Tag: Leadership

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.

 


Legacies

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.

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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!

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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.


Why Leadership Skills Should Be Universal Skills

Posted on May 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Leadership skills are one of the many traits needed to be a successful leader. Women have closed the gender gap in entry and mid level positions, but have yet to reach that in top leadership skills. Susan Colantuono calls this the missing 33%, as women still need to be taught business, financial and strategic acumen to fill this gap. These leadership skills enable people to easily and confidently lead others, skills including but not limited to: ease of communication, natural flexibility, an ability to visualize a goal, thinking critically, and the ability to delegate responsibility effectively.

The ability to communicate effectively is absolutely critical in positions of power in an organization, a small team of people, and even for those not in a leadership position. In organizations, effective communication can save time, can prevent misunderstandings, and oftentimes can relax workers beneath you and above you. We’d all like to think we’re the perfect manager but there is always room for improvement. In a small team of people, the ability to communicate effectively can prevent misunderstandings, assist with visualization of objectives, and make things easier to achieve. Individuals who aren’t in leadership positions can use these skills to better present their needs to management. This skill can be developed through regular practice, and doing things to lessen anxiety felt by the speaker.

 

Flexibility

Leaders who are naturally flexible in a business are able to naturally shift objectives and methods used to achieve objectives. Flexibility is also vital for those not currently in a leadership position. This skill will allow them to be teachable, and always in line with the end goal of management. Overall, employees with flexibility will become an essential element to the business, increasing their job security. Flexibility prevents all employees from getting terribly stressed in a world where plans change, and where things tend to be less simple than they might have appeared initially.

 

Visualize Objectives

Visualization of objectives enables leaders to have a set destination. It’s also the first thing a good leader should do, so he or she can recognize when they’ve accomplished a goal. How does this benefit those outside leadership positions? Well, visualization enables these people know where they want to go within their professional lives. Do they see themselves as a manager, or even the next CMO? Visualizing this will help them take the steps necessary to get there. This aligns with the known method of focusing on a single large objective and devoting energy to achieving that goal, while taking other factors into account but not losing sight of the overarching goal.

 

Critical Thinking

Thinking critically is a useful skill for it enables an intelligent leader to take factors into account. Leaders use critical thinking to troubleshoot in the moment, and to come up with reasonable solutions. Critical thinking is a skill for all members of an organization. When given new tasks and assignments learning the new process quickly is essential for keeping up with the ongoing business. This is a situation where critical thinking skills will help employees be a quick learner. Ultimately this can lead to an increase in trust from management, leading to more responsibilities.

 

Delegation

Delegation in the context of leadership refers to the ability to divide labor intelligently and assigning people to the areas they are the most responsible and able to contribute. Make sure you are an effective delegator. Understanding yourself is a part of this skill, knowing your strengths, your weaknesses. This is an extremely useful skill in business and in the professional area, but in terms of the average employee it can also be used to mean the ability to manage time equally and effectively. Delegate your day and what time of the day will be devoted to specific tasks.

 

At the end of the day, leadership skills should be a part of your professional life in order to progress and lead effectively. Even those who don’t currently have a management position can be devoting time to the development of these skills. Practicing these skills will prepare employees to promotions and strengthen the organization as a whole.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: 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. 


Not Haunted

Posted on April 21st, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Last week I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans with a few friends.  New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in which to spend a few days, and I’d been there many times previously.  I love to wander the French Quarter, immersing myself in the sights, sounds, and of course the food of the Crescent City.  And for all of the times I’ve been there, it seems there’s always something new to discover, something unique that catches my interest.

On this particular trip, my friends and I found ourselves wandering down one of the cross streets a little bit away from the main hustle and bustle of the Quarter, and we stumbled across the sign pictured above, advertising an apartment for rent.  Of course we all had a chuckle and each of us stopped to snap a picture of it.  I posted my picture to Facebook with the caption, “Apparently here you have to specify.”

Needless to say, we (and many others, judging by the number of passersby who also stopped to snap a photo) were amused by this bit of information shared.  Was it a clever marketing ploy?  Perhaps.  A quirky tactic designed to draw the attention of tourists like ourselves?  Maybe so.

But here’s the thing.  Tourists like us probably aren’t particularly interested in renting an apartment in the French Quarter, so a fun bit of marketing to draw us in probably wasn’t the intent.  This sign was directed at folks with a real interest in finding a dwelling in which to reside.  And perhaps for those folks, the fact that this apartment is “not haunted” may very well be valuable information to consider in choosing where to live.

We all found it amusing because generally speaking, most of us don’t need to think twice about whether or not the places we live are haunted or not.  We were processing this information from our own individual perspectives, our own realities, through our own assumptions.  But in a city as rich in history at New Orleans, and with many well-documented accounts of hauntings (whether you believe in that sort of stuff or not), this information may not only be valuable, but also very necessary in making housing decisions.  And in fact, upon further research, one of our friends discovered that this is actually a pretty common piece of information to be included on real estate signs throughout the city.

So what does this have to do with human resources, business, or leadership?

How often in the workplace do we fall into the trap of making assumptions based on our own realities, without really digging into the real facts?

  • Do we tend to assume a particular employee or teammate is thinking a certain way….because that’s how we would think?
  • Do we assume everyone is motivated in a particular way or by factors x,y, and z….because that’s what motivates us?
  • In communicating with employees, do we tend to neglect certain details that might be important to others, because they don’t cross our minds as being important?
  • Do we assume that particular female employee wouldn’t want that promotion into that demanding role because she has a young family at home….and surely she wouldn’t want to try to juggle all of those responsibilities?

Instead of striving to understand differences and thinking from a more global perspective, do we tend to fall into the trap of viewing the world through our own lenses?

As fun as it was to stumble across this “Not Haunted” sign, it also provides a valuable lesson in leadership, engagement, diversity, or employee communications.  By making assumptions based on our own reality, we could tend to run the risk of alienating, de-motivating, or misleading our employees, our team members, our coworkers.  Before we jump to conclusions, it’s critical to take a step back, lose our blinders, and think beyond our own realities, lest we find our actions and decisions haunting us!

 

This post was one of several posts written using the same title and inspiration, but examining various topics.  You can read the other Not Haunted posts here and here.

 

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.


HR From a Different Perspective

Posted on April 14th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Entrepreneurship. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Susan Axelrod  again features a female entrepreneur and her lessons learned about building a business and leading successful teams.

 

I started my bakery business, Love and Quiches Gourmet, in my home kitchen in 1973, purely by accident; from just one quiche. I was a clueless suburban housewife with no preparation whatsoever for business ownership. My only qualification was my passion for everything connected to food. I was a very good cook and was cajoled into starting the business by a carpool friend, an equally great cook.

 

We had no plan, we simply started. We made up some quiches, took them to a few local businesses, and before we knew it we had one customer, then two, and then ten. Adding desserts soon followed. By the end of the first year we were servicing about thirty restaurants, and took the giant step of incorporating and moving into our first tiny storefront where we hired one or two employees, and continued to grow.

 

We were the Keystone Kops Quiche Factory; two steps back for every step forward. My partner cried uncle shortly after so I bought her out and quickly realized this little business had a will and a pull of its own. I wanted to stick around though, to see how the movie ended. That was forty years ago.

 

I hired an accountant, and started asking a lot of questions of my customers, my suppliers, my newfound mentor, my peers, my competitors (who didn’t know I was watching), … and I learned from my mistakes, a vastly underestimated learning tool. And this was all before the dawn of the computer age. At the time, I was a one-man band; baker, buyer, salesman, porter and delivery guy.

 

Across the decades, we grew in concentric circles; Metro New York, Metro Tri-State, up and down the Eastern Seaboard, across the Continent, then across the globe. There were as many obstacles thrown in our path along the way as there were victories. There was brutal competition, key customer loss, key employee loss, location moves and so on. But many obstacles were beyond our control; commodity spikes, 9/11 after which the economy came to a dead halt, the Great Recession among them.

 

When looking back at it all, one thing stands out. It is after 9/11 that the business had its “Aha” moment and we reinvented ourselves and our business model; with Just-In-Time and Lean Manufacturing methods.

 

But, by far, our greatest achievement was the rebuilding of our organization from the bottom up— with strong high performance teams, and equally strong directors and middle management.

 

Our employees are our greatest asset and are valued insiders, each skilled in their particular area. We built it slowly through a combination of promoting from within and bringing in outside talent when needed. They are a passionate group— we have the right people on the bus, and in the right seats.

 

At Love & Quiches Gourmet we have eight teams- Operations, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Engineering, Purchasing and Logistics, Research and Development, HR, Administration, and Sales and Marketing. These teams are all cogs in a wheel with its members highly dependent upon the other; keenly aware that one weak link can bring it all to a grinding halt. Some companies promote healthy competition… I think teamwork is healthier. And even more importantly, mutual respect and tolerance during conflict resolution (there will always be differing points of view; after all, this is a business and not a love affair).

 

We communicate with daily huddles, weekly management and executive meetings, team building, ongoing training, and more. We do not talk down to our employees; we need them. Communication is crucial to keeping us focused and all on the same page. By inviting input across the board, the ideas keep coming.

 

As a private company, there are fewer layers in our decision making which helps us compete with the giants. We are known for our flexibility and receptiveness to new ideas. From the top we set strategic direction, but our teams provide the “meat and potatoes” that bring the results. All 250 of us have “skin in the game”.

 

I have chronicled my forty year journey in my recently published business memoir, “With Love and Quiches: A Long Island Housewife’s Surprising Journey from the Kitchen to the Boardroom” where I emphasize organizational development in chapters devoted to our transition to lean and mean, next leveling, and company culture, all told from the Love and Quiches Gourmet experience.

 

We have come a long way, and it has been a great ride. I take pride that it was my product that put quiche on the map, now served on menus all over the world. And it was my devoted, hardworking and experienced team that got us there.

 

 Photo Credit

About the Author:  Susan Axelrod and the word “pioneer” go together like cake and frosting! As the Chairwoman and Founder of Love & Quiches Gourmet, Susan’s journey has paved the way for women entrepreneurs. She started her business with no formal training, only a passion for food. Coupled with her energy and tenacity, Susan was able to take her small business, worldwide. Today, these desserts and quiches are found in restaurants and retailers around the globe. Susan chronicles her experiences in her blog, Susan’s Sweet Talk and her book, With Love & Quiches: A Long Island Housewife’s Surprising Journey from Kitchen to Boardroom

 

 


Women on Top

Posted on March 3rd, by Shauna Moerke in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Let me start by saying that no, this isn’t some 50 Shades of Grey reference in an attempt to capitalize on it’s odd popularity.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the impact a shortage of women in crucial management and executive levels can have on a company’s culture and treatment of it’s female employees. But I’m not going to spend time in this article going on and on about why this is needed, even though I do believe it is, because ultimately, it makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite. You see, for all my conviction, I don’t want to step up and be in management myself.

I have zero desire to manage employees or a company. None. I don’t want to “Lean In” as it were. I’m not really entrepreneurial minded. It’s not because I am being pushed out by a male dominated industry, wanting to raise a family, or any other legitimate and concerning reason there aren’t more women in executive roles. In the end, management is just not something that I personally want to do.

And to be honest, I’m tired of feeling guilty about not wanting it. On all sides of the issue is guilt. If you have kids but want to work, you are a bad mother/wife. If you don’t push for management you are slacking and are not doing your part for other women. There are no winners in this game; there is only more societal pressure and insecurity that holds us back from living our lives the way we want to. I know I’m not alone in this either.

But as much as we truly do need women in management, important public positions where they make the decisions, management is not the only path to leadership and influence. All women, regardless of their career level, employment status, personal beliefs and convictions, can be leaders in their own way. All women can have influence, even if it is only within their own circle of friends or family. All women can choose to speak for themselves and be advocates for others. Every one of us has that power and should use it. Frequently.

Leadership and influence is not solely for those in positions of power. I don’t have to be a manager to influence the culture and direction of a team. But it sure does help to have someone in a position of power to help back me up. So how about we make a deal? I’ll will be an advocate for other women in the workplace and I will encourage others to do the same, if some of you out there with the desire and drive to be in those positions of power promise to listen to our collective voices and help enact real change. Sound good to you?

 

Photo Credit

 

About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR and is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show.  

 


Diversity: Is it Still on the Menu for 2015?

Posted on January 15th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Diversity. What does it mean to you (aside from a pretty handy street dance troupe)? It’s an important topic to mull over because the modern workplace is expected to employ a diverse workforce, with HR departments obviously playing a crucial role in the process.

 

But as with so many valuable concepts, the risk of the principle being lost in the rhetoric and its substance replaced by an empty corporate buzz word is high. As HR employees – dealing with the people behind the labels – it is our duty to clarify the recruitment process we are expected to implement and highlight any practical issues that arise.

 

Diversity and the ‘tick box’ culture

One of the measures of a diverse workplace is how closely it reflects the make-up of the society in which it operates. This has led to government statisticians compiling lists of percentages where citizens are divided into their ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation and numerous other categories and the numbers compared – often unfavourably – with the make up of the company.

 

If we’re not careful, this can lead to diversity being treated as another item to be included on a growing list of corporate targets. ‘Do we have a disabled guy? Good. Five per cent ethnic minorities? Great. We’re running at 55-45 gender split though; need to even that up a bit.’

 

Here we stray into that contentious issue of ‘positive discrimination’, and whether it is ever right to recruit someone on the basis of their age, gender, sexual orientation or cultural background. Whatever your position about that, it is a very real dilemma that the Human Resource department has to grapple with – diversity in the real world rather than a utopian concept.

 

Do we still have an appetite for diversity?

Recent world events have even cast doubts on the value of diversity itself. Struggling economies have led to high levels of unemployment and the accusation by some disgruntled citizens that their jobs are being taken by people from minority backgrounds. And there is no doubt that recruiters in many fields have sought to actively import talent where there is a perceived lack of it from amongst the local employment pool.

 

With the media highlighting the negative aspects of muticulturalism and the dangers of excessively liberal policies, and the rise of nationalist parties in the political sphere, even the politicians’ are displaying quite schizophrenic behaviours as they reflect the public’s ambivalence over diversity.

 

Companies as diversity in action

The modern workplace, to varying degrees, mirrors the situation in society at large. People from different backgrounds come together for a common cause and while there are inevitably culture clashes and disagreements there is also a lot of solidarity and shared identity.  A company’s success seems often to be related to  the extent to which its workforce has been integrated, enabling everyone to pull together. But is there more that a diverse workplace can offer up?

 

Attack of the Clones

In our drive for diversity, we must ensure that the people we recruit are given the support and freedom to actually express their unique qualities and perspectives. In a modern workplace we need to utilise the full richness of each individual’s experience and tap into their irreplaceable skills and strengths, if we are to remain relevant and competitive as a unit.

 

Employees are not just representatives of particular demographics in society, they are living, communicating windows into the minds and hearts of the people who share significant elements of their background. If one of our employees uses a wheelchair, he or she will be invaluable in assessing how accessible our company is to other wheelchair users. If a female employee objects to the chauvanistic workplace culture then ignore her at your peril. It is highly likely that sexism is coming across in our products and services, alienating women in society.

 

In some ways, a diverse company is a gift which gives us the opportunity to interact with society at a deeper, more inclusive level. But we must still make the most of the richness at our disposal by treating employees as respected individuals. Otherwise we risk creating a sham diversity rather like the clone troopers in the Star Wars stories. Here, the individual troopers are largely identified by surface differences alone (hairstyle, uniform trim, etc.) to compensate for the fact that they are all cloned from one source.

 

Is diversity still on the menu? Absolutely, but only the best restaurants can combine all of the flavours into one appetizing dish.

 

About the Author: Nicole Dominique Le Maire has gained a reputation as a highly valued leader within the female business and Human Resources Industry. As a multi-talented woman entrepreneur and a global people connector, she is also the co-author of two books, including “The Female Leader.”  As a result, she has gained tremendous experience guiding startups and entrepreneurs which has supplemented her MBA, MAHRM, and MCIPD and this has catapulted her to become one of the top leaders in the Human Resources industry.  Get in touch via twitter @NicoleLeMaire or one of the business websites,  humanresourcesglobal.com, newtohr.com, thefemaleleader.biz