With the qualified talent pool shrinking across the globe, the pressure on businesses to retain talent grows. In hopes of retention, companies across most industries are accommodating for generation X and Y’s desires by building a flexible, fun, informal environment that includes summer Fridays, remote work days, casual attire, and more. Start-ups are going to great lengths to mimic the Google and Facebook environments that attract and retain talent across the globe. I benefit from, and am a proponent of these environments. Some companies, however, particularly start-ups, must be mindful of, and guard against allowing informality to result in a lack of accountability, misalignment, and ambiguity. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep talent aligned with a clear company mission and hold them accountable. The flexible, fun, informal environment can only keep talent interested for so long. There must be something deeper for talent to identify with.
Talent must first identify with a company’s mission and core values. It is critical that veterans of the organization all understand, communicate, and embody the same message. Remember, Millennials look for guidance from those above them and as we know, businesses are constantly evolving to remain competitive. It is imperative that managers and executives keep these messages consistent. We cannot expect talent to feel secure and have the desire to commit to an environment that has a mission that continually changes, or a list of core values that is adhered to only when convenient.
Secondly, there must be a “fit to role.” When talking about a fit to role, most people will identify with qualified talent fitting the role; however, the fit to role actually starts with the role being appropriate for the department, division and company. Does the role benefit the company, and can it be successful within the current confines of the environment? With the ever-changing business environment, talent acquisition should ensure that an assessment of true business needs occurs or has occurred with each and every job requisition. It would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for someone to remain engaged in a role that doesn’t make sense for the organization and is not aligned with its mission.
After identifying the appropriate role for the company, the appropriate candidate should be determined for the role. Many companies focus on the technical skills of the candidate and hope for a plug and play that will ensure the business doesn’t miss a beat. However, hiring managers cannot omit the importance of assuring alignment and engagement with the role by determining what the potential hire enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and what drives her to achieve. This can be accomplished through conducting a personal assessment (such as the Harrison Assessment), as well as through technical assessments that assess her technical skill sets for the role.
Hiring the candidate is just the beginning of ensuring engagement and alignment exists throughout the talent’s tenure. There must be a clear relationship among the talent’s job description, career path and development. As soon as talent does not have clarity and understanding around their job descriptions and career paths, one can expect highly desired talent will begin their search for the next step in their career elsewhere. Generation X and Y have had information at their fingertips that allows them to learn; however, simply learning is not enough. It must have a purpose. Aligning short-term, tangible goals to reach the mission at hand will help ensure long-term engagement. Managers should anticipate the need for feedback and the desire to know how this newly acquired knowledge helps talent get from here to there in a career path.
In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to keep your talent aligned with your business and working for a greater purpose. Increased retention rates will be accomplished by creating an aligned environment that is buttressed by accountability across the organization. In addition to the fun, flexible environment that is permeating business places across the globe, leadership must establish and maintain a clear path and hold the talent accountable for accomplishing the plan. After all, how can they be recognized for their accomplishments if their objectives aren’t being established and tracked?
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About the author: Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.
Being a stay at home mom has its perks – you don’t have to get dressed up, you can work out on your own schedule, and you don’t need to have the children’s lunch ready at 7 a.m. However, the most amazing and obvious benefit of being a stay at home mom is the opportunity to intimately know your children and to share all of the milestones of their young lives. No one can truly understand and love a child like their parent. Choosing to stay at home had its financial and career limiting consequences, but it’s a choice that I will never regret.
Being a stay at home mom however does not mean that you must put your brain or skills on hold. Especially in today’s modern world where there are countless ways for you to expand your horizons. And that’s exactly what I did. After driving many, many miles to practices, games, lessons and recitals, making sure that the homework was done and dinner was prepared, I spent countless late nights looking on the computer for ideas to sharpen my skills, and technology is what I came to love.
I am a problem solver. I love when I am given a challenge; know how to fix it, and how to fix it better. It started with setting up my own home wifi network. To most of my friends and co-workers, it’s probably no big deal, but in the stay at home mom arena – I was “big stuff”. Everyone wanted to know, “ how did I know how to do that?” Before I knew it, I was helping my neighbor, her friend, and then their elderly parents. And so began my journey, I became even more motivated to challenge myself. From school sports teams to the theatre department, the needs, as well as the expertise grew. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and how to create a Joomla site.
With each growing project a new skill such as Photoshop and Gimp emerged. I began to get noticed and was offered a position by my local principal in the Career Tech Department. The launching pad was perfect, it allowed me to further develop my skills and opened my eyes to the world of other opportunities out there. With my newly minted resume, an opportunity presented itself. The Global HR consulting firm, Exaserv, was looking for a Product Manager and the job description fit me perfectly. Some of the main requirements were organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, and all those years of being a stay at home mom had definitely helped to hone those skills. Not to mention my developed computer expertise!
It’s been over a year now since I’ve been back in the workforce and I have loved every day of employment. I am constantly learning and growing in my new role and enjoy all the “doors” that are opening for me. Staying at home to raise my children was the best decision I ever made, but taking that time to also sharpen my skills has given me the opportunity to go back to work and grow my career. It’s an experience for which I will forever be grateful.
About the author: Sophia Lidback is Product Manager at Exaserv, where her responsibilities include managing product development, writing and editing technical and functional user manuals and managing customer relations with respect to product implementation. Sophia is a wife and mother of 4.
Everyone faces distractions at work. Very seldom do any of us ever enjoy the luxury of eight to nine solid hours to dedicate to focusing on priorities and projects without something coming up to draw our attention elsewhere.
Maybe it’s a phone call from school to let you know your child is sick; maybe it’s your significant other calling to vent about some frustration; maybe it’s a co-worker who’s just in the mood to chit-chat about the latest reality TV show. Or maybe it’s self-inflicted distraction as you find yourself day-dreaming about that long awaited vacation that’s just around the corner.
These types of distractions are common, but also typically easy to deal with. You make arrangements for the sick child, your listen to the venting, you politely break away from the conversation with the co-worker, or you tell yourself if you can just focus for a few more days that vacation will be here soon enough. You do what you need to do and soon after return to the task at hand.
But what happens when you’re faced with a distraction that’s not quite so easy to deal with? What happens when it’s a more major crisis in your life, or even a series of significant distractions that all but sap any hope for concentration you might have?
I was faced with this kind of distraction a few months back. It came at a time of year that usually leaves me a bit melancholy anyway; as the long, warm, busy days of summer transitioned into the cooler, more mellow days of fall and winter, I found myself facing a particularly difficult time with an unexpected brief illness and subsequent death in my family. And because I have been very fortunate in my life to not have had to face many experiences like this, the loss hit me
During this time, there were days that I found myself struggling to focus on much of anything, nonetheless work. For the most part, I was able to accomplish what I needed to do to get by - but there were days when more than that was just not possible. Sometimes that meant finding busy work to make the hours pass. Sometimes it meant leaving the office and taking a book to Starbucks for a coffee and a 30 minutes of reading to force my mind to focus on something.
As time went on, I was able to start powering through and get myself back on track, but it led me to wonder if there was a better way? Were there any tricks I was missing, any secrets to pushing past the distraction?
Beyond that, it made me contemplate how do we as HR professionals and managers help our employees through their distractions? Every day, around us there are likely numerous employees who are attempting to deal with their own personal struggles, some of whom may be very good at hiding that fact. How do we recognize the signs and support them through it?
What about you? How do you manage your distractions when faced with them? How do you get yourself back on track? And how do you help those around you manage theirs?
About the author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR is experienced in employee relations, employment/staffing and training & development. She currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry and is honored to be in the company of such talented and seasoned Women of HR bloggers. Jen is a fan of happy hours, hockey, traveling and connecting with interesting people. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn as Jennifer Payne, SPHR.
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As busy HR professionals we use the word focus in many ways, whether it be in terms of what project we need to focus on next, what the focus of our next meeting should be or where our overall focus should be to keep in line with strategy.
What if we find ourselves having trouble with focus in the more literal sense though? We have very full schedules to maintain, and at some point we may lose sight of what is at the center of our day and miss a cue. Here are some tips that I employ to keep my productivity up when I find myself having trouble zeroing in on the task at hand:
Get organized. If your mind is racing and all you can think about is everything else you need to accomplish it will be hard to give your full attention to what you need to work on right now. Take a few minutes to organize your work area and update your to-do list. Prioritize, update deadlines if necessary and cross off tasks you’ve completed. When you have things in order it is easier to give your full attention to one specific item on the list so you can complete it and move on to the next.
Get a small project out of the way. Now that you are organized look at your list and see if there is something simple you can cross off right away. Perhaps there is an email that can be easily answered, a meeting quickly scheduled or some papers cluttering your desk that can be filed. Knowing that you got something accomplished, no mat
ter how small it may be, will give you a boost of confidence to tackle something bigger.
Refuel and recharge. Think back to your last meal; did you skip it altogether or was it not satisfying? If your stomach is grumbling or you are feeling light-headed it will be tough to make progress in your work. Take time to eat lunch or fit in a small snack. With the proper nourishment we have the energy necessary to make it through the rest of the day.
Not hungry? Get up and take a walk instead. Move around the office to check in with co-workers or step outside for fresh air. Either way, when you come back to your desk you’ll be reinvigorated and ready to tackle your inbox.
Turn on the music. This may not work for those that require quiet to get their work completed, but I’ve always found that putting light music on in the background can drown out all of the other office noise and allow me to focus in on my work.
Everyone has a different approach to get back on track. Find what works best for you and make your day as effective as possible.
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About the author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 7 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.
Women of HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?” This is the final post in the series of responses. You can see the other responses here.
Today’s post is about what I would do if I were a CEO for a day. As I sat down to write, I thought to myself, “I am a CEO of my own consulting firm”. However, I immediately realized that I have NOT “only” been a CEO for very long because I am always doing something else in addition to running my own business (currently teaching & ILSHRM). So this post is not just about if I were a CEO for a day at a big name organization like Apple, DOT Foods, or Crayola, it’s about my being a focused CEO – a CEO of a company where I didn’t have to also worry about a second job or a volunteer role within my field. After all, the series description did say to discuss what would we focus on for a day. Specifically, what would we start, stop, or change to improve an organizations productivity, employee engagement, or ability to recruit.
So to begin I would start my day by “walking around” and engaging discussion with the staff. I can’t tell you how many books I have read over the years that suggest management by walking around as a positive management technique that drives results. Most recently I finished a book called “How Full is Your Bucket” which describes a manager who started his business trips to all the organizations sites by researching who had done what at the location he was heading to. The morning before his meetings he would search out those individuals and say “I have been hearing some good talk about you” then proceed to be specific about that person’s performance. This was his way of positively filling the employees bucket which improved performance and engagement.
Next I would research the organization's reputation in the area, on the Internet via social sites, and among employees relative to what it was like to work there. In one day it is certainly not possible to stop everything that could be putting a damper on the possibility of the organization to be considered an employer of cho
ice but I would at a minimum put together a STOP plan to help the organization push forward to improve its ability to recruit. Included would be things they could start or change as well to improve their position among other organizations within the community.
By the afternoon, I would bring the management team in for a 15 minute conversation each to determine who had a positive outlook versus those that might have been considered downers, complainers, or pessimists. This is also an idea from the bucket book. A study was done with couples immediately after their wedding. The researchers talked to them for only 15 minutes and counted how many positive vs. negative things they discussed in that time period. With this little time frame they predicted within 95% accuracy that would stay married after 10 years. If I use this same philosophy I think I could pretty much predict which managers were negatively affecting employee engagement and productivity just by the way they communicate. So the most important thing I could change about the team is to remove the bad apples because even one bad apple can work quickly to sour the others and if I were only going to get a day to make a difference I would want to leave the organization with optimistic, positive thinking, go-getters. People leave their managers not the company.
Finally, before the days end I would meet with the entire organization to share my vision, get them involved, motivated, and encouraged that they have what it takes to move the company to the next level. With a little help from the finance team as we prepared through the day I would share not just the enthusiasm and excitement but the actual numbers to prove the ideas set forth through the day by the positive thinking management team where indeed a reality? As with everything all good things must come to an end.
My day as CEO ends but tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new era for the organization.
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About the author: Donna Rogers, SPHR is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the 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. You can find her on Twitter as @DonnaRogersHR.
The statistics spouting the importance of networking are sprinkled in every career article from the small college newsletter to major international publications. We all feel the pressure to expand our network, meet new people and make a stellar first impression.
As a career coach working with MBA students who are looking to get connected in the business world, the most common question I encounter is about networking. In this tough economy many of students I work with are also juggling multiple roles such as full time professional, involved parent or caretaker. I often get an exasperated look when I bring up the importance of networking because the thought of adding another item to an already full to – do list is overwhelming.
Here are some of the best, most applicable, tips on how to network with limited time.
- Be prepared. You don’t have time to waste so come to any networking event with a plan. Know who is going to be attending, look them up on LinkedIn, find any commonalities you have to discuss, and then make the connection. This creates meaningful networking and allows you to leave at a reasonable time because you had a plan of attack.
- Be focused. I say this because I have been there, in the moment at a networking event, and all I can think of is my kids waiting for me at home, the school project that needs to be done or the paper that isn’t yet written. That makes the networking meaningless because your mind is elsewhere and you won’t appear genuine. You might as well have not been at the event at all. If you have taken the time to attend, then make sure to make it worthwhile and be present.
- Utilize an established network. When you have children at home, going blindly to a networking event outside of your network will be more challenging and take more time, and you may not find others there who are in your same situation (i.e. balancing mult
iple roles). It makes most sense to attend a networking event affiliated with your school (undergrad or grad), company or passion (think volunteer groups).
- Join a professional association. Yes, the dues are high but you have access to a ton of networking events each month and you can pick and choose which events best fit your life and schedule. Many are breakfast events which are the best way to squeeze in a little professional networking during a jam packed day without impacting your “at home” or “at work” responsibilities.
- Network everywhere. A dear friend of mine from California recently networked her way into her dream job. How? She met the hiring manager at her daughter’s toddler dance class! She started chatting with the other parents, made a great contact, kept in touch, one thing led to another and voila! Networking as a parent is unique in that many of the people who are sitting next to you at your son or daughter’s after school events are also professionals and may be able to impact your career.
Ultimately networking is about building relationships. As a business professional there is nothing that will impact your career success more than having a strong network. Make time for growing your network in a way that works for you.
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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.
At Aquire, we start most meetings which are departmental or small groups with a moment of Positive Focus. It allows each of us to bring to the spotlight something that is working really well, or an individual or team which deserve a shout out for something they are doing really well.
This week I am adding a Leadership Moment into the manager’s meeting. So I added a slide to the agenda deck and went looking in the standard clip art for placeholder picture. I was sorely disappointed. I put in the word “leadership” as my search term. PowerPoint provided me with a much of shiny slick power photos. They were not about leadership they were about winning, dominating or being the one with the most expensive suit in the room.
So I looked at another word and found what I was looking for (more on that in a minute). Then I thought I would see what popped up if I used the word “follow.“ There was not a single picture of the back of the heads of the people in power positions in the best suits. Not that I really expected that image (but it would have been clever). No, the term “follow” provided lots of good arrows and cartoons of people forming a line. It was adequate.
So then I searched on the word “help.” This is where I found pictures I needed for leadership. Leadership isn’t about being the rich and beautiful in my book. Leadership is about painting the vision that is achievable by the people you need; and convincing them you will help them achieve the vision.
Being a manager is hard, you get disappointed by people that don’t say what they mean or don’t do what they commit to do doing. Sometimes people leave the company and leave you holding the bag. Sometimes people are not who they pretend to be and can damage the team.
But being a manager can be highly rewarding when you get the buy-in from the team. When you help someone get over a challenge they were really struggling with in the past. When your team excels at what they are doing. When you know you have made a difference for your employees, your customers or your company. When your employees appreciate you for the hard work you do too.
Being a manager is hard enough already, let’s make sure they understand the real meaning of leadership and it will help them achieve and make life a lot easier for everybody.
I vividly remember sitting down with my best friend at lunch time with our matchbox cars that we were zooming around in the dirt in the playground. I was 8 years old.
I remember turning to him and saying that, when we grow up, we aren’t going to have Matchbox cars anymore. We are going to have the real versions of these cars and we are going to live in a bachelor pad and we can park our cars in the driveway.
Back then, that was the holy grail for me: to own my own car and to live in my own place. It seems that back then I was striving for independence and ownership. I wanted to say to the world that these objects are mine and I’m free to be and go wherever I please.
What I wasn’t dreaming about was how I was going to get there. I only focused on the outcome and knew I’d do whatever it takes to get there.
I reached that goal this year. Except it isn’t my dream anymore.
My dreams have changed as my life has changed. To be honest I’d completely forgotten about it until today when it hit me like a rock out of nowhere. I own my own car (although it’s not the Ferrari that I was skidding around in back at primary school) and I park it in a garage at my place every night.
Something that hasn’t changed since that day though, is my ability to dream. The ability to envisage myself being somewhere in the future and then working hard to make it happen. Although I’ve since moved cities and don’t have contact with that boy anymore, there’s a little part of me that hopes that he also reached his childhood dream of independence and freedom.
It’s important to have dreams but it’s important to remember that our dreams will change as our life changes. New people will come into our lives and change our dreams and people we thought would be with us forever, will vanish from our lives.
What’s important to remember is to never stop dreaming because, regardless of the outcome and whether or not you reach it, the fact that you’re dreaming means you’re always striving for something more. So I’ll continue to keep dreaming, researching, changing direction, going off the beaten track and adapting to my surroundings. Will you?
The presentation was high energy, engaging, and offered common sense, real world approaches to leading past the obstacles we face on a day to day basis – obstacles the company faces, obstacles our employees face, and obstacles we as HR professionals face.
Some key approaches to work I took away from the presentation were focus on the purpose, take the job seriously but don’t take yourself so seriously and put 100% of your energy into the task at hand.
Focus on the purpose. Why does our company exist other than to make money? Surely there is a reason! To some employees a job is just a paycheck, but if we show them that the company has a higher purpose they will become more engaged and work with a sense of pride. Communicate that purpose on a regular basis, and from senior management on down be sure to display behaviors that support the purpose.
Take the job seriously but don’t take yourself so seriously. Working in the world of HR I know I have a tendency to take myself far too seriously. When I received feedback that there was a perception on the floor I thought I was better than everyone else, I realized that it had gotten to the point that I didn’t let my personality shine through.
If you find yourself in a similar situation take a step back and reassess. HR is a serious industry, one where we are expected to act with the utmost professionalism at all times. However, don’t let yourself become a robot. Employees will have an easier time coming to HR with concerns or suggestions if they feel they are talking to someone they can relate to.
Put 100% of your energy into the task at hand. What holds us back from being able to do that? As HR and business professionals we are constantly multi-tasking and going back and forth between different aspects of the job. Learn to practice effective time management skills, give tasks a priority level and then schedule time into your calendar to work on each one. Giving tasks the separate attention they deserve will ensure you are producing the best possible results and not just crossing something off of your to-do list.
By applying these simple approaches we are working towards further developing ourselves and leading our organizations into a bright future.
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If we had a crystal ball, life would be grand. But, because we don’t, we often find ourselves at the mercy of hindsight. Hindsight being 20/20, what is one setback you faced in your career that ended up being a blessing in disguise?
One of the characteristics of an entrepreneur is that we like to launch. Start up is in our blood and takes discipline to pass up bigger and better ideas and opportunities in favor of sticking with the plan that works. Painful experience has taught me the importance of avoiding the lure of under calculated risks.
Back in the day, despite owning a thriving temporary help agency specializing in a unique niche, we started up many off-shoots along the way. Eventually realizing that these ideas cost too much money and devoured more time than we had, we closed many of them. However, the company felt the strain and we might have been better positioned had we simply stayed in staffing.
We sold that company in 2002 and founded Workway three years later. Early on, we repeated some mistakes and experimented with other business lines. Fortunately, we were able to see through the trees and stopped the off-shoot entities in order to do only what we do best. I have learned that there is a giant relief in understanding where your competencies lie and that a company thrives when focused and dedicated to its core.
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