What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

*from the dusty archives, but still relevant today…

Growing up, did you imagine yourself as a professional baseball player or firefighter?  Maybe you wanted to be a ballerina, movie star or princess.  As children, we all have dreams and fantasies of what we’ll be like as adults.  As we approach our teen years, we tend to start giving it more thought and consider being doctors, veterinarians, or other jobs we hear about.

When did you know what you wanted to be?

I heard a 23 year old young lady tell the story of how she went off to college completely unsure of what she wanted to do.  She couldn’t decide.  Now, at 23, she had dropped out to figure it out.  She was frustrated it didn’t just come to her.

Some people have a calling, some of us are told what our parents think we should become, and some just have to figure it out.  I am quite certain I had no idea what human resources was as I was growing up so it would not have been a career to consider.  It wasn’t until half way through college that I figured it out.

On the flip side

The other side of the coin is that maybe it’s better to never get settled into something to the point you get stagnant.  In the HR industry, there are so many options of how to use your skills that you can start out working in recruiting, move to compensation analysis, choose another job in benefits and wind up leading HR for a company.

So, how would you advise that 23 year old?  I’d tell her to:

  • Ask herself what she really loves doing, not for money.  Then, try to find a job that incorporates that, or skills like that, into a job.
  • Finish her education.  If nothing else, make sure to get a good general education.  It’s not so much about learning the subjects, it’s learning how to think and process information.  It’s learning how to organize and plan.  All good skills for many careers.
  • Job Shadow.  When in doubt, find several jobs that seem interesting and ask to shadow someone who does that job.

What advice would you give?  Share in the comments….

Over 40? Don’t Work More Than 25 Hours a Week

clockHave you heard about the recent study released by the University of Melbourne’s Neuroscience Institute?  In their Applied Economic and Social Research study, they looked at the optimal number of hours a week an employee should work.  Their findings were surprising, to say the least.  Research showed that for every hour you work up to 25 hours a week, your cognitive function steadily increases.  Any hours worked above that threshold sees a decline in cognitive function.  They also say that workers over 40 who work more than 25 hours a week have a harder time recovering from any loss in cognitive function.

If this is true, you can only start imagining the implications.  When you think about the employees that are the decision makers in an organization, it is typically people over 40 years old who work more than 40 hours per week.  In fact, many work 50- 60+ hours a week.  What does it mean when you have your leaders losing cognitive function, yet making major strategic decisions?  Is this something we should worry about?  Additionally, when you think of the traditional 8 hour workday, there are many employees that waste several hours a day at work, so are they already working 25 hours per week?

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this study will make anything change overnight.  However, it does give food for thought as we look to ways of working smarter and more collaboratively.  Some questions that come to mind:

  • Would providing a more collaborative workplace be able to support employees working fewer hours?
  • Are there certain times of day where decision-making is optimal?  If so, could concentrating work hours around those times lead to being able to work fewer hours?
  • Are there process changes that can be made to better support employees working PT hours?
  • If workplace changes were made, would employees even agree to work fewer hours?  Would this mean less pay, or more productivity in fewer hours?
  • What are the cost savings associated with more PT workers?
  • Do these findings better support the claim that by 2020, as many as 40%- 50% of jobs will be held by contingent workers?

Like many research studies, there are more questions than answers.  The next thing we know, researchers will be telling us to drink at work.  Oh wait, they already have.  At any rate, it’s fun to think about all the implications.  What do you think?  Would working fewer hours be good for you?  For your organization?  I welcome you to tell me what you think in the comments.

 

 

 

Elements of an Effective Coaching Relationship

As I write this, I am visiting Zhuhai, China, as a speaker at the HR Technology China conference.  You might assume that being at an event like this, all discussions are about technology and the tools leaders need to make managing the people in an organization a smooth, seamless function.  If so, you are only partially correct.  One of the things I love about working to better the people-experience in an organization is that no matter what part of the world I visit, the main theme remains around the “human” side of things.  Making connections between people remains a universal need. zhuhai

I my short time here, I have learned that the Chinese are:

  • Very proud people-  From speaking with Liu Jiawen, the Vice Mayor of Zhuhai Municipal People’s Government to Hua Fuzhou, President of the China Association for Labour Studies,  they communicate that the people of China, and specifically Zhuhai, are proud of their city and the culture it offers to it’s residents and visitors.  I have never felt so welcome anywhere I’ve traveled.
  • A hardworking people- The level of attention to every detail whether in a service role or in a thought leader role is the highest I’ve ever observed.  It’s not just about being at someone’s service either.  It’s the warmest feeling when people are working hard to ensure that you are comfortable and connecting.
  • An innovative people-  Everywhere I look, there are signs of innovation and creation.  The Chinese are demonstrating their commitment to making their cities more accessible as well as more sustainable.  In addition, they are focused on improving the technologies that keep the new ideas developing.

All of these things are important for any country, or organization, to grow and remain relevant.

Elements of an Effective Coaching Relationship:

The common thread I see from the pride, hard work and innovation is that there is constant coaching and reinforcement going on here.  More junior workers are being trained to enhance their skills.  They are taking cues and guidance from the more senior members of their team, and they are welcoming that coaching.  That leads me to the conclusion that an effective coach is only as good as the level of change the coachee is willing to accept.

I’ve written about coaching in the past from the perspective of what the coach can do to build strong skills or connect to the coachee.  Whether it’s in Coaching Made Easy or in Creating A Coaching Culture and the related Rules of Engagement, the focus has been on the relationship between the coach and coachee.  While some coaching relationships go on for years, others last only a short time or are for a specific reason. The coach and employee can negotiate the “why” of it all together.  Coaching is a voluntary arrangement. In order to be coached, the employee has to want the relationship and it has to be “at will”.

I challenge you to think about your own team and the leaders that you work with today.  Are you all focused on the pride you have while working together?  Are you elevating the innovation in your organization?  Finally, are you doing all you can to create that connection as people?  If not, now is the time to adjust.  Focusing on elements that bring meaning to the hard work you’re doing is the catalyst that will drive systematic, cultural change in your organization.  In turn, your business outcomes will be truly transformed.

Thank you to the Zhuhai, China labor delegation, China Star, Steve Boese and LRP Publications for hosting such a wonderful event and for making the learning possible.

5 Ways to Avoid Job Burnout

pg-job-burnout-signs-05-fullBlogging is interesting because sometimes you research and report, other times you give pure opinion.  Today is an opinion day, and it’s a fine line between doing that and becoming “preachy”.  The truth is that there have been times when I’ve been nearing job burnout during my career.  Face it, we all have those times.  It’s important to think about ways to head that off instead of waiting for things to get to that point.

One of the most stressful, and best, moves I’ve made has been working for myself.  I have to generate all the sales and then deliver to my clients.  That alone is enough to keep me up at night.  The strange thing is that as soon as I started working for myself in a position that fully aligned with my values, I began sleeping through the night again.  That had not been the case before.  I wondered what was different, because the workload and stress certainly was not less.

I came up with several things I had changed to make my working experience better for me.  I find these work, and I hope they work for you.

5 Keys to Avoiding Job Burnout

  1. Focus on your health- First and foremost, I learned that all the bad habits I had working for other people carried over to working for myself.  For example, I realized I am not good about taking breaks to eat lunch or a snack.  I’m bad about making time to exercise or even move around much during the day.  The first real change I made was to adopt a clean eating strategy.  This is not about weight loss or being on a diet.  It’s about telling myself every day that I mean something.  I’m important.  I don’t know why this has been such a revelation, but I feel that dedicating that extra time to cooking good food for myself instead of skipping meals has had so many benefits.  For a great guide to start eating clean, check out the Clean Eating online magazine.  There are some great meal plans to get you started.  Surprisingly, you’ll start to feel exponentially better within a week.
  2. Prioritize and purge-  We’ve all heard, ad nauseam, that we need to prioritize our workload.  Well, when you work for yourself, you are suddenly plunged into not having enough hours in the day.  Literally.  So, the only option was not only to prioritize my work, but to purge anything that didn’t align with those goals.  Looking back over the last 11 months I’ve been my own boss, I can see how beneficial this has been.  The main result is that I really feel less stressed.
  3. Reward yourself-  Sitting back and seeing all the companies that give employee recognition makes me smile.  For example, Globoforce is doing great things to bridge that gap for companies and employees.  I buy into this whole idea of making work “More Human” and as I’ve followed Globoforce and their efforts in this arena, it really makes sense.  The difference for me is that now, I’m the only person who can choose to recognize me.  At first, it seemed a little half-baked, but as I’ve started doing this, it really works.  I don’t have a regular schedule, and some weeks are more hectic than others.  I’m finding that even running out for a frozen yogurt in the middle of the workday is a nice way to treat myself.  The real difference is that now I am mindful that I’m rewarding myself.  Whatever the psychology, it works.  So….how are you going to treat yourself today?
  4. Make friends at work-  For years, working in HR, you learn that HR is no one’s friend.  Sure, I have managed to make a few over the years, but for the most part, working in HR you have to be a lone wolf.  Now that it’s just me at work, you’d think I have no hope.  Quite the opposite.  I’ve made a point to partner with industry colleagues who not only are smarter than me in many areas of HCM, I can rely on them to have my back.  What an awesome feeling!  For example, in this past year, I joined forces with some HCM colleagues in forming the HR Federation.  By having a trusted group of people, it’s amazing what it does for your psyche and your productivity.  Point being… get a friend!
  5. Take a retreat-  This is another tip I never bought into in my corporate life.  I boldly took my first retreat this past January and I cannot even tell you how many great things have come from taking this time.  Much like a reward for myself, I felt that as a working Mom, it would be selfish for me to go away alone.  I also travel for work, so taking a separate trip seemed unfair to my family.  I WAS WRONG!  I spent a long weekend at the beach by myself.  I didn’t keep the TV on.  I walked a lot.  I thought a lot.  I enjoyed eating alone and just observing the world.  The beauty of this was that I not only had time to be quiet and uninterrupted, I was able to make some major business and personal decisions because I finally made time to listen to myself.  For more about the benefits of a personal retreat, check out this HR Happy Hour episode I recorded with Laurie Ruettimann.  She also took a retreat this year and shares some great learning from her journey.

All these actions lead to a more human work experience for YOU.  Take a moment today and think about what you can do for yourself.  In addition, consider joining me at Globoforce’s WorkHuman event May 9- 11 in Orlando.  We’ll learn and practice even more ways of focusing on how to humanize the work experience.  Use discount code WH16TM300.

Planning Your Annual Benefits Strategy

adpIf you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed I have not been as active on my blog.  Over the years, I’ve written for several solution providers and other websites.  I love to write, but since I’m only one person, if I am asked to write for another site, it typically means I don’t have time to write here too.  I’m excited to share that I’m writing for ADP’s Spark blog.  I’ll still be writing here at HRRingleader.com, but when I have an article for ADP, I’ll share the link here too.

If you’re someone who is involved in planning your company’s benefit strategy, I hope you’ll check out (and share) my latest post:  Planning Your Open Enrollment- It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.  I hope you’ll click through and check it out.  I feel strongly about being prepared for benefit planning and hope these suggestions help your organization and you.

Are You the Grit of the Company?

gritI was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning after dropping my kids at school.  Normally, they are doing the market report when I’m in the car, but today, my timing was off and the show hosts were discussing how difficult it can be to predict the future of organizations with a former Intel futurist.  As he described the role and how he handled it, at one point he referred to himself as the “grit” inside the organization that often had to tell other leaders what no one else would say.

I started thinking about how I behave inside organizations and ultimately, how you behave too.  There are many times I’ve found myself being the grit in organizations.  Grit, or being abrasive, is thought of as a negative.  I don’t think it has to be a negative label though, it’s quite the opposite.  Being seen as the grit should mean you’re a go-to person who will be honest and tell leadership where the gaps in thinking may be.  In fact, it goes beyond that to being able to tell leaders which paths they should not be taking.

The key to being the “grit” in a positive way is finesse.  One thing I’ve learned over the last twenty of my career is that being disruptive may be fun, but it does not make for the ability to bring change on a consistent basis.  Since many people still enjoy working for one employer for a long period of time, understanding how to be influential without being completely abrasive is an art.  Those are the leaders that actually drive change in organizations.  I found a fascinating article on Forbes that details the 5 Characteristics of Grit.  I encourage you to check it out to see which characteristics you have.  Things like resilience,  endurance, excellence, conscientiousness, and courage are all important in determining the level of grit you have.

So now that we’ve determined that grit can be a positive in the workplace, how can you tell if you’re style of grit is disruptive vs. influential?  

DISRUPTIVE OR INFLUENTIAL?

  • Do the C-Suite execs avoid you because you are constantly telling them to do things differently?  Disruptive
  • Are you the first person the executives call when they have an issue?  Influential
  • Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to “sell” the same idea to every executive and can’t get anyone on board? Disruptive
  • Do you curse or swear a lot at work for no real reason? Disruptive
  • Do people eventually come around to your ideas, even if they need a little time to digest the idea before embracing it?  Influential
  • Are you honest?  Influential
  • Brutally honest at all costs?  Disruptive

Like most people, I want to change the world.  I’m sure you do too.  And while there are a few “disruptors” who make a name for themselves and get positive change in spite of their approach, most people prefer to be influenced.  I learned early on that being influential is not about your job title.  It’s all in your style and the way you bring other people over to your way of thinking.  It’s also about being open to new ideas….even if it means discarding your own ideas.

So, which are you? I’d love to hear from you…

#AmericansInLondon A Collaborative Look at HR Learning in London

I’m HUNGRY!

By Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management at Associated Materials

12813971_10156716950515523_388711202620285107_nI hate that feeling…I was hungry. I was REALLY hungry. One of those times when I didn’t even realize how long it’s been since I’d eaten and I’m thinking, “Holy Crap, I’m so hungry, I’m dying here”. Come to find out I wasn’t really hungry for food, I was hungry for learning.

My Q4-Q1 work schedule as a corporate Director of Talent Management had been a bit brutal. A new boss, several enterprise-wide and functional initiatives on both recruiting and development sides of my “shop” with lots of heavy lifting, travel and deliverables. All leaving very little time to feed my learning needs. I was REALLY, REALLY hungry when I saw Bill Boorman’s Facebook post at the end of February about how the fast-approaching March #trulondon was shaping up. It appeared to be shaping up very nicely indeed. Over 100 registered, a very strong group of track leaders with solid topics, an “interesting” location, so of course I, randomly and without any clear strategy, clicked and registered to attend an unconference in London which was now less than three weeks away.

Of course two minutes after I’d registered Bill messaged me asking if I’d like to be a track leader. The great thing about the tru track format is that it’s part knowledge, part experience, part improv and ALL about the discussion. Suffice to say I’m now able to add “tru Track Leader” to my LinkedIn profile!

What a great decision! <patting myself on the back>. Add to the reasons listed above, I could also plan visits with friends and colleagues that I hadn’t seen since working in UK in 2006, jump on an opportunity to attend #HRTechWorld being held in London the following two days, and connect with some HR leadership pals that I hadn’t seen in some time, hence the #AmericansInLondon hashtag. #winning

Ultimately, and fortunately, I responded to an internal need that I hadn’t yet recognized or acknowledged…I was REALLY hungry for learning! And I was able to satisfy that incredible hunger with a fantastic learning experience at #trulondon and was lucky enough to connect that to extra learning at #HRTechWorld. Fantastic experiences at both events, connecting with old and new friends during a few days of serious learning and networking…WOW, did I ever need that! Add to all of this several great discussions with current technology partners to my business, and I would return to the States quite happy.

If you’re REALLY hungry for learning, you’re not alone. Whether through random circumstances from your “world of work”, or if you haven’t taken time to develop a learning strategy, my suggestion is to <continue to> connect online with the people driving the creation and development of professional and social communities. Find them, connect with them, talk to them, read their stuff, meet with them, learn from them, let them learn from you, and every once in a while, say YES to investing in your own development…or just stay HUNGRY.

 

Wake Up Kids! We’ve Got the Dreamers Disease

By Trish McFarlane, CEO of H3 HR Advisors

1545675_10156716950235523_5452239827204249531_nIf you’re like me, you’re someone who dreams about the future of HR. You think about doing things differently and shaking things up in the industry. One of the best ways I’ve found of feeding this addiction of mine is to network and learn from other dreamers in the industry. As someone who is fortunate enough to call this crazy HCM space my home, I go to my fair share of events. Each time I leave, I assess whether the time I spent was worth it or not, aka was my “inner dreamer” satisfied. Most recently, I attended TRULondon and HR Tech World. So, what makes these two fall in the “worth it” category?

As a destination, I can’t think of a single downside of attending an event in London. The only thing to keep in mind is giving yourself a little extra time to see a few of the best things London has to offer. If you’ve never been, the city is easy to navigate thanks to the Tube and trains. You can get almost anywhere in the city in a short time and wont’ need to rent a car. Add to that the numerous museums, eclectic restaurants, clubs, shopping and the ever-popular tourist attractions and it’s a great place to visit. From the dreamer perspective, there is a sense of wonderment and history that you can’t achieve anywhere in the U.S.

TRULondon

I’ve been attending the recruiting unconference for six years. It’s changed quite a bit over the years and as it’s developed, it is now one of the best places in the world (yes, in the whole world) to meet with recruiters, sourcers, talent acquisition leaders, marketing pros, solution providers and practitioners. The secret sauce for this event is that you walk in and immediately feel part of a community and a movement.

People who attend are tired of the status quo. They don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. They are there to challenge their own perceptions… and yours. They have the dreamer’s disease and they are going to make sure you have it too.   It’s a deliciously, wonderful mix of learning, networking and chaos. With Bill Boorman at the helm and the partnership of Noel Cocca and Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs and Recruiting Daily, this is not only a great use of your time, but your money.

Track leaders managed to challenge us by thinking about how to apply the way auto dealers market to the way we market our businesses to candidates. They threw out the notion that we’ll all be out of work because the robots are taking over, well, at least the idea is that most of the recruiting function will be handled by automated systems that “learn” as they are used. Track leaders also cursed and laughed as they shared hacks for creating content. There were Tech Labs and product Show & Tell labs. It was a mash-up of all things great in the recruiting industry and the future to come.

HR Tech World

Attending my first HR Tech World was an experience. It’s a more intimate experience that provides all the learning and vendor interaction you’d expect from an event like this. From a forward-facing, dreamer lens, their solid focus on the numerous startups in the HR tech space is what drew me in. Not only were the startups available to learn about, there were specific disruptive sessions focused on the direction of the industry. Add to that a fun, informative “pitch” session by five of the startups and it made for an interesting day.

If you have the dreamer’s disease like me, check out both of these events and follow them online. They will point you to learning all year long and really help you challenge your approach.

People Talking

By Michael Heller, CEO & Founder of iRevu

1916154_10156716951180523_8415946151352119352_nI have been practicing human resources for years – practicing being the operative word. The more I learn about people, the less I feel I truly know. Therefore, I don’t expect to necessarily master the discipline as much as continue to become better at it. But along my way, I have picked up a few things: Most problems can be solved by listening sincerely and being empathetic. Throwing money at something might correct an issue short term, but rarely long term. My favorite? Never EVER judge a book by its cover. Never.

In 2015 I attended my very first TRU event. I ‘knew’ Bill Boorman from his online presence and met him for the first time in Las Vegas at a conference. He didn’t strike me as the typical HR professional, but had knowledge spewing out the brim of his trademark hat. He mentioned that he hosts an event – The Recruiting Un-conference – designed to get people talking.

“Get people talking?”

“That’s right, mate. People talking.”

What struck me was his emphasis on the ‘people’. Color me intrigued. The conferences / meetups / seminars I’d been to definitely had people talking. At the front of a room. With a slide deck and a quick wit. Don’t get me wrong, these people talking were great. They were armed with data and knowledge and technology and eloquence. But these people talking were talking TO me. Maybe at me? I don’t know, I tweeted a ton, got some great nuggets and if I stood in line I might be able to say a quick hello and introduce myself. This was my typical experience at a typical conference.

Bill told me that the TRU events are different. I realized instantly that he wasn’t joking. When I arrived to the venue this year, The King’s Head, it looked like a proper English pub. A pub?? For an HR Conference?? Walking inside, there were drinks and taxidermy. In every room, from the armed chimpanzee in the basement to the giraffes and tigers in the boudoir. I have to admit the butterfly room freaked me out a little. But, remember, don’t judge a book by its cover and: “People talking”.

So when he kicked off the event, there were a few takeaways. No name badges ensures that everyone is on a level playing field. No inflated titles, no fancy companies. If someone said something interesting and you want to meet them, by all means introduce yourself! The sessions are super topical and led by international HR A-Listers. People like William Tincup, Matt Charney, Trish McFarlane, Noel Cocca, and Stephen O’Donnell.

But the sessions (called tracks) are also different – the good session leaders are NOT there to show you how smart they are. They show you how smart and innovative YOU are. They are roundtable-esque discussions where everyone is encouraged to participate and share their experiences and thoughts. Anyone can participate, everyone learns. Everyone wins.

TRU events are extremely valuable. There’s a warmth and affability about them that draws you in, even when the discussion gets heated. In one session, ‘The Day in the Life of a Recruiter – how we spend our time?’ the leader asked as much and then stepped back while the track attendees discussed everything from sourcing to relationship building to extinguishing the fire du jour. In this session, the what wasn’t as valuable as the how. The attendees were so diverse and their approach so varied, I saw so many nodding their head and saying ‘wow, I never thought about that.’ I plan on attending TRU events for a long time to come.

This year TRU London helped me lower my associative barriers even further and I am better for it. Sure, I got to lead a track session and show and tell a software product. I got to meet people IRL I’ve only followed on twitter. But, I learned from everyone there – from the A-Listers to the regular people like me. If you want to wear a name badge and talk about what’s already happened, this is not your conference. However, if you want to be immersed in real discussion about what’s happening and will likely happen, you owe it to yourself to attend at least one TRU. Just be ready for the venue to spark as much conversation as the topics.

 

 

 

 

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!