Tag: Leadership

Performance Partnerships with 1on1s: Connect, Calibrate, and Coach

Posted on November 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Leadership. No Comments


When it comes to annual performance reviews, it’s clear we’re at a major crossroads in the workplace. With 95 percent of managers dissatisfied with the process — and 90 percent of HR leaders saying annual reviews don’t yield accurate data — companies are quickly eliminating them (like GE, Accenture, Adobe, The Gap, and Microsoft already have). In a 7×24 world with an increasingly younger workforce, “annual” and “review” need to be replaced with more frequent conversations and performance partnerships.


Yet, simply telling managers to have regular 1on1 meetings isn’t a panacea. While HR executives and senior leaders are more expert at constructive coaching, young and middle managers may not be. Fortunately, 57 percent of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72 percent say their performance would improve with feedback. So even the 50% of managers who don’t want to give critique for fear of being the “bad guy” now have official license to put peoples’ success in front of the desire to be liked.


To boost your people and their performance, use a framework for 1on1s that connects, calibrates and coaches team members. Before the meetings, do two things:


First, make sure you’ve shared goals for the quarter to frame progress and priority discussions. Without clarity on what you define as success, people need to guess what matters and what the purpose of their work is.


Second, prepare for the meeting itself. Using in-person meetings to run down a list of what someone’s working on or throw more on their plate before understanding what’s already cooking is a formula for unproductive 1on1s. Instead, use weekly status reports or embrace performance and productivity apps to quickly see priorities, workload, and progress before the meeting.


Then use your 1on1 meetings to help you team members achieve their best with this framework:


  1. Start with “how are you?” Instead of a token opening, really listen to the response. Connect simply as humans to set the stage for coaching and constructive feedback. People are more receptive and engaged when they know you care about them.
  2. Ask whats in their way and how you can help. Help people resolve priority conflicts so they can increase their impact. Get roadblocks out of their way so they can deliver the results you’re expecting. This doesn’t mean doing their job, but rather removing obstacles outside the sphere of their responsibility.
  3. Sync on performance, alignment, and engagement level. If you’re not talking about alignment, you can’t expect it! Your employees want to perform well and be on the same page with you, so be open and compare your perceptions. Letting people know where you think they are in terms of their performance and contributions to work helps them move up and forward.
  4. Uplevel to longer range goals. Use the time together to help people think above the “action item” level. They’ll find it rejuvenating and be able to make better decisions day to day.
  5. Coach for career growth. Help your employees get to the next level by deepening their skills and competencies. What’s the next step they can take and what will you do to help them get there? Follow through on the help you commit to providing and you’ll foster great loyalty and have a lasting impact on their career.


Leading people is more important than ever as business gets faster and more complex, but leadership is far from dictatorship. Leaders at all levels must excel at setting clear goals, coaching people to their highest level, and creating a culture of high recognition and accountability. These are the essential elements of performance partnerships within high achieving teams; 1on1s create the conversation around these ingredients that enable leaders, teams, and each member to contribute their best.



About the Author: Deidre Paknad is CEO and co-founder of Workboard. She shapes its product strategy, customer engagement model, and thought leadership efforts. With decades of experience leading enterprise and startup teams on strategic pursuits, Dedire is passionate about providing tools and insights that help leaders engage their teams in great achievement. 

Deidre is a serial entrepreneur and has founded and led several companies. As CEO of PSS Systems, she and the team created a new market category and inspired deep customer loyalty from ExxonMobil, Citigroup, Travelers, Novartis, Wells Fargo, and many other large enterprises. The company was acquired by IBM in 2010. At IBM, Deidre was Vice President of a fast-growing global business improving information economics for IBM’s enterprise customers. She has been recognized by the Smithsonian for innovation twice and has more than a dozen patents. You can connect with Deidre on Twitter, LinkedIn, or learn more on the Workboard website or blog.








Meaningful Managerial Relationships In The Workplace: The Essentials

Posted on October 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

The employees of a business keep the business going. Without the employees, there would be nothing. Employees need to stay happy and productive in order to keep the business alive. One of the major factors contributing to employee happiness is work relationships between coworkers, and between the employee and manager. There are many ways to maintain healthy relationships with employees to keep the business environment in good standing and the success of the business moving forward. Plus, relationships are what build better workplace culture.  Below are five ways managers and employees can build healthy relationships.



To keep up good relationships with employees and avoid the risk of losing them, consider rewarding employees when good work is done. Employee recognition can range from a thoughtful card to personalized gifts or company-wide outings. The best way to capitalize on recognition is by knowing the person you are recognizing. Don’t feel like you, as the manager, always have to be the only one recognizing great work. Have employees within each team or department appreciate each other through their own nominations. This can also bring more unity among coworkers. Simplly put, appreciating your employees will deepen your relationship and retention rate.


Be friendly, but don’t play favorites

Though this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how common it still is today in the workplace. The one thing for employers to remember when being friendly towards employees is to not play favorites. Favoritism in the office is bad because it can cause other employees to feel disrespected and forced out. An employer should be friendly with all employees, not one more than another. Just remember not to be too friendly where employees can take advantage of the situation. An employer should build good rapport with the employees where they feel comfortable, not scared or intimidated.

For example, employers should emphasize friendliness in the company culture through team building activities so employees feel more comfortable with each other. The more friendly employees are with each other, the more growth within the office.


Better communication tactics

Find better ways to communicate with employees—don’t settle for the norms of email and chat. Part of being approachable is making sure more than one way of communication is possible between employees. Poor communication can lead to friction and inefficiency in the workplace. Basically, create an environment where employees are comfortable conversing ideas and asking questions with one another. This way, you’re not only strengthening culture, but helping employees grow by learning from each other.

In addition, have a level of transparency by keeping each other in the loop. Employees can harbor negative feelings when they feel the company engages in secretive actions that directly impact the employee. Instead, consider meaningful company meetings and face-to-face discussions when something comes up. Retention rates remain high when employees feel like they are informed on company business.



Along with better communication, managers should be sure they are really listening to employees. Have a virtual suggestion box where employees can anonymously leave comments and tips concerning the workplace. However, the second half of listening is acting on what employees want. Through their suggestions, create an office environment where employees are the most engaged and productive. Employees will also be more aware and positive when they know upper management is actively listening.


Employees training employees

We all know personalized training helps employees grow and have a greater sense of purpose within the company. Why not take career development to the next level and have employees teach each other what they know?  Have them become experts in fields and teach others how to become experts. It will not only increase employee morale, but help those less inclined socially to become more social in the office. New relationships can be formed and again, create a friendlier office culture.


All and all, remember to keep healthy relationships among your coworkers to insure a greater company culture and the well-being of the company overall.


About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

Reimagining HR’s Role As a Key Business Partner Can Lead to Career Advancement

Posted on October 8th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is the final installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.


I’m a big believer that professional development is the basis for achieving success in almost any field, and HR is no exception. It’s important to assess your own strengths and opportunities to determine what competencies you need to master in order to advance to the next step, and then execute an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that is targeted to help you achieve your career goals.


Over the course of my career, I’ve made it a constant point of emphasis to be self-aware of my performance in areas that I consider to be key competencies in my current role and the next role that that I aspire to attain. This has enabled me to develop an IDP that leverages my strengths and close my gaps through actions that provide me with valuable exposure opportunities, hands-on experiences and continued learning. My philosophy is to invest in yourself because the ROI is priceless.


Business leaders today know that their employees are the driver of business success. While employees are valued, many business leaders rank human capital as a top challenge. This presents a huge opportunity for HR practitioners to add value to their companies and grow as professionals, if they can help their organization reimagine HR’s role as a key business partner. Here are some key competencies that can help you tremendously in achieving that goal:


Functional knowledge and expertise. The field of HR is extensive and continues to advance and transform. It’s vitally important to stay abreast of the field so that your knowledge – and practical application of that knowledge – is modern and relevant. Having strong functional knowledge and expertise better equips you to quickly align HR and business strategy.


Business acumen. Understanding the big picture and the ability to look out the windshield at what lies ahead are critical. Having strong business acumen will result in the aptitude and knowledge to become a more critical thinker and capable problem solver. Developing business acumen involves being keenly aware of the economic and social issues that are affecting your company, staying close to emerging industry trends, your companies competitors,  and truly understanding the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of your organization. When all of these things come together, you’re in a position to diagnose a business problem and offer a strategic solution that will drive business outcomes and your company’s success.


Executive disposition.  It’s more than about what you know. It’s also about how you perform in your role as a HR practitioner. You want to be viewed as a leader not only in your profession, but in the organization as a whole. HR practitioners have a really unique opportunity to develop relationships that are both cross-functional and cross-hierarchical. When doing so, it’s important to convey an image that’s consistent with the vision and values of the organization in order to be an effective advocate for the company. You want to exude a demeanor of poise and confidence, especially in times of change, ambiguity, or stress. It will command respect and reassure others within the organization – from front line employees all the way to the C-suite.


If you’re a HR practitioner who may not yet have these competencies mastered, don’t fret. Simply make a pledge to your professional development by formalizing your IDP and making it a priority. That commitment will pay huge dividends, both for yourself and your organization.


About the Author: Leah Machado is the director of service for HR Services at Paychex, a leading provider of integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions for payroll, human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing services. She leads an organization with over 500 HR practitioners who provide HR outsourcing services to 32,000 Paychex HR Services clients with 880,000 worksite employees.  Leah’s career spans over 22 years in the retail, restaurant, and HCM outsourcing industries, and includes HR practitioner and leadership experience.




American Business Women’s Day Celebrates Both the Accomplished and Aspiring

Posted on September 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Today, we officially celebrate national American Business Women’s Day. The date coincides with the September 22, 1949 founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). The strides and accomplishments of women in businesses all over the United States have been monumental, giving us the opportunity to recognize the day’s intent all year long.


To put things in perspective, in 1949 no woman had reached the Chief Executive Officer title at a Fortune 500 company. The most recently published list counted 24 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. That’s a record and one that will certainly be surpassed as barriers continue to be broken.


Similar to many business executives – male or female – my path didn’t start out with the intent of becoming an officer of a Fortune 1,000 company. As a matter of fact, I didn’t fully realize that level of leadership was within reach until much later in my career.


Women are breaking barriers left and right every day. While I don’t necessarily view myself as a trailblazer – there are plenty of other women who fit that bill – here are some quick tips to keep in mind when starting down the path to executive leadership:


  • Keep your options open. I went to school for computer information technology and worked in that field for a time at General Electric. Eventually, I was asked to lead a specific program for the GE Aerospace business that involved recruiting on college campuses, hiring, training and compensation. This really sparked my interest in HR. GE sponsored me to get my graduate degree in management from Purdue University, and I officially transitioned into HR. The moral of the story here is just because you earned your degree in or began working in one field doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Keep your options open, especially in the earlier points of your career.


  • Step outside your comfort zone. Research has shown that women may not be as willing to take on something very new or different as men. Step outside your comfort zone, and you might find that you’re very successful in that area. During my time at Bausch and Lomb, I realized I wanted to take my career to the next level. I knew I had the drive, passion, and work ethic to make that happen, but I also knew there were some necessary skills that I didn’t own at the time. I then purposefully took a role in compensation and benefits knowing full-well they were both areas of expertise I would need to add to my repertoire. I knew nothing about either area, which made it scary and completely out of my comfort zone. It was a very challenging time, but that cross-functional move taught me what I needed to know to further advance my career.


  • Develop business acumen. It’s one of the most important competencies for an HR professional to have in their back pocket. HR’s purpose is to ensure the company has a workforce that’s capable of driving the business goals. To do that, you need to understand what the overall business goals are, the financials, the operations, all aspects of the business. Then you can determine how HR will contribute to achieving those goals. Be proactive and strategic in developing HR initiatives that will drive the future success of the company.


  • Always be on the lookout to learn new things and have new experiences. Change is constant, and accelerating at a rapid pace. It is critical to keep learning and growing to stay relevant.  Look for projects, change jobs or functions within your company or change companies. I did that a few times in my career and it worked to my advantage.  Not only do you gain valuable functional experience, you also develop agility and leadership skills.


  • Don’t let anything stand in your way. I grew up with two brothers and a dad who didn’t discourage me from getting my hands dirty with him and the boys. Those experiences encouraged me to look at men and women as having the same level of capability. A good part of my career was spent working in male-dominated fields. In fact, I’ve only ever had two women bosses. I worked my hardest and did my best and went for what I wanted. I never thought of myself as a woman leader, I am simply a leader.


  • Surround yourself with good people. This may go without saying, but form meaningful relationships both at work and at It will do wonders for your productivity and happiness. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook once said, “The most important career choice a woman will ever make is who she marries.” This could not be more true to life. My husband has been incredibly supportive of my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Surround yourself with people who share your goals, values, and motivations.


  • Never stop networking. It’s absolutely critical to stay connected with people. My first two jobs in the HR industry are the only two I landed through traditional ways. Every position since then – especially the ones later in my career – happened due to a connection and recommendation. I am still connected to people at every company I have worked for. It is a great way to learn about best practices and find out about career opportunities.  Also, LinkedIn makes networking easier than ever.  Make sure your profile is up to date and you are connected to the right people.


Most of these pieces of advice ring true for aspiring male or female HR executives. But it’s American Business Women’s Day, so let’s take a pause to reflect upon and celebrate how taking these steps could help the businesswomen around us advance.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


About the Author: Laurie Zaucha is the vice president of human resources and organizational development for Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses.  In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of human resources, organizational development, and the company’s award-winning training department. Laurie boasts more than 20 years of experiences as an HR executive. Previous positions include vice president at Bausch & Lomb and senior management positions in HR for Footstar, Inc., Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Laurie has a master’s degree in management from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information technology from Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

Why Diversity Matters to Capacity-Driven Success

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

Diversity tends to be a very hot topic on the web and in the news. It has been for decades. You would think there would be more movement in this direction, and while we gain inches here and there, women still make less than men in the workforce, and both women and minorities represent a meager percentage of CEOs.


While this looks like it would bankrupt companies to make these gender biased odds more even, the simple math is that it would actually cause companies to perform better. A recent McKinsey study states that while they can’t immediately tie diversity to profit, they can most certain confirm that companies with a focus on diverse leadership are 35% more likely to outperform competitors that don’t, stating:


“While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. This in turn suggests that other kinds of diversity—for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mind-set and cultural fluency)—are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent.”


The main argument against diversity is that companies claim that they’re just too hard to find, that finding females and qualified minority talent is just too hard to create that diverse slate needed to fill open positions. I’m here to debunk this myth. There are two ways to create a sharp slate of candidates: make the slate yourself and/or buy it.


You can make a slate of diverse talent ripe for your own efforts by nurturing your leadership pool from within. Look among your ranks, and discover what it would take to turn your current employees into the leaders of tomorrow. Surely, there are diverse members of your own team who could be grown into formidable, client-focused leadership in due time. Make the long-term investment in your own future.


Conversely, you could buy talent, which means recruiting efforts. Silicon Valley has gone so far as to create The Boardlist, a database of the top 600 females in the industry who are ripe for top leadership and board positions within the industry. Created by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, it came in response to the complaint that startups don’t have the resources to do the research to find these women, so Cassidy made it easier for them. Such lists exist throughout the internet and among top MBA programs everywhere. Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, Darden, Wharton – all of these schools have records of diverse graduates who would make top notch connections and candidates. Start there.


All of these decisions are the keys to corporate capacity. In my forthcoming book, I discuss quite a few strategies for HR to solve the problems of their companies, and this is one issue that deserves top attention. It’s not just a softer “feel-good” initiative: it makes good business sense. In an increasingly diverse world, companies who can show that all kinds of backgrounds, genders, and orientations have pathways to success within their ranks will remain market competitive with both clients and candidates. It’s just good business.


Diversity is the pathway to current and future corporate capacity. Aim to make it a top line item moving into your next board meeting, and prepare to meet the demands of the global — and diverse — marketplace.


About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and 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.

You Already Know What To Do

Posted on August 4th, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

You’ve surely come to the conclusion, at many points in your career, that your job is one of the toughest jobs around. Managing people, or more rightly, inspiring and growing people, is what you do. You don’t really want to manage people, and understandably enough, no one wants to be managed.

So, you’re really caught between a rock and a hard place.

What is this realm of people management really about? Sure, there’s a lot of terminology floating around, lots of buzz words, to get caught up in. There are futurists predicting trends and surveys and reports on all kinds of data.

We are not short on data.

So, between you and me, let me tell you a little secret. It’s a secret because you don’t always want to admit this to anyone else, let alone yourself. But it’s a secret that needs to be let out.


You already know what to do

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt


You have ideas

You just need to act on them. You cannot wait till you get enough people to see the vision you have for your team, for your organisation. If they all did see that vision, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. So stop waiting for inspiration or a big push to move forward. Give yourself the push you need. Bring that dream you have to life.


You are scared

You need to push through anyway. No one ever promised it would be easy and nothing worthwhile, strong, sacred or good ever is. But you cannot let the fear overwhelm you. As it grows, it will overtake anything else in its way and you will be a shadow of your former self.

This is what courage truly is – to be scared and to do it anyway. So embrace the fear. Accept it as part of the journey.


You already know what to do.


You don’t know what they think but you need only ask

There’s a fine balance between relying on your own intuition and and calling on the expertise of others. But the one thing you need to remember is that you do not have to have all the answers. You can ask, and if you do so, with compassion, integrity, honest determination and a real desire to know the truth, the answers will come to you.

Help may indeed come from the most unexpected places in your journey.


You don’t know where to start but that’s not your problem

There’s no guidebook for the trip you are about to take. There never will be. Even in situations where there are similarities in the journey or experience, there are still significant things that make the difference. So knowing there is no go-to manual, you are understandably nervous about starting this journey.

But this journey will be long and eventful. The problem does not lie in knowing where to start – the problem is simply getting started.


You already know what to do.


What’s in your bag of tricks?

Your journey – the years of experience cease to matter when compared to the lessons learnt so far. The ones you’ve held dear to you will help you. So keep your eyes and ears open to what comes your way.

Your determination – ask yourself how badly you want to bring your vision to life. And if its as strongly felt as I think it is, you just need to make a start. That first step is the hardest one to make yet it is pivotal.

Your curiosity – you have a goal, you have a plan for getting there. You know you will be checking everything, no stone left unturned.

Your consistent manner – this is not for the foolhardy. You’re going to get on this journey and you know what you need to do before you see the results you are gunning for.  You are prepared to wait, to endure, to persevere.

Your flexibility – you know that the plan is merely one of the first few steps to beginning the journey. But plans can, and should, be changed as and when they need to. You understand that, you are happy to pivot.

Ultimately, you are the best person to bring the vision you have for your team, for your organisation, to reality.  So, go forth and make it happen.


Photo Credit


About the Author: Rowena Morais is the Editor of VerticalDistinct.com, helping individuals develop their professional abilities and career to the fullest in either Human Resources or Technology. She is also Editor of the quarterly human resource magazine, Accelerate. She graduated from the University of Glamorgan, Wales with an LL.B (Hons) and is a regular blogger on personal growth.

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Are We On The Same Page? Critical Skills For The Future Workplace #EWS2015

Posted on July 28th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study.  This is the first of the series that will be presented throughout the next several months.


As HR professionals, we know (or at least should recognize) that the nature of work is changing.  Not only are the skills that we are going to need our employees to have for our businesses to continue to be competitive going to change, but there’s also a shift happening in employees’ expectations of what they not only want, but what they expect out of the relationship with their employer.  As these perspectives, attitudes, and expectations of the workforce continues to evolve, it’s going to become increasingly important for employers to stay in tune with these shifts and strive for a better understanding of their workforces to help ensure continued success.

Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics regarding not only this, but other future trends as well.  According to the study, it’s skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, team building, the ability to understand and interpret data, and evolving technology expertise that employers believe are going to be most important going forward.  Generally speaking, our workforces tend to agree.  However, let’s put this in the context of the following points:

  • 33% of workers agree or strongly agree that their current job skills fall short of what will be required in future positions
  • Only 31% agree/strongly agree that they feel like their current employer has trained them adequately enough to keep their skills up
  • 35% agree/strongly agree that they worry a lot about falling behind in acquiring new skills that will be needed in the future

I find this a little alarming.  Employers feel that the skills they need from their workers are changing.  Employees tend to agree.  However, many workers feel like the skills they have now are not adequate for what they will need in the future, many of them also admitting that they actually worry a lot about falling behind, and only 31% feel like their employers are doing enough to help them prepare for and hone the skills they’ll need in the future.  Sure sounds like as employers we’re not pulling our weight, doesn’t it?

But wait, it gets worse than that.  Check out these stats:

  • Only 24% of employers think it’s very/extremely challenging in terms of cost to keep workers trained for future skill needs/requirements, and 26% say the same for keeping up with evolving training demands to keep workers’ skills up-to-date.

Let’s summarize….

Employers agree that required skills are changing.  Workers agree, but don’t feel like they are in a very good position to hone these skills, and that their employers are not holding up their end of the bargain in preparing them for what’s going to be needed.  Yet employers don’t feel like it’s very much of a burden to help their employees keep their skills up to date.  So what’s the hold up?  Why such a disparity in beliefs and expectations?  Why are our perceptions as employers so out of line with our employees?  What do we, as employers and human resource professionals, need to do to remedy this?


Implications for HR Pros

In light of these findings, here are a few questions I would propose we should be asking ourselves:

  • Have we really taken the time to examine not only the skills necessary for success in various parts of our organizations now, but also how they may change those jobs evolve? Have we factored in the implication of technology and how it could automate and/or make processes more efficient?  And how might that change the requirements of any given job?  What about the impact of data and how analyzing, interpreting, and leveraging it may change how we do business?  How might that not only change the existing jobs in our organizations, but also perhaps create the need for new jobs/responsibilities?
  • Have we clearly communicated to our employees how we see necessary skills sets changing, and reconciled that with how our employees feel they are prepared for those changes? Have we asked the opinions of those who actually do the jobs on a day to day basis how they see their jobs potentially changing?
  • If we don’t feel we have the necessary future skills sets present, what are we doing to remedy that situation? Are we providing ample training & development opportunities, whether they be offered internally or externally?  What processes do we have in place within our HR departments to assess skills?  How do we identify gaps?  Do we utilize tools such as talent review processes, career development planning, or individual development plans?
  • What are we doing as HR professionals to ensure that our own knowledge, skills, and abilities are up-to-date and future-focused?


All questions worth examining more closely, I believe.


Photo Credit


More About the Emerging Workforce Study:

The 2015 version of the study was conducted by Harris Poll, a Nielson company, between March and April 2015, and surveyed more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers on their opinions and attitudes around critical workplace topics such as recruitment, employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, employee advocacy, social media use, generational differences and work/life balance. Findings from this in-depth research reveal new trends, insights and impacts that are important for U.S. employers and their employees.  The survey offers great statistics and trend information for HR managers and businesses and points to an interesting, growing gap between employers’ and employees’ views, and also includes data that can impact HR strategies to increase engagement, productivity and retention, among other topics important to the employment life cycle and workplace.


Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.



 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.

Are We Ready For the “Future of Work?”  #SHRM15

Posted on July 9th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

It’s been just over a week since the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference wrapped up.  When I attend a conference that’s so large, so overflowing with various ideas, concepts, and best practices, sometimes it takes a few days for me to process what I’ve heard and learned.  One of the sessions I attended that I’ve mulled over for the past week was Lance Richards’ concurrent session on “Work 4.0: The Future of Work.”

There’s no shortage of these types of futurist musings of late, but I always find value in hearing various speakers’ takes on how exactly they see our workplaces changing moving forward.  There were two key concepts that I took away from this particular session.


The Untethered Workplace

As technology becomes more prolific in both our work and personal lives, we’re shifting into a world where work doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a specific location.  The concept of a “sit, stay” culture no longer resonates with workers who are connected via smartphone 24/7.  Lance Richards cites millennials as apt to sleeping with their phones nearby; the first and last thing they do each day being check work email.  I’m not even convinced that’s unique to that generation any longer.  Regardless, in a world where this is the norm, why do we get so caught up in where and when the work gets done, rather than focusing on whether or not it is?  If I’m handing work emails at 6:00AM or 11:00PM, why should I feel bad if I need to leave the office at 4:00PM?  Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we simply can’t afford to lose the talent that we have, why not consider moving the work to them rather than forcing them to come to the work?  If we have the technological capabilities to facilitate this, what’s the hold up?

The implications of this for managers is that it’s going to become essential that they, well….manage their teams more effectively.  As HR pros, are we ensuring that our supervisors and managers have the skills they need to more effectively manage remote workforces?  Do they have the necessary planning & organization, shepherding, and communication skills?  Do they have the ability to rally their teams around collective goals when their teams may not be all in the same place?  Do they have the skills to build effective working relationships when they are not face to face?


 Talent Supply Chain Management

The “War for Talent” is as ubiquitous of a phrase as any in the world of HR and talent; Lance Richards suggested that in reality there is no shortage of people in the world, however people does not equal talent.  The question is how do we convert people into talent?  In a world where 10,000 Boomers per day are retiring, and 6000 people per day are dropping out of high school, how are where do we find, develop, and retain the talent we need?  Richards suggested that HR pros need to become masters of talent supply chain management.  This could include better workplace planning through analytics; building better working relationships with local schools and colleges to help shape curriculum, ensuring that the future workforce has the skills we as employers need; building alumni networks and doing a better job of tracking what our former employees are up to; and learning to leverage “on-demand talent” – as we shift into a reality where more workers will deliver work on a more compartmentalized basis (i.e. performing various jobs for different companies concurrently), we’ll need to become better talent engagers.  We won’t necessarily need to own the talent, as long as we know where to find and engage it when we need it.

And that may require a completely different mindset about how we structure jobs, job responsibilities, and teams.


Some Final Thoughts

Though I do believe we are and will continue to see these types of shifts, and as HR pros we need to not only be aware, but also able to effectively leverage and adapt to these changes, I also struggle with how this plays out in all industries.  What about retail and healthcare, where it’s absolutely necessary to have certain employees onsite at specific times?  What about manufacturing?  When you have teams who are physically building or assembling something, there’s not as much of an opportunity for flexibility there.  

But yet the world continues to change, and people’s expectations about work/life balance/integration and the nature of work continue to change.  Even in these types of industries I believe we need to figure out exactly how we apply some of these concepts.  Maybe it’s not a remote workforce, per se, but are there other ways we can leverage flexibility?  And how do we leverage on-demand talent in these types of industries…. seems like that could be a natural fit in industries such as retail, where labor needs tend to fluctuate with seasons.

Moving forward, no matter what type of industry we work in, as HR pros we will continue to think bigger…about who constitutes our workforces, what they desire out of an employer/employee relationship, and how we sync that up with what our business needs require.


 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.







Checking in From #SHRM15 – Back To Leadership Basics?

Posted on June 30th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Sunday afternoon brought the kick off to the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  After a surprise visit from Vegas legend Penn Jillette, and usual opening comments by emcee Juana Hart Ackers and SHRM CEO Hank Jackson, attendees had the opportunity to hear some words of wisdom about building a successful team from NCAA winningest coach of the Duke men’s basketball team, “Coach K” Mike Krzyzewski.


It was apparent that there were mixed emotions in the crowd about the coach himself, depending on where your college basketball loyalties lie.  In the bloggers lounge where I was, a number of my fellow bloggers made their distaste for Duke well known.  I personally have no specific loyalty to any school, so for me it mattered not.  Generally speaking, I didn’t find Coach K to be the most motivational speaker I’ve seen at SHRM from a stage presence perspective, but he had some nuggets of wisdom to share that were on point.


As I looked back at my notes and my tweets from the session, one thing that became apparent is that there was nothing truly earth shattering about what Coach K offered.  What it seemed is that he was actually encouraging us to take a step back, go back to basics, and focus on the little things.


Here’s what I took away:


You’re Great, But You Can Be Greater

Encouragement is an important component of leading a team.  Everyone wants to feel important, so ensure that they know what they’re doing well, but don’t let it end there.  You need to encourage and push your team members to want to continue to be better.  Great teams need leadership at all levels, so allow your people to focus on what they do well, and keep pushing them to be more.


Personal Accountability

For a team to be great, you have to get everyone to own what they are doing.  One way to do that is to have team standards rather than rules.  When you lay down rules, those rules can only be obeyed (or not).  If you develop standards, that’s something everyone can buy into and take ownership of.  Coach K’s number one standard on his teams is “no excuses.”


A Culture of Caring

As a leader, take the time to really know your people.  Create and nurture an environment where everyone has each other’s back.  Coach K’s “3 E’s” to a winning team are energy, emotion, and enthusiasm…it’s much easier to achieve those when you have a team who truly cares about each other.


After walking attendees through these concepts, Coach K wrapped up his keynote with the following incredibly simple message: Keep feeling.  Leadership doesn’t mean distancing yourself; quite the opposite, in fact.  Show that you care, show some emotion, and encourage your team to do the same.  Create that culture where people care about the goal they are striving to reach, and through that become personally accountable for doing their part to get there.


Again, nothing truly new or radical here, but a great reminder to get the basics right.


 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.



Posted on May 19th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, Leadership, On My Mind. No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately.

You see, last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique and amazing experience.  In preparation for and in honor of the impending retirement of long time music teacher and director of the Quaker Marching Band from Orchard Park High School outside of Buffalo, NY, a group of current members and band alumni gathered for a surprise final performance and tribute to our leader of so many years and so many graduating classes.  The group numbered at 175, encompassed 6 states, and spanned the years 1986 – 2015.  I was there, proudly spinning my flag with the color guard, something I hadn’t done in 21 years.  The feeling of being a part of such a salute was overwhelming, his reaction was heartwarming, the video and verbal tributes were touching, and I’d be surprised if there were many dry eyes in the auditorium by the end.  And that group of 175 people who had never performed together before approximately 7PM that night….pretty darn impressive, from my not at all biased opinion.  It was our own version of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” if you will.


But the theme that kept running through my head the entire evening was that of legacies, and I feel as if it manifested in several ways.

There was first and foremost the legacy that Chris, our band director, leaves behind.  When you can get that many people, from all parts of the country, some of whom hadn’t picked up an instrument, flag, or rifle in decades, to drop everything to be a part of a tribute, you know that person has made a lasting impact.  The number quoted was 700 people who have been a part of the band over the years, and there were many who were devastated that logistically they just couldn’t be there for this final tribute.  Talking to some of the alumni from my era afterwards, we all agreed that being a part of the band was something we would never forget, that was such an important part of our high school years, and the lessons learned still remain with us as adults.  I had the privilege of serving as color guard captain my junior and senior years, and those leadership skills learned are certainly still relevant to me as an adult.  Chris was our leader throughout this critical, wonderful time in our lives, and as such he was always be remembered for it.  Being a part of “QMB” taught us the value of hard work and dedication; resilience and how to bounce back from failure and defeat; and confidence, pride, and that success requires practice, some wrong notes, and more than a few dropped flags.  A true legacy that spans decades, crosses state lines, and likely finds its way into the personal and professional lives of hundreds.

The other aspect of legacy that touched me was a little more personal, and that was having had the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  There was a good sized contingent of alumni from my era that took part, but as I looked around as we were gathered in the gym beforehand and read the nametags and graduation years of others there, I realized how many eras this band has spanned.  There were those that came before me, and many, many who came after me.  In the four years that I was a member, I helped to set the stage for the success of those who came after, just as those who came before me set the stage for my success.  Pretty inspiring when you think about how many people have worn that uniform, marched those football fields, and accepted those awards at competitions across the years.  And we all played a part in making the band what it has become today.

If you’ve stayed with me and indulged my walk down memory lane to this point, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with a human resources blog?”

The truth is, we ALL have the opportunity to create a legacy, no matter what we do or where we work.  We often talk about the legacies that teachers or coaches build, but it’s not unique to those professions.  As leaders and as HR professionals, we have the opportunity to touch our employees’ and coworkers lives every day.  So I ask you, as a leader, as an HR professional:

  • Are you helping to create work environments and cultures that encourage failure on the way to success?
  • Are you creating environments where employees feel a part of something bigger than themselves?
  • Are you personally helping to set the stage within your company for the successes that may come after you are gone, either from your position or from the company itself?
  • Is your culture one that instills the values in your employees that you would want them to keep with them and pass on to others?
  • As you make decisions that affect your employees, do you make them within the framework and mindset of how they might impact their lives?

When your employees, coworkers, executives, and others you work with on a daily basis reflect on your time with the company and your contributions, what kind legacy will they say you left?  I know that I hope mine is even a small fraction of what I felt around me on May 11, 2015.

Band ten HUT!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.