Ideas of How to #WorkHuman Today

It’s been a good week here in the mid-west.  I had a great time leading a webinar earlier in the week with Globoforce.  The topic was how to make our workplaces more human.  Tall order, right?  Well, I hope I provided many examples that HR leaders (and other leaders) can use to make small strides in this area.  In case you missed it, you can listen HERElogo_light_backgrounds2

One of the main points I made in the webinar is that people need a workplace where there is LOVE.  Not the romantic kind of love that is the nightmare of every HR pro around, the kind of love that means that you genuinely care and are concerned for your colleagues.  We all have so many things going on in our busy lives that sometimes, when things are less than perfect outside of work, we can’t help but let it impact us during work.  AND THAT’S NORMAL.  For years, we’ve all been brainwashed that we need to leave all our troubles at the door when we come to work.  We have to be strong, stay focused and produce, produce, produce.  Well, no more!

One reason workplaces quickly become less human and don’t have that love and compassion is that we don’t know many of our colleagues.  I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, my favorite news show, and they did a story about Freshbooks and how they are innovating in the way they encourage connection among colleagues.  Freshbooks is a Toronto-based company that has instituted voluntary “employee dating” at work.  This isn’t romantic dating, it’s setting people up on blind dates with colleagues for purposes of getting to know their co-workers better.  You can catch the whole video HERE.  Basically, employees volunteer to be matched with someone they don’t know.  The woman who makes the matches tries to select people who would never normally cross paths or work on projects together.  The two parties then have a “work date”.

While awkward at first, 100% of the employees who participated say they would do it again and it was worth it.  They are able to learn more about what other parts of the organization are up to AND they get the benefit of making a new work connection.  Think about what would happen if you tried this in your company.  Would it lead to greater connection, more collaboration, more innovative ideas?  I’d venture to say that it would.  That’s what I call #WorkHuman in action.

So, my challenge for you as we go into this next week at work is to view your workplace through a different lens.  Is it human?  Do you feel real connection there?  If you can’t answer yes to those, then find ONE thing you can do differently to start changing the tone.  It may just be taking a stranger to lunch.  I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments…


People Are Not Functions

If you go to a convention and don’t break through the impersonal function, can you really work with someone successfully or are you limiting your success?
functionI recently purchased an Amazon Fire TV stick and was having quite a bit of fun finding old movies to watch.  You see, my kids are still young so there was a ten year stretch where all I did was watch Disney movies.  Now, I’m catching up on that time I missed.  I am a huge Kevin Spacey fan, so I started with The Big Kahuna near the top of my list.  First, if you haven’t watched it, I can share that I only made it through the first 18 minutes, give or take, of the movie.  Even with Spacey anchoring the line up, it was not something I could sit through.  There were a few good nuggets though and one I’d like to share with you.
The movie starts in a motel where Spacey and two other men are preparing for a convention/ meeting/ event in their “suite” that really is not all that sweet.  Spacey’s character makes a comment about the impersonality of conventions and says, “People are functions, not individuals.”
Really.  What?
It hit me like lightning that this is mostly true.  It’s true at work and it’s true in the extended workplaces of conventions and conferences.  But not for me.  All the events I’ve been to I make a point to be myself.  It’s the only way to really connect with fellow attendees and build relationships that go beyond the superficial.  I don’t want to be known as a function.  But, what if you are known as a function?  “Oh, that’s Jane.  She’s just the 2nd shift manager of the  packaging department.”  Sounds pretty cold if you ask me.
What do you do if you’re in that predicament?
There are a few ways to set yourself apart and it all revolves around actively branding yourself.  My friend Jason Seiden said it best years ago when he coined the term “profersonal”….there is no personal brand and professional brand.  It’s all blended together now and the faster your recognize this and promote this, the better off you’ll be.  Steps to take are:
  • Don’t fall into the jargon trap. Don’t use the terms personal brand and professional brand.  If you are, stop.
  • Be yourself.  Be professional.  Be approachable.  Be trustworthy.  If you do those four things consistently, everything else falls into place.
  • Be someone that people want to work with at all costs.  Be the person that everyone speaks highly of and recommends you as someone that all their connections must connect with.
  • Never define yourself by a job title.  Do what you do best and a good employer will design the job around you and value your contribution.  A great example of this was one I learned at PricewaterhouseCoopers early in my career.  Like all employers, there were job titles and openings for specific positions.  However, once in awhile we came across a person who was so special that we had to have them even though we didn’t have a job open. We hired those people anyway and most were successful.
So, if you’ve learned nothing else today, don’t let anyone else define you.  Oh, and don’t watch The Big Kahuna.  You’re welcome.

Helping The Hungry at Thanksgiving and Year-Round: Canstruction

From time to time, I look back at my blog to remind myself if I have written about a topic.  Today was one of those days when I had an idea I want to write about but needed to check to make sure I hadn’t already explored it before.  As I paged through hundreds of post titles, I came across one that caught my eye.  It was a post I wrote about Canstruction two years ago when I visited NYC.

What is Canstruction you ask?

Canstruction is a non-profit organization that holds contests around the world in order to raise food, and money, for local food banks.  They also hope to bring awareness to the fight against hunger.   The amazing art that these teams create out of cans is almost unimaginable.  Just look at some of the pictures I took at the NYC event in 2011.


2011-11-16_15-40-55_435The amount of time and effort that people put into raising awareness to prevent their fellow man from going hungry was inspiring.  I immediately wanted to do my part to help the cause.  As you prepare for that great meal on Thanksgiving, please consider all the people who will be visiting their local food bank this year in order to feed their family.  I just donated and it is so easy to help a family in need.  Click HERE to donate and help fight hunger.  And, check their events page to find out when Canstruction will be coming to your city.

Happy Thanksgiving!

10 Skills Critical to Business Success in 2014 and Beyond

leader logoWith technology today, the ability to have content at our fingertips is easier than ever before.  One place I continue to look to stay on top of trends is the writing of experts in the HR and recruiting industry.  Andy Headworth, author of Sirona Says, continues to be a favorite for me.  I learn so much about the global recruiting space by reading his work.  I also get ideas from time-to-time that apply far beyond the recruiting world.  This happened last week.

Andy penned a post called Is This What the Recruiter of Tomorrow Will Look Like?  In it he outlines seven skills that recruiters of the future will need to master in order to be successful.  They are:

  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Candidate networks building skills
  • Candidate sourcing skills
  • Social media skills
  • Content production skills
  • Contractor management skills
  • Keeping up with technology

I absolutely encourage you to read his post because the details are well worth knowing.  I want to take those ideas a step further today and expand on them to show that they can be used, regardless of industry, to become a better business person.

  • Sales and Marketing skill-  No longer just reserved for your organization’s marketing department, sharing the employer brand is something that each employee does.  Not only that, they are the face of your company to the clients, to potential clients and to potential employees.  Companies that are leaders in this area ensure that all employees know the positive messages that need to be shared with the public.  Transparency is key in ensuring that your colleagues know how to put the good news about your organization out to the world. Teaching your employees how to share their excitement about your product or services now makes everyone a potential marketer.
  • Candidate networks building skills-  It’s not just imperative that your organization’s recruiting team build networks with candidates, it is important that you encourage all your employees to be ambassadors to keep growing your organization.  Their participation with potential employees can help convince candidates to join the organization.
  • Candidate sourcing skills- One great way to encourage this is to ditch the old approach to referral programs and begin rewarding for introductions.  More to come in a future post on that.  For now, suffice to say that once your employees are company ambassadors, they will WANT to tell people to work with them.
  • Social media skills-  As someone who has been using social media for over six years now, it almost seems impossible that this is still new for some people.  However, it is.  So, if you or your staff are not using social media platform to futher the growth of your business, you are now officially behind the industry leaders.  Whether for networking, recruiting, marketing, sales, etc., you need to be in the space in order to be successful.  It is not a fad, it is a method and tools for doing business.
  • Content production skills-  One of the most exciting changes in the last few years is that we can all be content producers.  This means that employees whom you least expect to wave your organization’s flag can now do so.  Boldly.  Encourage them.  Empower them.  Teach them how to refine their writing skills.  Celebrate and reward them when the share.
  • Contractor management skills-  According to CareerBuilder’s 2013 Jobs Forecast, 40% of employers in 2013 planned to use contract and temporary workers.  This is up from 36% in 2012.  This means that you need to ensure that your leaders know the difference in how to work with them vs. employees.  It’s imperative that leaders know not to create co-employment situations that put the employer at risk.
  • Keeping up with technology-  Much like the topic of social media, technology and the use in business is now “normal”.  Being unwilling to learn or even someone who does not follow general industry trends in the technology space puts you at a disadvantage.  If you want to gain success with customers, internally with communication and data, or even on a personal level, technology now plays a role.
  • Financial analysis skills-  I’ve been saying this for years now.  No matter what type of professional you are, you need to understand how the business you work for makes money.  The best way for you to gain this knowledge is to talk to your supervisor, CFO, Controller, etc.  Also, talk to the salesmen and women in your organization.  They can all give you views of how your organization makes money.  One you understand that, you can educate yourself on the basics of Finance 101.
  • Presentation skills-  I know you may be thinking you can’t do this.  That you are too afraid to speak in public.  Well, when talking about success, you will likely need to be able to share your ideas and vision of the future with colleagues and others.  This skill is key to develop.  Start small.  You can do this at home by speaking in church, for local organizations you are part of, or within your work team.  Just know that each time you participate in public speaking, you improve your ability to use persuasion to get your message across.
  • Project management skills-  Now that most of us get our “work” assignment through series of emails, you need to understand how to manage priorities.  This is always a work in progress so having some formal skills in managing projects can help you manage your day-to-day tasks as well.  You can take classes through local management associations or colleges or you can read up on the subject.

What have I missed?  Feel free to expand on the ideas from Andy and the ones I added.  What skills lead to business success?

Employee Brands Are The Unique Fingerprints of Corporate Brands

Personal brand.  Employer brand. These phrases are commonly heard today.

I am not a branding expert, guru, or maven.  I won’t even try to tell you how to build your brand from the ground up nor how to use social media platforms to promote your brand.  What I am interested in is the way that personal branding is affecting me as a consumer.

As someone who is an active user of social media, I have learned a bit about how to build my own brand online.  I set about to be myself, the “real” me in all I write online, and that in itself has helped to create my brand.  It’s also given me the perspective to look at how other people build their brands.  Some are purely annoying- trying to “sell” me something. Anything.  Some people build a false brand and it can be disappointing to learn that they are not who they appear to be. But, for the most part, I think there are many people like me.  People who are being genuine with who they are and what they represent.

The importance of an individuals brand goes beyond just who they are.  It can be a strong connection to the employer brand.  Each employee who creates a brand online is like a unique fingerprint of the hand of the corporation.  I find myself beginning to make purchasing decisions based on some of the individuals out there who do such a good job of showing who they really are.  It makes me want to do business with their companies and, in tough economic times, this can be a very important business advantage for the company.  Subconsciously I think I have been gravitating to brands I didn’t use before because if they can hire such great people, surely they must be a good company.

Are you changing your purchasing habits based on the employees of a company that you encounter online?  Have you stopped purchasing from certain companies based on their employee’s online presence?  Let me know in the comments.  I’d love to see which way the pendulum is swinging…

Top 3 Reasons CHRO’s Need To Embrace Social

As 2011 comes to a close, many people begin thinking about the coming year and ways they can either lose old habits or pick up a new, positive one.  This year I’ve had the opportunity to speak with more CEO’s and CHRO’s than ever before and one question comes up time and again.  Should I learn about social platforms? 

The answer is a layered one, the first of which is easy.  Yes, as a CHRO, you should know about social platforms.  In reality, you do not need to be an expert, you just need to become and advocate and champion.  You need to be willing to hire HR and marketing professionals who know the intricacies of how to use social tools and the reasons behind using them.  You need to have an understanding of the value that is becoming more apparent as various sites enhance and refine their social services and offerings.  The reality is you need to be open to social because it is no longer a trend or an option, it is a valuable way to do business.

What are the top reasons CHRO’s need to embrace social?  

It’s a communication catalyst-  Being involved in social media platforms is a way to be involved in the conversation that is happening about your organization.  It is your way to have a real-time view of what employees, candidates and customers are saying about your brand. Leaders have struggled for years to get these same groups of people to give feedback via survey and now you can obtain this information on a regular basis online.

For collaboration and the wisdom of crowds-  Using the wisdom of crowds and achieving shared outcomes has to be one of the best reasons to get involved online.  Long gone are the days of only pushing information out to various groups of people.  Today, it’s about the conversation and the ideas shared both ways.  Social platforms are a way for you as the CHRO to not only be part of this conversation but to LEAD  and give direction to the conversation.  Additionally, capturing the ideas and expertise of a group of people for minimal cost and at increasingly faster speeds is the best benefit of crowd-sourcing  information for your organization.

To know thy competition-  Whether you are the CHRO of a large, global organization or a small business, one of the key components of running a business is knowing what the competition is doing.  Social platforms are  a perfect way to aid in monitoring.  Not only that, you may see what they are doing and have an idea of how to do it better, so it becomes a way of taking best practices and ramping them up a notch.  You can also see what their employees, candidates and customers are saying about them.  Believe me, if your organization is not doing this, your competition is likely already monitoring you and determining how to stay ahead in the game.

There are many more reasons and benefits for the CHRO to become a knowledgeable advocate of social media platforms.  If you were speaking with your CHRO, what reasons would you give them and why?  Share with us in the comments.




Social Media: Your Key To Competitive Advantage

What comes to mind when you hear the words social media?  Do you think of sites that are popular today like Twitter, FaceBook, or LinkedIn?  Do you think it is just for teens or that it is just a tool to decrease employee productivity?  Or, can you see past all the negative hype and see how to exploit social media platforms for a competitive advantage?

That’s right, social media can be your key to competitive advantage.

It is a tool that can help you as an individual or as a business leader to stand head and shoulders above the rest.  Let’s be honest, in today’s lagging market, we need a way to stand out in a positive way and to reach our current and potential clients and customers.  So, how do we get there?  Social media. These are free tools that can be quickly learned and applied in ways that will communicate your brand.  If you’re like I was, then you just don’t make the connection how that is possible.  Let me share my story.

About two years ago, I participated in a webinar that demonstrated how to use Twitter.  I sat through it wondering how in the world this would pertain to me in my role as a human resources director.  I did not understand the concept of finding people with a certain background to follow.  I did not understand why someone would want to follow me and see what I’m doing moment by moment.  And so, like many, I signed off and did not touch it again.

Fast forward to a year ago.  I loved reading human resource blogs and started my own human resource blog.  I realized that many of the bloggers I was communicating with used Twitter so I signed back in.  I followed HR bloggers and other HR professionals and saw them sharing relevant HR articles on trends and core competencies . I began tweeting (sharing information in 140 characters via Twitter) each time I wrote a new post on my blog.  My followers would re-tweet it, meaning they would send it to all their followers.  I quickly saw my blog stats rise and simultaneously, my Twitter followers increased too.

I was marketing myself!

I fell into a situation where I quickly learned the power Twitter has to connect you with other like-minded professionals in your industry or with a certain market segment that you would like to reach.  The one caution I have is that the Twitter community is one not to take advantage of.  You have to be genuine and willing to share and communicate, not just push out your personal or company agenda.  Otherwise, you will be labeled a spammer and will quickly crash and burn.

Since that time, my blog has seen exponential growth, my personal brand as a HR professional has flourished and I have the opportunity to speak globally about the power of social media.

So, have I piqued your interest in getting involved with social media?  Add your questions or your own story in the comments.

It’s Never Too Late To Revamp Your Packaging

When is the last time you’ve thought about packaging and how you package yourself?  Not only your look, but how you message things?

It seems like there have been some good articles and posts later that touch on packaging.  I think it’s important to examine how you do this on a regular basis because we can all use a little improvement here and there.  Why?  Because so much of life is based on the perceptions of others.

Want a new job?  Want to sell your product?  Want to have someone take you seriously and get on board with your idea?  It all takes the right packaging.  If you or your message have “stale” packaging, you may not get that job, that sale, or get your idea moving.  Need an example?  Here’s one:

Picture someone in your organization who is not taken very seriously.  I can think of several in my career.  One that pops to mind is a very smart woman who dressed like she was still in 1980.  While that was a fun decade, wearing shoulder pads, tight, short pants, and BIG 80’s hair now is noticeable.   She even still rocked the 80’s blue eyeshadow.  Now, I am sure she has some great ideas.  However, people in the workplace cannot seem to get past her look.  They do not take her seriously.  Why?  Because her look is so outdated, they make the incorrect perception that her ideas must be outdated too.

Here’s another example.  Have you ever worked with someone that came across more like a used car salesman when trying to sell his message or idea?  No matter how good their idea is, most people cannot get past the way the person is pushing their message.  If you’re that “salesman”, then consider changing up your pitch.

My point is that even if you have fresh ideas, are you doing things to sabotage your messaging because the packaging is getting in the way?  If so, then NOW is the time to address it.

Regardless of what type of work you do, it does not necessarily take a lot of money to make a few simple changes to improve your chances of being taken seriously.  So, do you need re-packaging?  Does your message?  For some great tips on repackaging your message, check out HR Buoy’s recent post ‘How Packaging Can Change Your Message’.

Think it’s too late to update your look to better “sell” your ideas?  Well, after 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing their packaging.  If it’s not too late for ketchup, it’s not too late for you! If you haven’t updated your wardrobe, go out this weekend and buy a few simple, classic pieces of clothes (black dressy slacks, crisp white button-down shirt, new black dress shoes, a few key accessories).  Add in a piece or two of color.  Stick to some that will mix and match.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but may help you change how you’re being perceived at work, in an interview setting, or when selling your product.  Worn your hair the same way for 10 years?  Time for a change.

What are some other ways we can revamp our packaging?  Share with us in the comments.