Blogging Elsewhere…

February 14, 2011

Thanks for stopping by HumanityInc.  As of February 14, 2011 I am no longer blogging on a new site.  You can find all the great content from this blog and brand new stuff at HRChatterbox.  You can still find me on Twitter and Linkedin.

Have a wonderful day!

Wrapping Things Up Here….

February 1, 2011

Consider this my official two weeks notice.  This blog has been a lot like my first “real” job out of college.  I came into it with no idea what to expect, no idea what I was doing and no idea how the experience it provided would prepare me for the next step.  Just like my first job, the time has come to move on.

I will be launching my new blog on February 14th – Valentine’s Day.  I am not normally a symbolic person but since the opportunity presents itself, Valentine’s Day seems appropriate.  I was not sure if I would enjoy blogging when I first started, but I have come to really love it.  There is something very cathartic in writing for me.  The blog has allowed me an outlet for my thoughts, ideas and even a place to share a bit of my home life.  It has become something special to me.  So on that day, HR Chatterbox – the new blog, will be live.

I will be writing here once or twice more, probably only for my weekly job updates, and officially closing this site sometime next week.   I hope all of my wonderful subscribers will follow me over to my new home.  The look will change, the features will change, but the content will stay the same.  I will still write about communication and building relationships in the workplace.  I will still write about issues related to Human Resources.  I will still write about complete randomness as the mood hits.

Why HR Chatterbox?  Well that is a good question.  One you’ll have to read about on the new site!  Hope to see you there!

To read part 1 – click here

Is your seatbelt on? Let’s get started with our discussion about the generations that exist in today’s workplace by learning about the Vets. As I mentioned in the introduction the Vets start around age 70 and just keep going. Now, you are probably asking yourself why is it important to talk about senior adults if this blog is intended to help employers manage employees. The answer is simple. The Vets make up 5-10% of the U.S. workforce and many of them are coming out of retirement. Their knowledge, skills, abilities and life experiences should not be dismissed. They have got it going on!

The Vets are a frugal group that believe working hard and doing good work is its own reward. Did you hear me? They believe that work in and of itself is the reward. Could someone please run and tell the Boomers about them? I digress. We will talk about the Boomers later.

The Vets survived two World Wars. I mean really, isn’t one world war enough per generation?  In addition, one can presume that this generation’s propensity to be frugal comes from the fact that they also lived through the Great Depression. If you have ever heard the phrase a penny saved is a penny earned you can likely thank your grandparents or a member of the Vet generation. This is their creed.

The Vets are loyal. This is the group of employees that stop looking at the help wanteds once they have a job. They know that grass isn’t greener on the other side, because they have been to the other side and back, maybe more than once.

They are productive. They stick with it and finish the task no matter how cumbersome or monotonous. This is the group that likely coined the phrase, pull yourself up by your boot straps and get going! They are tough cookies and because work is its own reward they will tough it out through the good times and the bad.

The Vets believe strongly that they should work for the common good of the entire group. This, no doubt comes from their experiences during War and economic collapse. Had they not worked together for the common good they may not have survived the times. They know the agony of defeat, but they also know the thrill of victory through hard work, perseverance and cooperation.

If you work in one of the lucky organizations that still have some Vets in your workforce learn from them. Model their behavior. Find out what motivates them. Ask them for insight. Respect them and seek to understand them. This generation has so much to tell us, but they will not until we ask.

It is impossible to capture all of the complexities of one generation in a short blog. Hopefully this will prompt you to do more research on the subject. I look forward to our next adventure with the sons and daughters of the Vets – The Boomers. We are on cruise control now.

No Experts Here!

September 21, 2010

As I become more and more engaged in social media, I’m intrigued by the number of people who call themselves experts on the subject. On any given day you can find no less than 20 (probably more like 200) tweets asking you to read some blog post from an expert who can show you how to utilize twitter, facebook or linkedin to their fullest potential.  I usually get at least 2 direct messages, emails or connection requests from people wanting to help me get the most out of these tools.  Self-proclaimed social media guru’s are everywhere and I have to admit, I’m a little leery.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no doubt that there are people who know a lot about social media, certainly a lot more than me.  It’s just the word expert that I get hung up on.  Webster’s defines the word this way:  a person who has special knowledge or skill in a particular field; authority.  On finite subjects, I believe one can be an expert.  For example, in the world of HR, many are experts on FMLA.  We make sure we know every point so that our administration of that law doesn’t land us in hot water.  We become experts because we have too – until the law changes of course.  An astronomer can be an expert on how the planets rotate the sun, until a new gravitational pull is discovered, then they have something new to learn.  My point is this.  An expert is only an expert as long as they have special knowledge.  Once new information is added that expert has new things to learn and if they don’t then they can’t really call themselves an expert anymore.

All of this is to say that, in my opinion, social media changes everyday and what works for one may not work for another.  “Experts” would have to be on top of the latest changes at all times and I’m just not sure that’s possible.  That certainly isn’t to say that I wouldn’t seek out one of these people for advice or feedback, but it would be because they know more than I do, not because I think they are an expert.  I think social media for most is a series of trial and error events that have taught them valuable lessons.  Lessons that may or may not be helpful to someone else.

Maybe if they called themselves a social media work in progress, I’d believe them. Read the rest of this entry »

Fewer things get my blood boiling faster than passive aggressive behavior.  Clearly, I believe communication is a key component to effective workplace relationships.  I’ve talked about it here, here and here.  Nothing derails open and honest communication faster than passive aggressive behavior.  You know what I’m talking about: the roll of the eyes, the silent treatment followed by a “Nothing” when asked what is wrong,  or the snide, under the breath comment while walking away.  All of these things make me want to (as we say in the south) snatch someone bald.

In the workplace, passive aggressive behavior adds no value.  Often passive aggressiveness, especially between manager and direct report, is a way to avoid a full confrontation – the easy way out.  The result is an employee who may not even understand what they have done wrong and certainly has no idea how to fix it.  It also means that nothing is solved until the manager decides to get over it.

If feedback is necessary, give it appropriately.  If you are unsure or concerned about confrontation, get advice from a peer, mentor or HR professional.  Don’t expect employees to translate your passive aggressive behavior into actionable items they need to address.  They aren’t mind readers – or eye roll readers.

Soul Searching

July 20, 2010

For the last five years I have had the privilege of working from a home office half of the time and working on the road the other half. While any road warrior knows how daunting traveling can be after a while, one does grow quite accustomed to the variability that each day brings.  One day I was participating in conference calls in my pajamas and the next in an airport.  I enjoyed every day being so different from the last.  In May of this year, I was laid off from that job.  On the personal side, the timing could not have been better.  I had my first child in January and the lay off has allowed me much more precious time with him.  On the professional side, I am a little freaked out about what the future holds.

You see, I’ve decided that I don’t want to just go find a job.  I want to do something I’m passionate about, something that gets me going in the morning. I peruse the job boards and social media sites daily to see what’s out there and (luckily) there seems to be a lot of opportunity in my field.  As of yet, however, nothing has made me really excited.  Because I am used to working from home or on the go, the thought of going back into an office setting makes my skin crawl.  Add that to the fact that none of the jobs I’ve seen offer any allure and I’m really concerned.  There is a very real possibility that I could end up in an office, with a job I don’t love and a long commute to get there.  No thanks.

There seems to be this epidemic of settling when it comes to careers.  In discussions with friends and family about my search, the common response is that finding something I love would be nice, but I probably just need to find something that I can live with.  Have we all just given up hope of ever being satisfied in our work as long as we have a job?  If I hear one more time, that in this economy, I can’t be choosy, I may scream.  Considering the amount of hours most of us spend at work and the effect that our experiences at work have on every other part of our life, we should all be doing something we truly enjoy.

I don’t want to settle.  I want to keep looking until I figure out what it is that is going to make me truly excited about my work.  I’m blessed to have an understanding husband who is giving me time to find the right fit and I plan on taking advantage of that.  What about you?  Are you doing what you love or are you content just getting a paycheck?  If you could do anything in the world, would it be what you are doing right now?  Life really is over in a blink.  In my opinion, that’s too short a time to be lukewarm about anything, especially our work.

First, for those of you not on Twitter, Follow Friday (#FF) is a way for people to suggest/recommend/promote someone on Twitter that they think you should follow.  It happens every Friday with thousands of #FF tweets.

Beginning next Friday (July 23rd), I am going to devote my Follow Friday’s to businesses who I think get “it”.  Companies that understand that their best assets are their employees and as such, ensure effort is made to understand, motivate and enrich will be written about in a brief post and then promoted on #FF.  I’m talking about companies who not only talk about how important employee engagement and morale is, but actually focus on it.  Recognizing companies in this way gives potential employees and customers insight into what really goes on behind the scenes and could influence a positive decision in the company’s favor.  It also gives other employers ideas that could really help impact their overall morale.

Here are a few things that help me identify if a company get’s it:

  • Work-life balance isn’t just a buzz word, but is encouraged through creative scheduling, time off and overall flexibility when “life happens” to employees.
  • Employee surveys are administered and the results are given high visibility at all levels of management.  Action plans are written to address problem areas and actually executed on.
  • Communication is a core value and flows from the top down and the bottom up equally and often.
  • Managers who lead by threat, fear and intimidation are not rewarded even if goals are being met.

Of course the list could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.  I have a few companies who I feel fit the bill, based on either work I’ve done for them or just interaction from a customer standpoint.  There are thousands of companies out there however and I’m going to need help identifying the really good ones.  Do you know a company who truly values their employees?  If so, let me know and I’ll make sure they are recognized.

In my last post, I quoted John Maxwell from the book, Relationships 101.  He said, “Every person is capable of having the ability to understand, motivate, and ultimately influence others.”  I talked about understanding here which is the first step to motivating and influencing.  All three are crucial to leadership.

Motivation is a skill that requires focusing on the person you want to motivate and adapting your style to them.  So often, our motivational attempts fail because we used methods that would work on us, not the other person.  If you wanted to motivate a five year old child to clean his room, you wouldn’t use the same tactics as a fifteen year old teenager.  Motivation is different for everyone and again, why really understanding the person is required.

Influence is a skill that requires time.  It’s hard to influence someone you just met regardless of how charismatic you are.  Relationships preempt influence.  People need to see who you are, understand if they can trust you and watch how you work in order for you to influence them.  Influence is a trait that can easily go the other way too.  We can just as easily influence someone in a negative manner as we can in a positive manner.

There is a fine line between motivation/influence and manipulation.  Motivation and influence should be skills used to challenge employees, make them realize their full potential and enrich their position.  They should not be used as devious management tactics often to the advantage of oneself.  Manipulation only works for so long before someone catches on.  Once your motives are in question, it’s hard to regain your ability to influence.

I love Maxwell’s statement.  After a solid relationship is built, understanding, motivation and influence are essential to momentum. Without them, complacency and burnout take hold and progress is stalled.  Hone these skills and add them to your toolbox, use them often and appropriately, and results are sure to follow.

Enlightened Intelligence

July 12, 2010

In his book, Relationships 101, John Maxwell makes this statement, “Every person is capable of having the ability to understand, motivate, and ultimately influence others.”  As I read that over and over, I find it absolutely profound.  In my career, I know I have underestimated my ability to affect others on far too many occasions than I would like to admit.  The result is either a lost opportunity or a broken relationship; often both.

The first ability Maxwell notes is understanding.  I think that was purposeful.  If we want to motivate and influence others, we have to understand them.  Understanding brings about a level of enlightened intelligence that makes our every interaction with them more effective.

The easiest way to understand someone is to take the time to get to know them.  Not just superficial things like the names of their kids or where they went to college, but stuff that gets to the heart of who they are.   What makes them excited?  What is their motivation for getting up in the morning?  What do they want others to say about them?  What irritates them?  What completely shuts them down?  What do they know now that they wish they knew 10 years ago?  Truly understanding someone gives you the ability to adapt your style to the person.  If you know that sending them fifteen emails in five minutes shuts them down, then you aren’t likely to do that if you want them to be productive.

This level of understanding should be done with everyone you interact with on a daily basis, not just those who report to you.  I’m sure you can imagine how really understanding what makes your supervisor tick might improve that relationship.  It may take a little more time and effort, but it is essential to motivating and influencing others.

Since so many are attending SHRM10 in San Diego this week, I thought I would write a short post about my experiences at SHRM07 and SHRM08.  I have had the unique opportunity to attend as a participant and a volunteer.

SHRM 2007 – Las Vegas
This conference was not only my first SHRM conference, but my first conference of this size.  I had never experienced conferences on this grand scale and have to admit I was skeptical.  The location was one that could easily distract anyone and I wondered if the conference would really be that good to keep my attention away from all that Vegas has to offer.  It was.  From the myriad of speakers, larger than expected exhibit area, networking opportunities (both social and work related) and endless resources focused on re-energizing, I was hooked.  I walked away with a huge sense of pride in my profession that I hadn’t felt before.

SHRM 2008 – Chicago
In 2009, the conference was in my hometown.  This afforded me the wonderful opportunity of volunteering at the conference.
The volunteer process is extremely organized which is vital to a conference that is held in the largest convention center in America.  I found the SHRM staff to be extremely friendly and easy to work with.  There was just the right amount of pre-conference communication, orientation and information sharing to ensure volunteers were well prepared.  I served as a session host (announcing the speaker, collecting session surveys) and a guide.  Both were wonderful experiences that allowed me to broaden my horizons socially and professionally.  I would volunteer again in a heartbeat.

If you have not had the opportunity to attend a SHRM conference, I highly recommend it.  I promise you will walk away refreshed and re-energized with a brand new perspective.  I hope everyone attending SHRM10 in San Diego is enjoying the conference and I hope to see you next year!