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I recently had Dr. Patti Fletcher as a guest on my podcast, Let’s Fix Work, to talk about disrupting the status quo, unconscious bias and gender equity. It was an inspiring and eye-opening conversation. I wanted to share some of our thoughts about women in the workplace and disrupting the status quo.

When we talk about being disrupters, many feel the word is negative. Disrupters are troublemakers. They stand in the way of progress. But this is not so. Here’s why:

  1. Even with “Lean In” and #MeToo, the current system within the workplace benefits men. Work should be a system that encourages gender equity. 
  2. But that system has been in place since the dawn of time. It’s how we are all conditioned. 
  3. If we are high-performing leaders, we must  disrupt a system that’s holding women back. And it turns out the system is holding men back, too.

Patti defined the word disrupter so perfectly and I wanted to share it with you:

“The way I translate the word disruptor is there is a status quo that’s no longer serving the world in which it lives and we have to disrupt it. In disrupting, you unpack it. Some things might still be working, let’s keep those. But let’s disrupt the ones that aren’t.”

When you look at disruption in this way, you can see it’s a tool for change. Change is not a bad thing, either. In the case of women in leadership and in the workplace, being a disrupter is necessary. If you want to lead, you must disrupt.

Patti went on to say, “Every female disruptor understands that disruption starts with the person in the mirror. This does not mean act more like a man. Instead ask yourself, what do you have to bring to the table in order to bring this disruption for it? What do you need to start doing? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to continue doing or how are you making decisions?”

Disrupting the status quo is needed now more than ever. Start asking those disrupter questions and become a leader in your workplace, the one you are meant to be.

If you want to hear my entire conversation with Dr. Patti Fletcher,  head over here to listen.

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Let’s Fix Work is underwritten by WorkHuman, sponsored by Globoforce.​ Visit WorkHuman.com and use code WorkHumanLFW for a $100 off discount.

Not everyone knows that I am a daughter of a police officer. My mom is retired from the Chicago Police Department. She has a great benefit plan and pension package. That’s because of smart union negotiations. Yes, the union has done right by my family. And speaking of unions, my guest this week is Jason Greer, labor relations expert and founder of Greer Consulting Inc. He is a Gen-Xer with a slightly different take on unions. He believes in protecting the working class and that there is strength in numbers. But yet he also believes a union is the wrong way of protecting your interests.  We talk about all of that and more in this week’s episode of Let’s Fix Work.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  1. Jason’s quick and dirty story of who he is and what he does
  2. The reasons many companies fight unions and work to keep them out
  3. Jason’s thoughts on “getting the union you deserve”
  4. Labor relations and why it’s really shades of grey (and not just black and white)
  5. If employees forgo use of a union, what can they do to protect their benefits and interests?
  6. How to bridge the divide and recover a relationship that’s broken following a union or employee dispute
  7. Unions and the civil rights movement, how the two are connected and whether or not unions have been good for protecting minorities in America
  8. Jason shares one horror story about what a union does and doesn’t do if you don’t play along
  9. How can you decertify a union? Jason shares what you can do, what’s legal, what’s illegal and some next steps you can take

Leaders and employees, if you take anything away from this conversation, take this: You’ve got to start the conversation early about what you want and voice your expectations. If you do so, maybe you won’t need a union or even an intermediary. What you need most is to have a voice, to be brave and to begin the conversation.

Jason said it best when he said, “There is strength in being proactive.”

If you are interested in the state of unions in 2019 or you want to hear from an African American man who talks about civil rights and busting unions from a different perspective, then give this episode a listen.

 

Resources from this episode:

Jason’s website: www.greerconsultinginc.com

Twitter: twitter.com/LaborDiversity

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GreerConsultingInc/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasonjgreer/

Danny Ozment’s Podcast Supercharger Course: dannyozment.com/podcastsupercharger

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Just yesterday, the Coast Guard published a newsletter for its furloughed workers and family members with advice and tips on how to earn fast cash during the government shutdown.

Among the many gems? Have a garage sale or be a mystery shopper.

America has hit a shabby low under Donald Trump. The shutdown isn’t impacting the elite bureaucrats and coastal technocrats who overlegislate our country into a hyperfeminized nanny-state.

The government shutdown touches regular people — parents, neighbors, and even HR professionals.

Hey, Laurie, I’m currently furloughed from work…and looking to make some extra cash. Do you think you can give me some pointers on how to get some speaking/training gigs? I’m looking to expand my portfolio of work. Appreciate any insights you can share!

First of all, I’m sorry you’re caught up in Donald Trump’s hissy fit. Because he’s too stupid to remember the nuances of immigration policy, and because he’s trying to distract us from the constant stream of bad news coming from Mueller investigation — you’re out of work. Thanks, Vladimir Putin.

Second, I’m sorry your job is linked to racist attitudes against brown people, women and children. You work in HR, a department believes in ability and merit, and your livelihood is jeopardized by people who believe in fencing in brown people like zoo animals. That’s gotta sting.

So, how do you earn fast cash during the government shutdown?

Get yourself to a temp agency like Kelly Services. Literally, pick one out and meet with the branch manager. Tell your story to the people in the office, and let them know you’re available immediately for training opportunities — or anything where you can use your brain.

Relationships are the currency of the private sector. Be a name and a face. Be helpful and enthusiastic. They’ll help you out because staffing agencies have been saving lives and monthly household budgets like yours in America for 60 years.

Find a staffing agency ASAP. And I’m going to send another note to my senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, with a link to your story. Good luck, and I’m sorry we aren’t doing better by our government workers.

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Everybody’s got a life coach these days.

Not only that, many entrepreneurs and professionals are taking part in mastermind groups. Mastermind groups are very trendy right now. You join a group where you pay a monthly fee, you get on a call or video chat with a bunch of people, and the group holds one another accountable. The head of the mastermind group, typically a life coach, does little coaching. Masterminds are generally peer-to-peer support groups, and it’s really brilliant. If you’re the coach of the mastermind group, you don’t need to put in a whole lot of work.

Mastermind groups can be good for accountability. If you get out of the group what you put in, great. But, do you really need a life coach? My feelings about this topic came to a head while listening to a marketing podcast, when the host said these words, “Everybody needs a life coach.”

I thought, “Whoa, wait. What’s that all about?”

Here’s the thing: I’m not sure everybody really needs a life coach. Everybody needs access to good food and decent healthcare. Further, everybody deserves support, kindness and empathy.

But a life coach?

Sure, athletes have coaches. But for professionals and entrepreneurs, sometimes I think we say life coach when we really mean friends.

Or we say we need a life coach when we really mean therapy.  Everybody can probably use therapy because we don’t go through life unscathed.

No life coach is going to tell you to get quiet and to think about all the hurt and the pain and to go deep and understand why it happened. And you know most therapists can’t get you there because it’s terribly difficult work. It’s the work of a lifetime.

It is impossible for some people to get in touch with fears and patterns and then to connect those fears and patterns to hopes and dreams. But the work is important and the work is valuable.

A life coach won’t help you break free from self-limiting doubts. Maybe they will superficially, but they’re not going to help you break free from doubts, fears and patterns that accumulate over a lifetime.  

The work that most life coaches want to tell you that they can do but can’t do?. That work is solitary. It’s is quiet. It’s crucial. And the work has to be done alone. It’s done by you.

The work of living an authentic life where we are happy with ourselves and treat our bodies and souls with kindness? That doesn’t happen in a mastermind group or with a life coach. It barely happens in therapy. It happens in our hearts.

So the next time somebody tells you that everybody needs a life coach, tell them that the only life coach you need is you.

I can’t say this enough: Be your own life coach and fix what’s broken within yourself in those quiet moments that you would never admit to anybody in a mastermind group or on a Skype phone call. Be your own life coach and do the hard work of fixing yourself in 2019.

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Let’s Fix work is underwritten by WorkHuman, sponsored by Globoforce.  Visit WorkHuman.com and use code WorkHumanLFW for a $100 off discount.

Are you known as a troublemaker? Do you hate the status quo? Well, on today’s show, Dr. Patti Fletcher joins me to discuss what it means to be a disruptive influence at work and how it can work to your advantage. Dr. Patti Fletcher is a global speaker on gender equity, cultural transformation and leadership, and the best selling author of the book, Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold.  

In addition to talking about disrupting the status quo, we talk about Patti’s career journey, how she came to research the topics of unconscious bias and gender equity, plus we talk all about her book. Additionally, we discussed the topic of gender equity and exclusivity. And of course, we covered disruption in the workplace — both the positive effects and negative.  

In this episode you’ll hear:

  1. The various stages of Patti’s career beginning with enterprise software and on to what she is doing now
  2. How Patti came to pursue the topic of disrupting HR and gender equity in the workplace
  3. Patti shares about her book, Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold, real-life stories from real women in the workplace
  4. What Patti thinks about the book Lean In, its message about gender equity and why, in the words of Michelle Obama, “That shit doesn’t work.”
  5. Disruption and disrupters, including negative disruption and positive disruption
  6. What to do when someone feels threatened when you are disrupting the status quo and how to protect your own interest in a healthy way
  7. Stories of people who didn’t belong and found purpose and meaning elsewhere
  8. The state of business today as it relates to disruption, unconscious bias and gender equity

In the wise words of Dr. Patti Fletcher, “There is a status quo that’s no longer serving the world in which it lives and we have to disrupt it. Disrupting means you unpack it. Some things might be working, let’s keep those. But let’s disrupt the ones that aren’t.”

So if you’re ready to burn bridges or at least shake up your career, this episode is a MUST listen. Oh, and hey, come see Dr. Patti and me at WorkHuman in March, in Nashville, Tennessee! We are appearing together on a panel and we’d love to meet you.

Resources from this episode:


Website: drpattifletcher.com

Book: Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold

Dr. Patti on TwitterInstagramFacebook

She for S.H.E. Conference

SXSW (South by Southwest)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Michelle Obama’s Take On ‘Lean In’? ‘That &#%! Doesn’t Work’ www.npr.org/2018/12/03/672898216/michelle-obamas-take-on-lean-in-that-doesn-t-work

Thanks to Danny and his team at Emerald City Productions, the producers of Let’s Fix Work

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Lots of lists on how to improve your HR department in 2019.

Here’s mine.

1. Take your current time-to-fill and cut it in half.
2. Kill exit surveys and focus on daily conversations between coworkers, colleagues, and supervisors.
3. Stop worrying about culture, worry about kindness.
4. Recognize and reward character.
5. When someone shows your data, dig deeper and ask questions about source material and collection methodologies.
6. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. People can’t work if they’re hurting. Remember that work can’t provide psychological and physiological safety, only people can do that.
7. Microlearning is good. Practical and applied knowledge is better.
8. The most significant way to improve someone’s life is to lift them out of poverty—emotional and financial. Give someone a raise, and lift their spirits.

This list could be a mile long. Want to improve your HR game in 2019? Question everything — the status quo, technology, advice from experts like me — and be brave enough to put the employee experience at the center of everything you do.

Your company doesn’t exist without smart and talented people who move the needle forward. And, guess what, neither does your HR job.

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Ten years ago was my breakout year.

It was 2009, during the Great Recession and well before people were addicted to social media, and I was a rising star in the world of human resources. You’d find me on the news, writing in business journals, or industry events and sharing my opinions on hiring, firing, and a lack of leadership worldwide.

Some people liked me, some people hated me, and some people blackballed me. I went to big events, I went rogue, and I spoke my truth. In the process, I developed a thick skin and learned that it wasn’t about me: it was about moving HR professionals to action.

Ten years later, I’m still out there pushing limits and buttons. A lot has changed about the world of work and HR, but I’m still answering a question that people asked me back in 2009: Can you do that?

Can You Do That?

Can you say no?
Can you say yes?
Can you fix what’s broken?
Can you take action without getting fired?
Can I ask for an outside opinion?
Can I press pause on an uninformed decision?
Can I end a biased practice?
Can you correct injustice?
Can you say what you think?
Can you stand up for employees?
Can you speak truth to power?
Can you write?
Can you speak?
Can you start a movement?
Can you lead when you’re not in a leadership role?

I don’t know if you can do any of those things. Literally, I have no idea if you have the strength of character to make difficult decisions or take risks when there are no guarantees of success. But I think you should try.

How to Have a Breakout Year

My breakout year in 2009 started back in 2004 when I decided that enough was enough and the world of HR — and my life — had to change. I had a big goal of being the most influential key opinion leader in HR, but I started small and worked backward to determine where to start. My blog was the first step, then I moved to industry events, and then I appeared in leading journals and news platforms. Also, I found kindred spirits on the internet who would have my back in real life and nurtured those relationships. Even when I sucked — and especially when I sucked — my friends had my back.

If I could have a breakout year in 2009, you can have a breakout year in 2019. Identify your goals, write them down, make a plan to avoid failure, start small, and loop in your community to support your dreams.

Can you do that?

I don’t know. But I hope so. Life is so much better when you try.

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I love it when podcasts are confessional and brave. It inspires me and makes me want to tell you all of my secrets. But what happens when a podcast veers away from being authentic to straight-up marketing that is, well, somewhat jarring? I will tell you what happens (because it did); I become inspired to record a bonus episode to talk all about it.

While listening to a marketing podcast, the host shared her experience about a recent weight gain. What was perceived as authentic and vulnerable at first, crescendoed into an affiliate marketing pitch. Okay I understand podcast hosts sell products on their episodes. I get it and can respect it. I may sell products or services on my podcast in the future, as well. But then the host said this, “Everybody needs a life coach,” and my respect flew right out the window.

 

I’m not really sure that everybody needs a life coach. I do know that everybody needs psychological safety, love, food and healthcare. Sometimes we say, “Life coach,” when we mean, we need friends (or support) or even therapy.

 

The work of living an authentic life, where we are happy with ourselves, where we treat our bodies and souls with kindness, that doesn’t happen in a mastermind group, with a life coach or even in therapy. It happens in our hearts. And, that is the topic of this bonus New Year’s Eve episode – it’s about doing the work, being your own life coach and fixing yourself in 2019.

 

Resources from this episode:

John Hancock Stair Climb – bit.ly/LFRHustle19

Snickerdoodles recipe – laurieruettimann.com/omahs-snickerdoodles/

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I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions.

I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 accomplishments.

Honestly, I’m not sure how the year went.

There’s data showing it was okay. Trips, invoices, bank statements, emails, moments of recognition from clients. It’s all there. Whenever I feel mediocre, I always accomplish something. When I suck, I don’t suck. Plus I had one goal of getting a literary agent and writing a book proposal. I’ve got both. Haven’t sold my manuscript, yet, but that’s coming.

There’s also the fact that I get up in the morning and don’t quit, despite my jacked-up brain telling me to walk away from everything — my marriage, my cats, my car, my natural skills and abilities — and find a job working nights in a tavern on the northwest side of Chicago. It’s not impostor syndrome, it’s something a little darker. A response to the absurdity of life, Donald Trump, the internet, dudes behaving badly, the illegal war in Yemen, anxiety, human rights atrocities, and other people’s bullshit.

They call it dysthymia, I call it cynicism, but I wake up every day and intentionally remind myself that it’s a wonderful life. I’m here for the ride even, even when all of it feels very intense and uncomfortable. That’s an accomplishment in my mind.

Finally, I started coming to terms with dyscalculia. It’s not something I’ve written about because it’s supremely embarrassing, but I muddle my way through math in a way that makes me feel like I lack life skills. In fact, therapists have largely written off my math struggles as character defects.

Here’s how it works: financial concepts are difficult for me to understand, numbers are hard, I miss calendar appointments, flub travel dates, forget to pay my mobile phone bill, and can’t balance my books for the life of me. Maybe I should just be mindful and get my shit together?

Yeah, no.

I mean, yes, I need to get my shit together. But it’s not that I’m an asshole. I can see numbers, but they don’t always make sense. I can look at a P&L and balance sheet and, very slowly, understand the totality of what I’m reading. But those executive summaries with bullet points you produce on a report or PowerPoint slide? Those are for me. I need words.

I have a CFO who lives nearby who’s been enormously helpful. And I contacted one of the leading experts on children with dyscalculia and asked him if he could help me. He said no, but he was nice about it. Told me that I’m not alone. Referred me to other psychologists, encouraged me to go slow, and linked to online resources where I can practice working on math problems.

Takes a Village, Yo.

Maybe my biggest accomplishment was admitting I can’t do math and money alone. So, I asked for help from loved ones and professional advisors. And they answered the call, thank god. I’ve been set up for success in 2019 — everything is organized, automated, transparent, managed — and I’m enrolling in a program where I do math exercises online and have practice flashcards at home. Humbling, but it should help.

So, that was my year.

Did I knock it out of the park in 2018? Who the hell knows. Some days are fabulous, and some days are bananas, but it averages out to a rigorous and interesting life lived with some measure of authenticity.

Bring on 2019!

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HR is having the wrong conversation about immigration. While compliance and policy are important conversations to have, we should also be talking about the often-overlooked employee experience.

We live in a politicized climate with lots of changes to the US immigration policies over the past two years. While it makes perfect sense to focus on laws and regulations, HR leaders should also be obsessed with how talented workers feel about your organization.

What’s the vibe when a new hire moves to America and joins your company? Do you communicate about important topics such as compensation and immigration status? How easy is it for your foreign nationals to ask questions and get timely answers?

If your HR team hasn’t thought about the employee experience for foreign nationals, now is the time.

A Good Onboarding Process Leads to a Positive Employee Experience

It’s essential to think about the employee experience if you want to attract and keep top talent. For companies that hire and sponsor foreign talent, the employee experience matters more than ever. Why go through all the effort to hire a global worker only to lose someone because you didn’t think through all the elements of their onboarding?

Talent acquisition teams should build an employee experience that keeps foreign nationals excited and engaged throughout the entire H-1B visa sponsorship process and beyond.

It starts with onboarding. There’s bound to be confusion and turmoil when an employee moves to a new country. The best HR departments invest in tools and platforms that enable clear and consistent communication, and they work hard to reduce friction and miscommunication before the first day on the job.

A global workforce planning platform is helpful to ensure the conversation around the sponsorship and relocation process is documented, accessible and transparent.  

A Positive Employee Experience Aids Retention of Foreign Nationals

How do you keep someone excited about their brand new job once they’ve started? What if those employees moved to America and have family members who are thousands of miles away?

Consider long-term sponsorship for your foreign nationals and their families. Green cards are a powerful tool for employee retention. Many workers have big dreams for their careers that involve moving to the United States and contributing to our economy. Having a clear path to citizenship can give companies a competitive advantage when recruiting from the global talent pool.

Envoy provides a platform where HR professionals and foreign nationals have access to their attorneys, which gives them peace of mind during the immigration process and allows them to focus on being productive and engaged members of your team.

Whatever immigration platform you choose, you’ll want to ensure that the provider has a history of working with customers to speed up the immigration process.

Stay Active in the Global Talent Pool

Tom Friedman once wrote that the world is hot, flat and crowded. Chances are if you hire one foreign national, you’ll hire more. It’s time to think about the employee experience for foreign nationals who may join your organization down the road.

Envoy’s global workforce planning platform has forecasting tools and services for companies to benchmark their green card policies and procedures. There are additional features to show how a company’s approach to immigration and visas can provide a competitive advantage in the talent market.

Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

HR and talent acquisition leaders should relish in the opportunity to hire foreign workers. It’s fun to communicate key elements of an employer brand to candidates who are excited about your company. And there’s no greater joy than to offer an opportunity for someone to come to our country and experience the American dream.

Instead, far too many teams are caught up in compliance and legal nightmares.

Want to improve your productivity and enhance your immigration and recruiting practices in 2019? Check out Envoy’s resources for talent acquisition teams and HR professionals who hire foreign nationals and make 2019 your best year yet.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Envoy. Formerly known as VISANOW, Envoy was founded in Chicago in 1998 to help people navigate the stressful, confusing and incredibly inefficient immigration and visa application process.

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