My smart phone took the plunge yesterday. Though it was just milliseconds before I fished it from the sink, it was long enough evidently for it to drown and it is now awaiting resurrection in a bag of rice. Oh, and I’m over age 50 – that might be significant later in my saga. Or not….
I quickly retrieved my phone, wiped it down, and took it apart, wiping off all the significant parts I could find. I then had to jump in a car aimed for a full day seminar. No rice in sight until later in the day. Much later….
And as we plunged into this training session at precisely 9:00am, I thought, as a ‘mature’ (oh how I hate categorizing myself with that term) professional, I won’t even miss my smart phone. After all, I have been in the professional world since before the fax machine. Before the internet. Before everyone – age 10 to 100 – carried a cell phone. Heck, I’m of the generation who received resumes and cover letters through the U.S. Mail. We sent hard copy memos, letters, and correspondence. I would be just fine, laser focusing in on the seminar message and interacting with 20 awesome coworkers.
10:00. First break. I reached for my purse to grab the phone, putting it back together in the hopes of that lively Android light would blink back. Nope. My colleagues around me kept up with work emails, personal texts, and some even took notes on their smart devices. Not me. Pen to paper, I was. Deep breath.
12:00. Lunch time. Reached back again. “ Stop it, I don’t need that infernal thing,” I said to myself. But what if there were an “emergency” at work? At home? And whatever would I do having to get through the multiple emails that were, undoubtedly, filling up my inbox? Deep breath, I can do it. i can go on without that electronic device. I think, as a small headache began to come on….
The afternoon was much the same, and I won’t continue to bore you with my internal thoughts and struggles. It is now the first FULL day without my smart phone. I am in withdrawal. Hello, my name is Dorothy and I am addicted to my smart phone. I’ve had to email colleagues, friends, and family and let them know that in order to get in touch with me – they would have to pick up the telephone, or send an email. How old-fashioned, right?
I actually got up out of my seat to go talk to colleagues and employees. How thought-provoking! Maybe this is my path this week – to remember that in my role as a Human Resources professional, I need to remember that I am dealing with HUMANS. I am HUMAN. Face-to-face is not always bad, nor does it have to be. It was not painful to get up and walk around the office and our buildings. Human interaction wasn’t bad. A few people looked up as I walked by and even said hello.
We all get wrapped up in this electronic world, and a smart phone is really convenient to keep up with work email, & stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues. It is easy to flip through Flipboard for news and Facebook for photos of those cute great nieces. Maybe though, just maybe, we could be better role models in the HR profession if we were out talking to people more. In person. When it’s not bad news.
Hmmm. Perhaps one of my future “stretch” assignments for my HR team will be for them to put down their phones, get up from behind their desks, and go talk to employees. Just because….I’m old.
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.
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!
Buzzwords. As much as we love to hate them, it’s almost impossible to avoid them especially in the work environment.
On a daily basis we are inundated with corporate buzzwords relating to topics such as thinking out of the box, taking the initiative, being authentic, honing our networking skills, taking ownership, fostering team spirit, becoming more innovative, creating engagement…the list is endless.
I do not underestimate the importance of the above mentioned skills and attributes, however it seems that we place so much emphasis on them at the expense of other less visible attributes and virtues. Virtues such as kindness, thoughtfulness and empathy.
Why do we not hear more about the importance of showing kindness in the work place? Why is it not openly touted in the workplace as an attribute of a successful employee?
Does the competitive nature of most work environments somehow discourage overt displays of kindness?
Is it possible to be kind in the workplace without compromising our competitive and professional edge?
These are questions worth considering.
Kindness is such a powerful virtue and it would be such a great idea if we incorporated a little more kindness, empathy and the willingness to empower others in our work environments.
I recently attended a Workshop on Gender Balanced Leadership hosted by Dianne Bevelander. She is the Associate Dean MBA programmes at The Rotterdam School of Management, and someone that I admire very much. It was a very powerful and insightful session and I found myself having multiple“Aha moments”.
I would like to share a thought that she shared at that event that impacted me the immensely and has stayed with me ever since.
“Be kind to others…. When you make others powerful, you also become more powerful”
There is so much power in small acts of generosity and kindness.
Acts of kindness such as the gift of a smile or a listening ear. The gift of suspending judgment until all the facts are known. The gift of inclusion and acceptance.
What if some of the new buzzwords in our organizations revolved around Kindness? What if we placed a premium on sponsorship and empowering others? What if we began to do unto others as we would have done unto us?
Imagine the impact it would create in our daily interactions within and without our workplaces.
I was dismayed to read about the harsh LinkedIn rejection letter from a Cleveland Job bank operator that went viral a few weeks ago. You can read about it here.
In my opinion, this incident just brings to the fore symptoms of a lack of kindness and empathy prevalent in our society today. It is made manifest in the unwillingness to share of your knowledge and expertise unless there is something to be gained in return.
I have often wondered, which is easier? To watch others go through the exact same mistakes and difficulties that one has gone through, or to make their journey easier and rewarding by sharing of your knowledge and wealth of experience?
There has been a lot of talk about women being reluctant to help each other climb up the career ladder and stories like the aforementioned just serve to reinforce that negative perception. Let’s begin to ask ourselves questions like “who are you mentoring?” How are you sharing your knowledge and wealth of wisdom with the next generation?
Let’s create a Buzz around kindness.
Kindness is a life skill that will serve us well within and without the workplace.
To whom are you extending a hand of kindness to?
“Wherever there is a human being, there is a chance for a kindness.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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.
As I was reading a recent issue of Time Magazine, I stumbled across a feature article entitled “The Art of Being Mindful” and it immediately piqued my interest. The focus of the piece was an exploration of a fairly recent movement centered on learning to shift focus back to the present moment, a remedy for the fractured attention spans and constant multi-tasking that has become not only prevalent, but normal and even expected in our fast-paced, technologically driven society. Though this idea is certainly nothing new, it seems in a world where there are increasingly more distractions and demands for our attention as a result of devices that allow us to be connected around the clock, more and more people are realizing the benefit of focusing on being mindful.
In fact, enough people have begun to see the benefits of mindfulness that there is now a growing industry surrounding it. The article talked about “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) classes that people regularly pay hundreds of dollars to attend to learn mindfulness techniques. In 2007, Americans reportedly spent $4 million annually on mindfulness related alternative medicine, a figure that will be updated later this year. And there is even an Institute for Mindful Leadership, a Wisdom 2.0 annual conference for tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and numerous mindfulness and meditation apps available for our smart phones.
This fascinates me. As I already mentioned, the idea of being mindful is certainly nothing new. I recently began practicing yoga, and one of the key elements of the practice is focus on being present in the moment, most often by paying particular attention to your breath. Yoga and meditation have been around for centuries, long before MBSR classes began to be offered. What interests me most is the idea that more and more people are realizing there is a need to bring more awareness to being in the moment; that too many of us are multi-tasking to the point of complete distraction.
As HR professionals regularly interacting with other people and/or dealing with various people related issues, it would seem to be common sense that we would always be mindful in those interactions. But are we?
How often can you honestly say you are totally and completely in the moment in your interactions with others? Are you really listening, or do you find your mind wandering to the next task on your to-do list, or the next meeting on your calendar? When you have an employee or one of your team members in your office, do you focus on the conversation, or are you multi-taking by reading or answering emails? Are you likely to take a phone call if it rings in the midst of that conversation, or will you let it go to voicemail and center your attention on the person in front of you?
Mindfulness in interactions with others is important for all leaders, but in HR, when we’re often dealing with emotionally charged situations, it’s even more critical. If you can honestly say that you are 100% mindful in all of your interactions, great – keep up the good work! However, if you are like many of us (myself included) and tend to find your mind wandering and your attention everywhere but where it should be, I challenge you to consciously focus on keeping yourself more in the moment. Bring just a little more mindfulness to the work you do each day. It may just make you not only a better leaders and HR pro, but by truly giving undivided attention to the person in front of you, may actually help strengthen your relationships with those around you as well.
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.
Ever get that call from a former colleague or someone you recently met at a conference asking for that “cup of coffee?” It is typically a code name for a job search, and I believe we should all be saying yes and be willing to support others in their quest.
But this post is not speaking to those of us taking the call – it is speaking to the caller.
Yes caller- I mean you- and how you may do a better job preparing for those coffee meetings so they are productive for both. It surprises me how often I meet with people who are uncomfortable with or unsure how to make the most of our meeting. Here are some suggestions for you to consider to make the meeting productive:
1. Have a target list of companies of interest in the industries you are pursuing.
When I meet with people that come to the table with a target list it helps me think of people I know to connect them to. These people may not be in the exact companies you list, however they will most likely be in the same industry. If you are a generalist that can cross industries that is great, however keep in mind that this list will help trigger new connections for you, which is why it is so important to prepare one.
2. Research the LinkedIn network for who you are meeting with to identify potential contacts of interest.
Connect on LinkedIn if you are not already connected and read through the contacts and make a list of who would like to connect to. We all know LinkedIn relationships vary across a spectrum, so the more names you identify the better your odds are of meeting more people.
3. Have jobs you are applying for handy with explanations for the feedback you are getting.
This could provide an opportunity for coaching and also prompt further discussions about potential opportunities.
4. Have an idea for how you may be able to help the person you are meeting with.
This one may go without saying, however many people do not do this . Even if the person you are meeting with says they cannot think of anything in the moment, I have been impressed with people that say that they have thought of a few things on their own (which may be handy in the future).
There are so many positive outcomes that can come out of a job search. What are some of the best (and worst) experiences you have had from requesting or agreeing to a cup of coffee?
Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.
As Women of HR gets ready to turn three years old this June, we’re in the process of going through our first major transition. For the past three years, the amazing and talented Lisa Rosendahl has been the driving force behind this site, spending countless hours soliciting, editing, and scheduling all of the fantastic and informative posts that have run. If not for her, this site would not be what it is today, and I know I’m not alone in expressing my gratitute to Lisa for all of her efforts. But as with any major project, as things evolve, changes become necessary. To allow her more time to focus on her own endeavors, Lisa has decided to step aside as editor, and I have stepped in to assume those duties. To read Lisa’s thoughts on the transition, stop over to her blog where she’s talking about it today as well.
As the new editor, I look forward to continuing to provide you, our readers, with the informative and thought-provoking posts you have come to expect. I’ll also be looking to add new themes, series, and topics to keep the site ever evolving and in tune with the changing nature of our profession and business in general.
I would like to offer a public THANK YOU to all of our intelligent, talented, and hard-working contributors who generously give of their own time to share their thoughts and experiences with all of you. Without them, we wouldn’t have a Women of HR!
And last but not least, a big THANK YOU to all of our readers for continuing to come back, week after week, to see what we’re currently talking about. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see us posting about, please comment below or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome any suggestions for topics and themes, or any ideas you may have for ensuring that we’re relevant and providing you what you need. And if any of you have ever thought about wanting to write and would like to become a contributor, or even just test the waters with a guest post, please send me a note as well. We’d love to have you as part of our team!
You know the routine. You attend a networking event, professional conference, association meeting and collect a bucket load of 2 x 3 inch business cards from a collection of professionals, ranging from the gentleman who sat next to you at breakfast to an engaging mentor-worthy executive. Then the event ends and you transport the business cards from your suit pocket to your work bag and forget about them until you arrive to work the next morning.
Traditional networking wisdom would tell you to take the time in the next couple of days to log each contact’s information onto a spreadsheet and then follow up with an email (and log that too). Sound like a lot of work? Probably because it is and the fact that it is time consuming and really not top of mind (after all the conference is over and you have a stack of work to get to done) leads to a high likelihood of business card abandonment.
A better way to deal with a stack of business cards is to embrace social media to make your life easier. I constantly hear colleagues, friends, and family lamenting the main social sites calling them a time-zappers when really if used effectively they can be a time saver.
Below are a couple of tips for how to manage newly made contacts that will not consume your time for half a morning.
- Business card reader apps. If you have a smart phone or tablet then you can utilize this immediately. After collecting a business card you can take a photo of it and it will automatically be added to your phone contacts. Some of these apps go so far as finding the contact on LinkedIn and sending them a connection request. How is that for a time saver?
- In the moment notes. Immediatel
y after you collect someone’s card, take 30 seconds to jot down something you learned about them on the back of the card. This will help you remember what was meaningful about this particular person. Trust me after a long day of networking many of these contacts will blur together and you may remember that someone has a daughter at UCLA and loves mountain bike riding but deciphering if it was Cindy at GM or Greg from Target will be more challenging.
- Connections through LinkedIn. Instead of taking the time to enter contact information on a spreadsheet, invest that time by finding your contacts on LinkedIn and sending a connection request with a personal message that refers to something you learned about them (jotted down on the back of the business card- see point 2) when you met.
Remember, the point of sharing business cards isn’t to increase the number of contacts on your spreadsheets. Business card exchanges are solely for staying connected. Utilize social media and allow relationship building and productivity to co-exist.
What has worked for you?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR and Job Dig.
Today commemorates the 2 year anniversary of Women of HR. 2 years, over 300 posts, 50 some regular and guest contributors. Dudes, can you believe it?
2 years ago, I was lucky enough to kick off the site by encouraging you all to be subversive in our inaugural post. 1 year ago, I told everyone they got puppies and ice cream in celebration of our first anniversary. Hmm, what should we do for our 2nd anniversary then?
In all seriousness though, thank you
, everyone, for your continued support, contributions and readership. The thought provoking posts, the encouraging comments, and this wonderful community.
We do this for you. Because we've got your back.
Huge love and hugs to our Editor-in-Chief Lisa Rosendal, and my lovely fellow co-founders Trish McFarlane, Sarah White, Charee Klimek, and Jennifer Payne. There are no words to express how grateful I am to share in this great project we started one fun night in Chicago.
I know that this next year is going to be just as amazing and exciting as the last two. I hope you will all be there to experience it with us.
A few weeks ago, week my constant state of being over committed caught up with me and I fell ill.
My body was telling me to slow down and I fought it with everything I had, but I lost. The result of what happened was exactly what I needed.
You see, I had an ENTIRE day to myself. No one at home. No one at my office door. No electronic device tempting me to answer it for the next great blog post, tweet, DM or Facebook note. At first, I didn’t know what to do. Honestly, I fought an amazing pull to do SOMETHING because that’s what we wired to do. Doing nothing means being lazy, nonchalant or just slacking off.
The reality of this day to myself is that it allowed me to just empty myself out mentally and get reset. I’ll be honest. I don’t do this nearly enough. Like many of my friends, we just keep adding on more and slogging through it because we have an immense capacity (or so we tell ourselves).
When I was better the next day, I was sharp, revived and ready to face things once again. This time, however, I didn’t do the mad jump into the rush. I sat back and thought about how the tidal wive of commitments I’ve chosen could very easily come back and jump up to attempt to drown me once again.
So, I thought it was time to get back to what works for me – feelin’ groovy!!
The phenomenal duo of Simon & Garfunkel had many memorable songs, but one of my faves was The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) because the lyrics and the feel from the song give you perspective. Look at this:
“Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the mornin’ last. Just kickin’ down the cobblestones, Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy. Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy.”
It may seem naive, or even a waste of time, for folks. That’s a shame. I know that when I woke up to head back into work and heard this song, I thought let’s try something renewed today. So, I was kinder to my family, excited to get to work, and geeked to see my friends and co-workers. I called some of my friends from the “social media space” just to check in and see how they were doing, etc.
The groove hasn’t left and I hope it doesn’t. As you approach your day, your work in HR and life in general, remember – HOW you approach it makes all the difference in the world.
I need to go kick some cobblestones now . . .
Debbie* is brilliantly creative. She leads the public relations campaigns for one of the largest health care facilities in the United States, but she yearns to be her own boss, brave the entrepreneurial path and reinvent the long forgotten power of the written word.
Jill* is an intellectual, with a brain that moves at warp speed. She has advanced degrees in education and worked as an elementary school principal while writing her doctoral thesis. As her mind mulled over the complex issue of praising children for their results or their efforts, her soul asked if it could go outside, sit under a tree and write fiction.
These two smart, savvy and socially adept women were successfully climbing a career ladder. Socially, these women earned top marks. They were accepted by friends, family and society for being wonderful pillars of social order, but their inner knowing, their essential self, was tired of pleasing everybody else, tired of playing the game, tired of repressing deeper feelings and real dreams.
Every woman who has ever yearned to be someplace else, but dutifully shows up where she is asked, or any woman who sits in a boring meeting, nodding with consent while secretly visualizing her hidden talents being applauded by thousands, knows the struggle only too well between the social self and the essential self.
Who are these two opposing elements that reside within the same bodily domicile and why must they struggle? And… is it okay that you hear these different voices?
First, every individual has a social self and an essential self. The social self is the persona which conforms to the demands of family, friends, community, and society and which an individual generally develops for acceptance or for protection. The essential self is an individual’s true self and expresses the individual’s thoughts, feelings, desires, needs, and inner purpose.
The social self often runs in opposition to the essential self in order to avoid ruffling the feathers of those around you, or to keep the status-quo. Your social self is geared to be avoidance based, conforming, predictable and hardworking. Your essential self is wired to be attraction-based, unique, surprising and playful.
How can two juxtaposed selves reside in the same place? Not easily. In fact, most days they are in conflict, but when they do agree to work together, it’s bliss. Literally.
The language of your essential self is this:
- Energy. Your essential self has lots and lots of energy! Feeling lethargic, drained or even exhausted is a sign that your social self has ruled too long. It’s time for a revolution. Take note of the activities that drain you and the activities that revive your energy levels. Where you’re peppy and full of zip is where your essential self resides.
- Health. Your essential self keeps you healthy! Every stressful experience causes a physiological response in the body within seventy-two hours. Frustrating encounters with colleagues lead to headaches, neck pain and an over-burdened immune system. You may not even realize your social self is ruling you until you drop an activity, a job, or a mate and suddenly see yourself looking and feeling better.
- Memory. Your essential self is a sponge not a sieve! Where lies your passion, lies your memory. Ever try to learn information that was boring? When you feel apathetic, or are downright disinterested your brain has a heck of a time hanging onto bits of data. However, when you are genuinely motivated or passionate about a topic, the smallest bits of trivia are valued like gold nuggets.
- Time flies. Your essential self cannot tell time! If the second hand on the clock has stopped moving, your essential self is gasping for air. When you lose track of time, absorbed in an activity that has drastically increased your attention span, your essential self is fully engaged.
- High. A natural one. Your essential self puts you in a good mood! When your social self is tempted to be scared, but your essential self is feeling exhilarated, you’ll float, having found such inner peace that even bitter, nasty, social self driven individuals will not be able to burst your balloon of happiness.
When you reconnect and start speaking the language of your essential self, you thrive. When you are feeling cynical, have doubts, or experience fear, thank your social self for wanting to keep you safe, and then sweetly ask it to be quiet. Pain, self-sacrifice, suffocation or numbness of your spirit are not helping you reach your fullest potential, nor helping you offer your greatest good to the world.
Debbie just finished assembling two hundred and fifty of the most gorgeous wedding invitations. The bride and groom are socially tickled and Debbie is essentially ecstatic with the results. Jill just completed a series of children’s book about the most adorably curious boy and his imaginary adventures. Her essential self will give every child who reads her stories the gift of discovering their own greatest potential.
Go on, get high … naturally. It’s essential.
Photo credit iStockphoto *All names have been changed.
This first week of the new year we are featuring some of our top posts at Women of HR. Enjoy!
Tim Sackett doesn’t think we need a website called Women of HR.
Maybe he is right.
- We have the Equal Pay Act of 1963,
- the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
- Title IX,
- and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Women comprise the majority of HR professionals. We own the function of HR even if we only represent a fraction of HR professionals who are responsible for a budget and have organizational authority to make decisions.
What more could we want?
According to Sackett, HR women don’t need special accommodations and we don’t need a calendar. We’re a majority. We should shut up and appreciate our status.
Except no one here at Women of HR is asking for an accommodation.
I don’t hear my colleagues requesting special treatment or a helping hand. We’re not asking for favors. No one wants something for nothing. We are a self-identified group of women who’ve joined together to talk about Human Resources, leadership, recruiting, and training.
That’s still legal in America, especially since we include men.
What I like about Women of HR is that it’s a unique example of technology, community, and conversation. This site includes HR professionals who are at the beginning of their careers and seasoned HR veterans who are thinking about their second acts. There are women from the recruiting community speaking to women from the technology community. And there are women who love Human Resources and women who hate HR coming together in single space to advance the profession.
Call it Women of HR or call it something else, but it’s unique and kind of revolutionary.
I think it’s also revolutionary that we didn’t crucify Sackett when he suggested that Women of HR wasn’t needed. If this website does anything, it shows that shortsighted opinions on gender and power will be carefully and respectfully considered by the majority. There were no shrill voices. There were no false cries of sensationalism or stereotypically aggressive responses.
There was nothing but good old-fashioned inclusion and debate.
Who says we don’t need that in Human Resources?