Archive for Business

More Than a Feeling: Relationships at Work

notes time capsuleIn the mid 90’s I left my position as HR Director with a 100-employee not-for-profit agency to slide back into in-house recruiting as the Employment Manager with a much larger organization (4,800+ employees). I wanted to get back into managing a recruiting function as well as work for an organization with, let’s face it, deeper pockets than the NFP where we used scratch pads and paper clips instead of wasting precious dollars on Post-It notes. (We also didn’t have our own fax machine because it was too expensive. To send or receive a fax – mid 90’s remember – we walked two blocks to the neighboring hospital where we were allowed to use the fax machine in the hospital CEO’s office. In Wisconsin. In winter. I am not even kidding.)

So I made a move. And even though I knew I was making a strategic career change, I hesitated before accepting the new opportunity. Why? Primarily because I was leaving peers, colleagues and friends with whom I had built extraordinarily tight bonds. Yes – even as the head of HR (also managing 8 staff members in various departments) I had friends; people with whom I built deep and abiding relationships.

Why? Because our culture supported, promoted and encouraged it. We went to each others’ homes and attended weddings, funerals and christenings together. I used to go for dinner and chill out for hours at my boss’ house drinking wine. I babysat her dog. I once took a vacation with some co-workers. (“Oh the horror! You worked in HR” I can hear some of you saying).

I adored those people.

On my last day of employment there was a going-away party at a local watering hole filled with laughter, pictures and merriment. While I received lovely tchotkes and gifts from various people, I received one item that caused me to break into tears right there with my vodka and tonic in hand. I received a “time capsule” container into which every employee in the organization had placed a handwritten note for me. I was told to read them (en masse or one at a time) whenever I wanted a reminder of what I meant to people or how I had impacted the organization. Yeah. See why I wept?

I thought about this when I read through the Globoforce Mood Tracker Fall 2014 Report. While much of the research is geared towards years of service anniversaries, the summary of findings are applicable across the spectrum of HR, whether we are devising strategies related to culture, engagement or retention:

  1. Peer relationships are critical to the modern work experience.
  1. Having friends at work increases commitment to the company.
  1. Years of service awards that include all colleagues yield better results.
  1. Years of service awards with emotional impact are more effective.
  1. Social Recognition amplifies the effectiveness of years of service programs.
  1. Workers yearn for a more shareable and meaningful milestone experience.

note: check out a nifty Infographic here

 

Those memories from almost 20 years ago stuck with me; that celebration was meaningful, emotional and shared with employees from all across the organization. Even though, obviously, this was a ‘farewell’ event and not a service award event I still remained committed to the organization as I continued to serve as an adviser and as a committee member with the Board of Directors.

The Globoforce Mood Tracker Report is enlightening. I encourage you to download it whether you’re exploring recognition, years of service or just looking for ways to make the employment experience at your company more meaningful. As the Mood Tracker Report points out: “There is room for improvement in today’s milestone experiences. Employees are looking for more shareable service awards that respect their memories and contributions.”

C’mon HR; we can fix this.

More than a feeling.

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I’m partnering with my friends at Globoforce as a paid contributor and, as I should, am disclosing this to you in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Hot DAMN: Clarity and Consistency

pillowsThe invitation arrived several weeks ago: “You’re invited to a Romance FUN Party.” The accompanying image showed four impossibly attractive women with perfect hair toasting each other with glasses of champagne. “Bring 3 Guests and Win a ‘Date Night’ bag!” we were promised. In a separate email the hostess pointed out “ladies only!”

Yeah. You know what this was all about. As did everyone who responded “yes” on their RSVP.

The gals arrived with handbags in tow and quickly set about consuming wine and cupcakes while checking out the dizzying array of merchandise on display. After 30 minutes of readiness (alcoholic lubrication as it were) the hostess gathered us all together and the Personal Romance Consultant took over.

We introduced ourselves by playing a game – “Hi! I’m Debbie. My porn name is Fluffy Bayridge and my secret bedroom name is ‘Tiger”!” More games followed; some using props. There was a slide show.

Then we got down to business. There were stories and demonstrations. The jargon flowed freely; no need to sugar coat what this was all about. As we were indoctrinated into the world of “Romance” the Personal Romance Consultant was very clear to point out that the greatest romance you have is with yourself (“You are ALL beautiful!!”).

“Can you explain again the 4 different ways to use that product?” asked Debbie.

“Let me show you again,” said the Personal Romance Consultant as she deftly manipulated the merchandise she held in her hand. “I use this myself; it’s my favorite.”

And with that the store was open for business. Purchases were made in the privacy of the hostesses’ spare bedroom.

Debbie left the party with a sizable credit card bill and a smile on her face.

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The letters arrived several weeks ago: “Welcome to our company!” The accompanying glossy brochure displayed four impossibly happy looking ‘employees’ (age, gender, and race diverse!) kicking back on colorful sofas in what appeared to be a common work area. “We’re so pleased you’re part of our team!” the brochure stated. “Employees are our most important asset,” began one sentence, “and we demonstrate that by living our values of communication, transparency and personal empowerment.”

Yeah. You know what this was all about. As did the eager new recruits, or so they thought, who had just landed a job.

The new employees arrived on day 1 and quickly set about consuming coffee and donuts while looking askance at the piles of paperwork and binders placed at each seat. After a brief period of strained chit chat the HR Representative quieted the group and the day began.

New employees introduced themselves by playing a game – “Hi! I’m Carla. I have a 12 year old son and a 14 year old daughter. My hobbies are playing bunco and working in my garden.” More games followed; some using props. There was a slide show.

Then they got down to business. There were stories and demonstrations. The jargon flowed freely. It was an indoctrination into the company with the HR Representative taking great pains to point out that the company was committed to providing a great work environment (“You are ALL important!”).

“Can you further explain the company’s flexible work policy listed in the brochure you sent me? asked Carla. “The recruiter told me about it but he didn’t have all the details.”

“Your manager will determine if your position qualifies,” said the HR Representative as she deftly shuffled the stack of I-9s on the conference room table. “You’re eligible to be considered for flex scheduling or telecommuting once you’ve been here 12 months and have received satisfactory performance appraisals with no disciplinary actions.”

And with that the new job tenure began; clarification of company values and policies to be made in the privacy of individual managers’ offices.

Carla never did manage to find that common work area with the colorful sofas… before she resigned on day 65.

Four Quick Tips for Job Seekers

wake up(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by and brought to you by our friends at JobTonic, a US job search engine site where you will find listed vacancies from numerous and multiple boards in the USA)

Every person who has decided to start looking for a job must remember that this process usually takes much longer than expected. In order to optimize the search process we’ve prepared several tips that will be useful to anyone who wants, as soon as possible, to find a job that meets all their needs.

For most people the ideal job not only brings enough money but is also enjoyable. In order to combine these two aspects in your new job it’s helpful to follow a few easy steps:

Determine what’s Important

Decide which type of work is right for you (i.e. part-time or full-time) and even consider what you’re willing to do on a volunteer basis. Clearly define for yourself what you would like in your “dream job” as well as what you know you won’t like. Begin your analysis by looking through open vacancies on job boards like JobTonic.com and focusing on jobs that match your skills and interests. Look for information by conducting online research, determine if you need to upskill or pass any necessary courses, and arrange visits with company representatives or colleagues working in your chosen field.

Evaluate your Experience

Be realistic about your abilities and when preparing your CV and other documents remember that your current skills, abilities and experience may be transferable to the duties in a new position. For example, knowledge and experience with project management, customer service, information technology and even sales are often needed in many fields; these transferable skills should be highlighted and clarified on your resume and in your cover letter.

Prepare for the Interview

Be honest with yourself and others and don’t feel you need to embellish the reasons why you’ve started to search for a new job. Tell a potential employer about your past honestly and openly; the biggest mistake that an applicant can ever make is to lie. If you were dismissed don’t hide that; your references can be, and often will be, checked and the truth will emerge.

Take it Step by Step

The only way to truly find out whether ‘this job’ or ‘that job’ suits you is, sometimes, to just try it; it’s certainly OK to try something new if it presents the lowest possible personal risk. But thorough analysis and exploration, as outlined in step 1, will allow you to find out when your expectations are at odds with reality as well as allow you to discover the pros and cons of any job, field, or profession.

Of course there will be times during any job search when you’ll just want to turn off the alarm and sleep in but if you approach your job search in a systematic way you can reap the rewards and ultimately experience moments of elation when you land that “dream job.”

Be clever – be smart – and be rewarded for your efforts.

 

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This post is sponsored by JobTonic; I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

HR & IT: Friends, Foes or Partners?

HatfieldClan-EI recently read The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights, part of a global project commissioned by Dell and Intel. For the study, TNS Global is exploring key future trends and themes pertaining to the workplace and workforce, with a specific focus on understanding the role that technology has played in its evolution

There is some fascinating information in Report #1 as the researchers outline seven trends and their accompanying hypotheses. Among these trends are Productivity (measured in outputs, not hours), Employee-led Innovation, and a revised view of Employee-Employer trust – labeled ‘Values versus Rules’ by TNS Global. We’ve been discussing these trends in the HR sphere for some time now but it’s interesting to read about them from the side of the IT professionals.

One of the interesting trends identified is one called “Many hats of the IT Manager.” The researchers state that as employee aspirations shift and people seek greater fulfillment and happiness at work, the role of the IT Manager will increasingly align with that of the HR Manager. Their hypothesis further states: “Workplace IT of the future will not merely be a tool to accomplish tasks, but constitute a means of recruiting and retaining staff, of managing well- being, and of facilitating personal and professional development.”

There are some global comparisons noted; the perception of the IT role will vary depending upon whether it is based in the East, West or someplace else, but in any event, the authors believe, IT managers will become increasingly responsible for satisfying the needs of employees.

The authors point out that the IT department has often been viewed as a barrier; implementing and enforcing policies and putting in place regulations that block employee development – rather than assisting or encouraging access to technologies that increase employee efficiency or provide satisfaction.

Our friends in IT are warned that if, for example, they don’t offer choice of device or access to software, tools and technologies desired by employees or applicants the organization will lose in the long run; engagement, talent attraction, retention…you name it.

I wonder how this makes the folks working in IT feel?

Let’s face it; if you work in HR, depending upon your organizational experience, you’ve either been best buddies with your IT manager or viewed him/her as the very embodiment of Satan. Over the last several years, more and more IT Managers have come face to face with empowered HR gals and guys who have pushed for the previously unthinkable.

“She wants a cloud-based HR solution? Let employees bring their iPhone when all we’ve ever supported are corporate issued Blackberrys? Unblock Facebook and YouTube and all those social sites? Has my HR lady lost her mind?” thought Joe the IT Manager.

The skirmishes continue. Within the last several weeks an HR leader told me “I would really like to implement xyz, but our IT Department won’t let me.

Time and budget constraints? Lack of clarity or understanding regarding the business strategies on both sides? Territorial pissing matches?

Undoubtedly all of the above.

But you know what? If you work in HR and are in need of getting some alignment and cooperation from your IT group start with a discussion around these seven trends. Approach the conversation from their perspective. That SHRM Research report you’ve quoted before isn’t going to sway their thinking…but something like this TNS Global report might.

Just gloss over the fact that your IT manager is going to have to start thinking like an HR strategist; that might start a feud akin to the Hatfields & McCoys.