In most instances people and situations present themselves at face value. We however ignore the signs. We see what we choose to see. Painting the scene with our biases, expectations, experiences, hopes, dreams and yes fears. After all why not, we want what we want. Our wills are strong. Why let a little thing like reality cloud our persistence? Wouldn’t it be great if people and situations came with warning labels? Narcissistic however funny, introverted nonetheless brilliant, insecure practices sarcasm to cover?
This job will offer great growth opportunity: if you are able to leap small buildings in a single bound, navigate through layers of corporate culture, and be willing to relocate to Peru.
We read the warning labels, see the signs, squint through the fine print, yet we barrel through. Our thought process; this time will be different. I will make it different. I have the magic bullet. Even more tragic, if I hang in there long enough things will change.
News Flash, they won’t.
So what is one to do? How do you learn to read the signs and see the red flashing light from the runway? Learn to be on the alert, not put on the blinders, or look the other way. Here are my tips for reading between the lines to get to fine print:
Open your eyes. Let in the sunlight. Smell the coffee. Take a look around you. Ask yourself what is really going on here? Who are you surrounded by? How do you spend your days? Nights? Weekends? Does your current career make you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Does it make you want to hit the snooze alarm? Are you truly happy? Is this the life that G-D has intended for you?
Then ask yourself the following question:
What happens when you stop hitting your head against the wall?
Answer: It stops hurting
Red Flags/Warning Detonators
What gets your goat? Makes your hair stand up on end? Are like nails on a chalk board? Are you aware of whom or what pushes your buttons? Do you have insight into whom or what installed them? What kind of people and situations make you want to pitch your tent? Conversely, which makes you want to cut and run?
These insights can be so freeing! A roadmap to your psyche. The lyrics to your personal dance of intimacy. This knowledge can be your liberator or your jailer. Either dooming you to repeat your fate, or educating you to freedom and positive choice. Foot on the pedal or foot on the brake, inevitably the road will be long. Right road or wrong? Straight road or curved? I do predict some bumps, potholes, forks and ditches. That’s when the roadmap and insights become so invaluable. Your ladder back to safer ground.
What is real and what is perceived? Your reality? Their reality? The truth?
Limiting Beliefs, Fears & Inner Critics
I’m too old to go back to school. No one is ever going to love me. I am never going to make it to the C- suite. Fill in the Blank!
Today is the day to rise up and fight back. Set up an erase and destroy mission. Slash old tapes mascarading as fears. Talk back to your Self Criticism. Knock out the Inner Critics that haunt us all. I have been introduced to a myriad of Inner Critics in my coaching practice. A menacing and meddling bunch at that. I have personally exorcised, befriended and ultimately locked my own in the closet just to publish this and subsequent blogs. I GET IT!
Truth is you are not terminally unique. We all need to fight past fears to become our authentic selves, and dare to be vulnerable.
I love the song Come As You Are. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could cut to the chase, rip off the mask, wrestle our Inner Critics, mow down the Nay Sayers, and show up as our Authentic Self right from the start? Ultimately that’s who is going to stay for the long haul. Nonetheless, we brush on the war paint, suit ourselves up, strap on the armor and hide our true identity away from the world. We fear that if people truly get to know us that they might not feel the same way.
At work they call it the Imposter Syndrome. We claim our hard earned position and rightful seat at the table only to be riddled with fear. What if our colleagues find out that we are a fraud?
It helps to remember that even superheroes have their strengths and weaknesses. That is what makes them so intriguing.
Don’t Just Listen, Hear
When I do a communication workshop I start with this quote:
“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”, Unknown
Pretty powerful stuff! Further, I impart my favorite communication tip, “Listen More, Talk Less”. If I ended my workshop here my audience would have all they need to size up any situation, not to mention ascertain the essence of any individual. G-d gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason! Truth is we get enough intel and gut feelings to size up a person and situation in the first meeting. What we do with that intuition is in question here.
Preferences, Deal Breakers & Would Be Nice
You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.
What if we took the time to identify what we did and did not want in advance? Could we get closer? Imagine if we each created a list of the things we ultimately could not live without. Our must haves. Our core values. Our essence. What makes us tick? Bingo! This can work for relationships, jobs, homes, quite frankly anything.
What are your deal breakers? They are different for us all. What compromises will be too deep? What will cause you to break not bend? What is beyond your capacity to look the other way? Keep this list close to your heart because compromise here will bite you in the back later.
My personal favorites are the would be nices! These are the bargaining chips. The icing on the cake. Here you have enough of your wants in place. You are not compromising your deal breakers away. Hoorah, you get to add a few would be nices to sweeten the pot!
Pretty cool system. One must however keep in mind that life is an evolution. This is the ultimate balancing act. We are all a work in progress. As we grow our list and the lists around us will shift as well.
So we are where we are, and we are with who we are with, now what? Set boundaries. These are the rules of engagement. A game book of what you will and will not allow. Only you know what is truly off base. What will be the final straw? Remember, what sends one person packing is different from the next. What gets one person voted off the island would not even raise an eyebrow for the next. How do you set boundaries, you ask?
This used to be nearly impossible for me, but with practice it can be achieved. In the beginning it was like a scary game of tag, only the stakes were much higher. I would run in, say my piece, close my eyes, hold my breath, hope the world would not crumble around me, and then run out! I would say, “This is how it is. This is how it is going to be. This is how I am going to show up. This is what I am willing to accept. Either you are going to accept me and this, or not. No one is going to die. (I cannot take credit for the last line!)
In the beginning setting boundaries did feel like death; nevertheless, no one died. Some people accepted my boundaries, some people did not. Some people stayed some people went. EVERYONE respected me more.
One of my favorite songs as a teenager was Should I Stay Or Should I Go. It should have been, Time Is On Your Side. Now, I no longer look at life in absolutes. People and situations as good or bad. Right or wrong. Perfect or flawed. (I look at life from Both Sides Now.) I have given myself the gift of imperfection, and I allow others and situations the same courtesy.
My coach gave me the greatest gift, the concept of And. Sometimes we are just not ready to pull the trigger. We might not have all the facts. The bandwidth, strength and gumption. The means to make a truly educated decision. If that is the case you just may need to live in a grey area for a bit longer. All of the pieces will fall into place, eventually.
It is helpful to remember that choices do not always boil down to Either, Or, sometimes life offers you a third choice, the And. A middle ground, a time out, an experimental period, a compromise. It is important to consider what appears life shattering now, might not be all consuming six months down the line.
Compromise, not Cave
There is compromise and there is being taken advantage of. Some folks have a higher pain threshold than others. Many give more than they get. I know this first hand for I am one of them.
One of my core values is to be “of service”. I was taught by my father at a very early age to give of myself, be charitable and not really worry if it is reciprocated. You will get your gifts later.
He could not have been more correct. I have lived my life by this rule. Volunteering and mentoring. Leading my organization emphasizing service and personal growth. Supporting, nurturing and caring for my family and inner circle beyond measure. I now have my clients to add to the queue.
I love to give. I know I am appreciated. Anyone taking advantage, well, that’s on them. My gift is seeing people happy, growing and moving in a positive direction. That’s why I love what I do.
My New Year’s resolution was to make Conscious Connections.
I am a connector at heart and the consummate Networker. THIS IS GOOD THING! Yet here we are talking about connecting at a deeper level. Conscious Connections are the holy grail of connection. They are about trusting our gut instincts to find our Tribe.
Here we put on our mining hats and tunnel past the red flags. We dig deep, and dare to be vulnerable. We get naked, remove our armor, and peel back the layers of our soul. We will finally find the perfect home. Safely we can unpack our steamer trunks, yet they will dare to stay. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. I will pick you up when you fall. You will do the same. I will not care who you are, where you come from or what you do. Nor will you. Time will stand still when we speak and are together. Laughter will come in waves and tears can flow freely.
When you find this rare breed dear reader, rejoice. Nurture, fight for and handle with care. For as hard as they are to seek, is as easy as they are to squander.
Rocking Chair Test
My niece was taught in kindergarten, “You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset”. I think that is utter nonsense and that teacher should be fired! We all have control of our destiny.
We have the free will to choose the people and situations that appear in our lives. Conversely, we have the power to leave the ones that no longer serve us. So what is the litmus test for sorting fact from fiction? Will from reality? Opportunity from Illusion? I use the Rocking Chair Test.
I imagine myself at the end of my days. None of the day to day nonsense created through work, relationships, and difficult choices will matter any longer. As I sit in my Rocking Chair all I will have are days stretched out in front of me. Time will be like a warm blanket safely covering me, so I can slowly and carefully contemplate my life’s choices. I will ask myself; do I want you next to me? Will we have brought each other happiness? Have we become better people having knowing each other? Will this situation have a positive impact on me? Did it add meaning to my life and the lives around me? How did it serve? Did it make the world a better place?
Your answers to these questions are The Truth in Advertising and The Fine Print all wrapped up in one.
Think hard my friend, consider carefully, and then carry on.
About the Author: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture. Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.
Welcome to another edition of
The Funny Side of HR from the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age
It is nothing short of amazing how the business of human resources has changed overall during the last 25 years. And…certainly, if we look back at the job search and interview process 30+ years ago, there is less and less recognition of the art as we know it today. (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age, so I can discuss this aspect quite thoroughly). Both the job search and interview process has changed for the HR professional as well as for the candidate.
As I mentioned in my introductory piece last month, HR has its hand in a myriad of responsibilities and understanding the job search process from the candidate’s perspective is a key element in the attainment of the ideal candidate. Given the amount of time it takes to conduct a candidate search, however, many organizations utilize agencies to expedite the process.
Today, I am going to do a backstory and take a look at the job search and interview process through the eyes and actions of a candidate seeking a job in years gone by. This is almost cathartic for me since I have had many experiences job searching. I will use the pronoun “you” to refer to all of us because we all have been in the job search marketplace at one time or another.
So…..walk down memory lane with me…
[Picture a blurred dreamy screen…Yes, I am also budding film producer!]
It is the 1980’s, back in a time when you could work your way up the corporate ladder and in essence, were expected to do so. Many of us started somewhere near the bottom and made it to the top or very near the top. (If only our boss would have left, we could have made it to the top!) Anyway, some of us made our way via education, certification, preparation, dedication, determination, innovation, recommendation, motivation and perspiration. Some others made it by perpetration, falsification, association, relation, expiration, degradation and quite possibly, incantation. However you made it, the force was with you, so congratulations are in order!
In any case, at the beginning, you found yourself in a situation to seek employment. What kind of job? Let’s see. You have some experience and some education in your field of choice. Most importantly, though you can type and know how to use a word processor, IBM computer. You can type 60 words a minute. (Actually you can type 70 words a minute…but unfortunately, only 60 words are correct). You know how to use the arduous “cut and paste” and “find and replace” options. You do not get a headache by looking at the word processor screen that has a dark green background with day-glow green print. You know how to operate a fax machine and use a calculator. You have the basics locked and sealed!
Now…let’s get started. First things first. Living in the Northeast and looking for work in New York, no job search could be launched without getting the job seekers bible…The New York Times. How could you possibly be serious about any job search effort without thoroughly, eye glazingly (not sure glazingly is a word…but it IS the word needed here!) reading the opportunities listed in the one and only New York Times. You had to make sure that through hell or high water, you were able to get your copy of the Times. This was so important that many people left their warm beds in the middle of the night, pajamas under raincoat, on Saturday evening, to make it down to the corner store to get their copy before it sold out. Some stores would (somehow) just sell the Classifieds section so that you would not have to lug the entire 3 lb. Times when you only needed or wanted that part of the huge paper. You still paid for it, but a reduced price.
Whew! You got your copy! Now to the Classifieds Section. All you see are job advertisements from agencies, agencies and more agencies. You circle the jobs most in line with your skills and qualifications. Most of the jobs listed give short, fragmented descriptions, so it is difficult to determine whether you meet the qualifications or not. You circle them anyway. Some are listed with contact numbers, but when you call, you are not provided any additional information, just told to come in. “We don’t take appointments. Just come in between 9 and 5 and bring several copies of your resume” was the mantra.
Resume! Ok…you have a few copies printed on nice, expensive paper. You prefer not to waste providing an agency with a resume printed on expensive paper. But…alas…you may never get to the company interview if you don’t show a well written, professional resume and providing a copy on expensive looking paper may give you a minor edge. You check to make sure there are no errors. If there are, you have to retype the resume from scratch and take it to a printing company to make copies (unless you have a word processor and printer at home). But…thanks to the resume gods, your resume looks good.
Ok….back to preparation. Now…what to wear. There are only a few acceptable choices. A dark skirt suit (navy, black, brown, gray), a white or light colored shirt, low heeled shoes and flesh tone stockings. Low heeled shoes were key because you never knew how far you would have to walk to get from agency to agency. Accessories could be a string of pearls, a pin or a bow. Simple, clean, professional. We followed the Dress for Success rules to a tee. One of the old adages routinely applied was, “don’t dress for the job you have (or in this case, going for), dress for the job you want”.
Finally, you have to decide the route to take. (I am only going to speak from the perspective of seeking jobs in New York City and the subway, since that is where my experience is founded). Most of the agencies were located near the 40th midtown street location….although there were also numerous agencies in the Wall Street area. Since you needed to keep your travel expenses to a minimum (in the 80’s, there were no metro ride all day for one low price cards), you made a list of the agencies in the same general vicinity knowing that you would, if lucky, only be able to get to two…maybe three agencies in one day. Why? Because you would have to wait…and wait and wait to be interviewed, especially on the Mondays and Tuesdays after the Sunday classifieds were published. I recall walking into a “just come in” agency and seeing tens and tens of people just waiting. Once you were called to move from the waiting room into the main room…you thought you were finally going to see someone to discuss the job…but no! You were led to a room to take endless tests. Typing, computer, spelling, math, calculator, etc. Take a test…then wait…take another test…then wait. Hour after hour. At long last, some kind soul would call your name and usher you into the kingdom….the place where you would finally be interviewed for the job you circled. You feel as if you had won the lottery! It’s my turn! Off to see the agency rep.
The agency representative, let’s call her Ms. Smith (very original, I know). Ms. Smith scans your resume and reviews the mountain of tests you took earlier. She asks about your experience and you regurgitate the speech you so diligently prepared. Ms. Smith tells you about the position, but says that the agency has sent several candidates to the company already and waiting for a call back from them (the company). Ms. Smith thanks you for coming and says, she will be in touch. The entire interview took less than 5 good minutes. Be in touch?? After several hours, you are told, “will be in touch” and given a polite good bye handshake??? At that point, YOU want to reach out and “touch” someone yourself!
Ready, set, go….. on to the next agency. Never discouraged, you trot off to the next agency in your low heeled shoes with your New York Times circled classified section under your arm and your expensive resumes in your briefcase instilled with the confidence that you will eventually find a job.
Next month….Interview – Part 2: How technology and social norms have changed the job search and interview process for the candidate.
About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management. With over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training. She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.
How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?
As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?
I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:
- The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
- First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
- Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
- Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
- Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
- Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
- Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!! Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
- Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.
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? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.
The world is moving at a very fast pace. What are you doing to keep in step?
Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?
Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest? What will you do with the next chapter of your life?
It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace. People, vocations, and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection. No wonder “Transition” and “Change Management” have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.
How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?
I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan. Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn it around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.
Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions? Would you go back to school without properly researching the program? Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?
Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?
I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success. I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion. I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion. I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed “that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise.” It never dawned on them that no one else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.
We can all learn from this lesson. Don’t wait for the fork in the road to form a new path. Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path. Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life. We all deserve to be happy and on purpose. Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.
Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B.
Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances. Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?
Keep up with the Joneses
How current are your skill sets? Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.
Ready, Set, Learn!
Knowledge has never been easier to acquire. If you don’t know something, Google it. Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia. There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts, and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home! No excuse, stay relevant!
Expand your circle
Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can’t stand it one more minute, Network some more.
Acquire a Personal Board
Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your life line back. They will keep you on track, honest, and moving in the right direction. They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one.
Volunteer: Give and Learn
Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times. Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.
Take a break
I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change. Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.
Change is risky business. Going back to school is scary. Learning new technology is overwhelming. Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses. You know the old adage, no risk no reward.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset. Think of trying new things as an adventure. You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through networking. What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me, I was terrified!
Get comfortable with discomfort
My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible. I mean anything! We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work. I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit. It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up. One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge. I am ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential. I recommend you do the same.
About the Author: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture. Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.
I’ve been on vacation in Myrtle Beach over the past week soaking up some sun and unwinding from the daily grind. I wrote this post after my vacation here last August and wanted to bring it back out as it remains just as relevant, if not even more so than a year ago. The past year has been another that came with changes, challenges, opportunities, and the unexpected… and this vacation has been another week of reflection, perspective, and seeking clarity, though this year a little more on a personal level than usual. Time passes, things change, but the message stays the same. Enjoy!
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It seems rather obvious, yet year after year, many people feel compelled to greet the start of a new year with grand ideas about losing weight, travelling more, catching up on their reading or spending more time with their loved ones.
I read this the other day and it begs sharing here :
“Most people like the idea of being exceptional, but not enough to do what it takes to get there… everybody says they want to be slim, healthy, attractive, and rich, but few people are willing to do what it takes to attain those things, which suggests they don’t really want those things as much as they say or think.
Paul Arden, former creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, sums this up nicely by explaining that typically when we say we “want” something, we actually just mean we want to have it, but with no implicit assumption that we’re willing to do any work to get there. In reality, wanting something should equate with being prepared to take the necessary steps to achieve it. If you are serious about your goals, then you will do whatever it takes to attain them; your confidence is secondary. What matters is the desire you have to attempt to achieve your goals.”
– Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London and author of the outstanding book “Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Doubt
I agree that it is about how strongly we desire something. Oftentimes, it seems easier to just say that we want that something. You could look at a given situation, and realise that person has been very clear about her desires thus far and yet, failed to achieve them. It would be easy to conclude that their desire was simply not strong enough.
The problem with such analysis, though, is that it’s based on what is perceived, on what is on the outside. We see the successful tennis champion and their runaway success but we don’t see behind the scenes – their struggles, their passion and what they do on a daily basis.
What do you do with the person with real desire, who keeps failing yet keeps trying over and over? What do you make of that person, from the outside looking in?
While it is important, and I cannot stress this enough, to be clear about what we desire and to be relentless about it, I think there are two other critical aspects we need to consider if we are to make our desires real.
The first is that any desire or goal needs to be backed by a plan. I know firsthand, how easily your desires crumble by the wayside when there is no plan in place. A plan is simply a framework for how you will achieve what you so desire. The mere intent is simply not enough, you need to do. But thoughtless, rudder-less action is not the way to go. Your plan need not be cumbersome or overly complex – all you need to be clear about is a direction and a method for achieving what you seek.
Where applicable, I base my plans on the Five Ws and One H, or the Six Ws. I need a clear guide as to who this is for, what that involves, when I plan to start and when I expect to finish, in what areas this will apply and importantly, how I will put all of this together. If you wanted to take this a step further, a SWOT analysis would also be useful.
Granted, this may seem to make the whole exercise a tad theoretical and arduous. But if you go through the motions here, you will achieve clarity about what you’re doing and strengthen (or otherwise) your resolve for doing so. Either way, you know where you really stand.
If you decide that :
- the idea is not worth the time and effort to do so;
- it’s a lot of work, perhaps a tad unnecessary; or
- you’ll get to it later
then, the idea just remains an idea. It stays in your mind, cluttered with the other big picture goals or ideas you have, and it runs alongside the daily stream of to-do lists, emails, pings and emotional weather you sustain. Over time, the idea loses focus and it becomes a hazy option, one that will slowly but surely fade into the recesses only to resurface at the start of another year.
And the second thing you need to do is, quite simply, to act. Yes, you start with an idea, you back it up with a plan but things only start moving, when you do. There’s only so much you can understand and absorb on a theoretical level. There’s only so many days and weeks you can delay the onset of action while you prepare to ramp up before you begin to lose the momentum so needed to get started on your journey.
When you put all this together – an idea, the desire, a plan and action – you have a powerful combination of factors that can help you get closer to what you want. In isolation, each serves some purpose but lacks the strong foundation, if you will, to make progress.
I can’t help but agree with the powerful words of Seth Godin, who is a huge proponent of getting things done and of taking action:
“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.”
When you make the conscious decision to do what it is that you need to do, you wait for no one to tell you the things you need to hear. You don’t let the failures get in the way of your journey. You just keep moving, getting stronger, getting more focused, getting more traction.
So, why not take that next step you know you should be taking? Why not make that idea more real, to yourself, by embracing that desire, crafting a plan and just going for it? You will be glad you did.
Abou 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.
Simply, you start at the top and you go from there. One word at a time, which then forms a sentence, which then forms a paragraph and before you know it, a whole page indeed.
What has this got to do with you and HR? A lot.
Consider this. You do have a blank page.
There’s the corporate vision of your company that you have been made aware of. There are the goals and aspirations of your team, whether they have made that known to the other teams, or kept it quiet. There’s the individual goals and dreams of each one of your colleagues, both your downliners and your leaders. And there’s you.
And you can start by being guided by everything that is out there.
But it would be so much better …
… for you to start, with what is within you;
… for you to not draw within the lines but to create the outline yourself first;
… to start with your vision and see how you can meld that with the vision of the organisation you are with;
… for you to start with what matters to you.
Because the truth is that what matters to you, does matter. And no one can tell you otherwise. They simply cannot push and prod and try to create visions, frameworks and models of how things should be, without it crashing into your own ideas of what these visions, frameworks and models should be.
So, to start with your own is to establish where you come from and to where you must go.
And how do you start?
Start with a dream. Start with an empty page on which you carefully lay your dream. Start with an unfettered dream as dreams that are shackled by limitations, placed by you or anyone else, simply will not do.
Let yourself wander around, go beyond and explore.
Consider what possibilities might be… and see what might happen as a result.
You are here to lead, you are here to inspire, you are also here to heal, to mend, to make anew.
To do so, you need to have the capacity to see things from a new perspective and to see possibilities where others see none.
To do so, you need vision and hope, you need a plan and you need to execute. No one said it would be easy. But easy is not the point, is it?
So, if you’re at the beginning, it’s exciting, hopeful and risky all in one.
And if you are in the middle, there’s always a chance to start at the beginning again. You need only think of the possibilities to make that happen.
How can a blank page scare you? How can a new job, new opportunities scare you? In so far as you see the limits and challenges far more than the possibilities of what may be.
So, what are you starting now? Where will you go from here?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As many companies and individuals face possible obsolescence or at a minimum becoming stale in their service offerings, their approach to their market, or perhaps in their own passions for how they are contributing, the concept of ‘reinvention’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Though this concept is certainly not new, this term has become a mainstay in our present vocabulary. Blame it on the Baby Boomers, who are seeking career longevity amidst the onslaught of the millennials and the ‘Gen X and Y’ populations. Regardless of the catalyst, reframing ourselves and our offerings – or perhaps just reframing the way we look at our companies and our own personal careers, has always been the key to survival.
Over the years, I have watched many mediocre business professionals carve out very successful careers by their ability to parlay their approach into attractive and ultimately lucrative options. No, these individuals are not the smartest nor the most successful in their prior roles, yet they honed the knack of marketing themselves. They have mastered the ability to show (and in most cases virtually create from nothing) a multi-faceted face – both in ‘real life’ and via social media – which puts forth the image they wish to create. Today’s social media enables these ambitious ones to paint the picture they wish to paint, associate with those they wish to align themselves online (primarily for the purpose of self-promotion), and to show only the sides they wish to show. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Of course, as my father has always taught me: “If you see it, everyone else probably sees it, too”. Thus, these social media mirages are indeed, just that. So, if one does want to ‘change the frame’ on their careers – and do so authentically and anchored in reality versus ‘social media hype’ – how does a person get started? If a person wants to ‘reinvent’ their focus areas for contribution, or perhaps even their lives – how do they this?!
As mentioned before, it is not luck (in which I am personally not a believer) or plain smarts or even hard work that most commonly leads to uber success (success, by the way, as defined by the individual). Ultimately I believe it is our intentions fed by our energy – consistently and genuinely – which will lead to our success. So, what are a few initial steps we can take to harness our intentions and ‘change our frame’ as we build our ‘second or third acts’?
1. Know where you are today AND determine where you want to go NEXT.
While working with Dr. Noel Tichy over the past few decades in our transformational leadership work, we utilize a process which undoubtedly is one of the most impactful exercises for organizations to experience. It is the process of discerning ‘Our current state’ (facing the harsh reality of where we find ourselves today) and then, defining and projecting ‘Our desired state’, which is where we ultimately want to go. We can use this process for individuals just as we do for companies and organizations. The objective is to look in the mirror and determine – are we doing what we REALLY want to do? Are we good at what we are doing? Are we aligned as individuals, or if we are part of a team – is the team aligned around where we want to go? If not – that is the first awakening. We must determine where we are AND where we want to go.
One last and critical note on this – the ‘where I want to go’ does not have to be the FINAL destination. So many times, we think and think AND think…..which leads to ‘analysis paralyses’!! Nothing in this world is permanent; so your next step will probably not be your ‘last step’. Make the move. Forward momentum is how we determine if the direction is the ultimate ‘right’ direction!
2. Parlay your Gifts into the Market
This can be a tough step. Just because you love what you do AND you are good at it does NOT mean that anyone will want to buy it! What NEED are you filling? What is it that YOU offer that makes you different? Who are your potential clients….or hiring audiences? Learning how to take what we ‘do’ and apply it to a void in the market is a critical success factor. AND, remember, what folks wanted to buy 5 years ago is not what they will want to buy today….unless it has been modified for the market.
3. Creativity coupled with Agility is Key
We have to hone the ability to ‘think outside and inside the box’. It is hard to do this in solitary confinement! So – we need to build our posse of partners to help us. Retired executives, leadership coaches, prior professors, supportive customers, and even competitive business colleagues. Each will have a perspective or insights to offer. We have to be willing to ask for help – and to hear the brutal, honest truth. Does the market value what I bring? Is my approach outdated? Do my clients want more – or different – services from me? What do I NOT know – that I need to know – to truly thrive and survive in the market today? We have to be open to the answers….as hearing them and then ignoring them – does nothing! We need to hear (and listen) to the market and then be creative and AGILE in how we meet them where they are.
4. Build a game plan and be FOCUSED.
Every business has a game plan (and if they don’t – they will not be around for long!). Every one of us, for our careers, needs a game plan, too. Sure – it will change – yet, to not have any sense of where we want to go and HOW we are going to get there – results in mere folly. We need to lay out specific steps on how we are going to accomplish specific goals. Too many times, we become insular in our focus – meaning that we focus on stuff that will not REALLY move the dial. We need to determine where we want to go, what we want to contribute and THEN determine how we are going to get there. Then, become ruthlessly focused on these steps…..the other stuff is just noise.
5. Hang tight.
This is easy to say; yet, this is where the weak are separated from the strong. We have to exercise our muscles so that we do not give up too easily. As any company, organization, or individual introduces new approaches, new products and services, or a ‘new face’ to their markets and constituents – immediate acceptance and ‘manna from Heaven’ is not guaranteed.
There is always going to be a phase of education to the market; then a phase of ‘differentiation and selling’ and then – if we are diligent – we will secure our first proving ground. This may be a new job in our new field or a new customer for our new service offering or a product extension in an existing market. Yet, what I know for sure is that it will probably NOT come about instantly AND it will not happen without sweat equity. Yet, when we do ‘win’, our expended effort just makes our success that much sweeter.
My final thoughts are: we need to stop comparing this new chapter with the old chapter – good or bad. There is no comparison, thankfully. We (and the organizations for which we work) are a compilation of all our experiences, and this new chapter will be a completely new life in many ways. That concept can be quite liberating when we allow ourselves to embrace it. We need to simply embrace progress not perfection. Keep the forward momentum. Stay open. Be receptive to even what may appear to be an opportunity which is out of your wheel house. If you are attracted to it, explore what about the role turns you on. There is a reason – of this I am certain. Our intuition and inner voice does not lie. Ever. So listen to it. AND remember that nothing is permanent.
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.