Where is Your Focus?

The picture above was taken for a contest with BarkBox for our monthly subscription.  As you can see, Maximus is laser-focused on anything he deems to be resembling food or a squeaky toy.  Food/toys give Maximus instant gratification.  There is no obstacle that he won’t try to tackle if there is food or a toy on the other side.  As a 10 lb, short-legged pup, that’s not always easy, but he makes it happen.

So, I ask you:

Where is Your Focus?

Your focus determines your efforts and your attitude.  Are you focusing on the things you can’t control or impact?

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Those that are productive, positive, and are intentional in their focus will make the most of that time.  Those that choose to be bystanders in their life will not.

Spending time worrying about things we can’t control is a complete waste of time.  If you are doing that as an employee, you are wasting your employer’s resources – YOU.  No one wants to waste the company’s resources, right?  Right.

Mistakes Distract Us:

If you made a mistake at work, focus on making amends, and move forward.  Do not dwell on something you can’t change.  Put that effort into restoring trust, repairing relationships, improving processes, etc.

Changes Distract Us:

I was speaking with someone earlier this week about changes going on at work.  She has been through some ownership changes, and her role has changed as a result.

“I can’t believe how much things have changed in such a short period of time.  I don’t see a future there anymore, and I thought I was going to retire from there.”

My friend allowed herself to grieve the disappointment, and then she moved forward, focusing on her time on where she could make an impact with her team and her internal customers while looking for another job.  I have no doubt whatsoever that she will land on her feet, and she is being smart while she deals with her emotions surrounding her disappointment.

Drama Distracts Us:

Don’t allow your focus to be altered by drama.  If you find yourself getting sucked in, start asking yourself questions to access the other part of your brain and make sure you have your story straight.  Remember that you are not a victim of your emotions.  The only person that can control you is you.  Don’t get emotionally highjacked.

Focus.

 

 

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It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Being in HR for nearly 15 years, I can tell you that I know my strengths and my weaknesses.

Patience is not one of my virtues.  However, it is vitally important when you are unemployed.  In my prior role, I had a rule with my team that when we had an applicant, we responded to them within 24 hours – even if all we were saying was “I don’t have an answer, yet.  I will get back to you.”  When someone is unemployed or currently employed and contemplating making a change, every hour counts to them.  We didn’t always meet 24 hours – sometimes it was 48 hours or the next business day, and we took advantage of every automation possible to help us be more efficient.  A good ATS should help you communicate more effectively with your candidates – not hinder it.  That’s a post for another day, though.

Asking for help is another struggle for me.  When you have a servant leader mentality, you want to help others – not yourself.  My blog is HR Without Ego because I don’t ask for praise or thanks.  I take satisfaction from helping others and knowing I made an impact.  In the current state of the job market, however, I have learned that it’s okay to not only ask for help but to accept it.  I have always built my network based on a pay it forward mentality, and I was very uncomfortable asking anyone to reciprocate.  However, that changed thanks to coffee one morning with John Rhoads who I met at the HR Roundtable moderated by the fantastic Steve Browne.

John is a life coach, and trust me, when you think you’re going to retire from your current company, the harsh reality that you’re not is hard to take.  He was the first person that I had spoken the words “my last day is next Friday” to at the Roundtable that morning, and I nearly cried saying it.  I’m sure I looked like it because he looked at me and said:

“It’s going to be okay.  You’re going to be okay.”

I was nervous to meet him for coffee that morning for a multitude of reasons.  First, I was embarrassed that I had lost my job.  Second, I didn’t want to ask anyone for help.  I was in HR, after all, I do this for a living.  Shouldn’t I know how this works?  Third, I was facing unemployment, so if he was selling something, I wasn’t buying.

I survived the meeting, nerves and all, and I was so glad that I had not talked myself out of going.  John had just posted this video that morning, the importance of owning our story.  He reminded me that it’s okay to ask for help, and that I’m most valuable helping my next organization, so I need to focus my efforts, own my story, and in the meantime, I will blog about the journey of being “in search” (where did that name come from?) and hopefully help others that are in a similar circumstance.

Thank You. It has been my privilege.

Today, I sent a message that I wasn’t ready to send.  I’m still not ready.  I haven’t helped enough.  I’m not in a place where I can say “I’ve done all I can do, and now it’s time to help someone else.”  I just got started with my amazing team, and I’m not ready to go.

It’s not about my timing, though.  This is the best decision for the organization, and so I am saying goodbye to the company I love with all my heart and the people I have grown with and learned from for the last 5 years.  It has been my esteemed honor and privilege to serve them.  I want to thank them, no matter the position or title, for teaching me about compassion, selflessness, and for the amazing work that they do every day to care for our patients and their families.  They truly live their passion, and it has been my esteemed honor and privilege to serve them and watch them grow.  I have put my heart and soul into this, and I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity.

If you have a job that you love, supporting amazing people, doing valuable work, appreciate it a little more today.  It is your privilege to support them.

 

How to be Patient at Work

In your career, you are not going to agree with every decision is made.  If you have already experienced this, you’re thinking “Duh” in your head, if not, wait for it, it is inevitable.  It’s not always negative, either.  There have been plenty of times, especially early in my career, when I may not have understood or agreed with a decision at first, but it turned out to be the best thing for the company.

We are in a service-oriented career, and we want to help people.  I care about the people I serve and support, and if you are in Human Resources (or any iteration of it), I’m sure that you do, too.  As my good buddy Steve Browne says in his book HR on Purpose, “If employees are a pain point or source of frustration for you professionally, then get out of human resources.  It isn’t the career for you.”  If you haven’t read his book, download it or pick it up today.

This is not to say that those making the decisions do not care about people.  I feel that is a common misconception.  Having been the one making unpopular decisions at times, I can promise you, I cared.

Full disclosure:  Patience is not one of my virtues.  My team is giggling at this right now, and my husband is sighing, I’m sure.  It’s a work in progress.  I do, however, have an appreciation for having patience in the workplace, and I greatly admire those that exercise patience.

To be a great leader, and to serve people, you must exercise at least a modicum of patience.

Being patient at work does not mean that you are blindly following orders, without question, without a second thought.  It does, however, mean that if a decision is made, and you don’t understand the rationale, respectfully request more information, asking your questions, etc.  Focus on the issue or the situation – not the decision maker(s).  Assume positive intent that those that made this decision have done so with all the information available to them at the time – some of which you may not be privy to, and that the decision was made in the best interest of the business overall.

If you are the person that will inevitably deliver this news, it is imperative that you make sure that you are clear on the rationale and underlying understanding of the decision.  YOU WILL BE ASKED.  Be prepared for the questions.

Choose your moments to challenge wisely.  You don’t want to get a reputation for being the person that continuously pushes back or challenges decisions.  Do not behave in a way or create a reputation for yourself that you are difficult to do business with.  If and when you do pose a question or respectfully challenge a decision, you will have greater impact if you have typically demonstrated support from your position.

That being said, even if you believe that you have a valid business case for why this decision is either not living the company values, is not the right thing to do for the employees, etc., your belief is exactly that – a belief.  If your feedback is taken under advisement (or not) and there is no traction, do not take it personally, focus on understanding the rationale, and move forward.  Becoming emotionally attached to decisions will emotionally highjack you.

At the end of the day, our role is to support our people.  Whether we agree with what has happened or not, we must trust our senior leadership to make the best decision for the business overall, and we must do our best to support our people as the decision impacts them.  They will take their cue on how to react and handle things from us.

Demonstrate patience.

 

Transparency Counts

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Transparency counts in all aspects of HR.  You don’t have to air all your dirty laundry, but please be real.  This is especially crucial in communication with candidates.  In #NextChat today, the topic of communicating with candidates and transparency came up.  I feel very strongly that when a candidate is making a LIFE CHANGING decision such as possibly leaving a long-term employer, relocating, or even taking their first job, the decision should be made with the most accurate information possible.

Please do not sell your opportunity to the candidate.  No one wins in this scenario.  You will violate all trust with the candidate, and they will inevitably leave anyway, leaving you to source this position again.  Be real.  If you have problems, let the candidate know.  Invite them to come in and meet the team, including the leadership team, and ask questions.  Show them a “day in the life” of the position.  It’s great if the candidate hits it off with you over the phone or in person, but they have to work with their team, remember?

If the candidate’s role in the organization will play a pivotal part in addressing your culture issues, let them know that you are aware of the issues currently in your culture, and you are committed to improving it.  One step in that is with their role, and this is how they fit in that.  Not everyone is cut out for being such a crucial member of the team from the start.  That’s okay.  You want the person that wants to get their hands dirty on day one in this case, so you need to make sure that your candidate knows that.

Please also be transparent about job responsibilities and duties.  When I was hiring an HR Assistant to take 15 years of paper employee files to electronic, I said so in the interview:

“I want you to have an accurate idea of this position.  You see those filing cabinets and that scanner?  It’s a pretty cool scanner.  It can scan 26 pages front and back in 1 minute.  Your first task will be converting those files from paper to an organized, electronic system.”

I needed someone who was like “That scanner is cool.  When do I start?” not “Ummm…that sounds horrible…I thought I was going to get to solve world peace here?”

The best compliment you can get in HR when you are recruiting for your own organization is for the candidate to tell you after they were hired that their expectations matched their reality.  It’s great if they were excited over the phone, found the environment engaging, and are still psyched on Day 1, right?  It’s equally rewarding when someone knows there is a challenge, is ready to get to work, and after some time, you both see the results of the team’s hard work.

Be real.  Thank me later.

The Power of Vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
― Brené BrownRising Strong

I was on the phone with one of my amazing members of my team when she was interrupted by an employee entering her office. She put me on hold, but I could hear the employee talking. The employee had a question about her paycheck. I listened as the employee asked her questions. I heard silence as I could tell my team member was thinking of what scenario could have happened, then she proceeded to ask questions.

Not one time did she defend herself or seem to be reacting to the apparent mistake or misunderstanding. She genuinely sought to understand so she could determine how she could help her. I was so proud to have her on my team.

I know I say I have an amazing team a lot. I do. They are some of the most talented, caring people I have had the privilege to work with, lead, develop, and learn from.

After she had a pretty good idea of what happened, she explained to the employee what happened and how to prevent it in the future. She also explained that she would take care of the correction, and confirmed that it was okay that it was on the next paycheck or needed a manual check cut. The employee confirmed the next paycheck was fine, thanked her, and left.

She got back on the phone and asked me questions about how to best audit for a situation like this in future processing. As we chatted, she realized that she had misspoke in her direction for the protocol for the future to the employee. Within minutes, I was bcc’d on a message to the employee, thanking her for coming to gain clarity on the issue. She then explained how she was wrong in what she had told her for future steps, and she wanted to let her know and clarify the proper process.

Once again, I was proud she was not only a part of my team, but that our employees had such a wonderful human being taking care of them. She’s only been with our organization for less than 90 days, and there are bound to be mistakes in the learning process. She could have reacted defensively and immediately pointed out how the employee didn’t follow the protocol or blamed something or someone else. She didn’t do that. She didn’t react. She was vulnerable and asked questions to focus on the problem and how to best remedy it and prevent it from happening in the future.

The power of vulnerability met the employee where she was and made her feel like they were in it together to find a solution. I hope we all approach problems like this.

Hello, I’m Here to Help…

“The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others.”  –Simon Sinek

I’ve been a fan of Simon Sinek since before it was cool.  If you aren’t familiar with his stuff, check him out and thank me later.  He’s going to be at #WorkHuman this year, and although I’m not able to attend in person, I’ll live vicariously through you all that do.  If it wasn’t the same week as my kids’ spring break, I would have lobbied a lot harder to get permission to attend, but packing up the family to head to Austin while Mom is geeking out in a conference all day is not what I consider “Mom of the Year” criteria, so I’ll let you all enjoy, and I’ll read all the tweets.

The thought of “Hello, I’m Here to Help” has been a frequent one lately.  HR is the epitome of servant leadership.  We are here to help.  That is why we have our positions.  We are here to help our employees, our management teams, and the company.  This is what we are trained to do.  We know what we’re doing, and we take a great deal of pride in being that resource.

It has come to my attention lately that while we’re here to help, how we help is not always how we may have originally offered.  The theme of HR Without Ego is real.  We are servant leadership, here to help.  However, we don’t dictate how we help.  We approach conversations and prepare for meetings with an entire scenario laid out how we plan to offer our help and support.  By the end of the meeting, we have scrapped Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.  We collaborated on Plan D, and while it’s not what was originally planned, we are supporting the solution.  We need to focus on the end game when offering our support and not be emotionally invested in our original plan.

There are also times when our help is not accepted.  Take a deep breath, accept that fact, don’t take it personally, and move on.  It’s okay that our help was not accepted.  We must focus our efforts where they are best utilized.  There is always something to do, someone to support, and focusing on what we can’t do will only drive us crazy.  Change your focus.  Change your mindset.  After all, we’re here to help…