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Did you know that a woman gives up an average of four times her salary every year she is out of the workforce? That’s a staggering statistic, isn’t it?  Well, it is just one of the many insights Kathryn Sollman, speaker, career coach, and author, shared with me on a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work. Kathryn is on a mission to show women that there is flexibility to be found in the workforce. And that you can find a work-life balance that suits your lifestyle, one in which you don’t feel the necessity to step away from work completely while you raise a family, care for elderly parents, or live life, just a little.

Women who are newly stepping into the workforce are doing so in an era where the messaging regarding ambition is redefined. Kathryn explains, “Young women, as they are graduating from college, business school, or law school, are thinking about how they can have flexibility down the road and choosing carefully the jobs that are more likely to offer them that.”

Kathryn went on to say this, “When you talk about women and work, there seems to be a bias that you’re only ambitious if you’re aiming for the C-Suite. I took issue with that because I think that there are lots of smart and talented and ambitious women who are looking for a different kind of work paradigm and one that allows them to more capably blend work and life.”

But what happens if you are already in the workforce and now want a more flexible schedule? You can either find a job that offers a schedule that fits your lifestyle or broach the subject with your boss. Kathryn has some advice for women who do want to bring up the topic of work-life balance to a boss or superior.

First, rather than ask to telecommute 2-3 days a week in a casual tone, craft a proposal instead. “Create an actual proposal like you would pitch a client.  You have to really cover all the bases, anticipate all of the challenges and the obstacles that your boss will put in front of you,” Kathryn says.

Kathryn also urges women to be clear. Describe what kind of flexibility you’re looking for and avoid stating murky phrases like, “I just want to work in a more flexible way.” That could mean a million things. You’ve got to really describe what you’re looking to do and outline how things are going to get done.

Finally, Kathryn says, “The last thing to include in your proposal is an offer for a trial period. Put that out there that you’re willing to give the new working schedule a trial for three months and then see how it goes.”

If we take a step back or rather a bird’s eye view of what Kathryn is saying, she is asking women to be a little introspective, to think about what they really want and what they really need and then devise a plan to take action and make it happen.

And of course, you may be thinking, “Well, what do I do if my proposal gets rejected?” You can, of course, decide whether you still need a full-time job (one that offers benefits and salary). If you do, there are many options. You can still have a full-time job, but one that’s more flexible (somewhere else). You could also work to become a full-time freelancer. In fact, Kathryn shared with me that, “There are studies that say within a year, most freelancers earn more than they did when they were working full time.” There are options. Think about what you want in your life, create a plan, take action, and let’s fix work.

To listen to my complete conversation with Kathryn about flexibility in work to fit your life, click here.

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Jason Greer, founder of Greer Consulting Inc. and labor relations expert, recently joined me on an episode of Let’s Fix Work. We discussed the state of labor relations and unions in the United States today. While we covered many facets of labor relations, I wanted to bring to light, in a blog post, what it takes to decertify a union. For some background on Jason and why we were talking about decertifying unions; Jason is a Gen-Xer with a slightly different take on unions. He believes in protecting the working class. He also believes a union is the wrong way to protect your interests.

First, the technical stuff: If you have a union that is certified under the National Labor Relations Board, employees have the right to do a Decertification Campaign. With this type of campaign there is a window of 90 to 100 days before the end of a collective bargaining agreement by which a Decertification petition can be filed with the NLRB.

Decertification refers to the process where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employees to call for a special election to get rid of the union as their “exclusive representative.” (1)

And now here’s a common sticking point for many employees:  Jason explains if an employee goes to their human resources manager and tells them they want to decertify the union, HR cannot get involved. HR can point the employee to several resources, but that’s where their assistance ends (at least for now).

The next phase of the Decertification process is that the employee (let’s call him the petitioner) will have his fellow employees (of at least 30 percent) sign the petition saying that they want to decertify the union.

Generally speaking, the employee is going to want to get about 60 to 70 percent of those employees on board before he actually files the Decertification petition with the NLRB. Once he has that, he can file the Decertification petition.

Following the petition submission, the secret ballot election can take place. This is when employees will determine whether or not they want to remain part of the union.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…

Here is what is going to happen to the petitioner that started the campaign: The Union is going to do everything in their power to dig up dirt on his or her personal history. Jason explains that he has seen unions locate cell phone records, computer information, and do all the groundwork in terms of hiring private detectives to dig up all the dirt on the petitioner. Why? Well, because now they want to do a smear campaign, because said petitioner is at the heart of the Decertification campaign. The union will do whatever they can to make the petitioner lose all credibility.

And that is terribly depressing.

Remember, the employer can’t get involved and can’t protect the employee. The employees just want to be heard and have a voice. And, the Union is doing whatever they can to make the employees running the campaign look bad.  

There is some good news, a silver lining. Once the petition is filed with the NLRB, the management team can get involved. That’s when consultants, like Jason, can come in and help. In fact, Jason and his team oftentimes will act as an intermediary between the employees and unions – doing what they can to build back up relationships while protecting employees’ best interests at heart.

If you are unsure as to whether decertifying a union is right for you, or you simply want to start to have a conversation with your employer or union, here is some sage advice: Start the conversation early about what you want and voice your expectations. If you do so, maybe you won’t need a union, need to decertify an existing union, or even bring on an intermediary. What you need most is to have a voice, to be brave, and to begin the conversation.

“There is strength in being proactive,” says Jason. And ultimately, you want to recover (or even circumvent) a broken relationship following a union or employee dispute.

Jason and I both agree that we fix work by fixing ourselves, so if you’re 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 slightly different perspective, listen to our full conversation here.

Sources:
(1) How to decertify a union, Labor Relations Institute, Inc. lrionline.com/decertification/

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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.

When I think of today’s guest, I think of her as a superb expert in career advice. I am happy to welcome to Let’s Fix Work, Kathryn Sollmann. Kathryn is a speaker, coach, and author.  In her new book, Ambition Redefined, she encourages independence from “lean-in” and “break the glass ceiling” language. She wants you to find your own brand of ambition and success, take advantage of today’s more flexible workplace, and chart alternative career paths that accommodate and fund the life that you want and you deserve.

One of Kathryn’s missions is to show women that there is a lot of flexibility to be found in the workforce today. So if you want to find balance but don’t know where to start, and if you deal with childcare issues or aging parents and you’re sick of the way the rat race doesn’t take care of you, then sit back and listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.  

In this episode you’ll hear:

  1. Kathryn’s work as a career coach to women over the last 15 years
  2. What the book, Ambition Redefined, is all about
  3. Finding flexible work that fits your life
  4. How the message around side hustles and aggressive entrepreneurship is hurting the workforce
  5. Kathryn shares an example of a client who was told to lean into the system, just couldn’t swing it, and eventually found a great mix of flexible work, but rewarding work as well
  6. Opting out of Corporate America and the dangers of not working
  7. How to broach the topic of work-life balance with a boss
  8. The six different kinds of work flexibility

Kathryn said it best when she said, “There are lots of smart, talented, and ambitious women who are looking for a different kind of work paradigm. One that allows them to more capably blend work and life.”  If you come away with anything from this episode, I hope you come away with knowing that you can find some kind of flexible work that fits your life!

Resources from this episode:
Website: www.kathrynsollmann.com/

Twitter: twitter.com/kathrynsollmann

Facebook: www.facebook.com/9LivesForWomen/

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

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kathrynsollmann/

Book: Ambition Redefined: Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Every Woman & What to Do Instead

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From a reader:

Have a quick question for you…how in the heck did you learn to market the way you do? I’ve been studying your Twitter feed and it’s like you take people on a journey of your life both professional/personal. You make people feel like they know you. How do you do this?

That’s not a quick question, but here was my quick answer:

I’m talented. 😘

The reader is asking two questions about himself:

1. Can I learn to do what Laurie is doing?
2. How do I create a sense of authenticity and intimacy like Laurie?

The first question is very easy. Sure, you can do what I do. I’m storytelling via digital media, and I learned how to do this from watching other people and copying their methods. The tools are out there. The roadmaps are built. You can even outsource your social media and still get away with storytelling.

But the second question — the one about authenticity and intimacy — is much harder to answer. I’ve had to negotiate my way through relationships and endeavors to land at the place where I am now: interesting enough that key people pay attention but not interesting enough where I’m stalked and harassed online.

The only people who pay attention to me are the individuals who go out of their way to look, which means that I’m relatively safe. My fan base is 52% male, mostly over the age of 35, and they earn more than $100,000/year. I can share details and perspectives without being assailed.

I love the fact that it’s easy to live my middle-aged life in public and without much hassle. There are some people who don’t care for me — and it’s for respectable reasons — but nobody wants to destroy or defame me. They just ignore me, dismiss me, block me, or disregard me when my name comes up in their social media feeds.

Isn’t that just great? How blessed am I to live this life of HR fame and fortune?

I’m fully aware that my HR famousness gets renegotiated when I publish my next book and start making media appearances, again. More people will watch, I’ll have new competition, and I’ll have to figure out a new strategy to share important information about my journey while maintaining some level of privacy and safety.

I’m not sure how it will go, but I know this: my relationship with my readers — executives, HR leaders, supervisors, and individual workers — matters to me. Call it influencer marketing or call it storytelling. The only way to take people on a professional and personal journey is to open the damn door and invite them in.

That’s not marketing, that’s manners.

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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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