Holding HR in High Regard Around the Globe

There are moments in life that you anticipate with great joy and fear: graduation, marriage, the birth of a child, a big promotion or a trip to a foreign country.  Last week, I had the opportunity to experience traveling to China for the first time, and it certainly turned out to be one of those great moments of a lifetime.

Madeline and Trish ChinaI was invited to speak at the first HR Technology China conference presented by LRP Publications and China Star.  The anxious feeling I had in anticipation of the trip and during the 22 hours of travel led to a great release of adrenaline when I finally landed in Hong Kong.  With friendly, welcoming faces of industry leaders Madeline Laurano and Steve Boese to greet me, I was ready to experience all that China had to offer.

This was the first event put on by LRP and China Star ,and the results were nothing short of amazing.  Held in mainland China in the city of Zhuhai, the trip from Hong Kong via ferry boat was invigorating.  As I looked out at the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge (HZMB) being constructed in the waters of Lingdingyang of Pearl River Estuary, I began to appreciate the development of the region.  As far as the conference goes, with nearly 6,000 registrants mostly comprised of HR practitioners and leaders, the energy was palpable.

As I, along with a handful of speakers from the US, settled in to meeting the China Star team, we were amazed at the level of interest they had in our being at the event.  We quickly learned that the formality of the relationship between the HR vendor, the event and the Zhuhai government officials was a close knit one.  Several of us were invited to a special meeting with Liu Jiawen (Vice Mayor of Zhuhai), Wang Qingli (Vice Mayor of Zhuhai), Hua Fuzhou (President of China Association for Labor Studies), and many other important dignitaries of the Zhuhai municipal government.  It was an honor to be welcomed and the experience was filmed and photographed for their local news.  Quite exciting!

From there, it was a whirlwind of dinners, presentations, then then the main conference.  Steve Boese welcomed everyone on behalf of LRP and kicked off the new event.  The keynotes, including one by our industry expert Jason Averbook, were nothing short of inspired.  The other keynote presentations, including one by former US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, were filled with passion for HR, data, and the importance of technology.  The realization that the Chinese hold HR in high regard, as many of us do here in the US, was a revelation.  Some of the commonalities were the focus on:

  • Talent Acquisition- Finding the best hires for an emerging market that is becoming more services dominated is a key priority.
  • Branding– Employer branding that goes hand-in-hand with the extensive branding of the cities themselves is a focus.  The combination made for an interesting juxtaposition.  I believe that US organizations who embrace this approach may find an easier time with recruiting for either hard to fill positions or for staffing in cities that may have had a less desirable past.
  • Engagement- Engaging employees is important globally.  As I learned in the Middle East at the end of 2015, and in Europe and China in 2016, this remains one of the top concerns for business leaders, not just HR leaders.  This tells me there is still a great opportunity for HR leaders, vendors, consultants and analysts when it comes to finding solutions to this age-old problem.

I shared with you the innovative, hard-working and proud side of the people I met in China in my earlier post about coaching.  From the way this event incorporated students to the way they embraced all of us from the US, HR Technology Conference China gave the impression that it will be around for years to come.

As an added bonus, I was able to spend a few days in Hong Kong visiting local markets, restaurants, and stores.  I was even lucky enough to spend a day at Disneyland Hong Kong!  For anyone who knows me, Disney is one of my favorite places, so being able to see the Chinese version was just amazing!  13012784_10156876605550523_1407773878852074846_n

I encourage you to follow the HR Technology Conference here in the US for more information about China next year.  It is worth making a business case for, or for investing in your own career and making the trip.

Thanks again to LRP Publications, Rebecca McKenna, Steve Boese and the whole LRP team.  Thank you also to China Star for the gracious hosting.  Lastly, thank you to my US based HCM colleagues for making my first trip to China a memorable one.

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.

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…

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.

The Gifts of the Quest

Have you ever thought about addressing all the imperfections in your life?

Well, I have.  I’ve been on a journey of mind, body and soul.  It all began when I finally realized that I needed to take time, for the first time in my life, to be alone to contemplate and decide where I need to be bold and when I need to rely on someone else to help support me.  I recently took that time and am just now realizing some of the implications that personal and professional changes will bring to me.  They are true gifts.  Part of my journey is related to taking huge risks and challenges on professionally and those are well underway.  Part of the journey is addressing personal issues of health, wellness and family.  All the changes will take time, but I am feeling positive about them all.eatpraylove

Tonight as I prepared a much healthier dinner than normal as part of changing my health, I saw that Eat, Pray, Love was on television.  It had been several years since I last watched this movie and since I remember being inspired by it the first time around, I watched again.  The last time, I was inspired to write about it here on the blog when I discussed seeking a soulmate.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a woman on a journey to find herself and redefine who she is and what she thinks is important and possible.  I won’t give any spoilers, but thought I’d share a quote from the end of the movie that speaks to any of you reading this post who are on a journey of rebirth in your own career or personal life.

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.”

― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

So, if you’re on a journey, I applaud you.  It’s not pretty, nor is it easy.  Kudos for taking the first steps…

Do You Owe Someone An Apology?

*Sharing a blast from the past…

i-am-sorryI was traveling down the worm hole that is the internet, when I landed on a 2010 story in Psychology Today called The Science of Effective Apologies.  It caught my attention  for a couple reasons.  First, I hate to apologize.  I will do it and I think you should too, but I can’t think of a time when it really made me feel better.  Second, I’m intrigued by the science behind why people do, or don’t, apologize and the impact on the recipient.  All this reminded me that there are many situations in the workplace where you or a colleague may feel disrespected, under-valued or even outright wronged.  Have you received an apology?  Did it help?  If you were the person who hurt a colleague, did you apologize?

According to the author, Gary Winch, PhD., beyond the three components most of us expect in an apology (expression of regret, actually saying the words “I’m sorry”, and requesting the person’s forgiveness), “Studies have found that in addition to the three basic ingredients, three additional apology components play an important role in determining whether an apology will be effective: 

  1. Expressions of empathy
  2. Offers of compensation
  3. Acknowledgments that certain rules or social norms were violated

These components were found to be most effective when they were matched to the characteristics of the person to whom the apology was being offered.”

I don’t know about you, but all that sounds like a lot of thought and work need to go into a sincere and effective apology.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe you should do it.  I wonder though, is it the thought that apologies can be complex that keeps people away from giving them?  As a believer that it’s all about making the recipient feel better, I still wonder if some colleagues do not do this because they perceive it as them giving away their power.

We all have known colleagues or leaders who refuse to apologize, right?  According to a 2013 study in the European Journal of of Social Psychology“Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. “

So, are leaders less likely to apologize?  

Whether they are or not isn’t as important as the fact that if you are in a leadership role, it is healthier for your team to apologize when you are wrong.  It’s a balance, of course, of knowing when it will be needed and meaningful.  None the less, it’s something to consider if you’re a leader who wants to humanize yourself with your team in order to build and reinforce trust.

What do you think?  Do you apologize?  Has someone at work apologized to you?  Share in the comments…