Tag: Connection

Actionable Tips to Grow Your Networks

Posted on March 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Networks, Mentors and Career. 3 comments

“It’s not what you know, but whom you know,” is a phrase with which many of us are familiar, and in today’s hyper-connected world it’s truer than ever. The power of one’s network can’t be diminished, an essential part of professional life that can further your career like nothing else. The right network can solve business problems, expand your knowledge, and catapult your career. It’s a personal advantage that shouldn’t be understated.

With all that said, I find most of us relegate networking to the bottom of our to-do lists, buried under other items that require more immediate priority. But I’d urge you not to delay developing this powerful tool. Building and maintaining one is easier than you’d think and, as I’ve recently discovered, one of the best endeavors you’ll ever undertake.

In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a great deal of time building my own professional network. Truth be told, I previously gave little thought to the power and importance of my professional network when I was in a corporate role, but once out of the daily grind and starting my own enterprise, I’ve realized the incredible value of active networking.

With that said, I’m keen to provide some quick networking strategies that can help you build a successful network, simple time investments that should benefit you for years to come:

Market yourself – Begin by identifying what you have to offer. Look at networking as a way to build your personal brand, which in today’s social media-driven world is incredibly important. Your network is your means of building connections that matter, regardless of your current level or position, so take stock of yourself and understand what you bring to the table.

Know what outcome you desire – Networks work best when viewed as reciprocal relationships, and you should understand what you could contribute as well as wish to receive going in. Here are the criteria that shape my choices:

(1) I create networks that are international in scope because global reach is important to what I do
(2) I wish to connect with people keen to disrupting traditional thoughts and business ideas, sharing ideas centered on changing how we think about the world of work
(3) I wish to embrace connection with other senior executive women across various industries and interests. I am passionate about what women can do in the workplace, and wish to support other women in our professional endeavors
(4) I desire to build a powerful portfolio of HR professionals at various levels. Giving back to my profession and shaping its future direction is something I am keen to do.

Be clear on your objectives – It’s important to be clear on what you wish to achieve. If it’s building your personal brand, select connections that can raise your profile. Identify people of prominence, and not necessarily in your same field. Also, set clear goals for yourself when it comes to building this aspect of your personal life. For instance, this month’s goal could be connecting with five new female technology executives across the industry. This helps you stay focused and provides you with tangible metrics you can track.

It works if you work it – A network is not something you turn on and off when you need it; those who are successful know it requires a regular investment of time and effort. Be consistent, as you’ll have a harder time reestablishing connection if you disappear for an extended period of time. A minimum of an hour a day networking with others via social media and/or in person via events helps to build your network tremendously over time. View your networks like any important relationship: get to know them, learn what’s important to them, and assess how you can help them reach their goals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. That’s the true ROI in networks.

What are some of the best ways to connect with people?
Connection is easier than ever. Social media and networking sites, numerous professional associations, charitable connections, online meeting groups based on interest, etc. Before you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, decide on which means suit your intended result. I’ve found LinkedIn to be a superior means of interaction, both professionally and personally. It keeps you active in the eye of a good number of professional bodies, and it’s a great means of maintaining your professional contacts. It’s also a bit less intrusive and overwhelming than email, which can be challenging due to the size of everyone’s inboxes these days.

Twitter is an acquired taste: you either love it or you hate it. For me, Twitter is less about building lasting networks than a means of receiving and sharing real-time information. If used for networking, be certain that communication stays brief, and move it into private conversation as swiftly as possible so others aren’t disconnected by a connection that’s best fostered one-on-one.

Measure the ROI of your network – It helps to periodically take stock of your efforts. Some tangible ways to assess good networking ROI include an increase in connections and social media followers; more requests to contribute and/or share your expertise; an uptick in invitations to network events and in-person gatherings; and an increase in opportunities and social events, from coffee dates to interviews and/or business meetings.

Creating an ecosystem of peers, mentors, business advisors, friends, and advisors will reap rewards far beyond your dreams if you take the time to develop your approach, work diligently, and nurture it well. This ecosystem can support your career for years to come and bear opportunities you can’t imagine. Start networking today!

 

Photo Credit

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


Appreciation Shouldn’t Need a Day…But Sometimes It Does

Posted on March 17th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 3 comments

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of days dedicated to recognition and appreciation of various sorts.  Employee Appreciation Day was observed on Friday, March 6th – a chance to “support, thank and reward workers” for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.  Sunday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.”  And most recently, Wednesday, March 11th was Randon Tweets of Kindness day, an online event created in 2014 by Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify Talent, as a way to call out and recognize and thank publically individuals who have impacted or influenced you in some way using the hashtag #RTOK.  This year’s iteration was nothing short of amazing, reaching the point of trending worldwide on Twitter as countless folks shared the love for people who have supported them, helped them grow and succeed, or have just simply been there as good friends.

Personally, I’m a little torn on the idea of these “official” recognition-type days.  I mean, in theory, we shouldn’t need a specific day to appreciate those around us who make our lives better in some way, right?  Employee recognition should be on ongoing process, not a one-time event that happens because a designated day tells you that you should do so.  We should appreciate the achievements of great people (not just women) on a regular basis, not once a year.  And hopefully we’re thanking the people that help us, impact us, teach and mentor us, and support us as they do it, not just on a day designated for that.  Right?

In theory, yes.  In theory.  But then reality steps in and rears its ugly and hectic face.                      

I don’t know about you, but my days, weeks, and even years fly by quickly.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of life, as the frenetic pace of life is filled with personal and professional obligations, as days and weeks are filled with both the necessary and the fun, sometimes before I know it weeks have passed.  And sometimes I realize I haven’t been in touch with this person, or that message I meant to send hasn’t yet gotten sent, or a connection I planned to make hasn’t yet been made.  It’s not intentional, but it has happened nonetheless.

In the workplace, sometimes we are so consumed by all of the “stuff” that needs to get done that we forget to take a step back and appreciate those around us that are helping to get that stuff done, helping make projects happen, helping goals to be achieved.  We don’t mean to do it, but we plug along and neglect to stop and say thanks in the moment.

So SOULD we need to have days set aside to appreciate those around us?  No.  DO we need them?  I don’t think they’re such a bad idea.  But the true key to success is to take the momentum generated by these days and try our best to keep it going…to ensure appreciation doesn’t fade as the sun sets on that day.

What do you think?  Are appreciation days a good thing or bad thing?  A necessary evil, something that shouldn’t exist in the first place, or an opportunity? 

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


The New Rules of Engagement: Digitization

Posted on December 16th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Yvonne Sell and Georg Vielmetter recently wrote Leadership 2030, a new book outlining how 6 powerful trends are impacting life as we know it. They identified these 6 megatrends as Globalization 2.0, Environmental Crisis, Demographic Change, Digitization, Individualization and Technology Convergence.

In this series of blog posts, Monick Evans of the Hay Group will cover each of these trends in turn and share her thoughts on how they impact engagement, and what they might mean for us as professionals as well as for us as employees.  The first in the series covered Individualization.  Today she discusses Digitization.

 

Digital Help or Digital Hindrance?

With the powerful megatrend Digitization already upon us: what does it means for you and your job and for the way you manage others?

 

Digital Help

You can do anything you want in the virtual world.  There are apps for pretty much everything, insomniacs can find people to talk to any time of the night and you can get advice whenever you ask for it (and even when you don’t if you look at Twitter!). So all this digital stuff should be making our lives easier right?

In many ways yes it should.

Digitization is all about the blurred boundaries between our work and personal lives as a result of technology. It’s about being “switched on 24/7” and it means many of us can work flexibly from anywhere at any time, which helps us find the work/life balance that works for us. Living 2 ½ hours away from my office means I regularly work from home just to stay sane!

In the workplace, Digitization can definitely be a huge advantage; advances in smartphones, apps, Facebook and Twitter for example are a great way to stay connected to our clients and our colleagues across timezones in a simple, engaging and fast way. They keep us agile and flexible, we can react in an instant to the latest bit of news.

 

Digital Hindrance

So what’s the downside? Well if like me, you weren’t born into a world of Clouds, I-phones, Lync, Messenger and Twitter, you’re not a Digital Native. My kids will be (they can already work the Sky TV box better than I can). That means there’s a whole heap of training we need to make sure that we use technology to save time in our jobs, rather than waste time.

And what if you feel you should constantly be “wired” so you can respond immediately to your client’s late night emails? Aren’t you at risk of getting stressed or burnt out? And if you only communicate with your manager on email, how will they spot the signs and be able to help you?

Then there’s the problem of being discreet. How do we know what’s appropriate for us to share online? The world of social media is so quick that it’s easy to act on impulse, but by doing that we could be damaging our company’s brand – or even our client’s brand – just by a click of a button.

 

Digital Ready

If you work in a role in HR, then these problems are soon going to be your problems. What training do people need and how can you keep them up to speed with new technologies and digital trends? How can you prevent employee burn out? And how can you best engage your people around your brand so that they want to protect rather than damage it?

Research on this new megatrend shows that people’s expectations are changing about how they use technology at work and that if companies want to keep their talent motivated, they’ll need to adapt fast because:

  • Younger workers – or Digital Natives – want to be connected all the time. Removing a Smartphone from someone when they turn up for work is like removing an arm. (Interestingly, a major retailer in the UK that banned mobile phones on the shopfloor is now piloting the use of them again to keep people motivated)
  • People will demand that their company supports them with different devices and technical support to keep them working, especially if employees are travelling for their jobs
  • A pressure to always be online could lead to stress and burnout for some, that managers still need to look out for and manage
  • Employees can easily find out online how their salaries compare to other firms (and then they can easily apply for another job if they want to)
  • People want to work when they want to work – that might be in the middle of the night, whereas your manager wants to speak to you when the sun’s still out. Managers will need to measure ‘outputs’ differently and look at performance rather than just hours
  • We’re all human and we still need some personal contact. Managers can’t rely on virtual communications and meetings – we still want to see people face-to-face

 

Digital Balance

So stop and have a think about your own job for a moment. How do these changes to the workplace affect you or the people you manage? How can you get the best out of using technology and mitigate the worst?

Try answering a few questions to see how well you think you’re doing amidst Digitization:

Yes / No
Digital Help?
Is technology helping you save time in your job?
Does technology help you stay in touch more easily with your clients or colleagues?
Do you feel technology gives you more flexibility to work from anywhere at anytime?
Do you have the technical support you need to keep those devices working at all times?
Are you using technology to showcase how great your company’s product or ideas are?
Digital Hindrance?
Be honest, are you slightly addicted to checking your messages? (even if someone is talking to you)
Does your Smartphone go wherever you go (including to bed)?
Have you ever had an online ‘rant’ about something or someone then instantly regretted it?
Does your manager expect you to answer emails 24/7? (and do you expect the same from your direct reports or colleagues?)
Have you ever felt totally exhausted and at risk of burnout because you never really switch off from using technology?

 

How did you get on? If you generally answered “Yes” to more Help than Hindrance, then you’ve probably found a great way of using technology in your life.

But if you answered “No” to any of these questions, maybe now’s the time to put that device down and have a proper conversation in the real world rather than the virtual world. Given that when I see my kids playing, they’re often copying Mummy on the phone sending messages and moaning when a webpage won’t load fast enough, then maybe it’s time I did just that….

See you next time, I’m off to meet a real friend for a real drink and a real chat rather than a virtual one, it’s much more fun.

 

How well do you think people in your organization are adapting to the digitization trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Monick Evans is an Associate Director at global management consultancy Hay Group. With 20 years experience in organizational research, HR and change consulting, Monick has worked with some of the world’s best known multinational companies to deliver leading edge employee engagement programmes. Monick works closely with key stakeholders, including CEOs, Executive Teams, HR, OD and Communications professionals to help align their employee survey programmes with business strategy. The topics she is discussing in this series of blog posts can also be found in the Hay Group report The new rules of engagement.


Maximizing Your #SHRM14 Experience

Posted on June 17th, by Jennifer Payne in SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

This weekend I’ll be heading to Orlando for the #SHRM14 Annual Conference and Expo.  Many of you may be joining me; for some of you it may be your first time, others of you may be SHRM Annual veterans.  No matter if it’s your first time or tenth time attending, I ask you this question: Are you maximizing your conference experience?

 

I’ve written about this topic in previous years, but I feel that it’s worth revisiting as I’m not convinced that even the most veteran of conference goers utilize the opportunities available as well as they could.  So here’s some of the advice I’ve given in previous years, with some new additions as well.

 

There is an abundance of information to be learned and knowledge to be shared at the conference, and what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it.  Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience?  I encourage you to consider the following.

 

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan out your schedule.  Review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value.  But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice.  Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session!  This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  And don’t forget to download the Conference App to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.

 

Challenge Yourself

Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone.  But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new?  This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job.  Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?

 

Don’t Try To Do It All

This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day.  It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames.  Allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.  And let’s face it, we’re going to be in Orlando where there are a multitude of entertainment options.  It’s okay to allow yourself a little downtime to have some fun outside of the conference.

 

Try Something Different

Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions.  But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value.  Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for what types of solutions are out there.  Check out the Connection Zone and some of the Smart Stage presentations.  Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you.  There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!

 

Network

Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days.  Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions.  Talk to people.  Make new connections.  You never know how valuable they could be some day.  Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events; they are a great way to connect with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!

 

Most of all, enjoy your experience.  Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!  See you in the Sunshine State!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Heading to the Sunshine State! #SHRM14 Preview

Posted on June 11th, by Jennifer Payne in Community and Connection, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference is only about a week and a half away.  This year’s location is right in the heart of tourist mecca Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center, and runs from June 22nd to the 25th.  Once again, I’ll be heading down and reporting in as part of the SHRM Social Media and blogging team.

 

One would think that the location alone and general ease of travel from most points to the Orlando area could tend to draw quite a crowd, especially anyone with an affinity towards anything Mickey, Harry Potter, or anything else Disney or Universal Studios related.  But beyond the obvious entertainment value draw, hopefully attendees of this annual gathering of all things Human Resources will walk away refreshed and recharged with at least a few new ideas and a few new connections in their network.

 

This year’s general session keynotes, as always, are big name speakers who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends, and how we can be making a bigger impact not only as HR professionals, but as business professionals.  I’ll be highlighting key points from each of those speakers: Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, NY Times columnist and  author Tom Friedman, CEO of Yum! Brands David Novak, and Former First Lady Laura Bush.

 

I also plan to hit at least a few of the concurrent sessions.  These are where much of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners who are or have been right there in the trenches with attendees.  I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of those sessions as well.

 

One of the new and exciting components of this year’s conference is The Connection Zone, an evolution of what had been known as The Hive in conferences of late.  The Connection Zone is a place for attendees to come to well, as the name suggests, connect.  Within The Connection Zone will be the Smart Stage where 15-18 minute TED-like talks will be given on a variety of topics.  I’ll be joining in the fun and speaking on “So I’m a Time Starved HR Practitioner….Why Should I Care About Social Media?” at 10:20 on Monday morning.  Stop by if the topic interests you, or even just to say hi (there will be able Q&A and networking time after the presentations).

 

And of course, we can’t forget about the networking and social opportunities, which abound at a conference such as this.  One that’s not to be missed is the #SHRM14 Social Bash, happening Monday night at the Hard Rock Café at Universal CityWalk.  Back by popular demand after last year’s success, DJ Jazzy Jeff (yes, THAT Jazzy Jeff) will be once again spinning tunes at what’s sure to be the highlight of the conference social scene.  And what better way to get to know your new connections better than dancing and singing along to all of your favorite party tunes together?

 

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  Tweet along with the #SHRM14 hashtag; last year we managed to trend on Twitter, let’s see if we can do it again!  If you’re not able to attend, check back here throughout the conference as I’ll be posting updates on what’s happening, and what’s being talked about.  And follow the hashtag on Twitter for instant, real-time updates too!

 

See you in Orlando!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. But Should It?

Posted on June 3rd, by Dorothy Douglass in Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

I have great opportunities to attend conferences both near and far from my home and my office and was lucky (pun intended) to fly to Las Vegas in April for a HRIS conference, and I took a few colleagues with me.  Plus I had some alone time, and added on a few days for some R&R.

Some lessons learned, and maybe worth remembering when attending a conference, or perhaps to use while at work….

  • Plan.  Take time to plan out your agenda – whether for a conference, for a meeting, or for your work year.  HR needs to think forward and become proactive.  We have a continued rep of being very administrative and reactive, when we might possibly more positively affect the workforce when thinking and acting proactively.  And sometimes, the best laid plans don’t work out, so gather a colleague, and simply,
  • Talk.  My coworker & I were in a particularly painful, boring session.  I convinced him we needed to take a walk.  And we proceeded to the pool area, in our business casual attire.  I then pressured him into taking of his shoes and socks and just dipping his toes in the water.  And we had a conversation.  We articulated our perspectives about HR, about the conference.  We coached one another. And quite possibly enhanced our work relationship through that conversation.  Which leads me to the opposite of my first bullet point.  Sometimes, you just have to
  • Be spontaneous.  Go with the moment.  It’s Vegas.  Get out there.  Invite conversations with (sane) people.  I talked with more one-on-one with conference attendees by striking up a conversation with them while waiting in line – at registration, for the elevator, at the pool, and at the lunch table.  And gathered a lot of valuable information. And yes, I AM an introvert.  Sometimes someone just needs to break the ice.  Good conversation and networking will happen!  To do this, you must
  • Make eye contact.  With the person standing next to you in line, with the hotel staff, with your server.  Find out your server’s name, and use it.  Smile.  BTW, if you get extraordinary service, anywhere, leave your HR business card with the payment, and a short note. “Thanks for the extraordinary service.  You were great today!”  You may never know how meaningful that was to someone, but isn’t it a great surprise when you are complimented seemingly out of the blue?  Pay it forward!
  • Network and never turn down the opportunity to connect with an old friend, colleague, acquaintance, a LinkedIn connection, or meet a new contact.  Networking is powerful, and connecting with others through work, school, conferences, &  social media may not seem important, but it can add value to you, for you, and for others you serve.  I met a race car driver and I got to see college friends I haven’t seen in 30 years.  I was very blessed on this trip – I feel richer for having made the time to connect.

Hmmm, these all sound a lot like coaching tips when interviewing candidates.  Don’t they?

  • Plan before the interview – that’s being proactive.  Read the resume and application, and plan the questions prior to the interview.  Be prepared – candidates can tell if you are not. Sometimes, you need to engage the interviewee through
  • Talk.  Interviewers should not simply read questions off a page and record answers.  Interviewers  will succeed by engaging the interviewee and making the interview seem more like a conversation.  Engage your team to greet the candidate & talk informally when they arrive.  (Don’t forget to get your team’s feedback afterward.)  And remember it is ok to somewhat
  • Be Spontaneous.  HR professionals do recommend using the same questions for all interviews for a position; however, there are times that an answer calls for spontaneity by asking a follow up question.  Or waiting, silently, for the candidate to form an answer.   And we HR professionals always recommend using
  • Eye contact.   We observe eye contact from the candidates.  We need to be sure we are practicing what we preach.  Not in a stare down, but while having a meaningful conversation, er, I mean interview.
  • Network.  Be sure to find out what the candidate knows about your company.  Understand and engage them to determine how well they network!   And perhaps they are sitting in the candidate seat because an awesome HR professional (like you) left their card for a great customer servant.  How cool would that be?

 

Photo Credit

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.


How Many Words Paint the Picture?

Posted on May 20th, by Lois Melbourne in Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 1 Comment

It’s wonderful to hear simple words that trigger a response. While I fidgeted at a writer’s conference, in another taupe colored hotel ballroom, a gentleman hopped on stage.  He breezed through a few stories of his career happenstances.  I became connected to this man immediately.  No, there was no attraction.  It was  a mental connection.  He elicited the connection because his word choice was delightful.  He wasn’t flamboyant. He was calm. He wasn’t bouncing around the stage or overly modulating his speech to attract attention.  He simply told good, relevant stores with words that leapt off the stage. 

 

He described an office where  he had been interviewed as a having “burled, blonde bookcases.” Say no more, I thought. I was in the room.  He said so much more about the office then if he had said “lined with books”. His words painted the picture. He wasn’t even among the writers in the speaker line up, yet he knew the power of words.  He was a literary agent.

 

I think about the criticality of choosing words when communicating with all types of people. A strong vocabulary is like an shiny tool box, holding all the other skills together as protection, transportation or the display of the other skills.

 

If someone provides a report to you, think about the different responses you could garner, based on your choice of feedback.

This report is crap.

This report is not going to work.

This report is disappointing.

This report could get us sued.

This report is inaccurate.

All of these statements could be used to describe the same issue you have with the report. Yet, you will elicit very different responses to actions from each.

 

If you are presenting a new decision or policy, give clues to the process and articulate with transparency.  Is this the pragmatic decision or was it agonizing to make.  Is the policy designed to liberate or motivate/refine or contain. Your audience will better understand what they need to do with the information, if you illustrate the intent or process clearly.

 

Leaders and presenters can utilize words to move people. I found the TV series West Wing invigorating, largely due to their wit and intelligence.  The predominate way they could showcase those traits was their word choice. It wasn’t like we could see the ramifications of their policy decision or their real reports. We listened and responded to their articulate conversations.

 

I am on a quest of enhanced vocabulary utilization. There is no desire to be a show off. I simply want to articulate with more vibrant words to create the imagery within the audience’s mind.

 

The book “Poemcrazy Freeing Your Life With Words” by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge speaks of collecting words.  To the average business person her approach may seem extreme.  She collects words for writing poetry.  Yet if professionals can be business wisdom through tales of savage wars or of fridge, death defying despair on a mountain tragic expedition; then they can build word skills from a poet!

 

If you have a presentation looming on the near or distant horizon of your calendar, consider that end goal of people standing, rising, leaping or SHOOTING out of their chairs at the end. Which word is it?  If it will warm your heart if they take notes during your presentation, ponder your word choice.  Do you desire a room full of doodling pencils, scratching pens or frantic writing devices?

 

I am not advocating the use of words that do not fit you or your personality. You shouldn’t leave your audience needing a dictionary while listening to you, or they will find colorful words to describe YOU. Pompous or arrogant are not the target descriptors desired. Curate words you love to use. You may find you can use fewer words, yet the picture will be more inspired and more vivid.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions.  She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.


Keeping the HUMAN in Human Resources

Posted on April 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

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.

 

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 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.


{Career Advice} Kindness In The Workplace.

Posted on April 1st, by Tamkara Adun in Career Advice. 1 Comment

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

 

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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.


How Mindful Are You?

Posted on February 20th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

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.

 

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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.