Organization and Planning Skills and a Willingness to Get Involved [HR Leader Series]

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in the HR Leader Series, in which Women of HR contributor Rowena Morais features successful HR leaders who talk about the habits made the biggest impact in their professional lives.  You can read the first post in the series here.


The Secrets of My Success – Sharlyn Lauby


An author, writer, speaker and consultant, Sharlyn Lauby is president of ITM Group Inc. which has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida. Sharlyn is well-known for her work on HR Bartender,  a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The site has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 Blogs HR Pros Love to Read” by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). And she recently published her first book, Essential Meeting Blueprints for Managers.
For these reasons, I got in touch with Sharlyn to talk about the habits that led to her success. My question to her : Can you tell me three habits that have got you to where you are today?


This is what she had to say.


Habit #1 I’m a planner

And a pretty good one, if I may say so. That’s not to say there aren’t times when I should probably plan a little less, but for the most part, my planning skills have really helped me in my human resources career. I use my planning skills to think ahead. Here’s a story to illustrate.

Years ago, I was the regional human resources manager for a company going through a major expansion. We were hiring hundreds of people. It was a major effort and my boss, the vice president of HR was a key figure in the recruiting strategy.

Well, she called me one day and asked me to fly up to headquarters to help with a job fair the company was hosting. Of course I did and at the end of the day, she asked me what I thought of the process. So I told her.

I said that I thought X, Y, and Z went incredibly well and that in the future I would consider adding A, B, and C to the strategy. She thanked me for my input and I went home. A couple of weeks later, she asked me to come to headquarters again. When she picked me up at the airport, she started talking about how lovely the city was in autumn.

I called my husband and said, “We’re going to get asked to move. Better figure out the answer.” And a week later, I was asked to relocate. The good news is I planned for it and had my answer ready.


Habit #2 I’m ridiculously organized

Planning and organization go together but they aren’t the same thing. Planning is about having goals and working toward those goals. Or in the case of my story above, thinking about what you want. Organizing is about order and structure. I like knowing where things are. Everything has a place.

I used to work with someone who shared with me her technique for staying organized. I loved it and have been using it ever since. I have two pendaflex folders – one labeled by month and the other by numbers.

When I receive something that I need to hang onto for a few weeks or months, I just file it in the pendaflex under that month. That way, it’s off my desk and I’ll deal with it at the right time. Then at the beginning of the month, I organize the papers by the date/number of the month. So, if I’m going to be on a conference call on the 16th of the month, and I need to review a report prior, I will put the report in the pendaflex on the 14th – giving me time to review prior to the call.


Habit #3 is my willingness to get involved

I don’t make the assumption that I can’t do something or shouldn’t participate. Quite the contrary, I’ve found in my career that asking to participate on project teams, committees, etc. was met more often than not with “Absolutely, we’d love to have you.”

One of the best examples was being a volunteer leader for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM.) As a volunteer, I’ve been the president of a entity with $1M revenue, which is absolutely fantastic experience if you’re thinking about consulting and entrepreneurship. We had to manage people and processes. The organization had all of the same functions as a company: marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, etc. It can be very difficult to get that kind of experience. But, as a volunteer leader, I was welcomed to take the role.
What habits do you believe are helping to make the difference in your life?


Sharlyn Lauby is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. Sharlyn previously served as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) and Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility special expertise panel. Her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.Connect with Sharlyn on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

About the Author

Rowena Morais

Editor and Program Director at, a media and learning organisation, Rowena Morais is an entrepreneur, writer and editor. She supports Human Resource and Technology professionals in their career development through articles, podcasts, interviews and a range of internationally accredited, in-demand technical and professional courses offered throughout Asia Pacific and the Middle East. A ghostwriter, you can also find out more about Rowena at Rowena tweets at @rowenamorais.

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