I work with HR business owners on a daily basis, and when it comes to confidence issues, there’s something that I notice time and time again. If an entrepreneur is struggling to realise their potential because of their doubt about their own abilities, then most of the time, they also happen to be women. The causes and background behind this are different ballgames altogether, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.
I’m here instead to tell you what you can do if this applies to you in your own HR business. Because if you want to grow the business that you really deserve, and bring in the cash that you want, you need to overcome your confidence issues and really ramp things up to the next level. These are my tried and tested techniques for struggling entrepreneurs who need to raise their game.
Focus on your big vision
Some of us are natural born entrepreneurs, destined to take the reins and do our own things from the offset. For many more of us though, self-employment was something that kind of happened as a result of circumstances. So maybe you started your HR business after you got made redundant, or maybe you started a family and realised that you needed some extra flexibility, or perhaps you just reached the stage in the corporate world where enough was enough, and you needed to get out there and create your own future rather than someone else’s.
That’s fine, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve big success in your business, but it often does mean that you get your head down and soldier on, without ever stopping to think about what you REALLY want out of your business. Do you want to make 6 figures, 7 figures, or beyond? Do you want a better work-life balance? Whatever it is, you’ll only get there if you know what your big ambitions are, get them really clear in your mind, and set the intention that you’ll make it happen. The magic occurs when you’ve got an unwavering big vision, you recognise it, and you work out the steps that it’ll take to get you there.
Do whatever it takes to keep these big goals in mind and propel yourself forward. Create a vision board in your office, make a virtual board using Pinterest, commit your ambitions to paper, make sure that your family understands what it is that you’re working towards. Some of these things might seem a little ‘woo-woo’, especially for seasoned business professionals, but trust me – action in these areas helped me to make huge progress in my business.
Eliminate your blocks
Success and money are difficult subjects, and your attitude towards them has been formed over the course of your whole life. The things your parents taught you about work and spending, the very first job that you had, that time you were unfairly missed out of a promotion exercise – all of things build up to create your own views on your abilities as a business owner, and whether or not you consciously realise it, have a bearing on how you perform.
Are you undervaluing your services, and hugely over-delivering to clients who don’t value your work? Are you letting your prospects haggle you down, even though you know that you should be charging a premium for the type of expertise that you offer? All of things are indicators that your relationship with success and money needs some work.
Once you recognise and acknowledge these barriers that hold you back, it’s much easier to break them down. In my experience, men typically have a much less emotional relationship with money in their businesses than women do. If you want to overcome the issues that are holding you back, it’s vital that you take the time to unearth them, then work on creating a new personal belief system that creates success rather than stalling you.
Recognise your expertise – and market yourself as the expert
Take a second to think about your expertise as an HR professional. I dare bet that you’ve got masses of qualifications, real experience out there in the trenches, and you could provide masses of anecdotal evidence right off the top of your head about how you’ve transformed businesses with your skills. Regardless of what your confidence sometimes tell you, you know in your heart of hearts that you’re fabulous at what you do.
So why doesn’t the world know about it? When you effectively market your business, you carve out your own niche as the go-to HR professional for what it is that you offer. What happens next is two-pronged. Firstly, your business grows. When you’re the expert, you attract clients who are a great fit for you and truly value your skills. And, importantly, your confidence soars. Getting to grips with marketing is one of the best things you can ever do for your business – because after all, if clients aren’t banging down your door to work with you, you won’t have the successful business that you’ve been dreaming about.
Marketing might be out of the realms of your current skill set, and that’s why you need to take active steps to understanding what you need to do to make more cash and ramp things up a level. Read all you can, seek out a marketing coach that understands your industry, and most importantly, take action. Your business could be an entirely different entity by next year if you make positive steps in this area.
About the Author: Ruth Hinds is the founder of HR Consultants Marketing School, and helps HR business owners to make more money and attract clients who are a great fit. A former HR professional herself, she’s worked in senior HR management roles and has an MSc in HRM. For the past two years, she’s worked closely with HR business owners just like you to help them reach the next level. Check out her free guide to attracting all the right clients to your HR business.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Lois P. Frankel is the President of Corporate Coaching International , an executive coach, speaker, and best-selling author. She has just released an updated and revised 10th anniversary edition of her book Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers. In it she reveals a distinctive set of behaviors that women learn in girlhood that ultimately sabotage them as adults and discusses how to eliminate those behaviors. Today, she has shared her Top 10 tips with us. Some you may agree with, some you may not. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Top 10 Tips For Claiming the Corner Office
1. Body Art: Don’t get a tattoo or an unusual body piercing if you’d had even one drink, toke, or snort. You’ll be likely to regret it. Similarly, don’t be goaded into getting one by your sorority sisters, girlfriends, or someone you’re dating who thinks they’re hot.
2. Communication: Resist the urge that screams incomplete when you don’t say everything that’s on your mind. Women, fearing they haven’t explained well enough, can use about twice as many words per day than men (and then wonder why they’re not listened to). We think when we talk more, we make a better case – when in fact the opposite is true. This is a case where less is more.
3. Inappropriate Use of Social Media: Once you post something on the internet, getting it off is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. You have no control over where it goes. Play it safe. Put nothing on the internet that could cause someone to doubt your values, your brand, or your reputation.
4. Giving Away Your Ideas: Get in the habit of asking a question after expressing an idea or making a proposal. Something like, “Are there any objections to immediately getting to work on this?” is ideal. This increases the likelihood of acknowledgement and discussion.
5. Feeding Others: Unless your name is Betty Crocker, don’t bring food to work or have it sitting on your desk. It softens the impression others have of you. Of course if it needs softening because you’re a tough broad, it could be a good strategy!
6. Skipping Meetings: If you think meetings are just a big waste of time, think again. They’re called “meet-ings” not “work-ings.” Even when a meeting seems unproductive, it provides you with the opportunity to market you brand, get information, and be on the radar screens of those who making decisions about your career.
7. Being a Doormat: Pablo Picasso said, “There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.” Avoid being the latter by learning to manage expectations about what you can and can’t realistically do (take a negotiations class if you have to), asking for what you want or need rather than waiting to be given it, and trusting your instincts. If you think you’re being taken advantage of or abused, you likely are.
8. Protecting Jerks: Women are like jerk flypaper. Not only do we attract them more than men do, we tolerate them longer than we should. Consciously distance yourself from jerks (and jerks can be men or women) so that you’re not found guilty by association, when you get blamed for the actions of a jerk re-direct the blame to where it belongs, and when the jerk is your boss it’s time to look for another job. You won’t change a jerk, so protect yourself.
9. Making Miracles: Miracle workers get canonized not recognized. In every organization there’s a baseline for hard work that everyone is expected to toe. If you consistently work beyond the baseline you’ll be seen as a worker-bee and just be given more work to do. Learn to not only do your job well, but also be strategic in how it gets done so that you’re seen as more than just a worker-bee. Use all the extra “free” time on your hands to build relationships that will serve you throughout your career.
10. Branding: We are all brands in the workplace. It’s what distinguishes you from everyone else. Write down 3 – 5 words you want people to use to describe you. Then identify the behaviors in which you must engage for others to actually see those traits. When you act in concert with your brand, people will come to trust you.
2013 was NOT a good year for me. In my head, that is. Mentally, I felt burned out, disconnected, wondering if I needed to make a professional change, and at times, I felt frustrated in my HR role. Twelve years (now starting year 13) is a “record” for me in any position.
In prior careers, I got bored, frustrated, fed up, or felt thwarted with career growth, and moved on. Sometimes graciously, sometimes, not so much. Hopefully I’ve learned from each of those other roles, and grown wiser as well as older. Now having been in HR for more than 17 years has given me so much ability to look back over my own career and learn life lessons. I spent a LOT of time ‘inside’ my own head in 2013, struggling with potentially life-changing and career-changing decisions last year.
I feel like I’m back in the groove in 2014, and I feel more connected to the organization and more engaged in my job. I cannot put my finger on exactly why or when that happened, but here are a few thoughts, perhaps ‘tips’ for others, on my challenges from last year.
- Don’t let your (bad, poor) attitude bleed over to your direct reports. This is possibly the hardest thing of all for me. I am pretty transparent in what I share with my team, and in my body language. I’m not sure I fooled them, but they were gracious enough, gave me space, time, and the ability to work through my own head. Which leads me to,
- Put a great work team in place. Select the smartest, most talented people you can, teach them what you want and need them to know, then set them free to chart their professional course. Sometimes that will mean you need to let go, delegate more, or trust in their decisions. Do this. As early as possible after you become a manager. This is critical to success, and most of all, it is my work team that kept moving forward , kept getting things done and getting results in HR, that helped ‘mask’ my bad year. In short, they made me look good. Even when I mentally was not very good.
- Have other activities to keep you going. 2013 was the year I took on physical challenges to get myself out of part of my funk. I began to strength train 2-3 times per week. I also found a ‘safety zone’ in my family at home, where I knew I would go at the end of every day.
- Talk about your challenges with someone. Whether professionally with a life coach, or with a good friend. In my case, as in many HR professionals’ worlds, I cannot share specifics of work challenges, but I do have close friends with whom I could share my general malaise. They listened. Encouraged. Let me know I was indeed human. And though I’m not generally a hugger, they gave me hugs – mentally, physically. Often, when I needed them most.
- Take time off. We have a generous paid time off policy where I work – another perk one has to think of, when considering change. I used my time. Sometimes one day at a time. And I planned for two weeks off at year-end. In a very warm climate. With my family. I had this to look forward to as I plugged through my 2013.
- Before you leap, step back and look around. I was likely pretty transparent to many around me. I had many colleagues stop by to check on me last year. Just to “see how I was doing.” Obviously, I must have been transparent with how I was feeling. Looking back and reflecting, I have it pretty good where I am. I have great colleagues, the very best team I could ask for, a great job with great benefits and perks, and even a really good boss.
- Share, in a professional way, your career desires or work frustrations, with your boss. Sometimes, it’s just having a secure outlet to share work frustrations that helps. Sometimes, getting another’s perspective from their seat allows for attitude adjustment to happen. I had a good discussion with my boss during performance review time. I let him know that I sometimes need him to spend just a little of his valuable time with me. That time alone, is very engaging for me. I appreciate the confidence he has placed in me, his trust of me, and the value he places on HR in the organization.
I’m engaged in my work right now, and aiming for a great 2014. What turned it around? I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the two weeks off I took near year end, and the full week I spent lounging in Key West with my family. Perhaps it was inward reflection on what a great place I indeed work – and all the perks and benefits I have here. Perhaps it was my friends. Perhaps it was the great HR team who figuratively carried me through 2013, when I couldn’t walk myself. Maybe it was all of those things. I think I have my groove back. Let’s go!!
About the Author: Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution. She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University. She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization. She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job. She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn. She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.
It doesn’t take many years in the work force to begin acquiring meaningful experience that will serve you well in the future. In fact, you may be in the position you currently hold more for what experience has taught you than for what a classroom has taught you.
The positive outcomes you’ve achieved thanks to your lessons at Hard Knocks U reinforce your belief that success in a field doesn’t require formal education in it.
You’ve probably noticed a gap or two. There have likely been moments when you thought, “I’ve not dealt with this before.”
And that is the greatest value in formal education, especially at the graduate level.
There’s no doubt that you have extensive knowledge in the areas in which you’ve worked. But it’s unlikely that you’ve had the breadth of experience it would take to substitute fully for a formal degree. As a result, a degree won’t just remind you of what you already know. It will help fill in some gaps where life’s road hasn’t taken you yet. And while many opportunities exist to enhance your leadership skills, a degree provides greater promise for your future.
That sounds good, you may think, but I don’t have time to go back to school.
Well, consider this: the time investment needed to complete a master’s degree isn’t what it used to be. Many accelerated online degree programs allow you to continue a full workload while you knock out the classes necessary to improve your performance and your future.
Here are two other reasons why a degree can benefit you, even if you don’t think you can learn that much.
A few months on the job with you will tell a new supervisor that you know your stuff. But when you arrive at an interview, even a very powerful resume won’t carry the weight that a degree does. It’s not that anyone undervalues your experience, since they likely reached their own positions the same way.
But a degree provides a credible endorsement of what you’ve learned, and it’s one that others can quickly identify.
You might have ten years of experience at your company before applying at one of their competitors. During that time, you’ve racked up valuable experience. But maybe your potential new employer doesn’t subscribe to the business philosophies of your old employer. Maybe they’re concerned that you may be tainted goods.
By achieving a degree, you hold proof that you’ve been exposed to a broad base of knowledge, regardless of what you’ve previously been required to do.
And let’s step away from business-to-business relations for a moment.
Do your clients know what it means that you led a project management team that oversaw a robust renovation of IT systems? Probably not. Do they know what an MBA is? More than likely.
And again, a degree distills all your valuable learning down to a simple sentence: I hold an MBA degree. The result is credibility for your firm and the ability to draw in clients.
And isn’t that what it’s all about?
About the Author: Sam Peters is an avid blogger and career whiz. Originally from the mid-west, she now resides in sunny San Diego. When not writing you can usually find her with a good book and her puppy, Kona.
You’re an HR professional and you’ve decided it’s time to change jobs. Maybe it’s something happening within your company causing you to switch, or maybe it’s something inside of you telling you it’s time. Either way, this is one time where things should be easy, right? After all, you’re a professional in Human Resources! Finally, a chance to use all of your knowledge and ‘insider information’ to position yourself competitively and go for what you want.
It’s not so easy.
Expectations are raised in an HR job search. Most of this comes from the pressure you put upon yourself. “I should know what I’m doing.” “My resume and cover letter better be 100% perfect and error-free.” “I interview people all day long, how hard can it be to turn the tables?”
Yet many of us in HR have put our own career development at the bottom of our massive to-do list. Our resume is not only imperfect, it may be completely out of date or merely an exhaustive list of our job duties, rather than a presentation of our accomplishments. We may use LinkedIn to find candidates…that doesn’t mean we’ve put any time or attention into our own profiles. And interviewing? We began to think of all the times we’ve nit-picked and criticized candidates for not being prepared enough, or spouting rehearsed answers that didn’t really answer our questions.
On the other side, expectations of professionalism from potential employers run high as well, and with good reason. If an employer asks for a cover letter and resume in the format they request, you’d better be giving them both – and don’t even think about using a canned cover letter.
Loyalty is another issue many struggle with. When you spend all day touting the benefits of working for your company, and comparing how good your company is to the competitors, it’s hard to imagine going to work for a competitor! Many employees feel loyal to their employer, but it seems especially hard for HR people to imagine leaving for a similar job in the same industry. And how many times have we discarded candidates for being “job-hoppers”? That’s the last thing we want for ourselves. So 3 years turns into 5, and then 7, and finally 10 and before you know it, you can’t imagine leaving, even if you’ve completely stopped growing or learning in your position.
Confidentiality is another challenge HR professionals face in a job search. Many of us have counseled employees against using our employers equipment and/or time to conduct a job search, but let’s face it: many activities related to job searching take place during the day when you are working at your current employer. Sure , you can fill in online applications or do email at home at night, but interviews often work best for employers when they can take place during the day, and suddenly you may find yourself needing to be out of the office on numerous occasions, without wanting to share the reason.
Many of these challenges are related to applying for a posted job, which we know is not the best way to land a new position. Time spent networking and building relationships is the most productive and often leads to your next position in HR. Still, many HR folks let some of these challenges stop them from even contemplating a change.
What unique challenges did you face when searching for your HR job?
About the Author: For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC, blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.
There are lots of ways to do it. You can book yourself into a training course, work longer hours, strive for top sales figures, or even use your network of contacts. Whichever way you decide to do it, managing your career advancement is an essential part of career progression. However, whilst your colleagues are working into the night, you can be more creative, and seize the opportunity of your next 360 as the key to unlocking your future.
As part of performance management, 360 degree feedback continues to increase in popularity, and there are five key reasons women should embrace it.
A comprehensive approach
In traditional appraisals, a boss would comment on an employee’s performance. However, with 360s, comments are considered from other colleagues, customers, and even suppliers. It is a more complete approach, and, as such, gives a comprehensive picture of you and your skills. As a result, you can easily identify any areas for development and act on them to improve your chances of career advancement.
Being comprehensive is good for everyone, but it’s particularly good news for women as it shows clear progression from the male-designed linear process that went before.
The 360 approach gives a more accurate portrait of you. Previously, the boss-versus-employee appraisal system was far too narrow. By involving those around you, 360 feedback gives a truer picture. Importantly, as it provides the participant with a wide-ranging set of views, it is unbiased.
360s provide real evidence. Participants receive hard and fast scores, which can be compared to other participants, so not only is it readily accepted as a valid input into your career development, but it also provides you with data to prove your track record of achievement.
The fact that 360s are accurate and trusted removes the potential for any favouritism based on gender. The 360-degree approach doesn’t entertain any notion of ‘jobs for the boys’.
It’s about how, not what
360s emphasise the importance of how you achieve your objectives. It’s an opportunity for your methods to be recognised, not just your results. Real leaders are identified and promoted not just because they can achieve, but also because they can marry this achievement with the kind of behavior that’s constructive and desirable.
If there is still a perception that men are more concerned with the ends and not the means, then the 360 system is a much fairer one.
What’s mine is yours
When a 360 degree feedback programme is implemented well, it should directly link with a company’s competency framework. There can be no easier way, therefore, of ensuring that your own personal targets directly tie in with a company’s requirements for its people. Career progression can more quickly be brought about when you can prove that your achievements are aligned with how a company wants its employees to behave.
Ensuring individual targets are in line with a company’s competency framework, through the 360, helps women to come to the fore, and is a further way in which balance in the workplace is being redressed.
360s are only the start of the process. If you are to achieve real career progression, the targets drawn up from such a process must be acted on. After all, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “the best way to predict the future is to create it” and a 360 can help you do just that.
About the author: Samantha Arnold is a senior business psychologist at ETS, an HR consultancy. Sam works predominantly in the field of employee engagement for private sector clients and offers consultancy to support clients in utilizing the research to take engagement to the next level within their business. She is currently working towards Chartered status as an Occupational Psychologist, with a particular interest in organisational development.
The Wikipedia describes a Trailing Spouse as “a person who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment.”
It goes further to explain that the life of The Trailing Spouse is fraught with many challenges that may impact on their personal and professional lives. Challenges such as:
Barriers to mobility
Loss of identity
These are all very real and pertinent issues that Trailing Spouses face as their new reality and I can identify to some degree with some of them. However, I have often wondered at the adjective “Trailing”. I feel a certain degree of discomfort referring to an individual or a spouse as “Trailing.”
Synonyms for trailing include: rambling, lagging, tailing, dragging….all less than savory adjectives for the word spouse. In my mind’s eye, “trailing” paints a picture of forced followership, reluctant relocation.
It reminds me of little people on a leash, compelled to follow their care givers whether they would like to or not.
It signifies to me a lack of choice or say in the matter and I do not think it adequately describes or does justice to the spouses who have boldly taken up the challenge to leave the comfort and security of the familiar and move to a new location, experience new cultures, and thrive in their new environment, all the while supporting their spouses and oftentimes children in order to make for a smooth transition to their new way of life. That to me looks a lot more like Trail Blazing and not just “Trailing”.
Moving to a new location with no security of a ready source of income can be a stressful time, and a time of uncertainty… but it can also be an exciting time, an opportunity to use this block of time and do that which you might otherwise not have done. The possibilities are endless.
This is a call for spouses who have chosen to accompany their partners to pursue their careers abroad to have greater expectations for their expatriate experience. As you plan your upcoming move, there are 4 tips that might help make the transition a little bit easier. Please feel free to add more in the comments below.
Plan: It’s advisable to have a plan before you leave your home country of what personal goals that you would like to achieve during your time in your new location. You are not on exile so you are allowed to have fun with the whole expatriation process. It could be to learn a new language, look for a job within your field of expertise (or even in another field of expertise), further your education, write a book or start a blog, or even take a leave of absence to spend more time with your family. As I mentioned earlier,The possibilities are endless.
Position yourself: If you would like to work in your new location, start your job search as early as you can. Look for opportunities within your network, take a class, learn the local language, do some research, and get informed. Do whatever is necessary to get you one step closer to your goal.
Persist: maintain a positive outlook, don’t give up easily…even when things seem to be happening not as fast as you envisaged. Also stay open to change and be flexible to opportunities that at first glance may not seem to align with your core competencies.
Pay it forward: Help someone else succeed. Offer the support you wish you got. Share your experiences and your new knowledge with others who need your expertise.
The key is to exploit the situation that you find yourself in and use it to enrich your life’s story. Moving to a new country with all the excitement is a great time to reinvent yourself because no one has any preconceived notions about you. This means you have a chance to start afresh and try to be that which you always wished.
Who knows what you would have achieved at the end of your expatriation in terms of self development, new knowledge of different cultures, and new relationships built that you would otherwise not have been exposed to.
Besides, why be a trailing spouse when you could be a Blazing Spouse or better yet a Trail Blazer?
About the Author: Tamkara currently lives in The Hague and is currently taking time off from her day job in Procurement and Sourcing to pursue an MBA. She will be spending the next few months studying, blogging and learning Dutch. You can connect with her on twitter @tamkara or find out what she’s up to at www.naijaexpatinholland.com.
While the thought of trading in the rat race of an office building or major corporation, and working from home, may sound highly appealing, the reality is, this transition is often more challenging than most people believe. When you’ve gotten used to the all-work structure of an office, coming home and working in the midst of your kids and home life can be like a splash of cold water. How do you manage your family life, without sacrificing work ethic or the deadlines that don’t slow down?
I know from personal experience that working from home is no walk in the park. Whether it’s kids pulling on my arm, ready for a snack, or my husband calling from his office, asking me to pick up the dry-cleaning, remaining task oriented has been something I’ve had to learn as I go. Although I know there are times when I need to remain flexible and allow for interruptions, for the most part, my work must remain a priority.
If you’re transitioning from office to home and are worried your work might suffer, the key is balance. Without it, you’ll feel as if you’re juggling ten glass plates all on your own. The following tips have proven helpful in my own work journey and I’m able to keep my family life in order while maintaining my profession.
Dedicate a space to work.
There is a reason why office buildings and cubicles exist – they are dedicated spaces where people complete work-related tasks. If one of the reasons you’re considering working from home is to escape the cubicle, trust me – I’ve been there. Although I’m not suggesting replicating a cubicle in your home, I am saying that a dedicated work space in your home is absolutely essential to success.
If you have a room you can turn into your office, do so. If not, dedicate a corner of a quiet space to your office. The kitchen table or the living room couch is probably not the best space to spread your stuff out. Papers are easily lost or spilled on and the distractions are numerous. For me, going out and buying a room partitioner when I first started saved me from hours of insanity and distraction.
Have all the essentials in place.
The great part of working at an office is that everything you need is right there. A printer? No problem. Fax machine? Your corporation probably has several. When you transition home, however, you may need to go out and buy these essentials. Do this right away, so there’s no scrambling at the last minute when an important deadline comes around.
I like having everything in my workspace. That means the printer is right where I can reach it, and my fax machine is just steps away. Even though other members of my family make use of these items every so often, they still remain in my office, regardless of who needs to use them. Whatever your tools are – keep them where you work.
If your office is a mess of supplies and papers, then set aside some time to get it in pristine condition. Purchase supplies and containers to keep your things attractively organized. Knowing where everything is helps me keep my cool and manage my work more effectively.
Organization is essential.
If you’re a naturally organized person, this tip is like second-nature for you already. However, I know that I need every other tool out there to keep myself on track. When you’re managing work deadlines at the same time as soccer practice and doctor appointments, a planner will become your go-to.
Purchase a large calendar and write out all your tasks for the month. Try to do this at the beginning of every month, for as far out as you can plan. When dates are nailed down far in advance, you know what’s coming up and therefore, what you can say yes, and no, to. I’ve found that a daily planner is helpful, as well. Being able to create and check-off items from a daily to-do list makes me feel more accomplished and in control of my day.
Set your hours.
Working from 9-5 certainly has its drawbacks, but truthfully, the structure of a workday is often what keeps people successful. The same applies when working from home. Not having a set work time really throws a wrench in your success, something I learned the hard way.
I find it’s best to plan your work day around your family, especially if you have kids. When your kids are off to school for the day, settle down in your office and get to work. If you work steadily through the school day, that’s a good chunk of time spent on work-related tasks. As important as it is to start when you say you will, it’s equally important to finish on time, too. My kids find it frustrating when I say I’ll be finished by four, and I’m still pounding on the keyboard come 5 o’clock. Stick to your hours. You’ll have a happier family because of it.
Make it clear you’re working.
Just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are free. Although one of the hardest things to learn about working from home, it is also one of the most essential. When I began working from home, friends felt free to call and talk for hours, and I often let myself get caught in this trap. However, your friends, and your family, need to understand that work must get done even though it’s getting done from home. Let your loved ones know that you have a job that needs to get done, and you’d love to socialize, but after work. Difficult? Yes. But necessary? Absolutely.
At this point, you may be wondering if working from home is really worth it. Let me tell you from personal experience – yes. While it does require a high amount of discipline and time to learn how to manage the balancing act, in the end, you’ll find much more joy in your work and in your family. Begin setting boundaries early, and working from home will become a breeze.
About the Author: Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mom who works at home, she knows how challenging it is to keep a balance and distinction between family and work. These tips have been some of the most helpful when transitioning to working at home, and she enjoys helping other women find success in their work ventures.
Recently, my son transitioned to a different middle school than the one he had been attending since kindergarten and originally intended to graduate. This transition got me thinking when it came time for me to write for Women in HR. One can truly correlate the selection of a school to attend to accepting and starting a new job. Overall, it’s a personal choice and the final decision not only has to be the student or jobseeker, but it has to fit with their overall plan in life.
Now you may think “isn’t middle school a bit too young to be thinking about how a school decision fits into your overall plan?” Not really, I personally think kids are “groomed”, hopefully by their own choice and not their parents living their own goals through them, very early in life for things like sports, music, dance and more. Where I live, it seems like the high school all-stars start their journey before they can even tie their shoes. I’ve seen young baseball, soccer and football camps for kids who barely enter elementary school. They wear the gear but they are so tiny it looks like they are going to fall over. So if the focus on team sports can start so early then why can’t kids start making choices from an academic standpoint that affect their career? I have always heard that you can trace your career choice back to what you did on the playground. Me? I used to sing on the porch in front of my audience from the neighborhood. While my dreams of a singing career did not come true, I do have an audience now and again as a teacher, trainer, and speaker in the HR community. So I guess at least from my experience what I hear is true, to an extent, of course.
Now let’s get back to the school choice and its relationship to jobs. Once my son decided to change schools, which he had been contemplating for almost a year, we decided to set up a “shadow” day at two of the schools he had in mind. In addition to hanging out with a fellow student all day to observe, he had to meet with the principal of each school, for which I joined him to listen and ask my own questions. As a parent, I was very impressed at my son’s questions and his maturity while in these meetings. He asked questions I had not even thought of, like: 1) what type of math and English program the school uses to teach the students; and 2) what specific extra-curricular activities did they have related to his personal interests.
One of the things his former school had that neither of the new choices had was Robotics, which was very important to him since he plans at this point to have a career in engineering, technology, or both. However, he justified his decision to continue to pursue his move because the school he did finally decide on had an advanced math course and was willing to start a Robotics club as soon as possible. While starting the club would not allow him to immediately join a Robotics team, allowing him to compete like he did the previous year, it was not a game changer. He told me that since he would now be able to take high school math in 8th grade that would give him a jump start on his high school math credits. That decision will allow him to take college level math while still in high school. Did I mention he is 12 years old and he is telling me all of this? The reason it is so important to him is because he has plans to go to a specific college one day (MIT) that will help him get into the career of his dreams.
Employees (typically disgruntled or disengaged employees) are constantly looking for a new job or opportunity, especially when the job they are in doesn’t satisfy their needs or holds them back from moving closer to the dream job they would like to have. Recently, on Drive Thru HR I heard Jennifer Miller refer to people finding a job that deserves them. How fitting of a philosophy that jobs don’t find people, people find jobs. I remember getting out of the financial services field to move into manufacturing so I could round out my resume to experience the old white collar and blue collar workforce. Someone had told me that my HR advice probably didn’t work in the blue collar world because I had only worked with people in offices. I was not about to have that perception limit my future opportunities so I took care of it by getting the job I needed to work in the blue collar workplace.
Planning at any age, in school or in the world of work, can definitely help to shape your career.
Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @DonnaRogersHR. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.
I was recently flipping through the stations on TV and stumbled across the 1997 “chick flick” Picture Perfect. For those not familiar, this particular movie stars Jennifer Aniston as an aspiring ad agency professional who finds her career, despite her obvious talent, slightly hampered by the fact that she’s single. Her lack of attachment (no husband, kids, or mortgage) is the basis of her boss and the agency’s fear that she’ll develop relationships with key clients and then leave, taking those clients with her elsewhere, without a second thought. She feels so hampered that it prompts her to concoct a story with a fake fiancé and wedding plans to prove her “commitment to the firm;” her plans to settle down reaffirm that she is in no hurry to make a move anywhere else.
Now this movie is slightly dated and the world of work has certainly seen changes since its release, but I wonder if in some cases these types of fears still exist? One might argue not. If fact, Time Magazine’s recent cover story “The Childfree Life” discussed couples who choose to not have children, and the career opportunities that are often available to childless women that they may otherwise have to forgo. And one of our Women of HR contributors, Kimberly Patterson, recently explored the subject, and possible fallacy, of loyalty here.
However, despite these arguments, you have to wonder if the sort of mentality presented in Picture Perfect doesn’t actually still exist in some places and some companies. There are still many organziations where longevity and loyalty is rewarded, where service recognition programs are a key part of employee recognition strategies. I’m not claiming that all companies that recognize and reward loyalty think like this; I’m just wondering if in some corners of Corporate America, there are still executives and leadership teams who maintain these biases.
Having been single in the professional world for many years, I’ve felt both sides of this: the Time Magazine cited opportunities to travel, and the freedom to be a part of projects that may have been more difficult with commitments at home. But there have also been occasions where I’ve experienced Jennifer Aniston’s character’s feeling that I’m not quite the same as everyone else who is settled down with a family. I’ve never felt it hamper my career, but there are times (especially when company and charity events are centered on couples and/or families) that there has been a slight feeling of not quite belonging.
So I ask you…what do you think? Do these biases still exist? Are there places where women may be held back as a result of not being “settled down?” And if so, do these biases affect men the same way?
Futhermore, as HR professionals, should it not be partially our responsibility to ensure our companies are not excluding single and/or childless women (and men for that matter) from development and advancement opportunities?
I’d love to hear your comments below.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 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.
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