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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram and an ad came up that read, “Get an HR manager for $99 a month!” And, that gave me pause. Really?! An HR manager for $99? Even if it was a lie or a gross misstatement, even if it was $999 a month, that’s only $12,000 a year. When I worked in human resources, I made 10 times that. Now I am not sharing this to talk about wages or salaries, although it’s loosely related.  No, I am sharing this because this ad, this one simple ad I saw while mindlessly scrolling Instagram, sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts about the commoditization of work and human resources.

When we talk about the future of work, we often talk about digitization and automation.  Sometimes we say nice things and sometimes we call it a job killer. But for the most part, a lot of these trends are negative. From retail to healthcare to hospitality; algorithms and machines that can do certain jobs are doing them and they’re doing them better than humans (and at a much cheaper cost too).

But I think when we talk about the future of work, we’re jumping ahead. We don’t get to digitization and automation without first having an honest discussion about how jobs are commodities. We have stripped the humanness from most jobs and we look at jobs as an object that can be bought and sold on the free market. Much like the HR manager you can get for $99 a month.

What’s worse is that we’re not having an honest conversation about it and human resources.

We tell people that humans come first, and that’s a lie.

We look at the job, we look at the tasks and then it’s about people. So what can we do? How can we fix the way we look at work in today’s job market?

Well, of course, I have some thoughts and ideas, which I would love to share with you! Head over here to listen to my recent podcast episode all about human resources and the commoditization of work, where I share some strategies HR professionals and leaders can employ to put the focus back on humanness in human resources.

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In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, I spoke with Dane Hurtubise, Vice President of Platform and Partnerships at Greenhouse Software. We talked about moments that matter, whether it’s in the interview process, the hiring process, pre-boarding, or onboarding. Dane discusses how those moments matter and that they also better be great, especially in our current talent-driven economy. He makes some great points regarding how relationships are changing between employers and their employees and how technology can enhance those relationships.

One critical element that Dane discusses in relation to making moments matter is the process of onboarding. He says, “Onboarding to me is that full development of the individual in the organization to be productive, happy, and a good citizen.” And this does not merely refer to a new employee’s orientation process or “pre-boarding.” Rather, onboarding is much deeper. It is a process which involves the employee’s growth with the company. He describes it as involving three development cycles:

  1. Personal growth of an employee where they master their role
  2. Developing meaningful relationships with others at work so that they can mentor others
  3. Embodying the organization’s values so they can represent those values outside of the company

Good onboarding sets the employee up with, as Dane says, “how to be a good citizen inside of the organization.”

The other important aspect to understand about onboarding is it is a team effort within the organization.

Many levels of leadership, recruitment managers, and hiring managers must be involved and proactive with new candidates coming into their offices. It requires the best practices within the company to prepare the employee to be successful at their job. If you want to hear how Greenhouse Software can help bring meaning back to your office, how to advance the onboarding process, or how to empower employees, then listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

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Laura Hamill, an expert in the well-being field and co-founder, Chief Scientist, and Chief People Officer of Limeade joined me on a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work. We had a great conversation about what it means to be a whole, healthy, functioning adult, plus non-toxic work environments and the actual work it takes to get there.

We also talked about the power of gratitude and recognition. In fact, I’ve heard Laura tell stories around the power of gratitude, the power of recognition, and how she sees this playing out in organizations today.  Of course, gratitude and recognition are buzzwords right now. But what is their power, truly? Today I wanted to provide you with some food for thought on this topic.

Laura thinks of gratitude and recognition from a scientific perspective and says, “There’s a lot of great research to say the more gratitude you have in your life, the higher levels of well-being you have. This kind of overall quality of life is enhanced by being grateful. I’ve also seen that it can be really life changing, that if you take the time to take a step back and realize all the things that are amazing in your life, it puts your head in a different space.”

Have you given thought to what you are grateful for lately? Take a moment and think about it.

So what about gratitude at work? Does it have a place? Well, to put it bluntly, YES!  

Laura explains, “By being grateful and recognizing another person’s contributions, it is good for that person.” To put it into perspective, people that feel appreciated and feel as though their contributions are benefitting the organization, they do good work for the organization and it also empowers them to be the best they can be – both personally and professionally.

Now I ask you, are you showing gratitude toward your team members, employees, and leaders? If not, why not?

If you’ve ever thought about well-being and wondered if it’s just a fad or thought about gratitude in the workplace, I think you’re going to love this episode. To listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work with my special guest, Dr. Laura Hamill, head over to here.

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We’re in a new era of collaboration where strategic business goals are accomplished by full-time, part-time and flexible workers who operate within communities with the same purpose: to achieve extraordinary results while having meaningful experiences at work.

Well, that’s optimistic.

It’s a transformative period, for sure. Leaders can navigate this change by being hyper-focused on people engagement strategies and by creating transparent, ethical and inclusive communities where all workers feel engaged and are prepared for the imminent changes to the workplace.

That’s easier said than done, which is why I’m attending SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando on May 6-9, 2019.

This year, SAPPHIRE redesigned its conference experience around “neighborhoods.” Neighborhoods bring people together, create a sense of community and provide a shared experience that supports growth and enrich lives.

I am excited to take part in the People Engagement neighborhood and have conversations about how technology enhances the employee experience. We’ll cover topics such as working in a socially connected world, demographic shifts, and emerging business models. All of it calls for a flexible workforce with new and different skills. Empowering this workforce and capitalizing on the diversity of thought and experience is key to ensuring people are engaged in their work.

Some of the sessions I look forward to the most are: Empower Your Leaders to Improve Every Workforce Experience, Combine Finance and HR to Improve Decision-Making and Performance, Give Your Employees a Completely New Human Resources Experience.

I’m also thrilled to meet the talented team behind Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman and learn how they are transforming luxury retail with a business strategy that is founded on innovation and inclusion.

You know I’m passionate about fixing work.

The verdict is in, and organizations see a positive impact on revenue and profitability when they combine technology and best practices to empower all workers and create an inclusive environment. So, join me in real life in Orlando on May 6-9, 2019, or find it live online. And I’ll share the good stuff from behind-the-scenes in the neighborhoods and the greater Orlando area on my Twitter account.

Not a bad way to stay on top of what’s happening in the future of work.

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I don’t like people who make promises they don’t keep. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in the world. If you make a professional commitment, own it. Especially if you’re a business owner. Yes, life gets challenging. We have multiple obligations, but I expect you to prioritize your responsibility to me and treat me as if I’m just as important as the other five things happening in your life. If you can’t be a person of your word, you should choose your words better.

Well, I’m an overcontrolling jerk!

Turns out I promised Namely that I’d come to their HR conference on May 6-7 in New York City and can’t make it. I’m double-booked and will be in Orlando, and I’ll miss Shawn Achor keynote this fantastic event. I’m also bummed because I wanted the chance to hear from key opinion leaders both inside and outside of the HR function who will share solid advice and practical takeaways.

I need a virtual assistant to help me out!

If you work in human resources or live in the New York City area, you should head on over to this event for one reason: the best HR professional in America, Lorna Hagan, works for Namely. She leads their people and talent function, and you shouldn’t turn down an opportunity to learn from the best. I’m not joking, Lorna is hands-down the best HR leader I’ve ever met.

There are also other amazing people on the speaker roster and plenty of fun people in attendance. My former editor, Vadim Liberman, will be in the audience. He’s no Shawn Achor, but he taught me how to write when I was a contributor to The Conference Board Review. We once did a webinar for The Conference Board and they shut down the entire magazine shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I think not.

(Vadim now works at The Starr Conspiracy and is an active member of DisruptHR. You want him to emcee your event!)

I’m really bummed to miss this event, so I asked Namely for a discount code to offer ya — use the code HRR196 at checkout for 50% off your tickets: hrredefined.namely.com/tickets

Hope you take advantage of the event if you’re able, and I’m sorry to miss it. I’ll be back in 2020, and I look forward to eating crow and being a woman of my word!

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Here’s the thing about goals and goal setting: You can be successful at achieving your goals and you can also crash and burn at goal setting in tremendous ways.  Whether you are a rockstar with goal setting or struggling to keep up with the ones you’ve created, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. Life happens:  Even with the best-laid plans, life is bound to happen and throw a wrench into them.
  2. Boundaries make a huge difference: Once I started to have boundaries, I started to have goals.

At the start of 2019, I began setting standards for myself and soon thereafter the year came into focus. I’ve been writing more, speaking at events more often, and developing new areas of my business.

But yet, I’ve been missing some goals because I’m human.

In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, I share some of my own insights and lessons about goal setting. Because let’s face it, even when you create rock-solid systems or amazing goal setting plans, life happens.

In the same episode, I also share my experience working with a business coach and how in doing so, it has helped me put my goals into focus and even be accountable, even when my follow through is less than stellar.

If you want to hear about my successes and failures with goal setting, the importance of putting yourself first, and making an effort to at least try to attain a specific goal, then listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

 

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We live in a world where everybody hates HR.

If they don’t hate human resources, they don’t give it much time. It’s a shame because HR is the one department in any company that could, without much effort, positively change people’s lives for the better. People should love human resources, and, if their department stinks, they should get promoted — or get a job in HR — to make it better.

But HR doesn’t change if we stand around waiting for people to stop complaining. It changes when we raise our hands and commit to making work better while simultaneously making companies profitable.

The two can go hand-in-hand.

That’s why I’ve been honored to partner with Ultimate Software over the past three months to sponsor my podcast called Let’s Fix Work. We hoped you would sign up for their free HR workshops around America — where you can earn HRCI, SHRM and APA credits — and learn new ways to fix work.

Turns out, y’all signed up in record numbers. You believe in the future of human resources, and you also believe in professional development and continuous learning.

As recently reported in Harvard Business Review, “Employees experienced fewer negative emotions on days when they engaged in more learning activities at work compared to other days.”

Even if your company has an awful culture and doesn’t spend money on your professional development, your “employee experience” is yours. Ultimate Software continues to offer its free and fantastic HR workshops all across America. You should sign up for a workshop if one is in your area, and take advantage of the unfettered opportunity to learn and grow.

Please visit ultimatesoftware.com/LFW and tell them Laurie sent you when you attend one of those fantastic live events!

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Are you a leader? If so, then you are probably accustomed to not only living and operating under sets of rules but most likely imposing rules on others. After all, we have to have order in life and business, right? While that is true, there are many principles that can be applied to exactly how we lead. Leading with love can create a powerful change in how leaders interact with others on a daily basis.

In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, I spoke with Kevin Kruse, founder and CEO of LEADx. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of nine books. He has a brand new book hitting the shelves titled Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business. In talking with Kevin about a “no-rules” work zone, we also discussed the role of “love” in leadership. That’s right, love. I know that may sound odd to think about applying “love” in leadership, but as you’ll see, Kevin makes some great points to consider.

Love others…we explored the idea that you don’t actually need to like someone who works for you or with you, but you do need to love that person. When you love others, a caring attitude is what comes forth. That is how you can truly connect with employees. Because then you are able to have conversations with employees explaining why certain policies are in place within the company culture. When employees are aware of the “why” behind certain actions, they are much more open to following the policies and happily joining in the company culture. Then the “rules” are not even necessary because there is a social policy that people understand and are happy to take part in as a member of the group, whether it’s in your family life at home or at work. It’s the idea that our behavior impacts others, and that behavior can be a “social contagion” as Kevin says. We must have positive directions in those behaviors so that a positive attitude can spread.

Put the needs of others ahead of your own…Kevin went on to explain that this is another way to express love for others. He said that regarding loving your team members, “It really is just saying you’re putting their needs ahead of your own, but not too many people are doing it. And I don’t know how you get somebody to realize that. I mean other than they’re going to end up in a place where they can’t get any higher because they didn’t bring people with them, or they’re going to succeed and feel really lonely and empty. It’s just so much more fun when you’ve got love and friends and…you’ve got this journey with so many other people.” It’s essential to focus on the importance of treating others well so that you can enjoy the experience of life together.

Now is the time to lead with love by personalizing your approach to others, at home and at work. What a powerful idea. It’s smart and interesting conversations like this one that keeps me excited about doing this podcast! So if you enjoy learning about the interconnectivity between love and work, leadership principles, or “no rules” work zones, join me for this conversation with Kevin Kruse.

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If the world is engaged in stalker-culture, it’s because companies started it.

At first, your organization was slow to embrace the internet. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. If you had to have a computer, they sure as hell weren’t gonna let you shop on Zappos or check out your friends on Myspace.

But a funny thing happened on the way to late-stage capitalism …

Once businesses understood the power of the web to merge power and surveil its workforce, they encouraged everybody to hop on the internet and even bring their own devices to work.

We all know companies watch what you do; however, many employees and contractors don’t understand the depths. Legal, finance, IT, and HR can easily map the intricacies of your whole life into one large pivot table for cynical business folk to manipulate. Does it violate the law? Yes, no, maybe, who cares. Depends on where the corporation resides, where the worker sits, what legal precedent if any has been set, and the ruthless calculation of the cost of doing business.

Examples?  

You might come to work on Monday morning, open your laptop, grab a cup of coffee, read your email on your computer, check the New York Times on your tablet and book a flight on your phone. Some of that online behavior is monitored through apps and programs on your company’s IT equipment; your company may hook your badge up to a software that connects with cameras in the office and monitors your whereabouts and to analyze how work gets done; and, if you log onto your organization’s wifi with your own devices, you consent to be monitored and tracked.

Is that a big deal? Well, maybe.

What you don’t know is that all of this data can be collected and analyzed using natural language processing and sentiment analysis to understand if these are predictable patterns of behavior, if you’re about to leave the organization, if you’re depressed and about to commit suicide, if you are a candidate for financial wellness programs based on your internet shopping, or if you’re swinging by Janet’s workspace every morning — just like she complained to HR — and harassing her.

And we’re just getting started.

How many times a day do you use the toilet? For how long? Where do you go after you pee? What sites do you visit after lunch? Where do you go when you block off “creative time” on your schedule? Does your calendar match your physical location or are you blocking time off to nap in the lactation room? Are you sharing files on Slack to foster inter-departmental collegiality or are you trying to sabotage a project? Where do you go for lunch? Who’s going with you? Are the two of you leaving for lunch together? Are you having an affair and putting the company at risk? Are you giving away corporate secrets to competitors? Did you take this job for the intended reasons you stated in the interview? Are you only working there to bump up your salary and rebound to your prior employer? Does your criminal history match what you shared? What about your ongoing activities — are you employed at this job while running a small cannabis ring from your house?

Some of this data needs to be reverse-engineered when there’s an HR complaint, but that’s so very 2015. Much of this data can be collected and analyzed in real-time by sophisticated technology and third-party vendors who monitor a spectrum of activities to ensure that you’re not a risk to the organization by lying, cheating, stealing, leaving too soon after being hired, giving away company secrets, getting too fat, harassing your colleagues, or, honestly, being depressed enough to bring a gun to work.

UR being watched.

Stalker-culture exists because we’ve fetishized work as the ultimate form of purpose and given over our lives to corporate overlords — founders, C-level executives, business consultants — who don’t fetishize work and have second and third homes in tax-free locations throughout the United States and find meaning and faith in accumulated interest and capital gains earnings and not “growth opportunities” or “feedback from colleagues.”

So, what can you do if you don’t want to be surveilled by your employer?

• First, understand the depths of the surveillance. Find a friend in IT, risk management, finance or even HR and ask good questions. Go back and read your employment agreement.

• Think about where you sit on the corporate hierarchy and get promoted. Just because we live in a stalker-culture in 2019 doesn’t mean you can’t change things.

• Go work in HR. The one department that might fix all of this is often staffed with people who don’t know, don’t care, or don’t understand what’s going on in the enterprise. There’s no more significant opportunity to fix work than to work — and get promoted — in HR.

The answer is not to work for yourself. Running away from a problem never solved anything, and, also, the problem still follows you. While there’s less monitoring of your activity as a small business owner, you still abdicate many of your rights and freedoms while working with corporate clients.

We fix work by fixing ourselves. Get smart, get educated, and get promoted. There’s no cavalry coming to solve these problems. Want to change the way corporations act? It starts with you.

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In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, we had the opportunity to examine being authentic at work. That’s a really important topic to consider. We all have different roles in our lives, and it’s so important to be true to who we really are. But how do we do that at work? We need to be professional and deal with situations as they arise… but the key is to not lose ourselves in the process.

To help us navigate being our authentic selves at work, I was very happy to welcome Rana Stanfill-Hobbs, the Director of Insights at Ultimate Software (our fantastic show sponsor). She is also a very busy mom, step-mom, singer, songwriter, and, as she says, consummate learner. She is also the founder of Compass Credo, a website that helps people achieve their best lives and live according to their own set of values. How do you actually achieve the goal of being authentic at work? Rana has some great insights.

It is essential to have an open dialogue with people at work. Everyone is coming from different backgrounds and experiences. For example, if someone is trying to introduce new software at work, it’s important to know who the employees truly are so that their response to the new system can be anticipated. Rana notes that what is important is, “really creating the best environment so that people can flourish in whatever they’re doing.” Some people are very creative at home, and it is possible to be creative at work as well. This is the idea of recognizing what you are good at and how you excel. If creativity is your thing, then that needs to be expressed at work. When that is realized at the office, you will be able to do your best work.

Rana says that it is vital to recognize your imperfections and be honest with yourself; be willing to bring your entire self to the office as opposed to leaving part of your personality at home. That kind of separation is very difficult and taxing.

When you bring your whole self to work, you will be more relaxed. Often your impact will be seen not just in big things but the little things as well. Rana points out, “I think that if you put yourself into leaving people better or find a personal vision credo or mission statement… like an action thing, what do you want to do every day? I think that you then start to see the meeting is always in the minutia. It’s always in those tiny interactions, and that is how you make your role have impact. That is how your day starts to feel really important. And then you want to bring your whole self there.”

I am so thankful for my time talking with Rana. Our conversation brings up some very positive aspects of personality and good reminders to be who you are.

You are special.

You are an individual.

And your contribution at work is important.

As Rana says, “The more that you can be human, more authentic, and the more holistic you are thinking about life and the work that you’re doing, the better you can navigate all of this. The more powerful the connections are that you have with your customers, your colleagues, and with people in general.” So stay focused and true to who you are in your life, and that energy will have a positive impact at work too.

Ready to listen to my full conversation with someone who is an expert in the technology field, an incredibly strong woman, and someone who lives an authentic life? If so, listen to my conversation with Rana on this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

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