One year into my HR career I hired my first direct report. I formed the job description, posted it on a jobs site and reviewed resumes as they came in. I felt like it was a stepping stone for me professionally, and I looked forward to having someone to develop and mentor.
After interviewing candidates I ended up hiring a referral from a co-worker that was an ideal Specialist to assist my HR Supervisor role. I could delegate a project with general guidelines and know it would be a success.
Fast forward several months, and due to a restructuring I inherited another direct report that didn’t turn out to be as easy to deal with. Daily life in the office became a challenge, and since I was still fairly new to having direct reports I went to my manager for advice. For the most part I felt that we were on the same page, but when another member of the team brought to my attention possible wrongdoing by my direct report, I was surprised to learn my manager and I didn’t agree on next steps. Having been provided supporting documentation to the suspected violation, I was ready to investigate the issue and further discuss with my direct report. My manager, however, did not think it needed to be investigated at the time and suggested waiting to see what came of the situation.
After thinking it through and discussing with another trusted colleague I decided to go against my manager’s advice and address the issue at hand. Feeling that my own credibility was on the line if didn’t look into the matter, I was proud that I stood my ground and did what was right to acknowledge the problem.
You may find yourself in a similar situation where you are at odds with professional advice you were given. Take it into consideration, but also ensure that you fully research the topic at hand to ensure you have all necessary information. Discuss with your network to hear several other viewpoints, and if appropriate, consult your company’s policies and procedures. Trust in your analysis of the case, and go forward with confidence in your decision on how best to handle.
About the Author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 6 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.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Who doesn’t feel under-appreciated at some point or other? You’ve done some good work, you’ve made a hard call on an important issue. But sometimes doing this, in itself, is not enough. You want recognition and appreciation of your contribution. And it is not coming your way. Waves of sadness, regret or perhaps anger or disappointment may engulf you.
Feeling under-appreciated happens and the best thing you can do is realize that while you can’t control how people react or respond to you or your efforts, you certainly can have a say in how you deal with that. So, here’s how you can help yourself feel better if you ever feel under-appreciated.
Recognize the situation
Spend a little time evaluating the situation. Recognize what you are feeling and consider why you feel this way. It takes effort to move beyond the rawness of the emotion into an analysis of why this is happening and what the primary cause of your emotion is. The aim here is to get past just being purely led by emotion – when you start thinking it through, it’s only natural that there is less focus on emotion.
Don’t take on more
If you are doing the work because you are craving recognition, come to terms that it is not happening. If you find a reason for carrying on for yourself, then do that. But if there is no reason to do it for yourself, then decide that you will take on no more. It could be for a time or permanently – the decision on the timeframe need not necessarily be made right now.
Promote your brand and your work
Successful people do not get anywhere simply doing good work and letting it shine through or waiting for it to be discovered. You have to adopt a brazen attitude, deftly balancing between arrogance and a quiet confidence as you articulate your brand proposition and speak for your work. Your life’s presentation must take on a balance of both good work and effective presentation.
Yes, that’s right. We don’t always have to say yes to every project, every email, every offer and in the time frame dictated to us. We simply cannot live our life at the demands and whims of those around us – we too need to know our own priorities and deadlines and work to make that central to what we do and who we are.
Find a way to renew and regenerate
Balance is key to achieving what we set out to do, and balance means different things to different people. What is important is that it works for you, regardless of whether it works for others. Stop, pause, reflect. Do what you need to, to renew yourself. In the process, it will be less relevant that you are not appreciated as you find solace and a centeredness in self-reliance.
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 email@example.com.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Can you believe that it has been 3 years since the Women of HR site started? Wohoo!! What a crazy fun ride it has been. Over the past 3 years we have seen a lot of change: new contributors, awesome content and series, and now, we even have a new Editor in Chief in Jenny Payne!
As this site continues to grow and develop, I think back on why we started it in the first place. We wanted to build a site that was a community. A site where women in HR or not could help build each other up and make valuable connections. We wanted it to be a forum where we could voice our concerns, disagree, and find solutions.
We hope that for you as members of this community, that it has been that and more. I want to thank YOU for your continued support, encouragement, and readership. This site wouldn’t exist except for you.
But besides gratitude, I want to also issue a call to action. Whether this is the first time visiting us or you have been a longtime member of our community, we want to hear from you. Tell us what you like, don’t like, and want to see more of. We want you to jump on in and participate, not just through readership and comments but by suggesting new ideas and even getting fingers to your keyboards and become a contributor. If this site is for you, then we need you to help us make it everything you need it to be.
Thank you so much to the amazing Lisa Rosendahl for running the site and making it everything it is today. Thank you to the wonderful Jenny Payne for stepping in to take the site to the next level. Thank you to Trish McFarlane, Sarah White, and Charee Klimek who are the best women and co-founders who helped start this crazy ride. Thank you to Lance Haun for doing so much work for us and who is so generous with his time and knowledge. Thank you to Lyn Hoyt for all her wonderful design work and help. And of course, thank you to all our amazing contributors, both past a present, who have given the Women of HR site a voice. Your amazing insights and content have literally made us the site we are today and for that we are all grateful for.
So cheers everybody, and let’s work hard together to make the next year of Women of HR another awe inspiring one!
It happens to all of us in HR at some point in our lives. We find ourselves caught in an awkward position at work and we ask ourselves, “What is the best response here?”
I am talking about situations where compassion is needed, but with extenuating circumstances. You’ve encountered the scenario before. An employee confides something deeply personal:
- A health issue
- A break-up
- An unexpected pregnancy
She is coming to you not really as a friend, but as someone who she thinks can help her. She wants:
- A break
She doesn’t know or understand the awkward position this possibly puts you in. The information she provides may or may not be true. You know that:
- Her supervisor is at his wits end because her performance is so poor
- She was late again three times this week
- The organization doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy culture with flexibility
- There are impending layoffs and her employment is at risk
What are your responsibilities in this situation? How involved should you be? How do you protect company interests while being a human being?
Human resources practitioners are not registered psychologists or social workers. We are not “Mother Theresa”. For most of us, our employers do not want or expect us to be advocates for the downtrodden, but we are expected to be kind, helpful and looking for the win-win. We do not have a magic wand. Therefore suffice to say that there are no clear cut answers about the level of compassion we need to provide in these tough situations, only possible approaches.
Here are some things you can do:
- To the extent possible, help her find professional help. Does your benefit plan offer an EAP? Are there help lines or government services available? Is counseling a covered benefit? Keep abreast of the resources available to a person in need and share them freely. Short lists are better than single resources. Encourage her to make the call. That way, you don’t have to give advice or get overly involved.
- Are there small things you can do? Can she borrow your office for 20 minutes to get her composure or to make a private call? Is there some small token you have that you can give to her to show her that you and the Company care?
- Be clear about what you can and can’t keep confidential and your channel of communication within the organization. For most employees, the role of HR is unclear, which in many cases leads to the risk that an employee won’t come and see us out of fear or mistrust, even when it is prudent that they do so.
- Encourage her to be discrete about whom she confides in about the circumstances. The workplace is full of people who are your frenemies. Your Company has policies regarding fair treatment but you can’t control everything. While it has become commonplace for stars to rise out of their personal meltdowns, it is more difficult for the rest of us to do so. Also a privately-managed issue will likely result in less workplace disruption.
- Be clear about the conundrum created when personal information like this is shared with someone in HR. Ask for clarity on the reasons she came to you and what she expects your involvement to be. Be clear about what you can and can’t do for her.
- With regards to how the personal situation impacts her job, encourage her to speak with her Supervisor and to be open to possible solutions. Offer to open the discussion with the Supervisor if you feel there may be a risk that the Supervisor may not handle the situation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances. If it is possible, try to create clarity about the continuing performance expectations and work through strategies to address them. Try to keep to as much of a third-party approach as possible.
- Get legal advice as needed. There are a myriad of potential challenges that could present themselves if down the line she is terminated. It could be construed that you used the knowledge gained in the circumstances inappropriately with undesirable consequences.
Above all, be genuine. The success of the outcome is in direct relation to your ability to:
- Be compassionate
- Think on your feet
- Keep your head
- See it through
Photo credit iStockphoto
I was chatting with a colleague over coffee discussing how stressful 2012 was. We chatted about the targets we missed, the challenges we faced, and we went on and on with an amazing crystal clear memory of everything we knew we could have done better. We suddenly stopped and gazed astonishingly at each other. Just the day before, both of us were awarded by the CEO for our achievements in 2012. And here we were, less than 24 hours later, sounding like total quitters instead of behaving as winners.
When did we learn to become so harsh on ourselves and why do we do that to ourselves?
I went home thinking whether this has got to do with us women so passionately engulfed with proving ourselves and our capabilities in the workplace. In the midst of it all, have we become blind to our success stories that we fail to promote them, celebrate them and more alarmingly, reward ourselves for them?
The answer is an unfortunate, “yes” and this is a fact regardless of which part of the world we come from, our culture or our background. Women are raised to constantly watch what they say, cautioned against strong personalities, taught to remain low key, to name a few.
There is a plethora of business literature and research describing the challenges women put up with in the corporate world due to stereotypes and perceptions, male dominance, limited opportunities, lower wages compared to male colleagues and the reasons behind it all. As undoubtedly and genuinely that these challenges exist, it is not my intention here to go over these. My real aim is to initiate our thinking process by asking ourselves the following question,
“What has each one of us done to bring a change to our situation?”
Let’s face it, for a lot of us, we fear being judged so we react in manners that may further contribute to our withdrawal into our own caves rather than pushing us out into the front rows. Here are some of the behaviors we should consider reshaping, changing and even stopping those which are nothing but self-sabotage:
- You quietly and eagerly wait to be assigned to a project. You know you can do it, so you hope that your boss recognizes that. Wrong. Go after the opportunity when you see it, do not wait for it to knock on your door. This will do miracles if you are a team leader. It reaffirms you as leader of the pack.
- You dread to fail even before starting. You become risk averse and dare not to think out of the box
. Think again. It’s perfectly ok if you fail. Failure is all about lessons learned and can only make you stronger. Your resilience level is an indication of your leadership skills. So even when you fail use it to your advantage.
- You do not celebrate your success. You achieve a difficult target, and if you are lucky enough your boss recognizes that, otherwise, your achievements go unnoticed. Whilst it’s not realistic to ask for that pat on the back every time you lift a pen, please stop being modest and reserved when it comes to major accomplishments. Celebrate your success with your team, family, and even friends. Be self-appreciative before you ask others to appreciate you.
- You are quiet in meetings. Do you offer your opinion only when asked to? Or do you not know when – or how – to interject in a conversation? Time for a change here, too. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Yes it can feel very intimidating at first but by practicing the use of some idioms in the right context such as “I’m thinking out loud” or “I’m playing the devil’s advocate here”, or “it might be a silly question…” will help you overcome this fear and seamlessly insert you in the discussion. You owe it to yourself and your team to let your opinion be heard.
Don’t be afraid to disagree on a business related matter as long as you do it in a professional manner. If you want to point out a wrong thing being said, do that without being offensive or defensive. Discussions can sometimes be aggressive, so avoid emotional pitfalls. And whatever you do, hold those tears please. Be assertive and remain in self-control mode.
With many of us in the process of shaping our resolutions, let’s agree on making the new year our year of small but effective changes. True, it’s a long and winding road ahead of women in the business world however by being able to adapt some of our behaviors to become enablers can only be of help to us in our journey.
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.
This holiday week we are featuring some of our top posts on Women of HR. Enjoy!
I am a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan. She’s a brilliant musician and entrepreneur.
That’s right, e-n-t-r-e-p-r-e-n-e-u-r.
You see, Sarah figured out that if we stopped making the music business competitive, and instead collaborative, there would be far more female musicians out there that would have their shot at real success. She pushed to create all-female led-band concerts.
And Lilith Fair was born.
The statistics on Lilith Fair’s success are astounding when you realize that nothing like it existed before. In the 1990s, the Lilith Fair concert series earned more than $16M in ticket sales. The concert was sold out in virtually every city where it was booked. It was girl-power extraordinaire.
In the years following the Lilith Fair tour, we saw many more female musicians in airplay. Their music was softer, harder, richer and gutsier than ever. Men showed up. The riffs are more complicated now. The lyrics cover more diverse subjects. The music has taken us beyond Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Helen Reddy.
In our profession, WOHR is our Lilith Fair. It is incredibly cool to have a space where women (and men) celebrate our profession in a collaborative fashion, without it being all gooey.
That isn’t to say that women have experienced challenges in our profession, in fact we dominate the profession, but it is to say that we are at the stage where we can now influence our profession by celebrating who we really are. It is no longer about towing the company line. It is no longer about crafting a dated message. It is about putting a human touch on human resources.
When I made my first post on WOHR a couple of months ago, I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback. I realized that I was not the only HR Pro who enjoyed muscle cars, college football, baking and puppies. The experienced fueled a growing list of things to blog about.
And, I can write about all sorts of subjects without feeling like I need to put on my business jacket with the extra-wide shoulder pads.
Even more significant, I found a whole lot of great HR Pros to follow and support.
Sarah McLachlan’s career skyrocketed during Lilith Fair and she has earned a place among music’s elite. The same is true for many of the other artists on the tour.
If we all continue to collaborate, won’t the same thing happen here too?
Photo Credit, People Magazine, July 19, 2010, via Lilith
Recently I attended the Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks!! As part of the planning committee, it was a great experience for many reasons.
One reason it was so great was that we told attendees they could wear jeans. Amazing how something so simple could set the tone for the week. Our committee wore tie-dye all week with our jeans and invited people to relax in our lounge filled with lava lamps, candles and incense – at an HR Conference!
One experience last week has stuck with me the most . . .
During lunch on Thursday, our 770+ attendees and our 160+ resource partners all gathered to savor the incredible Fajita Bar. Plates were loaded beyond capacity and hands were full as people approached a separate beverage station to grab a glass of water, lemonade or ice tea. The Kalahari staff were so amazing the whole week – especially here. But, even as much as they tried, the line continued to grow and grow and grow.
Before the week started, I told my Committee that I wanted to set a new expectation for us and the Conference attendees. I wanted us to serve them in ways they hadn’t experienced at a conference before. To make sure I didn’t fall into the classic HR trap of – just tell people what you expect and they’ll do it – I made sure to model this behavior.
So, I jumped in the front of the beverage line and started greeting everyone as they came up and handed them a glass full of ice. Then, the phenomenal team of Joan, Sonja and Keysha poured everyone’s liquid of choice and made sure to get more glasses to keep up with the demand. After stepping in, you started to hear laughing, see big smiles and positive comments from everyone instead of typical frustration with having to wait on service.
People said, “Wow, service with a smile!” I couldn’t resist but responding with, “Better than service with a scowl, huh?” It was the most rewarding 1/2 hours of the entire conference. We were able to serve our guests so that they could enjoy their lunch. Also, the staff from Kalahari saw that their work added immense value by meeting a simple need for others.
It’s time for HR to shift to a new approach. Instead of trying to mandate policies, force conformity and compliance at all costs, or be the function that polices vs. leads – we need to MODEL THE BEHAVIOR WE EXPECT FROM OTHERS.
We can’t keep expecting change to magically happen because we’ve come up with the next great “best practice.” Model behavior. It’s that simple.
To prove that point, Sonja, Joan, Keysha and I became tight. The rest of the week, I sought them out and they did likewise. I heard they even talked about the tall guy in the tie-dye shirt who jumped into help without asking if it was okay. They were some of the final hugs at the end of the week and I’m sure they will continue to be amazing.
Where can you change and model what you’d like to see? Try something this week and you’ll be astonished at the results!
Although I once wrote a post denying the existence of the glass ceiling, it occurred to me recently that men do have one big career advantage: wives.
Oh, for one of those! Someone who shops, cleans, picks up the kids from school, checks their homework and has a nice dinner waiting for you when you come home from the office (even if it’s take out). Someone to cover your back at home so you can travel, attend late meetings, network after hours and generally be seen after 4 p.m..
Before you write me off as a sexist pig, I realize that the modern husband is a far cry from the typical diaper allergic husband of, say, the ’50s. And the modern wife isn’t necessarily a wife at all, and may not even be female. Nonetheless, there tends to be one person in any partnership who assumes the bulk of the household chores and childcare, even if both partners work. And for lack of a better word I’m going to call that person a ‘wife.’
I love spending time with my kids but I enjoy working, too. And I sometimes envy my husband when I have to shut down in the middle of an interesting thought to pick up the kids while he finishes his work in relative peace and quiet before coming home to a somewhat clean house, fed children and a home-cooked meal.
My husband, by the way, is very supportive and spends a lot of quality time with our kids. He is also a wonderful cook, will shop in a pinch and has been known to clean the kitchen. But typically I’m the one who leaves work early, provides primary childcare and logs back on after they go to bed to finish up my work.
That’s why when my husband recently asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said I wanted a wife for a day. That’s right, for one day I wanted to go to work in the morning, work until I was finished and come home to smiling children in pajamas. I wanted dinner on the table and a ‘get out of cleaning the kitchen’ card.
I thought about holding out for folded laundry but decided not to press my luck.
My husband listened to my birthday request in silence, thought about it for a moment then asked, ‘Just one day, right?’
So if you’re wondering how to show your appreciation for that special working mom in your life, why not consider trading places for a day. Man up and be a mom, so to speak. As an added bonus, it’s a great chance to get in touch with your inner wife.
P.S. I hope he doesn’t ask me to file our multi-country tax returns for his birthday.
Photo credit iStockphoto
As we remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it brings an extra poignant punch to me. My mom died that week too. It wasn’t in New York, Pennsylvania or Washington, D.C. It was in a tiny rural Iowa hospital. I spent her last few days of fighting breast cancer, stranded in the heartland with no way to return myself and 10-month-old son to Texas where my husband was separated from his family, holding together the staff of our company and wondering what was going to happen next. My heart was broken 3 days later again when mom left us too.
The loss of my mother was the most painful thing I have been through in my life. Yet, it gave me a gift. It gave me empathy for those going through the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, this understanding has been tapped many times as the demographics of our company has hit the stage where many are losing parents. I understand that grief doesn’t end when the legal paperwork of the estate gets wrapped up. It doesn’t ease up at the same time or in the same way for everyone. I know that you can bury the feelings and yet they can still be there.
I lived through the following year of 2001-2002 and all the uncertainty the world felt, with an additional anger of being robbed of the sweetest person I will ever meet. I watched the 1-year anniversary roll around with quite a bit of media fanfare and I realized that this would happen for my family forever. Everyone on my staff and my friends that knew us then, remember with me now. Yet others have the date of the loss of their loved ones slip by with few others knowing they need a pat on the back, maybe a little extra time on a deadline or a complete distraction for a few moments on a rough day.
I have no grief counseling training. I am only speaking from experience. I have watched the pain of way too many employees as they know the death of a parent is coming and the inevitable loss. I have been held tight in a hug of more than 1 employee who otherwise may have not touched a co-worker for more than a handshake. But when you are genuine in your kind words at a time when you can tell the pain is there, they grasp to the one who can show them life will go on with a new normalcy. I have found fewer words are often better and an open door is welcome. Keeping the grieving person engaged is usually needed and it usually helps.
It is still draining for me when any of my friends or employees go through the loss of a loved one. It grabs my heart and I feel further invested in them. For me, each time, I can frankly only soothe myself by saying, “at least I won’t have to lose my Mom ever again.” Sometimes that is how I get though it quickly. I can’t believe it has been 10 years since I heard my Mom’s voice but I know I love her as much today as I ever have, so I know it’s all OK.
The 9/11 anniversary is a reminder for each of us to think about what grief is and how we help others deal with it. I can assure you I am willing to help you through it if you want to chat.
Photo credit iStockphoto
A candle does not lose its flame when it lights another candle – Akinyi
If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that we are always fighting against each other to be number one.
Whether it is witholding information so we can seem smarter than our colleague or not truly listening in meetings because we need to be ready to refute what our teammate is saying because we have a better idea and need to look better than s/he, it’s all still the same. When we try to outsmart each other, not truly listen or, in essence, not be a true teammate - we are missing out.
If I interrupt someone in a meeting to give my idea (which maybe have been what my colleague was going to get to before I rudely interrupted), that person will feel small. If I do everything I can to withhold information (lack of knowledge transfer), my team loses out.
I absolutely struggled with this my first few years out of college. I was trying to prove myself; my team needed to know I had a brain and that I could use it appropriately. In doing this, I created a monster: me.
I always felt like someone was trying to make me feel small. I thought it was the culture so,in turn, I did it to people who were hired after me. And guess what that got me? You betcha – absolutely nothing.
What did it create? A walking-on-eggshells sort of relationship with my cohorts. I was always on edge, wanting to be the first to have the answer, to have the new and innovative idea and to be the best. I’m a middle child so, of course, I wanted to be the best. It’s who I am, it’s in my blood.
But what if my TEAM is the best?
When I look at work teams that are strong, I see cohesiveness and team members working and learning together as one. I learn a lot more from others than from trying to be the best me on my own. The more I allow myself to accept the flames of others, the brighter I’ll be. If I take my flame, turn to my colleague and light his/her candle, the brighter we will burn together.
Photo credit iStockPhoto