Tag: professional

The Rise of Online Networking Groups

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

My Facebook feed is currently full of pictures of cute kiddies, loved-up statuses and Instagram-frosted cupcakes. Yet when I recently obtained a Master’s degree from an overseas university, in a ceremony which took place in Spanish and Catalan (two of the four languages I speak), I hesitated to upload the photos to my account. If the internet is supposed to be the 21st century’s great equaliser, why does online etiquette still dictate that women can brag about their love lives, but not their careers?

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Internet networking groups are creating a safe space for women to voice their achievements and concerns, create contacts and support each other in blazing new career trails. If you’re not comfortable blowing your trumpet all over your standard Facebook feed, why not look at joining a group which allows you to do so in a more receptive online environment?

Networking groups mean social media can become great ways to share ideas and professional contacts – not just pictures of wedding dresses. Group London Women Mean Business, for example, began after organiser Melanie Berenblut posted the simple phrase “Would anyone be interested in meeting up to network?” on LinkedIn. As well as creating space for online debate, such groups often hold regular events, and so also serve to facilitate real-life networking.

Online networking groups may be particularly relevant for women looking to break into traditionally male-dominated careers. If knowing your HRMS

from your HTML is all in a day’s work (or you’d like it to be), you might particularly appreciate the existence of groups such as Girl Geeks and GeekGirlMeetup, which provide a diverse mix of online seminars, real-life unconferences and hashtags for women everywhere from Oslo to Oxford.

Website Meetup.com, traditionally used for organising leisure pursuits, is also being used to the advantage of women looking for professional opportunities. As the Women in Science and Engineering group in Melbourne puts it, “We can discuss everything from our research to our shoes… it is whatever we want it to be.”

With the advent of the internet, no woman need be an island. But how we use it to connect depends very much on us. Newly-obtained haircuts, offspring and domestic skills are real achievements as much as anything else, and have their place. The problem comes when we let our professional triumphs and accolades fall by the wayside. The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes.

“The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes”

Bio: Penelope Labram is currently Content Manager for international job search website JobisJob, which has its seat in Barcelona, Spain. As such, she has her finger firmly pressed to the pulse of trends in recruitment, the labour market and social media. She is strongly committed to helping women use technology to further their career. You can follow her @jobisjob.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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{Career Transition} Get Your Story Straight

Posted on February 27th, by Maggie Tomas in Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

Students and clients come in and out of my office with the common agenda: the intent to talk about career transition.  These transition goals can take many shapes, such as moving from a generalist role to an analyst role, moving from a specialist to a manager, and often segueing out of one function and into another (think finance to marketing).

Regardless of the type of change they are looking to make, my advice is always the same: Get Your Story Straight.

When you are seeking to drastically alter your job responsibilities and are hoping someone will have enough faith in you to know that you can successfully make that leap (on their dime) you better have a compelling story.

Your pitch should outline three major points:

Why you want to make the change.

I often liken a great positioning statement to a funnel.  This is your story, but not your story as told to a new acquaintance at an office party.  It is your story extremely focused on how it relates to the position you are seeking. Every sentence you share should have a purpose in that it moves you towards the end goal of X position or Y company.  Irrelevant information (undergrad major if completely different than goal, a timeline of every job you have had and all major responsibilities, where you lived for a brief stint) have no place in this statement.  Instead share bits of information that help the listener understand more about why you want this role and why that is interesting.  For example:

Having grown up in rural Minnesota, the farming industry was a key economic force in my town and I have had a keen interest in this area since I drove my first tractor on my uncle’s farm.  After graduating with my MBA I plan to take this interest and passion to the grain industry in a finance role where I can utilize my previous analyst experience in a strategy role to impact the growth of an industry so rooted in small town America.

Proven success in core competencies of this new role

Pepper your positioning statement with ke

y achievements that showcase the skills necessary for success in the desired role.  Instead of saying you want a role in consumer insights because you are data driven, prove it by stating “I quickly learned my knack for analysis after spearheading a project where we analyzed seasonal purchasing data to better understand consumer trends when planning our customer incentive programs for the winter holidays.”

Conversation points to show you have researched the company:

The theme of your story should consistently display your knowledge and understanding of your desired company, industry, or function.  A former financial analyst who is looking for a business development role at an interactive marketing company should make sure the story shared includes a passion for the impacts social media is making on business, an interest in marketing analytics and an appreciation for a start-up culture.

Networking and interviewing is all about relationship building and successful story sharing.  When in a job function transition it is imperative that you have a story that weaves together past experience and education in a way that explains why you are looking for a different role and more importantly why you are qualified for this new opportunity.  Finally, don't be afraid to own your story.  I have found that those that can successfully combine honesty and relavancy often are the most likely to land the best positions for their skill sets and in the long run are the most satisfied employees.

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

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The Dressing Game: How to Dress For Success

Posted on December 13th, by Hanadi El Sayyed in Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

Power dressing can never be understated in the corporate world and we all know that. Coined in the latter part of the 1970, the term “power dressing” has been the dressing style of  those wanting to reflect a professional image, an elite status, influence and authority.

The impact of looking important on one’s career progression became a factor not to ignore by both men and women. While men have learned to master the dress game earlier and faster than women, one could argue though that sharply dressed or not, there are many obstacles women have to overcome in their struggle to rise up the food chain. My intention in this post is to draw us women’s attention to an important topic for some reason we still tend to ignore or let’s say not give it its real weight: Dressing for Success.

I was raised in a culture where knowing how to dress is crucial for success in every aspect of your life, personal and professional. You are free to disagree with this philosophy, I only base this on my personal experience how I have seen this at play.

As a Human Resource Business Partner, I realize it is not an easy journey for women to grow in the corporate realm. I also learned however that women must get their heads around some small yet effective ‘weaponry’ that could only make this journey a bit less painful.

Here are just a few tips and advices I have accumulated as Human Resources professional for each woman who reads this post to seriously consider:

  1. First impressions are real. And they last forever. Trust me. Research the employer and plan what to dress ahead of time before that interview. And whatever you decide to wear, ALWAYS make sure it falls in the ‘professional’ category.
  2. No jea

    ns please! I’m a true disbeliever of ‘casual days’ especially if your organization is of conservative nature.

  3. Conservative organization or not, and unless you’ve got a fab bod and work in a modeling agency, avoid mini skirts and tight skimpy dresses, low necklines and revealing clothes. I am not sure you can even wear them if you work in a modeling agency.
  4. Suit up when you are not sure what to wear for that important meeting. You can never go wrong when in a suit.
  5. Don’t be afraid to accessorize. Make sure it suits you and goes with your outfit though. NO noisy bracelets. They are very annoying.
  6. Corporate dressing doesn’t have to be monochrome unless your company dress code states that. Otherwise research fashion trends and choose what best suits you and your corporate culture. Know your colors.
  7. Check what the company dress code is and abide by it. It’s there for a reason.

Learning how to dress is an art worth mastering by both men and women. However, a word of caution here. This will never replace the fundamental role of individual performance, which remains by far the most determinant factor for career progression.

About the author: Hanadi El Sayyed is a Senior Human Resources Business Partner working for Majid Al Futtaim Properties, the market leader in development and management of shopping malls in the Middle East. Based in Dubai she  specialises in strategic workforce planning and development with an emphasis on corporate sustainability and sustainable development. You can reach her on Linkedin or on Twitter as@Hana_ElSayyed.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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Why Working Moms Should Embrace Technology

Posted on November 27th, by Maggie Tomas in Wellness and Balance. 1 Comment

I was late in the game with technology.  While my friends and family were readily downloading apps and taking adorable vintage photos with Instagram, it took me years to embrace the smartphone. I also was slow to get excited by the DVR I nowadays swear by. How else can I have Elmo on hand for my 3-year-old and Modern Family ready and waiting for me when I have a free 30 minutes to spare?

I held firm to my stance that I wasn’t a tech girl and would much prefer to write down my schedule and leave email at work. . . blah, blah, blah.  That changed the day I actually succumbed and decided on a smartphone when upgrade time  rolled around. I declared my choice was solely based on the ability to take cute pictures of my daughters but secretly I wanted in on the club and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  I told my husband a week later that the iPhone changed my life.  He smirked and had an “I told you so” look.

I am now leaning on technology more and more because as a working mom of 2 toddlers I will take all the help I can get.  Here are a few reasons why I encourage all of my mom clients to jump on the tech train and never look back:

  1. Branding:  Get involved online and build your presence this way by participating in LinkedIn, tweeting great articles and writing engaging blog posts. Nothing will shave time off of in-person networking like a great online presence.
  2. Ease Workday Load:  Family dinner is important to me.  I leave at 4:45 unless I have a class to teach. Period.  The only way this is possible for me is because I can pull out my laptop and get 2 hours of work done after my girls are cozily sleeping in bed.
  3. Scheduling: No need to waste time calling my husband to see if we can meet friends for dinner, volunteer with the youth group or schedule a play date on Saturday. I can simply check his calendar, compare it to mine and I have my answer. Total time saver. I have friends who take it a step further and register with an online family organizer and swear by it.  Remember the Milk and Cozi are 2 highly recommended apps.
  4. Connecting/Sharing:  My family lives in California.  I live in the Midwest.  Thank God for programs like Skype, Facebook and Instagram that enable me to quickly get a dose of home updates so I can then attend to my other responsibilities.  The connect

    ing aspect of technology is also helpful for moms who work at large corporations.  Many Fortune 500 companies have “mom boards” where employees can share tips ranging from best nursing locations in the building to offering up used baby goods.

  5. Kid Friendly: Those of us who have waited for food to arrive at a restaurant with a toddler, spent 2 plus hours on a flight with an 18 month old, or taken a preschooler to the DMV for a license renewal – all while armed with a smart phone or iPad – know the value in technology. It allows us to get through a boring task without a tantrum while our child is entertained with an educational game. I’m not encouraging letting your iPad babysit your child, but I am the first to admit that it is useful in certain scenarios.

This list could go on with relevant tips and suggestions on how turning to technology can actually ease a mom’s to-do list. There is one caveat though:

Technology can be a time zapper and a great way to lose focus of your #1  priority – your kids.

Something I have found that works for me and prevents me from answering my email on my smartphone while playing Candyland with my preschooler (which makes her feel like my last priority when all she wants is my undivided attention as she nabs the Queen Frostine card) is to put my phone and computer away until the kids are in bed. I often leave my smartphone in my purse when I come home from work and don’t take it out until they are tucked away sleeping.  This helps eliminate the chance of mom getting distracted and shows my girls that family time is first.

As with anything, balance is key but honestly, a life with technology and all the help it can provide, does ease many stressful situations and can make family planning much easier.

What types of technology do you find helps with your work/life balance?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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

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4 Ways To Keep Your Productivity Up

Posted on October 30th, by Heather Rose in Wellness and Balance. 1 Comment

As busy HR professionals we use the word focus in many ways, whether it be in terms of what project we need to focus on next, what the focus of our next meeting should be or where our overall focus should be to keep in line with strategy.

What if we find ourselves having trouble with focus in the more literal sense though?  We have very full schedules to maintain, and at some point we may lose sight of what is at the center of our day and miss a cue. Here are some tips that I employ to keep my productivity up when I find myself having trouble zeroing in on the task at hand:

Get organized.  If your mind is racing and all you can think about is everything else you need to accomplish it will be hard to give your full attention to what you need to work on right now.  Take a few minutes to organize your work area and update your to-do list.  Prioritize, update deadlines if necessary and cross off tasks you’ve completed.  When you have things in order it is easier to give your full attention to one specific item on the list so you can complete it and move on to the next.

Get a small project out of the way.  Now that you are organized look at your list and see if there is something simple you can cross off right away.  Perhaps there is an email that can be easily answered, a meeting quickly scheduled or some papers cluttering your desk that can be filed.  Knowing that you got something accomplished, no mat

ter how small it may be, will give you a boost of confidence to tackle something bigger.

Refuel and recharge.  Think back to your last meal; did you skip it altogether or was it not satisfying?  If your stomach is grumbling or you are feeling light-headed it will be tough to make progress in your work.  Take time to eat lunch or fit in a small snack.  With the proper nourishment we have the energy necessary to make it through the rest of the day.

Not hungry?  Get up and take a walk instead.  Move around the office to check in with co-workers or step outside for fresh air.  Either way, when you come back to your desk you’ll be reinvigorated and ready to tackle your inbox.

Turn on the music.  This may not work for those that require quiet to get their work completed, but I’ve always found that putting light music on in the background can drown out all of the other office noise and allow me to focus in on my work.

Everyone has a different approach to get back on track.  Find what works best for you and make your day as effective as possible.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 7 years experience supporting top organizations' HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.

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Creating a Life That Works For The All of You

Posted on October 18th, by Maggie Tomas in Wellness and Balance. 1 Comment

For the first 30 years of my life I found it easy to describe myself.  That self could encompass any range of titles, labels, or feelings depending on my role in life, position or mood. In college I was a student-server-girlfriend-vegetarian for a year. When I started working in career coaching after grad school I was a listener-mentor-a single person-yogi novice.  All of these things were defined and controlled by me and I was comfortable balancing them all.

All of that flew out the window with motherhood.

The second the obstetrician placed my beautiful and loud (doctor’s first words were “she has lungs!”) daughter into my shaking arms, I was suddenly overcome with love and purpose.  But weeks and months later I was also unsure as to what do to with all of the parts of me that made me who I was prior to becoming mother to this amazing little girl.

Motherhood was something I yearned for and very much wanted.  I read books on parenting and felt very prepared and a bit overconfident for my new role – until I officially became a mother.  Suddenly, I was questioning myself on everything: cloth or disposable, cry it out or co-sleep, organic baby blender homemade creations or the jarred store bought variety, helicopter parent or tiger mom, and the list goes on and on.  Not only was I indecisive but I was so consumed with love for this little person that I thought in order to be the best mother possible I should give up everything that defined me pre-baby and focus on this new all important role of raising a human being.

This played out by turning me into a confused, sometimes bitter, and teetering between overt self-sacrificing/bewildered that I lost my “cool pre-baby” self.  For example, my personal priorities took a nosedive as I lamented this post-baby belly yet felt guilt-ridden at the thought of hitting the gym and leaving my newborn with a sitter.  Professionally, I tried to balance everything calmly and maintain these two separate roles effectively.  I had worked hard on my career but I also loved this little baby and didn’t want to miss all the milestones while I plugged away at my computer.  I tried to have conversations with mentors and supervisors and was basically given the advice of “this career is 60+ hours a week so find a way to make it work” or “I completely understand. I remember my wife struggling but ultimately she knew family was most important so she stayed home with the kids.”  All me

ssages implicit in their meanings and all sent me, the not-so-confident mom reeling and questioning my priorities.

In time I worked on creating a career that worked for me and all of my roles.  I said goodbye to the attitude of work first and focused on finding ways to prioritize.  Now, I encourage new moms and clients to think about being both women with a unique history and distinct passions and experiences as well as mothers in love with amazing children. Personally,  I now I try to weave both aspects into every decision I make and every encounter I face.  I no longer think that being a good mother means being only a mother.  I think about how I want my girls to know who their mom is in all of my flaws and idiosyncrasies.  I focus on teaching them the value of work ethic and the importance of loving what you do by modeling this for them.  After all my greatest achievement will be raising strong independent girls who will one day have fulfilling careers of their own – girls who have many roles, including mother, and who embrace their whole selves and will raise children who do the same.

New motherhood knocks you off your feet, not only with sleepless nights and mountains of dirty diapers and laundry but with a love and adoration that is consuming.  This all-consuming love for your child can take your breath away and ask you to question all that you thought was important pre-baby.  This is normal and often necessary in the bonding process.  It is imperative, however, to journey back to finding a new normal that does incorporate some of your pre-baby traits and passions.  For some that journey is easy and comfortable.  For others, like me, it can be riddled with confusion and guilt until one day you look at yourself and decide that you must find a way to be both.

What has worked for you?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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

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CEO for a Day: Thoughtful Business Leadership

Posted on September 19th, by Nisha Raghavan in Women of HR Series: CEO For A Day. 1 Comment

Women of  HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?”  This is the fifth post in the series of responses.

“Wow! It is really fascinating to hear people call me a CEO of my company even if it is for a day! Let me make this a 12 hour work day for myself. I am getting one shot at this and I need to maximize my work day to make a few hard decisions and to inspire everyone in communicating why we do things the way we do!”

So, how would it be if I, an HR professional, were CEO for a day?  When Lisa asked me, my mind pondered a lot of questions. What is the culture of my organization? What are the values and behavior I want to instill? What kind of behavior do I want to see rewarded? Am I rewarding and engaging the right employees so that they will continue to stay with us?

Eliminate Toxic Managers

All these questions directed me to first study my current manpower. Do I have the right people in place to do their job and help others get their jobs done? Are they engaged?

Before investing on engagement I need to know if I can rely on my employees at least for the near future. I don't want to see someone quitting the  day after receiving training, monetary or other rewards. I have seen employees wait to get their pay raise or incentive only to quit and join some other organization – timing their departure to their advantage.

Having said that, I am going to rely on my experience and my HR eyeglasses to create a list of toxic managers. These are the managers who mess up the organization’s culture and values and make a bad impact on employees. So, let me just flush them out before it hurts the immune system of the organization.

Hire for Culture

To replace toxic managers and get the right people in leadership roles, I will consider the opinions of peer leaders. The people I would consider are those who consistently deliver outstanding results, are willing leaders and have the right attitude. And I would be reviewing all new pending hires before any offers are made.

This will make sure that we hire for our culture.

Lead

Although recruitment and employment engagement is an ongoing process, I do feel having been given only a day as CEO, it's necessary and critical that I gain the confidence of my employees in me. I will target a few things on this day:

  • Instill our Culture. I will create a value-based culture in which employees are be truste
    http://creditnoproblems.com/post/loans-get-d9.html

    d to do the right things because they know what the organization stands for and believes in it. To strengthen this trust in our culture I would stretch myself to all employees by making myself accessible at every level. I am going to draw inspiration from speaker, writer and visionary Simon Sinek, who says, “Trust doesn't come from making the right decision. Trust comes from giving people an honest assessment for why the decision was made.”

  • Walk the Talk. As CEO, I am actually one among  our employees so I will emulate the behavior that I want to see from them. I will not over promise and under-deliver because that can poison the work culture I want to instill. And I will not put up with someone else doing that. I want people to inspire and to be inspired.
  • Reward Results. I will make it obvious to everyone what good performance means. Everyone needs to understand their commitment to execution which will in turn open up opportunities for growth. I will ensure that there are career advancement opportunities within the organization for employees that will result from their effort and work.
  • Seek Feedback. I will provide a platform for every employee to open up andshare their views and suggestions with me. Their suggestions don’t have to be only about their immediate work or even about the organization. I want to get their best ideas about anything in life. This will get them to think creatively and one person’s ideas could be another person’s solution. Best suggestions will be awarded and implemented.

I know it is only a day that I can use this authority and hearing this, some of you might think that it is such a short notice and so I may not be able to implement all of these things. But my answer to this is if you are a thoughtful leader you can create a big impact on the people in less than a day. If  I create the foundation well then the rest will follow naturally.

Photo credit: iStock Photo

About the author: Nisha Raghavan is the author of Your HR Buddy blog. A former HR Generalist with extensive experience in Talent Management and Development, she specializes and writes about Employee Relations, Organization Development and how companies can keep their employees more engaged through Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager at Reliance Communications Limited, India.

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I am a People Person. You Got a Problem With That?

Posted on July 5th, by Andrea Ballard in Business and Workplace. 10 comments

I started working in Human Resources a bit by accident.

As a member of the IT department, I was teaching software training for employees at our firm. Over time, I took on more of the “soft skills” training classes, and my role in new employee orientation grew. I became close to the HR Director as I shared my impressions of the new hires and made predictions about who would be a superstar, and who wouldn't make it past the first week. When a new HR Manager position opened up, the HR Director recommended I apply for it. I got the job, moved into HR and never looked back.

One of my first tasks was to hire an entry-level HR Assistant for our department. I had a senior recruiter with over 20 years’ experience helping me, and she taught me how to write the job description, told me about the skills and abilities we were looking for, and generally guided me through the entire process. I posted the position and eagerly awaited responses.

Once I had a good stack of resumes and cover letters, I took them to the senior recruiter and asked for her assistance in selecting candidates to interview. She went through the stack in about 2 minutes, ruthlessly culling anyone from the pile who had a typo or misspelling in their resume or cover letter. I didn't understand why she removed some of the people who looked like great candidates to me. I asked her what criteria she was using to separate the Yeses from the Nos.

“Oh,” she said. “I get rid of anyone who says they like people or they’re a people person. Because after working in HR for twenty years, I can tell you, this job will make you hate people. And I don’t want to do that to anyone.”

I was shocked. And confused. After all, I’m one of those who had said I wanted to be in HR because “I’m a people person.” Obviously she hadn't been involved in recruiting for my position!

Mos

t of all, I was disappointed. She was someone I admired and thought would be an excellent mentor for me. But her jaded attitude put a bad taste in my mouth and I vowed not to end up like her.

Fast forward 15 years.

At times, layoffs, a long recession, and new technological challenges have taken their toll on me. Especially in my previous role as a hiring manager, and my current role as a career coach, I struggle when the number of bright, talented people outweigh the available positions. I become jaded when management says “Do we have to do that? After all, they’re lucky to have a job.” And when I hear about people struggling economically with unemployment and see the impact it has on everyone in the family, part of me wishes I was back in a classroom, teaching someone how to format a document and create a spreadsheet.

But I’m not. Because I am a people person. And despite my mentor’s advice, I have remained one because I think HR is the perfect place for people who like people.

People are a never-ending, ongoing puzzle. Figuring out why they do what they do will always fascinate me. And if people behaved rationally, calmly, and logically all of the time, well, I am guessing HR wouldn't be needed very much, and I’d be out of a job.

Why did you get into the HR profession? Why do you stay?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC,  blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.

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Don't Laugh Too Loudly

Posted on July 3rd, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Community and Connection. 3 comments

I can say without reservation that most HR folks I know are really nice people who do a respectable job.

I can also say without reservation that most HR folks I know are not wild party animals live life on the edge and who routinely break company policy.

But does the term “respectable” go hand in hand with, shall I say, “boring”?

A few years ago, my firm did a “What HR Likes” survey, and to my great surprise, the respondents’ favourite TV show was Two and a Half Men.

I liked Two and a Half Men, a lot, but up until seeing those results, I really thought I was the only one, and kept my love of it a secret.  I watched it by myself, low volume, lights out.  It was not something I admitted publicly.

Why?  Because Two and a Half Men at its core was and is still offensive to some people.  It is full of outlandish situations that the HR profession cannot condone at work.  Sex, sexism, adultery, fraternization, debauchery, harassment, alcoholism, double entendre—you name it, the show had it.  I laughed loudly when Alan needed Charlie to cover as the Receptionist at his clinic, and within hours Charlie had turned the office into a seedy massage parlour.  As

an HR Professional, how can I be expected to hold high standards if secretly I think certain escapades like this are funny (actually hilarious)?  After all, we’ve all had a “Charlie” in our workplace we’ve had to deal with before, right?

There used to be “rules” about what could be said in mixed company.  In some people’s lives, these rules no longer apply and anything goes.  The challenge is in some cases, for some people, these rules very much still do apply, and at work, there is still a need for a decorum that respects higher standards of behaviour.

I guess I’m trying to say that if you’re in HR, it is hard to have overly liberal views.  Basically, there is no way of winning, which is probably why our profession is full of closet Two and a Half Men fans.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.

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Are Your Looks a Workplace Distraction?

Posted on June 19th, by Nisha Raghavan in Business and Workplace. 12 comments

How does it feel when we (women) are confident of our looks and know that people look at us and are inspired by us? We feel good, of course!

What wouldn’t we all do to get that stunning look, burn some fat to carve out those wonderful curves that others would kill for and look good in business casuals at work? Who doesn’t enjoy dressing up? Looking good increases our confidence and helps us create a positive impression.

Looks matter when creating an impression. But can looks create a wrong impression? Does a “look” depict who you really are as a person? What if people start to perceive your personality and capabilities wrongly based on your looks – especially in the business world?

The other day few of my male friends were talking about a distraction during an official presentation that happened at work. No, it was not due to an annoying ring because somebody forgot to silence their phone or the noise of the photocopy/fax machine in the background.  The reason for their distraction was the low buttoned shirt, big bosoms and beautiful curves of their new colleague making the presentation.

Do you think they caught any actual facts and figures from her power point presentation? Not. When I asked these fellows, they replied, “Even though we were trying to look past her physical appearance, it is the hardest temptation to resist.”  And this gets harder when she turns around to reveal her cleavage and brings it into their sight.

Her looks were a distraction in the workplace. We can only imagine how many times these fellow might have taken a walk in front of her desk just to get a glance of her or how many times they must have had small talk over the phone with their male colleagues about it.

This woman, and others, are not being taken seriously in the corporate world because of their looks. There are opinions that women deliberately look this way to garner attentions and favor. Others question if women are even aware of how their “look” impacts the impression they leave with others.

What do you think? If a woman dressed in an “acceptable“ way, would that eliminate the possibility she would not be perceived in less than professional manner? That colleagues would know who she really was as a person?

Can the way a woman looks inadvertently send a wrong message? Should she care?