It’s been about a month since the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference in Orlando. By now, those of us who attended have settled back into the realities of our jobs and day to day life. We’ve probably filed away our notes and stashed our swag, but have we thought about what we actually learned? Have we spent any time at all considering how we can take some of the ideas we gathered and put them into practice?
One of the concepts that particularly rang true with me was the notion that Human Resources professionals need to start thinking more like marketers, an idea offered by David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands. Maybe I’m partial to this idea because my college degree was in Marketing, and though I’ve been practicing HR for over 16 years that marketing mindset has remained with me. Or maybe I just believe the idea is not only genius, but necessary in this age of social media and transparency. Either way, the concept really resonated with me.
I think that whether we realize it or not, Human Resources professionals have always been (or at least should be) more similar to marketing professionals than not. Marketing professionals promote the business brand to the outside world; HR professionals must be the keeper of the employment brand and the story of what it means to be an employee of our companies to both the outside world (potential candidates) and inside world (current employees). However, that line is even more blurred now, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of social media which allows nearly every employment related decision we make to be broadcast or challenged, and every claim we make about the reality of working at our organizations to be either be validated or debunked publicly. Everything we do within our organizations, decisions that we used to generally be able to keep tightly under wraps, can now be put on display for the world to see. Take the recent employee termination at Cracker Barrel, a story that caused quite a bit of an uproar on social media, and one of just many examples in recent years. Perhaps we’ll never be able to prevent these types of stories from leaking, and every good HR professional knows there are always two sides to a story with the truth usually somewhere in the middle. But good HR professionals should also realize that perception becomes reality, and with that we now also have the opportunity to be more proactive with our efforts, to assume the mindset of a marketer and shape the employment story that’s on display to the world.
Branding the Employment Story
Just as our marketing departments promote our business’s brand to the outside world, HR should be promoting our employment story to the outside world. And ideally, that story should align with the business brand so a cohesive, united message is being disseminated. Here’s the value proposition that our brand offers our customers, and guess what? There’s a similar proposition as an employee. A company’s social properties, both general company platforms and employment related platforms, are perfect places to shout out what it means to be a part of our companies. Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and groups, Glassdoor pages…good HR departments should be leveraging all of these to tell our stories. But it doesn’t stop there; if we are truly thinking like marketers, we’ll realize that our messages need to be part of an integrated strategy with our story being told in any communication we have with our potential candidate public, and that includes our career pages, every job posting, and even our message in any interview we conduct. We need to be promoting our employment story at every possible opportunity.
Ensuring a Cultural Match
A good HR department will also realize that promoting a great employment story is useless if our reality doesn’t match what our story asserts. There may be some debate as to whether or not HR really has control over the culture of a company, and though we may not be able to entirely create it, we can certainly guide it. We can do this through hiring for cultural fit; by advising and guiding our managers to make decisions in the spirit of our culture; and by helping our managers see that the culture they create within their individual departments ultimately plays into the overall culture of the company. It is generally accepted wisdom that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers; stories of bad employment experiences, typically attributed to bad managers, can permeate our employment brand through Facebook posts or Glassdoor reviews, making good old fashioned word of mouth sharing multiply exponentially. Human Resources departments alone may not be able to create a culture, but we can certainly be keepers of that culture; a collective conscience of the organization.
Engaging Our Employees in the Story
Ultimately HR alone can’t tell our employment story, at least not as effectively as it can be told. We can’t neglect the value of using our employees as brand ambassadors, or conduits for sharing our employment story. Those social properties mentioned before? It’s one thing for an official company or HR message to be shared, but how powerful when that message comes directly from your employees? What’s more believable – a slick, programmed message from a corporate department, or real-life stories and experiences shared by the very people living and working within that company culture every day? It again comes back to that concept of word of mouth marketing or personal endorsements, whether they be stories on your careers page, blog posts written by employees, YouTube videos featuring employees on the job, or positive Glassdoor reviews.
We’ll likely never eliminate all of the negatives, and we’ll probably never make every employee happy, but by thinking like marketers we can ensure that we’re leveraging and promoting all of the positive stories waiting to be told and buzz waiting to be shared about our organizations.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
Throughout the world there’s a huge gender gap in regards to business, and even in modern society women are still heavily discriminated against in the workplace. However, according to Inc., in the United States and Asia female entrepreneurs are both more innovative and more successful than their male counterparts. Here are the top three reasons why.
Women Take Fewer Financial Risks
A study conducted by the International Finance Corporation states that women are “less risky” than men. Taking fewer financial risks often leads to less debt and a slower rate of growth. Rapid expansion, however, can drive businesses into bankruptcy. This is because as expenses grow, so do costs, and they will often find themselves unable to cope with the demand. Women often prefer to keep their businesses smaller so they can focus on delivering a quality service and retain a better work/life balance.
A recent trend in this regard is the lack and women signing long term lease agreements for offices; and instead, opting for short term serviced offices. Unlike traditional office spaces – which often require a contract term of 3-5 years – serviced offices can be rented for as little as 1 month; provide services and facilities without overheads; provide a more prestigious working address; and most importantly, lower financial risk. Skyline Offices have compiled a case study exploring the benefits of serviced offices.
Women Often Seek Advice During the Startup Stages
70% of women who start businesses will seek advice prior to investing any time or money in their venture; and many partake in some form of government run business course. In addition, women are known to develop more thorough business plans and give their ideas more thought than men. Business leaders that prepare significantly increase their chance of success.
While seeking advice isn’t an innovative approach to conducting business, it can certainly help boost confidence and trigger more innovative ideas; especially in today’s remote working environment where high proportions of female entrepreneurs are starting new businesses online.
Women Place More Emphasis on Social Media
According to Forbes, women use social media a lot more than men; therefore, women business leaders tend to place more emphasis on social media marketing. It’s estimated that most female entrepreneurs invest roughly 79% of their online marketing budget on social media. While this may seem high; unlike other forms of online marketing, social media is a one-time investment because when a lead “follows” or “likes” a social network page or profile, they’ll be subject to free marketing in the future.
In addition to this paid traffic, Google looks favourably upon businesses that have an active social media presence and will reward them with higher organic rankings in the search engines. This can lead to a constant steam of free exposure.
Sadly, women are 18% less likely to believe that they can achieve success in business, which puts many talented individuals off the idea altogether. It’s going to take more than statistics to change narrow mindedness and gender discrimination; however, if women continue to yield successful results in the future, perhaps the faces of up-and-coming businesses will start to change.
Photo Credit: Jodie Womack
About the Author: Helen Wallis is a 30 something mum of one who enjoys reading and is a passionate blogger. Having worked in the big smoke for many years, Helen now enjoys a quieter lifestyle and indulges in her passion for writing and cooking.
With great power comes great responsibility, said Spider Man.
A good leader embodies a number of highly-desired traits. He or she is focused, flexible, empathetic, ethical, and is engaged in a strong pursuit of success. There are different types of leaders and many leadership styles. Each might approach a situation or a problem in a different way but the outcome should always be the same: success or solution to a problem. Being able to get things done is the sign of a good leader.
Leadership has been much discussed. Thousands of books, articles, and blogs have been dedicated to studying different and efficient leadership styles. So how is it that despite such a wealth of information available on being a good leader, every organization has its own set of bad leaders? How come every employee has at least once endured that dreaded thing called “bad boss”?
No one starts off with the goal of becoming a horrible boss, but one picks up undesirable qualities along the way and gets stuck in self-defeating patterns of words and actions that earns one the label of ‘the boss from hell’.
So what are the things that lead to people getting this not-so-coveted title? Here are some of the qualities that we absolutely do not want in our leaders.
Credit Snatcher Alert!
This is for all those bosses who can never appreciate the fine work of their juniors and waste no time in making it their own. So your juniors may be less experienced and less skilled than you but when they do a good job they do deserve appreciation.
While taking credit for someone else’s work could be unintentional at times, especially when you feel that you came up with an idea which your subordinates simply executed, the least you can do is give them the credit for their part of work. That is what a good mentor does.
Is an Opportunistic Communicator
Being a good communicator is one of the key qualities needed to become a good leader. But good communication is not limited to conveying what you want from your employees and giving them their targets unambiguously.
It is about keeping them motivated and positive at all times. You cannot be an aggressive and empowering communicator only when you need your subordinates to work for you. To be a good leader you should be an informative, enthusiastic and encouraging communicator at all times.
Many leaders do not let beneficial and important information trickle down to their juniors as they fear that access to such information may help their juniors outshine them. This is bad practice. Such leaders never earn the trust or willing support of their subordinates. You cannot lead a team with a need-to-know-only attitude towards your juniors.
Lacks Vision and Focus
Leading through action and direction is the mantra for most successful leaders. Nobody can trust or rely on a leader who does not have a vision for himself or for the growth of his team. A leader needs to be clear about his goals and be meticulous in his approach towards attaining these goals.
Such a leader is focused and leads through example. On the other hand, a leader who lacks vision and focus will not set long-term goals. He cannot induce passion or commitment towards work in his or her subordinates. The best leaders are those who inspire others to go ahead and achieve their dreams. Such leaders infuse positivity, discipline and focus in their subordinates.
A bad leader lacks vision and fails to plan properly. They are not connected to their employees and remain clueless about the goings-on at work. They also fail to remain accountable and often blame their juniors when something goes wrong. Most people don’t stick around for long under such leaders.
Lacks Empathy and Flexibility
Kindness and humility go a long way. A leader that always says ‘NO’ to all that a junior asks, refuses to accept any innovation put forth by young blood, and is dominating and dictatorial in his approach gets a thumbs-down form us.
One becomes a leader only when he or she has followers. A boss that does not empathize with his workers is a bad boss and won’t win any hearts.
When your subordinates feel that you care for them, they want to give you their best. On the other hand, if they only receive indifference and coldness from the boss, their productivity will decline and understandably so.
These are bosses with excessive ego, pride and arrogance. They usually possess all of the above mentioned qualities. In addition to that, they are bad listeners. They believe that they know everything and will discourage you to speak up or express your views. And if you do manage to do so and rub them the wrong way, be ready for some serious payback. Yes, they are vindictive too.
Engages in Favoritism
Now this is the boss who irks us the most. They will shower favors on those they like. They love people sucking up to them and if you don’t, you are in deep trouble. By now you might have guessed that they play an active role in office politics and deliberately underplay your talent and hard work. They also pit employees against each other and create a bad working atmosphere.
If you are a leader and have been deliberately or unintentionally exhibiting any of the above behavior, check yourself now. A good leader brings out the best in all his followers; he is fair and unbiased and gives wings to his followers’ dreams. If you are working under a leader who does not inspire you to give your best, you need to recognize the signs and find a way out to receive guidance from a better boss.
About the Author: Lura Peterson is a freelance writer for Topmobility.com and loves to write on mobility. Besides writing, she also enjoys shopping, traveling with her family to far-off places and time spent with her husband.
Much has been said and written about the Millennial Generation, much of which is untrue or highly exaggerated. This group has often been criticized for being lazy, entitled and self-obsessed, but that’s not quite right. And, anyway, isn’t that always how the older generations describe “kids these days”?
The truth is that the notorious Millennials, or members of Generation Y, are more socially aware, innovative and worldly than any generation that came before, and they’re up against a lot more. This group is entering an extremely competitive, slim workforce with huge amounts of student loan debt, yet they’re highly optimistic about their futures.
Instead of thinking of ways to “deal” with Millennials who enter your company, you really ought to be coming up with ways to attract more of these creative thinkers – after all, in 10 years, Gen Y will make up three quarters of the workforce.
1. Be Different
Today’s college grads are not satisfied with their parents’ workplace. They take one look at a staid, old-fashioned office with its bland cubicles and depressing break room, and they run the other way. Millenials are turned off by the idea of working at the same, isolated desk all day.
Tim Buchenberger, designer at Whitney Architects, a firm that designs many modern workplaces, said, “We encourage companies to choose designs that promote flexibility and allow people to easily move in and out of different work environments. The spaces need to encourage personal and professional connections – they should create a sense of belonging.”
If you really want to attract the best and brightest young people, you have to build a physical environment that suits their work preferences and reflects the way technology has changed the way we communicate. Hip, modern companies eschew the culture of private offices and closed-off cubicles of yore in favor of open-concept spaces and meeting rooms that are conducive to collaboration.
2. Be Flexible
Millenials view the traditional work day in the same way they see the traditional office: outdated and irrelevant. Technology has completely transformed the way we work, and Gen Y understands that more than anyone, especially considering the fact that they don’t remember a time before the internet. Much of what necessitated the classic 9-5 schedule no longer applies.
If it was up to this new generation, all companies would allow workers to be flexible about when and where they work, as long as the work was getting done. They also prefer more casual dress requirements, which helps them feel like they can be themselves. An MTV study called No Collar Workers, found that 81% of Millennial employees think they should be able to make their own work hours and 79% think they should be able to wear jeans to work.
The point is that this generation is looking for a workplace that breaks down the strict barriers between work life and home life. The benefit to you is that, by creating a more inviting and flexible work environment, you get employees who actually want to be in the office and who thrive in an environment that encourages personal freedom and expression. It might all sound a bit foreign and new-age, but this is where things are headed and early adopters will find themselves ahead of the pack.
3. Mentorship Matters
Critics accuse Millennials of being dependent and in need of hand-holding, but these nay-sayers may just need to shift their perspective. In the past, many companies would essentially throw new team members into the deep end – their ability to learn to swim was their first test. This generation, however, works better with nurturing mentor relationships and frequent feedback. And is that so bad? Why shouldn’t we do everything we can to assimilate and educate new employees in order to help ensure their success?
You can make a Millenial feel right at home in your company by assigning them an official mentor from the start – this person would be responsible for showing them the ropes and facilitating regular check-ins where the newbie would be allowed to ask questions and seek feedback on their performance. This kind of system will not only attract workers of Gen Y, it will increase new employee retention and help decrease the inevitable learning curve that slows down productivity.
4. Raise Responsibility
This may surprise you, but Millennials are not motivated by money. Sure, money matters, but not as much as opportunities for growth, leadership and influence. Ultimately, today’s young workers would rather have a lower paycheck that comes with greater satisfaction than vice versa. And they want their voices heard and their input valued – 76% of those surveyed in the No Collar Workers study said that they believed their bosses could learn from them.
Perhaps because of the fact that they’re more in touch with technology than their older superiors, Millennials don’t prescribe to the belief that a strict hierarchy should dictate whose ideas matter the most. Your company can accommodate this belief by doing things like holding group brainstorming sessions that let all team members contribute equally. You can also tap young employees to train older team members on technology – this makes logical sense and it allows them to feel useful and valuable.
5. Make a Difference
Despite the bad rap they’ve gotten for being self-involved, Millennials are actually quite socially conscious and look for employers that are doing their part to give back or improve the world in some way. A 2014 Deloitte study on Millennials in the workforce concluded that this generation believes that a company’s success is not just measured in profits, but in contributions to the world at large. This was based on the fact that large percentages of them volunteer their time and money to charitable organizations and sign political petitions.
This is an easy and beneficial change for any company to make. Not only does company-wide philanthropy help those in need, but it also does wonders for building team morale and creating a more solid company culture. Taking the whole team to a food bank or an animal shelter for a day says, “We are a company that cares and values giving back to the community.” This makes all employees, not just Millennials, feel good about the place where they work, which in turn, creates more loyal and productive team members.
Millenials will soon take over America’s workforce. When that happens, companies won’t be asking themselves whether or not to adapt in order to suit their preferences – the adaptations will simply happen out of necessity.
The companies that choose to begin evolving early will be the ones that rise to the top, while the stragglers will find themselves running to catch up. As Bob Dylan sung in his epic ode to the power of youth, “Your old road is rapidly agin’, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’.”
Want to see where you fall on the Millenial continuum? Take this quiz, developed by the Pew Research Institute.
About the Author: Rod Miller is the Head of New Program Development of Corporate Award Source, an online supplier ofcustom corporate awards. Rod is also a frequent contributor to several career blogs and is passionate about educating professionals on workplace morale and leadership. For more information, visitCorporate Award Source or connect with Rod on Google+.
I’ve noticed several articles floating around about how jobseekers with visible tattoos shouldn’t be discriminated against when it comes to hiring. One article I read said that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be expanded so that inked individuals are protected from workplace discrimination. Huh? We inherit our race, gender and national origin at birth and the last time I checked, getting a tattoo is a choice.
Now before you go berserk and jump to the comments to rant about how you should be judged by your talent and skills, not your appearance, please humor me and let me explain.
First impression and perception
For the sake of clarity, visible tattoos are ones that you can’t hide — the ones climbing up your neck and chest or on your face and hands. I’m not referring to the ink that’s easily hidden by clothing or by rolling down your sleeves.
When it comes to first impressions, do you know how much your skills matter if you have visible ink? I don’t. I do know that you can’t assume the tattoos won’t be distracting. More important, you can’t predict or control the biases and judgments that others make of you.
I wanted to write this post for the same reason I wrote this post telling women not to wear giant bling to a job interview. When you put yourself in a position to be judged by others, you give away your power to be noticed only for your skills and expertise. Instead, you risk being in the critical eye of someone who perceives you inaccurately.
There are jobs outside of the Corporate America office where it’s perfectly fine for workers to have visible tattoos. If you do a physical labor job, work at home or bouncer/security guard just to name a few. I’m sure the music and art industry are fine with visible ink as well.
Ink and success
People get tattoos for various reasons — whether it’s honoring a loved one or simply self expression — it’s a personal decision and I get that. While I believe we’ll see a shift at work towards tattoo acceptance, it’ll be slow. And even if the company you work for is cool with your ink, customers may not be okay with it — which adds another challenging layer to the issue.
One of the articles I read was from a medical website and a doctor being interviewed said he believed that if he had tattoos and piercings that his patients wouldn’t take him seriously, and that patients are more apt to comply with the instructions of physicians who look professional, which leads to better health outcomes. He also said that your label — your brand — can impact your ability to get referrals for new patients.
In a perfect world we’d all work in an environment where people don’t judge each other based on appearance and enjoy a culture that embraces diversity. But as long as we have humans at work, we can kill the idea of ever having a non-judgmental workplace.
Photo credit: someecards
About the Author: Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: Though many of our readers and writers tend to be US or UK based, the goal of Women of HR is to support all women in business, regardless of location. Today we are expanding our reach as our guest author takes a look at the challenges of women in business in Asia.
The business world in Asia needs to take a hard look at why many companies are still hesitant to hire women in leadership positions. Gender diversity in successful organizations has reached a point where women need to be brought into leadership roles. According to UN Women, the Asia-Pacific economy loses USD 89 billion every year by not cultivating the female workforce. This is only one of many reasons why women should be hired into the workforce as leaders.
Perceived Challenges for Hiring Women in Asia
There are a number of basic challenges that can influence Asian employers into thinking that hiring women complicates team synergies. The bottom line is these are just perceptions. Some of the difficulties that employers think they’ll face when hiring women include:
- Prioritizing family commitments
- Un-equal dedication of work hours as compared to male peers
- What-If Scenarios: What if they get married, what if they get pregnant, what if they move away?
- Effort required to become a female friendly workplace
However, don’t you think some of the same scenarios exist for men too? It may not seem like it but family is usually the number one priority for everyone. Challenges need to be worked out for both men and women and it’s unfair to think that just women will let you down.
Benefits of Women in Leadership Roles
More or less we understand the perceived challenges that employers may fear, including the ones listed above. However, the benefits of women in leadership roles and the specific talent they bring to an organization greatly outweighs the concerns.
- Experienced Multitaskers: Rather than taking a women’s requirement to juggle work and family as setback, one should consider that this actually makes them better project managers and team leaders. So much so that BBC covered the topic, scientifically proving that women are better multitaskers. Leaders should ask themselves, if the majority of their male leadership teams were replaced by women, would they actually achieve more?
- Extreme Dedication: Most Asian women know that getting a break in the professional world could come once maybe twice in their working careers. When they get it, their dedication is incomparable. They’re open to working from home, coming in on weekends and bringing their children to work. A report published by TalentCorp Malaysia and Acca revealed that the top 3 reasons why women leave work in Malaysia is:
- To raise a family
- Lack of work life balance
- To care for a family member.
As long as they’re given the opportunity to focus on both family and work they won’t let either one down.
- Different Leadership Styles: Teams in the workplace now want collaborative leadership styles rather than commanding ones. Certain character traits which are more dominant in women such as building relationships, listening and collaboration can create an environment which cultivates both team and company success. According to a survey conducted by HBR, 62% of respondents leaned towards hiring a male CEO unless the company was doing poorly in which case 69% wanted to hire a female leader. People understand that women make different leaders than men in a good way, they just don’t implement it regularly.
In an ideal world, women and men would be considered equal professionals – traits and perceived challenges would not be based on gender. However, anyone who has spent time working in Asia knows that we’re far away from this goal for gender diversity. How have you changed your workplace to be more female friendly, especially in leadership positions?
About the Author: Paul Keijzer is the CEO and Managing Partner of Engage Consulting in Malaysia, Pakistan and UAE. His primary focus is on transforming top teams and managing talent across Asia’s emerging and frontier markets. Download Paul’s Social Media Toolkit to Advance your Career
Honesty is best but there are times when you can and should choose to refrain. There’s always levels of complexity involved and there is the risk of appearing hypocritical. Also, you have to choose what to be honest about. I don’t think that your goal of maintaining honesty should mean a complete and thorough application of the principle regardless… although I realize that the more exceptions there are to the rule, the more the rule gets a bit hazy.
But here’s what I do know.
I have, to the best of my ability, tried to live an honest life, in that I tried to be true to my goals, desires and emotion. I worked hard at ensuring a meeting of minds between my mental and emotional state and the actions resulting thereof.
I had to. I could not live any other way.
As far as I could, I wanted to be authentic in my communications and relationships. It was necessary for me to be truthful, to the point of pain, about what I saw, what I felt, what I believed, even if it was at odds or brought conflict to bear in a given situation.
Honesty, in this case, was therefore merely an alignment between my thoughts and my actions. Living a lie, where what I thought was distinct from my actions, would prove too difficult to endure or to sustain.
I have, in recent times, been privy to two sets of close relationships where I see that honesty is critical to the nature of the relationship. I have seen how inaction or uncertainty about how to respond in a given situation can be taken as acquiescence of the current status quo. I have seen how silence can be taken as tolerance or worse still, willingness.
These situations and relationships, and how people make sense of it all, take years to develop. Like an onion, it is built layer upon layer and the demarcation is blurred.
You owe it to yourself to be honest. So that you can move on, so that you can achieve the life and relationships you deserve to have. Yes, it is scary to realize the potential negative reactions that we could be called on to face, and sometimes, we will need to face this, all alone.
But in our quest for a life that is true and authentic, for relationships that are based on something meaningful and deep, for decisions that are anchored in something sturdy and substantial, we need to aim for honesty.
If only so that we can reconcile our desires and needs with our actions.
If only for us to live a life with minimal regret.
If only to make real impact on those around us.
Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource professionals. She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as oversight on client training and corporate functional areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The theme of the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference, and one that manifested in a number of ways throughout the course of the four days. The keynote speakers touched on it. Many of the concurrent and Smart Stage sessions reinforced it. But the question is, did the HR professionals that attended walk away ready to assume a transformational mindset?
I found it encouraging that by design the programming of SHRM Annual seemed to promote the idea of transformation. Of course the keynote speakers supported the idea, as you would expect they would; any good keynote will bring the theme of the conference into their message in some way. Robin Roberts encouraged us to be grateful for what we have, but never stop striving for the next thing, for something bigger, and encouraged us to put ourselves in position for great things to happen. Tom Friedman focused on our hyper-connected world, and how that changes not only how we work as HR professionals, but how that fundamentally changes our workplaces, the expectations of our employees, and the necessary skill sets for success going forward. And David Novak talked about the need for HR professionals to start thinking and acting like marketers, that we are the keepers of the message of what it means to work for our companies, perhaps a mindset shift for many.
But beyond the messages of the keynotes, I also found it encouraging that many of the concurrent sessions focused on topics intended to facilitate a transformational mindset. Sessions like Jason Lauritsen’s “HR as Social Architect” where he discussed the idea of building and harnessing not just the human capital of our workplaces, but also the social capital of our workforces in an effort to leverage the power of the collective. Jessica Miller-Merrell discussed how we can use social media as a low or no cost way to engage and communicate with our employees. And Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese demystified the process of working with HR technology vendors to effectively select and implement the right solutions to make our jobs more efficient. All of these sessions had good sized audiences, which validates that HR pros have an appetite to learn not just about how to deal with the tactical issues that we face day to day, but also about these more transformative topics.
One of the biggest changes to SHRM Annual programming this year was the addition of The Connection Zone, and specifically the Smart Stage. Now I may be a little biased since I was a speaker on the Smart Stage myself, but the concept itself was intriguing, and yes, a bit transformational for SHRM Annual….fifteen to eighteen minute presentations on a variety of actionable topics, programmed together in groups of three so that attendees could get a sampling of a variety of information within a one-hour timeframe, complete with Q&A with the speakers afterwards. And many of the topics presented were focused on technology, discussions of current trends, or predictions for future trends. I found myself migrating back to the Smart Stage numerous times throughout the course of the conference for the opportunity to soak in some ideas quickly and efficiently. Perhaps this was the beginning of a shift in the way we present information in conference settings?
Though there’s still a lot of work to do to get us ready to handle the changes in our workplaces that are coming (and in some cases already here) as a result of advances in technology and the hyper-connected and transparent world in which we now live, I walked away from the conference excited about the shifts that I saw, and excited to help promote that transformational mindset shift among my colleagues and peers. As a profession, I think we are beginning to take the right steps. The question remains, how many of us as a collective body of professionals are ready to join in and make that shift? Will you join in the shift?
Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.
There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.
My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.
Perception is Reality
One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.
The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.
It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.
I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.
Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!
Goals Matter…Sort of
As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.
I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.
In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.
With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.
I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.
Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.
I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.
About the Author: Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about. She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.
We’re down here in sunny Orlando, Florida where the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference has been underway for the past day and a half. This year’s theme is “Transform,” and it’s a theme that has reappeared and been reinforced numerous times already.
Preceding Robin Roberts’ opening keynote, SHRM CEO Hank Jackson took the stage with a call to action to attendees to champion the new and different. With the technology solutions available to us as HR practitioners, we should be able to automate the administration of HR and free up time to think and act more strategically. He also cautioned that out of everything in our HR toolkits, technical knowledge is just the start. It’s what we can do with that knowledge going forward that will make the difference to our companies, and our careers.
Robin Roberts inspired us with her tales of optimism and grit in the face of adversity. She shared with us her belief that optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use. But she also encouraged us to put ourselves in a position for good things to happen, be willing to make necessary sacrifices to allow the good things to happen, and to dream big but focus small – the day to day details DO matter. But what really resonated with me was the idea that it’s okay to be grateful and thankful for what you do have and where you are, but not necessarily content, and that we should ask ourselves the question, “Am I ready for something bigger?” I believe that question should apply to each of us personally as well as us as a collective profession.
Tom Friedman talked about the marriage of globalization and the IT revolution as the most important event in the 21st century, and how that impacts companies and workforces alike. We gone from a connected to a hyper-connected world in just 7 short years, and advances in technology will continue to change the way work is done and the skills needed to get work done. He reiterated the idea that it’s not what you know or where you learned it that will matter going forward, but rather what you can do with that knowledge that will determine your success. It will no longer be enough to say “I’m non-routine;” we will need to find our “extra” – our unique contribution that justifies our value. As HR professionals, are we ready to guide our companies and employees (not to mention ourselves) through these changes?
As I listened to the numerous variations of this theme over the past couple of day, I have to wonder to myself…..are we, as a profession and as a collective body of HR professionals ready to transform? I know I am. Will you join me?
Stay tuned for more updates from SHRM14 later this week.