Becoming the Leader Who Has All the Good Questions

Think back to being in your early twenties.  If you’re anything like me, I was 99% positive I was the best, brightest worker who was going to set the world on fire.  The 1% of self-doubt that existed was really a non-event.

Each day, I went to work certain that the “powers that be” would recognize my skills and abilities and that would propel me up the ladder faster than everyone else.  It was partially true.  I was fortunate to have bosses that gave me challenging work assignments, the kind that really push you to learn.  But, every few weeks, my boss would hit me with some business question I wasn’t prepared for.  You know the ones, questions like:

  • How is payroll handling taxation for this consultant who is working in Texas, California and New Jersey in the same pay period?
  • Why is the utilization of our senior associates lower than this time last year?
  • If we reduce headcount by 6%, what is the financial impact and any benefits/ pitfalls we should be aware of?

These were all things that were not necessarily in my arsenal (just yet) and that required a bit of researching, learning and regurgitating.  As I look back now, a little older and wiser, I wonder if the boss really even needed the answers.  It may have been a way to challenge me to step up and think, not to keep doing the job duties I already knew.  The duties that made me comfortable.

Fast forward to today and I am now a leader.  I actually took a new job as the VP of HCM Strategy and Product Management at Infor because I DON’T have all the answers.  What I’ve learned over the years is that if I have a job where it comes easy, where I know all the answers, I become stagnant.  Finding the ideal job means that you should only be comfortable with about 70% of what you’re being asked to achieve.  This will give you room to question, to wonder, to create, and to innovate.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Oracle “Human Talks” Episode 3: Guest, Matthew Jurosek

H3 HR Advisors is excited to share a new video series we have in partnership with Oracle.  Human Talks is a show where we talk to HCM practitioners, analysts, and Oracle partners.  Each episode is approximately 5 minutes, so well worth your time in hearing what is happening in the world of HCM.  These episodes were recorded at HCM World 2016.

Please check out our third episode with Matthew Jurosek.  Matt is a Sales Engineer for Workforce Software.  Workforce Software  provides tailored solutions to empower enterprise and mid‐sized organizations to fully automate time, labor, and workforce scheduling processes, simplify absence management, and enable strategic business insight.

We talked to Matt about working with technology in union environments.  Being able to track absence compliance and all of the types of leaves are examples of the complexity that they help organizations deal with.  Check it out! Also, be sure to connect with Oracle and Workforce Software.

Thank you for watching.  Be sure to visit the Oracle site for more information about Oracle and HCM World 2017.

Executive Perspectives: Impact of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a topic that comes up every time I talk with leaders.  Whether you’re in human resources, finance, IT or in other parts of the organization, the impact of digital and how it’s transforming the way we work is top of mind.  I am partnering with Infor on a series of webinars to help executives gain perspective and insight on many of the ways technology is changing the workplace.

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Please join me tomorrow, July 27th,  for a free webinar with Infor execs, Charles Cagle and Bill Vellante, as we discuss the ways leaders can be ready for the changes.   Register here today.

Driving Business Success: Limiting How Much We Look Back

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.41.39 PMSince I’ve been working from my home office the last few years, it strikes me that I don’t drive much anymore.  Well, I drive to the airport a fair bit, but day-to-day driving is a thing of my past.  I was thinking about it because I have young teens who are already anxiously focused on learning how to drive.  When we are in the car, they ask tons of questions about how the car works, what the driving laws are, how other drivers respond, etc.  It struck me that when they asked about mirrors and how often I use them, I really don’t look in my rearview mirror much.  Sure, I use it to check when I’m backing up and going that direction, or to do a quick check to ensure that someone else is not going to hit my car from behind.  What I don’t do is use the rearview mirror to determine my direction or progress driving forward.

So, why do we spend so much time looking back in business when we are trying to drive the organization forward?

I first ran into this thinking when I moved from the HR practitioner/ leader ranks to that of a full-time analyst. The thing that surprised me the most was that analysts tend to do surveys that predominantly focus on what happened in the past as a way to predict the future.  Now, that IS very valuable, however, business leaders don’t necessarily benefit from only looking to the past to determine their future direction or approach.  In fact, there are some clear barriers to predominantly focusing on the business rearview mirror.

Barriers when we look back

  • Best Practice- Analysts and companies provide statistics on the “best practices” of an industry or company.  These are certainly interesting data points to consider in your organization, and I do value these.  However, when we try to adopt some other organization’s “best practice” without understanding what our real business issues are, we run the risk of choosing and implementing a process or solutions that may not apply to our workplace.  It also may not drive the appropriate business results.
  • False Solutions- A trap many leaders bring to a new organization is proposing a solution based on what they did in a prior company.  Similar to the best practice, this false solution may not address any of the current company’s problems.  Time and again, we find leaders pursuing a solution in search of a problem, not the other way around.
  • Failure Focus-  There are nay-sayers in every organization.  The barrier is letting these people get you hung up on what went wrong in prior projects and letting that derail future progress.
  • Excruciatingly Slow Data Analytics-  A majority of organization leaders I talk to say that they do not have access to all the data they have.  This means they have no simple, efficient, accurate way to pull data together in order to make a business decision.  By taking too long to get data on the past, the data becomes stale and can lead to missing out on opportunities to make the organization better today.
  • Future Fear- Showing other leaders that we fear the future is going to influence them in embracing their fears as well.

While there are many other barriers, you get the point that by primarily focusing behind us, we may be missing out on opportunities to excel, to drive the business forward, or to fall behind competitors.  Everything we do should not be a response to someone else’s move.  As leaders, the best thing we can do is suggest new and innovative approaches to process, to thinking and to solutions.

What are you doing today?  Are you looking back, or to the future?  Let me know what techniques you use to move yourself, your team and your organization forward.  Please share in the comments.

Stop Aligning Yourself With the Wrong People

bad-friends*From the dusty archives…

Growing up, my parents steered me away from friends who had undesirable behavior.  Now that I’m a mom, I find myself doing the same thing with my children. Why?  Today’s lesson is a simple one…  you are the company you keep.

  • If you surround yourself with people of good reputation, you will be viewed positively.
  • If you associate with accomplished professionals, you will pick up on what makes them successful.
  • If you affiliate with people who have good values, you will be perceived in the same light.

It frustrates me to see people who surround themselves with people of questionable character.  If you align yourself with people who are arrogant, rude, negative, unmotivated, or who lack a moral compass, you will be perceived similarly.  That is a FACT. 

So, take a good look in the mirror today.  Then, take a look at your contacts online and in your day-to-day life.  If there are people of questionable character, now is your chance to unfollow, unfriend, or dis-associate from them.   You don’t have to associate with negativity.  After all, you ARE the company you keep.  What do you think?

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….

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…

Are You Stressed Out? How To Cope Today

Image from timeshakers.co.ukIn business, we are constantly told that we need to see the big picture.  We are reminded to set long-term, meaningful goals.  We are considered successful and are rewarded when we can take a vision and turn that into reality over the course of time.

But sometimes, when the stress in our workplace becomes too much, you just have to make it through the day.

Start by reminding yourself that we all have those days where we can’t set the world on fire.  Sometimes it’s about just checking off a few tasks and not thinking about the big picture at all.  It’s how we cope.  Then, there are those times we get so wrapped up in the moment that we put far more time and energy into a short-term situation.  It may be because we are under the weather, burned out, or just needing a day of “routine” vs. strategic planning.  But, having those days does not mean you are not a great leader.

Here are some benefits of just being in the moment:

  • Tasks- It can be a great feeling to have a list of tasks a mile long that get checked off.
  • People-  Taking a day to catch up on all those calls you’ve been meaning to return can leave you feeling like you accomplished more than you expected to.
  • Self-  You can give yourself permission to feel ok by doing a solid day’s work.  You can feel satisfied that you still did a good job.

I don’t think it does any leader benefit to always be pushing ahead at 100 m.p.h.  It just leads to being burned out.  Take those days once in awhile to get through a more “routine” existence.  It may just be the little bit of rejuvenation you need. I find that reading up on suggestions of how to cope better sets me on the right track.  I like the article “Why Stress Management Is So Important For Your Health” by Dr. Isaac Eliaz.  What do you think?  How do you handle those days when you’re stressed out or unmotivated?  Share your thoughts in the comments.