Tag: life

Reflection and Perspective

Posted on August 28th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments


I just returned from a short vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. Myrtle Beach is a place that I’ve visited many, many times over the years, both with family and friends. It’s one of the first family vacations I went on when I was a little girl, and it has continued to be a place that I’ve returned to over the years, through various stages of my life…as a kid, a teenager, a young adult on my first vacation on my own, and more recently with extended family, including my niece and nephews. 

The beauty of returning to somewhere that you’ve visited many times, at various stages of your life, is that it remains a constant – relatively unchanged – no matter how much your life changes from one visit to the next. So I find these periodic visits to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on those life changes. As I walk the shores of the beach that I’ve walked so many times, I have the chance to think about just exactly what is different in my life since my last visit…for the better, for the worse, and for the, well, just different.

But it’s not just an opportunity to reflect on what has changed since the last visit, it’s also an opportunity to speculate about what could be different by the next time. Each time I’m there, before I leave, I take a moment to enjoy a view of the ocean and appreciate where I am at that moment, but also to wonder where exactly my life might be by the next time I return. And each time I do that, I’m often amazed at exactly how much IS different since the last time…the people who have come into or left my life, the losses I’ve experienced, the successes I’ve enjoyed, the opportunities I’ve had both personally and professionally, the direction my life has taken…many of these changes being things I never would have or could have expected. And though many times change is something we can’t necessarily anticipate, moments like these can also serve as a time to reflect on what we KNOW we want to change in the future. 

What does this have to do with HR or business?  

In the hectic rush of our days, weeks, and years, I wonder how many of us take those moments to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go?  To really appreciate exactly how much we’ve accomplished over a finite period of time, and exactly what more we’d like to do over that next finite period of time? Many of us talk about “three year plans” or “five year plans” but do we effectively take time in the midst of those plans to stop for a reality check? To re-calibrate the plan as needed? Or to just stop and appreciate the wonder of the unexpected places that fate sometimes takes us beyond what we had planned?

What about you? Do you stop to reflect? Do you have a constant place where you can go to appreciate where life has taken you and think about the future?

And as HR professionals, do we encourage our employees to do the same? Is reflection, planning, and re-calibration part of our career planning processes?

 

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

 


I Know They Said That Honesty Is The Best Policy, But…

Posted on July 1st, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Honesty is best but there are times when you can and should choose to refrain. There’s always levels of complexity  involved and there is the risk of appearing hypocritical. Also, you have to choose what to be honest about. I don’t think that your goal of maintaining honesty should mean a complete and thorough application of the principle regardless… although I realize that the more exceptions there are to the rule, the more the rule gets a bit hazy.

 

But here’s what I do know.

 

I have, to the best of my ability, tried to live an honest life, in that I tried to be true to my goals, desires and emotion. I worked hard at ensuring a meeting of minds between my mental and emotional state and the actions resulting thereof.

 

I had to. I could not live any other way.

 

As far as I could, I wanted to be authentic in my communications and relationships. It was necessary for me to be truthful, to the point of pain, about what I saw, what I felt, what I believed, even if it was at odds or brought conflict to bear in a given situation.

 

Honesty, in this case, was therefore merely an alignment between my thoughts and my actions. Living a lie, where what I thought was distinct from my actions, would prove too difficult to endure or to sustain.

 

I have, in recent times, been privy to two sets of close relationships where I see that honesty is critical to the nature of the relationship. I have seen how inaction or uncertainty about how to respond in a given situation can be taken as acquiescence of the current status quo. I have seen how silence can be taken as tolerance or worse still, willingness.

 

These situations and relationships, and how people make sense of it all, take years to develop. Like an onion, it is built layer upon layer and the demarcation is blurred.

 

You owe it to yourself to be honest. So that you can move on, so that you can achieve the life and relationships you deserve to have. Yes, it is scary to realize the potential negative reactions that we could be called on to face, and sometimes, we will need to face this, all alone.

 

But in our quest for a life that is true and authentic, for relationships that are based on something meaningful and deep, for decisions that are anchored in something sturdy and substantial, we need to aim for honesty.

 

If only so that we can reconcile our desires and needs with our actions.

 

If only for us to live a life with minimal regret.

 

If only to make real impact on those around us.

 

Photo Credit

Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.

 


Prepare for the Worst? Or Prepare for the Best? Or Simply, Prepare.

Posted on February 27th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace. No Comments

I live in Indiana.  It’s February, typically considered a winter month (you might hear a little cynicism in my words…).  And it’s snowy.  Albeit, there’s much more snow here than we’ve had in recent years, but is that really a surprise?

I was scheduled to attend a local seminar tomorrow.  I am a “nerd” and enjoy learning, especially if it will help me be a better HR professional, coach, &/or person.  I always like to get another trainer’s perspective & I am familiar with this speaker – who I consider to be excellent, so I was looking forward to it.  I got an email yesterday morning indicating it had been postponed until late this month.  Our “weather” hadn’t even hit yet, although forecasters had been prognosticating a new “snowpocalypse” for days.  And I saw or heard it everywhere I turned – Facebook, Twitter, television, radio.

The weather predictions appeared to be coming true by mid-afternoon yesterday and lots of snow began falling.  Our company began monitoring in order to make prudent business decisions about closing or delaying opening today.    As weather often does, it appeared to taper off last evening, and yet, the social media and television continued to “blow up” with news and details of “snowpocalypse.”  It’s no wonder people overreact – the worse-case-scenarios are played out on every avenue of communication.

My husband was up early today, and was out snow-blowing our drive, and our neighbors, long before any county snow plow would have considered coming down our road.  I got to thinking about all of this after getting the 5:55AM email that our business would open as usual today.  It seems like everyone is preparing for the worse-case scenario, instead of preparing so it won’t be.  Does that make sense?

What I mean is, it seems with the advent of social media and immediate news feeds, we tend to take on almost a ‘victim’ mentality.  The weatherman predicts weather, everyone posts it on their statuses or news feeds,  we all run to the store for bread, milk, and perhaps some adult beverages, and then we wait for the weather, sometimes predicting early that we can’t make it in.  Often, the weather doesn’t end up being near as scary as predicted, and yet, many are paralyzed by the thought of that ‘worse-case scenario.”

What happened to simply preparing for the weather – extra layers of clothing, getting up early to shovel, snow-blow, scrape the car windows, leaving earlier than usual in order to get to work.

I do not remember a day that my Dad & Mom didn’t get up and go to work.  Dad owned his own business,  Mom worked at the local university, and no matter the weather, they got up, prepared for it, and went to work.  Why are we any different today?  We have better gadgets – snow blower, automatic car starters, warmer clothing and such, along with better prediction information – and yet, we aren’t preparing for the rigors of getting up and going to work, we are preparing for the worse.

Kind of like my seminar planned for tomorrow.  I’m bummed.  It seems like with a little preparation, the seminar might have been able to happen. Maybe not, depending on the speaker schedule and travel location, but it feels like we prepared for the worst, instead of preparing for the best.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone to endanger themselves to get to work.  Yet, before our social media, did our parents and prior generations know better, prepare better, have a better work ethic?  I don’t think so.  I think they just used good common sense and prepared – for the best. Without all the “noise” from social media and news 24/7 on television, radio and streaming through our laptops and other devices, people simply prepared.  Perhaps they had more time….

 

Photo credit

 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


Gratitude

Posted on November 26th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 1 Comment

The month of November and Thanksgiving holiday are a natural time to reflect on those things for which we are thankful.  Not that thanks and appreciation should be limited to just one month per year, but it’s when it becomes front and center for many.  Amongst being thankful for friends, family, security, and a roof over my head, there are many things from a professional perspective for which I’m grateful as well.  Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the parts of our jobs that irritate or annoy us, so I thought I’d take a moment to focus on the career-related things for which I’m grateful.   

I’m grateful for parents who raised me to have an appreciation for the satisfaction of working towards something, rather than waiting for things to be handed to me.  That’s a value I’ve carried with me into my adult life, a value which set the stage for me to pursue an education and a career, ultimately allowing me to make a contribution to something beyond myself and support the life I love.  I’m proud that I’m a woman who has the ability and ambition to provide for myself.  I’m grateful that I like to work and enjoy being busy, and that I’ve been taught that there’s a difference between laziness and well-deserved downtime.  I’ve learned to recognize when downtime and recharging is necessary and justified, but that true laziness isn’t productive or an acceptable way to live my life. 

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a company filled with employees who understand the value of an honest day’s work.  They’ve taught me what it means to hustle and have pride in a job well done, no matter how simple or menial the task may seem to someone else.  You don’t always need to be changing the world to be proud of what you do; sometimes the smallest gesture can make a difference. 

I’m grateful to work for a leadership team whose actions embody the meaning of commitment.  Commitment to the business, to the communities in which we operate, and to the people who make the company what it is.  They inspire me, every day. 

I’m grateful to have worked for people who’ve invested in me, and allowed me to grow and develop in my career, and for those who saw something in me early on and encouraged me down the path I’ve taken.  I can’t imagine not having taken the path I did or how different my life would be if I had taken another.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for those that didn’t pan out that ultimately kept me on my path, and thankful for where I am right here, right now. 

I’m grateful for the phenomenal network of colleagues and connections that make up my professional network, for those in my network who have also become friends, and for everyone who generously shares their knowledge and experiences and makes me a better HR professional, and better person, every day. 

I’m grateful for a career that allows me to have an impact on people.  I’ll never forget when years ago, a few weeks after one particular training class I facilitated, having a participant approach to tell me how something I said in the class changed his entire outlook on life.  As HR pros, we have the opportunity to have this kind of impact every day, sometimes with just the simplest of actions or a few right words at the right time. 

 

Do you often enough stop to count your blessings?  What are you grateful for today?

 

 Photo credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


The Real-Life Impact of HR

Posted on November 19th, by Lois Melbourne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

Looking for a life-impacting role for HR? Explore the opportunity you can use to save lives and life styles. I am talking about the life skills and balancing of life decisions of both your employees and their spouses.

My mom’s cousin lost her husband in the last year.  In her grief and lack of education, she ignored the opportunity to keep her insurance and other benefits going.  She has now had a stroke and may need brain surgery.  I don’t want to go into the healthcare debate; I want you to think about the people and the impact a little education and/or policy changes could make.

What if her insurance and benefits could have continued automatically, paid out of her survivor benefits?  This could at least have happened for a reasonable “grief” period, when there are so many decisions to make.

Let’s go beyond insurance and jump to life skills discussion.  Want to increase family engagement? What about addressing the often ignored factors of estate planning and organizational skills?  85% of households have one spouse solely responsible for bills and paperwork. How can you help employees and their spouses, regardless of which one is the household operator, understand the critical necessity of cross training or at least strong organization of these processes.  It can be touchy, but in many cases, it would be very welcome to have tools and discussion facilitated.

This issue is gender and socio-economically diverse.  Think about it.  Think about your mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparent, spouse.  Who is going to be impacted by a tragedy compounded by complexity of new skill requirements, or financial messes that have never been shared?

You can make a difference.

 

Photo Credit

 

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


Gloria, Sinead and Miley Walked into a Bar…

Posted on October 31st, by Robin Schooling in On My Mind. 2 comments

And so it continues.  Miley Cyrus, who has become everyone’s favorite person to trash on the internet over the last several months, popped up this past weekend on Saturday Night Live where she did her schtick (it has become a schtick, btw) of rolling her tongue around on the side of her mouth while flashing some sort of pop star gang sign with her long lacquered fingernails.

I still don’t get it although, to be fair, I think she does.  It appears she’s moved into self-deprecating territory and, thankfully I guess, has quickly become a parody of herself.

One bit of good has arisen from all the Miley chatter though in that it has served as yet another catalyst for cultural discussions on feminism, women and the patriarchal culture in which we still live.

  • Gloria Steinem has chimed in. A few weeks ago at the Women’s Media Awards, Le Steinem, when asked if she thought some of Miley’s recent activities were setting the feminist movement back, answered “I don’t think so. I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed, but given the game as it exists, women make decisions.” (Blame to society)
  • Sinead O’Connor, who learned that Miley claimed her “Wrecking Ball” video was based on O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to U” video, wrote an open letter to Miley in which she said “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.”  (note – as of this writing, the open letter has been removed from O’Connor’s website but you can read the full letter here).  (Blame to Miley.  And sort of to society).

Now I don’t think many of us can argue that the global society in which we live is patriarchal; centuries and eons have laid that foundation. And while I’m all for making money and being a capitalist there is, at the core of capitalism, a whiff (just a whiff) of male privilege as evidenced by the fact that it’s usually a bunch of rich white men who are calling the shots.  And those are the same dudes who dictate, to a fairly large extent, what women can and/or should do.  Miley is just going along and playing the game the best she can in the world in which we live.

But should she?  Or, perhaps the better question to ask becomes “is it even a game that’s being played?”

Feminism is about providing equal opportunities for women yet it empowers men as well as women by allowing all of us to cast aside pre-conceived notions of “the way things should be.”   It allows us as women (not the men who are in power) to determine what is best for us and ensures that we all have the freedom to make our own choices.  Sometimes it takes the collective group to get those options on the table in the first place (i.e., the right to vote, have equal funding for sports) and sometimes it’s individuals making a decision for themselves about how they want to live their lives.  Shall I wear pants or dresses?  Have short or long hair? Enter the workforce or be a stay at home parent? Use an IUD or the Birth Control pill?

Individual choice.

While I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Miley’s spank-fest on the VMA awards I fully supported her right to do it.  She sparked some discussion.  And while crappy teddy-bear costumes may not be cause for revolution one spark can start a fire – or at least keep it burning.

So yeah – if Gloria, Sinead and Miley walked into a bar I would certainly buy all of them a drink; and that’s not just a punch line.

Disclaimer:  I am no fan of Ms. Cyrus although I do admit to finding “Party in the USA” strangely intoxicating and have, on occasion, found myself singing along.


One Of Your Greatest Assets

Posted on October 3rd, by Kristin Kaufman in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

As an executive, we have two assets which rival as to which is most valuable to us. Both our time and our team are the two most critical components in achieving our objectives, personally and collectively. This article is going to focus on our time and a few suggestions on how to get the greatest return on our time.

As true transformational leaders, in order to accomplish our mission, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this; yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise which they invariably do.

A few thoughts to consider and discipline ourselves around:

1. Manage and filter the interruptions

I recently read an article which touted that we spend only about 10 minutes on a task before we are interrupted by various issues. How can we curb these interruptions? What if we turned off our phones, asked our team to do the same, and instill a mutual respect for ‘sacred time’ to actually get work done? What if we actually say ‘no’ when these distractions arise? I know what you are thinking, how can we say no to our bosses? I am certainly not suggesting that is the standard answer every time; however, there are scenarios in which we must say no. A book I have found especially helpful, The Power of the Positive No, gives excellent tips on how to say ‘yes’ while saying ‘no,’ while preserving a strong relationship with the other party. Check it out.

2. Stop the multi-tasking.

Many studies actually state that multi-tasking is one of the worst things we can do to maintain brain health. The sad reality is that the trend for multi-tasking is going up not down. With the increase of smart phones, email, texting, working mothers, and the quest for ‘work/life balance,’ the quest for balance has led to just doing more at one time, versus prioritizing and saying ‘no.’ One study has actually stated that our IQ’s can fall as much as 10 points when we are juggling so many projects. Of course, that leads to ineffective leadership, production, and overall results. We need to make a commitment to stop the multi-tasking. We need to focus. We need to choose one project to work on at a time. We need to have one centered conversation at a time. We need to leave our phones in the car or at least turn it off when meeting or visiting with another person. Let’s show them the respect they deserve, and that we would want, if we were in their shoes.

3. Focus and stay disciplined to the chosen priorities.

This is where it gets tough. Everyone is pulling on us to do ‘this, that, or the other’ now! I get it. What I know for sure is that if we allow everyone else’s priorities to dictate 100% how and when we spend our time, we will never get where we want to go. Period. We have to be ruthlessly determined to focus on what we believe we need to do to achieve our goals. We have to plant our flag as to where we are going, determine our plans and our goals on how we are going to get there, and then, publicly state where and how we are going to spend our time to get there. By stating the ‘what and the how’ of where we are going publicly, it makes it much easier to say ‘no’ when distractions arise.

4. Feng shui your office and your mind.

This is probably the single most effective way to help clarify where to spend your time. Recently, I spent time (yes, the asset in which we are discussing) completely clearing out my office, my outdated files, and my next month and second half plans for the remainder of 2013. I found myself struggling to keep up with all the projects I have underway, and my ’piles’ and ‘folders’ were simply not working for me anymore. I was frustrated, stressed out, and was working every weekend trying to keep up. Sure, we all have our way of organizing, which is up to you. My point is to just do it. Organizing papers, searching for contacts and not having a clear way to find information can simply exhaust and zap our mojo. Recently, I revisited Stephen Covey’s First Things First to develop a leadership development workshop, and it was a fabulous refresher.

At the end of the day, it takes guts to make the hard calls as to where to spend our time, and when to say ‘no.’ It is all about declaring where we want to go, deciding what are the few key things we must do to get there, and prioritizing how we will get these things done. Then, we must continue to verbalize this to ourselves and our troops to keep us focused, committed and to avoid the distractions which are guaranteed to present themselves.

 

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


Daughter Dreams For Us All

I love to watch my little girls sleep.  They are calm, full of possibility, and not asking me to change them for the 4th time that hour into another fairy, princess, or pirate costume.  As I watch, I imagine what dramas, adventures, heartbreak, and careers (I am a career coach after all!) lie ahead for both of them and it’s hard to discern what my hopes are for them and what my actual expectations are.

My free-spirited head-strong 4. 5 year old has always had a mind of her own and her attitude taught me early on that she was her own girl, with a unique personality; wonderful,  and not at all a clone of her mom.  This helped me pull away the layers of hopes I had dreamt up when she was 20 weeks in utero and I found out a little girl was in our future.   As she took on the world through her independence, I worked hard to stop putting my aspirations or assumptions of who she would become onto her tiny little shoulders.  By the time my younger daughter was born I felt that I was doing a pretty decent job of embracing the individual personalities each girl would have.  That being said, I still do catch myself making offhand comments about “when Josie is CEO of a company” or “when she opens her own restaurant.”  After years of watching their personalities form, I come up with careers that I think they will definitely master.  Of course, these career predictions change as fast as the whims of precocious preschoolers change.  So what exactly do I hope for when it comes to the lives my girls create and why do I bother to write about it?

I hope they have choices.  I hope they never have to stay in situations that aren’t working for them, that aren’t helping them grow, and thrive, and laugh, and play.  I hope they work  (I do, I can’t help it) but I also hope they have the choice to create the work schedule and environment that brings out their best and matches the priorities they hold at any given moment.  So what does this mean for me, and how I mother them?  How do I help them achieve a life full of choice?  I’m not quite sure but I think it involves helping them develop a love of learning so they have the education to back up their goals.  I am also pretty sure it involves showing them what love is and how it never means giving up who you are, what you like, or who your friends are.  I want them to choose wisely if and when they do decide to marry.

I have read countless books geared towards us working mom set, and most of them are written from the perspective of a fairly privileged, educated woman who does have the choice to either work or not, be married or not, have more children or not,  schedule housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, date night etc. or not.   One of the themes that seems to come through is a hint of complaint about the fact that there just are too many choices.  As if moms are paralyzed by choice and opportunity, a burden the generation before us didn’t have.

Can I be candid? To me this is nonsense.   Instead of lamenting the various choices we have and the way it makes us feel afraid to move, how about buck up and spend some time figuring what you want and who you are, and have the courage to be that person and pursue that goal?  Take choice by the horns and run with it.  You want to work part-time to have more time with your family?  Figure out a way to make it work.  Talk to your employer, talk to other moms who do it, create a situation that makes it possible.  You want to start your own business?  There is no easier time then now.  Truly it will only get harder.   Trust me, I work with MBA students and I have heard every counter to this argument including “ I have a newborn” to which my response is, “Do you think it will be easier when you have a full schedule of t-ball and ballet classes to take your kids too?”  You want a meaningful career that involves decision making?  Pursue another degree, ask for management opportunities, apply for a new job, seek out a mentor that has that role.  Take proactive steps so you are creating a life that includes endless choices and a plethora of paths to venture down.

I hope this for my daughters, I seek this for myself, and I encourage it of you.

 

About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and  Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.

 

Photo credit iStockphoto


Your Identity Beyond Your Career

Posted on July 23rd, by Lois Melbourne in On My Mind. No Comments

Identity.

 

What do you want to be known for?  What is important to you?

 

If you think you are too young to read about retirement or you roll your eyes at the thought of it because it seems impossible, then YOU need to keep your butt in your seat and read this one.  If you still want to jump elsewhere – replace the word retirement with sabbatical, or career change, and most of all of this discussion is very applicable there too.

 

I know my circumstances for retirement are somewhat unique, but the ah-ha moments and realizations I want to share are life lessons and they also happen to be really more powerful when finding yourself free of the high demands of one’s current high speed career.

 

Personal Request

The word retirement is not a bad word and stop making people that use it feel lazy or shameful. My husband and I have renamed our current status to sabbatical, because of the negative responses we get for using the word retirement this young.  Oh well, I expect no sympathy – just a point to make.

 

Evalauation

When one retires and finds more time on their hands, a lot of self-reflection begins.  I believe this is one reason so many people that thought they would love retirement or worked really hard to get there, find themselves miserable. They don’t like what is reflected back to them, when they look deep.   The time to evaluate one’s self is when you are slaving away at your job so that you find some releases and rewards along the way.

  1. Are you an interesting person that can carry on conversations beyond your work and your kids?
  2. Do you have hobbies that you love to spend time on? Can you find a way to cultivate them now (you will like your life better if you do)
  3. Do you really know how to relax?  Really unplug? It’s been three months and I still check my phone far more then I need to.

 

Friendships

Do you have real friendships that would exist without the work or work-style connections?  This is a tough one for a lot of people and a lot or relationships.  Do your conversations go beyond the topics of work, your industry, or the escape from such work?  These may be the friends that have been there through good and bad and always were available, or they could be the friends that you share your hobbies and other interest with.  If you find this category of your life lacking, I encourage you to evaluate and cultivate your relationships.  It might still be some of the same people in your life, but taking the friendships into a different direction can be rewarding and important.

 

Spouse

Can you spend extensive time with your spouse and truly enjoy it?  I am blessed that I have worked side-by-side my husband for the last 20 years, so this part is easy for me.  I see other couples really struggle when they are more in each other’s calendars.  It doesn’t mean things are broken, but you might want to find more common activities and also plan for separate time with no guilt from either party.

 

Financial

This is where most articles focus on retirement, starting your own business, or the risk of career changing.  There is a reason for that – it is important.  Entrepreneurs are conditioned to “know your number”.  The biggest portion of that term is knowing the number it would take to sell your business, but the critical day-to-day practicality of that expression applies to everybody.  What are the numbers it takes to live the life you expect?

 

I could reach those numbers quickly due to a couple of really key points in our lives.

  1. I categorize all of our expenditures into buckets in Quicken.  Even if you need to look at it really often or you want to deny how much you spend on something, that just doesn’t do you any favors.  If you are trying to hide an expenditure, then you definitely need to categorize it (electronics, jewelry, travel, entertainment, groceries, dining, etc)
  2. Have a real advisor that can help you evaluate your expenses, your income and your assets.  I am not talking about the job title Financial Advisor; those guys are sales guys trying to sell you insurance, investment vehicles like annuities, and help you watch your stock market investments.  I am talking about someone that is really designed to evaluate the way you live.  Often tax accountants are better prepared for this then many financial advisors.  I use an amazing company call SmithFrank; they are the real deal when it comes to all financial considerations.

 

Here’s the deal.  If you know your financial requirements, you shape yourself and your relationships, and you dream about what you would do with your life and time if you were in the cubicle or on the plane again, you may find retirement, life-style entrepreneurship or a sabbatical is more easily within your reach then you thought.  These things will certainly make your life at any stage better.

 

I have had a goal on my life list for well over a decade and I am now getting a chance to pursue it.  I have wanted to create children’s books about doing what you love to do, for a career.  So maybe sabbatical is a better for term for me, but really what I am doing is just living within a new framework.  I am glad I planned for it.

 

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

 

Photo credit iStockphoto


Compassion and the HR Professional

Posted on May 7th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, Leadership, Networks, Mentors and Career. 7 comments

It happens to all of us in HR at some point in our lives.  We find ourselves caught in an awkward position at work and we ask ourselves, “What is the best response here?”

I am talking about situations where compassion is needed, but with extenuating circumstances.  You’ve encountered the scenario before.  An employee confides something deeply personal:

  • A health issue
  • A break-up
  • Bankruptcy
  • An unexpected pregnancy

She is coming to you not really as a friend, but as someone who she thinks can help her.  She wants:

  • Advice
  • A break
  • Support
  • Shelter

She doesn’t know or understand the awkward position this possibly puts you in.  The information she provides may or may not be true.  You know that:

  • Her supervisor is at his wits end because her performance is so poor
  • She was late again three times this week
  • The organization doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy culture with flexibility
  • There are impending layoffs and her employment is at risk

What are your responsibilities in this situation?  How involved should you be?  How do you protect company interests while being a human being?

Human resources practitioners are not registered psychologists or social workers.  We are not “Mother Theresa”.  For most of us, our employers do not want or expect us to be advocates for the downtrodden, but we are expected to be kind, helpful and looking for the win-win.  We do not have a magic wand.  Therefore suffice to say that there are no clear cut answers about the level of compassion we need to provide in these tough situations, only possible approaches.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. To the extent possible, help her find professional help.  Does your benefit plan offer an EAP?  Are there help lines or government services available?  Is counseling a covered benefit?  Keep abreast of the resources available to a person in need and share them freely.  Short lists are better than single resources.  Encourage her to make the call.  That way, you don’t have to give advice or get overly involved.
  2. Are there small things you can do?  Can she borrow your office for 20 minutes to get her composure or to make a private call?  Is there some small token you have that you can give to her to show her that you and the Company care?
  3. Be clear about what you can and can’t keep confidential and your channel of communication within the organization.  For most employees, the role of HR is unclear, which in many cases leads to the risk that an employee won’t come and see us out of fear or mistrust, even when it is prudent that they do so.
  4. Encourage her to be discrete about whom she confides in about the circumstances.  The workplace is full of people who are your frenemies.  Your Company has policies regarding fair treatment but you can’t control everything.   While it has become commonplace for stars to rise out of their personal meltdowns, it is more difficult for the rest of us to do so.   Also a privately-managed issue will likely result in less workplace disruption.
  5. Be clear about the conundrum created when personal information like this is shared with someone in HR.  Ask for clarity on the reasons she came to you and what she expects your involvement to be. Be clear about what you can and can’t do for her.
  6. With regards to how the personal situation impacts her job, encourage her to speak with her Supervisor and to be open to possible solutions.  Offer to open the discussion with the Supervisor if you feel there may be a risk that the Supervisor may not handle the situation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.  If it is possible, try to create clarity about the continuing performance expectations and work through strategies to address them.  Try to keep to as much of a third-party approach as possible.
  7. Get legal advice as needed.  There are a myriad of potential challenges that could present themselves if down the line she is terminated. It could be construed that you used the knowledge gained in the circumstances inappropriately with undesirable consequences.

Above all, be genuine.  The success of the outcome is in direct relation to your ability to:

  • Be compassionate
  • Think on your feet
  • Keep your head
  • See it through

Good luck!

Photo credit iStockphoto