3 Great Resources for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and I’m proud to say that now, more than ever, organizations and leaders are making a real difference in how women are welcomed for their ideas, innovation and passion in their industries.  We’ve come a long way in bringing women into leadership roles from when I joined the workforce in the 1990’s.  While not perfect just yet, the number of women leaders is on the rise and the way that schools are recruiting women into traditionally male-dominated professions is increasing.  This means that as leaders and whole organizations, we need to encourage our daughters to study and enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.

According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, “Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.”

It has been eye-opening to see some of the resources shared online via social media.  One of the first, and most impressive, celebrations of women was the Infor video I’m sharing here today.  Led by Pam Murphy, COO of Infor, the video highlights real women in HR technology and the women who inspire them.

There are still so many women who are not getting into the technology field, so it makes me happy to see that Infor encourages women in tech.  By recognizing, developing and helping these women shine in a male-dominated field, Infor guides the way on how other organizations can do better.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.19.17 PMAnother resource I’d like to highlight today is my friend, Lois Melbourne.  Lois is currently the Chief Story Officer of My Future Story.  With a background as a CEO in a HR technology company, Lois is on a mission to bring education around STEM careers to more children.  She is doing this through a series of books and an app (coming soon!).  I encourage you to check out the first book here.  I know she is already inspiring my junior high aged children to think more about STEM careers.

The last resource I’ll share is an article on the Huffington Post site.  They offer up the opportunity to learn more about 11 new books written by women.  I encourage you to check them out.

What are you or your organization doing to help promote International Women’s Day?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

3 Things to Avoid on Employee Appreciation Day

*Sharing from the dusty archives…

I have to admit,  I am not a fan of fake holidays.  I always figured if anyone in my life needed to use a made-up reason to say they love me (Valentines Day) or appreciate me (Mother’s Day), then they really don’t know me at all.  I would much rather have someone tell me they love or appreciate me on a random Tuesday then sending me a dozen roses that cost $150 on one of those days.  As an aside, this cynicism likely comes from working at a florist in my teenage years and seeing men forget their loved one until the last minute, then rush in to buy said $150 roses just to stay out of trouble.

candy_jar_tootsieWell, we are on the eve of yet another made up holiday…..Employee Appreciation Day.  It’s coming to an office near you on March 4th.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a BIG supporter of telling your team and all your employees how much you appreciate them.  I am a fan of hand written notes, emails, phone calls, taking them out to lunch and more.  What I am not a fan of is the leader who never tells their employee how much they appreciate them, then only does on March 4th as a way to think it’s “all good” for the year.

There are already articles and letters floating around from various organizations telling leaders how they can recognize their employees easily and with almost no thought at all.  It is unreal.  I’m here to say right now that if you are a leader, it is supposed to be hard, not easy.  It is supposed to take time, you are supposed to give feedback and you should put thought into it.  Here are 3 things you SHOULD do on March 4th, Employee Appreciation Day to turn the tides on the “easy” approaches that are not meaningful:

  1. Form Letters-  First, do NOT send the form letters full of jargon and business-speak.  At least, do not send them in the spirit intended.  Instead, print out the letter with all the (insert employee name here, insert project here, etc.) left in.  Then, hand write a note at the bottom sincerely telling the employee how much you appreciate them and that you’d never send them a form letter like the one the note is written on.  It will be quirky and unique.  Another option is to call the team together and start reading the form letter mentioned above to them.  As they look at you completely perplexed, stop reading and tell them they mean more to you than a form letter could ever say.  Go around the room, in front of their peers, thanking them and giving examples of what each person does to bring value to the team.
  2. Donuts-  I know, you’re probably thinking that Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts is RIGHT on your way to work and you can grab a couple dozen from the drive-thru.  Don’t do it!  Instead, do some reconnaissance today and find out what kind of candy, gum, or healthy snack each team member loves.  Go to the store and buy each employee’s favorite thing.  It will take more effort, that much is true.  The cost will not be more though and I guarantee that a sincere thank you as you hand the person their favorite snack will be well worth the effort.  I once had a boss bring me a huge canister of Tootsie Rolls “just because” I was working hard.  Since that’s one of my favorite candies, it was a wonderful surprise and I knew she valued me.
  3. Gift Cards- We’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy you love.  The same holds true with  a thank you.  Sure, a $5 gift card for coffee is nice, but it’s the easy way out.  Instead, do a more personal act of service.  Something like asking each staff member if they would like something to drink, then going to your company kitchen or the local store, or even coffee shop, and picking it up or making it for them.  It becomes an act of service and for a boss to do something nice that makes them go out of their way is much more meaningful to the employee.

So, there you have it.  Three ways you can make a more meaningful impact in the way you thank your staff.  Oh, and by the way….thank YOU for wanting to do more to recognize them.  It takes a great leader to want to go the extra mile!

What is Your Work Personality?

We hear a lot about office culture lately because of it’s impact on a candidate’s job selection decision as well as the employees’ decision to remain with the company.  Since the culture of workplaces are made up of a hodgepodge of personalities and each one adds a unique twist to the mix, it’s this uniqueness that keeps most of us coming back to the workplaces we love.

I recently came across a link on the National Pen website for a fun quiz that determines your office personality.  It reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago about What You’re Known For At Work.  This quiz is along those lines, so I thought I’d share.  Are you more of a “Debbie Downer” or are you one of the most dynamic personalities in your office?

Click the link to take the quiz: What’s Your Office Personality
toy-guy

Now, fun aside, there is a serious side to knowing your own work personality as well as recognizing the personalities of your colleagues.  The reason it’s important is that depending on who you associate with or work for, it can impact the type of work you produce.  According to the 2014 Productivity Impact Study conducted by Taskworld,  of the 1,000 adults aged 18 and over who were surveyed, nearly half attributed a decline in their productivity to deadlines missed by their colleagues.  They also reported that this decreased productivity affected employee morale, satisfaction, and motivation.

Those are big claims, backed up by data.  When you think about all the people you come into contact at work, I bet you can quickly group them by the following:

  • Helpfulness
  • Knowledge
  • Work-related skill
  • Level of distraction
  • Attitude
  • Trust

So, what was your result?  Do you think your style impacts your colleagues positively or negatively?  I’d love to have you share your thoughts in the comments.  By knowing your style and those of your colleagues, it should help you all embrace your inner selves.

How To Surpass What Your Job Title Says About You

TEDx-1-e1430710475881I had a conversation with one of my friends from India and we were sharing stories about how throughout our careers we have both been known as people who can do more than what our specific job title would indicate.  We weren’t talking about being able to take on more responsibility in order to receive a promotion, we were talking about learning and using skills from another industry to help further our careers.

Breaking out of YOUR mold

I spent many years learning human resources and honing my skills related to compensation, benefits and employee relations.  It wasn’t until I reached my mid-thirties that I realized that I was compelled to learn more about technology, finance, marketing and communications, and ultimately social.  Spending my free time educating myself was some of the best time I’ve ever spent in terms of the return on my investment.  The best compliments I get now are when someone tells me I’m a good writer, a marketer, or an expert for them in social media.

What are you known for?

When I think of the most successful people I know, these are the people who continuously increase their knowledge.  Here 6 steps you can take to update what you are known for and be more than the definition of your job title:

  • Identify industries you want to learn more about-  Before you invest your time, make sure you have carved out a path that is not only going to be interesting for yourself, but one that will actually provide you improved business opportunities in the end.
  • Read as much as you can online about the topic-  The internet brings the best education to us at our fingertips.  It’s easy to find written works from experts in your chosen field as well as video to teach you what they know.
  • Interview “experts” already in that field and ask for recommendations to get up to speed in that industry- This is the time you really need to break out of your comfort zone.  You will be reaching out to people you may not know and asking for them to help you learn.  Keep in mind that many people like to
  • Listen to podcasts on the subject while driving or working out
  • Register for a course online or at a local university
  • Ask to job shadow someone already working in the industry

With a bit of time, a plan, and a desire to learn and expand, you will be able to position yourself to no longer be defined by your job title.  What have you done to change this in your career?  Share with me in the comments.

*from the dusty archives…

LIVE this Friday~ The HR Happy Hour #Oscars Show!

The 88th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 28, 2016.
The 88th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 28, 2016.

This week on a very special HR Happy Hour Show – it’s the 2nd Annual HR Happy Hour Academy Awards Preview and Prediction Show!  Steve and I will review the top movies from 2015, make some predictions on who will be taking home the Oscars, and give a HR/workplace spin on what’s going on with the movies and the Oscars this year.

I know you might be wondering what makes the HR Happy Hour crew qualified to talk Oscars? Well, we do our best to see as many of the nominated movies and we’re true fans.  I think that puts us in a great place to weigh in.  In addition, there are MANY people who love the Oscars as much as we do and we hope you all listen and call in.  It is sure to be a fun and fast-paced hour in what has become a beloved annual tradition on the show.

We hope you can join us this Friday as we break down the awards, make a few predictions, and have some fun on a Friday!  Join us at NOON ET.

HR Happy Hour Oscar Show link

Betting on Gender Pay Equality: How Long Will It Take?

*Today’s guest post is by Mary Sue Rogers (@msrlondon on Twitter).  With over 30 years of experience in Human Capital and Talent Management, Mary Sue has been instrumental in building highly successful outsourcing, consulting and HR technology practices in NA, EMEA and Asia Pacific.  In addition to Human Capital, she is passionate about investing in the future – especially when it comes to women and children.  Spare time is travelling to places that provide great scuba diving.  You can reach out to her directly via her blog SaveHR.com.

There have been several recent articles on the gender pay gap, with various predictions on how long it will take to truly achieve pay equity. Research done by “Right Time” a company in the Manpower Group, said 17 years. Another prediction in the Guardian says 118 years. Personally, I am going with the 118 years if I had to bet.

Closeup of assorted coins.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. The time when the first countries granted women the right to vote (for example NZ) to the last (Saudi Arabia), has been approximately 120 years. The Vatican is the only place in the world that women cannot vote.
  2. It was over 40 years ago that the Equal Rights Amendment was approved by the USA House and Senate, but it was never ratified by enough states, and died in 1982.
  3. It has been only 50 years since the UK and USA banned specifying a preferred gender in recruitment ads, and there are countries where this is still allowed. Japan only passed guidelines in 2015.
  4. It has been just over 40 years since women in the USA who were not married, did not have to have a man guarantee their bank loan irrespective of their financial net worth.
  5. The equal pay act in the USA, UK, and Australia has been in place less than 50 years. For some countries, like Switzerland, it has been less than 25 years.

So if you were Hilary Clinton, when you left University at age 21, it was still legal to specify gender in a recruitment ad. She would have had to ask her dad to co-sign for a loan, and if she was born in the UK, it would have been legal to discriminate due to gender.

For Ginni Rometty, Meg Whitman or Mary Barra, CEO’s of some of the world’s largest companies, when they graduated from university the USA was struggling to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. In the UK they would have been taxed with their husbands and not as individuals. If they were in Japan, they would not have been able to keep their name when they got married, they had to change to their husbands.

If you were Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co, who was born in India, it was even more challenging as India did not give women the right to vote until 1945. This was just 10 years before she was born. Things were similar for Angela Merkel who was born in the old GDR (East Germany), which was under Russian rule until 1954, the year she was born.

If you used historical change to forecast the future you would most likely bet with the Guardian prediction of 118 years. In 2014, the median full-time wage and salary for women was 81% of what it was for men, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. The 19 cent difference is an improvement from 38 cents in 1979. So 35 years to gain 19 cents. And according to the same source, the difference has remained between 17 and 20 cents for the past dozen years. So forecasting would put you at best case around 35 years, worse case forever.

Equal pay is very important for global and local economic and social wellbeing. We should get there as fast as we can, but if I was going to have a flutter on when based on history I would place my bet with the 100 versus the 20 years. Maybe governments and business around the world will prove me wrong.

HR Can’t Be Strategic If They’re Busy Being Your Mother

noseI’ve been honored to work in the HR industry for twenty years.  Honestly, with all the perceived negatives, there are so many more great moments that make working with people worthwhile.  But, as I sit here as an analyst, conducting research surveys and interviewing HR leaders, I find it sad that we are not really moving the needle as much as we should.  Why?  Because organizations ask HR to be more strategic while making them take care of the unusual, mundane and sometimes gross aspects of people management.

Unusual?  Gross? Mundane?

Yes, HR leaders and their teams are still doing the “dirty work” that managers don’t want to handle.  Do you have an employee with body odor and don’t want to handle it?  Just go to HR and they will address it for you.  What about the employee that dresses inappropriately, showing just a little too much of their stuff?  Yes, just take that one to HR too.  Here’s one for you….employees rubbing boogers on the men’s room mirror?  Yes, even that can come to HR to address.  I know these may sound like things a parent would address with a child, but I assure you these are all very real in our workplaces.

I don’t know how the HR department became the keeper of all these great incidents, but I am ready to hear that the managers in the organization are stepping up to handle them.  Then, and only then, will your HR teams have time to actually work on strategic things to help drive revenue or support the business goals of the company.

What about you?  If you work in HR, are you still spending time on these issues, “mothering” employees and leaders, or am I just happening to get a lot of stories from the trenches that are not true?  I’d love to hear your comments….

Suffering at Work: The Skeleton That Supports the Flesh of Genius

whiplash-2014-movie-review-car-accident-playing-drums-bloody-andrew-neiman-miles-tellerFor those who know me or listen to me on HR Happy Hour, you’ll know that each year, I rush out and binge on as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can.  There is something magnetic about a movie intended to make you really think compared to all the summer blockbuster action movies that are just around the bend.  Well, this time last year, I had the pleasure of watching Whiplash.  It’s a movie about the complex relationship between a student and his conductor of a jazz band.  But more than that, my takeaway then was that it’s about the need to go through harsh feedback and sometimes pain in order to develop.

When I wrote Cringeworthy Feedback: How to Take it and How to Dish it Out, I was so close to seeing the film that it was all I could think about.  Now, a year later and after watching the movie a few more times, I see it’s like an onion and I’m peeling the multitude of layers back to reveal even more significant meaning.  So you see, it’s the perfect Oscar movie because it continues to make me think about what lessons come from examining the relationships.  Dr. Matt Stollak, beloved friend and professor at St. Norbert College, shared an article with me that made me want to revisit some of the themes from Whiplash.  The article he shared was a review by Matt Zoller Seitz called 30 Minutes on Whiplash.  In his article, Matt says:

“This formulation is insidious, cruel, reductive, joyless. It turns the pursuit of artistic excellence into a referendum on the ability to endure shame, rejection, public humiliation, doubt and physical punishment. It’s as singleminded in equating endurance and transcendence as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Nevertheless, as a indicator of future success, the ability to withstand suffering is hard to beat. It might in fact be the skeleton that supports the flesh of genius.”

As I read that, I focused on the suffering.  Do we need to suffer for our art?  Do we need to suffer in order to experience greatness and excellence?

I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about these questions in relation to greatness or excellence at work.  I’ve had a more practical approach and that is if you work hard, it leads to success and excellence at work.  When I really think about those key moments in my life that made a difference in the way my work habits developed, they involve failure.  They involved hardship, doubt, insecurity and many feelings that are negative.  From that, the work that was forged became more meaningful to me because I felt that I really had to work even harder to overcome the obstacles.   I wonder if I would have achieved many of the successes I have without the hardships.

I think not.

So, what about you?  If you have reached levels of excellence in your career that you’re proud of, were you able to get there without suffering?  I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments….