Tag: confidence

Getting What You Want In the Workplace

Posted on November 19th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Recently, I gave a talk to the Association for Women in Communications in Springfield Illinois (aka AWC Springfield) called Getting What You Want in the Workplace.  Since we focus on women in HR on this blog, I thought it was fitting to share what I discussed here as well, especially since I mention this site during my talk:


So let’s talk about today’s topic which is getting what you want in the workplace. Seeing as this is a women’s program, we will talk about it from a woman’s perspective and getting what you want as a woman. In a blog I wrote for Women of HR, I have talked about the first ten years and The Perfect 10, which was the last ten years of my then-20-year HR career. I loved having the flexibility of being able to be a mom and be a professional at the same time. I talk about credibility in the workplace and bereavement leave. Most recently, a drunk driver killed my brother and I shared what it is like for employees to take bereavement leave. It is really not flexible in most cases.

Let’s start with a true workplace story: How many of you have been engaged? How many remember the details of that day? When I was engaged, I was very excited as most would be, but when I got to work I was asked to take off my engagement ring and not wear it for 6 months! Luckily, I didn’t get married sooner than the 6 months as I had already planned to have a one-year engagement so that my husband and I could pay for the wedding.

How would you have felt if you were asked to take of your ring and not tell anyone else in the company you were engaged? I felt terrible. I did write a blog post, called Bride To Be = Discouraged Employee, about this incident. This experience brings me to my first piece of advice – DO NOT LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. In today’s environment, the Internet, which was not available when I first started my career, makes it possible for an individual employee to understand his or her rights within an organization. That incident would not go over well in today’s workplace. I would say stand up for what you want. If you don’t understand your options, what your rights are, look them up. There is no excuse for not knowing as you each have unlimited resources.

My second piece of advice came from the same manager that told me not to wear the ring. She was trying to look out for me and she did not want me to suffer as she had with male challenges in the work place. What she did do was give me a lot of advice. One thing I have lived my career by is to TOOT YOUR OWN HORN because no one else will. If you do well in something, make sure people know about that. If you have been honored in an organization that perhaps does not have to do with the business but is still an honor, make sure your manager finds that out. SHRM actually recognizes volunteerism and will send letters to your boss on your behalf, which toots your horn for you. Make sure you’re tooting your horn and look into those opportunities. Don’t think of it as a selfish, stuck up, or snobby kind of thing to do. It isn’t. It is the way to get ahead. Men do it. Maybe in a different way, but they do it. Maybe over beer or on the golf course. They do it for each other as well. They do not necessarily promote women like they should as much as they do each other. Women don’t promote women like men promote each other either.  How many women would look to another woman to promote her? None, women are competing against each other so they are not promoting each other’s efforts. Sadly this is the truth in my humble opinion.  I often ask myself, why is that?

My third piece of advice is ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. If you want a promotion or a raise, ask for it. I’ve had to that a few times in my career. It doesn’t always come easily and it is sometimes challenging to ask. Most recently, I was honored by a call to interview for a high level political HR position that I did not seek out. The call was based on reputation and the recommendation of others. Although, I didn’t fully consider the position due to a variety of reasons, I did use the situation to my advantage.  Since they called me, I let my boss know I was interviewing.  It was a toot your own horn opportunity at the very least as it was an honor and reflection on the university as well as my own career achievements.  Once I discovered what they pay level would be, I did take it to my boss and asked for a raise. I have used it a couple other times as well. Not just that I had a competitive offer but just simply asking for a raise that I felt I deserved. Back to the Internet resources, you can go on salary.com, Indeed, Monster, etc. and do salary surveys free of charge. You can compare jobs and focus your search criteria to specific demographics. You can go to the Department of Labor to look up salaries as well. It is important that before you go to your manager and ask for a raise, you conduct a comparison, do your homework and be prepared with answers to justify your request. You also must understand that despite the fact that you are asking, you may denied. Prepare for that and understand that there is a budget and a profit to be made. If there isn’t a profit, and you’re in a for-profit organization, it may not be possible to offer a raise; but, at least you’ve tried and you’ve asked.

Another topic related to pay is the idea that 10-20 years ago, it was not kosher to talk about salaries. Nowadays, people will talk about wages all the time and there is absolutely nothing an employer can do about it because of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB) current administration. There have been many cases that have been turned around on the employer where they have tried to keep the information quiet and an individual fought it. If any two or more people are talking about a workplace issue, this is what is considered a concerted effort. This used to be only with unionized organizations. But now if you go online or onto social media you will see a big campaign called Fight For Fifteen. This started in Chicago after retailers on Michigan Avenue declared they would walk out on Black Friday if their wages were not increased to $15 per hour. Now multiple organizations and people around the country are on board with this initiative. They are using social media to spread the word and becoming a concerted community with the same fight/request/desire to promote a change. Talk about it. You will not get in trouble. If they do, retaliation laws do exist. If they retaliate against you, there are legal implications in place to protect you.  Talking with your co-workers can prepare you with an internal audit as well for when you do approach your manager with that pay raise request. These are your rights as an employee, so ask for what you want.

My fourth piece of advice is to BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING. Be the person you want other people to be and treat people like you want to be treated. Understand cultures and differences. Don’t be a bitch. You don’t have to be a bitch. There is another article I’ve written about being a bitch as oftentimes, people see you as that even if you’re not. If you are being assertive, as a woman, we are being considered a bitch. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are some women that tend to be bullies who are control freaks and narcissistic. You don’t want to be one of those especially if people are coming to you as their manager or supervisor. I’ve never seen myself as that and my prior employers have said I teach them why we have to do what we have to do. Just last week the departments graduate assistant said “On it, boss” but I told her I was “not her boss and if anything, we are a team player”. We are on the same team. I might have a different role but we are on the same team trying to reach the same goal. I might be a catcher and you might be a pitcher but we all have different roles on ONE team. You don’t have to have the “I’m bitchy, better than everyone attitude”. There is help out there if needed! Founder of the Bully Broads program Jean Hollands offered a class for $18k in the early 2000s in Silicon Valley for women considered to be bullies in the workplace which was featured on NBC news. These women can actually go to reform school for being a “bully boss”. So be nice, considerate and understand, and always put your best foot forward.

Finally, HAVE FUN. I remember my father; he worked for an organization for over 20 years that he absolutely hated. You could see it on his face when he went to work and when he came home from work. He was a good father and husband and he was trying to do ‘the right thing’ for the family, but he could have kept looking and found a job that he loved. I really think you should have a job that you love and that you are passionate about, one that you cannot wait to do. I love to be able to share and educate. I need to see an immediate reaction. Occasionally, 10-15 years after an event, I have run into someone who was in a class I taught and they will say “you really changed my thinking” or “you inspired me” and that makes me feel good in a “not that I am any better than any other person in the world” way, but I feel like I made a difference. You should feel that you love your job, and if you don’t, then start looking for that passion. It is out there, I know it is. If you can’t do it working for somebody else, then work for yourself. Sometimes it’s like taking a bullet to your family financials; in fact, we lost half our salary when I quit my job to start my own business, and it took a while to get back up there, but it was worth it in the end. I had more opportunities with my brand new baby boy, and I was travelling all over the country with my daughter. So I really felt like it was the happy ending for me. This, to me, is how you get ahead as a woman in the work place.

So as a summary, here is my advice in just five steps


Enjoy your job and find something you’re passionate about. It is so important. These are things that I have learned over the years and share with you to wish you success! So to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss:

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re Off and away!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any directions you choose.                                                        

~Oh, the Places You’ll Go


About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. 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.


Tips For Firing Your Inner Critic (Well, Maybe Not So Fast?)

Posted on October 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

I used to wish I could fire my inner critic.  You know…the little voice that comes out at the most inopportune times.  For instance, when we are about to go into a meeting, address a room, write a paper, or meet someone new.  It reminds us that we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough or any other similar negative dialog.

What do you mean? Not me! I don’t have an imaginary nay-sayer!

To that I challenge…we all know we have one!

I spent many years of my life oblivious to mine. I never realized how much it was interfering with my ability to reach my full potential.  When I finally came to grips with its existence, I only wanted to find a method to make it go away.

With deeper understanding and introspection, I am beginning to change my tune.  What if I could come to grips with its existence, understand its origins, and gain a deeper understanding of the essence of its message? Wouldn’t this be ultimate freedom? Could I heed its warning, yet move forward anyway? Wouldn’t this help me gain perspective and resilience?  Could I use these small victories to become a stronger person and ultimately reach my true potential?

I decided the answer to this question was a resounding Yes!   This deeper insight gave me the power to embark on the path to make this invisible enemy my friend and adviser.

Here are my tips for embracing your Inner Critic:


Catch your critic in the act

When are you visited most by you inner critic? Is there a specific pattern?  Does it come out when you are lonely, hungry, or tired? Is it when you write a report? Does it sneak up on you at a meeting? Tap you on the shoulder on dates, at parties, or when you meet new people? Does it give fashion tips as you dress in the morning? Perhaps it tries to trip you when you take a new exercise class or open the refrigerator?

Recognizing the patterns will heighten your awareness and provide the ability to be prepared.


Become an intuitive listener

What is your inner critic trying to say? Is the message always the same? Does the inner dialog change with the circumstances? Is there validity to the words? Perhaps a lesson to be learned? Is this inner voice a warning of danger ahead?

The message can be utter nonsense or maybe a call to action.


Notice the surroundings and circumstances that brings it out of hiding

What patterns are starting to surface?  Does it visit you most at work or at home? Does it torment you when you are out with you friends or on dates? Torture you when you step out of your comfort zone?  Exercise influence at mealtime or sabotage your new workout regime? Is its habit to spoil family dinners and visits? Mess up your vacation? Show up when you present or perform?

With a sharper lens of acute awareness the patterns will emerge. Take note and notice its effect on you.


Consider who or what it reminds you of

Dig deep.  What is being triggered?  What memories come to the surface?  Does it bring you back to your college days, the high school cafeteria, or all the way back to the elementary school playground?  Maybe you are brought back to grandma’s kitchen, the dining room table, or battling your sibling or the bully who lived up the block.

If the message is eerily familiar and oddly holds the same negative charge today as in the past, understanding the origin will help put it into new perspective.


Describe it and bring it to life

Here is your opportunity to be creative!

Draw a mental picture or grab a pen and bring it to life!  Use a much detail as possible. This will give you the strength required to face your tormentor head on.


Give them a name

This will also help defuse its effect. By humanizing it, it loses the power to catch you off guard. You can remind yourself that this character is here solely to block your path and steer you off your game.

Perhaps through clear and honest recognition while truly embracing their presence they can actually propel you farther?


Arm yourself by creating two or three things you can say to send it packing, and list two or three things you can do or say to embrace its existence.

My inner critic is a Tasmanian devil  that shows up most when I write, meet new people, and present. Things that today I believe are my strongest attributes.  I call it Sandy, after the Hurricane that threatened to destroy some many lives.  It stands over my shoulder when I write to caution me, “You can’t write that” or “No one wants to read that”! It messes up my papers and jumps on my keyboard when I persist.

It spills coffee on my notes before I present and then does its best to psych me out before networking events.

Today I  “Thank it for its concern” but tell it “I am going to publish this anyway” and take my chances.  When it tries to break my confidence before I present I remind it “I got this” and reflect on my last positive presentation.

So, as you see, through developing a deeper understanding of the origins and messages of my Inner Critic, today I choose to make it my muse instead of my nemesis!

It is now my inspiration. The little voice that reminds me that I can do anything.  It is that pesky yet persistent voice that makes me spell check one more time and inspires me to create the best work possible.

It now stands right next to me or takes a seat in the front row when I present. It pushes me out of the door to step out of my comfort zone and enter a room of strangers.

Through finally embracing its existence I have become the best version of myself.  By understanding and honoring its message I have ultimately been able to break free.

I encourage you to do the same.



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.





Women Can’t Do Anything Right! #BULLSHIT

Posted on November 20th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. No Comments

Women Can't Do Anything Right!

This sentiment is a belief I grew up with and entered the workplace with fully controlling my life. Of course, as a brand new college graduate entering the workforce I had no idea of its power and influence over me. I could not pinpoint nor did I know to look for such a belief that truly was debilitating at times and, if allowed, could have limiting affects on ones career success. All of that did not even show up on my radar until I was well into my career and actually quite successful. Little did I know it actually acted as a driver because I wanted nothing more to prove it was wrong.

As the first to graduate high school and college in my immediate family, I was an independent, semi-confident, hard working young lady that saw no boundaries. I looked at life as a challenge and had no doubts that anything or anyone would ever get in my way. So how can such a person have such a belief deeply embedded in her personality? Sometimes your deepest fear is your biggest motivator, but there are people who could have lived a very different life. Those are the people who let such beliefs eat away at them and affect their job performance as well as their personal and professional relationships. I was a lucky one. Well not really, because I have constantly had to work against that belief with positive self-talk. My professional career success has helped me have balance in my life when the rest of my life was falling apart.

I did not realize  this belief even existed until I was around 30 years old and I attended a multi-week self-help seminar (supposedly a management development program) with my boss and my boss's boss.  Odd combination of classmates when your deepest-darkest fears are allowed to come out and play. And play is what that belief has done for the remaining years of my life. Although, now that I am aware I have more control and can limit its affect on my life. Admittedly, I have definitely lost control on multiple occasions but the time frames are shorter and the relationships I have are deeper. So luckily forgiveness has been my savior. Not just my own about myself but also those I have hurt or reacted negatively toward because of my internal defense mechanisms. You know the whining voice in your head that says " I am WOMAN and I can do this right, I dare you to think or say anything that deny's that truth." When it affects my relationships I can more quickly put a halt to it and apologize versus blame the other person like I use to do more often. If my friends are reading this you may bring to mind certain interactions and say to yourself "Oh, that's why she went crazy that time". LOL!?

You see, my belief stemmed from childhood as I continuously overheard comments related to my biological mother, step-mother, and my fathers now widow.  The comments were not positive (almost never) and the words in this title were used quite often. Women drivers, co-workers in the office, and other family members of the same gender were also often ridiculed as well as both of the grandmother's I knew as a child.

The ridicule was not always in person. Often it was behind their back but certainly close enough and loud enough for young ears to hear and internalize. As you can imagine, more directly, "I" could never do anything right. I could not pick up the yard, make dinner, clean the house, care for my brothers, etc. "right"! (i.e. correctly). Not that I was a child or anything and should have been focused on school work and having friends (said sarcastically). You see, I started taking care of such things above that had previously been known as "woman's work" when I was just 12 years old. It continued through my 20th year when I moved out on a whim because I was so fed up with the lack of positive recognition for all that I was actually doing right. If I heard one more negative comment about me or any women, well who knows what I might have said or done.

Things like earning good grades, being a positive influence on my younger siblings, working outside the home to earn my own way through college, keeping the house, cooking dinner every night, answering the phone, etc. Growing up with so much negativity is bound to put a damper on ones personality and interactions at work as well as at home. We all know one heavily influences the other.

Long story short...my priority all during my teens was my family. If my predecessors could not do any of those chores right, I likely was set up for failure from the very start.   How many of us, as managers, hire people into a position without the skills to successfully do the job? How many co-workers, managers, friends, family do you know that are bright, successful and most of the time fun to be around, who have a defense as long as a football field? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever shown empathy to that person? Have you tried not to judge them?  Will you forgive them?

Why do I share all this? Because, one should

-never judge a book by its cover
-always give a person the benefit of the doubt
-be understanding, be real, be authentic, be present, and above all be yourself
-realize perception is not always reality, and communication received is not always the intent
-get to know people as humans
-believe no one is ever perfect, not even yourself

In my humble opinion, the workplace needs to create an environment where employees can be real as long as they are respectful. They should develop managers who have potential even if they have flaws. Give an employee a chance to redeem themselves . Help them figure out what those flaws are and give them the tools to put them to work in a positive way that can help then make a difference for those around them.

No one is perfect, so as long as they are not in denial they can work it out. If you too are a victim of this horrible sentiment, please realize it can only be true if you let it. AND if it's coming out of someone else's mouth who is attempting to make you believe it, SHOUT OUT: #BULLSHIT -- walk away and never look back!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. 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.

Is “She” Really a “BITCH” in the Workplace?

Posted on July 29th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. 3 comments

In this title, I am using the word "she" as a representative of any woman in the workplace and not at all thinking of any one woman in particular. However, at times I may bring to mind a certain woman (including myself) to make my point. So what made me write such a post? What do I think the answer to this question is? Why should we even care?

Well the other day a person I would consider to be one of the nicest college friends I ever had posted a quiz on Facebook titled "How Bitchy Are You?"  At first, I thought now why would she do that? She's not even close! Although, her score was 52% which said she was a "Balanced Bitch". So a couple hours went by and without thinking much about it except to laugh to myself because I thought for sure my result would be much higher, I took the quiz. Now let me just say, as an educated adult, I do know there is not a lot of research that is behind these silly Facebook quizzes, but what the hey. My theory was correct and I did score higher by 10%, achieving the "balanced bitch" entitlement as well.  Then another friend who scored only 23% took it. Honestly, I would have ranked both the friend that took it initially and the latter friend in the same category of friendliness (not bitchiness) due to my own personal experiences with them. Thus negating my trust in the quiz even further.

All this got me thinking of the use of the word "Bitch" in general and more specifically in the workplace. I remember as a young professional (YP), I was invited to join a ladies group called "Bitchin' Broads" and I was offended that they called themselves that and refused to be part of the group, because as a professional I didn't want to be associated. I felt at the time it gave women a bad name in the workplace.  Little did I know at the time that in reality, if you simply spoke up, shared what was on your mind, refused to do something ridiculous, called others on their laziness, or anything that others might consider "crossing the line," that is what they called you (and still do). Why is that?

If you are passionate about something and convey that in the workplace you can kiss your reputation as the nice lady goodbye. Take on a supervisor, manager, director or above and actually not be afraid to do the job...life as you know it is over. Matter of fact, your most likely counter supporters are typically other women. I have had several women tell me that they preferred to work for a man than woman. With more women entering the workplace decade after decade and still not joining the numbers at the top as a majority like their male counterparts, is it because of this mentality? Are women holding women back just because they are too nice to appreciate bitchiness as a necessary competency for getting things done? Please note: I am not condoning bullying in the workplace. I consider that to be totally different and definitely inappropriate in the workplace. A bully is a downright jerk regardless of gender.

So, I know for a fact, I have been a bitch at times both in the workplace and in the volunteer roles I have held related to the workplace. When I posted my score and comment in Facebook "life can be a bitch at times and so can I. I'm sure many of you would agree! Ha! Ha!" not many responded and I know why. The truth hurts. It's not intentional and it's not something I look back on and am proud of all the time. However, it has been essential at least 75% of the time. Many do take it a compliment. Just look at these articles I pulled a quote or takeaway from related to my thoughts on the topic.

"The more of a bitch I am the more successful I become" http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2012/05/07/how-to-be-a-bitch/

"Stop saying I'm sorry - there is a time and place for apologies"http://m.contentfac.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.contentfac.com%2Fboss-bitch-manifesto-why-nice-girls-finish-last-in-life-and-in-business%2F#2713

When it means making 18% more than your agreeable counterparts why not earn the bitch title? http://jezebel.com/stop-being-nice-all-the-time-and-start-embracing-your-i-504747512

And just in case you missed the Facebook Bitch Quiz, here's another you can take to see if you are one of the workplace "she's": http://www.gotoquiz.com/are_you_a_bitch

Is the "she" in your workplace a bitch? My answer is "yeah, maybe" but is that a bad thing? Maybe not!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. 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.

5 Reasons a Woman Should Not Be Apologetic in the Workplace

Posted on May 1st, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Despite remarkable progress in the workplace and society over the past few decades, women still seem to have more trouble being assertive, overall, than do their male counterparts. For instance, women tend to be more apologetic than men are, even when the situation doesn’t necessarily warrant an apology. Some women seem to be constantly apologizing, and even their nonverbal communication leaves the impression that they are apologizing for taking up space. Some women are so apologetic that, when called on it, they apologize yet again. That’s an extreme example, but the tendency to be overly apologetic is a problem that many women need to correct.
Not convinced? Then here – without apology – are 5 reasons a woman should curb that apology impulse in the office, particularly if she’s in a position of authority or has ambitions in that direction.

1.      Being constantly apologetic makes you appear submissive. Continually and unnecessarily apologizing is submissive behavior. Even if you have a subordinate role in the workplace, you don’t have to be submissive. You’re less likely to be taken seriously, either by superiors or subordinates, if you’re continually saying you’re sorry for everything you do or say.

2.      Being overly apologetic can erode your self-confidence. This goes hand in hand with number 1 above. Constantly apologizing can not only lessen others’ regard for you, it can also make you doubt yourself and your own capabilities. And if you’re aiming for a position of authority, being too apologetic can sabotage your efforts at advancement, as it reinforces your submissive behavior and thought patterns.

3.      Being overly apologetic clouds the real issues. Maybe you apologize to keep peace or to be diplomatic. But there’s such a thing as being too diplomatic, to the point of being dishonest. If you keep letting others get away with boorish behavior and cover it with an apology and a smile, the problems will continue to fester and may blow up in your face someday.

4.      Being overly apologetic is ineffective anyway, due to overuse. A recent study showed that because women are more apologetic than men, their apologies are generally less likely to be taken seriously.

Apparently it’s the unexpected apology that makes people sit up and take notice. While the same study indicated that, statistically speaking, an apology from someone in a managerial position is more significant than the gender of the person making the apology, women in general are still taken less seriously, so apologies should only be made when the situation truly calls for one.

5.      Apologizing can seem like an admission of guilt or liability. This could be especially important for women in HR, particularly when dealing with an employee’s complaint. Even a well-intentioned expression of empathy can backfire if it seems to be framed as an apology for the company’s wrongdoing.

Nobody is suggesting that women adopt an arrogant attitude and never apologize when an apology is indeed appropriate. Moreover, as many women have discovered, female assertiveness also carries risks. Both male and female employees are more likely to classify a woman as “bossy” when she is even mildly assertive, though they wouldn’t blink an eye at the identical behavior from a man in the exact same situation. Your best bet is to strive to be as reasonable and balanced and fair as possible, keeping in mind that in the workplace it’s generally better to err on the side of assertiveness – even if they do call you “bossy”.


Photo credit

About the Author:  This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23@gmail.com.

{Career Advice} Anything Is Possible

Posted on March 27th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice. 4 comments

Editor’s Note:  Several of our Women of HR writers have come together to share some of the best pieces of career advice they’ve received.  Their series of posts will run over the next couple of weeks.  Enjoy!


It came from a slogan I saw on a comic strip. It was a cute little character with a speech balloon that read, “Keep going, anything’s possible”. Maybe this is not what you’d expect in terms of career advice, but it’s what worked for me.

Early in my career, I did the traditional route. I read law and then I entered practice. I had to embark on it, give it a full whirl before I made my mind up about it. I realised very early on that this was not the game I intended to play for the rest of my life. Yet, at that point, I didn’t have a gameplan in mind. I only knew that my path involved exploring what was out there before I made my decision. But I digress.

Throughout my career, I have embraced many different facets of business, many of which I lacked the experience or education in, for that matter. Yet, I never let that deter me. I was curious and that curiosity fueled a lot of exploration – new books to read up on, code to learn, strategies to try out. I simply didn’t let inexperience and lack of knowledge stand in the way of my journey.

In the early stages of my entrepreneurial journey, starting up a professional business services company and then launching a Human Resource publication, I came across this comic. It was cute, it had just the right number of words on it and it made such an impact. I wanted these simple, yet powerful words to be a constant reminder to me of what could be. And so I kept this tiny poster stuck on a wall in front of my desk. It took centre stage and day in, day out, I saw that comic, and it fueled me.

Inspiration, advice, perspective, motivation – these can come from anywhere and anyone. It’s about the place and time you are at and your openness to receive what’s out there at that point in time. It’s about an alignment between the questions you seek answers to and what the universe brings to you.

Anything’s possible is about motivation, passion, drive and ambition. Just as importantly, it is about hope, in the face of failure – large, looming, desolate and repeated failure.

While we don’t choose what happens to us, we choose, whether mindful or not, our responses to these situations. Keeping this advice close at hand has enabled me to see things differently, to have hope when things looked bleak, and to realise that you have to keep going.

You have to keep going to see subtle shifts in perspectives and to see things you didn’t seem to notice before.

You have to keep going to realise what you are passionate about and what you just will not give up on.

You have to keep going because you simply cannot get to where you want to be by mere proclamation, standing still, or worse, waiting for it to be handed to you.


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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 editor@hr-matters.info.

Age Before Expertise: The Battle for Credibility

Posted on March 18th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

 I have always known that over the course of my career I’d be faced with adversity at times because I am a female, but I had never truly considered the fact that my age – or lack thereof – would also be a significant variable in the calculation of my credibility as an Executive Recruiter. Perhaps it was my naivety or the simple fact that I’d always been treated as an equal by my colleagues, no matter the reason I was late to the realization that not everyone considered me a viable source in the industry in spite of my professional accomplishments.

In my career, I’ve placed some of the best talent into leadership seats in Fortune 500 companies, consulted growing organizations on how to attract the right candidate to fit their specific needs for a niche role, and have even successfully forged a partnership with a major university. Yet, I have grown accustomed to hesitant reactions and skeptical glances I receive in some moments when I interact face-to-face with other professionals.

At first, I was caught off-guard by the skepticism in my abilities because of my age that I was so often met with; however, I began to utilize the doubt, leveraging that into a platform to challenge myself. I decided that the simplicity of pure results was the best antidote. I readily and excitedly accept every difficult assignment that comes across my desk. I aim to tackle it with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm that I might not otherwise have if I didn’t feel I had something to prove. I look to go above and beyond to educate myself and gain additional experience in in the areas that I feel most green in and I actively seek out guidance from mentors that I respect and trust, acting as a sponge to learn everything that I possibly can from them.

It didn’t take me long to realize that being the underdog around the conference table was actually a blessing in disguise. It has forced me outside of my comfort zone on so many occasions, giving me the opportunity to pleasantly surprise myself and those I have worked with. It has been the catalyst for a level of performance that has reinforced my confidence in myself and has led to respect from those who might have not have given me a second thought otherwise. While I realize there will always be the nonbelievers, I have grown determined to actively combat the idea that you can’t be both young AND an expert in your field.

As both a woman and a member of the Gen-Y cohort, I am certain I have not seen my last uphill battle in corporate America. Nevertheless, I am confident that my outlook and my ability to harness that energy into something constructive will serve me well in future endeavors. The bottom line, I’ve realized, is this: there is absolutely a sense of credibility that accompanies tenure in a resume (which I am working toward every day) and while nothing can replace that type of experience, a relentless desire for success and an uncompromising work ethic can serve as a healthy supplement for it in the meantime. There’s no question that I have a lot to learn, but it doesn’t detract from what I have to offer today.


 Photo credit

About the Author: Kelsey Chalifoux is a Search Associate at Webber Kerr Associates, regionally in New York.  Before joining Webber Kerr, Kelsey worked in an RPO environment, focusing on the hiring and retention of outside sales representatives for a Fortune 500 organization. Currently, she is responsible for managing the end-to-end hiring process for high profile client positions and leadership additions including the industry sectors: Retail & Consumer Goods, Business Services, Hospitality and Oil & Energy.

What’s Stopping You? Overcoming Confidence Issues To Grow Your HR Business

Posted on March 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship. 2 comments

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.


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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. 

Women Talking a Great Game – Business Isn’t Just His Domain

Posted on March 4th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

“Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” Gail Blanke, President and CEO, Lifedesigns


Maybe being a man writing this undermines all credibility. My career has been all about embracing the importance and value of a diverse workplace. Having a silent or marginalized voice isn’t easy. Being an ignored or disrespected voice is soul crushingly depressing. I’ve long been having this conversation with my female colleagues about the importance breaking the silence and finding my voice.


Let’s not kid ourselves though, there’s still knuckledraggers wandering the workplace halls. The staff room at times is more like a locker room. You need hipwaders every time you pass the watercooler, because there’s so much BS and testosterone fueled bravado surrounding it.


There are talkers in your midst. They’re also getting ahead by only talking a good game. It’s time to rise above the bad smell, of less pay, less recognition, and lesser titles. You’re educated, you’re smart, you have skills, and you work harder than most. You’ve got game. Communicating a great game will raise the bar in your workplace.


Improving your verbal and non-verbal communication skills will get you noticed, will help get you ahead, and make for a better workplace. Here are some things to keep in mind.


  • Being overly apologetic is undermining. It’s not your fault the network is down, or the caterer messed up the the lunch order. Working late to meet a deadline, don’t apologize for asking your team to join you.
  • Your behavior shapes the universe. Your competence and confidence always need to be on display. Showing courage and conviction will inspire and mobilize others to take action. Turning your words into action will get you noticed. Remember the fine line between arrogance and confidence. Speak directly with authoritative tone. Being loud, condescending, or defensive won’t carry the day.
  • Do not talk down your achievements or undervalue them when working in a successful group and alongside men. Teamwork matters. Undervaluing yourself in group situations, in front of co-workers or employers, will hold you back. Take the credit and recognition you’re due. Kudos aren’t just a man’s domain.
  • Of course there’s merit in wanting to be helpful, and having the get things done attitude to achieve your teams goals. Remember the delicate balance between taking on meaningful tasks versus the busy grunt work nobody else wants to do. You want to be a meaningful and effective contributor. Communicate with the boss about projects that excite you. Let them know what you’d like to work on.
  • Ideas are essentially gender neutral. Work at generating good ideas, communicating the value of those ideas, as well as helping others articulate their ideas.
  • If direct and open feedback is constructive, don’t personalize or internalize it. Be direct and open in receiving it. Take action on it.
  • Be authentic. Know and respect what you are about, and true to your beliefs. You’re more than just what’s on your resume.
  • Focus on your own growth and contribute to the growth of the people supporting you.


A truly diverse workplace embraces different voices, with different perspectives. By making your voice is heard and your presence known, you’ll be making a difference.


“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypant


Photo Credit

About the Author:  As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing.  Before joining Celayix, Bimal was Vice President of Marketing at Faronics, a leading provider of IT solutions for the Education vertical where he helped grow revenue over 50% and launched exciting new solutions. Prior to that Bimal held senior marketing and product roles at technology companies such as Business Objects and McAfee Security where he gained significant international experience working with global companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, HP, Orange, Telefonica and Ricoh.

The Advice I Didn’t Take

Posted on September 19th, by Heather Rose in Business and Workplace. No Comments

One year into my HR career I hired my first direct report.  I formed the job description, posted it on a jobs site and reviewed resumes as they came in.  I felt like it was a stepping stone for me professionally, and I looked forward to having someone to develop and mentor.

After interviewing candidates I ended up hiring a referral from a co-worker that was an ideal Specialist to assist my HR Supervisor role.  I could delegate a project with general guidelines and know it would be a success.

Fast forward several months, and due to a restructuring I inherited another direct report that didn’t turn out to be as easy to deal with.  Daily life in the office became a challenge, and since I was still fairly new to having direct reports I went to my manager for advice.  For the most part I felt that we were on the same page, but when another member of the team brought to my attention possible wrongdoing by my direct report, I was surprised to learn my manager and I didn’t agree on next steps.  Having been provided supporting documentation to the suspected violation, I was ready to investigate the issue and further discuss with my direct report.  My manager, however, did not think it needed to be investigated at the time and suggested waiting to see what came of the situation.

After thinking it through and discussing with another trusted colleague I decided to go against my manager’s advice and address the issue at hand.  Feeling that my own credibility was on the line if didn’t look into the matter, I was proud that I stood my ground and did what was right to acknowledge the problem.

You may find yourself in a similar situation where you are at odds with professional advice you were given.  Take it into consideration, but also ensure that you fully research the topic at hand to ensure you have all necessary information.  Discuss with your network to hear several other viewpoints, and if appropriate, consult your company’s policies and procedures.  Trust in your analysis of the case, and go forward with confidence in your decision on how best to handle.


About the Author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 6 years experience supporting top organizations’ HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.


Photo credit iStockphoto