

 

Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.

I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.

I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun.  I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun, fun, fun.

I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”.  This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count!  We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.

LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION are truly the best medicine.

 

Calling All Contacts

This will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and then reporting my progress back to my friends.  This is absurd!

I am happy to report that I am over this.  I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.

I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar.  This way it actually happens!!

 

Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do, but remember when you popped that last snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.

Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries!  Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down.  My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.”   In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.

Do treat yourself but make healthy choices.  Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.

 

Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go.  In fact you should step up your game even more.  My sister-in-law and I have a running joke.  She will always say to me in my darkest hours.  “You look fabulous, how can I help”?

If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.

Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.

This too shall pass and the last thing you are going to want to do when the dust settles is personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.

Your grandmother was only partly right.  You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear. Only you shouldn’t do this in case you get in an accident, you should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!

 

Spoil Yourself With a Little Retail Therapy

For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag.  This I know might not work for everyone.  I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!

Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.

Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving.  I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously.  No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange.  I highly recommend it.  It definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.

 

Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for.  It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day.  As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.

 

Contemplation

“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”

Translation:

For those of you who have not read my blog the “Is the Finish Line Really a Dotted Line” please do.

Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count.  The crowd is waiting.  What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.

That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is.  Here I can strip down the noise, adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.

Find your means of peaceful contemplation.  Then ask yourself what you really want?  What is your gut telling you?  It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come.  Follow your voice.  Don’t the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics.  My list is safely nestled next to my snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curve balls.  Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”

 

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.


Putting the Human Back in HR….and Our Workplaces #WorkHuman

Posted on March 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Work/Life Balance. No Comments

I’ve noticed for some time now, at least amongst some HR professionals, and in some pockets of conversation within the HR world, that there has been a fair amount of discussion about the need to put the “human” back in human resources.  Not so much implying that we’ve all become robots or total slaves to technology (at least not yet!), but rather that as we get busier, add more to our plates, and expand the scope of HR, or as we get caught in the grind of our day-to-day, that we also need to remember that first and foremost it’s PEOPLE we’re dealing with.

Yes there are policies and guidelines that need to be in place, at least in most workplaces, mostly to ensure that we are legally compliant, that our workplaces are safe and harassment free, and that there are standards in place for fair compensation.  And with more and more technological solutions available to automate HR processes and make the function more efficient and effective, many HR pros are becoming more systems focused in their day-to-day jobs too.

But none of that changes the fact that it’s people that we are supposed to be advocates for. After all, in the end our function is not called “Policy Resources” or “Rules Resources,” or even “Technology Resources”…it’s Human Resources.  Our reason for existence shouldn’t be just to enforce the rules of the company, or put systems and technology in place, but rather to ensure that all of those pieces in place are in the best interests of the people within the company. That they are not just arbitrary rules, systems, or processes, but that they are in existence to help build workplaces and cultures that encourage the best work out of everyone, ultimately in an effort to support company goals.

In fact, this isn’t really a new concept to me.  For my entire career I’ve been trained and coached by my leaders in my HR practice to keep the needs of people front and center in decisions that are made. Even when a decision had to be made that wasn’t necessarily in the favor of the employee, the question that needed to be asked was “have we ensured that we’ve given them every opportunity to fix the issue first?” so that by that point the negative action had to be taken, it was more a function of facilitating what that person had already set in motion by their action, or lack of action.  I’ve been taught over the years that it’s a huge responsibility, facilitating outcomes that can have an enormous impact on someone’s life, so at all times it’s critical to remember that the person you’re dealing with has bills to pay, perhaps a family to help support, and a life outside of your workplace.  And it’s a concept that can extend way beyond just when dealing with issues and negative situations, it’s one that can be used to cultivate and promote positive outcomes as well.

On the surface it seem so simple, but in the midst of our day to day grind can be easily (if not intentionally) forgotten. After all, most of us that are working in the “HR trenches” have more on our plates than ever before. Not only are we dealing with issues, but we’re managing processes, evaluating and implementing technology, and various other responsibilities to help make our organizations successful.

Regardless, it’s a concept that not only can we not afford to forget, but can’t afford to not put front and center in not only our HR practices, but throughout our organizations as a whole.

And that’s where the idea of WorkHuman comes in.

WorkHuman is a concept started by the folks at recognition software company Globoforce, and it’s an idea that they are “all-in” passionate about. To quote the WorkHuman mission, it centers on the idea that “when companies harness the transformative power of human connections, well-being, purpose and communications, we build a work culture that both reminds us of our worth as individuals, and pulls us together in pursuit of shared success.”

In fact, the folks at Globoforce believe so strongly in the idea of WorkHuman and in building a movement around it, that last year they hosted their inaugural WorkHuman conference. I watched that conference from afar with great interest, and this year am jumping in to join the movement.  It’s an entire event focused on building more human workplaces through great cultures, recognition, engagement, communication, and forging connection.

Seems like a worthy focus, doesn’t it? That only good could come out of promoting more human workplaces?

If you’re interested in learning more about building more human workplaces, join us in Orlando in May at WorkHuman 2016. You can register here. Use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the cost of registration.  Hope to see you there!

 

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.


The Reality of Adult Bullying

Posted on March 2nd, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working alongside our educational system coaching (and teaching) leadership principles to the senior leaders in our educational institutions from New York City to the Rio Grande Valley. It has been an amazing experience, which has tremendously enriched my life and fulfilled my professional career. Recently, one of my incredible clients, Uplift Education, published a newsletter highlighting the issue of bullying in their schools, and how to address this reality. I was impressed with their coverage and their staunch stance of a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying in their schools.

While reading their commentary, it was impossible for me not to realize that much of what they were addressing is not limited to children. Bullying is alive and well in our adult circles – professional and personal. Chances are each of us have experienced bullying at least once in our workplace, if not in our social circles. To be clear, let’s identify what we mean by bullying:

  1. The behavior toward another individual is deliberate. It is pre-meditated with the bully’s intention being to hurt someone – in some way.
  2. The behavior is repeated – over and over again. It becomes habitual and the ‘accepted’ approach toward the other person. The behavior may change in how it manifests – yet, the behavior is indeed consciously calculated and intentional.
  3. The power between the individual and the bully is imbalanced – real or imagined. There is perceived difference in power, status, strength, societal or political position, etc. between the bully and the victim – and the bully leverages that to their benefit.

With that as our baseline, how ‘bullying behavior’ shows up as an adult may vary from how it manifested as children. Physical bullying (hitting, pushing, slapping) is far more prevalent when we are younger, than as adults.  However, other forms of bullying such as name-calling, divisive gossip, exclusion and deliberately getting others to hurt, exclude or ‘gang up’ on others, and cyber bullying via Facebook, and other social media mechanisms is much more widespread and common than many may realize.

As a team leader and leadership coach, I hear examples of this on a regular basis. Many of my clients have shared that team members are blocking them on Facebook or other social media channels, or withholding critical information they need to do their jobs. This also cripples their ability to become a part of the team and/or to foster spirit de corps.  Others have stated how peers and team members have spoken half-truths about them and continue to proliferate these fibs and rumors to that individual’s demise and ongoing exclusion. Still others have ‘voted individuals off the island’ due to a simple difference in opinion, a different choice made, or just to assume a superior position that the bully’s victim.

Bullying in the workplace and in life can be completely disruptive not to mention hurtful. It is typically driven by the perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual. This can be driven by jealously, insecurity, unbridled ambition, or an imagined sense of superiority. Bullying can show up by a set of acts by commission  – actually DOING things to others; yet it can also manifest by acts of omission – which can be someone withholding resources from others or simply not being loyal and standing by the victim, to others. And in the worst of all cases, the bully involves others to gang up on the victim and those that ‘cave’ and do not stand tall to support the victim are in many cases the greatest bullies of all. Over the course of my adult life and career, I have been the victim of both types of bullying.  It is no fun and can completely derail your self-confidence, and have you questioning your every thought, word, and deed – which is, of course, what the bully wants.

So what can we do about this reality? Well, there is a website that does an amazing job of highlighting a few steps to take when this happens in the workplace. It consists of shining a bright light on bullies in the workplace and requires nothing short of turning the workplace culture upside down. Bullies must experience negative consequences for harming others. Senior leaders need to call out that negative behavior, and certainly not reward it. Only Senior Leaders can reverse the trend; and if they actually support it – then the team and organization can become toxic. I have actually had a leader support the bully’s behavior, and that can be extremely disheartening. However, what I believe whole heartedly is this: the truth ALWAYS will reveal itself over time.

A few additional thoughts for consideration:

  1. Always take the high road.As our father has always taught us, ‘if you see it, so does everyone else’. So let the bully reveal their true behaviors – as over time, even if they are the best actors in the world, their passive aggressive, manipulative, and mean behaviors will be revealed.
  2. We need to try to do our best to LIVE the Golden Rule.Yes, trust me when I say this can be hard when folks have been ugly and divisive relative to you and your work. Yet, again, as my parents would say – at least you can sleep well at night knowing you are living YOUR life in integrity and with purity of intention.
  3. Take care of your health during these stressful times.When folks are mean to us, if we internalize this, it will most certainly show up in our bodies. Thus, we need to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Eat well. Exercise every day at least 30 minutes. Consider Yoga or medication to help lower your blood pressure.
  4. Finally, we need keep these ‘evil doers’ in our prayers.It is impossible to harbor ill will against someone when we pray for them – of this I am 100% certain.

What are your thoughts? What suggestions to you have when we face situations like this in life and/or in business?

 

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? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.


The Interview – Part 1: Remember When?

Posted on February 24th, by Jacqueline Clay in Business and Workplace, The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Welcome to another edition of

The Funny Side of HR from the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

 

It is nothing short of amazing how the business of human resources has changed overall during the last 25 years.  And…certainly, if we look back at the job search and interview process 30+ years ago, there is less and less recognition of the art as we know it today.  (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age, so I can discuss this aspect quite thoroughly).  Both the job search and interview process has changed for the HR professional as well as for the candidate.

 

As I mentioned in my introductory piece last month, HR has its hand in a myriad of responsibilities and understanding the job search process from the candidate’s perspective is a key element in the attainment of the ideal candidate.  Given the amount of time it takes to conduct a candidate search, however, many organizations utilize agencies to expedite the process.

 

Today, I am going to do a backstory and take a look at the job search and interview process through the eyes and actions of a candidate seeking a job in years gone by.  This is almost cathartic for me since I have had many experiences job searching.  I will use the pronoun “you” to refer to all of us because we all have been in the job search marketplace at one time or another.

 

So…..walk down memory lane with me…

[Picture a blurred dreamy screen…Yes, I am also budding film producer!]

 

It is the 1980’s, back in a time when you could work your way up the corporate ladder and in essence, were expected to do so.  Many of us started somewhere near the bottom and made it to the top or very near the top.  (If only our boss would have left,  we could have made it to the top!)  Anyway, some of us made our way via education, certification, preparation, dedication, determination, innovation, recommendation, motivation and perspiration.  Some others made it by perpetration, falsification, association, relation, expiration, degradation and quite possibly, incantation.  However you made it, the force was with you, so congratulations are in order!

 

In any case, at the beginning, you found yourself in a situation to seek employment.  What kind of job?  Let’s see.  You have some experience and some education in your field of choice.  Most importantly, though you can type and know how to use a word processor, IBM computer.  You can type 60 words a minute.  (Actually you can type 70 words a minute…but unfortunately, only 60 words are correct).   You know how to use the arduous “cut and paste” and “find and replace” options.  You do not get a headache by looking at the word processor screen that has a dark green background with day-glow green print.  You know how to operate a fax machine and use a calculator.  You have the basics locked and sealed!

 

Now…let’s get started.  First things first.  Living in the Northeast and looking for work in New York, no job search could be launched without getting the job seekers bible…The New York Times.  How could you possibly be serious about any job search effort without thoroughly, eye glazingly (not sure glazingly is a word…but it IS the word needed here!)   reading the opportunities listed in the one and only New York Times.   You had to make sure that through hell or high water, you were able to get your copy of the Times.  This was so important that many people left their warm beds in the middle of the night, pajamas under raincoat, on Saturday evening, to make it down to the corner store to get their copy before it sold out.  Some stores would (somehow) just sell the Classifieds section so that you would not have to lug the entire 3 lb. Times when you only needed or wanted that part of the huge paper.   You still paid for it, but a reduced price.

 

Whew!  You got your copy!  Now to the Classifieds Section.  All you see are job advertisements from agencies, agencies and more agencies.  You circle the jobs most in line with your skills and qualifications.  Most of the jobs listed give short, fragmented descriptions, so it is difficult to determine whether you meet the qualifications or not.  You circle them anyway.  Some are listed with contact numbers, but when you call, you are not provided any additional information,  just told to come in.  “We don’t take appointments.  Just come in between 9 and 5 and bring several copies of your resume” was the mantra.

 

Resume!  Ok…you have a few copies printed on nice, expensive paper.  You prefer not to waste providing an agency with a resume printed on expensive paper.  But…alas…you may never get to the company interview if you don’t show a well written, professional resume and providing a copy on expensive looking paper may give you a minor edge.  You check to make sure there are no errors.  If there are, you have to retype the resume from scratch and take it to a printing company to make copies (unless you have a word processor and printer at home).  But…thanks to the resume gods, your resume looks good.

 

Ok….back to preparation.  Now…what to wear.  There are only a few acceptable choices.  A dark skirt suit (navy, black, brown, gray), a white or light colored shirt, low heeled shoes and flesh tone stockings.  Low heeled shoes were key because you never knew how far you would have to walk to get from agency to agency.  Accessories could be a string of pearls, a pin or a bow.  Simple, clean, professional.  We followed the Dress for Success rules to a tee.  One of the old adages routinely applied was, “don’t dress for the job you have (or in this case, going for), dress for the job you want”.

 

Finally, you have to decide the route to take.  (I am only going to speak from the perspective of seeking jobs in New York City and the subway, since that is where my experience is founded).  Most of the agencies were located near the 40th  midtown street location….although there were also numerous agencies in the Wall Street area.  Since you needed to keep your travel expenses to a minimum (in the 80’s, there were no metro ride all day for one low price cards), you made a list of the agencies in the same general vicinity knowing that you would, if lucky, only be able to get to two…maybe three agencies in one day.  Why?  Because you would have to wait…and wait and wait to be interviewed, especially on the Mondays and Tuesdays after the Sunday classifieds were published.  I recall walking into a “just come in” agency and seeing tens and tens of people just waiting.  Once you were called to move from the waiting room into the main room…you thought you were finally going to see someone to discuss the job…but no!  You were led to a room to take endless tests.   Typing, computer, spelling, math, calculator, etc.  Take a test…then wait…take another test…then wait.  Hour after hour.  At long last, some kind soul would call your name and usher you into the kingdom….the place where you would finally be interviewed for the job you circled.  You feel as if you had won the lottery!  It’s my turn!   Off to see the agency rep.

 

The agency representative, let’s call her Ms. Smith (very original, I know).  Ms. Smith scans your resume and reviews the mountain of tests you took earlier.  She asks about your experience and you regurgitate the speech you so diligently prepared.  Ms. Smith tells you about the position, but says that the agency has sent several candidates to the company already and waiting for a call back from them (the company).  Ms. Smith thanks you for coming and says, she will be in touch.  The entire interview took less than 5 good minutes.  Be in touch??  After several hours, you are told, “will be in touch” and given a polite good bye handshake???  At that point, YOU want to reach out and “touch” someone yourself!

 

Ready, set, go….. on to the next agency.  Never discouraged, you trot off to the next agency in your low heeled shoes with your New York Times circled classified section under your arm and your expensive resumes in your briefcase instilled with the confidence that you will eventually find a job.

 

Good Luck!

 

Next month….Interview – Part 2: How technology and social norms have changed the job search and interview  process for the candidate.  

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.


Career Tips from Innovative Female Executives

Posted on February 18th, by JP George in Career Advice. No Comments

Today’s society is keen on diversity in the workplace and creating equal opportunities for all employees. However, in the contemporary society where women’s rights are prevalent, many people are not embracing egalitarianism as strongly as they could. The good news is that society has come a long way and is making progress. But there is still a long way to go with gender equality within the workplace.

 

Below are career tips from innovative female executives and their success as leaders within their organizations.

 

1 – Kelsey Libert (Fractl): “Reward your employees”

Employees need to know that they are appreciated. Sometimes people will toil for years for their employer and never feel as though their progress and effort is worth anything. They begin to question why they are even exerting so much energy. Establish an employee rewards program so that your employees will know how much you appreciate them. Ms. Libert even suggests offering little surprises for your employees just as a reminder of your appreciation.

 

2 – Meg Whitman: “Do something that you love”

Many people will choose a career that is practical, prudent, or has a wide job market or a lot of opportunity for advancement. But the CEO of Hewlett-Packard suggests that if you are going to invest so much time and energy into something, you have to love what you doing. If you do not truly enjoy it, you will not have a thirst for excellence.

 

3 – Jacqueline Hinman (CH2M Hill): “Know your industry”

What is your area of expertise, and where in the industry are you starting? If you want to be a CEO or elevate through the corporate ladder, it is not enough to have knowledge in your area of specialization. You need to have knowledge of the entire industry so that you can better navigate through it to success.

 

4 – Indra Nooyi: “Embrace tough assignments”

This CEO of Pepsi suggest that you seek out the most challenging assignment and do it well. People would be more impressed if you wrote a 200K word academic treatise very well than if you wrote a 50 word blurb well. Seek out the challenging assignments, because people are generally not impressed if you do an easy job well.

 

5 – Jessica Mah: “Learn your specific customer’s needs”

As the CEO of inDinero recounts the experience of almost seeing her company collapse, she said that what saved her was customer interaction. She visited all of her customers and determined what they needed so that she could fulfill those needs precisely. She was willing to adapt her company model to the needs of her clientele.

 

6 – Sandy Geroux: “Offer them a platform”

Employees who have been on the job for a while may pick up on things of which a CEO will be unaware. The CEO of WOWplace International suggests that these employees should be given a platform to speak their minds. They have insight to provide. Offering a platform will also let the employees know that their insight is appreciated and noticed.

 

7 – Melinda Gates: “Make time for your family”

It is important to foster strong bonds with family. But this will also serve as an effective stress reliever. If you are totally consumed in your work with no recreation at all, it will be to the detriment of your success. Make time for your family and make time for recreation.

 

About the Author: JP grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

Should HR Follow Finance in Innovation? 

Posted on February 10th, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

We all know that HR technology threatens to make many in our function obsolete. We’ve heard that HR tasks can be outsourced or that systems can take the place of people. What I don’t believe anyone has pointed out is that Finance weathered this storm beautifully a long time ago, stepping in front of their transaction-based business into the role of core management, disseminating and becoming indispensable as advisors who use the tools to make the business faster and more agile. We’ve never tied these two departments together in their migration from transaction-based to innovation-based. I think it might make for a good read.

 

 

As HR professionals, we’re often threatened by obsolescence. We hear threats of outsourcing, that we’re mere paper pushers, that we can’t keep up with our internal business partners, nor do we speak the language of the business. Many of us seek our own counsel, gathering together to figure out what best practices could lift us into higher esteem with our C-suite, breaking our organizational structure and twisting our business models to appear more productive and current. But there’s a simple solution not many of us may have considered, another division who was much maligned for years until they rose to prominence over the past few years: why don’t we ask our friends in the Finance department?

 

Those of us who’ve been around for a couple of decades or more can remember how maligned our financial partners were: seen as necessary number crunchers who just ran reports, they suffered much the same threats as HR does today: outsourcing, deconstruction of the department, reengineering because they didn’t understand the business. But one look at the transformation of the Finance department of today, and they’re some of the most respected individuals in the business. Why not follow their lead?

 

Before we go further, I understand in many organizations the Finance and HR departments might be at loggerheads. Where Finance sees HR as the defender of decisions that might be better for the workforce than the bottom line and where HR may have issue putting return on investment on their activities for the needs of their Financial partners, I argue that a closer partnership is invaluable, and that we can learn a lot from our math-savvy teammates.

 

We’ve suffered many of the same failed reorganizations, by the way. Massive IT overhauls, shared service centers, process reengineering, etc. But where Finance has evolved is the focus on what the team can offer their clients versus how they offer it.  Back office transaction processing is virtually invisible to the internal client, and the most client-savvy among them are front-facing with their C-suite and management team, offering analysis and decision support. They operate with a clear vision of the activities which create value and drive business outcomes and those that don’t. Finance understands the skills and competencies their staff needs now and in the future in order to build stronger talent capabilities in areas of weakness. They evolve as a service provider. They keep their eye on how their processes and tools can help their clients succeed. They mind the bottom line, and they speak the language of the business.

 

The evolution of the back office of the Finance department is a critical example of what is possible if you maintain a client focus during a transformation. Both Finance and HR have undergone massive technological revolution. The differences between these processes is simple: HR technology brings HR processes to the desktops of the masses, while Finance technology brings the mindset of the masses to financial processes. Their job is to make it easier to enter data and run reports. General ledger information is rarely visible when filling out an expense report. Can we say the same about HR desktop technology? Are benefit, compensation and performance management desktops that fluid? We could learn something.

 

But the most crucial item to come of the evolution of the Finance department is their migration into the C-suite as consummate business partners. They know their businesses, and they’re able to forecast where the business wants to go and what it will take to get them there. They’re quick to suggest process improvements, technological advances, and tough decisions that will lead to the fortitude of the company. They’re one of the first to be pulled into a crucial decision-making meeting. They’re involved in all the major moves of the business because they’re seen as a trusted advisor and a crucial aspect of the business. It’s admirable. It’s also repeatable for the HR side of things.

 

I believe strongly in HR as the business partner that Finance has become. We must evolve and use our tools to solve the problems of our corporate clients. Align with Finance and follow their lead. Where their success has taken them, we only have to follow and surpass.

 

About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.


How Do I “Hook Them”?

Posted on February 2nd, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?

As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?

I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:

  • The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
  • First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
  • Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
  • Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
  • Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
  • Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
  • Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!!  Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
  • Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.

 

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? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.