#Workhuman Takeaway — Resilience and Grit

I had the extreme fortune of attending #Workhuman this week in Nashville. I am very fortunate to work for an organization that believes in professional growth and supports me attending conferences like this one. I know that not all organizations share this same sentiment or simply don’t have the budget to send their leaders to conferences for professional development, and I am grateful.

I attended every keynote at the conference, and I’m sure every attendee took away something different and certain aspects resonated more than others. For me, it was a theme of resilience and grit. Resilience resonated with me so much, in fact, that it was my word that I had engraved on the leather key fob as a conference attendee.

While I was most excited to see Brené Brown (and she was fan-freaking-tastic), I was most impacted by Viola Davis‘s story. The spectacular Steve Pemberton, Chief People Officer for Workhuman, formerly known as Globoforce. Steve’s story is all about overcoming obstacles, so it was no surprise that he was the one chosen to interview Viola in the closing keynote on the Workhuman stage.

I knew a little bit of Viola’s story already. She was featured in Braving the Wilderness, my first exposure to Brené Brown, so I knew she had grown up in abject poverty in Rhode Island, her father was an abusive alcoholic, and that she didn’t let it define her or live in fear or shame. What I didn’t know, was how she continued to overcome no matter the obstacles.

In her interview with Steve, Viola shared how she had received a hand up, a wonderful opportunity to attend a performing arts school via a scholarship because someone believed in her. The school, however, was not located remotely close to where she lived. She had to leave 3 hours early and take 3 different buses to get there. She was poor, you’ll remember, so she didn’t just pay 3 bus fares and go to school. She shared that sometimes she would walk the first leg of the trip to get to the second bus, then walk the last leg. The school, like many, had a late policy. There was no consideration of the why, if she was late, she was late.

What struck me the most about this was the grit and determination that Viola had to make it work. She could have turned down the scholarship, citing the commute, waiting on something closer or waiting on someone else to solve the distance problem for her. She could have stopped going when it got tough. So many times she could have given up, and yet she kept going and worked hard to succeed – despite all odds.

How many times in our own organizations or households have we seen opportunity squandered or explained away because it was going to be too much work or sacrifice our time? The world is a much better place because of people like Viola sharing their stories, and I can only imagine the impact that she will continue to have.

My Bloggiversary

Last month, I celebrated my 1-year Bloggiversary. Yes, I know I’m late. A lot has been happening!

This blog started as an outlet to share thoughts, tips, suggestions, notions. I never could have imagined how well-received it would be, or that it would lead to so many amazing opportunities.

The most exciting opportunity is the invitation that I received to be on the #SHRM19Blogger team! You may or may not have noticed that the day I received the invite, I confirmed that I was permitted to share and then told everyone I know. It’s a big deal, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this amazing team! Special thank you to Mary Kaylor. She’s fantastic if you haven’t met her!

The most rewarding aspect of this blog, however, is when employees or friends tell me that they are reading it. Not long after I started with my current company, one of the employees told me that she started reading my blog and was excited about the direction I was going to lead HR if that was how I truly felt about people. That meant more to me than she will ever know.

So, albeit late, thank you for staying with me on this journey and reading my posts. I appreciate more than you know.

The Importance of Connection — and Twitter Chats!

I can’t say it enough how important it is to connect with people. I don’t mean to say hi at monthly meetings or to have 3,000 LinkedIn connections. I mean to connect.

I just spent the last hour or so chatting with Jon Thurmond. If you don’t know Jon, you are missing out. I reached out to Jon for advice as I have recently undertaken additional responsibilities in my volunteerism, and he is the social media guru. TRUST ME.

What’s great about giving back in HR is that we can chat about work, life, our volunteering, and we are always willing to help out the next person. The next time someone asks me about social media, I have some new tips to share!

What do you have to share? How can you give back? You don’t have to be an expert at anything. Start small.

Participate in a Twitter chat.

I started with #Nextchat years ago when I joined Twitter and found it. I have made so many wonderful connections just through that chat! It’s at 3pm EST on Wednesdays. Check it out. The topic is micro-internships this week. Who doesn’t want to learn more about that?

I am a co-moderator of #JobHuntChat on Mondays at 9pm EST. I’ve plugged this before, and it’s volunteering, so no one is paying me to tell you to join in. If you are looking for a job or are able to offer advice for those that are, I encourage you to join in!

Jon and Wendy host the #HRSocialHour which is an awesome monthly chat where HR professionals and enthusiasts chat about goals, pop culture, beverages, and everything in between. I’m usually cooking dinner at 7pm EST, so I’m usually late and share gratuitous photos of my food.

Take a chance. Join a chat. Thank me later.

Legacy: What Do You Want to be Known For?

I had a manager call me about an issue this week, and the guidance that I provided on how to handle the situation reminded me of something I witnessed in my very first HR job, and it got me thinking that I will always remember my first HR boss for the way she handled that situation.  That is the legacy she left with me.

YEARS ago, when I was in my very first HR Assistant role, we had a receptionist up front at our organization who was the first impression to every candidate, customer, you name it.  This receptionist came to us via a temp to hire situation, and I’m pretty sure it was the first job she had where she was supposed to dress professionally.  She did her best, but they didn’t quite fit – especially the skirts.  If you haven’t had the honor of having the “your clothes are inappropriate for the workplace conversation,” you really aren’t living.  Yes, I’m being facetious.

It wasn’t just the fact that my boss handled the situation that has always stood out to me, it was HOW she handled it.:

She didn’t send a blanket e-mail to the entire company, reminding everyone of our dress code policy.  HR is not the dress code police, and don’t let anyone make you the dress code police. 

She did 2 things:  1.  She talked to the employee, privately, and asked her how she could help her.  During the conversation, the employee confided to my boss that she could not afford nice clothes, and so she was buying her suits in the juniors department – hence the short skirts.  My boss did not judge her or give her some ultimatum about the dress code policy.  My boss bought her clothes that she could wear to work.  2.  My boss didn’t tell a soul, and the only way that I found out was because the receptionist shared the story.

How amazing is that?  We don’t all have the ability to buy our teams new clothes, but we have the ability to meet people where they are and ask them what they need.  I will never forget the way she handled that, and I can only hope that at some point in my career, I leave a similar impression with my team:  I tried every day to be better for them than I was the day before, and I helped them to be the best they could be for their future teams.

What is the legacy you want to leave behind?  What are you doing today to work towards that?

Do It Anyway

We’ve all been there.  Someone on our team or in our organization is behaving in a manner that would not exactly motivate us to want to help…may cause us to want to react defensively or simply ask “why should I help them when they are being so difficult?”

Do it anyway.  Help because that’s the right thing to do.  You are not in leadership and certainly not in HR for the accolades, so keep that in mind, perform whatever visualization exercise you need to get through it, and help anyway.

There is no ego in HR.  I repeat:  THERE IS NO EGO IN HR.  I’m sorry if you didn’t read the brochure through to the end, but we are servant leadership for the organization.  I’ve been fortunate in my career that my senior leadership, i.e., the C-suite had my back and supported not only me but HR.  I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I have been, and I’m truly sorry to hear that, but that is not an excuse to not care and to not help in whatever way you can.  Your behavior is not defined or dictated by other people’s behavior – EVER.

Not everyone will want your help.  Not everyone will value HR or understand why they should value HR, and you have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that value and maybe change a mindset, but don’t spend too much effort there.  People change when they want to.  Don’t take it personally.

Good news:  there are thousands of other professionals like you dealing with the same types of things, and we all have your back.  We’ve been there and survived, and you will, too.

We all made the choice between focusing on ourselves or focusing on others.  I can tell you that I have never regretted helping.

Be kind anyway.

Succeed anyway.

Be happy anyway.

Do good anyway.

Give your best anyway.

HELP anyway.

It’s never been about them.  You know what’s right, do it.

Resolutions? Simple. Be Kind. Stay Positive

It seems simple enough, but I hope that we all share a resolution this year and every year:  Be Kind.  Stay Positive.

There are very few situations in life and business where a little kindness and positivity can’t help.  When a mistake is made, humility and kindness go a long way.  Likewise with communication mishaps or misunderstandings.

Kindness and a spirit of curiosity vs judgment is essential in conflict and when dealing with uncharted territory as well.  There are very few things that are irreparable.  They may take work to correct – and sometimes a LOT of work, but very few things can’t be fixed, and if we can all keep that in mind, I think we’ll treat each other a lot differently.

Assuming AND COMMUNICATING positive intent can be the difference behind “We are trying this new process to improve the business, and we are excited about it – please provide feedback along the way so we can make sure we all succeed!” vs. “Look, don’t shoot the messenger.  They have no idea how much work we already have to do, and now they are changing it AGAIN.  I tried to go to bat for you, but they don’t listen to me, either.”  Positivity and kindness – difference makers.

If you lead teams, you represent the organization for them.  Resolve to be a positive representation of the organization.  If you are optimistic for the future of your department and the organization, your team will take their cues from you.  Let’s all aim to build more bridges, lift our teams up, and to begin 2019 with 365 chances to have a fresh perspective each day.  We will inevitably catch ourselves not living this value.  Forgive yourself and do better the next day.

Be kind and stay positive – to yourself and others.

If I Can Do it, You Can Do it…

You may or may not have noticed that I have taken some time off from writing lately.  I have done a few pieces for a new concept at SHRM  #NotionsByNicole found here: https://blog.shrm.org/search/node/%23NotionsByNicole.

To say it’s been quite a year is an understatement.  There is a saying that with adversity or challenge that you have survived it 100% of the time, so why second guess it now?  It’s true.  I have.  You have.  Let’s first and foremost be thankful for that.

This year has been tough.  I lost my job.  I lost a dear, sweet friend who my daughter simply adored.  I started a new job (thank you, Jesus).  My marriage ended…

You know what else I did?  I walked across the stage in Indianapolis on November 3rd at the Western Governors University Commencement, and my children got to watch their mom overcome any obstacles and earn her Bachelors Degree in Human Resource Management.  My parents were there, too.  Don’t underestimate the pride in the eyes of a parent watching their child graduate – whether she’s 21 or 37.  I have also been accepted to begin my Masters in Management & Leadership, starting in January 2019!

The moral of the story?  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  YOU CAN DO IT.  I started my degree EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO at Wright State University, in a traditional, brick and mortar campus.  I changed my major twice – sorry Mom, and when I was a sophomore/junior, I was offered a full-time job working in HR.  This is what I went to school for, right?  To get a job.  I took the job and never looked back.  My career progressed, and there were plenty of times that I was not considered for a job based on not yet having completed my Bachelor’s degree.  I worked hard, and I was promoted and progressed to more amplified roles throughout my career.  I earned my PHR and my SHRM-CP Certifications.  I tried to go back to school a few times, and despite the claims of being for the “working professional,” they were not for this working professional.

I found WGU last Spring, and I began on May 1.  This was also the first day of my promotion at work.  I had to write a Vision statement as one of my first assignments, and this was mine:

I will be an example to my children and my current and future employees of what hard work and dedication can materialize into – no matter when you start or how many times you’ve tried before.  What matters is that you finish.

I did it.  You can do it, too.  It doesn’t matter when you start or how many times you’ve tried before.  What matters is that you finish.

What are you waiting for?