Tag: professional development

Disciplined Work, Lifelong Learning and Tikkun Olam {HR Leader Series}

Posted on August 24th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice, Leadership, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR contributor Rowena Morais will be writing a series of posts over the coming months featuring successful HR leaders who talk about the habits made the biggest impact in their professional lives.  Today’s post is the first in that series.

 

Self-described kibitzer on all things enterprise HRM and HR technology, Naomi Bloom is well-known for having built the only vendor-neutral HRM domain model and application architecture “starter kits”. Her IP has been licensed across the industry from 1995 through 2013 and has been considered a primary contributor to many of today’s best practices in HRM enterprise software.  Her early start was as a Programmer at John Hancock Life Insurance in the 1960’s where she was trained in programming, software design and systems analysis.

I got in touch with Naomi to talk about the habits that led to her success because the research I had done indicated that she was renowned in the HR technology industry. With more than 17,000 Twitter followers, Naomi is a frequent speaker at HR conferences and the author of Human Resource Management and Information Technology : Achieving a Strategic Partnership.  Her industry contributions have been recognised with the IHRIM’s Summit Award and in 2011, and Naomi became a Fellow of  the Human Resource Policy Institute at Boston University.  Naomi’s BA is from the University of Pennsylvania, with a major in English Literature and a minor in natural science.  Her MBA is from Boston University.

In discussing the most powerful habits that Naomi has relied on, in running her solo practice over the last two decades, it was clear that the experience of her early years was impactful. She found the questions on habits particularly useful because it is important to see the distinction between habits and KSAOCs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and other Characteristics) – they are not the same thing.

 

Habit #1 – Disciplined work

The first habit Naomi drew reference to was her habit of disciplined work.

Her mother passed away when Naomi was young. However, she was surrounded by three generations of family and her grandmother proved to be a big influence on her.

“This early life taught me about the value of hard work, living up to commitments and about sticking to a schedule. I am smart but I’m not a genius. If you add good work habits to your normal habits though, this becomes a force magnifier,” she shared.

 

Habit #2 – Critical thinking  and lifelong learning

 This second habit is an interesting one for the fact that it’s a two part combo. It’s a challenge in itself to develop the mastery associated with thinking critically, let alone the dedication or quest for lifelong learning.

As Naomi puts it, “Lifelong learning is really about a commitment to always be vesting yourself in your skills and your knowledge.”

To never stop learning is a skill that may take a lifetime to develop and certainly, one that needs to be worked on with dedication, ambition and relentless energy.

Combined, this would mean being on the lookout to gain alternative points of view and  teaching yourself all kinds of new things. But where it all comes together is when you apply critical thinking to that whole process.

 

Habit #3 – Tikkun Olam

 Tikkum Olam is a Jewish concept which literally means “repair of the world” and is being interpreted by modern movements in Judaism as a commandment for people to behave and act constructively and beneficially.

Naomi explained it as representing a moral obligation, in every Jew, to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Overwhelming as it sounds, this may be achievable by ordinary folk because you are expected to do what you can.  You can do this by raising your child properly, by embarking on a recycling initiative or even doing volunteer work.  It would mean that if you had a dollar, you would give part of it away. If you could teach, you would devote some of your time to teaching someone else.

 

These were the three primary habits that Naomi referred to.

 

Were these habits consciously developed from when she was young?  She did not think so. Naomi was greatly influenced by the adults around her as she grew. Her father was an early riser – he worked hard and for long hours which meant Naomi did not get to see very much of him. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother, who being religious, imparted strong values  in her.

 It did not mean, however, that everything she was taught, was accepted so easily. There were things Naomi resisted.

For example, coming from a modest family, Naomi grew up at a time when there was a lot of anti-semitism in the air – you learned not to call too much attention to yourself.

Yet, Naomi couldn’t help crying out against the injustices she saw. As she put it, “I didn’t know it when I was a young kid but I realised in my late 20’s that I was a feminist from my earliest days. I rallied against the discrimination I saw; I just called it out”.

She almost got fired for asking too many questions, when early in her career, she discovered that men received more pay for the same work. She protested the Vietnam war, much to the chagrin of her family.  But the point Naomi made about all of this is that you are in charge of and responsible for your own life.

You get to a point in your life when you realise that you cannot blame your parents for where you are in life. You get to a point where you begin to accomplish things and – happily – you give yourself credit for that.

The habits you choose however – because it is a choice – are what will set you apart. And while Naomi considers herself fortunate for having picked up some really good habits along the way, you and I both know, these were choices she made for herself that have led her to where she is today.

What habits do you aspire to build that you believe will make the difference in your life?

 

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Connect with Naomi Bloom on LinkedIn or Twitter

Read Naomi’s blog, In Full Bloom in particular, Reflections on a Long Career – a four part series of posts.

 

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.

 


I Need To Hire An HR Manager – Get Me Anyone!

Posted on July 5th, by Jacqueline Clay in The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Hi, it’s an HR Woman of a Certain Age again giving you my perspective on issues relating to the HR profession, with a tinge of humor.

 

Over the years, HR has changed for the better in some aspects and stayed the same in others.  There are so many areas that as an HR professional with over 20 years (actually 30…but who’s counting), in the business, I have seen experienced, expertise-laden, Human Resources leaders gain stronger credibility, professional strength and organizational influence. Many of us are seen as impactful, strategic business partners who are critical to the executive management of the organization as a whole.  However, this is not routinely the case and as such, I have a bone to pick.  Yes, I found a bone with quite a bit of meat on it that requires picking.

 

Let me start the “pick” by saying that HR Management is a PROFESSION.  It is not  something that is just done.  It is on the same caliber as other professionals who have undergone specialized training and gained experience in their fields of choice.  We have our own societies, professional groups and certifications that help keep us engaged, entwined, enlightened, envisioned and enveloped in the many facets of the field.  As professionals, we trudge through the labyrinths of the organizational halls providing the expertise necessary to carry out the business of human resources management in a manner that adds value, legitimacy and strategic acumen to the entire organization. We are able to do this because we have gained the education, training, experience and specialized knowledge required for our profession.  We didn’t just fall off the HR truck (similar to idiom “falling off turnip truck”) and begin our practice.

 

My question then becomes, why do companies feel that we are interchangeable with other professions or just general people lacking any knowledge or experience in the profession?   Would a company hire an accountant to handle their legal work?  What about a marketer to head up the legal department?  Would a company put someone who has no experience in business at all as their CEO?  No.  However, many companies feel it is fair, just and okay to put anyone who can barely conduct an interview as the leader of the Human Resources Department.

 

In my experience (vast as it has become), I have encountered situations where the head of human resources was someone who had no….count it….no experience, training or education in the field.  Not only did they lack the prerequisite knowledge of regulatory requirements or best practices in people management, they had no expertise in basic HR acumen.  However, this individual was given the power to conduct critical interviews, handle employee relations issues, develop organizational policy, engage in conflict management matters, etc.   Yes, it was horribly, haphazardly and in many instances that I witnessed (or was intimately involved in), illegally carried out.

 

Unfortunately, some (hopefully not many organizations) consider HR as a “throwaway” part of the business and anyone with a smile, the employee handbook and willingness to do the job is considered fit to handle the intricate, delicate and legally sensitive business of running their human resources department.   Organizations such as this are therefore, in many instances, infected with litigation and poor morale and riddled with distrust of management and employee lack of respect for the organization as a whole. The business leaders then scratch their cumulative heads in wonder.  Why is this happening to us?  I say, check out who you have running your HR Department and what role you allow them to play in the people management of the organization as a whole.  Do they have prior experience as a strong HR leader?   Are they fair, just and objective?  Do you allow them to be?  Do they have the expertise necessary to be a strategic partner that can offer insight in people management areas of potential organizational liability and exposure?  Can they provide you current best practice options?  Do they even know what “best practices” are?  Most importantly, do you provide them the opportunity to express and implement “best practices”, i.e., are they an integral part of your executive management team?

 

Business leaders, do not fool yourselves.  HR is a profession just like accounting, marketing, legal, etc.  If you want HR….get a true HR professional and not a poor facsimile.

 

Note:  no names were mentioned to protect the guilty!

 

 

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.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 


When to Say “No”

Posted on June 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or whether you’re well into it, it’s important to take on new opportunities. Joining a task force, working on a cross-departmental project, taking on a group presentation to a new client . . . things like that give you a chance to find out what you like and what you’re good at. Taking on such projects tests your will and your fortitude, especially those projects that are likely to stretch beyond the usual forty- or fifty-hour workweek.

The key is to take on projects that you know you can complete. You need to feel confident that you can deliver. You don’t want to be the one who volunteers and then doesn’t carry her own weight. Whatever you take on, you have to follow through. You have to push yourself to do it, even if it means you might have to sacrifice your personal time as your work week extends to seventy or eighty hours for a certain period of time. The last thing you want is to sign up for an extra project and then be the one who always leaves early or never shows up. You don’t want to be the one who makes a lot of promises but never delivers. You don’t want to be that person.

Opportunities and risk go hand in hand, and saying “yes” to opportunity means you’re taking on some risk. Saying “no” also can be risky, even when it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of volunteering for extra work. Your boss volunteers you instead, saddling you with a project or a presentation that you have little time for. Some of these projects might not be to your liking, or they might not provide you with the kind of visibility that will put you in line for a promotion. Sometimes you just know that there’s no way you can take on another project and give it your all.

So what do you do when you know the right thing is to say “no”?

The key here is to decline politely without actually saying “no.” One way to do this is to say something like, “This sounds like a great project, and I’d be happy to help. I’m working on Project X, Y, and Z right now, and so I could take this on early next month. Would that work for you?” or something like, “I’d love to work on this. Do you see this as a priority over Project A, which is due at the end of the week?” Responses like this let your boss know that you’re both enthusiastic and willing while at the same time prompting him to consider your workload and how much time you could reasonably dedicate to the project and still get the job done.

Saying “no” can be uncomfortable, but it’s often necessary. Only you know how much you can really handle. While you don’t want to be afraid to push yourself, it’s important to know when to say enough is enough—just so long as you say it in a way that keeps your good reputation intact.

About the Author: Jena Abernathy is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence, and organizational development. A sought-after speaker, she is a passionate advocate for women in executive and governing board roles. She has written for and been featured in a wide variety of media, including CNN, the Financial Times, CBS Money Watch, FOX Business, and the Miami Herald.  You can connect with Jena on Twitter or at www.jenaabernathy.com.


Finding Your Breakthrough Moments #SHRM16

Posted on June 7th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more updates and coverage from the show.

 

When I think back over the course of my HR career thus far (now nearly two decades long….yikes! When did that happen?), I can say with certainty that there were distinct moments in time that helped to define and shape the course of my career.  These times may not have been “moments” in the context of minutes, hours, and days, but they were moments in time in the context of transformational periods – some more finite in nature, and some that were a bit more of a slower evolution.  But regardless of the manner in which they happened, the outcome was the same…they provided a crossroads where afterwards my career trajectory changed in a fundamental and noticeable way.

 

Read the full post on the SHRM Blog.


Getting What You Want In the Workplace

Posted on November 19th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Recently, I gave a talk to the Association for Women in Communications in Springfield Illinois (aka AWC Springfield) called Getting What You Want in the Workplace.  Since we focus on women in HR on this blog, I thought it was fitting to share what I discussed here as well, especially since I mention this site during my talk:

 

So let’s talk about today’s topic which is getting what you want in the workplace. Seeing as this is a women’s program, we will talk about it from a woman’s perspective and getting what you want as a woman. In a blog I wrote for Women of HR, I have talked about the first ten years and The Perfect 10, which was the last ten years of my then-20-year HR career. I loved having the flexibility of being able to be a mom and be a professional at the same time. I talk about credibility in the workplace and bereavement leave. Most recently, a drunk driver killed my brother and I shared what it is like for employees to take bereavement leave. It is really not flexible in most cases.

Let’s start with a true workplace story: How many of you have been engaged? How many remember the details of that day? When I was engaged, I was very excited as most would be, but when I got to work I was asked to take off my engagement ring and not wear it for 6 months! Luckily, I didn’t get married sooner than the 6 months as I had already planned to have a one-year engagement so that my husband and I could pay for the wedding.

How would you have felt if you were asked to take of your ring and not tell anyone else in the company you were engaged? I felt terrible. I did write a blog post, called Bride To Be = Discouraged Employee, about this incident. This experience brings me to my first piece of advice – DO NOT LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. In today’s environment, the Internet, which was not available when I first started my career, makes it possible for an individual employee to understand his or her rights within an organization. That incident would not go over well in today’s workplace. I would say stand up for what you want. If you don’t understand your options, what your rights are, look them up. There is no excuse for not knowing as you each have unlimited resources.

My second piece of advice came from the same manager that told me not to wear the ring. She was trying to look out for me and she did not want me to suffer as she had with male challenges in the work place. What she did do was give me a lot of advice. One thing I have lived my career by is to TOOT YOUR OWN HORN because no one else will. If you do well in something, make sure people know about that. If you have been honored in an organization that perhaps does not have to do with the business but is still an honor, make sure your manager finds that out. SHRM actually recognizes volunteerism and will send letters to your boss on your behalf, which toots your horn for you. Make sure you’re tooting your horn and look into those opportunities. Don’t think of it as a selfish, stuck up, or snobby kind of thing to do. It isn’t. It is the way to get ahead. Men do it. Maybe in a different way, but they do it. Maybe over beer or on the golf course. They do it for each other as well. They do not necessarily promote women like they should as much as they do each other. Women don’t promote women like men promote each other either.  How many women would look to another woman to promote her? None, women are competing against each other so they are not promoting each other’s efforts. Sadly this is the truth in my humble opinion.  I often ask myself, why is that?

My third piece of advice is ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. If you want a promotion or a raise, ask for it. I’ve had to that a few times in my career. It doesn’t always come easily and it is sometimes challenging to ask. Most recently, I was honored by a call to interview for a high level political HR position that I did not seek out. The call was based on reputation and the recommendation of others. Although, I didn’t fully consider the position due to a variety of reasons, I did use the situation to my advantage.  Since they called me, I let my boss know I was interviewing.  It was a toot your own horn opportunity at the very least as it was an honor and reflection on the university as well as my own career achievements.  Once I discovered what they pay level would be, I did take it to my boss and asked for a raise. I have used it a couple other times as well. Not just that I had a competitive offer but just simply asking for a raise that I felt I deserved. Back to the Internet resources, you can go on salary.com, Indeed, Monster, etc. and do salary surveys free of charge. You can compare jobs and focus your search criteria to specific demographics. You can go to the Department of Labor to look up salaries as well. It is important that before you go to your manager and ask for a raise, you conduct a comparison, do your homework and be prepared with answers to justify your request. You also must understand that despite the fact that you are asking, you may denied. Prepare for that and understand that there is a budget and a profit to be made. If there isn’t a profit, and you’re in a for-profit organization, it may not be possible to offer a raise; but, at least you’ve tried and you’ve asked.

Another topic related to pay is the idea that 10-20 years ago, it was not kosher to talk about salaries. Nowadays, people will talk about wages all the time and there is absolutely nothing an employer can do about it because of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB) current administration. There have been many cases that have been turned around on the employer where they have tried to keep the information quiet and an individual fought it. If any two or more people are talking about a workplace issue, this is what is considered a concerted effort. This used to be only with unionized organizations. But now if you go online or onto social media you will see a big campaign called Fight For Fifteen. This started in Chicago after retailers on Michigan Avenue declared they would walk out on Black Friday if their wages were not increased to $15 per hour. Now multiple organizations and people around the country are on board with this initiative. They are using social media to spread the word and becoming a concerted community with the same fight/request/desire to promote a change. Talk about it. You will not get in trouble. If they do, retaliation laws do exist. If they retaliate against you, there are legal implications in place to protect you.  Talking with your co-workers can prepare you with an internal audit as well for when you do approach your manager with that pay raise request. These are your rights as an employee, so ask for what you want.

My fourth piece of advice is to BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING. Be the person you want other people to be and treat people like you want to be treated. Understand cultures and differences. Don’t be a bitch. You don’t have to be a bitch. There is another article I’ve written about being a bitch as oftentimes, people see you as that even if you’re not. If you are being assertive, as a woman, we are being considered a bitch. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are some women that tend to be bullies who are control freaks and narcissistic. You don’t want to be one of those especially if people are coming to you as their manager or supervisor. I’ve never seen myself as that and my prior employers have said I teach them why we have to do what we have to do. Just last week the departments graduate assistant said “On it, boss” but I told her I was “not her boss and if anything, we are a team player”. We are on the same team. I might have a different role but we are on the same team trying to reach the same goal. I might be a catcher and you might be a pitcher but we all have different roles on ONE team. You don’t have to have the “I’m bitchy, better than everyone attitude”. There is help out there if needed! Founder of the Bully Broads program Jean Hollands offered a class for $18k in the early 2000s in Silicon Valley for women considered to be bullies in the workplace which was featured on NBC news. These women can actually go to reform school for being a “bully boss”. So be nice, considerate and understand, and always put your best foot forward.

Finally, HAVE FUN. I remember my father; he worked for an organization for over 20 years that he absolutely hated. You could see it on his face when he went to work and when he came home from work. He was a good father and husband and he was trying to do ‘the right thing’ for the family, but he could have kept looking and found a job that he loved. I really think you should have a job that you love and that you are passionate about, one that you cannot wait to do. I love to be able to share and educate. I need to see an immediate reaction. Occasionally, 10-15 years after an event, I have run into someone who was in a class I taught and they will say “you really changed my thinking” or “you inspired me” and that makes me feel good in a “not that I am any better than any other person in the world” way, but I feel like I made a difference. You should feel that you love your job, and if you don’t, then start looking for that passion. It is out there, I know it is. If you can’t do it working for somebody else, then work for yourself. Sometimes it’s like taking a bullet to your family financials; in fact, we lost half our salary when I quit my job to start my own business, and it took a while to get back up there, but it was worth it in the end. I had more opportunities with my brand new baby boy, and I was travelling all over the country with my daughter. So I really felt like it was the happy ending for me. This, to me, is how you get ahead as a woman in the work place.

So as a summary, here is my advice in just five steps

  1. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
  2. TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
  3. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
  4. BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING
  5. HAVE FUN

Enjoy your job and find something you’re passionate about. It is so important. These are things that I have learned over the years and share with you to wish you success! So to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss:

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re Off and away!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any directions you choose.                                                        

~Oh, the Places You’ll Go

 

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.

 


You Already Know What To Do

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

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

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

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

We are not short on data.

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

 

You already know what to do

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

You have ideas

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

 

You are scared

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

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

 

You already know what to do.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

You already know what to do.

 

What’s in your bag of tricks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit

 

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

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Maximizing Your #SHRM15 Experience

The 2015 edition of the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo is now just a little over a week away.  As you begin your preparations to converge on Fabulous Las Vegas next weekend, amidst deciding which comfy shoes you’re going to bring (and maybe some not-so-comfy ones for the evening hours), packing sun block for the pool, choosing which Vegas attractions you’ll hit in your free time, and stashing away your cash for the blackjack tables, have you given any thought as to how you’re going to truly maximize your conference experience?

 

I’ve written about this topic in past years, but feel it’s worth revisiting each year.  No matter if it’s your first, third, or tenth time attending, giving some thought to how you’re going to utilize your time can only work to your advantage.  Because let’s face it, once you arrive and get swept up in the whirlwind that is SHRM Annual….especially with this year’s location being Las Vegas….it can be very easy to lose focus and find yourself on the plane ride home asking yourself, “what did I actually accomplish?”

 

SHRM Annual puts an incredible amount of knowledge and resources at your disposal.  Between the sessions, the Expo Hall, and the unlimited amount of networking opportunities available, if you leave without taking something of value with you, it really is your own fault.  However, what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it.  Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience?  I encourage you to consider the following.

 

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan out your schedule.  Use the Session Planner to review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value.  But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice.  Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session!  This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  And don’t forget to download the Conference App on your smart phone or tablet to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.

 

Challenge Yourself

Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone.  But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new?  This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job.  Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?

 

Don’t Try To Do It All

This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day.  It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames.  Figure out what works best for you.  Perhaps you’re an early riser; get up and take advantage of the 7:00 AM sessions, and then maybe sneak away for a break in the later afternoon.  Or if you prefer to rise a little later, take advantage of the sessions later in the day.  Whatever your preference, don’t be afraid to allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.

 

Try Something Different

Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions.  But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value.  Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for the types of solutions that are out there.  Check out some of the Smart Stage presentations for info in quick and actionable 15 minute blocks.  Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you.  There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!

 

Network

Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days.  Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions.  Talk to people.  Make new connections.  You never know how valuable they could be some day.  Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events, or organize some outings of your own with new found friends; these are great ways to connect in a more meaningful way with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!

 

Have Some Fun Too!

Let’s face it, it’s Vegas. There are a million and one things to do, even if you’re not a gambler.  It’s okay to allow yourself to have some fun outside of the conference.  I’m not suggesting all-nighters at the craps table or at Drai’s After Hours….but if you must, do yourself a favor and make sure you take your conference badge off first.

 

Most of all, enjoy your experience.  Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!  See you in Vegas!

 

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.


What Happens In Vegas, Shouldn’t Stay In Vegas (In This Case…) #SHRM15 Preview

Posted on June 9th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.  Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it.  I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.

I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team.  That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on.  I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.

So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?

 

General Sessions

Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends.  They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes).  I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close.  We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.  Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes.  I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.

On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski.  Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.

 

Concurrent Sessions

SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks.  Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few.   These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners.   Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.”  And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”

 

The Smart Stage

Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between.  I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive.  It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.

 

Social Events

Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors.  With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception.  Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon.  These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room.  I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out.  And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion.  Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates.  And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.

See you in Vegas!

 

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.


6 Key Components for Launching a Successful Mentoring Program

Posted on May 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

One of the most important functions of HR is to acquire and retain top talent. And since millennials, who will make up close to 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, rank mentoring as one of the most important factors they weigh when choosing between employers, many companies are turning to mentoring programs as a way to set themselves apart from the competition. In fact, three-quarters of Fortune Magazine’s top 25 companies have employee-mentoring programs.

Mentoring provides much more than just a “good feeling” among millennial workers. It also provides an avenue for honing and developing your employees’ talents and skills, while making them more confident in their abilities and more connected to the company. In addition, mentoring helps you discover which employees have leadership potential.

However, mentoring is only effective if it is properly planned and executed. According to How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program, a how-to guide produced from the research of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, mentoring should include six key components:

  1. Purpose: There should be a clear, strategic purpose that aligns with organizational goals and objectives. For example, the mentoring may be needed to fill a skills gap. Also, both the mentor and mentee must be committed to the importance of the mentoring process and make it a priority.
  2. Communication: There are two types of communication involved. The first communication is to introduce employees to the mentoring program and ensure that they know what the mentoring is for and who can participate. With proper communication, even the employees who don’t participate can support the company’s efforts. The second type of communication is between the mentor and mentee. They may meet one-on-one, in groups, by email or videoconference, or by other means, but the meetings should be regular.
  3. Trust: The relationship must be built on trust. For both parties to feel comfortable sharing at the level that can truly be effective, there must be an understanding and commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the communication.
  4. Process: The process may be formal or informal. However, there should be a way to match the mentor and mentee, and it’s also important to determine such things as the length of the mentoring and the meeting dates and times. In addition, both parties must be actively engaged to move at an appropriate speed.
  5. Progress: HR should establish check-in points (two months, four months, six months, eight months and then a final meeting) to ensure that both parties are reaching their goals and milestones. This includes having metrics for measuring the progress of the mentoring sessions.
  6. Feedback: Both participants must provide constructive feedback and be open to receiving feedback from each other.

Following these tips will help you plan and carry out an effective mentoring program that creates engaged, confident employees, leading to a more unified and productive workforce.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Alison Napolitano is the community manager for MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s online MBA degree. Alison has a background in digital marketing, and account management. As a former college athlete, Napolitano is goal-driven has a passion for helping people and brands succeed online. Her other interests include content marketing, any form of athletics, and family.


Why Leadership Skills Should Be Universal Skills

Posted on May 6th, by JP George in Business and Workplace. No Comments

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

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

 

Flexibility

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

 

Visualize Objectives

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

 

Critical Thinking

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

 

Delegation

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit

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