3 Critical Elements of Teamwork

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.  It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” ~Dale Carnegie

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” ~Kenyan proverb

Crimson Studios 2007Today, I am thankful for all the sticks in my bundles and teamwork is on my mind.  There are a couple things in my life right now that are reinforcing the importance of a strong team.  One is work, the other is personal.  From a work standpoint, having my own company and working for myself can be a limiting factor on teamwork….at least that is what I thought.  I was so wrong.

I’m learning that when you are independent, you can choose your team every day.  In just three short months, I have had the opportunity to work with more people and teams than ever before.  Add to that the ability to work with some former colleagues and it’s like winning the lottery.  I look at teamwork as a much more fluid state now because it’s something I can constantly change and evolve.  I also find that teaming in this way means having to quickly adapt to other work styles and it helps everyone grow.

What are the elements I view as critical to being a team?

  • Mission– Working with a group of people who have clear mission and who actively keep each other on track by ensuring we provide service that clearly links to the mission
  • Communication–  Open lines of communication and knowing your opinion will be heard
  • Respect–  Acknowledging the experiences of individual members and embracing them

The other team I am on is personal….my HRevolution team.  Working with Steve BoeseMatt Stollak and Ben Eubanks is wonderful.  Each of us volunteers our time to work together toward the common mission of pulling together an event for you~ the HR and recruiting professionals we want to interact with.  If you’re reading this blog, HRevolution is for YOU.

And, much like a work team or athletic team, the HRevolution team is focused.  We’ve got our goal, we communicate every day, and we have the utmost respect for each other and the strengths and abilities each individual brings to the table.  It’s a great feeling to be part of that.  And, we want YOU to be part of that.  Be sure to check out the HRevolution registration site and register for the event on November 7th in St. Louis, MO.  

Teaming is something that is important and impactful to all aspects of life.  What teams are you grateful for?  Feel free to share in the comments.  Hope to see you at HRevolution and add you to MY team!

The Unskilled Of Today Are The Skilled Of Tomorrow

*A great benefit of blogging is meeting industry leaders and sharing and debating ideas.  Today, I’m sharing an article from Felix Wetzel of Jobsite.  Please be sure to give Felix your feedback at the end.  

When I joined Jobsite several years ago, one out of my two people strong team was what generally would be considered unskilled. He had no qualifications & before joining Jobsite as a data entry person, he worked for several years as a waiter in the Army barracks. He was also something of a computer geek, building his own PCs with the main purpose of increasing their performance to have a better gaming experience. This was also the time when companies like Jobsite lived very much on their SEO performance (and Google hadn’t impacted our shores yet). This person took the SEO bit between his teeth and ran with it, until he became one of the best SEOs in the UK. And this case isn’t an exception at Jobsite.

Paul Hart, former manager of Portsmouth Football club (sponsored by Jobsite) and previous to that responsible for the youth development of several football clubs, assessed footballing talent with  a SPIT test: In the order of importance: Speed, personality, intelligence, technique. His rational was as follows: I can teach technique, I can expand your playing intelligence – but personality and speed are a given, they can only be improved marginally and slowly.

Both of these stories have one thing in common – what we considered as skilled and unskilled is an outdated and narrow perspective. In the future, there will be skills required that are beyond our current understanding, and it will require certain characteristics and personalities that are in-built in people. And I’m not talking just about technology roles, such as mobile developers or SEOs, who would have thought that Starbucks would’ve created so many barista positions all over the world?

Recently I wrote several blog posts about the future of work and the main comments focused on not leaving the unskilled behind. I’m actually more worried about leaving the technically-skilled (as in white collared workers) behind – they are often the most complacent, the most rigid and the easiest to be replaced via outsourcing and ultimately automation. That’s why I believe the real in-demand ‘skills’ in the future of work will be creativity and project management.

  • Creativity, as it allows the development of ground breaking, innovative, competitive and unique solutions.
  • Project management, as it transforms creativity into tangible assets

Obviously great contacts and great education (and by this I mean being taught how to be a rounded and self-determined individual and how to think methodically yet radically) are important components.

Like sports clubs, big brands will set up academies to identify the raw talent. The technical skills – as in Paul Hart’s model – will be learned on the job. This is based on the premise that a participant is bright, has the right attitude and aptitude, and can pick up anything. For anybody developing an interest in work, wanting to get into an industry or just purely the workplace, it will be all about freelancing, volunteering and internships.

I started to write for my local newspaper aged 15. We need to get back to the understanding that school is only teaching so much and, here I agree whole-heartedly with Lucian Tarnowski, Founder and CEO of BraveNewTalent.com, neither the current education system nor the current political system are set up to deal with the global changes we are starting to see now and will continue to see in the future.

We need a structural overhaul not only of the system, but also about what and how we think and what and how we label. Much will depend on companies to make a difference. As much will depend on individuals. Let’s drive this change instead of blocking necessary reforms and hiding behind quotes such as ‘leaving the unskilled behind’.

Felix Wetzel is the Group Marketing Director for Jobsite and author of the ‘People, Brands, & Random Thoughts‘ blog.


I Am Not A Cheerleader- Well, Maybe I Am!

I am not a cheerleader.

Well, I actually was as a young girl but I quickly determined that I am not the “type”.  I thought that being a cheerleader meant putting on that fake smile, making sure I had proper cheerleader form and basically doing something that I was not sure that anyone really appreciated anyway.  It just didn’t feel like me.  I did it for a couple seasons then, put my pom poms down forever.

Until now.

Turns out that I’ve learned I’ve been a cheerleader all along.

You heard it right.

I was recently asked to be a cheer coach for my daughter’s squad of girls ages 5- 11.  I accepted even though I was worried because the last time I performed a cheer anywhere was in 1982.  I am working with two other coaches, one who was a championship cheerleader and one who, like me, is not.  After talking with the other coaches, we determined what strength each of us brought to the team.  Then, we used that strength to coach our girls.  My strength is organizing, helping break down training into the most manageable size for the person learning, trying new techniques of teaching and finding a way to make each girl feel special.

I realized that I am THEIR cheerleader.

And, isn’t that the real role of a coach?  To teach and to let the learner try out the new skills.  To encourage all along the way.  These are the same ideas and principles I apply at work each day and the same role I try to play in projects I am part of like HRevolution.

I wish you could have seen our practice last night.  Girls standing in near-perfect formaton, working on sharper hand and arm movements, huge smiles on their faces.  I started by naming a “mini coach” for each cheer so that the girls can help teach and encourage each other.  I worked with my brilliant instructional coach to support her as she taught the team new techniques and cheers.  The girls kept practicing even after our normal practice time had ended.  They were feeling a sense of pride.

So, if you had asked me 24 hours ago if I’m a cheerleader, I would have said no.

Turns out I was wrong.  Go team!

4 Ways To Achieve Growth: Messy and Painful

“Growth is messy and painful.” ~ William Tincup

Every day I focus on trying to do things the right way, for the right reason.  The goal is to succeed each and every time on projects, in handling issues, or creating new and innovative ideas.  I get frustrated when I hear about people who want to celebrate losing; people who believe that mistakes are not only worth sharing but should be shouted from the rooftop.  Last week I learned that while I may never want to publicly celebrate mistakes, I certainly don’t give myself time, nor permission, to make them.  That is a shame because without failing big sometimes, people never learn and grow.

Achieving Growth

I spent some time with a friend last week and he said something that stuck with me.  He said that growing is messy and painful.  What does that mean?  Well, whenever things are going well, you’re not being stretched.  It feels great in the moment to be in control and have things fall into place.  In fact, it’s that state that most people strive for.  The problem is that no one ever learns from doing everything well.  We learn when we go through struggle, practice and yes, mistakes. 

  • Don’t play it safe all the time-  Next time you’re in a situation where you know you disagree with the way the status quo is heading, speak up.  Disagree.  Make it known that you have an opinion that is not the “norm”.
  • Step up to lead something you don’t know much about-  Some of my best learning came when I took a chance and led projects that I had never led before.  It feels scary and at times, like your hair is on fire, but what a great way to push yourself!
  • Attend meetings outside your area of expertise– This is a great way to get creative juices flowing.  When you hear how a department in another part of your company approaches situations and challenges, you’ll find ways to take that learning back to your own department.  It will be messy because it won’t fit precisely, but it will push you (and your team) to think differently.
  • Get honest-  Find a handful of people you can trust to be completely candid with you.  First, this will feel risky because  you are sharing parts of you with them that you usually keep private (your fears, your losses, etc.).  The growth comes from the candor with which they share how you can improve.  It may hurt.  It may seem harsh.  In the end, you’ll come out ahead.

What techniques do you use to grow and develop?  Share them in the comments.

HR Does Not Own Talent

Do you ever have those moments where someone says something and immediately you KNOW it is important and will stick with you forever?  It doesn’t happen often, but I had one of those moments during a presentation by John P. McMahon from Aarow Electronics.  He said:

“HR does not own talent.   HR only owns HR talent.  Leaders need to understand that they own the care, feeding, incenting, and development of talent.”

While this seems so simple and obvious, if I look back at my approach to HR, there are many times where I have felt like the owner of talent during my career.  I know if I were to ask many of my current and former colleagues, they would say they have had the same experience in their careers.  What is exciting to me about hearing this statement is that in the business environment today, we are seeing more and more HR departments take this stance of HR not owning talent. HR needs to wave goodbye to the idea of us owning talent.  (yes, I know it’s a stretch, but this isn’t Fantasy Island) 

What are three ways to empower your leaders?

  1. Support leaders by encouraging them to lead- This means that we have to let go.  We have to act as advisors and coaches to our leaders, but be willing to let them go lead, even if it’s not the exact way we may handle a situation.  This also means that HR and recruiting pros need to support any efforts that leadership makes with regard to encouraging their staff to be more engaged.
  2. Encourage leadership contributions- Depending on your organizational culture, you may have to dig deep on this one.  Find ways to creatively coach your leaders to contribute ideas that will incent employees to work harder, more efficiently, and more proactively.  By asking leaders to roll up their sleeves and get involved in issues, you will get their buy in.  Once you have that, they are in the perfect position to truly incent their staff.  It’s fine as HR to make suggestions, but the leader really needs to take the ownership.
  3. Showcase leader driven talent development–  Leaders need to get beyond thinking “hey, my employee needs training, call HR.”  We can educate our leaders on training opportunities that exist and work with them to evaluate the training and development needs of their staff.  Once they begin this habit, it will come much easier.

It’s all about empowering your leaders to manage the employees in their departments.  It’s also about elevating the role of the HR professional away from being the policy and fashion police to a more strategic role.  So, what are other ways you are empowering your leaders?  Share in the comments….

*Sharing from the archives

Managing others is about…..YOU

Too often in my career I have the discussion with a manager that starts off, “Trish, my employee won’t listen to me.  He is disrespectful and undermines my authority.  He doesn’t do his job.  Tell me what I can do to get him to comply.”  To this, I explain to the manager that the approach should not be how to change that person.  Managing others is about YOU:

  • You have to give a critical look at how you interact with this employee.
  • You have to take ownership for what is working as well as what is not.
  • You have to figure out when and how to modify your behavior to elicit different responses from your staff or colleagues.
  • You have to tell the employee what the expectations are in a clear and concise manner.

You cannot change others, so don’t focus your time there.  If you rethink your approach to the person and try another way, it will elicit a different reaction.  It still may be a negative one, however, a majority of the time it throws that person off enough that they are more likely to actually show more respect or at least listen to advice on how to perform better at their job.

Managing others is not about how we get someone else to change.  It’s about how we change and adapt our approach for maximum success with many different personalities.  They ultimately have to take personal ownership for their behavior.  And, if they are not able to improve performance and respond positively to your approach as the leader, they will face the consequences of their own behavior.

It Takes Top HR Talent to Recruit and Manage the Best Talent

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the third in a series being sponsored by Allied Van Lines, one of the world’s largest moving companies. The 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey asked human resources professional about strategies, practices and performances related to mobility in the workplace.)

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the results of the Allied 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey.  We’ve examined how recruitment, retention and onboarding are all viewed by HR leaders across the country from companies of varying size.  As we wrap up the findings, today we are asking the question:

How much better would your HR department function — in recruitment, relocation,
onboarding and retention — if more staff members were “experts”?

For as much focus as organizations place on hiring the best talent and being able to keep them, they are not necessarily hiring human resource professionals who are “experts”.  Hiring professionals in any field or industry means you will need to pay more for the skills.  Since the HR function is viewed as a pure expense, organizations tend not to pay top dollar.  The problem with this is the organizaiton does not necessarily have HR pros with both the ability to strategize and execute on a vision.  Many only know how to execute.  This is why you hear time and again about HR just being in place to carry out the wishes of the C-suite.

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility survey, the level of expertise among the HR professionals participating varied substantially. But, it did not vary predictably.Larger-company HR departments are not more likely to be staffed by “experts”.  For example, when asked about familiarity with recruitment:

Small companies – 27 percent of HR professionals say they are “expert.”
Midsize companies – 19 percent say this.
Large companies – 25 percent say this.
Mega companies – 23 percent say this.

I’ve said before that organizational retention is a group effort.  The same can be said for recruiting and bringing new hires onboard in a way that makes them feel valued and wanted.  After all the results are in, it’s clear that organizations need to take a holistic approach to finding and keeping the best talent.  

What are you seeing in your company?  How are you doing compared to our survey respondents?  Please share with me in the comments.

What Is Your Talent Mindset? Pinstripe Talent Can Help You Focus

I recently had the opportunity to speak with leaders from Pinstripe Talent about something they are passionate about…. a talent mindset.  

As a Human Resource leader, one of the key roles I occupy is that of helping shape and set the way the organization approaches talent. It’s our company talent mindset.  The same goes for me personally as well as all the other leaders in the organization.  Since “talent” is not a commodity, recruiting and retaining talented, skilled employees is everyone’s job. In order to be successful, you have to have a talent mindset so that you understand what motivates people to stay and what makes them feel valued.

Pinstripe is sharing their ideas about talent and having a talent mindset.  I was fortunate to hear a presentation by Angela Hills, Executive Vice President from Pinstripe at Talent Net Live.  Angela then sat down to answer some of my questions about a talent mindset and I’ll be sharing those here with you in a two-part series.


What is one thing an individual can do to help a fellow leader identify his/her talent mindset?

Well, one thing? Ask the question. Tell people what your Talent Mindset is and ask others to share theirs. Ask your CEO or leadership how they approach talent. Ask them what they are most proud of when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Ask them what motivates them and why they stay? Ask them what their top talent priorities are. Their answers will clue you in to which Talent
Mindset drives them, but it will also get Talent on their radar by talking about it. You’ll get them thinking and you might even influence them to focus on it more, just by getting them to talk about it!

What are a few of the benefits of knowing your talent mindset and potentially the talent mindset of your team or colleagues?

More than anything, I think it helps you to focus on what you do best.   Knowing your core approach to talent can help you realize why you’re so good at certain things and what others value most about it. It affirms the way you typically approach things. It can also highlight areas you may want to focus on (i.e. maybe you review the summary of another Talent Mindset and really wish you were more like that….), but more than anything, it will help you do more of what you do best.

Knowing the Talent Mindset of your entire team can be very useful. Staffing a project with a variety of Talent Mindsets ensures that you’re looking at an issue from multiple angles. It can also spur conversation and as noted above, I’m a firm believer that the more we talk about something, the more it is on our minds, and then the more it shapes our behavior. Talking more about talent should lead to colleagues focusing more on talent and that is good for business!

*Stay tuned for more discussion about Talent Mindset.   Thank you to Angela Hills, Pinstripe Talent and Talent Net Live for starting the discussion. In the meantime, do you have discussions with your leaders or team about their approach to talent?  Share with me in the comments.