Tag Archives: business

Christmas Re-Gifting: Good Idea or Torture?

*From the dusty archives…

The Frowl- photo courtesy of Chris Frede (@HR_Buoy)
The Frowl- photo courtesy of Chris Frede (@HR_Buoy)

Well, we’re full on in the gift giving season and I’m wondering about re-gifting.  I don’t do it BUT, I have received several presents over the years that still sit in the closet, unopened.  Maybe I should give them to someone else.

Let’s see, I have:

  • Several strange ornaments
  • Some nice binoculars.  These are cool, but I really haven’t found anything I need to see that close up.
  • A puzzle of New York City.  I like to travel to NYC, not make puzzles of the skyline.
  • A bible.  Ok, I already have a bible.  Don’t know why someone thought I’d need a new one.  The old one does ok and quite honestly, the only one I read is the Children’s version anymore.
  • Movies like The Money Pit, Major League, and Batman Dark Knight. I’m fairly certain those should be given away.

So, you see, I could really give some great gifts to my family and friends and not have to brave the stores.  At my last job, we all re-gifted one hideous gift.  It was called the Frowl.  It was a pottery piece that looked like a cross between a frog and an owl.  It was either some odd candle holder or a toothbrush holder.  We figured that out because it had holes in the belly.  Each person who received it couldn’t wait to pass it on to someone else at the next holiday or milestone.

What do you think about re-gifting?  Do you do it?  What’s the WORST gift you’ve ever re-gifted or received that you think was re-gifted to you?  Share in the comments!

Get Over Yourself: Stop Focusing On Generational Differences

generationNewsflash:  There are generational differences in the workplace.  Have you heard about it? (I’m dripping with sarcasm here people)

There are articles, presentations, videos, reports, posts, podcasts, and more.  You name it and it has been talked about, ad nauseam. Like many issues that come up in the HR world, we spend time talking endlessly about the problem but not enough time on the solution.  Generational differences in the workplace are no different.

There are labels and definitions for each generation.  Are you a Boomer?  Gen X?  Gen Y? We’re told how each generation feels and thinks and why they can’t relate to all the other generations.  But you know what?  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

IT DOES NOT MATTER

There have always been differences from generation to generation.  If we could spend as much time perfecting how individuals can work effectively together as we do on talking about how generations don’t, we’d have the most productive workforce ever.

So, how do we do that?  One thing that occurred to me recently was that when I meet people via social media outlets, I never even think about their age.  I have older friends, younger friends, and age is not an issue.  They are mostly HR professionals and I have had some great collaborating experiences with them and age has never come up.  If anything, any differences in our ages made our output better because we were incorporating many different viewpoints.

This social attitude needs to be brought into the forefront at the workplace. We should be designing work experiences and rewards for behaviors such as:

  • Focusing on the quality of the work, not the age of the employee.
  • Staying relevant no matter what your age. Reading, networking, sharing ideas.
  • Getting to know what works best for individuals, not their generation.
  • Refusing to categorize employees based on age or generation when building a team.

We will never be able to fully understand the events that shape behaviors of people born in a different generation because we did not live through those events.  Why not agree that although differences exist, we must not focus on them.  Instead, focus on similarities in the values and behaviors that we share. That is what will bind strong teams and build more productive workplaces.

Gentle Mentors Are Not Helpful- Or Are They?

handsI am blessed.  Really.

You don’t have to even believe in God to know that I am blessed in the sense that I have mentors who love and care for me.  Like many people, I have more than one.  In fact, I have too many to count.  Of all those people, 4 are extra special to me because they seem to know my soul, not just what is near the surface.  Two are female and two are male.  Each one guides me in such drastically different ways, yet I am always amazed that their guidance collectively leads me in one direction.

I once had someone tell me that gentle mentors are not helpful.  If you define gentle as someone who is passive or not direct with feedback, then I agree.  But in my world, gentle is someone who can empathize with me and yet still tell me the truth.

How To Be A Gentle Mentor

  1. Have an empathetic ear
  2. Listen, listen, listen
  3. Encourage the person to show emotion- whatever that emotion is
  4. Be honest but not cutting with your feedback and advice

Have you had a gentle mentor?  Have you thanked them lately?  I think we all have a great opportunity to be this type of mentor to someone.

Best Way To Help? Be A Good Listener

*From the dusty archives…Man Putting Fingers in Ears

I overheard an exchange between a mother and young child at a store the other day.  The child was trying to communicate with the mom and the mom said, “The best way to help is be a good listener.”  The child began to talk and the mom quickly and ferociously cut her off and said in a sharp, condescending voice, “Oh, you’re already not being a good listener!  The best way to help is to be a good listener.”  This went back and forth for several minutes with both the mom and the daughter becoming louder and more firm in their response.  Finally, the daughter gave up.  You know what?  No one won.

That’s right.  In her zeal to teach her child that the best way to help is by being a good listener, she completely missed the fact that she was NOT LISTENING.  Now, I’m not the perfect mom all the time, just about 50% of the time.  Seriously, I know that little ones can try your patience.  But the point is that we spend so much time trying to teach someone else what is “right” that we don’t do it ourselves.  It’s no different in the workplace.

How many times do we see managers telling an employee the same thing over and over only to have the employee do something completely different?  How many employees have to come to HR to complain that their manager never listens to them?  Then, HR has to try to give recommendations on how to bridge the gap in that conversation.  I’d say it’s almost a daily routine.  What we need to do is tell managers to start talking less and listen more.

If an employee is not doing something “right”, instead of telling him that the manager could say, “Hey, I see how you’re doing XYZ.  Tell me how that is working for you.”- This allows the employee a chance to say why they do something a certain way, aka have their voice heard.  Then, the manager can follow up with something like, “That seems like a good reason.  Have you ever thought of doing XYZ to enhance that?”  Now you’re in a dialogue and the employee is far more likely to embrace the suggestion.

By taking time to really listen to an employee you will achieve better results in terms of:

  • Engagement- Employees who have their voice heard and then see those ideas validated will have higher levels of engagement with you and the department.
  • Teaching and Coaching- When you listen to the employee, you have a greater chance that you can teach them why something is important to handle in a certain way.  They will be more accepting of process changes, procedure changes, or other change happening in the department.  This is also the way to give them opportunity to voice their concerns and you the opportunity to coach them through it.
  • Learning- Even the highest level executives are continuous learners.  By taking that extra time to listen to an employee, you will definitely learn something.  It will spark new ideas, new ways to communicate, help you develop your own skill as a leader, and more.

So, the next time you are coaching your leaders, make sure they understand that by pausing to listen to the employees, they will reap the rewards.  What other techniques do you use to convince leaders that listening is one of the most valuable tools they have?  Share it in the comments.

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?

Workplace Lessons For Success From Dr. Seuss

*Busy day ahead today, so I’m sharing a favorite post from the past.  Hopefully and “oldie but goodie”.  

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”Theodor Seuss Geisel

That is one of my favorite quotes of all time and it’s from Dr. Seuss, well, at least most people attribute it to him.  There is often debate around great sayings.  The important thing for me is the message.  It helps me remember that there will always be people who respect me for who I am.  They are not going to try to mold me into their vision of who I should be.  And, when you’re respected, you will be far more likely to be a success in life.

That is a good lesson to learn.  And, although Dr. Seuss may or may not have said that statement, there are many other gems we know he wrote that apply interesting well in the business world.  If we can simplify our thinking once in awhile, we would see that life’s lessons are often more common sense and less conquer-the-world statements. According to Dr. Seuss, “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Here are a few quotes I like and how I interpret them in business:

Learning & Development

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” This comes to us from the story ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut‘ from 1978.  I always liked this book and the overall message.  This quote confirms that we need to keep reading and learning so that opportunities come our way.  If we remain stagnant in our career, in our relationships, in our communities, we will not “go” anywhere.  I don’t know about you, but I am a firm believer in reading, learning, and growing.

Diversity

There are a ton of books by Dr. Seuss that teach children (and adults) to be more tolerant of people who are different. Most of his characters were made-up beings who interacted with humans.  These beings taught the humans many things.  I love this quote from ‘Horton Hears A Who’.

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all.  A person’s a person, no matter how small!  And you very small persons will not have to die if you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”

So, whether we’re small or tall, black, white, or green, we’re all important.  We all have special talents.  We all have to try to make our voice heard.

Involvement

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” This quote is found in ‘The Lorax‘ which was written in 1971.  Definitely a great book and made-for-tv cartoon that teaches us about treating the environment well and not being wasteful.  I also love the message here that you cannot just rely on others to change things.  If you want something to be better, YOU have to get involved and make it better.

Work/Life Balance

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” This one comes from ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!‘ from 1990.

I don’t know if Dr. Seuss had work/life balance in mind when he wrote this book but I get the message loud and clear from this quote.  The story is one of encouragement for people on the path of life.  I think it is also important to note that care and tact are needed for success.  It’s easy to get fired up and expect success to come quickly.  Sometimes it does.  But, more often than not, it takes time and a great deal of diligence to move mountains.  The important thing it IS possible to move a mountain.

What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books or quotes?  Share one with me in the comments….


12 Minutes: Learn Social or Business During Your Drive Time

trafficI took my car to my dealership this week for a Xylon treatment.  It’s one of those things that is great to have done, but the hassle of having to drop my car off, on a weekday at 9:00 am, and pick up a rental car was something I didn’t look forward to.

The dealership had great service and the rental car was ready for me, but the idea of having to drive a car I’m not familiar with as the forecast called for snow and ice didn’t make me feel very confident.  At any rate, about twenty minutes after arriving, I was on my way in a 2011 Cadillac DTS. Sweet ride…..but felt larger than driving a bus.  This was not exactly my idea of fun.

So, away I go in my caddy and I’m trying to find something on the XM radio.  Only, it’s not activated.  I try to remember some local stations so that I can find something good to listen to on my way to work.  I settle in on a station that has a song I know, but it quickly ends.  Now it’s commercial time.  I sat through twelve minutes of commercials before the next song!

I don’t have time to sit through twelve minutes of commercials.

I felt like I was completely wasting my time.  I sat there cursing the local radio and hating the fact I couldn’t get any news or information of value.  That’s when I realized that there are many people who still don’t purchase their radio experience.  They listen to local radio.  These are some of the same people who argue that they don’t have time to learn social media, to read a blog, to learn a new tool or technology.  But like me that day, they get those same twelve minutes stolen from them all the time.

Making Good Use of Your Drive Time

 

  • Download podcasts that you can listen to on your iPod or other device.  Shows such as HR Happy Hour can be found on BlogTalk radio.  You can learn about the latest HR, recruiting and leadership information.
  • Listen to audio books that relate to self improvement or business acumen.
  • Use your smartphone to listen to “how to” videos on YouTube.


What are some other ways to spend your time in the car to make better use of it than listening to commercials?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Even Good Stress is Stress

stress-ball-2When my twins were born 5 weeks premature, they were place in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit).  I quickly latched on to the amazing nurses so that I’d gain insight on how to be a good mommy to such tiny babies. There were many lessons taught and learned, but the one that sticks with me still today is this….
Even good stress is stress.
Whenever an over zealous parent wanted to hold a baby too long, this nurse would kindly remind us.  In this case, it meant that even though the parent had good intent, too much stimulation for too long would stress the baby and cause negative outcomes.
The same applies to you.
How often do you overload your “free” time with social media, learning more about your industry, or all that extra reading you’ve been meaning to catch up on?  Do you over commit and over promise?  Maybe you volunteer in your community or on one of your kids’ teams. No matter what things you are doing to over-extend yourself, take time to evaluate that from time to time.
Ask yourself, is this benefiting me or my family or is it contributing to poor health or poor relationships?
It’s a tough dilemma and most of us live this life day in and day out.
Pause.
What can you drop from your list of commitments in order to get better balance?